Ahmedabad Station, Early Morning Action
by Abhijit Lokre
I had been to he Ahmedabad station on October 21 to receive guests. Got to spend almot two hours there and saw lots of action. The first part of the report follows:
I had to receive my parents first coming from Gandhidham by the 9116 Sayaji Nagari express (sch arr 0405). The plan was for my wife and me to receive my parents after which she would escort them home. I would then wait at the station to receive my brother in law coming by the 4311 Ala Hazrat express (sch arr 0610). I was quite happy with this arrangement (I would get almost two hours at the station). I had to make a mad rush to reach the station on time by 0400. We reached the station by 0415. I parked the scooter and reached the concourse to check the train positions. 9116 was listed right time and 4311 was 20' late. All other morning train were listed RT. After getting platform tickets, we had to reach pf5, where 9116 arrives. As we crossed pf 1, I saw the 2934 Karnavati parked there for its 0455 departure to MCT. (More on the karnavati later)
9116 had arrived on pf 5 and I could not catch the loco number. this is a dirty train with bogies borrowed from different railway zones. I spotted SE, NE, WR bogies, most of them old stock (89, 91, 96 etc). However, the markings on the side mentioned the coaching depot for all bogies as Bhuj (BVJ). This train has one 2ac, 1 3ac, 1 fc, 8 sleepers, 2 GS and 8 2S coaches (22 total).
Hired a coolie and packed of my parents and wife in an auto for home. Came back to pf 1 to check out the karnavati. As mentioned a few days back in a post, this train now has mixed livery. Out of 16 coaches, 9 were in the striking karnavati livery; the rest were in the normal light blue/ dark blue colour. The karnavati livery was mostly 89, 91 and 92 stock. The rest was 01, 03 stock. The second sitting coaches (new stock) had the new design, where all seats face in one direction. Looked very uncomfortable to me. The old design with seats facing each other looked much better. Wandered to the front of the train to check out the loco. Was hoping to see a WCAM2P, but saw a WCAM 1 instead. Interestingly, it had its front panto up. The loco was #21835. Quite clean, but very poor ergonomics inside. How do the drivers manage to concentrate on their task with such poor design? The first coach after the engine was the SLR cum ladies coach and a havaldar was busy getting all the men out!!! The starter became yellow at 0452 and the WCAM sounded its horn. At 0455, the train started to move. I was standing right at the front of the platform and it took 4 minutes for the last bogie to cross me. Right at that moment, somebody came running down the platform to try and catch the train (how many times have we seen this before???!!). he followed it right upto the end, but had to give up finally.
After seeing off the karnavati, I wandered to the concourse to find out the next arrivals and decide my schedule. 9143 (Lokshakti) was scheduled to arrive at 0510 (RT) on pf 2, 9005 (Saurashtra Mail) at 0520 (RT) on pf 1, 9007 (Aravalli) at 0540 (RT) on pf 3, 9273(Bhavnagar exp) at 0600 (RT) on pf 1, 2901 (Gujarat mail) at 0645 (RT) on pf 1 and 4311 (Ala Hazrat) at 0630 (late by 20') on pf 3. Navjivan (2655) was scheduled to depart 0625 from pf 6. So lots of early morning action. I decided to stay on pf 1.
At 0505, 9143 crept into pf 2 headed by WCAM # 21851, again with front panto up. It stopped at exactly 0510!!!. Interestingly, the 5th coach was a RMS coach. (Since the Gujarat mail is already 21 coaches long, the RMS is now attached to the Lokshakti). Any other cases like this on IR, where RMS is attached to an express train?? The railway staff started throwing the mail sack from the wrong end of the train onto the tracks and then onto pf 1. It was a quick job, but looked quite messy, with the sacks falling on the dirty tracks.
I understood their haste when barely 5 minutes after 9143 arrived, 9005 was seen approaching pf1. It entered the pf at 0515 and crept to a halt by 0518. Headed by WCAM1 # 21841. I immediately walked to platform end to watch the change of engines. 21841 ambled off and a few minutes later, WDM 3A # 14072 from Vatva shed in Rajdhani livery took charge. I took a look at the rest of the train and found some coaches marked 75XX. Is this the old style of numbering coaches? The train was 21 coaches long on that day, including an inspection car attached to the end. Interestingly, there was an extra sleeper coach at the front end with no coach number. So, it seems that the train is actually 19 coaches long.
Then, I decided to go to pf 2/3 to check out the arrival of the Aravali express.
I then moved to pf 2/3 to await the Aravali express, announced on pf 3. With about 15 mins to go for the train, I got immersed in my TAAG. Looking up after sometime, I was surprised to see a train approaching on pf 2. A WAM 4 with Rajdhani livery headed it. It slowly passed pf 2 and headed further to pf 2a. 2a is an extension of the pf 2 and a much neglected and dirty platform. The name boards said it was the Mumbai-Ahmedabad passenger. (The name board actually had Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Mumbai written on top and Ahmedabad-Anand-Ahmedabad) written below. So, I imagine the rakes are shared between these two passengers. I wondered for a minute whether to follow the train to 2a or stay put. Ultimately, I decided to follow it. Had 15 coaches (2 sleeper) and the rest GS. It was an air-braked rake and the loco was WAM-4 20486 from BRC. It was a fairly longish walk to pf 2a and on arriving there; I found the over-bridge connecting it to the exit closed. Passengers arriving from that train had to trudge all the way back to pf 2 and take the over-bridge there!!!
Anyway, I retraced my steps back to pf 3. On the way back, I spotted two WDMs mued together. The lead was WDM2 # 16732 in a maroon livery and the other was WDM2b # 16787 in orange and yellow livery, both from ABR shed. Next, I spotted two WAGs mued together. The first was WAG 5A #23769 (Arakkonam shed) in maroon colour and the other was WAG 5A # 27454 (TKD shed) in a light blue with yellow strip combo. Looked pretty neat!!
Meanwhile, the Aravali had just arrived on pf 3 headed by WCAM2P 21873. The loco was marked as "only air brake".
0600 found the WCAM2P still attached to the train with no starter for moving it out for the diesels to take over. The driver for the run upto ABR arrived and found his 'powers' missing. He fidgeted around for some time and then seeing me, approached. I was busy writing on my note pad and he sort of hopped about for a minute or two, before starting.
D: my powers are missing
Me: yes, are those ABR twins your powers?
D: yes, but they are still out there…
Me: Does the aravali always get twins?
D: the Aravali and Ashram always get twins. The Delhi mail used to, but now it is a 20-coach affair and gets a single WDM2
Just then, the WCAM2P started moving out. It crawled out to the head of the pf and stopped again. 0610, it moved out finally. Meanwhile, the driver got very chatty and said that the train is going to get late now and the 'master' is going to ask us why. (By master, he meant the stationmaster). He also got irritated because the porter had not got his trunk by then. The porter finally arrived by 0615. The driver mentioned that he would be in charge till ABR. The locos are sometimes replaced by another pair at ABR, depending on the amount diesel in the loco and POH. Finally, by 0618, the ABR twins backed into the platform. The driver and his assistant got in the lead loco and performed their puja. A team of three ASMs arrived on the platform while the drivers performed their checks. At 0628, the starter turned yellow and the assistant blew the horn. The 'powers' started moving out slowly with the assistant waving his green flag. (It took about 40 mins for the engines to be changed and the train to depart). As the AC coaches passed the ASMs, the TC at the door yelled out that water had not been filled in any of the coaches and the train was 'dry'. Wow!! Dry at 0630, with a whole bunch of passengers about to wake up and no water!! The ASMs looked bemused. One of them nodded his head as if to say…don't worry…things will work out!!
Aravali had 24 coaches. 13 sleeper, 3 AC3, 2 AC2, 1 PC and 5 GS. The coaches were fairly new (98, 99, 04, 01, 90, 91, 97 etc), but the 2AC were old coaches (85 and 65(?))
By this time, it was 0630 and time for the Ala Hazrat to arrive. It was scheduled to arrive at 0630 on pf 3 and with the Aravali just moving out, I assumed it would be even more delayed. As I started walking to the center of the platform, Sabarmati express headed by WAM 4D 6P # 20496 (dual brake) BRC shed arrived on platform 2. The train was VB.
Meanwhile, I saw the Bandra Bhavnagar express depart from Pf 1 (0640) headed by a VTA WDM2. Could not make out the loco number. As soon as it departed, 2901 Gujarat mail arrived on pf1. It must have been waiting just outside the station waiting for Bhavnagar express to make its move, which in turn was waiting for Aravali to move. So a chain reaction starting from Aravali delayed the other trains!!
Suddenly, I got a call from my brother in law that Ala hazrat had arrived on platform 5!! So, not content with delaying the above two train, Aravali had managed to divert the Ala hazrat from its scheduled platform. I rushed to pf5 to find the VB Ala hazrat stationed there with my b-I-law. Picked him up there and back to home it was…