Saturday, March 31, 2007

The trek to Sabarimala

I had made a trip to Sabarimala on February 14, 2007. Sabaraimala is locate in Pathanamthitta District of Kerala. The hill-top shrine of Lord Ayyappa can be reached only by foot. The most common path used by pilgrims is the walkway from Pamba which is about 8 kilometres long. The first 5 kilometres is a very steep climb, while the next 3 kilometres in more or less level followed by a descend to reach the temple.
As a tradition, pilgrims first take a dip at the holy river of Pamba before visiting a temple of Ganesh (Ganapathy) from where the climb begins. Off late, the actual bathing place at river Pamba has stagnant water, and many pilgrims prefer to bath at "Pamba valley" a few kilometres down stream. We too stopped at the same place...

The actual bathing place was quite crowded, and we preferred to stop a few kilometres upstream. The river bed was about knee deep at this place, and the water was really cool there! We reached the Pamba Ganapathi temple at around 1430. After a few rituals, we decided to start our climb by around 1515. The first few metres of the climb was normal. There are two ways to climb the hill - one the conventional route via appachimedu, and the second is the "Swamy Ayyappan Road". The latter has much slighter ascends, and the route transverses through a thick forest, and hence it offers shade for pilgrims...

The climb was cool, and I made it to the end point by around 1700 (about 10 minutes earlier than our team members!). After we all met together, we continued our journey ahead which is a mild descent into a queue shelter which finally leads to the temple...

We had a few known persons at the temple, and they had arranged rooms for our stay. We were around 6 people in all. After praying at the temple in the night, we had a good sleep, and once again went to the temple in the morning. We had to rush back to Pamba, since about 3 of our team members had to catch a train from Ernakulam at 1400. We began our descent at 0700. Just before leaving, I clicked an image of the temple...

The descent was much tougher than our climb. The gradient is too steep and it taxes the muscles of the leg heavily. Just at the beginning of the 5-kilometre steep down gradient, I saw this...

A lens-eye view of the steep down gradient:

The last few metres of the trek:

I reached the base point at around 0815, while the remaining team members reached by 0830-0900. We left the place by 1000, and the driver did a good job my leaving us at the station (Ernakulam Junction) by 1400. That was indeed a good journey!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Nothing special today!

Today was a plain day! I drove down to college rather than hanging on to a train! I had to bring back a lot of things from my college, and it was rather impossible to carry those luggage in a train!

It was pretty plain, and I rather have nothing to post!!! Bye!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

17 takes 45...

I reached Kurla at around 0735. The Deccan Express was yet to pass through, and there was no sign of that train. At about 0741, the Latur-Mumbai CST Tri-Weekly express (1006) rushed through Kurla...


...with Kalyan WDM2 #18926 in charge. It now seems that the same loco works all the way to Latur and back (yet to be confirmed!). If this is indeed true, then this would be longest 'regular' link worked by Kalyan DLS (A good sign that their locos are indeed dependable!). The Deccan express did indeed appear - but at 0743 i.e., 2 minutes after the scheduled departure time of my connecting EMU (0741 Asangaon). The loco in-charge of the Deccan Express was WCG2 #20124 of Kalyan. My EMU pulled in just behind the express, and the starter just turned amber as the EMU came to a halt.
The EMU finally pulled out at around 0746 (Delayed by 5 minutes). The express ahead seemed to run terribly slow. Our train was literally crawling behind Deccan Express. The express finally stopped right outside Ghatkopar station (at the outer signal)...


...and the reason was unknown. The train ahead maintained status quo atleast upto 0800 (the time by which the EMU should have been at Thane!). An Ambernath Fast EMU (which runs behind my train) was diverted to the slow line, and that fella overtook us! We finally made it to Ghatkopar at around 0805. We pulled out, and the EMU picked good speed. We maintained that speed upto Vikhroli. The Ambernath fast EMU was allowed to change back to the fast line (ahead of us!). The Dadar-Kalyan EMU which runs behind the Ambernath EMU also overtook us here!!!
Our train finally got a starter, and we flew out! We had a non-stop run upto Mulund. At Mulund, we were to be shifted to the slow line, but the Dadar-Kalyan EMU was given preference! That EMU ran ahead of us (we had overtaken that EMU at Bhandup), and we slowly trailed that fellow. We crossed the Vidarbha Express here! The EMU finally reached Thane at 0830. A journey that usually takes 17 minutes took 45 minutes today! I rushed out, went to college, and reached back at Thane station by 1400.

Afternoon Session: The first spotting of the noon was Coimbatore LTT Express. The loco in-charge was WCG2 #20122 of Kalyan. The Ratnagiri-Dadar KR4 passenger came close behind...


...with WDG3A #13044 Shakti of Pune in-charge. I was seeing this train with a WDG3A after a long time now. The train had 18 coaches including 2 reserved coaches, one for Chiplun quota and one for Khed. The crowd, as usual, was heavy. The train kept waiting for about 5-8 minutes at the station. The 1416 CSTM EMU was running late. I decided to wait for the Matsyagandha. The train came in with...


...WDM3A #18596 of Erode. The locos 'face' looked odd (probably the result of some minor crash!). The train pulled out at around 1435 or so. The train stopped after all coaches cleared the platform due to an 'Emergency Chain' pull. This held up my EMU at the outer signal. The EMU finally cleared in, and I jumped in.
We crossed the Chennai Express near Kanjur Marg (WCG2) and the Pune bound Sinhagad Express near Ghatkopar (WCAM3). I finally reached home at around 1600...bye!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The day an EOG roared into Panvel...

The day was getting hotter, and I sweating it out the entire day. I had planned a visit to Panvel to watch the Rajdhani about a week back, and had IRFCAn Ranjeet to join me if possible. He confirmed his presence in the morning, and we decided to meet by 1800 at Panvel. I had some work in Nerul at ICICI Bank. I took a shower, and left home by 1615. I First visited the bank, finished all the work that I had there, and then rushed to Belapur Railway station. I took a ticket, and then went to the restaurant to have some snack. I took an EMU at 1719 ( a Wadala - Panvel Shuttle). The rake was the 6-month old #353-355. The rake is already looking too tired (just 6 months into running!). I reached Panvel by around 1735. I called up Ranjeet, and he was close to the station.
I went in and purchased Platform tickets for both of us, and just as I came out of the booking office, Ranjeet reached the station. We checked the reservation chart and then proceeded to the platform. Rajdhani was expected late by 25-30 minutes. We decided to stay on the FOB. Just then, a Kalyan WDG3A (#14983) pulled in with a Dead WAG7 (#27382 of Lallaguda) and a Container rake. We stood on the FOB and chatted for a while. Just while standing then, I noticed that the Kalyan WDG3A got detached, and the loco went ahead. The WAG7 was energized!
At around 1815, the 1696 Roha-Diva Passenger pulled in. The loco in-charge was WDM2 #16049 of Kalyan attached to the centre of the rake.
Just after the passenger pulled out, we decided to take a look at the WAG7. We went closer and found that the loco was indeed live and was waiting for the starter. We took a few images...


...and then went on to chat with the Loco pilot. The pilot was standing close to the loco. We asked him why his loco came dead from JNPT. He said that the Kalyan WDG3A was to come to PNVL, and the controls at JNPT instead asked the loco to be sent with this rake, so that the loco and the train would come with one clearance! The WDG3A was disconnected there and the WAG7 was energized. The pilots were to work upto Vasai Road now! The Container train received its starter shortly after that. The Rajdhani finally pulled in at 1839, with a delay of 34 minutes...


...the Loco was WDP3A #15515 of Golden Rock. I was overjoyed to spot a WDP3A after long two years! I saw a WDP3A last in April 2005!!! We both went shutter happy. We decided to go to Platform 2/3 (Rajdhani was on Platform 1), to get side views of the loco...


...The Radiator end was forward. Poor pilots! They will be treated to the heat of the loco all the way! The loco was re-fueled at Panvel. The train had 15 coaches [2x EOG; 1x 1A; 4x 2A; 7x 3A 1x PC]. Both the EOGs were in the Rajdhani-Shatabdhi Mixed livery. Coaches were mostly too old, and on some the paint has faded badly!

We decided to wait until the Deccan Odyssey goes by. The Rajdhani got her starter at 1850. A Mughasarai WAG7 (#27047) came in with a Container train at around 1900. I decided to leave at around 1915, since it was getting too late, and I have a working day tomorrow. Just as I was boarding my EMU, the PA system announced that the KR6 Diva Passenger is arriving soon. Just as I reached Belapur, Ranjeet messaged me to inform that the KR6 came in with an Erode WDM3A. [The link of this train is always a huge question mark!!!]. So that is the end to the Rajdhani fanning...Bye for the day!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An unexpected spotting!

The day being a holiday, I had the job of dropping my Dad at his office. There two different routes from My dad's office to my home. One is a direct road (the Mumbai-Pune Highway), while the other one is a bit long but runs parallel to the Panvel-JNPT Railway line. I preferred the second for one reason that I hadn't traveled on that road after October 2006 - That is indeed a pretty long time! It is yet another normal two-laned state highway. There is enough traffic on this road (Trucks, buses, autos, etc!). I still managed 80-90 kmph on that road. The road is well surfaced, and the drive was really comfortable. Sometime into the drive, the railway line towards Jasai came close to the road.
Just while driving, I noticed that the Railway level cross at Bambaipada (A small village on the highway) was closing down - So a train was on the way. I drove a few kilometres ahead, and stopped at a Road-Over-Bridge. My mom was accompanying me, and she sat 'guard' for the car! I stood on the bridge for the train to approach. The UP line was blocked (by a red banner kept across the railway crossing at Bambaipada), and hence the train was surely approaching on the Down line. Soon, I saw a train at a distance...


...the approach sequence was simply beautiful. The loco came closed, and my shutter-happy camera simply couldn't resist the loco. She was...


...WAG5 #24462 from Valsad Electric Loco Shed on Western Railway. So that was perhaps my first sighting of a WAG5 of Valsad loco shed. I looked at the other direction, and the line had a sharp left curve after that bridge.


The train looked beautiful at the curve! Valsad Loco shed earlier had only AC/DC locos (WCAM1/2/2P) all working on the Western Railway main line (and regularly working trains in the Gujarat-Pune section, and often seen with Tanker/freight trains on CR main line/JNPT line). About a few years (2-3) back, a few WAG5s were allotted to Valsad.

After the spotting, I was back at my car. I took a turn at Gavhan Phata, about a kilometre from the place I took that photographs, and drove towards my home. The location is photogenic, but the problem is that only Freight trains are operational, and hence there is no point in waiting under the hot sun for trains!

That is all for the day...bye!

Monday, March 26, 2007

A loooong time to cover a short distance...

It was all a normal day today. I had some work in college (it was otherwise a holiday for me!), and had gone there. I left from college at about 1300. In the morning, i was expecting to see the Lucknow bound Pushpak Express - but IRFCAn Ranjeet SMSed me that the incoming train (Lucknow-Mumbai) was over 11 hours late, and the train had crossed Kurla only at 0700! So there was no chance of seeing the opposite train, and i decided to proceed to thane immediately from Kurla....

Back to noon: Just as I was entering into the station, I saw the 1014 Coimbatore- LTT Express pulling into Platform 6 with a WCAM3 in charge. Some minutes after the 1014 left, a Kalyan WDM2 rushed through with a Tanker rake towards Kurla. There were not much of movements after that. There was a Thane-Vashi EMU at 1420. I was eagerly waiting to see if the train had the new rake. And the train indeed had the latest Jessop built DC rake...


The other end of the train...


The rake was delivered about a month (or two) back. The rake is numbered #359-360-361. At around 1430, the Mangalore bound Matsyagandha came in...


...and the loco was WDM3A #14046 of Erode. The loco seemed to have leaked some lube oil, since there were marks of oil spillage near the pilots' cabin. The station was back to silence after the train went out. Just minutes after the Matsyagandha pulled out, the Mumbai-Chennai Express pulled in. The loco was WCG2 #20116 of Kalyan. I was waiting for the 1447 CSTM Fast EMU. Just as the Chennai express pulled in, there was an announcement that the EMU (1447 CSTM) is running indefinitely late! This announcement was closely followed by another one that an OHE wire has snapped on the Kalyan-Karjat section right next to Kalyan station. Hence all Up/Down trains to that side have been cancelled!
An Ambernath bound Slow EMU had just reached on Platform 2, then and that train was pre-maturely terminated at Thane. The rake was to return as a Special train towards Mumbai CST. Just around then a Twin WCAM3 hauled BCNA rake rushed towards Kalyan direction. I rushed to Platform 2 to catch that special train. The special pulled out at 1500, and the journey was normal upto Vikhroli. We crossed about 8 EMUs standing one behind the other between Thane Outer signal, and Bhandup Starter signal!!! The train was heavily crowded by the time we reached Bhandup. I was too tired and dozed off inside the train. While I woke up momentarily, I saw that the train was pulling out from Vikhroli. Just a kilometre after the station, we stopped for a signal. The time was 1525. The train stood there until 1605 (Reported earlier!). The train once again moved ahead, and once again stopped...


...and People started jumping out of the train and walking towards Ghatkopar station. Slow trains behind my train were being diverted to the Fast track, and about 8 EMUs overtook us by the time my EMU reached Ghatkopar. I jumped out of the train at Ghatkopar without any re-think! I took a "fast" EMU from Platform 4 of Ghatkopar, while the earlier EMU I had traveled was still waiting for her starter!
While my EMU was stuck for want of signal, the Dadar bound Sewagram went out with WCAM3 21951. Just behind Sewagram were Dadar-Ratnagiri Passenger (WDM3A #18748R of Pune) and the Bhubaneshwar bound Konark (WCG2 #20159).
I reached kurla at around 1635 (about an hour and 35 minutes after I left from Thane!). I boarded the 1625 Panvel EMU. This EMU started running just about two weeks back (Wadala Road - Panvel Shuttle). Thanks for reading & drop in again....

Interesting action

An OHE line broke down near kalyan (karjat side) at around 14.30. Due to this all EMUs going to that side was cancelled at thane. Fast trains towards both directions have been affected, and special slow trains are being sent towards Mumbai CST.
As fate would always play with me, i was at thane station when all this took place! I took one such slow local at 1500 ex-thane. The run up to Vikhroli was normal. Finally we recieved a red some three blocks before ghatkopar. The train stood still from 1525 to 1605 at one place under the blazing sun! The train finally moved at 1605 only to stop some 200 metres ahead....we are still waiting for a signal! More news after i reach home.............'reporting live from an EMU near GC.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A short unexpected railfanning...

My mom had some important work at Panvel, and I was to accompany her. Accordingly, we left from our home at 0830 on my car. Out of some divine intervention, I was carrying my camera along. We were going to the very same place where I lived for about 2-and-a-half years. The place was quite nostalgic, with a railway track running close by. My mom's work was all set to take longer time than expected, and I was left with loads of free time. A camera, and a railfan is surely an expensive proportion! I wasted no time....rush towards Panvel station.
I was at a place called Khanda Colony (Forming part of New Panvel-East). The Diva-Roha/JNPT Line cuts New Panvel into two halves viz New Panvel (East) and New Panvel (West). I rushed to the Level cross which is the only direct road link between East and West. The gate was closed, and that surely meant that a train was due soon. I check and found the train was just a few metres away from the gate. The loco came in with full force and horns blaring warning on lookers to be careful...


...The locos were WDM2 #18336 (Leading) and #18237, both from Kalyan. The load was a long BCNA. I was proud of my first way-side photograph! I decided to rush off towards Panvel station since it was too hot at the railway level crossing. I drove down slowly to the station, and found that the BCNA rake was still waiting there. I walked over to purchase a platform ticket. But...The ticket counter wasn't there. The place is now adorned by galleries for putting up Reservation charts! The unreserved ticket counter stood at the place where reservation counters were once present. Then where is the reservation counter?
The question baffled me for some time, but I decided to check out the counters at the "new" booking office. I was instantaneously awed! This is what I saw...


...a Station which had a very small booking office, where the queue used to flow much outside the building now has huge granite floored booking office! 5 reservation counters are now present instead of the old 3 counters! 5 ticket counters instead of the old 2 counters! Good improvement for the station!!!

The work on the suburban station building is progressing too fast...(Photos from there would pour in soon). I walked over to the Main line platform. The platform has been beautified, and the station is now getting what it really deserves! The flooring has been polished, new tiles have been laid at the edges, new LED Coach position indicators being installed, new granite benches, 3 new waiting halls, and a lot more! The entrance of the station now has a huge LED board (yet to be commissioned) which would display the status of trains, the platform on which they are expected and so on. A board there shows that the station handles 19 pairs of trains including 10 daily pairs. The station looked quite better than what it used to be a few months back!

The 1689 Diva-Roha Passenger was expected soon on Platform 2. I first decided to shoot the train from the platform, but later decided to go to the level cross right outside the station to get a better picture! I rushed out of the station, took my car and rushed to the gate. Just as I neared the gate, I saw a twin WCAM3 hauled BCNA rake moving towards Karjat. I then walked towards the gate to look if the passenger had arrived. She was all set to depart by now! The gate opened after the BCNA cleared. After about 3-5 minutes, the gate once again closed. The Passenger train got ready to move, and her horn was now heard...


...This train is now a DMU rake. The loco is at the mid of the rake. The train is controlled by pilots sitting in the front driving cab. The train has the MU-Cable running through-out its length, and the coaches are now classified as "GS-DMU" instead of "BG GS". The Driving cab now crossed me...


...The assistant loco pilot waved at me, and train moved further ahead. The loco in charge was WDM2 #16049 of Kalyan. The entire rake was 10 coaches+loco....


...and the arrangement was DC-GS-GS-GS-GS-Loco-GS-GS-GS-GS-DC. (DC = Driving Cab). The gate once again opened. I went back to my car (which I had parked a few metres away from the gate), and sat inside hearing some music, and reviewing the images. The gate remained open for the next 20 minutes. The gate once again closed, and I once again reached the gate. There were no trains in Panvel station. So the train should surely be from Karjat/Roha/JNPT Side! I panned the entire area to find out if there were any loco movements. Suddenly, I noticed one loco at a distance, and she was...


...WAG7 #27835 from Bhusawal. This was my first sighting of a Bhusawal loco, and a WAG7 sighting after more than one full month. The load was a BLCA/B (Container) train from JNPT. I took a photo and went back to my car. I decided to go to the station now. I drove down to the station once again. I parked the car at the Parking lot, and went over to get a platform ticket. The next scheduled train to come in was at 1115. The Ernakulam bound Mangala express (Scheduled time: 0930) was running late by over 2-and-a-half hours! I saw desperate passengers waiting for that train!!! The station yard was almost empty but for the WAG7 hauled container that I saw at the level cross.
While standing on the Foot over bridge, I read the parking ticket issued by the person at the parking lot. The rates for parking was exorbitant: Rs. 10 for 1 hour, Rs. 25 for 2-6 hours, Rs. 50 for beyond 6 hours, but less than 24 hours, and Rs. 625 for a monthly parking ticket! This was way more than the prevailing rate at other stations in Navi Mumbai (Where they charge Rs. 6 for every 4 hours, and Rs. 400 for a monthly ticket!). I decided to take my car out, and park it on the New-Panvel side of the station (on the road!). I re-parked my car, and got back to the station.
At about 1130, WDM2 #16668 of Ernakulam pulled in with the Kochuveli - Chandigarh Kerala Sampark Kranti Express...


The train had 17 Coaches, in the following composition: Loco-SLR-GS-GS-HA1-AS1-S8-PC-S7 to S1-GS-GS-SLR. The train had a long booking list, and the train surely has good patronage now! By now, my mom had finished her work, and she called me up. I had to rush back to Khanda Colony. I got back to my car, and rushed out. I once again reached the Khanda Colony Level cross gate, and she was once again closed! The Chandigarh bound Sampark Kranti was to cross...


..I was expecting the Mangala to come in, but she didn't! I drove back to the place where I had dropped my mom, and drove back to home! It was indeed an unexpectedly action filled Sunday! Bye, and thanks for reading. Do remember to drop in again!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Two WDPs causing an earthquake!

Foreword: Sorry for not updating for the past few days. The Internet service provider had been playing bad games! The connection was done since Thursday!

The WDP4 story...

I boarded my usual 0737 EMU from Belapur. The EMU departed late by about 3 minutes from Belapur, and another EMU running just ahead caused more havoc. We were crawling through the distance, and the train reached Kurla late by about 8 minutes. My connecting train (0818 Badlapur) was already on Platform 5 while my train pulled into Kurla. Just as I stepped on the platform, I saw the Badlapur EMU "jerking ahead"! I walked slowly over to Platform 5. The next Fast EMU was only at 0846 (Ambernath 12-Car). I had lots of time to spend at Kurla, and decided to check the CSTM End of the station.

A small description of the platform: The island platform housing Platforms 5 & 6 is curved and trains running from Mumbai CST side towards Ghatkopar, takes a sharp right curve, then slowly but steadily takes a left curve to run through the platform, and then once again takes a right curve rounding around Kurla Goods Yard and crossing Vidyavihar station. The approach of trains from Mumbai CST towards Kurla is picturesque, and is surely worth the risk of clicking!

Udyan Express towards Bangalore was expected to run through any time. The starter turned green, and the PA system warned passengers on Platform 5 about a "fast train" passing through. My camera got ready. I spotted an off-duty police officer standing near the end of the platform. It was safer to stand a few metres away from him, and so did I. I heard the ever familiar WDP4 horn, and now the loco was visible. The loco slowly approached the station...


...and I zoomed the camera's telephoto lens to the maximum. The loco was now in focus, she came closer...I clicked. I first feared that the loco might go out of range due to the shutter lag. But she did not dare to! The loco by now charged past me kicking up all the dust in protest of me clicking her! Flags exchanged, and the 18-coach train quickly exited the platform. I stayed a bit towards the mid of the platform, to avoid the policeman!

Another dippy was expected to rush through any moment now. The starter once again turned green, the PA system once again warned, and my camera once again started up! The horn was once again heard, and the loco became visible! I once again zoomed out...


...and she charged in. The 'item' had a dark patch on her face, but the maligning patch on the beautiful face was no deterrent for her to act mighty! The 24-Coach train kicked up all the dust on the platform, shook the platform, made everyone on the platform move backwards in respect! The loco seemed all set to conquer the Thull ghats! The station was silent now, and the EMU rolled in! It was all normal ahead!!!

Bye for now! I'll hopefully update tomorrow (provided the internet stays on!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

An action filled day!

The day was all normal till Thane. I reached Thane at 0837. I decided to wait till the Udyan/Pushpak rushed through. At around 0845, an EMU proceeding towards Mumbai CST decided to cross over from the Slow line towards the Fast line. In process the Udyan Express got held up at Thane outer signal. Even minutes after the EMU cleared, there was no sign of Udyan moving. Some minutes later, I felt that the rake was moving, and I kept my camera ready. It was a WDM3A after a very long time now. The loco was WDM3A #17970 of Krishnarajapuram. The loco seemed to slowly crawl....

...and there was no sign of the loco notching up. I could sense that the loco was idling. The station khalasi shouted at the pilot for driving slowly, but there was no response! The train slowly screeched to a halt! So what was wrong? The signal was green! I decided to check it out! The loco failed...When I approached the loco, they were trying to revive the dying loco! The pilots were running helter-skelter to revive the loco but to no result! The Guard came running to check what was wrong. A few off-duty pilots who were around also came to the loco and tried all they knew to revive the loco. I could sense the tension that the pilots were experiencing! They were stuck up on the main line, and traffic was piling up behind! At around 0910, the starter turned red (After staying green for about 25 minutes). The Lucknow bound Pushpak express (which closely trails the Udyan Express) was now re-routed to Platform 7. She came in...

...with WDP4 #20034. The train paused near the starter (of Platform 7) for a minute, and then moved ahead with a long horn. They switched off the loco of Udyan, and then restarted her. Then they notched up the loco...but she did not move even an inch! Matters were getting worse as the line behind was already blocked. There would be EMUs, the Kolhapur bound Koyna Express and may be more trains behind! The Guard talked to the controls, and a substitute loco was asked for. He said that the loco has to come down from Kalyan! unfortunately, due to all this drama, the UP Main line was also getting blocked frequently!
Finally at around 0930, the Mumbai CST bound Sinhagad Express decided to rush through...

...with WCAM3 #21946 of Kalyan. On seeing the train, I was reminded that I had an examination today! Rushhhhhh to the college now! I was around the station till 0950, and the train was still there! [On checking, I found that Udyan reached Kalyan at 1050, about 2 hours late. By a small back calculation - The train should have left thane at around 1030 or so - close to 2 hours after the loco went kaput!]
The paper was confusing, and to add to my woes it was horribly humid today! I was sweating out the entire duration of the paper! I made it back to the station at 1325. I took the 1334 CSTM Fast. I spotted a Light WCAM3 waiting to rush out from the Electric Loco trip shed at LTT. WDM3A #14080 of Erode, WDM2 #17339 of Ernakulam, and WDM3A #18754R of Pune were stabled at Kurla DLS.
I reached Kurla at 1400. Some time later, the WCAM3 that I saw at LTT rushed towards Dadar. The loco...

...was WCAM3 #21887. She was rushing towards Dadar to pick up the Nagpur bound Sewagram express. [This is a regular loco movement. She rushes towards Dadar regularly at around this time - approximately around 1405~1410]. After some more minutes, the Pune loco...

WDM3A #18754R ran across Kurla yard (near Platform 8) tugging a live WDS4 towards Dadar. This loco (Pune WDM3A) would take the KR3 towards Ratnagiri. [This loco movement is also regular!]. Finally, I took an EMU at 1416, and reached home by 1500.
Bye for the day...hoping to see the Udyan/Pushpak Dippy combo tomorrow also!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An eventful day!

After two days' holiday, I was back to college on Tuesday. The exams seemed to be never ending, and a new chapter was just unfolding! I reached Kurla as usual at around 0811. My train towards Thane was 0818 Badlapur Fast. The train pulled in dot on time! The journey to Thane was just normal with no major spottings! The EMU pulled into Thane at 0849. The FOB was too crowded, and I decided to wait for the crowd to thin. By this time, the EMU went out, the starter went red, and after some minutes it was back to green! I knew the reason and decided to wait!
The starter was for the Bangalore bound Udyan Express...She came in...


...with WDP4 #20028. As is the normal practice, the Lucknow bound 2533 Pushpak express followed Udyan express. Her loco was....


...WDP4 #20032! Interestingly, the Dippy of Udyan was working Short Hood, while the one of Pushpak was Long hood! So by a matter of chance, I could see both the hoods in a matter of about 3 minutes!

I rushed to college after these spottings. The paper turned out to be easy, and we had a 1.5 hours paper instead of the usual 1 hour paper. The paper got over by 1300, and I was out at the bus stop by 1330. I reached Thane at around 1400. The first spotting of the noon session was WCAM2 #21864 from Valsad with a south bound Tanker rake. The paint job of the loco looked very shoddy. Just as the south bound tanker cleared the platform, WDM2 #18354 of Kalyan pulled through with a north bound Tanker train. The station slipped into silence. The main line platforms remained silent for a long time then onwards, until the Mangalore bound Matsyagandha pulled in with WDM2A #18455 of Erode. Ever since this train stopped sharing its locos with Netravati, WDM2s are coming this way! Earlier it was a prestigious WDM3A link! Just as Matsyagandha was waiting for her starter, a BCNA rake hauled by WCG2 duo (lead by #20125, and #20145 trailing) crawled through towards Kurla. Matsyagandha moved out at around 1435, and there was silence in the station for the next 3 minutes! At 1438, the Chennai bound 6011 Express pulled in with WCG2 #20142 of Kalyan. I decided to call it a day, and decided to take the 1447 Fast towards Kurla. The First class coach that I boarded was quite crowded, and there was no chance of moving in! I made it to Kurla at around 1510 or so. A Belapur bound EMU was already pulling in! I had a mad dash and made it to the train. Just minutes into the run, I got an SMS from IRFCAn Ranjeet that he spotted the KR4 passenger with an Ernakulam WDM2!!!

After about 30 minutes of running from Kurla, my train slowly neared the Belapur outer only to see this:


EMUs terminating at Belapur have to cross the UP Line in order to enter Platform 3 which is used as a terminus. In fact, Platform 3 lies on the main line, while trains arriving from Panvel enter Belapur on Platform 2, then use a change over point to enter the main line. So when a train is occupying Platform 2, then a Belapur EMU has to wait at the outer signal! After a few minutes of waiting...


That was a Panvel-CSTM EMU which made us wait! The EMU crossed my coach a few seconds later, and we finally crossed the Parsik Tunnel, and the train crossed over on to the UP Line. There is a speed restriction of 15 KMPH for trains entering Platform 3, and our train slowly crawled in, and I finally made it to my home at around 1600 or so!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Exam Day: 3

The fever (Pyrexia) and ENT Problems that got behind me since Wednesday showed no symptoms of slowing down as I prepared for the third paper in the series! I boarded the 08:02 EMU from Belapur as opposed to my usual 07:37 EMU. Some extra rituals at the temple ensured that I reached the station late. I spotted Pushpak Express towards Lucknow rushing off with WDP4 #20028 in charge. It was all a dry day after that!

There were no specific spottings in the noon other than for one WCAG1 pulling off towards Wadala with a BOXN rake, and a light WCAM3 rushing off towards Dadar! I spent most of the evening watching a popular Malayalam flick on TV, and then trying to track the "progress" of India at their first match at the Cricket World Cup in progress at West Indies! The current World Cup runners Up were battling with our neighbour - Bangladesh! The Team from Bangladesh just restricted India to a meagre 191 (All out in 49.2 overs!).

Without much of spotting, it was a hot and dry day! Cool days for Air-Conditioners ahead as Citizens of India sweat it out! Good night guyz!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Examination: Day 2

Today was Day 2 of internal examinations. Pyrexia, cold and pain in my ear kept me off from studies, and I lay sluggish for the entire evening. After playing off for the entire evening, and a small meeting with a nearby ENT (Ear-Nose-Throat) Specialist, I returned home - had dinner and slept. The preparation for today's paper was to begin just in the morning!
I made a visit to the temple before proceeding to college. I was busy reading my book that I had hardly any time to look out! I heard two WDP4 hauled trains rushing past Thane in quick succession while I was waiting for my bus to move ahead! The paper was a bit tricky, and I could finish it satisfactorily!
While i reached back at the station on my way back home, I spotted WDM2 #18169 of Kalyan pulling through with a Tanker train. My EMU (1334) was already late, and the esteemed lady made her appearance only at 1345. The coach, I boarded was already full. I decided to stay at the door. I was not able to keep looking out since the wind was too hot. I felt as if my eyes were burning. Near Bhandup, We crossed a BCNA rake hauled by twin WCG2s (lead by #20111). I finally reached Kurla at around 1411. I took the 1416 Belapur train from there on.
While waiting at Kurla for my 1416 train, a Light WCAM3 (#21959) rushed towards DR, and a twin WCAM3 hauled BCNA rushed towards Mulund from CSTM side. (That was really surprising!)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A written examination!

Today was my first written examination - Internal examination - a prelude to the master blaster final examinations to be held by the University of Mumbai! It was a short 15 marks paper (the marks get included in the final mark list issued by the University!). The subject was Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry.
I developed cold, and Pyrexia yesterday by evening. I had my body and head aching in combination. I was unable to concentrate on my studies, and was sort of slugging the entire evening. I was OK by morning. I had NIL preparation for my paper. I made a visit to a nearby temple (after all, he knows everything!). I appealed to God for help, and took the 0737 train towards Kurla.
BTW, While waiting for the 0737 train at Belapur, I noticed the brand new DC 9-Car rake of Central Railway. The leading driving cab was 72359, and the trailing (rear end) one was 72361. Thus the rake is 359-361. The rake looked similar to earlier delivery - 353-355.
My train (0737) was quite crowded. I managed to get a backward facing seat, and got engrossed in reading for today's exam. The paper passed off quite easily - The paper was unexpectedly EASY!
While returning from College in the afternoon - I boarded 1334 CSTM Fast from Thane. Our train was made to wait for some time as a Gorakhpur bound Holiday special was slowly crawling into Platform 7. An un-identified WCAM3 was in charge. Our train ran at a very good speed upto Vikhroli Outer. A slow tanker rake was ahead of our train. We kept getting yellows (Caution signals) right from Vikhroli Outer to Ghatkopar Starter (A distance of about 4.5 kms at a speed of 15kmph!) The train literally crawled through the distance. We got a danger at Ghatkopar advanced starter - We were detained for about 5 minutes there! A slow train which we had overtaken at Bhandup overtook us here! The train finally made it to Kurla at around 1406.
I took a Belapur train at 1416, and reached home by 1500. Better I study for tomorrow's exam or may be GOD would question me! Bye for the day!

Just spotted!!!

Just spotted Central Railway's brand new DC 9-car rake. The rake is #359-360-361.
She is based at Sanpada car shed and will make about 5 trips to thane, 3 to panvel, and 3 to Wadala. More details would be posted in the evening! Bye for now...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Another day...

I had some work at college, and I finished them quite early. I reached back at Thane station at around 1300. That was quite early for the day, and I settled on one of the benches on the platform waiting for my first photograph of the day! The first train came in at 1331, and that was a long tanker rake hauled by WDM2 #16049 of Kalyan...


Just as the Guard van of the tanker cleared the platform line, I spotted a light WCG2 rushing towards the stations. The loco slowed down, and entered Platform 7. That loco was WCG2 #20129. That action was to allow a late running EMU (just behind the loco) to go ahead!


WDM2 #17632 of Kalyan rushed towards Kalyan with a long Container rake. The rake was really long, and at the time when the loco cleared the starter, the rear caboose had not even crossed the outer! 1014 Coimbatore-LTT Express pulled in at 1359 with WCG2 #20122 in charge.


KR4 Ratnagiri-Dadar passenger came in at 1415 - Loco was WDM3A #18767R. [Read Yesterday's Blog post!]


Finally the Mangalore bound Matsyagandha pulled in at 1433 - Loco was WDM3A #18536 of Erode.


The Chennai bound 6011 express pulled in WCG2 #20116 at 1440.


For the regulars: If you had read the blog post of yesterday, you would have noted that the locos that hauled the 1014 & 6011 expresses today, were hauling the same trains yesterday! I have been noticing this since about the past two weeks - Each train now has a fixed loco link. A loco works the UP & Down trains for about two consecutive days before returning to its home!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A mix of studies and railfanning....

Studying for an examination, and Railfanning when mixed together can seriously be lethal! I had a taste of that deadly combination today, but may be because my stars were strong It wasn't seriously fatal for me!
I had an examination at college today - a practical examination in Pharmacognosy. An under-prepared condition, an ego clash with the examiner, and lack of practice was worrying factors for me. I hadn't read anything since I was back from college only at 2100 on Monday, and it was too tiring to sit and read anything! I started reading for the examination only while traveling from Kurla to Thane.
BTW: Just as I got down at Kurla, I spotted the Pune bound Deccan express rushing off with WCAM3 #21961 in charge. I spotted WDM3A #14125 of Erode sleeping off at Kurla (Too unusual! The loco that usually brings the Matsyagandha express waits near Lokmanya Tilak Terminus since she has to take the Netravati in the noon). The remainder of the journey was normal. Madgaon bound Mandovi was late.
Back to the examination part: I was expecting the worst questions to appear in the paper (mind you - I had clashed with the teacher just a week back!). I could visualize marks evaporating into thin air under different heads of the 15 mark paper! I had to reading something to ensure that I can contain atleast some of those vapours!
I reached Thane right on time, and rushed up the FOB and ran towards the bus station. On my way, I met a class mate and we were seriously discussing our preparations for the paper. We got into a bus, and got involved in reading for the exam in no time. We were busy reading, and we really did not realize when we reached our college! The exam began at 0940. I lost one mark in no time (mis-interpreted a substance - I thought of one, and wrote about the other!). I got the first part of the paper (Histology) right. The second part of the paper (Identification of a Powder mixture) came through correctly! So I was banking on 8 marks worth of correct answers!
I lost marks at the Viva-Voce examination...and was on the verge of losing marks for record keeping too! It is not known as to how many marks did I lose during the day - and I peg it at around 2-3. I threw the examination behind, and walked out of the college at around 1300. I reached Thane at around 1340 or so. I was too thrilled about railfanning after a few days now!
The first spotting of the day was 1014 Coimbatore - Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Express.


The loco in-charge was WCG2 #20122 of Kalyan. The light was just perfect for the Photo, and I clicked it instantly! The 20-coach train pulled in to platform 7. I was roaming around Platform 7. I was actually waiting for the Mangalore bound Matsyagandha Express. (I had a tip-off about a rather surprising link for this train - but that wasn't the case!). Matsyagandha finally pulled in at


A boring Erode WDM3A (#14125) pulled in with the train! (Remember: I had seen this loco in the morning at Kurla!). I was disgusted. Erode Locos (once my favorites), are now looking quite boring and unimpressive! WDP4s are more romantic! The livery of Pune WDM3As are still attractive! The express pulled out after some time. It was now the time for the Chennai bound 6011 Express to pull in. A huge group of more than 150 people were waiting for this train, and they infact had informed the Station manager about their intent. Special announcements were made for them regarding the coach that they have to board in, and the train was made to wait for about 10 minutes instead of the usual 2 minutes! The train came in with WCG2 #20116 of Kalyan.


Since the express was detained for more than its scheduled time, a BCNA rake was spotted waiting at Thane outer for her proceed signal! The impatiently waiting BCNA rake had WCAG2 #21980 doing the honours!


The Dadar bound passenger was running terribly late, and there was no sign of the train arriving though the time was already 1500. I decided to take an EMU to Kurla. I took a Fast EMU, and surprisingly, the passenger was right behind my train! Just minutes after my EMU departed from Kurla, the passenger charged through - and the loco in charge was WDM3A #18756R of Pune.


Just seconds before the passenger charged through, Pune WDM3A #18767R moved out of the Diesel Shed in Kurla, and started her journey towards Dadar to pick up this passenger for her return journey! (Oops! Is the sentence too big - Beckons Essay???). I then took an EMU from Kurla towards Belapur, and made it to home by around 1610 or so!
The teacher has called me to college tomorrow! Hopefully, I solve the issue amicably, and end up the impasse! Bye for the day! A nasty cold, and accumulated sleep is pulling me I go...