As I mentioned in an earlier post; for a railfan, there is no better way to end a year than with a train trip. I had not travelled by the Kalyan-Kasara-Igatpuri-Nashik Road-Manmad route for quite some time; therefore I decided to undertake a trip to NK by 12071 Mumbai Jalna Jan Shatabdi – the date being Saturday 3rd December; and return on the same day (or rather, night!) by 12870 Howrah Mumbai Weekly Superfast – with barely 2.5 hours to kill at NK; thus, this was to be a pure railfanning trip 😛 . For the journey by 12071 JS; please refer https://ashwinkumar1989.in/2022/12/28/bidding-farewell-to-2022-in-style-part-1/ . As always, for all technical terms and station codes; please refer to the legend right at the bottom.
Since the JS arrived at NK 23 mins late; there was barely two hours to be spent at NK, before 12870 reached NK – assuming it was running on time. Still, there was enough time for some RF 😀 . I saw a couple of KGP WAG7s – 27427 and 27797; on a siding next to Platform 1.
The station was somewhat deserted during these late afternoon hours; though in the evening the situation would be entirely different…
I took rest for some time in the Upper Class Waiting Room on PF1. The minutes trickled by; during which I tracked the status of my return train to Mumbai – 12870. It was running close to 1.5 hours late; and it was supposed to reach KYN at 21 42 as per schedule and had no stop at Thane – this meant that, going by 12870’s present status, I would be able to reach my home (in Powai) only well past midnight. Normally reaching home very late on a Saturday night wouldn’t have been an issue; but I had to attend a function on Sunday morning and hence was keen to avoid such a scenario if I could.
There was the option of buying an unreserved ticket on 17618 Nanded Mumbai Tapovan Exp; which was supposed to depart NK by 18 05 and deposit me at Thane by 20 58 – Tapovan is generally a punctual train and hence unlikely to run late by more than an hour. However, because of its popularity; it was likely to be very crowded, even as far as the reserved coaches were concerned. I thus decided to buy an unreserved Express ticket and assess the crowd in Tapovan; if the crowd was at a manageable level, I would board the train – if not, I would stick to 12870; in which I had a reserved AC 3 Tier ticket. Then I headed to PF4, where Tapovan was supposed to arrive. PF3 was then occupied by a close to 9 hours late running 12812 Hatia-LTT Exp; what’s with SER and trains running very late on a regular basis of late? :O
11026 Pune-BSL exp then arrived on PF1 at 18 14, 27 mins late; behind KYN WCAM3 21952. It departed after a halt of 3 mins; with a complex sequence of horn blowing – a very long LT horn, followed by a long HT horn, then the HT horn again and finally a short blast of the LT horn!! :O Barely a minute later, 12520 KYQ-LTT AC Superfast arrived on PF3 with KYN WAP7 37276 – the train was running 5 hrs 46 mins late!! :O It departed after a stop of 3 mins, with a big jerk. 10 mins later; Tapovan arrived on PF4, hauled by KYN WCAM3 21941.
One look at the crowd in the unreserved coaches of Tapovan and I made up my mind to stick to 12870; however late it was!! :O
I decided to head back to the Waiting Room on PF1; using a staircase; followed by an escalator.
Meanwhile, the delay of 12870 kept growing and thus I decided to have an early dinner at Hotel Swapnam of Food Track, an IRCTC initiative. It consisted of a Butter Tadka Dal Khichadi; which was quite tasty – though I could detect much more garlic than butter. Then I headed to PF3; where 12870 was expected, using a staircase followed by a lift.
Meanwhile, 12166 GKP-LTT Ratnagiri exp arrived on PF3 at 20 07, 3 hrs 12 mins late; led by an offlink, a Bhilai WAP7. Really, what’s with IR and regular delay of trains? :O
Ratnagiri exp departed after a halt of 2 mins; with a typical LHB jerk. Then I was treated to the sight of an 8 hours late running 04151 CNB-LTT Special blasting through PF3; pulled by CNB WAG9 32607: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilU637FmV9A . Being a special and that too coming from fog-affected north India, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by its utter lack of punctuality 😛 . 12870 finally pulled into PF3 at 20 35; 2 hrs 38 mins late!! :O I had to wait for a family carrying a massive amount of luggage to deboard, before I could board my coach B1. Our loco, by the way, was SRC WAP7 37032. We left after a stop of 3 mins, with a big jerk. The TTE just noted down some details in his tablet, after confirming my name! These days the railway officials are rather tech-savvy, which is good to see! 🙂
We ripped through Devlali, an important station; before slowing down. After crossing an LC full of vehicles, we quickly accelerated back to MPS. By the way, I had a trackside Side Lower Berth; which is usually a dream for most railfans 😀 . However, in this case, it was too dark to see much outside except for LCs, trees, stations and settlements. Nevertheless, a window seat is a window seat and thus something to be enjoyed 😉 . As we thundered through Lahavit, I observed that the pantry staff were going about serving the famous Bengali sweet Mishti Doi. Unfortunately, I had already brushed my teeth at NK and thus had to take a hard pass 😦 .
We dropped our pace and had a sedate run through Asvali. There were a lot of LHB jerks; I have noticed that these jerks are more prominent when the train is hauled by a WAP7, thanks to the sheer torque of P7. Sure, I had also experienced such jerks with 12071 JS; which was hauled by a WDP4D. However, in the case of the EMD; the jerks were felt only while starting or stopping. Whereas, in case of the WAP7-hauled trains, the jerks were felt even while accelerating or decelerating; from any speed, mind you!! Meanwhile, we picked up speed and passed some settlements including a temple. A freight hauled by an EMD crossed us. After a highway crossed us from above, there was a clump of eucalyptus trees; followed by a lot of settlements and an LC, as we zipped through Ghoti.
There were a lot of huts, cottages and tall residential buildings; before another highway crossed over us. Then we entered the IGP yard and crossed a BCNA rake led by twin EMDs. Slowed down to a crawl; since the speed limit of the yard was just 15 kmph. Pulled into PF4 of IGP at 21 20 – thus, we had covered the last 51 km from NK in 42 mins, at an average speed of 72.86 kmph 🙂 . So far, so good! on PF3 was 11120 BSL-IGP MEMU. I then saw 04151 CNB-LTT special – the train which had skipped NK – leaving from PF2!! This must have overtaken us before NK!! Imagine a special getting precedence over a regular superfast express – such is the fate of a train that gets delayed by 2+ hours!! It also didn’t help that 12870 was an SER train and was hundreds of miles away from its territory!!
Anyway, we left after a stop of 6 mins and I dozed off for a while. After I woke up, we blasted through Thansit and Atgaon (in the Kasara-Kalyan route) and crossed various buildings and an LC before skipping Asangaon at a slower pace. Then we were halted at Vasind home signal for a minute. Passed more settlements before skipping the station; I could now faintly hear the HT horn of our WAP7. After skipping Khadavli, we passed an LC and yet another highway crossed us from above. Ripped through Titvala before dropping our pace once more; now I could also hear the LT horn of the P7. After crossing another LC, we skipped Ambivli; where 17057 CSMT-SC Devagiri Exp crossed us behind a madly honking EMD.
We were stopped again at Shahad home; this was where our troubles began. This halt lasted for as long as 9 mins; before we finally departed, with the LP blowing a long HT horn – which sounded like that of a WAP4. Then 18029 LTT-SHM Exp crossed us with its customary WAP4. After yet another highway passed over us, I saw the Godrej Riviera on the far right and a road on the immediate right. After crawling for a while, we were overtaken by vehicles on the road. Our painful run continued; as we had a two-minute stop at the station as well. This was followed by yet another 1-minute halt at KYN home. Then an LHB rake pulled by a WAP7 crossed us.
If I had thought that the 1-minute stop at KYN home was the last of our troubles, then I was woefully wrong! We halted yet again before KYN and this time it was for a huge thirteen minutes!! Finally limped into PF5 of the junction at 23 55, 2 hrs 13 mins late!! Ironically we had made up 25 mins post NK in spite of all these unscheduled stops and slow running – because this train has been allotted 3 hrs 42 mins for a distance of 134 km – which comes to an average speed of only 36.22 kmph!! The even bigger irony, though, is that in spite of the slack given; the train was still delayed by more than 2 hours – which goes on to show that when the delay of a train exceeds a certain threshold limit; then no amount of slack can help it recover enough time!!
Anyway, I got down at KYN. Saw 12115 CSMT-SUR Siddheshwar Exp arrive on PF4 behind a WAP7. Meanwhile, 12870 left after a halt of 7 mins; with the LP blowing a long blast of the LT horn. An announcement was then made for 12141 LTT-PPTA Superfast to arrive at 04 45, 4 hrs 28 mins late!! A late-running epidemic seems to have penetrated IR; of course, it could be due to the typical winter fog – with most of the delayed trains originating from north India. Anyway, I then boarded a slow local towards CSMT; it was crowded even at that late hour!! What to do, Mumbai is Mumbai after all!! Reached Vikhroli after 47 mins and took an auto from there to reach home finally by 01 10!!
Thus had ended what was to be my last train journey of 2022. A chaotic end, no doubt; but preceding that was a memorable diesel journey – in fact, my first and only diesel journey of 2022! Well, let’s see what 2023 has in store for us!! Until then, it’s goodbye!! And of course, thank you so much for being with me till here! 🙂
- LT – Low Tone
- HT – High Tone
- SER – South Eastern Railway
- IRCTC – Indian Railway Catering And Tourism Corporation
- IR – Indian Railways
- LHB – Linke-Hoffman-Busch (a modern Swiss company which manufactures coaches with high speed capability and anti-climb safety features – seen in majority of the trains nowadays)
- TTE – Travelling Ticket Examiner
- LC – Level Crossing
- MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
- EMD – Electro-motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel locos)
- MEMU – Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (like a local train; except that it runs on non-suburban routes, has vestibules and is narrower than a local)
- LP – Loco Pilot
- NK – Nashik Road
- KGP – Kharagpur
- KYN – Kalyan
- LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla Terminus)
- BSL – Bhusawal
- KYQ – Kamakhya
- GKP – Gorakhpur
- CNB – Kanpur Central
- SRC – Santragachchi
- IGP – Igatpuri
- CSMT – Mumbai CST
- SC – Secunderabad
- SHM – Shalimar
- SUR – Solapur
- PPTA – Pataliputra
For all who have been patient enough to read till here; I am enclosing a small surprise 🙂 .