Friday, June 29, 2007

Monsoon Special...



Yet another monsoon...Yet another trip! The heritage remains untouched...the cycle continues!

I am leaving on a trip to Kerala today by 2618 Mangala Express from Panvel....

...will reach back on 07 July by 6346 Netravati Express.

Stay tuned right here for live updates....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A very short railfanning at Panvel



My computer began performing strangely in the morning! I was quite worried, and a quick check revealed that she is down with a viral attack! I took her to a doctor, and the doctor advised formatting of her brain (Hard Disk!). I left the CPU with the service person, and had about 3 hours with me. A railfan never requires to think twice!!! I left my car at Vashi Railway station, and took an EMU to Panvel.

I reached Panvel at around 1420. Quickly purchased a Platform ticket and rushed in. A unknown WAG5 pair pulled in from JNPT with a long Container rake. There were lots of GRP around the station, and surprisingly the number of RPF has gone down! Even at the office, I saw just one constable sitting and napping outside! I did not dare to take a pic of any loco on the yard lines!

The notice board at Panvel mentioned that 0168 Trivandrum-Dadar Holiday special was running late by about 9 hours, and 0431 Trivandrum-Nizamuddin special was late by about 5 hours! I went over to Platform 3, and noticed a WDM2 pair idling off near the refueling point. The locos were being refueled, and a new pair of crew just took charge. The locos were destined to Karjat. I took a snap of them, and returned to the shelter. It rained lightly then. At around 1515, the arrival of 2619 Mangalore bound Matsyagandha Express was announced. The train pulled in at 1525, with Erode WDM3A #14046 in charge. The train left at 1535.

The station was dead silent in the minutes that followed. Two Container rakes (one towards Vasai, and the other towards JNPT) left soon after. I decided to return to Vashi, and took a train at 1605. I reached Vashi at around 1637, then took my car to the "PC Doctor"! The work was done, and I took her home. It rained hardly on my way back.

The images of today's short excursion is here. Bye for the day...

Monday, June 25, 2007

The "mighty" housefly...

It rained quite heavily with strong winds yesterday. The day was coupled with heavy rains, strong winds and power failures! The electricity supply went off at around 0800 in the morning, and was restored only at 1400. It went again about 5 minutes later, and was restored at 1515. The supply was disrupted again at 1800, and was restored at 1830. It went again at 1840 and was restored at around 1915. There was not enough voltage in one phase (We have a 3 phase supply). The power supply was once again disrupted at 2045, and was restored only at 2145. To add to this, the internet connection never switched on till about 0030!

Since, it rained hard - our house was attacked by an army of the mighty housefly!


The contingent was so huge, that the flies occupied each inch of the space available in the front hall! These flies, Musca domestica, is one of the most widely seen species of pests in India. They are 'experts' in spreading diseases! With the monsoon setting in, they probably lost those places where they usually rest, and they decided to attack human inhibitions!

I was getting shutter happy on seeing them, and decided to feed a few of them on a white background. I put a few crystals of sugar on a white paper and decided to wait till they arrive. The flies are quite disciplined, and only one of them eat at a time! The other waits patiently a bit away! They don't fight for food!!!!

It was interesting to see how fly holds the big crystal between her feet and 'pre-digest' the crystal. The flies are capable only to have liquid food, and hence they "liquefy" the food before consumption!

Wikipedia mentions that they are capable to carrying over 100 pathogens - Scary! After a successful chase of the houseflies on my camera, i spent the remaining time looking outside through the window! What a day? A Sunday went "sun-less"!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Raining well....


It has been raining quite well over the past few days! The rain did take a break yesterday. Right behind my bedroom, is an open plot full of Bamboos! The leaves look beautiful after a short shower! The rain droplets on the leaves shine out!

To add to this, I have seen ants doing a balancing act on the leaves and its twigs! Overall, it is a beautiful place to be in during monsoons!

Psst! This was a post that I made due to compulsion! I've not posed during the past 4 days! Sorry, but there wasn't anything interesting to make a post on!

Monday, June 18, 2007

MEMU - An interesting counterpart of the Urban EMU

The MEMU, or Main line Electrical Multiple Unit are modified EMUs, meant to be used in Electrified Main lines. These units were introduced in around 2000 by ICF, Chennai. These coaches are narrower - 10'8" as compared to 12' of the normal EMU which is used in suburban sections.

The MEMUs run on 25 kV AC traction, and typically contain one power coach for each unit containing 3 coaches. The traction equipment (Pantographs, Traction motors, etc) are located on the coach housing the "Driving Cab" itself. These trains have two classes of accommodation viz, First class and Second Class. The First class coaches are usually located in the coach having the Driving cab, while the remaining of the rake is second class, and the rake - surprisingly- is vestibuled!


The Driving cab of a Virar-Dahanu MEMU. The coach is 1001A built by ICF in late 2001.

I got a chance to travel by an MEMU recently. The coaches are more spacious than a normal EMU. There is more space for standees, and the sitting space is arranged quite well in a 2X3 arrangement.


The interiors of a second class coach in an MEMU. You can see the Vestibule connecting this coach to the next coach.

The ride is quite stable, and the pickup is very fast. The train is capable to doing speeds in the range of 105 kmph. The traction motors make a noise familiar to that of a DC EMU, though not that noisy. The seating is well designed, and is a bit more comfortable than an EMU. The windows are wider than the ones in an EMU, and the design is such that it ensures an airy journey to all passengers!



A 9-Car EMU Rake pulling into Saphale on its way to Virar.


The journey is more comfortable than an EMU, and I wish such MEMU designs are copied for EMUs as well! The space offered by MEMUs for standees, makes its urban counterpart ashamed!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday @ Saphale!

A mail calling railfans in Mumbai for a short trip to Saphale sent me dreaming!!! The days following the mail were done discussing the details of the trip, and today - 17 July 2007 - was decided as the date, and the venue Saphale or Kelve Road.

I reached Andheri at about 0920 by an EMU from Dadar, and found Arzan Kotval already waiting for me at Platform 8. Anamitra was to join us at the station, while two others (Deep and Abhishek) would board the train from its origin at Bandra Terminus. Andheri was the second stop for that train. They (Deep and Abhishek) were in the second coach from the loco. The train pulled in at 0944 into Andheri. The loco in charge was WCAM1 #21836 from Valsad. Anamitra just made it on time for the train - 245 Bandra Terminus - Vapi Passenger. We boarded the coach second to the loco (A 1984 built General Sitting coach). Akshay Marathe joined us from Borivli.

The train pulled out of Andheri at around 0952, already delayed by 10 minutes. We (myself and Deep) were hanging around the door to catch a glimpse of the August Kranti Rajdhani from Hazrat Nizamuddin. The train slowly cleared the points and entered into the Main line. Guess what? The August Kranti Rajdhani was waiting on the UP line for us to cross over!!! The loco in charge of the LHB rake train was WCAM2P #21871 of Valsad. The run ahead till Borivli was normal, with a few EMUs rushing past our train. We crossed the Bhavnagar-Bandra Express right outside Borivli, and she had WCAM1 #21849 of Valsad. Akshay fought his way into the compartment, which was getting jam packed by the moment. We crossed the Gorakhpur-Bandra Awadh Express right outside the station, and the loco in charge was WCAM1 #21838.

The run ahead was absolutely dry. We crossed an unknown express near Vasai. The coach was even more crowded when we left Vasai. The crowd was increasing at each station. We reached Virar at about 1042. A huge crowd got in here, and passengers were hanging out of the coach precariously! We were getting scared by the types of acrobatics performed by the passengers! We finally made it to Saphale at around 1103. It was an ordeal to jump out of the train! The 17-coach passenger pulled away dropping us at the small wayside station. Saphale has two platforms, both on the main line, and each line has a loop which is on the Virar end of the station. The section in 25 kV AC Electrified!

The signal on the UP main line was already green, and we were waiting for a crossing now. The train was Jodhpur-Bandra Suryanagari Express, with WCAM1 #21824 of Valsad in charge. We were all waiting for the star of the day - 'Ahmedabad-Mumbai Karnavati Express'. The station was dipped in silence, when all of a sudden someone among us spotted the signal on the Main line going green! It was moments of anxiety then, when Arzan spotted a 'loco' on the main line! That was her - WCAM2P #21873 - working the Karnavati Express! The train cleared the station at a very high speed! We had a look around the station, and filled up our tummies from a stall at the station, and stocked up water supplies for the next few hours!

Just around then, WCAM1 #21814 pulled in with the Virar-Valsad Shuttle. The train was pretty crowded, and then added more crowd from the station. Minutes after the shuttle went, a Dahanu Road - Virar MEMU pulled in. The 12 car train had three power cars, and had a pretty good crowd. We walked over to Platform 1 (on the Down Main line) when WAG7 #27655 of Ludhiana sprinted across with a long ConRaj train. We decided to shift our location to Kelve road, which was 6 kms towards Dahanu from Saphale. Just around then a Dahanu bound MEMU pulled in. The train had lots of empty seats, but we preferred standing. We crossed a Container train hauled by WAG7 #27286 of Ludhiana.

We reached Kelve road about 4-5 minutes after setting off from Saphale. Kelve road has three platforms - one on the loop line, and two on an island platform between the main lines. Our first spotting was the Ahmedabad-Borivli Passenger, which came in behind WCAM2P #21877. We were all set to get a photo, when the pointsman came around shouting at us for taking photos! Now, what on earth is his problem? We silent saw the Bandra bound Sayaji Nagari Express rushing through with WCAM1 #21848!

We then went out to a hotel to have our lunch. A drunk man (he was stinkingly drunk!) starter shouting at us for speaking in English, and we found it better to vacate the place. We took a parcel from the hotel, and had our lunch at the station. While we were busy with our lunch, a WCAG1 pulled in with a long Tanker rake, and she was overtaken by a WCAM2 hauled express train. After our lunch, Deep and Arzan tried taking a permission from the Station Manager, which was politely refused! We had no option but to walk a few metres down from the station.

Right near the Home signal of the station is a bridge across "Taki" River. We crossed the bridge (hardly about 60metres long) and took refuge under a tree. We first spotted WAG7 #27847 of Ludhiana sprinting across with a Container train. Just minutes after this freight, Ludhiana's Colourful sisters WAG5 #23315 coupled to #23759 sprinted towards Dahanu with a Container train. Just a few more minutes later, WCAM1 #21821 crossed us on its way towards Diva with a RCF owned Liquid Ammonia Container. We decided to get back to the station then. Shortly after reaching back, WCAM1 #21840 pulled in with the Mumbai Central-Ahmedabad Passenger. Just after this passenger was the Gujarat Express with WCAM1 #21818 in charge. Some time later, an unknown Jaipur-Bandra Express rushed through with WCAM1 #21812 in charge.

Some minutes later, WCAM1 #21824 rushed across with the Jodhpur bound Suryanagari Express. A Dahanu-Virar MEMU pulled in at about 1500, and we took that train on our way back. Arzan, Anamitra and Akshay got down at Saphale to continue their railfanning, while myself, Deep and Abhishek got down at Virar. We kept waiting for the Karnavati Express since the signal for the main line was green! And just moments later, WCAM2 #21863 came in with the Karnavati Express, and we were standing right close to the neutral section! The loco came with both her "Pantos" down!

Abhishek took an Andheri bound EMU (1600 Departure) while myself and Deep took a Dadar bound Fast EMU, which departed at 1559 (scheduled departure 1555). We crossed an unknown "Rajdhani Special" at Borivli, and the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani near Bandra. We got down at Dadar, and rushed over to the CR part. We took at Kalyan bound EMU to see the Deccan Queen at Kurla. I just alighted at Kurla, and I spotted WCAM3 #21935 rushing through with the Pune bound Deccan Queen! I then took a Belapur bound EMU at 1733, and reached home at around 1815. There ended a real adventurous day, with approximately about 34 train spottings!

Photos of the day can be seen here. Bye for the day!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A short branch exploration....

I had to take my car to the service centre today, and the engineer there promised to deliver the car by 1730 in the evening. Going back to home, and then getting back to Thane would be tiring, and decided to utilise the day better! I had IRFCAns Ranjeet Ramaswamy, and Ravi (Also a member of another discussion forum) with me. We decided to do the Diva-Vasai Line on the 1683 Diva-Vasai DMU. This was my first experience on this branch line!!!

We met at Thane, and proceeded to Diva at around 1400. We reached Diva at 1415, and our train was already waiting for us. The scheduled departure time was 1425, and we made it to the train easily. The train was 8 coaches long, with the Locomotive attached to the centre of the rake! The loco in charge today was WDM2 #18169 of Kalyan. She was a good smoker, and the journey was simply marvellous! We left Diva at around 1428. We crossed a Long Container train hauled by a WCAM2 at Kopar Road.


The journey from Kopar road to Vasai Home was normal, without any crossings. The bridge across Ulhas River (Which was damaged in July 2005) is still being repaired, and the UP trains use the Down Lines to cross the river. The climate was pleasant with a cool breeze, and not much of sun! We stopped at Vasai Road Home, for platform clearance. A Container train worked by Gomoh WAG7 #27225 crossed us at Vasai Home.

We reached the station at around 1535. A Katni WDG3A (#14753) was roaming around with a short BCNA rake. We were at the station till about 1740. During the time, we spotted the Ranakpur Express with a WCAM1, the Amritsar-Bandra Paschim Express with a WCAM2, the Borivli-Dahanu passenger with a WCAM1 (#21844), Kutch Express behind WCAM1 (#21824), Bandra-Jaipur Triweekly express with a WCAM1 (#21810), and finally the Mumbai-New Delhi Rajdhani Express behind WCAM2P #21861. We left the station after Rajdhani Express.

I and Ranjeet took a bus to Thane, while Ravi took an EMU to Andheri. While our bus was running towards the highway, we spotted the Bandra-Nizamuddin Garib Rath with a WCAM2. The train had around 21 Coaches including two coaches in maroon livery! We reached Thane at about 1900. The photos of the day can be seen here.
Bye for the day! But tune in tomorrow for a HUGE surprise!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Another short railfanning!

My dad had some works at a Bank near Panvel. I understood that it would be the best opportunity to spend some time near the railway tracks! After dropping my dad at the bank, I drove down to the Khanda Colony Level Cross. The gate was already closed. I crossed the tracks to the other side, and saw a twin MU-ed loco pair of Kalyan rushing towards the gate...


I took an image, and turned back to see another one...

The other was was Ernakulam WDM3A #16084R. She was in charge of the Kochuveli bound Kerala Sampark Kranti Express. The loco was a bit too fast that I couldn't adjust the exposure settings! Just after clicking, I got a call from dad and returned back to the bank! So that was a very short, but fruitful trip! Bye for now....but do stay tuned right here for more updates coming up in the next few days!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Railfanning with the new camera!


My plan was a round trip from Belapur to Belapur via Thane and Panvel. I had initially planned to take a Vashi-Thane EMU, but narrowly missed it! Then decided to take an EMU via Kurla. The sightings were normal. I spotted the Bhubhaneshwar-Mumbai Konark Express near Bhandup. This train should have reached Mumbai early in the morning!

Later, I took the Dadar-Ernakulam Holiday special, and got down at Panvel. The loco was Kalyan WDM2 #18068 (image above!). Not much to write about, but please have a look at Galleria for some images! Hoping to have another railfanning trip very soon! Bye till then!

Testing the new camera...

After spending a day full of excitement, it was now time to test if the camera meets my expectations! I set out from my home in the morning (At around 0930). I took a good number of images, but here are two selected ones:

First was a bird:

P1000079

And, the second one:

P1000090

The one above is my favorite! It had rained slightly in the morning, and the water droplets appeared beautiful on the banana leaf! I never expected the camera to focus even at a very close distance! Good job man!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Woohoo! A new Camera!!!!


My New camera! Panasonic Lumix FZ50. (Image courtesy: www.dpreview.com)

Putting an end to a long wait, I just got my hands on a new camera today! The Panasonic Lumix FZ50 camera! The camera has a 10.1mp resolution with a 12X optical zoom, with complete manual control of the zoom and focus!

The days ahead would see some 'trial' images with this camera. So stay tuned right here!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Another Bengalooru Sojourn: Final Update

DSCF0410

Finally another journey comes to an end! The last leg of the "Bengalooru Sojourn" was by 1018 Yeswantpur - Dadar Chalukya Express. The loco in charge was WDM3A #16041R of Pune in typical DCW Livery (seen in the image above).
My coach was WGACCW 88052 (A1), based at Dadar. The coach was just two years younger to me!!! The ride quality was average. The coach kept rocking most of the time, and the vibrations caused by the Air conditioning plant was heavy.
The train left Yeswantpur at 0725 (late by 5 minutes), and reached Dadar at 0740 (late by 20 minutes). The total running time was 24 hours and 15 minutes. More details of the journey will be coming up very sooooon! Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Another Bengalooru Sojourn: Update 2

The return journey begins just minutes later on 1018 CHalukya Express from Yesvantpur....

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Killing time in Bangalore!

First: Sorry for not posting for the past few days!

Next: There was not much to post about in the past few days! The First day in Bangalore (June 02, 2007 - Saturday) was spent roaming around in Lalbaug (shopping at the Mango Festival!), and then roaming at Big Bazar at KR Puram!

Sunday was spent sitting at home till evening, and then roaming at Jayanagar market till night! Monday till today was spent sitting idle at home! No access to the internet till evening! I get to browse only after 1900, and hence spend time till about 2100 browsing!!!

Hope to post something once more before returning from Bangalore. But here goes another image from the Lalbaug Mango Festival...

100_1600A
The image above is the exhibition of different types/varieties of Mangoes on display by the Indian Horticulture Research Organisation...

Bye for now!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Another Bengalooru Sojourn: Update 1

DSCF0289

Part one of the journey ended yesterday!
My Train - 1013 LTT-CBE Express - left LTT at 1035 (5 mins late), and finally reached Bangalore City at 2300 (1 hour 05 minutes late).

The locos were: WCG2 #20116 from LTT to PUNE; WDM3A #14028 of Krishnarajapuram from PUNE to SBC; and the train proceeded to CBE with WDM3D #11109 of Erode.

More updates of the journey coming very soon!