Sunday, October 28, 2007

Railfanning at Sion...

It was roughly five days back that Arzan called me up and invited me for railfanning at Sion. He confirmed the program in the afternoon. After a quick shower (Yeah! The day was too hot!), and a quick lunch, I drove out quickly to the nearby station. I parked by car and rushed off to the ever familiar "Tikat" Counter. There was a "slight" queue. I got a ticket, and reached the platform just on time for the train. I got in, and the train jerked ahead!

I got down at Kurla at around 1510 - still about an hour to go for the time Arzan told me! I decided to wait for the KR3 passenger. I thought of clicking it at Sion instead of Kurla, and took a slow local. Just as my EMU was pulling out, a WCAM3 rushed off with the Sewagram express bound to Nagpur. Right behind the train, was the WCAM3 that brought the train to Mumbai. I got down at Sion and started searching to a location. I got a good one, but quickly realised that I was right next to a Police Chowky! I took the next train to Matunga.

On the way, I crossed the Konark Express. I quickly zeroed in on a spot at Matunga. At around 1535, I noticed a diesel loco smoking up from Dadar. The loco slowly crawled out, and joined the main line just near to where I was standing. The loco was WDM2 #17983 of Pune. I took another local to get back to Sion. At Sion, I looked at the 6381 (or is it still 1081?) Kanyakumari Express rushing off with a complete SR rake and a WCG2 in charge. The coach positions had completely reversed, and this depressed me bit. The old of this train was outstanding, and I don't know if they would continue the same contractor now!

Arzan joined me at around 1610. He quickly made a visit to the washroom, and he was ready to take 'positions'. We walked out of the station, and got on to the road. The pavement (fondly called the "footpath") was being used as a toilet by the locals, and it was stinking very very badly! We decided to walk on the road instead! We reached a spot where the boundary wall was breached, and used that gap to get on near the tracks. We were greeted by a WDS4 hauling a lone VPU coach...

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We, on hearing the horn, first thought that it was the Pune bound Pragati. Arzan was disappointed on seeing a WDS4 instead! (I was enjoying looking at the Puny little loco, which is interestingly the only Broad Gauge loco with Hydraulic Transmission on IR today!). We had to change out vantage point since our view was liable to be blocked by Slow EMUs, and we moved over to the otherside. The sunlight was now directly on the lens, and I had to jack up the exposure compensation to get a clearer image.

We were quickly greeted by the Pune bound Pragati Express. WCAM3 #21953 was in charge. Since, no action was expected for some time, we moved over to the road nearby and chatted for sometime. We were back near the tracks in time for the Nandigram Express. WDM3A #16013R was incharge of Nandigram Express today. Right behind the Nandigram was a WCG2 hauled train. The loco was WCG2 #20151, and the train had about 10 coaches - 2 SLRs, 7 Sleeper coaches and 1 Pantry. All coaches were of SR, and I suspect it was a Tourist train.

There was no action for some more time. Finally, just a few minutes before 1730, WCAM3 #21891 rushed off with the Pune bound Deccan Queen. We decided to call it a day, and both of us walked towards Chunabhatti station which was just 100 metres away from where we stood. I had a ticket, while Arzan purchased one. He was proceeding to Vikhroli to capture some more videos, while I was headed home. I reached home at around 1830, making use of my only holiday of the week. SO it is back to normal tomorrow, with the day beginning at 0500!

The images of the day are here, there are 7 in all starting with this one. Please have a look at them and let me know what do you think about them...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Raifanning - the Office way.....

On the way to my office, the bus crosses the Thane-Turbhe railway line right outside the APMC yard near Koparkhairane. I've been tracking goods trains arriving there on a daily basis now. I noticed that there is one shunter loco at the yard, something that was absent earlier.

The loco seen at Kalyan is WDS6 #36239. Freight traffic seems to have gone up pretty rapidly, and there is atleast one new rake per day! Today there was one Container train led by twin WCAM3s!

More coming soon...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Some time at Panvel...

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I had posted earlier in the morning that I had a bad fall yesterday, and I had to report sick to office. I started feeling better by morning, and my Dad was going to our native place for some work. I decided to drop him at the station. We left home at around 1150. I drove slowly, and we reached Panvel station by around 1220.

Just as I neared the station, WDM2 #18332 of Ernakulam pulled into the station with the Kochuveli bound Kerala Sampark Kranti Express. I had to limp around to get a platform ticket. By now, my dad checked the reservation chart and purchased water for him. I reached back at the platform. We stood on the FOB till some "solid" information was available about his train.

Announcement was made that the train would arrive on Platform 3 after the Dadar passenger leaves. Passenger 2 was occupied by a BTPN rake, while Platform 1 was occupied by the Sampark Kranti. The passenger pulled in WDM3A #18764R of Pune in charge. The rake had 15 coaches today, and the last 3 coaches were reserved, and all of them were 2007 made! The train pulled out after a very quick halt.

Some minutes later, WDM3A #14139 of Erode pulled in with my dad's train - 6345 Lokmanya Tilak Terminus - Trivandrum Netravati Express. The train halted for some 10 minutes at the station, and my dad asked me to leave before the train does! The Nizamuddin bound Mangala Express was running late by 30 minutes. With no crossings for some more time ahead, I decided to move out! I drove back to home.

The drive was slow since my leg still gave me problem...So thats it for the day! It back to duties tomorrow... Just two images for the day: This and This one. Just have a look at them, and Let me know what you feel.

Landing with a thud...

Yesterday was looking like a normal day as I moved out of my home. The time was 06:05. The watchman unusually was wide awake, and he opened the gate for me. I continued walking down hearing a very familiar song - Chak de India, which is now almost an anthem for Indian cricket fans - on a popular FM Radio station. Streetlights were switched off, but it was still dark outside. The climate was cool, and sweating was out of question.

I had a bad brush with a wild branch of a tree the day before, and hence decided to walk on the opposite side of the road. It was all normal was I successfully walked around 25o metres from my home. The pick up point of my Company bus is 400 metres from home. All off a sudden, My leg went into a small height difference of the unevenly surfaced road, and I lost balance. In a fraction of a second, I lay flat on the road! It was a real landing with a thud!

I was unable to get up, but some how managed. My ankle was paining badly, as I struggled to walk the remaining 150 metres to the pick up point. The bus was a bit late. By the time I reached my office, I was unable to walk properly. I popped in a pain killer, and went about for the rest of the day. Unusually, I had to walk a lot inside my office, and by afternoon, the condition of my ankle was bad! It had a slight swelling, and was paining badly.

It was 3 pm, and I logged off my PC in a hurry, and walked out of office. It was a painful walk back to the bus, and then yet another painful walk inside the bus. I somehow managed to reach the "drop-off" point of my bus, which is the same as the pick up point. I had a painful walk to cross the road, and called up my dad to pick me up. I couldn't walk any more. I reached home, had another painkiller and slept for some time.

At around 1800, I was woken up, and Now I wasn't able to even stand up. My mom called up the doctor and took an appointment. Called for a car, and the guy came in at 2045. We rushed to the hospital, and the doctor asked for an immediate X-Ray. The X-Ray revealed that, luckily, I did not have a fracture, and it was only a normal sprain!

I was relieved. The doctor quickly wrote down a prescription, and I was back home by 2145. All this ensured that I reported sick today! And stand to lose a day's pay! (I am on training, we are not entitled for paid leaves now!). But, I am okay now, and expect to post something interesting may be a few hours later...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ticket Trouble...


The above image is only representational

Now that my job is still in the training phase, we do not get the bus facility offered by the company. Company has staff buses which leave the company 15 minutes after the end of every shift in various directions. The company operates about 8 buses for the staff members. Yesterday (Wednesday, October 17, 2007), I had to travel to my office by bus (town bus). I usually drive down to office, but it was different yesterday since my family required the car.

My journey to office was in two legs: Home to Vashi, and Vashi to office. The first part was undertaken on an NMMT bus, and so was the second part. I took a bus from the bus stop nearest to my home at around 0915, and reached Vashi a bit after 0935. The fare was Rs. 7, and the bus was moderately crowded. I had to stand for quite some distance.

The second part is all this post is about! I took a bus working a schedule on NMMT Route Number 100 (Vashi Railway Station to Mulund East). The bus reached the bus stop (Vashi Plaza, just the third stop after its origin!) at around 0955~1000. The bus was crowded, and was already carrying much more than its "official" carrying capacity, a board to the same effect proclaims 51 seats and 21 standees. So that is 72 passengers excluding two operational staff. The bus was carrying not less than 85 passengers when I boarded.

The next stop was Vashi Bus station, where another 10 passengers joined the bus. I was standing closer to the rear exit of the bus (for those who aren't much familiar with the layout of buses here, please look at this image). The conductor was still around the front exit of the bus issuing ticket to different passengers. He was too irritated about passengers giving him currency bills for higher values than required, and for not giving him change! The fare for my journey was Rs. 6. As the bus proceeded, some passengers got down, and some passengers (not less than the number getting down) joined the bus.

I got a seat to sit about 3 kilometres before my destination. Interestingly, about 75% of the passengers were to get down at the same stop as me! The bus was approaching its destination, and the conductor was still around the middle of the bus. One part in me was rejoicing over saving that money, while the other part was acting as a honest citizen worrying about the corporation losing money. But the attitude of the conductor was surely not justifiable.

The bus almost reached my destination, when the conductor approached, and he issued me a ticket for Rs. 4! The corporation lost Rs. 2! I am pretty sure than there would be atleast 10% of the passengers traveling without paying anything to the corporation. The corporation, which was once among the best performing corporations in the region with its accounts in the black, is now moving towards the red. The corporation starting bleeding ever since train services began on the Vashi-Thane route. Bus services to Thane was the main stay of the corporation, and the company was sending buses on as many as 13 routes to Thane! The total number of routes operated by the corporation, then, was only around 22!

The corporation opened its eyes only when the train services began hitting the corporation badly! Now, the company operates around 40-odd routes with around 250 buses. And, most routes now work as feeder routes helping passengers to reach railway stations. Now, getting back to my issue, the bus now entered the bus station. A battalion of ticket checkers approached the bus, and I luckily had a ticket! I handed it over and walked away as around 6 ticketless guys were caught by them!

NMMT needs to make its conductors more efficient. Some processes like the conductor issuing tickets before the bus begins its journey from the Origin would help in better management, and it would ensure that atleast 95-99% of the passengers have paid for their journey! The corporation earns most of its revenue from passengers traveling shorter distances, and they surely need to be pampered with more buses. I saw one such bus today in the morning dedicated to serve many BPO professionals like me working for big names at the Millenium Business Park situated at Mahape!

So, thats it for the day. What was this post all about???


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A visit to Alappuzha Beach...

Alappuzha (formerly called as Alleppey) is a small sleep town in the South Indian State of Kerala. The district has most of its parts along the coast, and the remaining forming part of the Rice bowl area "Kuttanad". The entire district has lots of tourist attractions, and is a major point for Tourists visiting Kerala. The district holds the maximum number of "house boats" present in the state, and has a rather well-used water way for internal transportations.

Alappuzha has a pretty long beach which is by-and-far a tourist attract. This beach has a "bridge", locally called as Kadal Paalam literally translated as "Sea Bridge". Alappuzha was a major port during the pre-independence era. The city had a huge number of coir industries. The town was called as the "Venice of the East". The port lost its importance when a major port at Cochin was opened. This bridge was used to transport material from sister ships which would anchor on to this bridge. Bigger ships could not directly approach the "port". The remants of the Old port offices, warehouses, customs offices, etc still remain. The city railway station too is very near to the beach, so near that one can see trains entering the station!

Now, some pictures after this long introduction:



This image shows the bridge. Unfortunately, this piece of history is now left to rot by the authorities. Nobody is now permitted to enter the bridge, and the structure has been damaged at most places. The wooden planks have begun falling down, and the iron structures have fully corroded!

Some more images:





Like every beach, this one too has its share of fishing communities. You can see some of their boats in the immediately above image.



Poor little bulb! She has outlived her age. The reflections of the setting sun can be seen on this image...



The sun goes down marking the end of a tiring long day! The clouds spoiled my plans of capturing the setting sun! I love the boat near the sun!



Another image of the sea bridge. Just like the sun setting down, the days of this bridge too is numbered!



Like every beach, this one too is a heaven for ice cream vendors. But due to the smaller number of visitors, there were only around 5-6 vendors along the beach. There are quite some restaurants around though.

Finally one more image before winding up...



So, thats it for the day! More such posts about my most recent trip to Kerala would be appearing in the days to come...

Monday, October 15, 2007

First Day @ Work...

Just as I had mentioned in my immediately previous post, I joined for the first job in my career today. It is a basic desk job with a reputed BPO (This job is actually a stop-gap arrangement till and get in for my Post Graduation!). A guy from the HR department called me up on October 11, and asked me to report on October 15 (today) at 0900.

I got up on time, and after the regular morning chores, I rushed off to a nearby temple. Now begins the drama! I accidentally locked the car with the keys inside! The time was already 0820. My mom rushed home to pick the spare keys while I finished the work at the temple. She returned by 0845. I had a mad run after that and managed to reach the BPO by 0905. I was upset on reaching late on the first day itself!

I signed a register, and was given a temporary Identity card. I rushed off to the training hall. About 15 other candidates had already arrived. I was the 16th, and after some time the 17th joined. HR executives turned up for the induction process at 1030 (What a punctuality!). The process began 5 minutes later, and was completed by 1130. Candidates were divided on the basis of qualification, and the final training batch now had 13 candidates including me. That was 5 "girls" and the remaining boys.

The "trainer" turned up at 1245! (Another case of punctuality - the session was supposed to begin at 1000!). A small 15 minutes session, and the hall now had another set of trainees waiting for their session! We were shunted to another hall, and 30 more minutes later it was lunch break! The session resumed at 1415, and at 1500 we changed the hall once again! (We returned to the hall where we sat first). The session went on till 1545 with the trainer explaining what our job was all about! (I am bound by an confidentiality agreement for NOT disclosing what exactly is my job!).

The "trainer" finished off his job at 1550, and we were permitted to move. While walking out of the hall, I read a pretty famous "Quality" statement of "Juran": Quality is never an accident, it is planned! The way the company achieves "Quality" is hilarious! Interestingly, out of the 13 "trainees" who attended the session today, hardly 3 of them (of course including me!) could speak in english! Luckily, we are NOT into handling voice based processes!

More such posts can be expected in the days to come...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Another short Railfanning...

Today was a day that I would love to remember. Like how a fire would behave just before getting extinguished, I too was too energetic to railfan. I had some work at the "old" college, and left home at around 0900. Took a daily pass and got into a train towards Kurla. Just as I reached Kurla, I saw some train rushing towards CST. All I saw was the SLR, and hence I couldn't find out which train was that. The time was around 1025 then.

I got a copy of the latest Suburban timetable, and rushed off to catch a train towards Thane. I took a Titwala bound "semi-fast" EMU. We crossed the CST bound Deccan Queen just outside Kurla, and WCAM3 #21931 was in charge. Just near Ghatkopar, I saw WCAM3 #21950 rushing off with an unknown express towards CST. While my train was just pulling out of Ghatkopar, I saw WCAM3 #21943 pulling in with the Pragati Express. We crossed a WCAM3 hauled express (With DQ type livery - could be the Panchvati) near Vikhroli, and the Osmanabad-CST Express somewhere near Bhandup. A Kalyan WDM2 was in charge of the Osmanabad Express. WCAM2 #21863 was seen preparing to pull out of Nahur with a BCNA rake.

We were routed to the slow line after Mulund. Just before thane, we crossed the Howrah-Mumbai Mail via Allahabad. WCAM3 #21953 was in charge. I initially thought of waiting till the WCAM2 went past, but since the time was already around 1100, I decided to leave. I took a bus, and the ride drained out most of my energy! It was too hot outside, and the bus was getting stuck at traffic blocks frequently! I reached my college, and met some of my old teachers and lab attenders. I finished my work, and left the college at around 1220. I got a bus quickly, and the driver put up a real good show. I reached Thane by around 1300. I walked into Kunj Vihar to have some refreshments, and then moved towards the station.

There was some 'major' snag on the railway line, and most trains were running late by 25-30 minutes! I was initially confused on what to do, but later decided to jump into one CST bound Fast EMU. That was a 12-car AC/DC EMU, and I was longing to ride one AC/DC EMU for pretty long now! Just as my train was pulling out of Mulund, I saw the Chennai-Mumbai Express waiting at the outer for want of platform. The train crawled from Thane to Mulund outer. We were diverted to the slow line at Mulund. The WCAM2 hauled freight was still standing at Nahur! I enjoyed the way the EMU rushed through stations without stopping, and the awestruck faces of passengers seeing a train running through without stopping! I constantly kept an eye on the fast line, and was expecting the Express to overtake us anytime. On the way, we crossed a Light Kalyan WDM2, and one WCAG1 hauled freighter.

I got down at Ghatkopar, and saw the express rushing past with WCG2 #20124 in charge. I was there to see the Matsyagandha Express. At around 1410, I saw the train entering the main line. WDM3A #14123 of Erode was in charge. Just after the Matsyagandha cleared the platform, I saw WCAM3 #21885 rushing towards CST with the Mahanagari Express. Just after Mahanagari went, WCG2 #20134 rushed through with the Mumbai-Chennai Express. I took an EMU to Kurla.

Just as I reached Kurla, a Panvel bound EMU went through, and I missed it narrowly. The crowd on the platform was heavy. The heat was taking its toll in me, and i was getting dehydarted since I was sweating heavily. I gulped down some cold drinks. Just around then, I saw a "blue" coloured loco moving towards Kurla from the Ghatkopar end. That was...

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...WDM3A #18612 of Pune working the late running Ratnagiri-Dadar Passenger. The loco pilot spotted the starter turning green as he pulled into the platform, and notched up heavily. The loco was a beautiful smoker, and I was happy to be able to capture the loco in the act! I took a Belapur bound EMU, and reached home a few minutes past 1600 totally drained out. I gulped down atleast half a litre of water on reaching home. Phew! That was a real hot unforgettable day!

Now, the reason why I compared my session with a fire: I am taking up a job from tomorrow, and I expect my freedom to be restricted. So, the frequency of railfanning may come down in the days to come. Anyway, keeping my fingers crossed.

By the way, the images that I took yesterday are here. (The first five images of the page) Do have a look at them, and let me know what you feel. Bye for the day!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

October Bonanza: Done!

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Finally that long trip is over! Here are some highlights:

The down trip was on 6337 Okha-Ernakulam Express. I traveled from Panvel to Kasaragode. The loco was WDM3A #16084R of Ernakulam. It was a long tiring journey after that!

I had a short Railfanning session with Jimmy Jose, Prof. Venugopal and Sudhakaran T, all RailKeralites at Ernakulam station on October 06, 2007. (A detailed report of that would be put up soon).

We proceeded to Bangalore by road on October 07, 2007 (a report of that too would be put up very soon).

On October 09, 2007, We took the 6340 Nagercoil-Mumbai Express from Krishnarajapuram to Pune, and from Pune we took a bus to Belapur. The loco in charge of 6340 Express was WDM2 #17914 of Erode. Details of the bus journey will be put up as a seperate report in the days to come.

Images of the trip can be seen here. Please rate the images, and let me know your comments. Thanks for reading...

Monday, October 08, 2007

October Bonanza: Update 2

The journey is almost over, with only the last lap remaining - which would commence tomorrow.

The last week had been too hectic, jumping literally from one place to another. The roads in Kerala are average, and to be honest - they are NOT as bad as they are said to be! (Detailed analysis and reports after I reach back at Mumbai).

The loco that worked my train from Panvel to Kasaragode was WDM3A #16084R of Ernakulam. I was happy to see that loco since I was in search of her for pretty long time now!

The road journey from Thrissur to Bangalore was superb, and we did the distance in 11-and-a-half hours, and the entire distance was driven by me.

More details of the trip would start appearing after I reach back at Mumbai...