Trip to Wankaner/Morbi
by Viraf Mulla
Just a brief report about my trip last weekend to Wankaner & Morbi with my friend Michael Smyth. Michael is a superb railway photographer & you should see his pictures to believe it. He does his own developing & printing.
Left home at 4.15pm on Friday 27th. after promising my wife & elders in the family that:
- I will not lean out of the running train
- I will not stand in front of the oncoming train to click
- I will not do any footboard travel
- I will not do any rooftop travel
- I will not do any buffer beam travel
Now gang, this is exactly what I had in mind. I wanted a repetition of the thrills I had during my last trip there.
Caught the 9017 Saurashtra Janta Express which arrived on dot in Borivali at 16.56. We were side tracked at Palghar & Valsad to let the 2951 & 2953 Delhi bound Rajdhanis pass. Hit the sack after Surat. Woke up at Viramgam & noticed that the train was running 30 mts. behind schedule. Wankaner was reached at 7.15.
Navlakhi - Dahinsara - Maliya Miyana section is closed for conversion. There are no salt workings. All the passenger workings on Wankaner - Dahinsara section are worked till Barwala Road. Since there are no loco stabling facilities available at Barwala the loco returns light to Morbi Jn (which again in true sense is not a junction).
After clicking the 7.25 departure of Morbi passenger behind YG 3318 went clicking around the loco shed.
The shed houses 9 steam locos: 3 YPs & 6 YGs.
YPs are nos: 2257, 2825 & 2684.
YGs are nos: 3318, 3360, 3261, 3437, 4369 & 3334.
YPs bound for U.S.A. are 2257 (restored to its former glory & painted in bright red & black) & 2805 (the loco shed staff are not aware of its whereabouts. Might be in Ajmer or Sabarmati Shed). All the freight rolling stock will be transfered to Bhavnagar division.
On the BG the sharp curve toward Rajkot with the 4 signal gantry makes a nice location for photographing mainline trains. I clicked the 9005 Saurashtra Mail there.
Back to MG - caught the 11.00 mixed passenger to Morbi. It was a YG 4369 without smoke deflectors at the head of our train.
Morbi station had impressed me the first time I saw it. This time I was more impressed. The empty station had a busy look with 3 locos in steam. This gave Michael an idea to click a lineup of these locos. We requested the Station Supdt. & he gave us the permission to have the locos wherever we wanted on the tracks. Boy now we were instructing the drivers where to stop, when to have more steam for that special effect etc. etc. & Michael was having a gala time clicking away. Unfortunately it was a very dull cloudy day which has marred the quality of my photographs.
We footplated all the way to Wankaner on YG 3318 heading 13.45 2 coach passenger from Morbi.
The 9018 Saurashtra Janta Express to Bandra Terminus arrived on dot again at 1522 hrs at Wankaner Jn. It was on time at Viramgam where it has an official halt of 30 mts. (any guesses why?) but it was almost after 1-1 hrs. later that we resumed our journey back home. I was too tired to venture up to the loco and inquire with the driver the reason for the delay. By the time we reached Ahmedabad we were famished so I ran to the fast food joint on platform no.1 and bought ourselves delicious & filling club sandwiches. Just after Nadiad I was fast asleep in my bunk. The hustle & bustle in my coach woke me up to realize that we were approaching Borivali.
None of the railway officials in Wankaner or Morbi are aware of the possible dates of the closure of the steam workings. Some guess that it will end with the consumption of the present coal stock & yet others had the opinion that on the arrival of diesel railcars the steam era will end.
WHAT A T R A G E D Y!!!!!