by S. V. Sriram
It has been nearly a week after a returned from amchi Mumbai and I have finally found time to jot down a few words about my trip to Mumbai and back. At the outset let me tell you folks that the trip was really exhilarating and I really loved each and every moment. Also a word about the issue about Diesel power vs electric, I'm a die- hard fan of diesel. Put me in a train hauled by a WDM2 or whatever. It beats travelling under eletric traction anyday. But I'm digressing from the issue. So lets get back to the trip report.
It was 10-day break that me and my better half had planned for long. Both of us needed the break from our hectic office schedules and hey what better way to spend your holiday than land up at your in-laws and make them foot the expenses for the duration of the stay and also keep your wife in good humour. :-)
Jokes apart the up-journey to Mumbai was booked in AC-3 on the 1064 on the 15th. But to add to the tension our tickets weren't confirmed. But thankfully just before we went off to sleep a call on the automated response system told us that our tickets were confirmed. So off we went to Madras Central with bag and baggage and the exitement of a train journey. Even after all these years of train travelling I get as excited as a young kid. My wife though she knew of my passion for trains just couldn't believe it was the same person she had married.
I was on an added mission of getting as many pics as possible of our trip and capture a wide range of pics from IR. So after safely depositing luggage and the wife in the compartment I made the mandatory trip to the head of the train. Doing duty that day was a WAM 4 6PD number 20633 of AJJ shed in standard livery. Train left bang on time and generally crawled upto Villivakkam but thence really picked up speed and thundered along. Sorry couldn't time him but must have in the high 90's if not 100. The whole journey upto AJJ was spent in the doorway giving my wife a real scare. Snapped a couple of EMU's at Thirunindravur but apart from that nothing remarkable happened.
One thing I have noticed of this train is that though it has no scheduled halt at AJJ it slows down to a literal crawl while passing through the station and the daily commuters to AJJ and in the return to MAS seem to know of it. For I saw a lot of commuters alighting at the station. Is this being delibrately done to facilitate commuters, can't the train move on a train which does not touch a platform. For example the DQ and the Indrayani (when I travelled on it 10-years ago) which don't halt at Kalyan pass the station at high speed and also use a line which does not touch a platform.
After AJJ the driver really pushed the pedal, to use a car-driving expression, and the run to RU was really fast. He must have consistently maintained ;speeds in the 100 region. Add to it the cool morning air, hitting you as you stand in the doorway. It really is great. Snapped a WAG 5ha at Vepgunta heading a relatively small freight train waiting on the loop line. And just as I was checking my camera a Vijaywada WAG7, in typical Ajni liverly (Tiger strips) thundered past at great speed. If a WAG7 is so powerful then one can imagine what a WAG9 can do.
RU arrival was on time and I immediately raced to the head to get a look at the loco change over. And boy oh boy, the sight of WDM2 (18825-GTL, long hood leading) taking charge is something else. And I had my trusty camera to record the event for posterity. The sound, the smell and the throb of a WDM2 beats the whine of a WAM, WAP anyday. Also the blue livery of the GTL WDM2 sort gives a uniformity to the train as the whole rake is the new blue livery.
I can't find words to describe the trip post-RU. How can one describe it. After travelling for so many years on the MAS-BPL route this trip was really a welcome change. The difference is so palpable. A sampling of the locos spotted along the way, WDM2 (KJM, GTL, even KZJ, Pune), WDG 2 and 4 (Gooty). And the myriad liveries. It is a feast for a railfan. Standard maroon to the new Green with brown stip of the KZJ loco, it is all there to savour on this route apart from the excellent food on this train. My wife who is generally very fussy about food on the train was busy ordering extra meals. And it was also served neatly in brown plastic trays. All in all value for money. Also the pantry staff was extra courtious.
I also spotted the managled shell of a Gooty WDG2 at Barkhapet (I hope I got the station correctly). Anyone got an idea of accident at this spot?. Also mast have been erected upto a distance of say 10- 13km from RU for the proposed electrification of the this route. Sad news for us diesel fans.
Another thing that I noticed were the distance markers. In the SR territory upto RU small stones have been placed in between the two tracks at a distance of 100mts each painted black figures in yellow blackground. In SCR territory they have used discarded metal sleepers on the left side of each track again at intervals of 100mts. These things I have noticed for the first time though regular travellers may well me aware of it.
The trip upto Cuddapah was generally average speed what with the ghat section. But thereafter it was pure power thereon. In fact at almost all stations he was before time as published in the commercial TAAG. This is where travelling in a ordinary sleeper beats travelling in AC. One misses the roll, the clatter and the smell of the brakes after the driver brakes hard.
Which brings me to the issue of the level of AC. Why do they turn the AC on to full blast. It is beyond me. People were complaining all day and no action was taken. finally when it was time to sleep they reduced the AC so much that I had no need for the blanket provided. Strange.
After getting up early to catch the train I had planned to doze sometime in the day. But the chance of seeing more and more locos and the oppurtunity to snap them up ensured that I did not sleep a wink. Hell buying the AC ticket seemed a waste as most of the time was spent in the adjoining sleeper snapping as many pics as I could. All these pics I will be forwarding to Appu bhai for him to the needful. Thats about all for the Up trip. No folks. I wasn't awake for the loco changeover at Pune. Got up only when the train was passing Dombivili. Then it was 10-day feast at my in-laws and every whim and fancy being attended to. :-)
The return was by the 1063 on the 24th. Sorry couldn't catch the loco as I was busy saying tatas-bye byes to my in-laws and since we were in S-1 the trek up to the head would have been too hectic. Travelling in S-1 was a real experince. At Karjat two old WCG2 war-horses took up banking duties. And folks the whine/scream of a WCG2 at such close range is something else. BTW could the informed members please explain why the pitch or volume of the whine is more at idle, at low gears than in actual motion. Because I observed that while stationary the whine was much louder than when it was actually pushing the train. I was awake till Lonavala then hit the sack. Got up only as the train entered Wadi Jn. And surprise surpirse gentlemen the loco in charge of the 1063 was not GTL but ERS based one. Yup that's what I said Ernakulam WDM2 18576 long hood leading. Wonder what it was doing hauling the 1063. Any ideas.
One more thing I seem to remember Appu saying that the power for the 1063 changes at GTL. Well on both trips the same loco continued past GTL. So any ideas or inputs on this issue. Again the trip was fast and furios and in fact had reached Wadi at 6.55 a.m. itself for a 7.20 arrival. Great or wot. It kept to time throughout. At RU WAM 4d 6p (AJJ 20613) took charge. Chennai folks recognise this loco? Yes it is the green-yellow coloured loco which is used with the MAS-TPTY Sapthagiri push-pull. Again wonder why was it given duties on the 1063. The run as usual was hard and fast. REached MAS exactly on time.
Well I had better stop. This has become a very long mail. I hope the other members won't mind and forgive me. Hopefully I'll be able to send the pics to Appu soon and then you all can have a look at the pics. Images do speak better than all the words that I have typed.