Bhusaval-Igatpuri by 5018
by Adurty Venkatagiri
Thought of doing a short RF trip over the weekend. Looked at the possible trains on Sunday. Most of my preferred trains were either bang on time of too late for my convenience. That left me with an unlikely choice of 5018 GKP-LTT Exp. Kashi was full of surprises that day. It was just 1hr 45min late (that's right time by its standards)! A further compliment as the train arrived, it had a BSL WAP-5 heading it, a departure from its usual ET WAM-4 loco. As I sat waiting for the train made a few quick observations. A blue liveried WAG-7 #27608 probably from CNB shed was stationed on the freight lines with loaded BCNA rake. Beyond it was another coal rake headed probably by two WAG-5s. Could only see their pantos. Meanwhile, another WAG-7 #27485 from AJNI hauled in a loaded BTPN rake probably from PNV onto the down main line and soon another G7 from LDH #23437 rolled onto the Up main line with a loaded BCNA rake (Phew! The railways seem to be moving a lot of stuff around these days!!).
My train was announced and arrived shortly and we boarded the WAP-5 LR #22204. It was a power transferred from JHS and some shed marking were still evident. I positioned myself strategically at the door just behind the loco in the 1st SLR. As we waited for the signal, 4314 BE-LTT exp. arrived on PF.3 with twin WAP-5s (albeit one of them was dead). The loco in charge of the train was a BRC P4 #22335 and the dead trailer was a CNB shed #22571. It probably failed en route necessitating an unusual loco link. We started at 18minutes past noon and in the meantime Tulsi exp cantered in onto PF.4 with its ET WAM-4. Couldn't note down its We gathered speed and crossed Waghur viaduct at 80kmph, accelerating further to cross BDI at about 90kmph.
We slowed down briefly at km. 428 to TSR of 20. Picked up speed again to reach JL by 1245. En route, 2779 VSG-NZM Goa exp crossed us at around km424 headed by a orange-cream liveried PA WDM-x #14815. I always wish this train got a better loco! At JL, spotted a loaded BCNA rake on the loop line on the right sans its loco. Soon we notched up speed only to slow down at SS. We were admitted onto the loop at 25kmph. NP 4 wheeler tankers occupied the main line with a JHS WAG-5 LR #24016.
In between a WAG-5 #23219 probably from ASN shed speeded past us at km.412 hauling a rather short onion laden BCNA rake. We picked up speed once again after clearing the loop and the WAP-5 unleashed its full power Crossed MWD, MYJ and PHQ at top speed. Beyond it we began our ascent that would continue all the way up to Summit (SUM), the gradient varying between 100 and 150. Encountered some couple of trains on the way including a PA WDM-2 assisting in track relaying work to our right at MWD, a loaded BOXN coal rake with WAG-7 to our left at the same station. 5017 Dn crossed us between MWN and MYJ wit ha BSL WAM-4 #21313.
Cruised all the way up to PC by1305hrs. Started soon after a two- minute stop and the power of the P4 beast was all there to be seen. Normally in this section after a stop at PC, trains with PA diesels and ET electrics struggle to do 80-85kmph. KK with its ET twins barely touches 95kmph. We on the other hand were cruising above 100kmph for most of the time the speed dropping on tough up gradients! The 19-coach load was an advantage though and the LP seemed freaking out with a light laod. The smooth whine of the P4 with its sonorous horn (the LP was honking too much though) made good music as we sped through GAA and NGD before slowing down at KJ over a PSR of 80kmph.This is one of the 'crossover station' in the BSL-MMR section with its rather long loop, where lesser trains like Kashi are overtaken by SFs. No such hassles today because all the SFs were late and so our super crawler had taken over from them! A late running 2859dn crossed us with its SRC WAP-5. Spotted twin WAG-5s from BZA with an empty BOXN rake, probably returning from a thermal plant. As we sped through VGL, an ET WAM-4 #20452 crossed with 5646 exp probably at km 340 followed closely by 2534 Dn with its flaming red JHS P4 at km 330.
We reached CSN at 1400hrs. After a brief stop notched up speed but by now the gradient was showing its effect on the giant. We crossed HPR, NI and PKE at speeds between 80-90 before stopping over at NGN at 1430hrs. Crossed a few more freight trains on the way including at Con-Raj headed by a LGD WAG-7, a BSL WAG-7 #27398 with empty BOXN rake and another G7 #27706 with a loaded onion BCNA rake. At NGN a couple of freight trains had bankers attached to them. Some of the locos I noted down were a PA WDM-3a with a GMO WAG-7 #27214 as banker. Another freight load had a Banker from ET, a WAG-5 #23247.
Soon we departed and climbed up to flag station PJN followed by HSL and PNV before reaching MMR at 1450. En route we passed WAG-5 twins from BSL #23337 and #23587 and another WAG-7 probably from ASN shed.
As we zoomed in onto PF3on the Up main line at MMR, we sped past the ET twins of KK berthed on PF2 on the Dn main line. LPs tend to approach PF3 at good speed before braking suddenly after passing the crew lobby on PF3. at MMR, the mainlines don't have any restrictions and so the trains come speeding in before braking hard! I missed out on the loco nos. in the process. KK seemed to have arrived before time or on the dot as usual. This running time has a slack of 15-20 minutes between KPG-MMR. During our 5 minute halt, spotted a PA WDMx doing shunting duties beyond PF6. a BSL WAP-5 was stationed dead heading the MMR-IGP shuttle on PF4. As we departed, so did KK in the opposite direction, its twin sonorous horn clearly audible. Saw another train 2812 LTT-THE exp.(must have been at least 10hrs late) stationary at MMR home signal probably waiting for PF2 to get vacant. It had a SRC WAP-5 heading it.
The shrill howl of our P4s ARNO grew louder as we climbed up to SUM by 1510hrs crossed an AJNI WAG-9 with a BCNA rake en route. Beyond Summit, we were coasting probably for the 1st time as the P4 'rested' for about 10km, the down gradient ahead being very evident! At km240, Godan exp. crossed us with its usual ET WAM-4 #20620 (this seems to be the regular loco hauling this train). Stopped at LSL for a minute before starting and cruising through UGN before I spotted another SRC P4 at km220. It must've been the weekly 2869 CSTM-HWH Exp. Its called `duplicate gitanjali' in this part of the world! The LP notched up speed once more and we sped past NR, KBSN, KW and ODHA at above 100kmph. The 'onion tents' stocking their stuff were very conspicuous on either side. Another striking feature was the extensive grape vineyards on either side beyo9nd LSL all the way up to NK. A BCNA rake was getting ready at KW, the usual onion loading point besides LSL and probably Niphad in this section. A lot of stuff loaded is lost en route due to theft and other operational hurdles as the wagon doors are kept open to allow air flow through the perishables.
Slowed down over the Godavari bridge that seems to have a PSR as all tains do slow down here. Just as we entered NK, an ET WAM-4 #21355 crossed with Pavan Exp. while we were at NK, 1072 kamayani exp. arrived on PF1 in the opposite direction with ET WAM-4 #20569 in the lead. Started after 5 minutes at reached DVL at 1615 hrs, the weather changed suddenly from this point on. It became cloudy and cool. Could see the clouds bracing the mountains ahead and in all probability, it would be raining at IGP, I thought. We sped past LT and AV at about 90kmph before slowing down at PDL that has a PSR of 75 owing maybe to sharp curves. Two ET WAG-7s (never know ET shed housed G7s too) crossed us with a mixed rake. Before long we crossed GO and arrived at IGP at 1645hrs. Kashi Exp. today had done 310km in 4-1/2hrs flat! That too with halts at JL, PC, CSN, NGN, MMR, LSL, NK and DVL!! Only 2860 does better with its uninterrupted rum between BSL-NK in this section!!! Just one of those super run days for a normally slow train.