Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another Bengalooru Sojourn

Yet another vacation, and yet another trip! This time the trip is to Bangalore (Err! To Bengalooru). The plan is: Departing LTT on 31 May (Thats today!) by 1013 LTT-CBE Express.
Return: Departing Yesvantpur on 10 June by 1018 Chalukya Express.

I'll be in Bangalore from June 01 to June 09. There are no other plans as of now! Regular updates would be made to the blog as and when some thing substantial happens! Bye for now, and wish me a very happy journey ;-)

The End....to exams!

The Final year Bachelor of Pharmacy examinations conducted by the University of Mumbai finally ended today! Four years of life as a Pharmacy student too ended today! The results would be out in 45 days, and I'd receive my certificate by December!!!

Its been a long 4 years to traveling regularly a distance of about 39 kilometres each way from my home to College. The last one year was spend traveling on trains, with loads of spotting per day!

I will post some interesting experiences in college during the next few days.... but for now - bye!

psst! Hold on....read the next post for a Surrrppprrriiiisssseeee!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

It rained today!

Raining hard!
Photo from Archives. Image taken from the balcony of my bedroom (Circa 2006).

After a long hot summer, the first pre-monsoon shower showed up today! It rained almost continuously for about 30 minutes beginning around 0500 (AM). Later, in the afternoon, it rained in other parts of Navi Mumbai, and then again here!

The temperature this summer had gone as high as 42 degree Celsius, and the average temperature was in the range of 35~36 deg Celsius! Finally the temperature came down, and mother earth cooled down a bit! The South-East monsoon has already hit the southern coast of India early by about a week. The official Monsoon period is expected to begin on June 08, here in Mumbai! Hopefully, pre-monsoon showers keeps the city cool for the days to come!

Monsoon season is a terror since July 26, 2005! That day it flooded heavily, and most residents of the city including me were stuck at different places! Monsoon season is usually flooded with Health risks caused due to contamination of Drinking water, and due to unhygienic conditions prevailing at most lower-middle class homes, and at eateries which most people flock to! Hopefully this monsoon passes off without a flood, and those disease!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Kalyan's own KDMT!

KDMT1006

The extended suburban twin cities of Kalyan and Dombivli, lacked a public transport system for years together. The local commutes of the passengers were at the grace of local autorickshaw operator, who never operate on the 'meter-tariff' but ask for a round figure amount which is always more than double the meter fare! In around 1997, the Municipal Corporation decided to start town bus services in the twin city. Political delays kept pushing off the project even as buses purchased for the service kept rotting at their depot!

Finally in 1999, the service took of with much pomp, and that was a dream come true for locals in the Kalyan-Dombivli Area. The service was named Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Transport, abbreviated as "KDMT". The bus service initially started off with about 40 buses, and 8 years down the lane, the undertaking now owns 105 buses, and operates about 30 more buses taken on hire! KDMT buses bear the registration mark "MH-05".

The service extended their wings to the adjoining Navi Mumbai in 1999 with one route between Kalyan and Vashi (Route No. 11) . This route became an instant success, and is still one of their most successful bus routes! The service extended its wings to Belapur CBD in 2001 with Route No. 15 (Kalyan-Konkan Bhavan). This route was initially a flop with poor patronage. They initially suspended bus services during noon hours when the rush was the poorest, but today - they send one bus every 20-30 minutes. In around 2004, KDMT introduced their third bus service to Navi Mumbai: Route number 12 between Badlapur and Vashi via Ambernath, Ulhasnagar. This service too was sucessful, but the current status of this bus service is not known!

KDMT operates about 40 non-Euro Leyland buses (MH 05-9601 till 9640), 40 Euro-I Leyland Buses (MH 05-9641 to 9681, excluding 9669), about 4 Leyland Stag mini-buses (MH 05-9682 till 9686) and about 21 Euro-1 'Hino' Leyland buses (MH 05-9669, MH 05-9687 to 9700 and MH 05-R-1001 till 1006). Making up a total of 105 buses. In addition to these, KDMT also operates around 30 Euro-2 Leyland buses (MH 05-R-1007 till 1036). The undertaking houses their buses at two depots. One at Ganeshghat near Kalyan on the Kalyan-Murbad Road, and the other one at Khambalpada at Thakurli near Dombivli.

The picture above is MH05-R-1006 waiting to return back to Kalyan from Belapur CBD Railway Station, working on Route no. 15.

The maintenance of the 105 buses owned by the undertaking is very poor, and sight of breakdowns are quite common. You could end up sitting in a bus with a leaking roof, or a window without a glass pane, or just in case the bus has a pane, that would be tied up with a rope to prevent it from falling down! In many cases, the back support of the seat breaks off, and they simply tie it down to the protective bar across the window! The buses make enough noise that the driver can manage without a horn. In one example today, I was traveling back from My examination centre in Dombivli to my home. The bus that came around was MH05-R-1006. The vehicle had some transmission problem, and the engine was not delivering the required amount of power. The bus stalled at a gradient, and the driver had a very bad time trying to revive the make the bus move ahead. The bus objected for about 5 minutes, but later the bus inched forward!

KDMT is surely the cheapest way to travel around Kalyan-Dombivli, but the poor frequency of the services makes waiting at the bus stop endless! The poor condition of the buses cause frequent breakdowns, and that too leads to cancellation of trips! The corporation needs lots of improvement to get back to its feet!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sorrrrrryyyyy!

Really sorry for terribly irregular updation here! But, I seriously couldn't help it out! The exam schedule got just busier, and I have exams on three days of the week - Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday! The last one of this week is on tomorrow.

All these days were dry except for spotting a Tuglakhabad WAG5 at Nilaje on Tuesday. The loco was incharge of a very long Container train. On the same day, I spotted a WDG3A "Shakti" hauling an unknown freight train out of Nilaje station. I hope to get some images from the spot very soon!

Nothing special is expected in the days to come ahead Except for this:
I am traveling to south once again. Departing on 31 May by 1013 Express (subject to confirmation) and returning on 10 June - Departing Bangalore on 10th by 1018 Chalukya express. The itinerary would be confirmed very soon....please bear with me!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Busy and dry days on...

The days are now getting hotter than never before! The thermometer refuses to go under the 33 degree Celsius mark! The humidity keeps rising, and its good times ahead for people selling cool drinks! The university decided to keep its exams during the peak of summer!

The days are getting busier, and the fact that I now travel by bus is making the day more dry than ever! The only saving grace is that I spot the DIVA-PNVL railway line at Nilaje, but could never see a single train crossing till date!

The exams will go on till 31 May, and going by the clues, there could be a trip to the south in the first week of June. Its still pending, and I'll have to wait to see what really happens!

Sorry, but you'll have to bear with me for the erratic updation that would continue to some more time now! Thanks for your patience, and bye for now!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The day of a late running surprise!

True! I was dumbstruck while browsing the train status on the Konkan Railway website. The time was already 10 AM, and by this time the train should have crossed Ratnagiri! I checked the website of Western Railway, and the National Train Enquiry System (Trainenquiry.com). Both the websites claimed that the train was close to 7 hours late! What else would I want? I quickly called up my mom to inform of my plans, and I set out to Panvel.

I reached Panvel at around 1105. The Nizamuddin-Ernakulam Mangala Express had just pulled in, and the loco was connected to the re-fueling pump. Taking an image around there was impossible since the train was on Platform 1, and the loco was close to the RPF Office. I walked down to the Level cross which is about 400-500 metres from the platform towards Roha. The loco was by now readying for departure. The train pulled out at 1120. The loco was WDM2 #16874 of Ernakulam. The train was late by an hour and 45 minutes. The coach position of the rake seemed to have reversed. The AC coaches are normally right behind the loco, but this time the AC coaches were at the rear end of the rake. The train had an extra Sleeper coach, making a total 19 coaches. I walked back to the station. The station had passengers waiting for four departures that would take place in the next 90 minutes. The Queue at the ticket counters were getting longer!

The reservation charts showed that 2432 Rajdhani would be picking up 12 passengers in 3A, and 4 in 2A. I spotted a WCAG1 waiting near Platform 2. I walked over to have a look at the loco. The loco was WCAG1 #21976. The loco was waiting ready to haul a north bound Container train that would arrive shortly from JNPT. The container train came in at 1200 with WDG3A #14558 of Kalyan in charge. Not a single WAGx loco was seen around! At around 1210, the arrival of Rajdhani Express was announced. The WDG3A was removed, and the WCAG1 went ahead to take charge. The Rajdhani came in at 1218. The train pulled over to Platform 1. The passengers from Panvel are accommodated in AS2 and A3. Not much passengers got down (The Panvel quota is 12 in 3A, and 4 in 2A).

The Rajdhani left at 1237, late by 7 hours and 22 minutes. I was back at the level cross to see the train. The loco was...



...WDP3A #15515 of Golden Rock. The same loco adorns the banner of this blog! This loco seems to be a Rajdhani favorite!!! The rake had 17 coaches instead of the normal 15. There was 1 extra 3A coach, and an extra 2A coach. The rake cleared the level cross in a matter of a few seconds! The station, and the level cross was back to silence! The next train expected was the passenger train from Ratnagiri. The train showed up at 1253. The loco smoked up as she came close. The loco was WDM3A #17897R of Pune. The rake was 18 coaches including three reserved coaches. The train went straight to Platform 1. The Trivandrum bound Netravati Express had now pulled into Platform 3. The loco was WDM3A #14123 of Erode (No Pics!). The Passenger departed about 3-4 minutes later. The Ernakulam-Nizamuddin Mangala Express, by now, showed up its face! I spotted the loco approaching Panvel. The loco wasWDM2 #16877 of Ernakulam. The train cleared the gate, and I saw an RPF officer patrolling the tracks at a distance! I wasted no time, and rushed back to the station, and reached home as early as possible! I couldn't photograph the loco of Netravati since I was in a hurry!!! The photos (other than the ones above) can be seen here. The first 10 photos are from today's session.

Update: The Rajdhani was late probably due to some derailment up in the northern part of India. It is not really clear as to what really happened!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bus days ahead!

Finally the Final year Bachelor of Pharmacy (Semester VIII) examinations (Theory) of the University of Mumbai began today! I am appearing for the same, and I got my centre at Saraswati Vidya Bhavan's College of Pharmacy (SVBCoP) situated at Sonarpada (Dombivli) on the Kalyan-Shil Phata road. The easiest way to reach this centre from my home is by buses operating on the Belapur - Kalyan route. The buses on this route is operated by Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Transport or simply called KDMT.

The bus service (Route number 15) begins from Belapur Railway Station, and terminates at Kalyan Railway station (West). The bus route is via Juinagar Railway Station, Turbhe naka, Mahape naka, Kalyan Phata and Manpada. The frequency is about 20-30 minutes. The route length is around 36 kilometres, and I travel about 80% of the route length. The fare for my travel (Belapur Rly. Station to Sonarpada) is Rs. 15, and the journey time is around an hour. The first out of the seven exams was held today, I left home in the morning. Before leaving home, I made a visit to the temple, made prayers and then left home.

I reached Belapur station at around 0745. There was no bus in sight. I kept waiting, and finally the bus turned up at 0810. The scheduled departure was at 0815. The crew (Driver and Conductor) got down from the bus and went for a round of refreshments. They came back to the bus at around 0820. The bus finally pulled out at around 0825. The bus was one like in the image below: (The image is only for representational purposes)

1009

This bus in among about 20 buses taken on hire by the undertaking. The bus is owned by a private operator. The Conductor is employed by the undertaking. The corporation reportedly earns Rs. 26 per kilometre while it spends about Rs. 18 per kilometre (as per a news paper report). The bus is has an Ashok Leyland Engine conforming to Bharat Stage 2 (Euro 2) pollution norms.

The journey was comfortable, and the driver was a real maniac! He accelerated the bus heavily, and brakes hard! The return journey was even more interesting. The driver was quite sluggish while accelerating. The bus was finding is very hard to climb gradients! The bus on the return journey was MH05-R-1016.

The route cuts the Diva-Panvel railway line near Nilaje railway station. While returning from the examination centre, I noticed an unidentified WAG7 (tiger face) waiting at Nilaje station on the UP line with some rake.

The journey was overall very interesting. I'll make a much detailed post about KDMT later. Bye for now!

Monday, May 14, 2007

200 and still on....

TNA-S2

!!! Two Hundred Posts !!!

We are now Two Hundred posts Young! This blog has finally completed two hundred posts, and this is the 201st post! Thank you for your encouraging patronage!

The hundredth post was on November 29, 2006 and it took long 5-and-a-half months for the next century! Thanks to the apathic maintenance of the telephone connection by the state run telecom provider - I could reach this milestone today!

The way ahead is long for Platform 7. As a part of the celebrations, Platform 7 got new costumes about a week back, and I hope you liked it! Please post your comments about the blog here! I am in dire need of them - After all, everyone needs response from the reader to improve!

Thank you once again for the patronage - Do maintain the same for the days to come. The signal is green, and the flag is being waved. Hope that my locomotive now notches up, and we reach our top speed!

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.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Short railfanning @ CLA/GC/VK

A petty reason saw me travelling to Vikhroli on Saturday. I was planning to travel in the afternoon, so that I'd get to see the Matsyagandha and the TVC Holiday special. I left home at around 1150. The train I was intending to board was to depart Belapur at 1159. So that was too close for comfort. To add to my woes, some road repairing works are in progress around the I area I stay in, and I have to take a long detour to reach Belapur station. It adds up to about a kilometre (to the existing 2.5 kms) and it also involves a Traffic signal which is manually controlled! It would, by anyway, take atleast 15 minutes to make it to the station. I decided to board the train from Seawood-Dharave - The next station after Belapur while travelling towards Kurla.
The train reached SWDV (the railway code for 'Seawood-Dharave'). The first class coach had hardly around 3-4 passengers inside, and one was free to choose seats! I selected a forward facing window seat on the Right hand side of the train. The journey was dry till the time we reached Kurla. Just at Kurla Outer, I noticed a Pune WDG3A checking her horn inside the DLS.
I got down at Kurla, and decided to wait till the holiday special goes. The next scheduled EMU on that platform was only at 1315, while the special would be passing by at around 1300. I walked over to the end of the platform, and waited patiently for the special to turn up. The special...

18926

...turned up with WDM2 #18926 of Kalyan in charge. The rake was 18-coaches long, and appeared clean! I turned back, and started walking towards the FOB, while I noticed another train entering Platform 6. That was 7032 Hyderabad-Mumbai Express with WCG2 #20116 in charge! I then rushed over to Platform 1, and took a slow local towards Vikhroli. I spotted two WDS4s shunting rakes into Lokmanya Tilak Terminus. One of those locos immediately caught my attention, and I decided to get down from the train to take a photo of those shunters! The loco that caught my attention was WDS4 #19465 of Kurla. The loco had a new livery. Joining 19465 was #19451 shunting another rake into LTT. #19465 was shunting the rake of LTT-Guwahati Express, which should have departed LTT in the morning at 0750! A close up of #19465:

19465

After the photos, I took another Slow EMU to Vikhroli. Just as my EMU was pulling in, a WCG2 rushed past with the Chennai-Mumbai Express. Just as I was on the FOB, a WCG2 rushed past with the Mumbai-Hyderabad Express. I had to meet a friend of mine, and we had a small chat before I returned. I took an EMU and got down at Ghatkopar. Now, I wanted to see the Matsyagandha Express.
Just minutes after I reached Ghatkopar, WCAM3 #21941 rushed through with a heavily delayed LTT-Guwahati Express. The train had an interesting coach arrangement: Loco-VPU-SLR-GS-GS-S1 to S6-A1-AS1 to AS3-PC-S7 to S11-GS-GS-SLR! The AC coaches were sandwiched between sleeper coaches! This train ensured that the 1411 Karjat Fast EMU, and the Mangalore bound Matsyagandha Express were late!
The EMU crawled into Ghatkopar at around 1415. The Matsyagandha Express normally follows this EMU. Just as the EMU was about to move out, a late running Howrah-Allahabad-Mumbai Mail rushed towards Mumbai CST with a WCAM3 in charge. Now this further ensured that the Matsyagandha was late! Finally, Matsyagandha crossed Ghatkopar at 1423 with WDM3A #18596 of Erode in charge. The loco was a very good smoker, and the smoke created by the Loco as it notched after entering the Main line was awesome. I couldn't take a photograph since the loco was too far for the camera to focus!

I returned back to Kurla in another slow EMU. While travelling in the EMU, the Mumbai-Chennai Express crossed me. I got down at Kurla, and moved over to Platform 7/8. I spotted that the WDG3A inside the DLS was now ready to move out. I decided to wait till the loco goes by. Some time later, I spotted the loco moving out. I moved over to the end of the platform to get a better image. The loco was WDG3A #13052 of Pune. The loco was tugging a live WDS4 behind. The loco would crawl its way to Dadar and then take the KR3 passenger towards Ratnagiri in the evening. Just about 2 minutes after the loco went through, the KR4 Ratnagiri-Dadar Passenger was seen at a distance. The loco in charge was...

18764

...WDM3A #18764 of Pune. The loco had a red at Outer, and was furiously notching its way into the station! I then took a Belapur EMU, and got down at SWDV. There ended a short railfanning day!

Images of the day are here
Note - Station codes: SWDV - Seawood-Dharave; CLA - Kurla; LTT - Lokmanya Tilak Terminus; GC - Ghatkopar; VK - Vikhroli.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Mahabus series....

The Mahabus looks like an always favorite target to chase! As I had written earlier, The "Mahabus" fleet of buses is a part of re-structuring program of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) to get a fair share of the "Luxury" segment market which is mainly dominated by private operators. Though legally speaking, in Maharashtra, only MSRTC is permitted to operate stage carriage bus services, many private operators operate services under the guise of "Package tour" or "Conduct tour" using buses which have a normal "Tourist Permit" instead of the mandatory "Stage Carriage Permit". Heavy corruption, and under staffing of the concerned regulatory bodies, allow these operators to continue operating, and state run corporations end up in the red.
MSRTC is a big example of that. Old, ill-maintained buses and poor facilities compel passengers (who can afford) to pay a bit extra and travel in those private buses. The maintenance of these private buses are no better, but they provide services at the times the passengers want to travel. The scheduling is done keeping in mind the convenience of working section of the population. The Karnataka state Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) did lots of re-structuring, and today they control a huge share of the luxury segment in their state. Their buses (especially the Volvos) run with 70-80% load, while Private operators have to take a lot of efforts to maintain an average load factor of 60-70% during the weekdays.
MSRTC's Mahabus was introduced as a direct competition to the private unorganised sector. The first step towards the competition however was the introduction is the "Shivneri" brand Volvo buses (Read an article about that here: Good service from MSRTC posted on February 06, 2007). MSRTC scheduled their buses to run every 30 minutes on the Dadar-Pune route, with a fare lower than that of the private operators! Punctuality was their biggest positive aspect! MSRTC buses depart from the bus terminus at the scheduled time irrespective of the load factor, while private operators wait till they get a load factor of atleast 70-80%.
The Mahabus story: Heavy losses in MSRTC was preventing them from spending more for purchasing new Luxury segment buses. They went the lease way! They found out a lessor, and they hired buses from them. MSRTC pays them a fixed rate on a per-kilometre basis. Ticket sales in handled by MSRTC, while operations (including drivers, fuel, toll, other overhead expenditures) are done by the lessor. The bus is owned by the lessor. MSRTC took an unknown number of buses on such a contract. These buses are King Long KL6113, Ashok Leyland 12M bus with a Sutlej Body and Tata Globus. There are just two King Long buses on the road (MH43 H 649 & 650).
I had written about the Leyland bus in January (click here for the article) and about the King Long buses yesterday (click here for the article). My search for the Tata Globus ended today! I was driving down from Vashi to my home in Belapur. All of a sudden, I noticed a bus descending from the Vashi flyover, and guess what - That was the Globus! I had a good chase to catch the bus on my camera. Here are some images:

GLO1
The bus was too fast, and my camera could not cope up with her speed! I ended up in getting some parts of the front of the bus outside the focus!

The rear view of the bus...

GLO2

This bus was supposed to have a rear-mount engine, as announced by Tata Motors at the time of launch. But when the actual product was seen on the road, the bus had a front engine! The engine however is powerful enough to power the Air-Conditioners as well. The Passenger comfort in this bus is not known. The engine performance should not be poor, since the engine has almost the same power as that of a Volvo!

A promise that I had made yesterday: I had promised to get a better image of MSRTC's King Long. Here is one:

KL

The bus looks smarter than a Volvo! A comparision between the two will be put up soon! Bye for the day...and come back tomorrow for some thing special!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Caught you...

Regular readers of this blog would remember reading about MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) Mahabus service. In case you don't: Chasing the Mahabus posted on February 10 2007. In that post, I had mentioned about King Long KL6113 buses being introduced. This bus was ever a surprise to me, and I often spot it passing me among other vehicles. I was never able to spot the bus entirely as I would be driving my car in the opposite direction and the bus would be camouflaged by other small vehicles on the road.
I've always spotting this bus working a particular Dadar-Pune service: The 09:15 departure from Dadar. This bus crossed Vashi at around 0950~1000, and Belapur about 5-10 minutes later. I've tried my level best to spot this bus whilst travelling in the direction, but always fail to do so!
Today, I had some work in Vashi, and I reached there at about 0930. I decided to wait till the elusive thing passes me! With complete determination, I was waiting there on the Highway armed with my camera. A white bus approached me, and that was a NWKRTC express bound to Hubli...

KSRTC

...I had spotted this bus earlier during a busfanning session on April 05. (Click here for details). The design was quite impressive. Back to our topic::
Just after the NWKRTC bus went past me, I spotted another white bus approaching me. That was her...

KL1

...I almost jumped up in excitement! My camera was set to manual mode, and it damaged the photo by over-exposing it a bit! The sun was bang on the face of the bus, and details have been lost! Anyways, the bus was MH43-H-650. I'll try to get better images in a day or two.
The rear view of the bus:

KL2

The bus appeared to be better than a Volvo in terms of the design, but other aspects like engine performance, passenger comfort, etc are not known. This bus look good!

Hoping to spot this cutie very soon....bye for now!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Railfanning after a long time!

17553-1

After about 2 weeks of being at home, I was back to track today. I had some work in the library of our college, and I left home by the 0737 EMU. I reached Kurla at around 0815. I decided to wait till the Monster duo goes through. The first monster was WDP4 #20031 with the Udyan Express, and was closely followed by WDP4 #20041 (the shed of this loco is a big '?') with the Pushpak Express. I then took an Ambernath Fast EMU, and got down at Thane. On the way, we crossed the Vidarbha Express between Ghatkopar and Vikhroli.
I came back to Thane station at around 1100 from my college. I had some light refreshments, and went over to Platform 7 to kick start session 2 of railfanning! I went around hunting for a good seat, and settled at the CSTM end of the platform. Just minutes after I settled (precisely - at 1118 AM), a very late running Gorakhpur-LTT Kushinagar Express pulled in behind WCAM3 #21947 in charge. The train had about 23 coaches. The train pulled out about 3 minutes later. Around the same time, Nagpur-Dadar Sewagram Express pulled into Platform 6 behind WCAM3 #21936. This train stopped twice on the platform owing to the length of the train.
Just minutes later, I spotted an RPF officer roaming on the Platform. He stood talking to some people just metres away from. All this while, the Kolhapur-Mumbai Sahyadri Express was pulling into Platform 6. I rushed towards the loco and she was WCG2 #20156. I walked over to Platform 6.
By now, 0523 LTT - Gorakhpur Holiday special pulled into Platform 7. The loco in charge was WCAM3 #21940. The loco appeared to be fresh out of the POH shop! Just as I took a snap of the loco, I noticed another WCAM3 approaching me! That was WCAM3 #21892 working the 3201 Rajendranagar - LTT Express. This express also stopped twice on the platform. Both the expresses (0523 & 3201) left the station simultaneously.
Right behind the 3201 was a light WCAM3 (#21886). The loco cleared the platform in a matter of a few minutes. I decided to have some cold drink, and just as I was sipping it, I noticed a train entering Platform 5. I reacted quite quickly, and I managed to get an image of the train. The train was a BCNA, and the loco(s) in charge was WCAM3 #21942 (leading) and #21950 rushed through. I was now anxiously waiting to see the Trivandrum bound Netravati Express. The train pulled in with - The oddest link - Moulali WDM2A #17553 in charge! I was thrilled to see a loco from that shed located near Hyderabad!
The loco was a good smoker, and made a smoky departure from Thane a few moments later. A few moments later, WCAG1 #21970 rushed through with an empty BCNA rake towards Kalyan. Some time later, WCAM3 #21946 pulled into Platform 6 with the Manmad-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus Godavari Express. About 5 minutes later, WCAM3 #21952 rushed through with the Muzaffarpur bound Pawan Express. Just as I turned back, I saw WCG2 #20113 rushing in with the Hyderabad-Mumbai Express. Just about 3 minutes later (at 1243), WCG2 #20115 pulled in with the Mumbai CST-Trivandrum Weekly Express.
I walked over to Platform 4 to catch a slow EMU to Vikhroli. While waiting for the train, Kalyan WDM2 #18345 MU-ed to #18560 rushed through Platform 5 with a BCNA rake. Just as my EMU was pulling out, the Varanasi bound Kamayani Express pulled in with a WCAM3. The Hyderabad Express went past with a WCG2 in charge just as my EMU was pulling out of Bhandup. I had a short wait at Vikhroli, and then went over to Ghatkopar for some more railfanning.
Just as I got down from the EMU, I heard a loco's horn on the adjoining platform (#3). That was WCAM2 #21868 of Valsad. The loco was slow enough to give me a chance to photograph her! Most of my WCAM2 spotting have been on CR!!! Around 5 minutes later, the Chennai-Mumbai Express rushed through with WCG2 #20147 in charge. The next surprise spotting of the day was the Dadar-Chennai Holiday Special. The train rushed through with Pune WDG3A #14680 in charge! At around 1410, I went over to Platform 4 to catch a fast local towards Kurla. Just while waiting for the EMU, Vatwa WDM3A #14071 pulled in with two dead WDS4s in tow. The loco got a "red" at Advanced starter. I spotted the Matsyagandha furiously notching up towards Ghatkopar. The loco in charge was WDM3A #14046 of Erode.
An announcement came through that the next expected EMU was running about 10-15 minutes late. I decided to take a slow train. Just as I was walking towards the FOB, WDM2S #18408 of Kalyan rushed through with two inspection cars in tow. I took a Slow EMU to Kurla, and than a Belapur EMU from there on.
To see the images of the day: Click here. There are about 21 Images in all. Enjoy!!!
Hope you all liked this report! Since I was back on track after long 2 weeks, my body condition was not permitting me to spend more time! Bye for the day!!!!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Railfanning at Thrisur

Just as the rituals following the death of my Grandfather was coming to an end, a few relatives of ours had to return on the same day. They were returning by two different trains - One leaving at 1800, and the other at 1900. I sensed an opportunity to railfan at the station, and I accompanied my brother who was driving down to the station to drop them. We reached the station at around 1740.
New Delhi bound Kerala Express had pulled into Platform 2 with an Erode WAP4 in charge by then. I wanted to take a pic of the loco, but by the time I entered the station, the starter turned green. Just around then, the Ernakulam bound 649 Passenger from Shoranur was to pull in then. Just minutes after the PA system made an announcement about the passenger, a loco was visible. The train came in behind...

DSCF9857

...WAM4 #21240 of Arakkonam. The loco was carry WAM4 #20586 of the same shed 'dead' behind. The passenger had 10 coaches, and were packed to the brim. I had once travelled by this train (649 Shoranur - Ernakulam Passenger) in December 2006 (Click here for the travelogue). Kerala Express pulled out by then. We walked over to Platform 2/3.
The evening passenger from Guruvayur to Thrisur was to pull in soon. I was ready to click the train, and stood at one end of the platform. Minutes after the announcement, an Erode loco was visible. The train came in behind...

DSCF9858

...Flat-faced WDM2 #17519 of Erode. The loco has a full-forward cab which is probably a modification due to some collision. This passenger train uses the rake of Chennai Egmore - Guruvayur Express. The train has about 17 coaches: 2 SLR, 4 GS, 1 2A, 1 3A, 1 PC, 5 SL and 4 Reserved Second Sitting (2S). The Sleeper and AC coaches are kept locked during this run. Surprisingly, the AC of the 2A coach was running!
The arrival of the Ernakulam - Kannur Intercity Express was announced (This train between Alappuzha and Kannur on 5 days of the week). Two of our relatives were to take this train, and they had a reservation in coach "S1". The coach position of this train was NOT put up anywhere in the station! We decided to walk down half the length of the platform. The train pulled in with Ernakulam WDM2 #16457 in charge. Their coach was at the rear end of the train, and we managed to find out the coach soon, and they occupied their seats. The train was packed, and passengers in unreserved coaches had a real tough time!!!
After their train pulled out, we decided to have some refreshments from the restaurant at the station. My next relative (my Uncle) was to take the Alappuzha-Chennai Express, which was scheduled to arrive at 1900. While we were walking down to the restaurant, an Ernakulam-Bangalore Holiday special pulled in behind an Arakkonam WAM4. Around the same time, a twin WAG5 hauled BCNA rake rushed towards Ernakulam. We reached the restaurant, and ordered for some light refreshment. Just as I finished eating, a Pune WDM3A pulled in with the Kochuveli - Hubli Holiday Special train. We dropped our uncle at the station, and he insisted that we leave before his train reaches! We finally left the station at around 1915 (his train was late!). We had some shopping in the city. We finished them, and returned home!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

On the Kallada to Bangalore


The journey was unexpected! I had just reached Thrisur from Mumbai by Netravati Express, and my dad signaled the green flag for my journey to Bangalore. I rushed to a travel agent right outside the station, and enquired for tickets to Bangalore that evening. surprisingly, tickets were indeed available for the bus in the evening! The bus was scheduled at 2130. He issued me tickets (it cost me Rs. 650).
I then went to my home, 32 kilometres away at Kodungallur. I returned back to Thrisur in the night. I reached the travel agent's place at around 2015, and the bus was at 2130. He issued me a boarding pass for the bus, and my seat number was 03. I had a small round at the KSRTC bus station right behind the travel agent's office. A Bangalore bound bus was waiting there. I came back to the travel agent's office. I decided to browse the internet for some time till my bus came.
There was another bus, but the same operator - Kallada, at 2100. Kallada is a very old travel company which has its base in Thrisur. The buses are mostly registered in Bangalore. They are one of the biggest operators in the Bangalore-Kerala route, with their buses to most destinations in Central and Southern Kerala. The bus scheduled at 2100 turned up at 2130, and my bus too was right behind that 2100 bus.
My bus was KA 03 AC 2000. My seat was right behind the conductor. The bus left at 2135, and we reached the highway by around 2200. There was a pick up from Palakkad Bye-pass. We reached the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border at around 2330. Almost all the buses (private ones) stop there, and the drivers get together to have some refreshments! The bus left about 15 minutes later.
I had a short nap, and by the time I got up we had reached Perundurai. The time was 0100. Perundurai is the place where we bye-pass Erode - a big city in Tamil Nadu. The driver changed here, and the new one had a very adventurous style of driving. He preferred driving off the road!
The halt was about 30 minutes long, with the engine running idle all the time. The bus has semi-sleeper style seats, and hence sleeping was comfortable. I had another short nap, and by the time I woke up we were at Bhavani. I had one more nap. I was woken up by someone who was getting down from the bus. The time was around 0535, and we had reached Bommanahalli by that time.
I called up my brother (who was to pick me from Madivala). The helper walked around waking up people who had to get down at Madivala. The bus reached Madivala at around 0550. Auto-drivers were hanging around and offered me ride to any place in Bangalore! The bus proceeded towards Kalasipalayam (its end point) at around 0603 (just after I took the snap above). My brother came at around 0620, and I reached home at around 0650 or so!
That was my first journey on a private Volvo. The bus was noisy (poor maintenance!), and the whines of the engine was clear in the front row also! The cleanliness was okay (I was in the first row itself!). The driving was scary at times, and we had a just miss at one place. Overall - The bus gets 8 on 10!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Apologies....But that wasn't me!

Sorry....Sorry for not posting for this long! It is indeed a very long time since I posted. But truly, It wasn't me who caused all these!!!

I had some work in college on Saturday, April 21 - Two days after my last post. The journey to college was normal! After about 1400, I started feeling tired and by evening, I had lost all my energy! I was totally run-down, and I had a tough time reaching home. I reached home by around 1830, and was totally tired. I did not have dinner, and instead directly went to bed. The next morning, I had developed Pyrexia (Fever) and had heavy body pain. I saw a small rash on my hand, while my mom spotted a few more on my forehead!

I had contracted a Viral infection - an infection by Varicella Zoster Virus. This disease is commonly called as Chicken Pox! I was totally on the bed for the next few days. The doctor prescribed an Antiviral therapy of Famciclovir (Virovir by FDC). The regimen was about a tablet (250 mg) every 6 hours. Pox developed all over my body, and the infection lasted till Tuesday. The pox started disappearing in about two days, and finally I was healthy enough to browse the computer by Saturday.

But....The computer now got a viral attack!!! Finally, the PC is back on its heels today...and a post is online today! I need some more rest.....Bye! Hoping to make a post tomorrow!