Pune-Madgaon-Thane-Pune Round Trip

by Ashish Kuvelkar


I had to make a short visit to Goa for some quick work. I took the 2780 Goa Express from Pune to Madgaon on Tuesday, 3rd March. Since I reached Goa on a Wednesday, I decided to take the weekly 2741 Vasco-Patna Express and come back to Pune via Kalyan. Here are some observations during the round trip journey.

When I reached Pune station at 16:20 hours, empty rake of Jammu Tavi - Pune Jhelum Express was still on Platform #1 and Goa Express was expected to arrive on PF#3 at 16:40. After reaching PF#3, noticed that 6340 Nagercoil â€"CSTM(Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus, Victoris Terminus, Mumbai) Express was waiting to depart behind WCAM3 # 21933. Meanwhile, PUNE WDM2 #17251 shunted the rake of Jhelum from PF #1, to the yard.

At 16:55, 2780 Goa Express arrived behind Pune WDM3D #11181, immediately after the 6340 left PF #3. 2780 had two extra coaches, a VPU coach and an inspection van, one at the either end. Almost simultaneously, 7031 CSTM-HYB Express arrived on PF #4 behind KZJ WDM3A #18886R.

We left at 17:20, after the loco reversed and attached at the other end. Enjoyed company of a goods Loco Pilot, who was going back to Miraj after bringing a light loco to GIT yard. We crossed 6508 SBC- JU Express at Alandi. We reached Satara 10 minutes behind the scheduled time.

Struck a conversation with Pantry staff, as we were approaching Miraj. One of them told that he lost Rs. 86, as he could not collect it from a passenger who was detrained by RPF for carrying objectionable videos in his mobile phone. Looks like, this conning by the RPF cops at PUNE, has still not stopped.

At Miraj, I got down for a walk. I was expecting our train to leave after the 2779 Goa Express crossed us and hence wandered away from my coach. Suddenly, I noticed that our train had started moving. I boarded the panty car. Pertinent to recent discussion related to `bathing in train', I noticed that one of the toilets in the Panty car had a makeshift shower connected directly to the overhead tank, through the roof.

I walked through a few sleeper coaches, only to find that the shutter of my coach, B1 had been pulled down. I had no choice but to wait in that sleeper coach till the next scheduled halt, Raybag. Fortunately, our train halted for crossing with 2779 Goa Express at a station before Raybag. I think it was Shedbal. I got down from the sleeper coach, but could not board any of the AC coaches, as doors of all of them were locked. The coach attendant was also not at his place, making my chance of getting inside, slimmer. As I was going back to the sleeper coach, one of the curious passengers got to the door to find out why the train had halted, and that allowed me to sneak in.

Our coach was about 30% full. By the way, when I had booked the ticket, 3 weeks prior, it was Wait List. A fellow passenger told me that, 10 passengers had got down at Kopargaon and they all had booked Tatkal tickets. Before I went to sleep, I moved my bag to an empty middle berth, because I had noticed a mouse in the coach. To my horror, it jumped out of the side pocket of the bag. Two things I've experienced with impeccable regularity during my journeys in B1 coach of Goa Express: Mouse in the coach and co-passenger who do not have clean bowels. The closed coach inhibiting the escape routes seems to be one of the contributing factors, to both these issues.

When I got up, it was 6:00 AM and we had crossed Savordem. We waited at home signal of Madgaon for 10 minutes before being admitted to PF #2. I forgot to check the loco of our train.

The return journey was by 2741 Vasco-Patna Express. Since I had never traveled in the Madgaon-Vasco section, I wanted to reach Vasco from Madgaon by train. Fortunately, 8047 Amaravathi Express was running late, so I decided to go by it. I reached Madgaon station at 15:00 hours. A BCNA rake came from Majorda side with ED WDG-3A twins #14799 and #14669 in lead. They sported the WDM-3D like blue- white livery. This was followed by 2779 Goa Express, which was admitted on PF#1. It had a Gooty WDG -3A, #14632 as the power. While the BCNA rake moved on the KR line, 2779 waited for the 8047 to arrive.

8047 came past 16:00 hours with Gooty WDM3A twins #14017 and #14038, a pair with inverse liveries. 14038 has popular GY livery - blue on orange, while 14017 has orange on blue livery (both with a yellow band in between). I was told that for past few weeks, this train is getting Gooty WDM3A twins. A few months ago, it was spotted with a WDP4. We left after a 5 minutes halt and it took us 45 minutes to reach Vasco.

With another 2 hours to go for the 2741 to start, I went to the market outside the station for a stroll. At 18:45, the rake of 2741 was shunted on the platform by a PUNE WDG3A, #13048, which also happened to be the power for the train. A huge crowd was waiting to get in the train. I assume all these folks must be home bound for the Holi festival. I was told that the train link for this loco goes like this: PUNE-BSL for 2779, BSL-VSG for 2780, VSG-PNBE for 2741, PNBE-VSG for 2742 and VSG-PUNE for 2779. This link needs to be verified and the best way would be, from somebody at the Pune Shed.

I noticed beyond PF#3 at Vasco, there was a turntable.See it here: http://wikimapia.org/#lat=15.3967041&lon=73.8150895&z=18&l=0&m=a&v=2 A closer look revealed that it was functional and probably in use, as indicated by the oiling done beneath the crank handle.

Our train left on time, after the Kulem-Vasco passenger came in behind a GY WDM3A #14086. We made slow progress till Dabolim, probably due to a rising gradient in this section. At Majorda Jn., freights were occupying loop line as well as UP line and our train moved to DN line and reached PF#2 at Madgaon. The loco reversed using the line on PF #1 and attached at the other end. The departure was delayed, as there was some issue with the ladies SLR coach. Somebody told that the confusion was about which of the two SLRs is meant for ladies. I guess the confusion could have arisen, as the train had reversed!

As we were leaving, the Mandovi Express came into Madgaon station. We were made to halt at home signal of Majorda Jn. for a crossing with KR-7 passenger going towards Madgaon. At Verna we crossed a waiting 2618 Mangala Express, which was led by 14049. At Pernem we had a unscheduled halt for crossing with 6345 Netravati Express.

Sawantwadi was reached 2 minutes before schedule. Noticed that this station has a double discharge platform. Between Sawantwadi and Kudal at KM marker 353 earthwork is in progress for construction of a new station. I guess this is being done to break this 20 KM block section into two. I guess, this station will cater to nearby town of Vengurla. At Nandagon, we crossed 2619 Matyaganda Express. It was led by ED WDM3D # 11223.

I felt that the tracks till Pernem were well maintained and ride was smooth, while the same could not be said about tracks beyond Pernem. Also noticed that the boards indicating names of bridges are in a different style, beyond Pernem. Any idea, where the jurisdiction of Karwar region ends?

The light of half-moon was good enough to give an idea of the height of the Panval viaduct. It is bit scary, when you are doorplating. Before reaching Ratnagiri, we must have crossed and overtaken a few freighters which I did not notice. Ratnagiri was reached 7 minutes before the scheduled time and I must appreciate the driving skills of the Loco Pilot in achieving this, through a nice run on a single line section.

I went to sleep at Ratnagiri past midnight and got up at 05:30 when we were waiting to enter Panvel. A freight was waiting on another loop line to proceed towards Roha. At 05:50 TVM Rajdhani crossed us blaring horns and then we proceeded towards Panvel, which was reached at 06:10.

The scheduled arrival of our train at Kalyan was 07:35. The subsequent train at Kalyan towards Pune was Deccan Express, so I decided to take chance and reach Thane to catch the CSTM-PUNE Intercity, which would have allowed me to reach Pune one hour earlier than the Deccan Express. I went to the suburban ticket counter to buy a ticket to Kalyan. He asked me, via? I said Thane. I guess, via Kurla and via CSTM are the two other options.

I took the 06:27 CSTM bound EMU (Electric Multiple Unit)from Panvel and got down at Sanpada. I missed a Vashi-Thane EMU (Electric Multiple Unit)by whisker and had to take the 07:13 EMU to reach Thane. It was clear that I was going to miss the Intercity Express.

When I reached Thane, announcement was being made for CSTM-MAO Mandovi Express. It came behind a WDP4 on PF #7. An Asangaon bound EMU (Electric Multiple Unit)left from PF #5 and it was followed by 1007 Deccan Express behind a WCG2 (did not note the number). All this while, for about 15 minutes, Mandovi was waiting on PF #7. Wonder why they make Mandovi wait for such a long time at Thane.

I could get a seat in one of the General coaches. Though I did not gain in terms of time, by taking a detour via Thane, I could get a seat, which would have been impossible, if I were to board the 1007 at Kalyan. And that was some solace.

At Karjat, WCG2 pair of 20120+20141 banked our train. I timed the banker attachment. From the time our train stopped, bankers were attached in 2m20secs and we started off after 4m10secs. I've noted better timings (of the order of 3m30secs) of Karjat halts on earlier occasions.

Deccan Express being a staff shuttle, stops at all the cabins in the ghats. Lonavla onwards we had a very smooth ride. Off-late the quality of tracks between Lonavla and Pune and have improved a lot, especially between Karsawadi and Shivajinagar, where pre-assembled rails with sleepers have been laid, about an year ago.

At Kamshet a `musician' entered our coach from the adjoining one. He was playing a violin like instrument. The belly of the instrument was made from a small steel vessel covered with leather and the neck was made from a curtain rod. The bow too was made of some throw away material. But the sound that he was generating was amazing. He was playing tunes of old hindi songs and they were simply melodious. No wonder, the kid leading him was collecting good amount of coins. The soothing music was interrupted for a short duration, by a salesman with a high pitched voice, selling `guaranteed' (whatever that meant!) cotton socks for Rs. 15 a pair. After some time the musician went into the next coach, but the melodies that he played lingered in my mind. From his face, I could make out, he was enjoying while playing music. He could well be one of those gifted ones, who have music in their blood.

In Mumbai-Pune intercity trains, you find salesman selling all sorts of crazy stuff and services. One fellow offered to fix the zips of bags. Person sitting next to me, pulled out his bag with a broken zip. He seemed happy to strike a deal for Rs. 10/-. With a surgical precision, the fellow removed the faulty slider and inserted a new one, using a pincher type pliers with one of the handles having a flattened tip. It took him only 20 seconds. Now, our friend felt 10 Rupees was too much for this job. He reluctantly gave the money after pulling the zip both ways for almost a minute, to check the quality of the workmanship.

A college going couple was sitting on opposite seat. The girl too pulled out her bag, while the boy pulled out a ten Rupee note from his wallet. Yet again the salesman finished his job in 20 seconds and the note was handed over to him, immediately. The boy was satisfied that the interruption was very short. The salesman left, scouting for another customer, yelling "Bag - Jeeep - repaaair"

As I got down at Khadki from the Deccan Express, Pune-Karjat Passenger rolled in, led by a WCG2, #20134. It was made to halt, to allow 1014 Coimbtore-Kurla passenger led by a WDP4 to pass by.

I got a pleasant surprise when the Autorickshaw fellow outside Khadki station, offered to charge me by meter. So that brought me to the end of a hectic round trip journey, two out of three segments of which, were done in overnight Superfast diesel powered trains.

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