Early morning at Panvel

My dad was busy planning a trip to our native place (he is traveling alone) for some work, and to attend a function at our family temple. He retired from his job in the end of April, and he made the plan in such a way that he gets time for everything! Booking the ticket was my job - A railfan does that better! Netravati Express - the most preferred train - was completely sold out, with even the Tatkal quota running into long waitlists! While search madly for a seat in some other train, I stumbled upon a vacant seat on the Trivandrum Rajdhani! The main disadvantage for this train is that tickets are available only for booking till the end point, while my dad would get down much before Trivandrum. But, coupled with his senior citizen concession, the ticket turned out to be cheap! I booked a ticket for him on the Rajdhani.

The D-Day was today. He was leaving by Rajdhani, and the Rajdhani leaves Panvel at 0515 AM! What would a railfan want? I was overjoyed about railfanning at that hour, and I slept very little in the night. We left our home in morning at around 0430, and I was at the wheel of my car. The highway had a very thin traffic. We reached Panvel station at around 0445. Just as we got out of the car and started walking towards the station, announcements were being made that the Konkan Kanya Express from Madgaon would arrive soon.

Konkan Kanya came in at 0458, and the loco incharge was WDP4 #20041. The train was heavily crowded, and she emptied a good amount of passengers at Panvel. The halt was getting a bit longer, and there was no sight of the starter turning amber! The loco was being refueled. Around this time, WCAM3 #21899 MU-ed to #21963 working light moved towards JNPT end of the station. The loco had just brought in a rake from Karjat side. Konkan Kanya finally departed at 0513, delayed by an hour and 2 minutes. Announcements were made that the Mangalore-LTT Matsyagandha Exp was running late by an Hour, and the Trivandrum bound Rajdhani would arrive soon on Platform 1. Some minutes later, a waist level head lamp was seen, and the drone of the Generators were getting clearer. Finally at 0527, the 2432 Nizamuddin-Trivandrum Rajdhani Express pulled in behind WDP3A #15516 of Golden Rock in their typical green attire. There were huge amounts of parcel to be unloaded, and the loco was being refueled.

My dad was in AS2 (WACCN 15502, built in 1994). He went in to park his baggage. The Train supervisor went to the booking office, and got a copy of the new reservation chart. He then went inside and checked tickets of those who boarded from Vasai and Panvel. The unloading of the EOG was still in progress. The loco was with her headlamps on through out the halt. RPF officers were on the prowl, and my Dad's coach was right in front of the RPF Office! The starter went amber with the Route set to middle line at 0540. The Assistant was seen waiting at the Loco door with the flag ready, but due to some reason, the Guard hadn't cleared the departure. Finally at 0545, the loco gave out a very long horn, and the train pulled out with a delay of 30 minutes. There was not much of a crowd, and after all this is not an ordinary train!

The station dipped into silence after the Generators pulled out! The sun was rising, and the lights on the platform were switched off at around 0600. The tea stall was getting ready for a long day ahead, and so were vendors on the platform. The queue at the ticket counter was getting longer. The platform started getting crowded once again as the clock crawled past 0610. I went around for a stroll, and discovered that the WCAM3 pair that I had spotted in the morning was still there! A Ludhiana WAG7 had also pulled in under the cover of darkness!

The WCAM3 pair (#21899 & #21963) had reversed and got itself attached to the same rake they had brought in from Karjat. The train was now bound to JNPT. Announcements were made that the Madgaon Jan Shatabdi would arrive on Platform 3 at 0636. I walked over to Platform 2, when the arrival of 2620 Mangalore-LTT Matsyagandha Express was announced. The train finally pulled in at 0627 with WDM3A #14081 of Erode in charge. A WAG5 (#23286) pulled into the main line with an empty BLCA/B rake, while the twin WCAM3 hauled train pulled out. The Matsyagandha finally departed at 0640, delayed by an hour and 25 minutes.

The train pulled out of Platform 2 in full force, and joined the main line. By now, the Jan Shatabdi was visible! The loco took a picturesque curve and entered the platform loop line. The loco kept blowing her horn warn a few canines walking around the track, and to warn me not to jump on the track! The loco came close...

17914

...She was WDM2A #17914 from Erode! The train had 11 coaches. I suddenly noticed a GRP officer at a distance watching me. I did not have the courage to walk back through the platform, and instead decided to directly walk over to Platform 1. The Ludhiana WAG7 was still there! The loco was #27624. I walked out of the station, took my car and went over to a level crossing right outside the station.

Just as I neared the level cross, a Tughlakhabad WAG7 pulled in with a BLCA/B rake from JNPT. I couldn't notice the number, but read the loco shed markings on the side. At the same time, another BLCA/B rake hauled by a WCAG1 pulled in from the Karjat side. This was a revelation - Panvel can handle simultaneous receiving/dispatching towards Karjat/Roha/JNPT!
I parked my car on the other side of the level cross. While crossing the tracks, I noticed the Tughlakhabad WAG5 still there! The loco (WAG5 #23286) was getting her lamps tested by the new pilots. The load was light - empty BLCA/B rake! The Diva-Sawantwadi KR5 passenger pulled into Platform 3 with an Erode WDM2 in charge. The WAG5 got her starter, and the rake rushed out of the station. (the rake was on the main line itself!). Just as the rake cleared, the Roha-Diva passenger was seen rushing down towards the station.

The loco in charge was WDM2 #17492 from Kalyan. The train is back to the conventional arrangement instead of the DMU arrangement that existed in between. The rake cleared, and the LC gate was opened. Just minutes later, the gate once again closed down, and the KR5 passenger got her starter. The loco smoked her way out. I walked a bit ahead to get a better image. The loco was WDM2 #17581 in the new Erode Livery - "pseudo-WDM3D" livery! The 15-coach train cleared the gate quite fast! Just as the train cleared, the WCAG1 which had brought a BLCA from Karjat was seen reversing. The loco was WCAG1 #21891. The loco moved out of the station, and the gate was opened momentarily. I had to rush home, and decided not to wait anymore. I rushed back on my car, and I reached home at around 0800 - after a successful two-and-a-half hour railfanning!

Photos: There are about 14 photos. I have uploaded them to Galleria. Click here for the images.

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