Pune Trip Notes
by Shashanka Nanda
Just came back from a weekend tour of pune. Here are a few notes:
Got late while departing from Mumbai, so opted for the Bus via the expressway rather than the train. Dep: 1730 from Dadar , and arrived at Pune (Shivajinagar) at 2130 hrs. Not that bad a run. Stopped along the expressway at a food mall, for some burger and coke, food was good too. Overall it costed me 25/- to andheri station, 180/- for the bus ticket, 70/- for the food, 12/- for water, and 45/- from shivajinagar bus stand to Pashan (my destination in Pune). Total of 262/- and about 6 hrs end to end, ie dep from Andheri in Mumbai to arrival Pashan in Pune and an absolutely boring journey.
Saturday night was spent partying bigtime at elbowroom while Sunday was reserved for some railfanning. So at 1530 hrs, the Alco Badshah (Apurva), the Young Turk (Swaran) and yours truly met up PA station. All 3 of us interact regularly via mail or fone, but it was the first time I met them in person. At PF1, the HWH bound Azad Hind exp. was waiting to depart, with a PA WDM2 incharge. So all 3 of us trudged down to check out the new point from PF1 which helps train reach the Daund line, to watch the departure. Bang on time the WDM2 took off, and negotiated the 4 sets of points invoved in reaching the Daund line from Road 1. crossing that, the driver got a clear from Hadapsar home and smoked away out of sight.
Meanwhile other notable arrivals at PA were, the TVC-CSTM exp. A vaccum braked rake with a ED WDM2 incharge. The Goa Exp. from HNZM came in behind a Pune WDM2, while the CSTM-Nagercoil exp. departed with a ED WDM2. A surprise packet was the Mumbai bound Koyna Exp. with a KJM WDM3A baldie hauling it!!! The train rolled heavily while entering the PA yard. A question here : Are 14XXX WDM3As (WDM2Cs) dual brake capable or was it an after factory job done by KJM. Usually dual braked locos have the sign 'Dual' or 'Dual Brake' stencilled or denoted in some form on the loco body, but this loco had no such marks.
Also seen was a PA WDS6 shunting a long oil rake in the PA yard on the DD end. Reaching back to the station, we heard the arrival of the 7031 exp to HYB, and its standard WDM2 from KZJ took over. We all had cold coffees from the 'Comesum' food plaza which looked nice and the coffee was decent too. I bought tickets for CSTM on the PA-CSTM Shatabdi we then pored over pics from Swaran's recent MTJ trip and then both Apu and Swaran took leave.
The Goa express reverses directions at PA, and for the PA-VSG journey, twin WDM2s from PA took over. The JAT bound Jhelum exp. stood at PF2 behind a KJM liveried WDM3A (18XXX) rebuild job from the PA shed. Nowadays most rebuilt WDM3As from DCW come in either the ED shed or KJM livery (wonder why???). Soon enough a WDM2 pair hauled in a rake of BCNA from the CSTM side and moved on towards DD within minutes while a CLA (Kurla) WDS4 brought in the rake of my Shatabdi.
The CSTM-PA Shatabdi now has only 7 coaches: Gen car-ECC-CC-CC-CC-CC-Gen Car being the combination. Since the meals served are only light snacks, the small pantries built at one end of the coach suffice, so no pantry car is needed. The external washbasin at one end though is missing. My coach was 1982 built, though the entire rake looked in good condition and was clean. Immideatly a WCAM3 was attached to the train, and simultaneously the Jhelum and the Shatabdi rolled on to their respective destinations.
The CSTM-PA Shatabdi has degenerated a lot over the years. From being a full 11/12 rake length, it has come down to just 7 coaches now, with 4 CC coaches being taken off service. The train is scheduled to run PA-CSTM in 3hrs 20mins which is exactly the same time taken as the Deccan Queen. Overall I paid 45/- from Pashan to Pune Station, 385/- to CSTM, and 15 rupees from Jogeshwari station (I havent counted the local train fare between Dadar and Andheri/Jogeshwari in both directions, as that was covered by my pass, though ticket is 8/- 2nd class and 56/- FC if I am not wrong). Overall it was an expense of 445/- and it took me 4 hrs 30 mins end to end ie Pashan to my residence Jogeshwari/Andheri.
Agreed that I got to Mumbai in much more comfort, Expressway or no, air conditioned buses and cool cabs be damned, but never ever can these compare to the comforts of a train. You can stretch your legs, go to the loo, all this on without stopping and still reach faster, the difference in fares is too big.
I feel that the Shatabdi should be chucked away, and a Jan Shatabdi should take its place. The ECC goes 100% empty. So the composition should be 5-6 Jan Shatabdi non AC coaches, 3-4 AC chair cars, all with their own railmart vending snacks, as you dont need a pantry for a 3.5 hr journey. The schedule needn't be changed one bit though, and believe me guys it'll rake in the moolah, and send the 'Asiad' A/C buses for a toss. You can't find an inch of space on all PA-CSTM day trains, while on the Shatabdi the occupancy is about 30-50% maximum. Introducing the Jan-Shat would see a turnaround for CR increasing revenues for sure.
Talking to the TTE, he said that the proposal was in place, and hopefull my march 2003, the Jan Shat would be running.
One thing I liked though, the WCAM3 with 4600hp under DC wire on tap, really toyed around with the 7 car rake, accelerating almost WAP5 like. The run from Ulhasnagar to CSTM was spoilt by a late running local up ahead. So we reached 20 mins to dadar, nothing spectacular to report otherwise.