A long railfanning after many days...

Today was a very special day for me. The day started off at 6 AM. I boarded the 06:58 CSTM Slow local. The local was deserted for most of the journey from Belapur to Kurla. I reached Kurla at about 07:30. The platform was crowded with many students, probably, going for some camp. The Dadar bound 1018 Chalukya express rushed past Kurla with WDM3A #18951 (from Pune) in charge. Sometime later, the Deccan express rushed towards Pune with a WCG2 in charge. Just as the Deccan express cleared the Advanced Starter, The Punjab mail towards Mumbai CST rushed in. The loco doing the honours was WCAM3 #21962. Some time later, My EMU (AN5, bound to Asangaon) came in. That was an AC/DC EMU. She did the 13.72 km distance between Ghatkopar and Thane in an impressive 10:36 minutes i.e., at an average speed of 77.66 kmph!!! I recorded a speed of 85.71 kmph between Bhandup and Nahur. The run was impressive!!! Our train had a red signal at Thane outer where the train stopped for probably a minute. At Thane, there was an announcement that 0103 Mandovi Express was late today. I couldn't wait to see the train, and I rushed towards College.
The return journey couldn't be less than marvellous!!! Since the day was a Sunday, I was not sure if the Harbour line was funtioning today! The main UP line was closed today! I did not want to take chances. I decided to take the Matsyagandha to Panvel. I took a Superfast ticket and slowly walked through the Foot Over bridge. I saw that most Express trains were arriving on Platform 4 instead of 6/7. Just at the foot over bridge, I saw a friend of mine, who said that Matsyagandha would be arriving on Platform 5. I got to Platform 5. Around this time, the PA system blarred that Matsyagandha express would arrive on Platform 5 instead of Platform 7. A Karjat bound fast local rumbled past around then. That local emptied the platform! All fast locals towards Mumbai CST were halting at Mulund, Bhandup and Vikhroli in addition to the normal stops.
Soon, the arrival of Matsyagandha was announced. An Erode loco made her appearance clearing a curve at the entrance of the platform. The loco kept her horns blowing. The loco approached towards my camera.


I was standing a bit down the end of the platform. There were two RPF personnel towards the Diva end of the platform. I had a mad run after the loco crossed me. I had to run the distance of about 5 coaches to reach the Front SLR. The coach had moderate rush. I decided to settle down at the door itself. Just as the train was preparing to leave (the starter was already green), a railway employee in "white-and-white" uniform came close to the loco. He had a Walkie-Talkie in hand. I heard some one shout: "Matsyagandha driver... start the train". True to the words, the loco gave a very long horn and started notching up. I was just metres away from the loco. I enjoyed the beats of the notching up loco!
The assistant pilot held his green flag until the last coach cleared the station. The loco notched up very soon, and we were at about 60 kmph by now. Some metres away, the loco slowed down. There was a temporary speed restriction owing to some engineering works on the adjoining UP line. The entire railway "line" was being replaced with new ones!!!! The train crawled through Parsik tunnel and the Kalwa creek bridge. We were given a Danger signal at Diva Outer. That was to allow an EMU to change over from the UP Through line to the UP Slow line. Soon, our loco gave a long horn, and we were slowly approaching Diva. Express trains towards Panvel are always given "Caution" signal at Diva. The train crawls through the platform. Railway employees are usually picked up at this station. They board the train while the train is running. The signal the loco pilot to keep crawling until they board!!!
We cleared the "Diva Hurdle" soon and entered the line towards Panvel. The loco notched up quickly and stations flew past. We crossed a Kalyan WDM2 (#18354) hauling a Departmental "Observation" car. The train rushed through stations before getting a "stop" at Kalamboli. The train stopped for quite sometime before moving. We crossed the Chandigarh bound Kerala Sampark Kranti just at Kalamboli outer. The loco doing the honours was WDM2 #16565 from Ernakulam. (This train used to have a Ratlam link!). Our train slowed down once again. This time, we were made to wait at a level cross to let vehicles pass!!! We crossed a light WCAG1 (#21972) at Panvel outer. We pulled into Panvel at 15:22. I spoke to the Loco pilot at Panvel. I asked him about his duty, and he said that they work upto Ratnagiri! (Thats a very long duty). He said that it is the same for all superfasts! I took an EMU from Panvel at 15:53 and reached home by 16:30!
So there ends a long railfanning that took place after long 2 months!!! Thanks for reading.

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