Sunday, January 27, 2008

MSRTC's New King Long!

I saw the first new "Certia" KL6113 bus from MSRTC on the road some two months back. I've been trying to get them on my camera since then. Yesterday, while driving back from Panvel after a nice railfanning session, I saw one right in front of me -waiting for me to picture her!

Here she goes:





The bus was working a Dadar-Pune schedule. The bus was named "Shivneri" MSRTC's Flag ship brand for their Volvo buses. I was pleasently surprised on seeing the bus! The bus is probably on lease to MSRTC (looks so from the number - MSRTC buses are never registered at the Vashi RTO, but always bear "MH11, 12, 20, 31 or 40" marks!).

King Long (under their "Cerita" Brand in India) seem to be making good in roads into Maharashtra. Even reviews seem to give a thumbs up to this bus and are rated at par with a Volvo! I'm yet to travel in one of these - I would reserve my opinion till then!

Republic Day at Panvel

While sitting idle at office on Republic Day morning, an Idea to railfan at the station dawned on me. The time was around 0430 when it all happened. I left my office at 0700 (my shift ends at 0700) and drove home thinking more about the program. I finally decided to do it and left my home at 0745. A really bad accident at Kharghar caused slow moving traffic on the highway. I reached the station at around 0810. The queue at the ticket counter scared me, and I rushed off to the suburban complex to get a Platform ticket.

I entered the station and found a Vadodara WAG5 standing at the CSTM end of Platform 1. The loco was #23741. There was a BCNA rake on Platform 3 and the rake probably came from the Roha side, and unknown WDG3A was seen moving away from the rake. Announcements were made that the Mandovi Express was expected only at 0850, on Platform 2. WAG7 #27662 of Ludhiana pulled in from the JNPT side sometime around 0825. The PA system announced that the Flag would be raised at 0830 and asked all staffers to assemble near the venue. I rushed out to see the proceedings, and was awed by the number of Police personnel standing out there!

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The arrival of Mandovi Express was announced shortly after the function was over. I rushed over to Platform 2 to see the train pulling in. It was WDP4 #20036 of Krishnarajapuram doing the honors. The loco was working LHF. The train was 24 coaches long. The train pulled out after a 5 minute halt. The GS coaches were packed to the brim, and there was a minor altercation due to that at the station. I returned to Platform 1 to have some light refreshments. Mangala Express was running late by 10 minutes (That seems to be a norm these days!).

A Ludhiana WAG7 pulled in from the Diva side with a JNPT bound Container train. The train was cleared in just 5 minutes, and as the container train started moving out, a WAG5 hauled container train also pulled in. The loco was Bhusawal WAG5 #23662. Just as I moved towards Platform 3, a Vijayawada WAG5 duo hauled container train pulled in from the JNPT side. Platform 3 was getting crowded as the announcement about the arrival of Mangala Express was made. Mangala Express bound to Ernakulam arrived at around 0945 with WDM2 #18413 of Ernakulam doing the honors. I rushed out of the station towards the level cross to catch the train moving out!

The loco was a damn good smoker! She moved out, and her place was taken over by the 1689 Diva-Roha Passenger. The loco in charge was WDM2 #16012 of Kalyan - she was a poor smoker. I left the place soon after the Passenger train cleared out. I drove back to my home! Images of the day can be seen here - 11 images in all!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Railfanning at Saphale

I had a short Railfanning at Saphale on Sunday - January 20, 2008.

The trip report would come up soon.... Till then, have a look at the images!

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The images of the day can be seen here! 31 of them in all

Monday, January 14, 2008

Flight from Bangalore to Mumbai...

December 30, 2007: I was all set to fly again after a long gap of more than two years! My last air journey was in May 2005! I was flying back to Mumbai alone from Bangalore, and my entire family was at the airport to see me off. We reached the airport at around 1030 for a 1140 departure. I just had cabin baggage with me. There were three check-in counters for my airline (IndiGo), and one was empty. I checked in a matter of a few minutes. They did check my identity before issuing a boarding pass. I had selected a seat at the time of reservation itself, and was allotted the same seat. The guy at the counter directed me to the security check, and asked me to proceed towards Gate 1.

There weren’t much people for the security check, and I finished the process in less than 5 minutes. I was at the waiting area at around 1040! One Kingfisher to Delhi was boarding then from Gate 1, and another one was at Gate 2. After the bird to Delhi went, another red bird (Kingfisher) docked, and this one was to Mumbai. The public announcements never switched off, and were in continuous flow all the time! A Jetlite bird was docked at Gate 3, and was bound to Coimbatore. The bird still had “Air Sahara” Colours, and not even a sticker announced her new identity! The ground staff and equipment however mentioned “Jetlite”. Paramount airlines kept announcing a 45 minute delay for their flight to Chennai/Madurai. The announcer however wasn’t very fluent in English. Kingfisher was repeatedly announcing departures of their flights to different locations. Meanwhile a Go Air bird to Mumbai went out. My aircraft reportedly arrived Bangalore at 1040 itself from Chennai. The Aircraft works a Chennai-Bangalore-Mumbai routing. Boarding was announced at 1100.

We were to board from Gate 1. An Indian Airlines (Air India) aircraft bound to Pune/Goa was parked there. An IndiGo staffer led in to a bus (A really old one from HAL) and we were off towards the aircraft. The bus was pretty full, and I remained near the door itself. The bus ride was bumpy. My aircraft was parked a bit away. The aircraft working my flight, 6E-275 to Mumbai, was Airbus A320 VT-INF. I was the first passenger to reach the aircraft. There were about 20-25 passengers already inside the 180-odd seater aircraft. I quickly reached my seat 9A. I took a few shots from the tarmac. The First officer came on the PA system and announced that the boarding was completed at around 1130. The doors were closed, and the aircraft was pushed back at around 1130 (As against the scheduled departure time of 1140).

The Flight “supervisor” came only and announced that the Captain was one Mr. Verma and the first officer was an expat (sorry! I don’t remember his name). She announced her name, and the names of the two other air-hostesses flying on that day! The crew thus was 5 in number, and the aircraft was full except for one seat – the one right next to me! Safety demos were done, and the aircraft started her roll towards the runway by around 1136. A Simplifly Deccan Aircraft (VT-DNW) landed first, and then an Air India A320 to Pune then took on the run way. Right behind us on the take off queue was Paramount’s Embraer 175 VT-PAF (bound to Chennai). We started our Take off roll by 1146. The take off was silk smooth (I love A320s for this!). The aircraft took off straight and then took a sharp turn to the left. While turning left, I saw the Paramount aircraft rolling on the run way.


The ascent was pretty steep. The seatbelt indicators were switched off at around 1150. IndiGo offers snacks on sale, and the service began at around 1200. The cart had Veg and Non-Veg sandwiches on offer along with cookies and cashewnuts. Carbonated drinks, and packaged juices too were available. The price was okay – the Veg sandwich costs about Rs. 100, while a 250ml bottle of lemonade costs Rs. 20. The sandwich was good enough. The flight was smooth. At around 1230, the flight supervisor announced to co-operate with the crew to maintain cleanliness in the aircraft. A cart was brought around, and empty bottles/packets were collected.

The first officer came online at around 1240 and announced that Mumbai was less than 160 nautical miles ahead, and was expected to land at around 1305. Landing was announced at 1250. The flight began its landing approach at around 1256. The aircraft crossed the Thane creek at around 1258, and we were now heading towards the airport. The aircraft was on the taxiway at 1300, and we stopped at a parking bay by 1302. Our neighbours at the tarmac were an IndiGo A320 (VT-INB), a Simplifly Deccan A320 (VT-DKX) and a Jetlite B737 (VT-SJD).

Alighting from the aircraft took a pretty long time. I got into their bus at around 1310, and I was out of the airport by around 1315. I then took an auto to Santacruz station, and then a bus back home! That was a quick hop from Bangalore – my first on an LCC!

Ratings:

Punctuality: 5/5 (The flight was before time at Mumbai!)
Cleanliness: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Variety of food: 4/5 (Could’ve been better!)

Overall: 5/5 (I’d surely recommend IndiGo to everyone!)

Images of this flight are here....Two videos that I had taken during the flight is getting ready- They'll be online very soon...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Year Bonus - Done!

Finally the trip is done! About 3000kms in 5 days!

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The outbound journey was by 6345 Netravati Express. The loco in charge was WDM3D 11207 of Erode. My coach was WGACCW 96067 (A1) based at TVC. The coach was probably the worst AC coach in which I have ever traveled! The train was about 20 minutes late while leaving Panvel, and arrived Trivandrum late by around 28 minutes. The train had a very bad run over at Quilandi, and the train stopped just meters after the spot. A man was run over at a level cross, and it is reported that nothing remained of the person - a very sad incident which left a bad mark to the day!

The return journey was by 6346 Netravati Express. The loco this time was WDM2 #16671 of Ernakulam! The coach this time around was WGACCN 03107 (B4) based at Trivandrum. The train left Trivandrum on time and maintained time at most stations on Day 1. The train started losing time on Day 2, and reached Panvel only at 1706, delayed by a whole hour and 56 minutes! The coach was better than the one in which I went.

Pantry service of this train has lot of room for improvement. The service by coach attendants is pretty poor, and bed rolls are not supplied properly. Images of the trip can be seen here. Detailed trip reports to come very soon...

More details, and photos coming soon

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New Year Bonus - Update 1

I entered the capital city of kerala - Trivandrum yesterday! My train was hauled by WDM3D 11207 of Erode.... More details very soon!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year Bash!

Just like the last year, this year too I welcomed the new year with a session of railfanning. The venue was the same both the years - the ever familiar Panvel station.

I returned from Bangalore on Sunday alone, and my parents would be back only the next week. I left home at around 1130 to a nearby restaurant to have lunch and then proceed to Panvel. I had lunch and drove down towards Panvel. I dove about 50% of the distance when I realised that I hadn't taken the batteries of my camera! The camera takes only Li-Ion batteries, and I had to drive back home to fetch the batteries. I called up Panvel and enquired the status of some trains.

I then drove down to Panvel, and headed straight to the Level cross. The gate was closed, and Netravati Express to Panvel was readying to start! WDM3D #11112 of Erode was in charge! The loco was a mild smoker. A twin Kalyan WDM2 hauled BCNA rake too was waiting to start from Panvel.

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The KR4 passenger from Ratnagiri was running late, and pulled in at around 1345 only (about an hour late!). The loco in charge was WDM2 #17739 of Pune. Nizamuddin bound Mangala was also running late. So was the Nizamuddin bound Holiday special and the LTT bound Netravati Express.

Mangala Express pulled in at around 1411 with WDM2 #16859 of Ernakulam in charge. The train was about an hour and 11 minutes late. The train pulled out in about 5 minutes. There were pretty less number of RPF around - much to my happiness!

The Kochuveli-H.Nizamuddin Winter special pulled in at around 1428 with WDM3a #18735 of Vatva doing the honours. The train, according to the announcement, was only 16 coaches long (2x SLR, 2X GS, 10X SL, 2X 3A, 1X 2A). But, when the train pulled in, she was 20 coaches long (2X SLR, 1X GS, 14X SL, 2X 3A, 1X 2A)! I met one of my office colleagues at the station! He was on his way back from Goa! The train left at around 1442. (The loco was a good smoker - but appeared to be in a very bad state!)

Matsyagandha Express to Mangalore was announced to arrive about 15 minutes late. The train turned up at 1527 with WDM2 #17474 of Ernakulam doing the honours! This loco arrived Mumbai on December 30, and then worked the JS yesterday! The train was moderately crowded, and there was a good number of upgradations from SL to 3A! The train left at around 1535.

Lokmanya Tilak Terminus bound Netravati Express pulled in at around 1616 (about an hour late) with WDM2 #16881 of Golden Rock doing the honours! This train has a real volatile link rotating among all loco sheds of SR! (The link officially is with Ernakulam!)

I concluded the "New Year Bash" at around 1630 and returned home.

Images of the day can be seen here. The above one is a very short write up. I plan to edit this to add more information very soon...