Romancing CR Branches...

I've been planning to explore the section since the past many months - but there weren't any train services! The services finally started on March 31, 2008. Two Sundays passed after that day - but I was busy on both days! Finally a call from Mr. Ravi on Friday, and everything was fixed - tickets were booked and we got ready!

I had to get up a bit early on Sunday after a rather late sleep on Saturday. I was damn tired, and had a tough time getting up! I got up and rushed off to check things on the PC! I quickly checked train stats on KR. BY around 8, I rushed out to have break fast, and jumped out with my car. I called up Ravi, and he informed that the train has already reached Kopar! I had a mad dash from thereon, and luckily for me the highway wasn't much crowded. I reached Panvel some time after 0840. I walked into the station to be greeted by heavy crowd on Platform 3. Just as I reached the Platform, announcements were made that the Madgaon bound Mandovi Express was running late, and my train would arrive soon.

I quickly stood at the place where my coach could come. Some minutes later, a WCAM3 was seen pulling towards the station! The loco was WCAM3 #21954 of Kalyan with my train - 1025 Manmad - Pune Express (the train was running only upto Shivaji Nagar due to RRI works at Pune). My coach was D2, the 4th from the loco. I joined Ravi outside the coach. The crowd was heavy! The reservation coaches were full, and even the CC had good reservations! The train pulled out of Panvel at around 0905. Just as my train was pulling out, announcements about the arrival of Mandovi Express was being made!

My train slowly pulled out of Panvel, and kept a low speed since we had to negotiate a point to enter the Karjat line, and the point was about a kilometer away from the station. We slowly switched over to the Karjat Line. I spotted a tanker rake led by twin Kalyan WDM2s standing on the JNPT line. The train picked speed rapidly! We constantly maintained speeds around 70-90kmph on the route. There were two speed restrictions of 30kmph, one near Mohope, and the next after Chouk. The route had two tunnels, one very small and the other about 2.7 kms long!

We reached Karjat at around 0945 i.e., early by around 15 minutes! Udyan Express to Bangalore was yet to arrive. She came in at around 0955 with a Pune WDM3A in charge! The train left after 10 minutes. In the process, my train started losing time. A WCG2 pulled in with the Sahyadri Express (Kolhapur-Mumbai CST) in the meantime. My train finally pulled out of Karjat at 1020 - late by around 15 minutes!

The journey uphill was truly beautiful. The climate was neither too hot nor too cool on our way up. We crossed the Hyderabad-Mumbai Express near Monkey Hill cabin - WDM3A #18983 of Kazipet did the honors on this train. We reached Lonavla at around 1054 - still early! We left Lonavla on time at 1100. The station was filled with WCG2s everywhere except the trip shed! The Chennai-Mumbai Express pulled into Lonavla with WDM3A #18911 of Kazipet in charge as my train started moving out of Lonavla. As we left the station, I noticed a WDG4 standing at the goods yard.

We had a mavellous run from Lonavla to Chinchwad - running non-stop at a very good speed. We made a scheduled halt at Chinchwad. After Chinchwad, the run was painful. We stopped every now-and-then finally coming to a grinding halt right outside Shivaji Nagar. We were made to wait for about 10 minutes at the outer! We finally pulled into the station at around 1215. Myself and Ravi rushed off to get some water and something cold to drink - Pune was boiling hot! Just as we reached the shop, I heard an everfamiliar horn! I rushed off to see who she was, and that was WDP4 #20043 of Krishnarajapuram with the Coimbatore-LTT Express!

My train started her journey back at around 1257. The occupancy ex-Pune (Shivaji Nagar today!) was decent. There were a lot of takers in unreserved compartments. The occupancy in Second sitting was around 75%, while CC had around 60-65% occupancy! The run out of Shivaji nagar was slow for some time, but we picked up speed as we reached Khadki. WE crossed the Kolhapur bound Koyna Express near Khadki - WDM3A #18917R of Gooty did the honors! The train filled up from Chinchwad! The climate was too hot, and both of us were a bit tired by now!


We had a good run upto Lonavla Outer. We where held up at Lonavla outer for quite some time. While waiting there, I spotted a twin WCG2 hauled BCNA rake pulling in to the yard (Down Yard). We pulled into Lonavla at 1405, and left 5 minutes later. We were taking the UP line - the one via Nagnath today! This was my first journey on that route, and I was surely excited on that! We had a good run across the ghats, but stopping way too frequently! We crossed two departmental train on the way (one near Monkey Hill, and the other near Jambrang). We crossed the Hyderabad Express near Palasdhari - WDM2 #16579 of Kazipet did the honors!

We pulled into Karjat finally at around 1510, and left about 3 minutes later. The run back to Panvel was slow, and we had to made brief halts at Chouk and Mohope for some unknown reasons. We reached Panvel at around 1555. Ravi wanted to travel to Thane by Netravati, and she was late by around 3 hours! Almost all trains from KR was running late, while Kerala Sampark Kranti topping the list at 4:30 hours, Mangala closely behind at 3:30, and Netravati late by 3:15 hours!

Sampark Kranti came at 16:45 - WDM2 #16805 of Ernakulam did the honors, while Mangala came at 17:41 with Ernakulam WDM2 #16671 in charge! Netravati came in much later at 1825 with WDM3D #11112 of Erode in charge! I left Panvel at around 1845, thus winding up a rather exhaustive day!

Images of the day are here! Please do have a look at them, and post in your valuable comments!