Saturday, January 27, 2007

A PUNE Ring:: Curtain Raiser!

Today marks the beginning of yet another railfanning trip to the south! I am on a trip to Kerala. The outbound journey is by 1097 Pune-Ernakulam Express, and return is by 1014 Coimbatore-LTT Express! I will reach back in Mumbai on 1st of February 2007.

So stay tuned for regular updates right here!

Another day on a Double-decker

I had another treat on Double decker buses today! I had been planning such a ride for a long time now! I had to got to Bombay College of Pharmacy, located at Kalina on the CST Road. I took a train from Belapur to Kurla, and decided to take a bus from thereon.
I took BEST's route number 311 from Kurla Station (West) Bus Terminus. That was a double-decker bus, and I sat on the upper deck. The outbound journey was with my friends. I returned alone.
While returning, I took 311 once again and once again sat on the upper deck that too at the seat at the front end. The seat was airy, and you see the road from a totally different perspective. Cars look quite dwarfed. Even normal buses look small from there. The ride gives a totally different experience!!! I was carrying my camera along, and took photos from that seat! (The image above is an example!).
Some facts about the bus:
The bus is powered by a Ashok Leyland-Hino "H" Series 6 Cylinder engine, and produces a maximum torque of 42 Mkg @ 1600-1800 rpm. The bus has a top speed of 75 kilometres-per-hour. Newer models are Euro-II (Locally known as "Bharat 2") compliant.
The bus has a different style of operation. The driver sits in a very small cubicle. The engine is outside his cabin. The bus, unlike normal buses, has two signal bells. One on the upper deck, and one on the lower deck. There are individual conductors for each deck. The conductor on the upper deck rings the bell there to inform the conductor on the lower deck that there are passengers to alight. The conductor on the lower deck waits until all have alighted, and then rings the bell twice to permit the driver to proceed.
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (B.E.S.&T.) has about 199 double decker buses in its 3400 strong fleet. These buses can carry about 100 passengers (officially!). Currently, only 2-3 cities in India have such buses, and Mumbai has most of them! There was a move to scrap them owing to higher operational costs, but due to public outcry the buses are now allowed to continue! Infact, BEST had even purchased a few new ones recently!

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Short trip to Titwala

Friday morning saw me trying hard to wake up from a very late sleep on Thursday. I took an EMU at 0737 (Scheduled time 0734) from Belapur and reached Kurla at around 0810. I took the Badlapur bound 0818 Fast EMU from thereon. I got down at Ghatkopar, where I was to meet my friends. Just as I got down from the EMU, the LTT Bound Jnaneshwari Express rumbled through. Some time later, the Bangalore bound Udyan Express crawled through the station with WDP4 #20032 in charge. ALL trains on the Down Through (Fast) Line have to crawl through Ghatkopar station now-a-days; Thanks to a nasty speed restriction in force near Vidyavihar. The SR is from Vidyavihar station to Ghatkopar Outer Signal, and is in the range of 30kmph. Express trains hardly pickup speed by the time they reach the station!
Some time after the Udyan went through, Another WDP4 approached the station. This time it was WDP4 #20033, and the train was the Lucknow bound Pushpak express. This train, ever since she started getting a WDP4, has 24 coaches - 2x SLR, 4x GS, 1X HA; 1X 2A; 2X 3A; 13X SL and 1X PC. I was joyed by the spotting.
Finally at around 0900, myself and two other friends got into a Kasara bound Fast EMU. We boarded the second coach i.e., a motor coach. The train ride had nothing worth mentioning since I was busy reading a newspaper. We reached Titwala at around 1000. Just as we were moving out of the station, Kalyan WDG3A #14982 rushed through with a short BOXN rake. We (now 4 of us - One more friend joined us at Dombivli) took an Autorickshaw to the temple. Oops! Did I forget to tell that? Titwala is home to a very famous Siddhivinayak Temple, and the reason behind our visit was the temple!
The temple had a huge crowd today, and we had to spend around 40-45 minutes standing in queue to meet the presiding deity - Ganesha or Ganpati or Vinayak as he may be called. After the visit to the temple, we were back to the station by around 1125. An unknown WCAM3 hauled train rumbled through then! We got to platform 2 boarded a Mumbai CST bound Slow local. The journey was painfully slow, but interesting! I spotted a shining new WDG3A (#13303) of Kalyan DLS waiting at Nahur. I finally reached home at around 1400, and the end of a long "pilgrimage"!

A Double-Decker ride!

On Thursday, we (myself, and other students of Final Year B.Pharm) had an Interview for a Job at Kalina. We were to reach there by 1400. Our college received the notification quite late, and we came to know about it just around 1100 or so. After high voltage drama at our college, we were granted permission to attend the interview at around 1330. About 15 students in my class were interested, and we flew out of the college. We had no time to spare, and we did not even have a Resume! Finally, we (about 5 of us) dropped into a Cyber-cafe and created resumes. Finally we took a train to Kurla, and a bus from thereon.....(The interview stopped mid-way, and is expected to continue tomorrow i.e., on Saturday).
The bus journey....was on a Double decker! Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (B.E.S.&T.) have a sizeable population of Double decker buses in their fleet. The buses are mostly old. They are powered by Ashok Leyland Engines, and have a seating capacity of under 100 passengers. The upper deck is silent and is more comfortable. The vibrations, and jerks are minimised to a good extent, and the noise of the engine does not make it to the upper deck!
I did two journeys on a single day, and both were on the upper deck! The best of them was in the return direction. Myself, and a friend of mine were returning to Kurla, and we took route number 311. This bus goes via Air-India Colony, and allows a good watch at the Mumbai Airport! It was dark then, and the time was around 2030 or so.
We were having window seats facing the runway of the airport, and the bus was stuck in a traffic snarl. We had a very interesting time-pass....Counting the flights that landed! About 10 flights landed at the airport in quick succession in a time frame of about 10-15 minutes! We went crazy at the end and the line of landing aircrafts seemed endless. Just as we spot one aircraft making it to the runway, we spot another one almost approaching the runway!
A ride on a double-decker is absolutely essential for anyone who visits mumbai! I couldn't take images yesterday, but would try for some on Saturday!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Another pseudo normal day...

Today was yet another pseudo normal day except for a few incidences in the morning. I reached Kurla at around 0735 as usual. Just as I was on the Foot-Over-bridge, I saw the Deccan Express zipping through the station, and a WCAM3 was in charge! Just after the PA system made an announcement that the 0741 Asangaon EMU was expected soon, the Madgaon bound Mandovi Express rushed through! The loco was WDP4 #20032. I was disgusted! This train means that my EMU would be late! The train reached Kurla at 0750 against its scheduled departure of 0741! I was too late to college today!
In the evening, I went to dadar to get a ticket for myself and Dad for a journey to Pune this saturday. I luckily got a ticket on an MSRTC Volvo bus, and that too a seat right behind the driver! I'll have a clear picture of the monster's view of the road ;-) The day thus ended on a very happy note!
Note: While travelling from Thane to Dadar, I spotted the Pragati Express (WCAM3), Nandigram Express (Kalyan WDM2) and Deccan Odyssey (Pune WDM2). At Dadar, I spotted the layover rake of Jan Shatabdhi. The rake had 9 coaches in all!
Bye for the day!!!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Yet another day!

Today had nothing special in store for me! It was all a normal day with me traveling on all regular trains on the very old boring route!
In the morning, I saw Deccan Express rushing through Kurla with WCAM3 #21946 in charge. There were no other trains in the morning. While on my EMU, I spotted the Latur-Mumbai Express, Late-running Chalukya Express, and one another WCAM3 hauled Express. Mandovi was late as-usual today! In the evening there were far lesser happenings to say!

Let me take this opportunity to let out a travel plan:: I am leaving this Saturday (27.Jan.2007) by Poorna Express. I'll board the train at Pune, and get down at Ernakulam. I'll return - board 1014 CBE-LTT express at Coimbatore on 31.Jan.2007 and alight at Pune on 01.Feb.2007, and proceed to Mumbai by bus!
I had been to a nearby MSRTC reservation counter to get tickets for my Mumbai-Pune journey on Saturday to board the bus. Unfortunately, due to some problems he wasn't able to issue tickets for the bus of my choice (Volvo bus departing at around 1830~1900). I had to get a ticket for a lower class service. I'll try again tomorrow at a different place! Wish me luck for that!!!
Anyways...Bye for the day!

Monday, January 22, 2007

End to sleepless nights...back now to normal!

After days to roaming, and hard work, and of course - sleepless nights, its all back to normalcy now. I started attending college like ever before, it is all normal now! I left home at 06:45 as usual, and took the 06:58 train. The train was much less crowded today! Just as I got down from the train at Kurla, I saw the Mandovi Express rushing out with a WDP4. At about 07:44, the Pune bound Deccan Express rushed out with a WCAM3 in charge.
My train (07:41 Asangaon Fast) pulled in at about 07:50 or so. The Deccan Express was just ahead of my train, and my train was always getting only Amber or Double amber signals until Ghatkopar. I spotted a Jhansi WDM2 at Kurla. We pulled into Ghatkopar quite late, and by now Deccan express got quite ahead of my train. My train rushed out of Ghatkopar at a very good speed.
The EMU slowed down once again right before Mulund, and crawled through Platform 3 of Mulund. Right after Mulund, my train crossed over to the Slow line and once again picked speed. My EMU almost overtook Deccan Express just before slowing down on entering Platform 2 of Thane. Just as I stepped out of the train, I heard the horn of the WDP4, and also heard the loco notching up! I rushed out and took a bus to college.
In the evening, I took the 16:23 EMU from Thane. Just as I entered the station (Thane), I saw the Kanyakumari Exp. rushed out. On the way, I spotted a WCAM3 hauled train, and the Pune bound Pragati Express (WCAM3 in charge). At Kurla, I saw the Nanded bound Nandigram rush through with a WDG3A in charge. I reached home at around 1730 or so. So that was all for the day! Bye, and a very good night!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Now all's over!

Yesterday marked an end to a 10 day long saga of creating a model for an exhibition. We displayed the model yesterday, but really failed to impress the judges. Finally, at around 1800, myself and our team left the venue with heavy hearts!
I expect to be able to make regular updates from Monday onwards. Sorry for the interruptions till now!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

This is too baaaaddd......

Sorry to all of you for not posting since sunday! I was damn busy all through the week. I was reaching back home by 2100~2200 (0030 yesterday!) and was damn tired to even start my PC!!!

That was really a tiresome week, and the project that I am working on is still not over. Hopefully, I'll have a peaceful time from saturday onwards. Please bear with me till then...SO bye for now!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Another tiring day!

Saturday was yet another tiring day. I drove down to college to collect cash for purchasing the apparatus required for our model making. From my college, I dove down to Andheri to pick up the material, and then returned to college to hand over the apparatus. I drove back home after that. That was a 100+ kilometre drive through heavily crowded roads!
I was damn tired at the end of the day, but still wanted to make a visit to the sports ground of BVP's College which is just 4 kms from home. Our college was playing against MET College in a game of cricket. When I reached there, about 2 and a half overs were remaining. The match was decisive, and our players were battling quite well. We were on the batting side. In the last over, we required about 12 runs. On the 4th ball, the batsman took the ball for a four. In the next ball, they scored 3 runs. In the last ball, he hit above for a four/six. Unluckily, he was caught out and our team is now out of the tournament!
After a dejected day, I returned back home. Today, I have hell lots of work to be done, and hope to back to normal by tomorrow!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Just wait a minute....

It was chilling outside and my eyes were too heavy for me to keep them open! I was sitting inside the 06:58 BEPR-CSTM slow EMU on a cold Thursday morning. On Wednesday, I had reached my home quite late and it was 2130 when I reached home. I went to bed only by 2330, and had to get up by 0500. I hardly slept since my entire body was aching badly after an entire day of hard "roaming".
On Wednesday, myself and my team went to the water packaging plant of a famous brand owned by an Multinational Cola Giant. Our aim was to study their techniques and steps in processing. Their processes were too impressive and we managed to get a few samples of their treatment media. After that, we visited a "glass blower" at Andheri to get quotes for the design of glass column that we were looking for. We finally got one, and discussed out the rates.
On Thursday, we got approval from the college for the apparatus. Our college arranged for another trip to a manufacturing unit in Bhandup. Our project got a boost here. (Details of that would be discussed in detail after the presentation of the project is over!)
Right through these days, I had literally no time to railfan. I spent most of the time reading through literature for our project and for collection of data. I hope to get some time to unwind very soon! Bye for the night/day, I have to go to college again tomorrow to work out some more "economics" of the project!!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Very tough and tiring days ahead...

Monday was a sort of a turning point for me. On that day, our college decided to include me in the team of "budding scientists" for a Scientific Model Making Competition. We are a team of 5 students, all from Final Year Bachelor of Pharmacy. We held an hour long brainstorming session with the teacher in-charge to finalise on a model for the competition. We couldn't do so, and we finally manage to do in on Tuesday. The entire 6 hour that I spent in the college on Tuesday was for this competition, and we finally decided upon a model which seemed to be too common, but we plan to do it in a very uncommon way.
We decided to set up a water purification plant which employs a variety of techniques to deliver the purest form of water. The project was finalise and we got in touch with a teacher in the nearby Engineering department to help us out on the project. We got through the formalities, and we got the project approved by the head of the institution, and the application for the same was forwarded to the concerned authorities by hand. We (myself and the remaining team) went to meet an expert in this field, and we got into all technical details and worked out the cost. The cost was almost 10 times our budget, and we decided to chop down on some material. The plan is in its final stages, and because of this I end up at my home only after 9 PM on a regular basis now.
SO, please bear with me, the updates would be skewed over the next few days (upto 17 of this month, when we present the model). But keep visiting! bye!

Monday, January 08, 2007

An all Unusual day....

Today was an all unusual day!!! Right in the morning, I rose late from my Bed, and I ended up late. I had to drive like a maniac to make in on time for my 06:58 train! Just as I reached Kurla, I noticed that the 07:24 Kasara Fast was running late, and she hadn't yet reached Kurla. The platform was heavily crowded. The time was already 07:35. The PA system came alive, and informed that this particular EMU (07:24 Kasara) was running late by 10-15 minutes. The announcement was closely followed by another announcement that GRP (Government Railway Police) Personnel should attend the "soon-to-arrive" 07:24 Kasara train. Usually such an announcement is made only when the train has mowed down someone, or is carrying the corpse of a person who could have been mowed down by the train which just went ahead.
The 07:27 CSTM "Always Late" EMU pulled into Platform 6. The announcer mumbled something which was unclear. As ever, I kept my watchful eye trained at the down lines entering the station. I noticed an AC/DC EMU entering the station, and there is no AC/DC service via Slow line at that hour! The PA system came alive to announce that the train was my regular 07:41 Asangaon Fast. I ran for that train, and literally flew over the FOB to reach the platform just right on time. The EMU took the slow line upto Vikhroli outer, and then moved over to the main "fast" line.
My friend who is a regular on the 06:24 Kasara, was very much on that train (he boards from Dadar) and he had a harrowing experience to narrate. The train took over an hour to reach Thane from Dadar, and the train was frequently made to wait at signals!
In the evening, I left my college quite late and it was 1735 by the time I reached Thane. I took the Thane-Vashi harbour line local to avoid the rush at Kurla, and made it home by 1845! Bye for the day!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Too normal days!

The days gone by were too normal to write about. No special spottings, and nothing really special to report! I saw the Mandovi with WDP4 #20026 in charge at Thane on Saturday.
Surprisingly, I spotted a Vatva WDM2, and a Katni WDM2 at Kurla. NO photographs though!
I hope to have something really interesting tomorrow!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sleepy days....

First priority: Sorry for not updating yesterday! Thanks to the apathy of the local state run telecom provider, my telephone was dead yesterday. I access internet through the broadband service that requires my telephone to work! Sorry for the technical glitch!
Both yesterday, as well as today were sleepy days for me! On both the days, I was struggling hard to keep my eyes open during lectures! But, with respect to Railfanning, both days were "so-so" types. Luckily, on both the days spotted the Mandovi Express. It was 20032 yesterday, and 20025 today. (Guessing what the numbers are? They are road numbers of the WDP4 locos that took the train).
Mandovi has just received new "name plates". It is bust still sad to see this train running without coach number boards. Earlier this train did not even have destination boards, now atleast they have appeared. On both the days, I did not have any interesting sightings other than the normal fare.
Hopefully, I have something exciting to post tomorrow. The internet connection is getting disconnected intermittently, and let me finish this off before it goes kaput again!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The New year...A New day....

Today was my first day to college after 2007 dawned! I was delayed in the morning and had to run down to the platform. I took the 06:58 train from Belapur and made in to Kurla by about 0732. The Mumbai CST bound Vidarbha Express pulled through just around then. I rushed to Platform 5 where my onward connection was expected.
At around 0736, the Pune bound Deccan Express went through. I was surprised to find that there is a Speed restriction for trains running through Platform 5, and trains now run through at a slower pace! My train came in before time, and left a minute late (07:41 Asangaon Semi-Fast). On the way we crossed the late-running Matsyagandha Express, and Chalukya Express. Mandovi Express towards Madgaon was late, as usual!
I walked out of the station, and took a bus from the adjacent MSRTC bus station. (I'll put up an image of the "Red Monster" very soon). The bus had an engine failure just after running 1.5 kms from the origin! I had to take another transport to my college, and in effect I reached late by 10 minutes! The day was just about normal.
In the evening, I took the 16:45 Fast EMU from Thane. Our EMU was recieved on Platform 4 at Thane, and we were made to wait until a Twin MU-ed Kalyan WDM2 hauled BCNA clears the Down Through Line. After that we crossed over, and our AC/DC rake flied out. We flew through Mulund with horn blarring at full force and sweeping up all the dust on the platform. The speed restriction which was applicable since the past two weeks on the UP Through line near Nahur station has been lifted, and due to this our train kept flying till Bhandup. We had a halt at Bhandup. On the way, we crossed a WCAM3 hauled train (Unidentified), the Pune bound Pragati Express (loco: WCAM3), Nanded bound Nandigram (the loco was a WDG3A from Pune, in turquoise livery) and the Deccan Odyssey (Loco: Blue liveried WDM3A from Pune).
I missed a Belapur EMU at Kurla as my train was just pulling in! I then took the 17:19 Panvel EMU from Kurla.
Inside the coach, there was a small quarrel between a Couple (A husband & a wife), and a man in his 50s. The reason was that, the lady had kept her feet on the seat opposite the one on which she was seated. The couple had a huge 'bag' which was kept in the area between the seats. They were not ready to move it. The man asked them adjust since he wanted to sit. The lady (and a child) were literally occupying the entire 3-seater seat. She was reluctant to move or to sit properly. The man asked the "husband" if the seat was a footrest, and the "husband" shouted at the other man. He spoke as if the "husband" was accommodating the third person for free inside his house. The person shouted for the language that the "husband" used. The "husband" shouted back at the top of his voice. He expected the person to keep quiet, but instead all the passengers who were seated close by or standing at the door shouted at him for usage of foul language, and lack of manners. The "husband" escaped from being beaten up by the crowd just because of the presence of his wife! She apologized to the crowd and settled the matter.
As a "token of revenge", passengers standing at the door made him keep his luggage on the rack, and all the seats were taken! That was good revenge, and such "manner-less" people should really be taught a lesson for mis-behaviour. I reached back at my home at around 1800. Thanks for ready!!!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The first railfanning of the Year!

The best way to enter a new year is to go on a railfanning round! It was something that I had been thinking for the past few days! Till about 1130, I kept tracking a particular train on Konkan Railway's Current train position website. So finally after I confirmed that the train was infact reaching Panvel soon, I left my home towards Belapur station.
I finally reached Panvel at 1225. I purchased a Platform ticket and entered the station. I had a glance at the train status board, and I found that my "target" train was an hour late! I roamed around the station, and had a glance at the "Coach composition" board. My eyes popped out when I saw the composition of 2977 ERS-JP Marusagar Express. The train had 23 coaches!!! The PA System came alive, and the arrival of KR4 Ratnagiri-Dadar passenger was announced. Trivandrum bound Netravati Express was also scheduled soon. I rushed to Platform 2. A BCNA rake, hauled by WCAG1 #21974 pulled into Panvel. At around 1253, WDM3A #16013R of Pune pulled into the station with the 18-coach rake of the Dadar passenger.
Just as the Passenger pulled out of the station, the Trivandrum bound (6345) Netravati Express pulled in. The loco doing the honours was WDM2 #18535 of Erode. The 21-coach "heavy weight" had a 2600-hp beast to do the honours! It appears as if Erode's WDM2s are more powerful! These locos look promising! I checked the rake of the train, and finally moved back to Platform 1.
I remained on Platform 1 to watch my "target" train. Just as I was waiting, a Hubli based WDG4 (#12061) rushed through Platform 3 with a BCCN (ACC owned Bulk Cement Carrier rake). I was disappointed by that miss!!! The train ran through the station without stopping!
At around 1335, the Nizamuddin bound Winter Special train from Trivandrum pulled in. That was my target train!!! The loco doing the honours was WDG3A #13066 from Kalyan. Guess what??? The train had a CBC rake! The train had 18 coaches of which 1 was from SR, 2 from SCR and the remaining 15 from NR. All the coaches were mint fresh, and appeared to be freshly turned out of ICF Chennai! The train, as per the reservation website, has an AC-2-Tier coach. The coach position board also said the same! But in reality, the train had an AC-3-Tier coach! That coach was 06123/C turned out of RCF in October 2006.
By now, announcements regarding the arrival of the Mangala express were being played. I rushed to Platform 3 to have a look at the train. I already saw the train approaching the station. WAG5 #23218 from Tughlakhabad was pulling into Platform 2 with a BLCA/B (Container) rake. The train (mangala) pulled closer, and the loco was WDM2 #16673 of Ernakulam. I did not want to wait until the rake came to a halt, and instead rushed out of the station as quickly as possible to take the first possible EMU towards Belapur. Photos of the day are available here.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Finally the year 2006 bid us bye, and gave way for 2007!!! Wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.
It is just 22 minutes into this "sparkling" new year! I sincerely hope that this year is devoid of gruesome incidences, and this year be good to one and all irrespective of caste or creed.
May this year bring in tons of Railfanning with adequate safety, and let this year be filled with Joy!
Wish You a very happy and Prosperous New year!!!