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IR: 150 Years and Getting Younger!!


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16 Apr. 1853 - 16 Apr. 2002

Here are some pictures from my trip to India in March/April 2002. Notwithstanding a very restricted diet of trainspotting due to a major family function and other social commitments, I was lucky to witness the Heritage Steam Run between Bombay VT and Thana on 16 April 2002. Sure enough, that was the high point of my trip! Barring this, the rest of my trainspotting was rather erratic and a hit and miss affair. Nonetheless, the pictures are all here, for what they are worth.

Without much ado, let me take you into a photographic journey into the IR on its 150th birthday. I hope you enjoy the pictures and the photography. All pictures have been taken by me unless otherwise stated. Barring the 150th Anniversary, all other pictures are arranged at random and in no particular order.

On this page, we take a look at IR's 150th Anniversary celebrations at Poona and Bombay. In addition are random pictures taken in and around Bangalore, Madras (Chennai) and Poona (Pune). The next page starts off with pictures in and around Bombay (Mumbai) and then goes on to cover some terrific aerial shots from atop a high hill at Kamshet. The page rounds off with a look at some track side signs.

Cameras used were: Kodak Advantix APS camera for most of the shots (which make some of the enlargements look rather grainy due to the smaller film format), my favorite Olympus Mju 35-105 zoom compact for the 150th Anniv. and Bombay shots, and my brother's old  Canon AE1 Program SLR with Vivitar 28-210mm superzoom lens for the Kamshet shots. The panorama shots by the APS were compressed/reduced to standard size by my MGI Photosuite image editing program.

But for now, lets start with IR's 150th Anniversary.

Enjoy! Suggestions/comments/criticism are welcome. Mail me on the list or at:

S. Shankar

[IR150th Anniv.] [In and Around: Bangalore  Madras (Chennai)  Poona (Pune)  Bombay (Mumbai)] [Scenic, Fairy Tale Kamshet] [Trackside Signs]


I.R.150th Anniv.: 16 April 2002

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IR150.1 My 150th festivities started rather early in the day, 0700 hrs. to be exact, when dignitaries crowded around the Deccan Queen engine at Poona station. Preparations for a traditional 'pooja' (prayer) are in progress. I was to travel to Bombay by this train. IR150.2 The engine WCAM/3 # 21889 bears a light box on her buffer beam which reads (in Marathi) 'Bhaa Rey: 150 Gaurav Poorna Varsha', meaning 'IR: 150 Glorious Years'. Note coconut and camphor fire just above the right buffer. IR150.3 When two hardened railnuts meet: my first meeting with Apurva during my stay in Poona. Apurva is the one of the left, I'm the one with the 'star' shirt on the right.
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IR150.4 The brief ceremony over and the camphor fire still burning, the folks on the platform get on  to distributing and eating sweets. IR150.5 Yours faithfully posing in front of the DQ engine. I later travelled to Bombay by the same train. My car was fortunately second from the engine, due to which I could witness the festivities  till the very last moment. IR150.6 Later in the day in Bombay, I could spot several e.m.u. commuter trains with a large banner across their buffers which read 'Indian Railways 150 Years' or the equivalent in Hindi, like this one here.
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IR150.7 The highlight of the day: the Heritage Steam Run.The beauty approaches: the heritage train hauled by two WPs, loosely referred to by the local press as 'Fairy Queens' (not to be confused with an 1855 locomotive of the same name). A lot of irfca members were around, my host being Viraf Mulla. IR150.8 The lead loco was simply leading: all the haulage was being done by the second WP. There was some confusion regarding the time as some local newspapers had erronously mentioned 1435. This saw crowds build up from nearly 1400 hrs.The train actually left at 1535, same as the original on 16 Apr. 1853. Note the IR elephant mascot peeping out of the cab of the lead loco. IR150.9 Viraf Mulla looks as on as the two steam behemoths speed past. The sounds and the smell were sublime: too bad I saw it all from behind the viewfinder. Security was pretty tight, but that did not deter thousands of delighted onlookers, most armed with cameras, some even with SLRs with long lenses. Many were seeing a steam engine for the first time in their lives. Entire families turned up to witness the event.
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IR150.10 The old refurbished cars which made up the first half of the heritage train. Note thick smoke in the background. Viraf (in blue T-shirt)  looks on. In the foreground is an elderly Parsee gentleman we met at the venue. He burst into tears after the steam engines had passed: so overwhelmed he was with nostalgia. IR150.11 A surprise was a camoflagued WDM/2 at the rear end of the train. This loco was an emergency backup in case the two lead WPs failed. It eventually hauled the heritage train back to Bombay VT later in the evening, after leaving the guests, and the WPs at Thana after the run. The disguised WDM/2 was painted in the same color scheme as the LHB cars immediately preceding it. IR150.12 A far shot of the disguised WDM/2 disappearing into Parel station. The large 'X' at the end, though serving to disguise the engine as a last car, might have been quite confusing when the loco was leading: what with the 'X' on the front end and all. Note the large number of bystanders dispersing after witnessing the grand spectacle.
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IR150.13 The show is over folks. Families return home. Here is a father leading his two children home. Parel station now returns to normal. IR150.14 VT station gaily illuminated for the grand occasion. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't spend more than four hours doing nothing! I shot at dusk. However, the brilliant electronics of my competent Olympus mju camera exposed the scene like bright daylight! IR150.15 A double decker bus runs past the illuminated VT station.
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IR150.16 Yet another view of the illuminated VT station. The blue neon sign in the foreground says 'Indian Railways 150 Years'.
Stay tuned for a section about the press coverage/advertisements by public undertakings on the occasion of IR's 150th Anniversary.

In and Around: BANGALORE

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ArBLR.1 The HPDEMU (High Horsepower diesel-electric multiple unit) in one of the 'inner platforms' of Bangalore City. I refer to it as 'Appu's d.m.u.' as it was Apurva who'd been so actively involved in commissioning it. It did not appear that this d.m.u. was actually in active  service. ArBLR.2 Interior of a second class car of of the d.m.u. Note the red/cream entrance doors opening inwards which add a touch of color to the otherwise drab interior of this car. Note also the tubelights: the IR is rapidly doing away with the ordinary yellow GLS lamps and is replacing all the interior lights with tubelights on all its trains. ArBLR.3 A PL class 0-6-4T locomotive from the Paralekhimedi Railway in Orissa. This engine is plinthed outside Bangalore City station, miles away from her home territory.
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ArBLR.4 An Erode WAP/4 # 22388 at Bangalore City, about to leave for Madras with the superfast Brindavan Express. I travelled to Madras by this same train. ArBLR.5 Up close and personal: another Erode WAP/4 # 22508 parked on a side track which ends up on Platform # 1. There were a couple of sleeper cars behind this loco. The previous day, there had been a WAM/4 in this place, which I regretfully missed snapping. ArBLR.6 Ugly duckling WDP/4 # 20001 at Bangalore City, about to leave with the Bangalore - Secunderabad Express.
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ArBLR.7 Here is WDP/4 # 20001 actually leaving Bangalore with the Secunderabad Express. Note the virtual absence of exhaust smoke, quite unlike our smoky WDM/2 Alcos! ArBLR.8 The previous day, WDP/4 # 20004 running LHF did the rounds with the Secunderabad Express. The engine appears to have been standing with the train all day with her engine running. I'd visited the station at some 1030 hrs, the e.t.d. of this train was 1700, yet, the locomotive was already coupled (as seen above) and the engine was idling. ArBLR.9 This pic gives a wrong impression of the IR! One would think that IR trains run at some 300+ kmph or something! This is a light WAG/5 at speed crossing our Brindavan Express which itself must be doing at least 100! The combined speeds, the low light, plus a hard shutter button on my Kodak Advantix APS camera which had me in doubt as to whether it had clicked, resulted in this picture.
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ArBLR.10 A grab shot of a railbus # WRB 30006 at Bangarapet. The tiny viewfinder of the Kodak Advantix APS camera coupled with a train still moving at speed still resulted in a resonably passable shot. I was in the train that was still slowing down to stop. ArBLR.11 In the fading light of late evening, an Erode WAG/7 # 27487 single handedly brings in a massive heavy coal train int Katpadi. This shot is again taken from the Brindavan Express which had just left Katpadi.

In and Around: MADRAS (Chennai)

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ArMAS.1 A tightly packed m.g. e.m.u. unit headed for Madras Beach enters Trisulam station opposite the airport. Note the additional headlamps between the two windshields. At night, some trains ran with all three lights switched on. The light from the extra twin headlights was pretty dim. ArMAS.2 A failed shot of two m.g. coupled. I made the mistake of using fill in flash. Leaving it at the usual auto mode would have yielded a better picture. The days of these m.g. beasts in numbered. This showed in the standards of maintenance and cleanliness. Most cars had mountains of dirt in them swept under the seats. ArMAS.3 A Tambaram bound m.g. e.m.u. awaits departure at Madras Beach station.
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ArMAS.4 I've shot this before: a m.g. wiring train plus one car from a historic Tiruchi-Tanjore d.m.u. in the Tambaram e.m.u. shed. The pic is a little blurred due to the APS format, which at 24mm tends to make enlargements rather grainy. ArMAS.5 A close view of the CBC coupler: grainy due to the APS format, plus wrongly exposed due to the use of fill in flash. The next time, I'll stick to good old 35mm for my railway photography. ArMAS.6 WDM/2A # 17661 blasts past with a express train just after Renigunta. I was standing on the track and leaning on my train. This beast shot past at such speed that I was swept off my feet for a split second. Panic had me sweat profusely, for I thought I was going to be sucked under this train. Lesson to other railfans: DO NOT get down onto the track to shoot a passing train, and if you do, PUT YOUR HAND INTO one of the safety handle of your car's entrance doors.
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ArMAS.7 Two WDM/2s with a heavy freight wait for our train (Madras-Bombay VT Express) to pass. Note the lead loco oriented the wrong way round, due to which she too is running LHF. The tiny APS camera viewfinder had me think that the engines hadn't fit: fortunately they did, and this was the result.

In and Around: POONA (Pune)

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ArPNA.1 This panorama scene (compressed by MGI Photosuite) shows the lines out of Shivajinagar station in Poona. In the immediate foreground is the line taken by trains which stop here: the line is seen joining the through line, on which a train is approaching. To the extreme left is the defunct gateman's cabin, in use before the underpass was set up when a gate existed here. ArPNA.2 Here, at the same spot, WCAM/3 # 21939 is seen rushing the Bombay bound Deccan Queen towards her destination. ArPNA.3 One of the earlier WDG/2 'baldie' units # 14559 approaches with a colorful cement train. Barring the first few WDG/2s, all the other subsequent units feature a conventional half hexagonal short hood profile. A closer view follows just a couple of images after this picture.
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ArPNA.4 Here is one of the freshly painted yellow/green cars of the cement train. Earlier cars used to be a drab cement grey: this new bright color scheme lends a cheerful touch to these mundane cement trains. ArPNA.5 A closer view of WDG/2 # 14559, one of the rare baldie engines of her class. Note also that this locomotive is painted russet with twin cream bands, rather than the orange with twin cream bands borne by other members of her class. ArPNA.6 WCAM/3 # 21940 crawls through a  shady patch near Shivajinagar station in Poona with the Coimbatore- LTT Kurla Terminus Express. Road works and a 30 kmph speed restriction had the beast crawl past with a very pleasant hum.

>>> In & Around Bombay, Scenic, Fairy Tale Kamshet, Trackside Signs

[IR150th Anniv.] [In and Around: Bangalore  Madras (Chennai)  Poona (Pune)  Bombay (Mumbai)] [Scenic, Fairy Tale Kamshet] [Trackside Signs]


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Copyright (c) S. Shankar 2002.
Last updated: May 01, 2002