Mumbai(CSTM)-Chennai(MAS) report by 6011

2001-04-02

Today I'd like to share with us IRFCA friends my journey in the above train. Most of the journey has been routine for me. But there have been some very interesting experiences this trip.

I travelled in the rare breed coach - the first-class one - and found myself in the FC-Coupe. The coach was fourth from the loco and I had an idea that the journey after Pune (PUNE) was going to be very interesting when the diesel loco took over. The loco that hauled the 6011 between CSTM and PUNE was the yellow-and-blue liveried WCAM, with that trumpeting hoot sound.

The train started from CSTM on the dot, at 14:00 hrs. Dadar (DR) came easy at 14:20 hrs for a five-minute halt. This was the first time I alighted on the DR platform (no 5) to look around.

I'd been travelling more often to PUNE of late (and meeting my fellow- IRFCA friends while there), and therefore had been quite bored to witness this part of the journey. I climbed upon my berth and went off to sleep, at Ghatkopar (GC) itself!! Was very keen to witness the part of the journey after PUNE.

Kalyan Jn. (KYN) came on time and subsequently, Karjat (KJT) and Lonavla (LNL). Most of the time I was up on my berth, crashed.

Khadki (KK) arrived at 17:55. This is one characteristic of the 6011; it's been halting at KK since time immemorial. In those days, I remember, the 13 Dn Bombay V.T - MAS Janata Exp used to halt at Dehu Road (DEHR) and the 6009 (in those days, 9 Dn) at both, DEHR and KK.

Pune arrived at 18:15 hrs. I got down to witness the loco changeover; by the time I did that the WCAM was already de-coupled and it took off. The diesel power that subsequently attached to the 6011 was a WDM2 GTL (Guntakal) 17413, and it was LONG-hood leading.

In fact, at PUNE, the Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel used to visit our sleeper class coaches since the last four years, to warn us to close our shutter doors between Daund Jn. (DD), Kurduvadi (KWV) and Solapur (SUR) due to dacoity in that belt. Sometimes they'd forcibly shut these doors down at PUNE itself, for us. (You must've read in newspapers some years ago of the robberies that took place in the Hussain Sagar and the Coimbatore - Bangalore - Mumbai Express trains among a number of others, in these parts.) Surprisingly, I thought, no one came to warn us this time.

The train took off at 18:40 hrs. As I was passing the last overbridge (blue-diamond overbridge?) and picking up speed, I saw the PUNE- Kolhapur (KOP) line taking off behind the goods yard. I also saw a WDM Katni (KTE) loco in the goods yard.

We had a few waiting moments at Yevat (YT) - I couldn't figure out why. Then Kedgaon (KDB) and Patas (PAA) whizzed past us and I got ready to see the Manmad (MMR) - DD line. Just before this line, there was a smallish factory that housed what looked like concrete railway sleepers. Were these sleepers being manufactured here?

Daund (DD) came subsequently at 20:00 hrs where dinner was ready for me to have. When I found that the Puris were not served with my dinner, and the service person was not around, I went and reported to the TTE who informed that the person would be in the neighbouring A.C sleeper car. Immediately I rushed there and got one pack of Puris from this person. But not before my FC coach attendant brought a message saying that "A puri pack was reported missing in the dinner of a passenger in FC cabin E". I intervened, saying that I was the passenger, and carried the puri pack back - the coach attendent offered to carry it back for me.

Not only that, a curd was found extra on my dinner plate and I had to once again run with it to the A.C coach to return to the food service person.

Finally, upon requesting for a Bisleri distilled water, the service person immediately ordered his assistant to get out onto the platform and get one for me. This assistant collected Rs.12 from me and ran off. I got a bit frightened - what if he never returned - and was pleased to see him running back with the water bottle to be delivered to me.

I must say that they looked after me quite well.

Finally we dragged out at DD. In a few moments, the coach attendant came into our cabins and, indeed, warned us to close down our shutters. The areas are still notorious.

I went to the trailing end of the FC coach. The coach attendant's seat was there and I could sit and watch the proceedings thru the open window on the train door; most of the others along the FC corridor have been either shut or uncomfortable for me to pore down and see through. The train was cutting thru a number of viaducts; I could not see Washimbe station on both sides of which were walls forming a viaduct. The 6010 Mail was crossing us this time, and was waiting for us to get there.

Subsequently, Pophalaj came and we went down into a viaduct. While going down, I saw a number of RPF uniformed personnel armed and playing those powerful flashlights - obviously the situation's still sensitive there.

As we went down the viaduct, the train suddenly screeched to a halt. The WDM2 hooter sounded. And something went wrong.

We were moving BACKWARDS!!

Not only that, we were picking up speed BACKWARDS!!

A cold chill went thru my spine as I was watching helplessly and a thought was racing in my mind. Did we overshoot a signal at Pophalaj, and see the loco of an incoming train about to run head-on over us, for us to start running backwards so fast?

Fortunately, the TTE was approaching the attendant's seat where I was sitting, and I asked him. He said, "No, this is a crossing. In fact, it's a SCISSOR CROSSING".

No sooner did he finish his sentence than I heard the sound of a train approaching us in the opposite direction. I thought, this was the end and was amazed to see it actually crossing us on the neighbouring track!! Both, our train and this crossing train were moving in the same direction!! (Ours was moving backwards).

I understood that the place where we went to, down the viaduct, was actually a siding that had a dead end. The opposite track on which the train had crossed us was actually the line on which we were to have proceeded. As soon as the other train crossed us, we slowed down, stopped, changed from the backward to the forward direction, and changed tracks from the siding to the main line to proceed to Jeur (JEUR).

The TTE explained to me that this Scissor crossing actually existed at THREE points, for this train. The second such crossing was to occur at Tilati (immediately after Hotgi Jn.[HG]) in Maharashtra State, while the third was to be encountered at Babalad (immediately before Gulbarga [GR]) in Karnataka State. Incidentally, all these three Scissor crossings turn out to be on Central Railway, Solapur Division!!

I remember this June 1977 trip when we were returning from MAS to Bombay by the 6010. Just before GR (I think, around Hirenanduru), we suddenly began moving backwards and uphill, on a loop line. While waiting up there, we saw a goods train below us crossing in the opposite direction. Thereafter, we began moving forwards downhill, joined the main line and proceeded towards GR.

Returning to our present discussion, we went hurtling past JEUR, a rather important town, and subsequently I went up to sleep. It was strenuous to continue sitting on the coach attendant's seat (the small one that's fixed onto the wall) and pore thru the door window.

I didn't even notice KWV but upon waking up subsequently to see the train stationary at 23:55 hrs, figured that we were at SUR. Subsequently I found the train stationary once again upon waking up at 03:05 and concluded that Wadi Jn. (WADI) had arrived. This was to be the end of CR territory and SCR, Guntakal (GTL) Division, to begin just after WADI.

Next day (April 01) when I woke up, we were standing at GTL at 07:30 hrs. Thereafter, Gooty (GY) arrived 45 minutes later and I subsequently saw the GY - Yelahanka (YNK) - Bangalore line turning off to our right (with me facing the loco). This was followed by a level crossing; the road was the Varanasi - Kanniyakumari National Highway (N.H.7).

It was very hot in the day during this part of the journey. Mostly I chose to stand on the entrance for a good breeze or go up to my berth - nothing very special happened here. This place is called the Rayalseema region and as some of my friends tell me, it's famous for scorpions. They look big and rubber-like, and had to be killed by hitting with slippers. Having travelled on this line for many years now, I never, ever quite knew this and always wanted to see one around - you can't find one on a station platform, I guess!!

Then arrived Cuddapah (HX) at 10:55 hrs. No one came and took our lunch order; I myself couldn't fancy eating so early in the daytime. Then that lovely fruit stall came up on the platform once again (like the one in Vijaywada [BZA] - I posted this in an earlier report of my Coromandel Express trip). I think, this fruit stall where juices are sold for Rs.10, are now being standardized at many stations on SCR. Hope this becomes so on more and more zonal railways.

Subsequently arrived Nandalur (NRE), Razampeta (RJM) and Koduru (KOU). Upon feeling the train suddenly picking up great speed and hurtling through Settigunta (SF) and Mamanduru (MRM), I got down from my berth to find out what was going on.

MUCH TO MY DELIGHT, RENIGUNTA (RU) ARRIVED 14 MINUTES BEFORE TIME!!

I saw a WAM Jhansi (JHS) loco upon approaching the platform. Also, some red-coloured coaches on another platform that were marked some kind of a "special" - couldn't quite recollect what that was.

No food order still came by, and I decided to get some lunch from the station. There was a Dining Hall which I found absolutely empty; no one was sitting there But when I stepped in, the personnel called after me. I ordered for a standard veg meal parcel. While waiting, I thought the food might have become cold and the time was 13:40 hrs; lunch must've been already served to passengers on other earlier trains, etc. and must've gotten exhausted for the dining hall to become empty. And I was going to get the last few crumbs, I thought.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the lunch delightfully fresh!! Excellent food, with lots of rice among a number of other items they served on the leaf-plate.

After lunch, I had some more time (since we were before time, we had to wait through the actual departure time). I decided to step out to see the loco change-over from the WDM2 to an electric AC 25-KV power. And something absolutely unbelievable happened.

THEY FIXED A WAG-5A (I think it's 23063) ARAKKONAM (AJJ) TO OUR TRAIN!!

I was zapped!! There was a WAP-4 Erode (ED) with the usual red livery standing on a loop line and I thought they were going to fix that. I never could believe this!!

Then the train dragged out of RU and entered SR (Chennai Division) terrain. Nothing special happened on the last 136 Km, except that when I saw the last station on A.P (Sri Venkatanarasimharajuvaripera - the longest station name), I was waiting for the border between A.P and Tamil Nadu. I remember some of our IRFCA Chennai friends informing in a recent posting, of a boulder near that station that marked the boundary - but I could not find any such boulder. (I was facing the state road alongside the line, i.e. on the Eastern side).

On the final lap between AJJ and MAS, the train was delayed between a little before Tiruvallur (TVU) (I think, Kadambarakuppam) and Tiruninravur (TI) due to those track repair works, I think. As a result, we reached MAS 34 minutes late.

The subsequently journey I'll be talking about will be about the return journey to Dadar (DR) by the 1064, which I undertake on April 11-12. Till then, thanks very much for the patient reading (albeit - imagining!!) and bye for now.

Return trip from Chennai to Mumbai by three trains

Yes, as mentioned in my earlier posting (Trip report: 6011 journey), I was to have returned from Chennai Central (MAS) to Dadar (DR) on April 12 by the prestigious 1064 Chennai Express. Due to business reasons however, I had to postpone my journey by four days and therefore had to return by a different train. Reservations were very difficult to get at around this time because of the summer vacations, as I learnt from the Internet and from the positions at the Moore Market Reservation Complex which I visited on April 7. However, there's been some luck.

They displayed a number of Holiday Specials. One of these was Tiruchirappalli (TPJ) - Ahmedabad (ADI) express with the number 625 that would ply every Sunday, beginning from April 15. The classes of accomodation shown included 2A, SL and II, with no pantry car. I thought, this was to take the same route as the 6045 / 6046 MAS - ADI Navjivan Express. In fact, one of our IRFCA friends (Firoz Dotivala) asked me by e-mail whether I was going to pass Badnera (BD) on my way back so that we could meet there - and I thought I would - incase the 625 was taking that route!! Unfortunately that was not to happen.

The 625 route planned was via Villupuram (VM) - Chennai Egmore (MS) - Renigunta (RU) - Wadi Jn. (WADI) - Daund (DD) - Manmad (MMR) - Jalgaon (JL) - Surat (ST) - Vadodara (BRC) - Ahmedabad (ADI). And tickets were available on this train.

Therefore my return journey took the following form. I was to travel up to DD by the 625, manage to take one of the several trains between DD and Pune (PUNE) that would ferry me around that time - a 76-Km stretch - and then a train from PUNE to DR. Totally, three trains!! The 625 would leave MS at 16:25 hrs, and reach DD the following day at 13:15 hrs. As luck would have it, I'd see the scissor crossings in broad daylight!! Also, being a holiday special I thought this would not have that high a priority and it may get detained on the way, and I might end up reaching DD about 3-4 hrs late, and therefore booked by the last PUNE-CSTM train of the day, the Indrayani Express.

The big day arrived - April 15 - Sunday. A very interesting thing - I was going to board at Chennai Egmore (MS) to travel towards DR for the first time!! I would like to sincerely thank our fellow-IRFCA Chennai members, viz. Mr.Krishnan and Mr.Subbu, for having come all the way to MS and meeting me and providing me with all the help during the meet. We had a very interesting 45-minute session at MS; they showed me two blue-liveried WDP-2 locos of the Golden Rock shed which I've never seen before.

While we were talking, the 625 Holiday Special arrived at MS at 16:05 hrs on the dot. My AC 2-Tier coach was easy to spot - the fourth coach from the rear end. And strangely, this train had the beautiful dark-and-light blue livery instead of the expected brown one. The regulars like the 6009/6010 mail and 6011/6012 Express trains do not have the blue livery - they have the usual brown one. Only the 1063/1064 has the blue livery. That does give an idea that just as is the case with 1063/1064, they're going to look after the 625/626 train very well during it's journey to ADI.

The train dragged out of MS at 16:25 hrs on the dot. For the first time in my life, I passed the industrial belt around the coastline that comprised of Madras Beach (MSB), Royapuram and Washermanpet (WSP). In fact, the broad-gauge line between MS and MSB was single with the two local MG lines alongside. Once we crossed MSB, the BG line was double with the UP line (opposite to my train) serving as a dual-line (consisting of three rails instead of two, to serve BG as well as MG). I wonder whether the line on which I travelled after MSB was a similar triple-rail line, and I don't think so.

After passing Royapuram, the MG line took off from the triple-line and became separate.

As soon as WSP passed, the two BG tracks became four with the separate MG line continuing as it is - not merging with any of these to form a triple line. Two of the four BG tracks took off to my right (facing the loco) to join the other two approaching Basin Bridge Jn. (BBQ) that was crossing us from below, and heading towards Gudur Jn. (GDR), and the lone MG line disappeared along with these tracks. We continued and joined the other two lines coming from BBQ just before Vyasarpadi Jiva (VPY).

The Station Code list suggests VPY for Vyasarpadi Jiva but - as I mentioned in a posting a few months ago - they STILL maintain VW on the electric masts.

We finally joined the main lines and passed VPY, picked up speed, and hurtled past Perambur (PER). I think, the four lines became three after Pattabiram (PAB) and subsequently, two after Tiruvallur (TVU).

It had been raining like mad at Chennai during that week. As we halted at Arakkonam Jn. (AJJ) at 18:15 hrs, it was a very pleasant, damp and cloudy evening. I was surprised to see a 3A coach lurking adjacent to our 2A coach - not mentioned in the display at the reservation complex - and they explained that it was decided to fix this 3A coach at TPJ only the previous night!!!! It seemed that the running staff was confused at that time.

No attendant came for the food order. Upon inquiring, the TTE explained that this was a holiday special meant only to clear the rush and one had to plan the dinner and the following lunch, etc. No order was going to be taken. I was suggested to have dinner at the next halt, at RU, after which it'd be dark and nothing worth dinner would be available.

There was no halt at Tiruttani (TRT) and RU arrived at 19:25 hrs. One good thing I observed was that the train was going non-stop between stations. A very smooth ride, so far!! By the time we were at RU, we crossed SR territory and had already entered SCR terrain, GTL Division.

Unlike the lunch I had at RU during my Down-trip by the 6011, at the Dining Room, this time NOTHING was available at this dining room!! Had to make do with a few dosas available at the refreshment stall there. Could not see the loco chang-over at RU but I presumed that it must've been the usual WDM2 blue-liveried GTL loco. Finally, after a 30-minute halt, we dragged out. As we were traversing the platform, I tried to see those shunted red-coloured coaches (mentioned in my earlier posting) but they were not visible.

Surprisingly, NO HALT at Koduru (KOU) and Razampeta (RJM)!! We halted briefly at Nandalur (NRE) for a goods crossing and thereafter, Cuddapah (HX) arrived at 21:45 hrs. Once again, that lovely fruit- juice stall came up bang outside my coach at HX and I helped myself. Gooty (GY) was scheduled at 00:38 hrs and Guntakal Jn. (GTL), at 01:30 hrs.

Next morning, I woke up with a start at 06:15 hrs and upon inquiring, found that we were at WADI!!!! Already into CR terrain!

The train maintained it's time beautifully. I've never seen it being looked after so well - given that it's a mere holiday special!! Can someone tell me whether these holiday specials behave well during such a first-time run and badly as the weeks pass by? A very smooth ride, with very few stops. This train deserves to be regularized, or so I thought. Many thoughts were racing my mind. What happens if I reach PUNE on time (or even BEFORE time)??

Subsequently at 08:30 when I finally woke up and was about to open the exit door to peep, Dudhani (DUD) was going past us at great speed (oops -- I meant, the other way round), and I realized that we were in Maharashtra State, 519 Km from Mumbai. I was standing at the exit door for the rest of the 65-Km length up to Solapur (SUR) to see many interesting sights.

One of these sights was the scissor crossing at Tilati (before Hotgi Jn. [HG]), and this was a long one. However, we never paused at any of these crossings. This scissor crossing tapered off at both ends of the station. (Another scissor crossing left us long earlier, at Babalad [BBD] just after Gulbarga [GR] - I missed this one.)

Just as we were approaching HG, I saw the newly-constructed BG line coming from Bijapur. We did not halt at HG. Then, SUR arrived at 09:50 hrs, on time. It was for the first time on this day that I could get my coffee - nothing was provided in the train!! Finally we dragged out at 10:10 hrs.

Kurduvadi (KWV) went past us at full speed - the train did not stop here!! This is the first time that I travelled without stopping here in DAYLIGHT.

We passed the next scissor crossing at Pophalaj - this was the one where we had to wait during my 6011 Down-trip that I mentioned earlier - and this too was a long crossing. The track must be long enough to support two trains, or so I thought. Just after we crossed Bhigvan (BGUN), I had to start packing up towards alighting at DD. Was feeling very sad because this holiday special train journey was very good. The people in the coach were all very friendly.

Finally, DD arrived at 12:50 hrs - 25 minutes BEFORE time!! And the people, including the coach attendants, bade me a warm farewell as I proceeded to alight to catch the next train to PUNE. And I thought earlier, we might end up reaching DD 2-3 hours late!!!!

Since I had a lot of time, I went up to see the loco and to my surprise, found a WDM2 PUNE loco instead of the expected GTL loco!! I wonder if there was a loco changeover at DD as well, or whether they fixed the PUNE loco at RU itself the previous evening.

The refreshment stall was bang in front of my coach, and I had a good meal. What was racing in mind was that there were as many as five trains - one of which I was going to catch - to get to PUNE (DR?). These were: 1078 Jhelum Express that had not yet arrived, 2780 Goa Express, 6530 Udyan Express and 6354 Tirupati - Mumbai Express. The fifth one was the 15:45 Daund - Pune Passenger. While I was helping myself at the stall, the 1078 arrived on the opposite platform, and it was to travel backwards to PUNE. Just after I finished and came out on the platform, I saw the 625 dragging out on time at 13:25, and after pausing to see it's last coach leave the platform, proceeded to get a ticket for PUNE. The 1078 was still on the platform and I got into it; this finally dragged out at 13:45 hours. There were some small stoppages at Patas (PAA) and outside Kedgaon (KDB).

PUNE arrived at 14:59 hours, 46 minutes before time and all of us were to get off here.

My third (and last) train of the day, the 1022 Indrayani Express, was to leave PUNE at 18:20 hours. That means a three-hour (Long) wait before this one.

Actually the 1008 Deccan Express was waiting bang opposite where the Jhelum parked, and I tried to get into it. It was to leave for Mumbai at 15:15 hours and had I succeeded, this would've been a blessing in disguise. Not only would I have saved time but I would've alighted at Thane (TNA) and reached home quite fast. But this was not to happen, `coz there was no vacancy and secondly, I learned later that I was not allowed to travel on my 1022 ticket on any other train without getting a fresh ticket!! Nuts!! I was watching helplessly while other trains like the 6530, 6354, 7308 Koyna Express and 2028 Shatabdi Express left for Mumbai while I had to do the wait.

While waiting at PUNE, with my baggage, I saw a few locos. In particular, the Krishnarajapuram (KJM) loco (to be hooked to the 6529), the Erode (ED) loco for the 6331 CSTM-Trivandrum Express, the GTL loco for the 6011 Mumbai - MAS Express and the Kazipet (KZJ) loco for the 1019 CSTM - Bhubaneshwar (BBS) Konark Express. The 2780 Goa Express reached PUNE being hauled by a PUNE WDM2, that would possibly to go to the other end (reversal).

Finally the 1022 Indrayani arrived from it's bay. This was the second time in my life that I got to travel by this train, and I heard that this train's very good. My ticket was an A.C Chair Car ticket, and not much spotting was possible after we dragged out at 18:20.

Kalyan Jn. (KYN) arrived at 21:10 hours while my destination, DR, reached at 21:45 hours on the dot. In the end, I reached my residence five minutes before my estimated time (22:35).

All in all, a long and tiring - but very interesting - three-train return journey from MAS to DR.


Material provided by R Venkatesh, Copyright © 2001.