Railfanning Weekend in HYB
by Shashanka Nanda
Had a wonderful railfanning weekend in an around Hyderabad. Here's a small account of it:
Saturday afternoon IRFCAns Lakshaman T, Vrijilesh Rai and urs truly decided to catch some diesel action on the SC-WADI line and decided to meet up at Begumpet (BMT) station to catch an MMTS local and go upto Sanathnagar (SNF) or Lingampalli depending on where there was more action. With the extension of traction upto Lingampalli, many freighters have their loco changeover here rather than at SNF.
Since Lakshman was late, we decided to catch an earlier MMTS to Hafizpeta (HFZ) and meantime see what's in store at SNF. Meantime we also caught the departures of the HYB-CST Hussain Sagar behind a KZJ WDM2 and the SC-RJT EXpress behind a GY WDM3A (18886R) in ED colors. The MMTS arrived 4 mins behind schedule quickly made it's way to SNF. The yard at SNF was pretty desolate ave for a olitary BCNA rake which didn't look going anywhere. The loco strength at SNF was limited to a BSL WAG5, a BZA WAG5 and twin LGD WAG7s. Not a single diesel was to be seen, which was very surprising as the place usually bristles with ALCO and EMD mosnters!! We waited at HFZ for Laksh to arrive and caught the same MMTS local to Lingampalli, but to our surprise the scene here was even more desolate. There was a solitary 58 BOXN rake laden fully with coal but no sign of any loco to take it further. The rake stood there like a headless Anaconda bursting at it's seams but nowhere to go!! Disappointed, we caught the next local back to BMT.
On our way back, we were crossed by the Chittapur passenger hauled by a Pune WDM2, the HYB-TPTY/KOP Rayalseems-Haripriya Express with a GTL WDM2 #17460 at it's head. Also spotted was the elusive COA-MMR Exp hauled by a MLY WDM2. This bi-weekly train is one of few remaining VB rakes in SCR. At BMT we saw the SC-MMR Exp depart behind a shiny GY WDM3A #18793R. We then walked to my apartment close to the station discussing some more IR stuff while poring over the pics in the railways encyclopedia that I have.
Sunday morning, I decided to stake out Hi-tech City MMTS station for some early morning frieght action but again the scene at SNF was restricted to a handful of WAG7s and a solitary WDG4 (#12035) and single KZJ WDG3A (#14721). I decided to drop the idea and seek greener pastures. Returning home, I checked the TAAG and decided to spend the evening at Bhongir station abt 45km from SC on the KZJ line. I decided to catch the Bhagyanagari Express (going to Sirpur Kagaznagar) departing at 1500. I reached the station at 1330 and decided to check out some action.
On PF7 the SC-GNT Palnadu superfast was waiting to leave behind WDP4 #20003 running SHF. On the other end of the rake was WDP4 #20008 which had brought in the rake from GNT in the morning. Also waiting in the sidings was the third monster of this class #20005. There were two KJM WDM2s in the yard, #17551 & 16669 with the latter one shunting some coaches of the SC-HWH Falaknuma Exp. The Falaknuma itself was to be hauled by VSKP WDM3A #14090 which was lined up alongside. An unmarked SCR M/E rake had arrived behind BZA WAM4 #21277 behind which was another BZA WAM4 #21243 which was running dead. The BZA-SC Satavahana Express had arrived behind LGD WAP4 #22342 which would later take this train back. A strange thing about the trains destination boards was that they were all carried advertising signs of a tubewell manufacturing company!! Guess IR is leaving no stone unturned to make some money.
The Palnadu departed at 1400hrs just as a long BOXN rake led by LGD's tigerface #27386 MUed to another one of it's ilk. Lying dead on the PF1 east end sidings was a BZA WAM4 #21222, while GY's WDM3A #14009 waited on one of the island lines accompanied by an MMTS local, a DHMU and WDM2s 17214 & 16335 from KZJ. Also deployed on shunting duty was #18201 from MLY. A light BZA WDP1 #15068 stood next to KZJ's 17219 and 17229 in Raj livery on the Bhoiguda side just as the BZA-LTT Express arrived with a MLY WDM2 #17143 formerly of KZJ. Pretty soon it was time for our train to leave. This train which shares it's rakes with the GNT-SC (via BZA) Golconda Express was hauled by a BZA WAM4 #21352.
We got the starter at exactly 1500 and as we were pulling out, my 4th WDP4 for the day (#20000) ariived with the late running 7027 TVC-HYB Express. I was surprised to see the destination boards of the train read Narsapur - Hyderabad - Trivandrum Central!! Apparently there is some rake sharing going on here, will get more details on this new development as Narsapur sports a 1A while the 7027/8 doesn't!! The driver quickly sped past LGD loco shed and on the LGD C&W sidings above me I saw MLY WDM2 heading a rake of assorted coaches at the end of which was a steam tender!!! the tender was in rust brown livery and apparently lying in the MLY sidings where I had photographed it a couple of years back. Cruising past MLY station I saw another BG steam tender, this time lying alone in the sidings to the right of station!! By the looks of it, these tenders which looked in decent condition might just be refurbished and sent to one of the propsoed steam centres.
The run to Bhongir was pretty eventful and we just passed two coal laden rakes hauled a WAG5 & AG7 pair repsectively. Bhongir was reached bang on time and I got out just in time to catch a twin LGD WAG5 hauled BOXN rake thunder past. The lead beast was #24427 followed by #24423. I walked to the KZJ end of the station and positioned myself on a ridge above the track with a chameleon for company. The sexy lizard decided I was a threat and quickly changed it's colors to match the cream of the patch of sand it was sitting on. Pretty soon it made itself scarce and the reason was a shiny black cobra some 7 ft in length which appeared from the bushes a few feet away from me. Not wanting to mess with the fellow I came down to tracl level just in time to catch the screaming KZJ-HYB MEMU going past at 90kmph!! After waiting for a long time at that spot, I deicded to head back to the station as I saw atleast two more snakes including a big fat rat snake. It had rained heavily the previous night and apparently the serpents had been driven out of their holes.
I was walking back on the Up line (towards SC) and had noticed the aspect of the home signal to the station as caution. I guessed that the signal was for the HWH-HYB East Coast Exp. due to arrive any moment and since the points had not been set to the platform loop I thought I was safe to walk on this line but within seconds a loud blast made me jump and just as I got out of the way a BZA WAM4 thundered past with the GKP-SBC Express!! Scared as hell I vowed this would be my second and last stupid mistake of my railfanning career. Just as the dust had settled I heard the arrival announcement of the East Coast which ultimately came in with a BZA WAG5 at it's head!! I then stationed myself at the SC end of the platform waiting for the Satavahana to arrive and just when I was to click the thundering WAP4 I realized that I hadn't opened the shutter of the darned camera!!!
Soon affterwards a twin WAG7 hauled BOXN frieght arrived from the KZJ side and stopped at the starter on the mainline. The driver got off while the assistant lowered the panto of the rear loco and switched it off. Since this meant the train wasn't going anywhere for a while, I expected the soon to follow AP and the Rajdhani Expresses to sulk by on the platform loop. I moved over to the opposite PF just to see driver come sprinting like Carl Lweis motioning his asst. to start the rear loco and get going as the starter had already been given. The poor Asst. went scurrying up the loco and in a jiffy raised the rear panto and got going in a mere 20 secs!!
So there I was in luck, the AP and ther Raj would now go by at MPS in the station which was 70kmph, ideal for photography!! I spoke too soon.... just as the Raj was ready to fill up the viewfinder of my camera and I was about to click... a darned WAG5 BOXN rake came in from behind and blocked my entire view and screwed up the shot for which I had travelled so far.:o(But this meant that the AP was late and I still had a chance for a nice shot. The signals to SC were set to green again and instead of the AP it was just a light WAP4 sprinting past. Not any WAP4, but LGD's newest baby the 22589!! It was only 2 days back we were wondering why LGD wasn't getting in new P4s, well here's the answer!! The AP still not in sight, the HYB-VSKP Godavari express went past at 90kmph hauled by good old 22206 from LGD. Soon the aoouncement was made for my train, the Kagaznagar - SC telangana Express. Curiously though, the voice over message said HYB Instead of SC!! It came in behind BZA WAM 21218. The driver was a true type 3, sprinting to MPS as soon as he cleared the T/P board. On our way back, we were crossed by the SC-WL Kakatiya Fast passenger which is diesel hauled on a fully electrified route, the HYB-KZJ MEMU and another WAM4 hauled Express.
We reached MLY in 40 mins where MLY WDM2 #17171 waited light and the 22589 was standing at the gates of LGD loco shed, waiting to enter it's new home. Surprisngly one of the red marker LED sets was missing on a brand new loco!
We reached SC bang on time and I saw BZA WDP1 #15068 haul out an empty VB rake, while KZJ's ex Rajdhani special loco #18498 stood light on the sidings, now transferred to MLY and ostensibly out of Raj duties as well. next to it was GY's AEB fitted baldie #14003. Walking over the FoB I heard the announcements signalling the arrival of the AP express as well. Fully satisfied with the day's work, I treated myself to chicked biryani ay Paradise and pretty soon was back home in bed dreaming of a footplate on the 589:o)