Tuesday, July 31, 2007

To Panvel after long...

It has been a very long time since I went to Panvel station. My last journey was way back on July 07, when I had arrived there from Kerala. I was waiting for an opportunity for pretty long time now! The opportunity came in the form of Abhijit Lokre of IRFCA, Ahmedabad! He had come down to meet his parents who reside at Panvel.

We decided to meet at Panvel. I reached the station at around 1815. I missed the Roha-Diva Passenger somewhere, and couldn't see that train! We walked around the station, and chatted for some time. The freight traffic was on the higher side. One North bound container train left soon after I arrived. Twin Kalyan WDM2s (lead by #18336) went out of the station to reverse and take charge of a JNPT bound Container train!

While we were waiting at the station, WCAG1 #21974 pulled in from JNPT with a container train (Seen in the image above). The rake stopped on Platform 2. Mean while, WDG3A #13066 of Kalyan pulled in with a BTPN rake from ROHA side. The loco reversed and took charge of the train to proceed towards JNPT. We walked a few metres down to the level cross and were busy discussing about railways when a WAG7 of Ludhiana pulled into Panvel station with a container train.

The Madgaon-Mumbai Mandovi Express pulled in at around 2000 with WDP4 #20031 in charge. The loco was re-fueled and left towards Mumbai at around 2015. Abhijit was taking the Veravel express to Ahmedabad today in the night, and we parted at around 2005 (just after Mandovi arrived). I decided to wait till the KR6 passenger comes in. KR6 came at around 2035 with WDM2 #18558 of Erode in charge.

I left Panvel station at around 2040, and reached home by 2100. That is all for the day...

Unfortunately, since there was too little light, there are no images! Just the one that is put up above is what I have...

Friday, July 27, 2007

26/7: Some memories...

The memories of the Deluge that Marooned Mumbai - The financial capital of India - for about 2 weeks is still fresh in the minds of most "mumbaikars"! This fateful day happened on 26-July-2005 when it rained about 944 mm. This is the maximum rainfall recieved at one place on a single day in Asia. Thus Mumbai set a "One Day International" Record! On the fateful day, my friends and myself were sitting in the college library near a window. We were enjoying the cool breeze and the non-stop rainfall which hadn't stopped since morning. One of my friends suggested that we should go home while the remaining of us (we were 4 in all) protested! We had a practical that noon and I did not want to miss it. Just minutes after the practical started, the lab had water all around. (No! That was not a flood but the windows were leaking! We were on the second floor). Our teacher wasn't ready to let us go! Finally after "rounds" of talks and protests, we were finally allowed to leave at about 1530. We quickly packed bags and reached the college gate at 1600. There was no way to get out of the college! The roads were flooded and there was a strong current of water rushing down the Yeoor hills located right behind the college! We somehow managed to cross the flood waters without realising the danger!
We formed a group of 4 and slowly walked towards Thane, the nearest railway station, which is about 13 kilometres from College. Bus services had almost come to a standstill. The flood waters had already broken the dividers present on the road. Some shanties in the nearby slum had already been swept away. There was knee deep water and very strong under currents. To our fortune, two buses (both bound to thane) came by and the second one stopped for us. The lowest step of the bus was almost underwater! The lowest step of the bus is more than 1 metre above road level! The bus "waded" through flooded waters. The courage of the driver surely needs recognition! He drove through "invisible" roads but ensured that all passengers are safe. The journey took almost 2 hours but we reached Thane very safely. The phone lines were dead and this made the situation more dramatic and anxious moments followed!
I was on my toes and rushed to the bus terminus to board the next bus towards my home! Unfortunately, bus services were totally cancelled! There are two transport companies - One owned by the local Municipal Corporation (Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport a.k.a NMMT) and the other owned by the state government (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation a.k.a MSRTC) - operating towards my residence from Thane. MSRTC had shut their control room and instead put up a board saying that the services are cancelled due to flooding of roads. The control room of NMMT was open, and one of their buses was waiting there. But the authorities weren't ready to allow the bus to run since the roads were totally flooded and minutes back one of their buses was overturned by the undercurrents!
Angry and anxious passengers waiting for a bus were shouting at the "Timekeeper" present at the control room of NMMT. Finally after much "heated" arguments, the authorities finally announced that the bus would depart - but at the passengers risk! They said that the bus would run to Vashi - the "capital" of Navi Mumbai - and would run only upto the point where the bus can reach safely! The driver and the conductor walked towards the bus, I followed them. As soon as they started the bus, I jumped in and "grabbed" a window seat! The bus was full in minutes and passengers had not spared even an inch of standing space. People were overflowing from both the entrances of the bus and passengers were grabbing on to what ever support they got! The conductor had a tough time negotiating the crowd and issue tickets. He finally succeded in doing it! The driver was driving at a speed not exceeding 40 kmph. He negotiated flooded roads very cautiously and reached a point where the water current was high and he was in a state of confusion - whether to drive or to abort! Finally after much persuation from passengers, he drove. It was getting dark. The 23 kilometre journey started at 1830, and even at 2130 there was no signs of it getting over!!! I was very hungry but had nothing to eat. We were held up at a traffic block for the past hour. Finally at about 2230, the conductor suggested us to make a group of passengers travelling towards the same destination, and walk down! We did it.
The water was knee deep in most places and was upto waist deep at many! It took almost an hours' walk for me to reach a place which was not flooded! There was a scene of chaos all-over. Many buses had water entering its engine and were stranded in water! To my fortune, a bus came my way and the driver did not know the way ahead! Since the bus was going towards my home, i suggested to help him! He dropped me near my home in exchange! The driver was talking of his mis-fortune. He had left the depot in the morning with the bus. This bus had left its origin (Dadar in Mumbai) in the noon, and had covered half the distance only by night! He said that water seemed to have entered the brake drums, the headlight was insufficient and what not! On reaching a point about 400 metres from my home, i got down from the bus and walked home!
The road to my home was flooded with knee deep water, and i finally waded through and made it to my home at 0030 in the night! A 39-kilometre journey took 8 hours to complete!!! The deluge blessed us with a week long vacation for college!!!

This post has been reproduced from my "now defunct" blog - "A Budding Pharmacist". Post was originally posted there on July 03, 2006.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A very special Sunday...Part 2

[Continued from Part 1 posted yesterday]

The station got alerted that the train left Kherwadi. We slowly moved out towards the railway line. Pradeep was busy bidding his final byes to the station staff, while Abhishek was already at the platform. The station has a "rail level" platform. The loco was visible at a distance, and she was a WAM4. The train came closer, and slowly pulled into the loop line. I was standing on the main line, and decided to board the train from the traffic side itself. The loco was WAM4 #21331 of Bhusawal...

The train stopped. The coaches were heavily packed, and myself and Pradeep were trying to find a coach into which we could atleast jump in! We managed to get into the 4th coach from the loco. The doorways were crowded with people and luggage! The train pulled out at around 1410. We got a place to stand between the toilets! (The space which normally connects to the vestibule!). Our coach was an SLR. We stood in that awkward place till we reached Nasik. We weren't sure in which coach Abhishek was!

We reached Nasik at around 1430. The Gorakhpur bound Godaan Express was on Platform 2, while we were on Platform 3. We shifted to about two coaches behind our earlier one. The train emptied a bit at Nasik. Our new coach was WGSCZ 04609 in DQ livery. We left Nasik about 5 minutes later. We crossed the Pawan Express somewhere near Devlali. The loco was an Itarsi WAM4. The run from Nasik to Igatpuri was mind blowing! The train almost constantly did 100kmph on most sections! We arrived Ghoti at around 1510. Pradeep bursted out laughing when he saw the timetable! We were 55 minutes late at Odha, and now 10 minutes early at Ghoti! The run was absolutely fantastic!

We left Ghoti on time. As we approached Igatpuri, I spotted a light WAM4 of Itarsi waiting to take charge of Kamayani Express. We stopped on Platform 3, at around 1530 (early by 10 minutes). We found that Abhishek was in the coach just ahead of us! I went around to have a look at the loco change, while Pradeep and Abhishek were busy refreshing themselves! Our WAM4 was just being uncoupled. An RPF officer came and stood near the loco. There was a sort of cabin near the loco, and I went behind the cabin. WDP4 #20027 was parked on a siding near the cabin. I took a photo, and then checked our loco. The RPF fella by then went towards the rear of the train.

Howrah bound Gitanjali Express by now arrived on Platform 2. Our WAM4 went out, and a WCAM3 was seen approaching us. The loco was WCAM3 #21894. The loco attached, and the crew changed the cabin. I went back towards our coach, and had some refreshment. Our train was cleared at around 1552, now late by around 7 minutes. Gitanjali's bankers were still waiting to go to their trip shed. The bankers were triple WAG5s of Kalyan. Our train was put on the MID line. Just as the ghat began, I saw the Mangala Express going towards Igatpuri. (The loco was not visible).

Our descent was slow but steady. The coach ahead of ours were smoking heavily as the brake shoes got jammed! We reached Kasara at around 1620. A Twin WCAM3 hauled Container rake (A Dead WAG5 was also present) was waiting to proceed towards IGP. There were atleast 3 sets of bankers roaming around at the station! We stopped at Umbermalli, and here we crossed the Manmad bound Godavari. We crossed the Nagpur bound Sewagram express at Khardi. We crossed the weekly Mumbai-Howrah Express at Thansit. We pulled into Khadavli at 1730 on Platform 4. According to the timetable, the train departs at 1740 but in reality the train departs only at 1825!

A Mumbai CST bound EMU overtook us! The train was packed heavily, and I decided to leave the EMU. A container train hauled by Kalyan WDG3A #13308 (carrying a dead WAG7) also overtook us here. The Kanpur bound Udyog Nagari Express crossed us here. The Nagpur bound Nandigram Express also crossed us here. The train had a Pune WDM3A in charge, and had a shining "CR" rake. The Mumbai bound Pushpak Express overtook us with WDP4 #20027 in charge, and we were then cleared at 1830. The run was rather slow till Kalyan. We were detained at Kalyan Outer for some time. We pulled into Kalyan at 1855 on Platform 6. I took a bus from Kalyan to Vashi, while Abhishek and Pradeep were waiting at the station for an EMU.

While my bus was running over a ROB right near Kalyan Goods Yard, I saw a WCAM3 hauled train running towards Mumbai. I reached Vashi at around 2000, and then drove home...

Images of the day are right here...Please have a look, and post your comments!

Monday, July 23, 2007

A very special Sunday...Part 1

July 22, 2007 was a very special Sunday to me. The excitement began on July 19, 2007 when I read a mail about a railfanning trip to Odha! Getting "regulatory" approvals (read "nod from parents") was not very easy! After persuasions, I got an "all clear" from home. I hardly slept the previous night. I was up and running by 0450 itself on the day. I left my home at 0540, and reached Vashi at 0550. I was to catch the 0555 EMU to thane. I rushed to the station. The EMU was no where to be seen!

The indicators were still showing that the EMU would come soon. Finally, the fellow showed up at 0605. The train left at 0610, about 15 minutes late. The motorman was driving swiftly, and all halts were reduced to a mere pause! The crowd was "okay" throughout the journey. We approached Thane outer at 0631. The Nagpur-Mumbai Vidarbha express was crawling towards Platform 7. The loco in charge was WCAM3 #21936. I walked down to Platform 5. The coach indicators were showing the coach positions for 2809 Howrah Mail (via Nagpur). I went around to check the reservation charts, and found that Tapovan has a huge crowd! The train had a huge waiting list, with many passengers left uncleared!

At around 0640, WCAM3 #21882 pulled in with the Howrah mail. The train was about 22 coaches long, and the platform could accommodate only 17! The train stopped twice on the platform. Meanwhile, WCAM3 #21933 rushed through with the Mumbai bound Punjab Mail. Announcements about the Tapovan was made as soon as Howrah mail pulled out. I walked up towards Coach 9 (where my coach was expected to come). The train pulled in at 0648 behind WCAM3 #21881. My coach was D2 (05606, built in April 2005 by ICF), and my seat was 96! It was a window seat, but in the left side of the train!

The train pulled out of Thane at 0652. We crossed a twin Pune WDM2 hauled BCNA near Parsik Tunnel, and the Mahalaxmi express near Diva. There was a steady stream of incoming trains as my train proceeded towards Kalyan. I had my breakfast from the train (Cutlet and Bread) as the train waited at Kalyan Outer! We pulled into Kalyan at 0729, and left at 0731. (Late by 21 minutes!). IRFCAns Abhishek Tamhankar and Pradeep Galgali joined the train at Kalyan. Pradeep was seated right behind me, while Abhishek was on the other row. The coach had the new "bus" type seats. We found it more comfortable than the old ones! The train put up a great show as soon as we left Kalyan. The train literally blasted through Ambivli station. (I checked the speed using a stopwatch, and it was 100.5 kmph!)

We stopped at Kasara outer for some time, and then stopped at Kasara (At 0828). Bankers were attached, and we left at 0835. The coach was fully crowded, and all the doors were packed! We crossed the Panchavati Express at Kasara, and Mangala Express (Ernakulam bound) just outside Kasara. The run across the ghat was chilling! This was my first experience of the Thull ghats! We reached Igatpuri at around 0855. We went to purchase tickets for our journey ahead to Odha. The lady at the counter issued us a "Blank Paper Ticket".

We walked over to Platform 2, to see the Howrah Mail still standing (Tapovan left about 5 minutes after reaching Igatpuri). We went to have a look at its loco. The loco hadn't arrived even then! Finally, the loco reached at around 0910. The loco was WAP4 #22634 of Santragachhi. The train was cleared at around 0925. By around now, a train arrived on Platform 3. We were expecting that to be ours, but later found that the train was LTT-Gorakhpur Express. The WCAM3 was detached, and the loco parked itself on the line between Platform 2 & 3. An RPF guys was roaming around us, and hence photography was a strict no!

Bhusawal WAP4 #22245 came in and took charge of the Gorakhpur Express. Our train was supposed to come in very soon. Our train, 1353 Mumbai CST-Bhusawal Passenger arrived at around 0955. WCAM3 #21950 was in charge. The loco was detached and she went to the siding line. We were anxiously waiting for our power to come in. All of a sudden, Pradeep shouted "WAP4"! We were surprised to see that our train was allotted a WAP4! The loco came close, and she was WAP4 #22371 of Bhusawal. (This loco was earlier with Howrah).

By now, Bhagalpur express pulled into Platform 3. We were confused as to who would move out. Surprisingly, we got our starter first. The 14 coach load of our train was peanuts for the WAP4, and she showed her might soon after clearing the points! WAM4 #20620 of Itarsi was waiting outside to take charge of the Bhagalpur express. The AC trip shed had a huge cache of locos (From almost all sheds up north! I spotted Bhusawal WAM4s, Itarsi WAM4s, Santragacchi WAP4s, Jhansi WAP4, Ghaziabad WAP1, and what not!).

Our train picked speed quite fast, and we hit 90 very soon. The Mumbai bound Godavari Express crossed us not much far away. We were doing 100 kmph at most instances! The run was amazing. We crossed the Mumbai bound Mahanagari Express behind a WAM4 some time before Nasik. We reached Nasik at 1107. The Bhagalpur express (which was following us) reached Nasik at 1112. We were cleared at 1115. The train ran at 100+ kmph all the way except for the Godavari bridge (which has a restriction of 50kmph!).

We reached Odha at around 1130. Pradeep had a contact at the station, and we went over to meet him. Just while waiting outside, we saw WAM4 #21281 of Bhusawal speeding past the tiny station with the Rajendra Nagar - LTT Superfast. We had a small chat with the person, who gave us a refreshing cup of tea. We were waiting anxiously for the Bhagalpur express to rush past! The fellow finally made it at 1142. The speed was amazing! We were back at the person's gate. We all were now waiting to see the Pushpak Express.

Pushpak Express crossed the station at around 1206 with Jhansi WAP4 #22361 in charge. Pradeep had a two of his colleagues joining us (they traveled in the Passenger right from Dadar!). One of the colleagues was having his daughter (a budding railfan) along. Pradeep was explaining lots of information to them, while myself and Abhishek look around! The station is located quite far from the village, and the patronage was very poor! The station is surrounded by farms on all side!

Sometime later, WAM4 #20632 (of Itarsi) rushed past with the Chhapra-LTT Express. While w were still wandering around, WAP4 #22339 of Santragachhi rushed light towards Manmad. We thought there was some failure ahead. We then went to the station office, and had a very friendly interaction with the staff there! They explained the block working system, and how communication is made. Soon, they received a message from Kherwadi (the next station towards Manmad) that a freighter was expected soon. Line clear was given. Soon, they communicated that the train crossed their station. The signals at Odha now turned Green (on the UP Main line) for the train to blast through! I looked at the panel, and saw that the train crossed the outer signal (it was communicated by a "beep").

I rushed out of the station to click the train. That was WAG5 #23025 of Itarsi with a BCNA. We looked around the station, and saw an image taken by IRFCAns adorning the wall of the station! The image had the CR logo, and IRFCA logo on it! Soon, information about another "AC Light" was recieved. That was WAG5 HB #24043 of Jhansi. A few minutes later, WAG7 #27814 of Bhusawal rushed through light (towards Nasik). On enquiring, the station staff found that our train had reached Kherwadi. They recieved the signal for the same, and the station bell was rung. We were ready to return...

(To be continued. This was Part 1 of a two part series. Part 2 will be published soon...)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Killing time on a Saturday...

This posts comes exactly a week after my previous post! Sorry guys, BUT I really did not have anything to post about! Now, here comes a post about a "timepass" event at Thane...

After sitting at home for a week with really nothing to do, i decided to spend some time at Thane photographing trains. The sky was cloudy, and It was raining on and off (but never heavily!). I reached Thane at around 0915. I went to the ticket counter to get ticket to spend my time ahead. Just as I walked out of the ticket counter, I saw the Sinhagad Express rushing past with a WCG2 in charge. I walked over straight to Platform 7.

The PA system was blaring out about some "engineering block" at Kasara Station (some Kasara EMUs were to be terminated at Khardi itself, and some express trains were provided a halt at Khardi and Kasara for the benefit of passengers!) , and about the impending arrival of Koyna Express towards Kolhapur. A Manual announcement was made about the coach position of "reserved" coaches. (This was because the coach numbering system has changed, while the recorded announcement is yet to get the new records!). Koyna Express showed up at around 0943...

...with WCG2 #20146 in charge. The train was about 14 coaches long including one AC Chair Car, and 5 reserved sitting coaches. There was NO pantry car. Just as Koyna was moving out, I was the grand old lady of CR - The "Deccan Queen" pulling in. The loco in charge was WCAM3 #21889. The train had about 16 coaches including 4 AC Chair Cars and one Dining Car. About 20 minutes after the Queen, the Panchavati Express (Manmad-Mumbai) rushed through, with WCAM3 #21885 in charge. Panchavati had about 19 coaches including 3 AC Chair Cars, and a Pantry Car.

Another 20 minutes later, WCAM3 #21931 rushed past with the Pragati Express. She had about 12 coaches including 1 AC Chair Car and a Pantry Car. Wow! 4600 hp for just 12 coaches! The Howrah-Allahabad-Mumbai "Kolkata" mail rushed past with an unknown WCAM3 at around 1035. (I was talking on the phone with a friend then, and couldn't notice the loco!). The Kolhapur - Mumbai Sahyadri Express pulled in at around 1109, behind WCG2 #20132. This train gets overtaken by Sewagram Express at this station, but unusually, the starter went "amber" and the train pulled out! Most coaches were almost empty (around 55-60% Occupied)!

My friend came over sometime after Sahyadri pulled out. He was carrying with him a copy of the latest Southern Zonal Timetable for me (I had requested him to get a copy for me!). While we were chatting, the Rajendranagar-LTT Express pulled into Thane. The loco in charge was WCAM3 #21932. I noticed that locos of most 18-19 coach trains now stop after the starter on Platform 5! Earlier, trains used to stop twice at the station to help passengers in rear coaches to alight (the platform can accommodate only 17 coaches!). The train pulled out, and was closely followed by Sewagram Express (Nagpur-Dadar). Sewagram had WCAM3 #21937 in charge. This train to stopped beyond the starter!

We continued chatting, while I noticed a twin Diesel hauled Container train rushing towards the station (From Diva side). The locos were WDM2 #18378 (leading) and #18259 - Both from Kalyan. We had decided to wait until Netravati goes out. The crowd on the platform was building up every moment. Finally, at around 1216, the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus - Trivandrum Netravati Express showed up, with WDM3A #14046 of Erode in charge! The crowd was thin in unreserved coaches. We then walked out of the station for some light refreshment.

While we were on the FOB, we saw the Hyderabad-Mumbai express rushing through. He (my friend - Mr. Ravi) wanted to travel once on the Thane-Vashi line. He wanted to see where the Reservation counter was (which I showed him). We then went to Kunj Vihar (A very famous eatery at Thane) and had light refreshment. Just as we were returning to the station, we saw out 1305 Vashi EMU pulling out! The next train was only at 1420!

We then slowly walked over to the ticket counter on the Eastern Side, and queued up for the ticket. The counter works on UTS - Unreserved Ticketing System, a centralized system for issuing "unreserved" tickets. The tickets are printed on "running" paper stock using Dot Matrix printers. The printer at the counter at which we had queued up was not able to get the paper properly, and the paper was getting stuck frequently! The lady at the counter was tensed, and she was unable to correct the problem. Soon, a "gentleman" manning the nearby counter came to her rescue, and they exchanged their counters. He fixed the problem in about 5 minutes, and resumed issuing tickets. This entire problem wasted about 15 minutes!

After getting tickets, we returned to the platform. While waiting for our EMU, we saw a surprise - A WCG2 hauling an AC/DC EMU through the slow line at Thane towards Kalwa! The EMU was probably repainted by Matunga workshop. The rake included an MRVC Coach (341A). The coach has been repainted to the standard "AC/DC" livery instead of the MRVC Livery. (No photograph since an RPF guy was standing not much far away!) We saw the Coimbatore-LTT Express pulling with a WCG2 in charge. Our EMU came in at 1410. We couldn't manage to get a seat, were standing till Koparkhairane. We reached Vashi at around 1440. We had a quick round of refreshments, and he returned by the next EMU to Thane, while i returned home on my car from Vashi!

The images of the day....are here. Please have a look at them, and post your opinion about them as comments!

Come back right here once again tomorrow for a huge/surprising trip report!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Thane: Yet again...

The Thane bug seems to have bitten me very hard! The first time I went to thane in my life was in 1999 (April). In 2003, Thane became my "everyday" destination. The station was an alien world for me atleast till 2006. I explored the station in whole sometime during 2006, and found convenient locations for railfanning there.

It is now time to bid adieu to the small, busy and dirty station! I snapped my relation with thane a few days back with me finishing my graduation. Here is yet another railfanning report from Thane. (some more would come in the days ahead - sorry for that!)

I reached thane at around 0945. The Kolhapur bound Koyna Express pulled in behind an unknown WCG2. I was then busy negotiating a "traffic" jam on the FOB, and I was pushed, pulled and squeezed by the crowd. I really has a tough time securing my personal belongings! I went to college for some official work shortly after that, and returned to the station at 1200.

The Netravati Express was pulling into Platform 7 then. There was unusually a good number of RPF guys on the platforms, and resisted from photographing for some time - but later decided to take a chance. I took a quick photo of Netravati's loco - WDM3A #14080 of Erode. To my utter surprise, the RPF guys standing on Platform 5/6 went on to Platform 7, giving the entire platform to me!

I walked over to the Kalyan end, and kept waiting for my next "subject". The next one was WCG2 #20137 with the Hyderabad-Mumbai Express. Shortly after this, WCAM3 #21939 went past with the Muzaffarpur bound Pawan Express. The crowd was huge at this end of the platform - all passengers waiting for an unknown "north" bound Express.

At around 1241, WCG2 #20160 made her appearance with the Mumbai-Tirupati-Nagercoil Express in tow. The train cleared a good number of passengers. Just while the Nagercoil express was waiting for clearance, WCAM3 #21963 pulled in with the Manmad-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus "Godavari" Express. My train to get back home - TV27, leaving at 1305 -was to arrive soon. I rushed over to Platform 10, and punched coupons worth Rs. 10. Just as I finished punching the coupons, my train came in.

I rushed to get a seat, and managed to get one. While waiting for the train to depart, the Chennai-Mumbai Express pulled in with a WCG2 in charge. Some time later, the Varanasi bound Kamayani Express also pulled in. My train pulled out sharp at 1305, and I reached Vashi at around 1335. I was simply awestruck to see driving cab 76595 there at vashi! This cab was belonging to Kurla earlier, and was never seen on the Harbour line!

I reached home at about 1400. There ended a small trip to Thane. The photos of the day is right here...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

In celebration....

Platform 7 blog is turning 1 year "young" today! This blog was initiated by me exactly a year ago on July 12, 2006.

Today this blog is going strong with 229 posts made till date. Surprisingly, out of these 122 posts were made during the period from July 12, 2006 till December 31, 2006. The next 107 posts were made during the period from January 01, 2007 till today.

Hopefully your support continues, and this blog celebrate many more anniversaries like this!

Railfanning at Ernakulam

I was in constant touch with Jimmy right through the day on Saturday - June 30. On July 01, Bharat Moro, IRFCA, contacted me in the morning, and conveyed that he would be in Ernakulam. I decided to join him for a railfanning, and Jimmy would join us around 1530. I took a KSRTC bus from my place to Ernakulam. The bus journey was comfortable, except the fact that the bus had a flat tyre at Kaloor (about 3-4 before my intended destination!).
I finally made it to the hotel where Bharat was put up by around 1415. We proceeded to Ernakulam Junction station at around 1500. We purchased platform tickets, and decided to explore the station. A twin WDM2 of Ernakulam (one of them was #17474) was parked at the VIP siding of the station. We checked out the station, and saw a WAP4 on Platform 3. That was WAP4 #22666 of Erode coupled to a Kayamkulam passenger (I couldn't find this train in the timetable - but found another train which goes as Alappuzha passenger, and then becomes Kollam passenger from there). We walked the entire distance of the train, and saw another train parked right behind this train. That fellow too was bound to Kayamkulam, but via Kottayam. There was no loco with that rake.
We stood at the Aluva end of the station. WAP4 #22543 of Erode came out of the trip shed, and took charge of the Kayamkulam passenger (via Kottayam). Soon, a WAP1 (#22016) came in from the Alappuzha side with a passenger train...

The loco was quickly uncoupled, and the loco came forward towards us. The loco then parked itself on the main line. An Erode WDG3A gave company to the WAP1. Another WAP4 came out of the trip shed to take charge of Kerala Express. (Sorry, I don't remember its number!). Soon, Jimmy joined us. Jimmy recieved a call from Prof. Venugopal (from Kollam). He was coming in by Kerala Express. We went and had a short meet with him. Kerala express was brought in from Trivandrum by WAP4 #22298 of Erode.

The train left soon. We decided to check out the Loco shed. Just as we neared the loco shed, WAG5 #23543 of Arakkonam pulled in with an empty rake set. We then went inside the loco shed. There were about 4 locos inside, including WDM3A #16293R. This rebuilt loco had just reached from Patiala that morning (After rebuilding!). The loco went kaput on its journey to the shed!!! We had a round about of the loco, and then decided to check out Ernakulam North.

We were welcomed to Ernakulam north by WAP4 #22527 which was going out with the Alappuzha-Chennai express. The Bangalore-Coimbatore intercity was waiting at North station (This station is officially called Ernakulam Town, and is often referred to localites as "North Station". The official code for this station is ERN). Ernakulam WDM3A #14052 was first allowed to proceed light to the shed. The intercity express had WDM3D #11121 of Erode in charge.

After Intercity, the Bangalore bound "Island" Express pulled in, with WDM3A #14126 of Erode in charge. The loco changed to WAP4 #22298 here. After the Island Express, WAM4 #21266 rushed off with the Dhanbad-Alappuzha Express. We decided to call off the day. Jimmy then dropped me at Ernakulam Jetty KSRTC Bus station. I then took a bus home. There ended a grand but short railfanning trip!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

KSRTC: Yet again...

Regular readers would remember reading an article about Kerala SRTC buses a few months back. (For others: Click here). The buses always have a charm, and traveling on them is an experience. Only a Keralite who stays outside Kerala knows the charm of these buses!

This journey to Kerala was no different, and surely had its own dose of KSRTC journeys! A couple of journeys were on July 01, and then another coupled of them on July 04.

My journey on July 4 is a personal favorite for different reasons. The main among them was that I could travel on a bus that I wanted to, and that too on my birthday! Myself and my dad had gone to Ernakulam for some work. We had some job at Tripunithura. After finishing the job, we visited my uncle at Edapalli. We then went to Ernakulam Jetty Bus station to take a bus to our destination - Kodungallur.

Just as we entered the bus station, a bus bound to Kodungallur was already waiting. All the seats were taken, and the bus was damn run down. She was from Parur depot. We decided to leave that bus. She left at 1830. A bus came at around 1835, but that was only upto Parur. Some minutes later, a Minibus came in. I was waiting for a proper chance to get a good image of a minibus...

No bus bound to my destination was seen any where. The time was getting late. Another bus to Parur came around. Still there was no sign of my bus. At around 0645 my bus finally appeared...

That was a real dream come true! I was dreaming for a long time to travel in a "Venad" bus! This day that really came true! The bus had a TATA chassis. The bus left at 1905. There was heavy traffic jam right from Kacheripady to Kaloor, and the bus took more than an hour to reach Edapalli! We reached Kodungallur around 2100, taking close to 2 hours to cover the distance which usually takes around an hour.

Sadly, KSRTC buses are now fitted with Pricol Speed Restricting Devices. The set speed is 60kmph! The private operators now score over these government monsters for their speed!

About 4 images of KSRTC can be seen here...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A day of the Squads...

I had some Urgent job at my college, and I set out in the morning. I took the 0805 Thane EMU from Vashi. That was a new rake, and the windows did not have the protective mesh! It was fun traveling on the EMU. Just as the train pulled into Koparkhairane, a squad of atleast 15 Ticket Checkers, and an equal number of RPF personnel pranced on to all passengers who got down at the station. Atleast 10 ticketless passengers were caught from my coach alone at the station. They were taken to the SM's office. A set of about 5 Checkers got into my coach and started checking. They got another 5 offenders standing at the door, and an equal number sitting inside! Out of the 10, 1 preferred to pay up the fine (Which was Rs. 260). The others were detrained at Ghansoli, and handed over to RPF! The checking continued till Thane. I reached Thane at around 0830, and immediately went to my college.

I reached the station back at 1140. I had to got to the University for some work, and wanted to reach there only after 1330. (The counter opens only then!). I decided to check out the Netravati Express today. There were about 3 RPF personnel sitting at the end of Platform 7. I walked up to the Kalyan end of Platform 5/6. A twin WCAM3 hauled BCNA rake rushed through. A dead Valsad WAG5 (#2444X) was also attached right behind the twin locos. Shortly after the twins rushed through, The Netravati express pulled in behind WDM3A #18558 of Erode.

I took a pic of the loco as the train moved out covering me from the RPF guys! I stood at the Kalyan end of Platform 5/6. WCG2 #20115 was waiting at the Home signal with the Hyderabad-Mumbai Express. The train was cleared right after the Netravati entered the main line. The loco made a beautiful approach to the station...

I went over to Platform 4 after the express cleared. A WCAG1 (#21970) rushed towards Kalyan with a tanker rake. I took a Slow EMU to Kurla, and then went to the University. I returned back to Kurla by around 1500. I took the 1506 EMU to Vashi, and drove back home...

The photos of the day are HERE!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Monsoon Special: Photos uploaded...

The photographs taken during "Monsoon Special" have been uploaded. The travelogue would come up in a few days from now. So stay tuned for the travelogues.

The images are here. There are about 112 images in the album...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Monsoon Special: Final update

Sorry!!! There was some problem with my mobile phone, and the updates that I had sent here didn't appear! Anyway, the trip is over and here goes the updates::

We (I and my Dad) left Mumbai on 29 June on board 2618 Mangala Express bound for Ernakulam. The train left Panvel at 1012 (Against Scheduled departure time of 0935). The run was normal upto Mangaon. The train was "regulated" at many stations due to flooding of tracks in the Chiplun-Ratnagiri Section of KR. We were regulated at Mangaon for 1 hour and 26 minutes (from 1204 till 1330), at Veer for 1 hour and 11 minutes (1350 to 1501), at Khed for 47 minutes (1602 to 1649), at Chiplun for 47 minutes (1720 to 1807) and at Kamathe for 36 minutes (1831 to 1907). As a result, we reached Trichur only at 1545 (Against Scheduled time of 1045), with a delay of exactly 5 hours! The loco was WDM2 #16565 of Ernakulam, and my coach was WGACCN 00148 (AS2).

I had a short railfanning (1400-1800 hrs) with Bharat Moro and Jimmy jose at Ernakulam. Detailed report would appear here very soooon!

We left Trichur for Mumbai on 06 July, on board 6346 Netravati Express. The train left Trichur at 1604 (Sch. Time: 1550). The loco in charge was WDM2 #18329 of Golden Rock. My coach was WGACCN 05142 (B2). The train reached Panvel (our destination) at 1822 (Sch. Time: 1645) with a delay of 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Detailed report & Photographs would be made available very soon, and links to the respective pages would be put up right here, so stay tuned!!!