by Apurva Bahadur
Been to Mumbai with family over the weekend to attend a wedding. Left Pune on Sat by 2124 Deccan Queen and returned back on 2123 DQ from Mumbai on Sunday.
- Traveled in S5(2124) and S7(2123) coaches of the DQ. S5 had strips of red carpet on the floor.
- The toilet had a 'diaper changing facility' which is a wooden board that is folded in the wall. It can be dropped down on a hinge (restrained by a chain) until it is at a standing height over the (Indian style) toilet seat. The infant is then laid on this board and has the diaper changed. Anyone who has changed the diaper of an infant in the train may appreciate the new feature.
- 2124 ran at full speed till Lonavala without a stop. The train stopped at LNL for only 30 seconds or so before rolling on.
- Pune shed has six WDS 6s - two of these were at Lonavala. LNL also had a yellow WDM 2S (shunting version) from either Pune or Kalyan. One can expect to see more WDM 2Ss soon.
- A number of freight trains are now running on twin WCG 2 power. I saw a BCN rake at Lonavala, another at Badlapur, yet another at Shelu and finally a BCCN (bulk cement carrier) at Kalyan yard. When we returned on Sunday, the Kalyan BCCN was still waiting. While most of the BCCN wagons are silver in colour, there were a few green/yellow owned by ACC cement. Can there be an upgradation of the DC traction substation capacity that allows the WCG 2s to be used ?
- 2124/2123 were driven at top speed through the sections, with drastic braking and quick acceleration - however we were just in time rather than before time. Something I do not understand -there has been a visible speeding up of trains, there has been a visible streamlining of procedures that have reduced the duration of the stops, the rakes are now air braked and use the reliable and powerful WCAM 3 locomotives, the rake length/weight is the same - so why was the recovered time not showing on these runs ? Was the timing really tight even in the old time tables ?
- 6529/30 Udyan is a rare diesel hauled train working the ghats.
- During the return trip, we wanted to take a harbour branch EMU from Bandra to CSTM via the interesting dock area. However we were informed that there is no service on that line till 1630, which is too tight for the 1710 departure of the 2123 from CSTM so we had to take a tranfer at Dadar instead. There was no half card ticket for my daughter and a paper ticket (receipt) had to be made out. Had to change trains and zones (WR ->CR) at Dadar to continue in another EMU till CSTM.
- Outside Matunga are a few WDM 2s from Ratlam, Itarsi and Katni. There is also a WDG 2 from Pune. These must be here for heavy rebuilds or overhauls. The 'finished' products from Matunga - two sparkling WDM 2 from Ratlam and Jhansi were waiting at Wadi bunder for the return journey home.
- Saw the pale green/white/light blue (from top to bottom) rake of the Vidharbha being shunted at Byculla by a WDS 4D (with single pipe air brakes). The entire rake has uniform livery. Some of the second class sleeper coaches had underfloor water tanks. These are normally found only on AC sleepers as the packaged Aircon unit is located over the toilet area. The underfloor water tanks require a compressed air source (aka 'water raising apparatus') which means additional mechanical and electrical complications. But the increased water capacity must be worth the complications. I have never before seen 2nd class coaches with underfloor water tanks.
- Lurking next to the CSTM electric trip shed was a dark blue and white WDM 2 with twin sealed beam headlights - this too is a first for me - I have never before seen a WDM 2 with twin headlamp assemblies. Looked great!
- Nor have I seen a WCAM 3 with twin beams but the inbound power of the 1094 Mahanagari had twin headlamps retrofitted in the older nacelle. Got pics of these.
- 2124 departed right on time and speeded along the Mumbai tracks, blasted through Dadar at 80 + Kmph. The 5th and 6th tracks are in place north of Dadar. Some track work is left, the OHE is still to be installed.
- A brief 10 seconds halt outside Parsik - we were in the second last coach so most of the train must have been inside the tunnel. Is there a signal inside ? No other unscheduled stops.
- The Diva - Vasai 'DMU' (this is a pushpull with a Kalyan WDM 2 in the centre) was leaving Diva as the DQ rolled by.
- The entry of the KR lines (from Diva as well as Dombivali side) are doubled and electrified.
- Similarly the Dombivali - Vasai lines are also doubled.
- DQ crawled through Kalyan Jn and the picked up speed once on the SE branch.
- The twin WCG 2 bankers at Karjat were not waiting on the new pocket line left of the main line. Instead they were waiting on the down through road. This led to some delay as the shunt signals for the beasts was not given, after much honking of the excellent WCG 2s low pitched horn, the KJT control obliged and they moved towards Mumbai to reverse onto the DQ's rear. In spite of all this fast running, we were at KJT on time rather than before.
- There was a departure of a KJT - CSTM EMU from pf 2 at the time DQ rolled in and that was the reason why the bankers were not in the pocket line - *what* ?. However this was the explanation given to me by the guard of the DQ - there is no relation - the up line is distinct from the down through line or the down loop line which should have been used by the bankers to get ready in position before the DQ arrived at KJT. I suspect late arrival of bankers or just sloppy planning by the KJT control. Could there be a signal interlock that prevents simultaneous traffic in the same direction ? To be honest, the EMU's track and the banker's track merge near the Karjat distant signal - but the banker used the nearest loop line to come onto the platform track so was nowhere near endangering anyone.
- The DQ departed within what seemed like 30 seconds after the bankers were coupled. You could hear the clang of the couplers (I was in the second last coach remember ?) and a few seconds later was the horn from the rear WCG 2 (the banker driver is in the front cab of the rearmost loco) and another few seconds we were off! A lot of time is wasted when the banker crew go from the one loco to another during reversals. The new pocket track removes all these problems.
- One question comes to mind is that when the crew leave one loco to go into another, is the loco that is to be left in a braked state ? Once the new loco is boarded, how are these brakes released ? I could see that the two man crew was moving between the locos at the same time, so there must be system of braking from one loco and releasing from another. Any answers ?
- The bankers were also removed in an equally dramatic fashion -train pulls into LNL - one can hear the howl of the 'CG2s reflecting on the station wall. Train stops, the howl stops a few seconds later. Maybe the locos were decoupled and the panto dropped immediately or atleast the blower was shut down fast.
- DQ races the vehicles on the freeway and wins - easily.
- Fast run into Pune - however the train manages 'just in time' rather than 'before time'.
- There are 4 EMU rakes for Pune - Lonavala services - 3 of these rakes crossed the down DQ - there seems to be an imbalance of services - more up runs than down during some hours.