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IR: 150 Years and Getting Younger!!

by: S. SHANKAR

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16 Apr. 1853 - 16 Apr. 2002

On this page, we examine some railway scenes in and around Bombay, right from the ubiquitous e.m.u. commuter trains, which are such an inseparable part of the Bombay scenario, right upto the new neutral zone just outside Virar station. Also featured is the newly introduced (April 2002) MEMU (Main Line e.m.u.) which runs on a.c. traction from Virar to Dahanu.

DO NOT MISS the fairy tale, misty atmosphere of Kamshet, an insignificant station on the Poona-Lonavla line, just two stops short of Lonavla. Featured here are some terrific aerial shots of trains at speed, taken from the hilltop at Kamshet. The single lane Bombay-Poona highway once skirted the railway line. It is  now a wider road which climbs a hill, just above the railway line. All these shots were made by driving down from Poona, and then parking the car at this very scenic spot. We later drove down the hill, onto the old road, and then shot a few pictures from the old road just next to the track. If you do visit this spot, do not try video from here, for the constant flow or heavy and overloaded trucks struggling up the steep hill on low gear drowns any train sounds you might wish to record!

We wind up with some trackside signs, which I hope will be of some use to some of our members. Needless to say, this list is far from complete, and many  more signs will be added, either after my subsequent trips to India or if any of you kind souls contribute any extra signs for the section.

Enjoy!

Suggestions/comments/criticism are welcome. Mail me on the list or at: frontier_mail@yahoo.com

 

[IR150th Anniv.] [In and Around: Bangalore  Madras (Chennai)  Poona (Pune)  Bombay (Mumbai)] [Scenic, Fairy Tale Kamshet] [Trackside Signs]

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In and Around: BOMBAY (Mumbai)

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ArBOM.1 WCAM/3 # 21881 speeds past a packed local with the south bound Bombay - Cape Kanyakumari Express. ArBOM2 A Bombay VT fast local unit # 591 speeds on the main line at Parel. Note that this unit has been retrofitted with twin beam headlamps. Note also that the large destination display window has been shortened. There are several such retrofitted e.m.u. rakes on the CR. We were shooting from the first track: despite our jumping aside to safety, the beast passed by dangerously close, thanks to the extra wide stock. ArBOM.3 WCAM/3 # 21933 speeds past Parel with the Bhubaneshwar bound Konark Express. This train preceded the heritage steam train by barely a few minutes.
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ArBOM.4 They are stuffed into the trains like sardines, yet they manage to remain cheerful and happy. Thats the beauty of commuters in Bombay. Here a group of commuters hanging out of a Bombay local train cheer and wave, and urge us to snap them! We did, and this picture is the result. ArBOM.5 One of the 'fully painted with advertisement' rakes on the CR in Bombay. The local sped away before I could get a clearer shot. Note the unmodified face of the train, and the 'IR 150 Years' banner across the buffers. Several of the CR trains bore this banner. None of the WR locals had this banner  however. ArBOM.6 Talking of the WR, here is a dual current dc/ac local in its characteristic blue livery and twin cream bands. The train is seen here speeding past Elphinstone Road station. In the background is the Lower Parel Carriage Works.
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ArBOM.7 After a new Bassein (Vasai) Creek bridge was set up alongside the old weak structure, the track alignment too had to be changed. The tracks leading to the old bridge were terminated at Bhayandar, while a new alignment was laid leading to the new bridge. Pic. shows tracks of the old alignment at extreme left with a train that has terminated at Bhayandar barely visible. A Churchgate bound local train from Virar approaches Bhayandar station on the new alignment at the right. ArBOM.8 WCAM/1 # 21824 approaches Virar station with the Bombay Central bound Paschim Express from Amritsar. The engine has just cleared the neutral section and has her d.c.pantograph already raised. ArBOM.9 WCAM/2P # 21876 has just cleared Virar station and is about to enter the neutral section where the d.c. pantograph will be lowered. The engine is hauling the Bandra Terminus-Bikaner Ranakpur Express at some speed. Note that the locomotive has been retrofitted with twin beam headlamps.
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ArBOM.10 A goods locomotive WCAG/1 # 21981 with an enormous freight coasts through the neutral section with both pantographs down. The train was moving very slowly indeed. ArBOM.11 Moments later, the trundling freight ground to a screeching halt due to a red signal. Fortunately, the d.c. pantograph was already up. At this point, barely four or five of the train's cars would have been in d.c. territory. The rest of the train was in neutral ground. ArBOM.12 A railway scrap yard just outside Virar station. Note the potpourri of railway rolling stock being broken up, including old passenger cars, e.m.u. coaches and departmental vehicles. In the foreground was a mountain of bogies (wheel sets) which I could not shoot due to a cluttered background.
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ArBOM.13 WCAM/1 # 21813 with d.c. pantograph up about to enter the neutral zone with the Bombay Central - Gandhidham Sayaji Nagari Express. Believe it or not, I've been railfanning/ photographing trains since 1979, yet this was my first shot of a WCAM/1: I never had a chance to trainspot on WR tracks. Special thanks are due to my host Viraf. ArBOM.14 We finally managed to track down the Virar-Dahanu MEMU parked a couple of km after Virar. All three pantos were up, and the train was FILTHY to say the very least. ArBOM.15 Another view of the MEMU. Note a retrofitted sunshade above the headlight. This sunshade, apart from modifying the MEMU's traditional appearance, also gave it a historic look, akin to a WCP/1 (EA/1) locomotive, or one of the historic 'old stock' teak wood e.m.us of yore, with three lights at the top.
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ArBOM.16 Wooden wedges had been placed under the wheels of the parked MEMU to prevent a runaway in case the beast chooses to roll on its own. The train was not even remotely as clean as the bogie pictured here! ArBOM.17 WCAM/1 # 21811 readies to leave Virar with the Virar-Dahanu-Vapi-Dahanu-Virar shuttle. The destination board was such, and ran into four lines: two in Hindi and two in English. This train had a 'vice first class' car: a sleeper car which doubled as a first class. It also had a regular first class car: a rare sight nowadays. ArBOM.18 My Olympus Mju's 35-105 zoom was unfortunately barely adequate to zoom in on the shunting master next to the engine: he was using his flags as a sunshade. The afternoon sun was beating on our heads like a drum: and Viraf and I had just taken a two km walk up and two km walk down to track down the MEMU!

Scenic, Fairy Tale KAMSHET

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KAM.1 Scenic, fairy tale Kamshet. Here the Bombay bound Deccan Queen is seen skirting the Indrayani River at Kamshet. A song on National Integration 'Miley Sur Meraa Tumhaaraa' (lets match our rhythm) was shot at an identical location in the 1980s. KAM.2 Another view of the Bombay bound Deccan Queen as she skirts the Indrayani river at Kamshet. The old Bombay - Poona road is seen in the immediate foreground. KAM.3 Rub your eyes in disbelief, and enter a nether world. Yes, look carefully, there is a WCAM/3 in this picture with a train behind her (dead center). This is the Bombay bound Sahyadri Express snaking its way through Kamshet station. This shot was made from the hilltop with a 210mm lens at full zoom. The mist adds to the mystique. (or ruins the picture, whichever way you look at it.)
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KAM.4 The Poona bound Indrayani Express skirts her namesake Indrayani river as she is about to enter Kamshet station. The location of the previous picture is visible at the extreme top right corner, if you observe very carefully. This time, the zoom is not on full, hence the spot looks very distant indeed. KAM.5 Having made its way out of Kamshet, the Pragati Express speeds onward to Lonavla. This picture gives an idea of distance and the scale of the landscape. The old one lane Bombay - Poona road is in the immediate foreground. KAM.6 A Poona bound e.m.u. at the same spot as pic. # KAM 4. Bombay-ites will particularly enjoy this scene as the e.m.u.s they see pass through radically different scenery and squalid conditions, day in and day out!
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KAM.7 The engine of the Poona bound Indrayani Express WCAM/3 # 21931 caught here in action with the zoom lens. KAM.8 Close up of the bull headed rail, now no longer in use. The '8' profile of this type of rail is clearly visible. These bull headed rails were totally incapable of standing on their own,and had to be fitted onto chairs. In contrast, flat footed rails resting directly on the sleepers are barely visible at the extreme right corner. KAM.9 Back on terra firma, on ground level, this shot has zoomed in on a Poona bound e.m.u. unit which has just halted at Kamshet station. Note the '200' incline indicator (shows a 1 in 200 incline) at the extreme left bottom corner.
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KAM.10 As the e.m.u. leaves Kamshet and disappears around the corner, literally, passengers are seen freely jaywalking and crossing the tracks on their way home. Note the Indrayani river on the left, and the incline indicator at the bottom left corner. KAM.11 Hard work, but with a very scenic background: three railway employees drag a contraption to their work site. The contraption is probably a flash butt welding machine. They implored us to shoot them, which we did. This picture is the result. They have just left Kamshet station: the background is probably only too familiar by now. KAM.12 A gang of railway employees set out on a mechanical push trolley on the up Bombay bound track from Kamshet. Note the red flag, which is probably the only warning the poor souls can give to a speeding train. This inspection trolley is the purely manual, push cart version. Some of the newer units are fitted with a basic 50cc moped engine and feature a canopy for the comfort of their passengers.
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KAM.13 This low shot is of WCAM/3 # 21888 as she  heads towards Kamshet with the Poona bound Shatabdi Express from Bombay. The locomotive is the same which has featured on the cover of Central Railway timetable both in 2000 and 2001. KAM.14 Another shot of the Poona bound  Shatabdi Express as it enters Kamshet. The train was a few minutes behind schedule, and was not running very fast. KAM.15 Another low shot, this time of a Poona bound e.m.u., unit # 212.
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KAM.16 WCAM/3 # 21885 powers out of Kamshet with the Bombay (LTT Kurla) bound  Express from Coimbatore. The slight blurring is due to the APS film format. KAM.17 Three modes of transport: water (no boats on it, unfortunately!), the rails (with a Poona bound e.m.u.), and the old Bombay -Poona road. Note how narrow the road once was, and how close it comes to the tracks at this point. I've travelled to Bombay several times in the 1970s on this road. The new road is at a height behind my brother who is looking at the train. KAM.18 Another action shot: this time the engine of the Bombay bound Sinhagad Express, WCAM/3 # 21939. This was a long distance shot with 210 mm lens at full zoom.
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KAM.19 This panorama shot on my APS camera was compressed by MGI Photosuite.  This picture shows the famed Duke's Nose in the background. In the foreground is the Bombay - Poona rail line emerging from a tunnel. Probably due to our two hour stint on the tracks at Kamshet, not a single train favored us by appearing out of the tunnel when we eventually reached this spot. This spot is very clearly visible as you drive down on the new expressway. Just park on the side, and shoot away! (if you are lucky, of course. We weren't.)

Trackside Signs

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SGN.1 Dash-Circle-Dash: the SIGHTING signboard. This sign means that the next signal can be sighted from this point. However, experienced drivers spot the signals long before they have sighted this 'sighting' sign! SGN.2 INCLINE indicator. The 200 up arrow at the bottom left of this picture indicates an up incline of 1 in 200. SGN.3 SHUNTING LIMIT. This is the point beyong which shunting locomotives should not tread. This sign was just outside the shed at Parel.
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SGN.4 SPEED RESTRICTION: a disastrous shot because of low light and use of fill in flash: the '30' indicates that speed is limited to 30 kmph at this spot. The driver's log book will have indicated this to him in advance as well, nonetheless, this board is there for safety purposes. SGN.5 Two signs side by side: T/P stands for Termination for Passenger Trains, (similar signs are T/G : Termination for Goods Trains and T: Termination.) This means, the speed limit imposed on trains ends there. Here, T/P means the speed limit imposed earlier for Passenger trains has ended here. Some signs also indicate 'resume normal speed'. The other square sign says 'See Phaa' and  is described in the next box. SGN.6 Another view of the T/P (speed limit ends for passenger trains) and the 'See Phaa' (Hindi) sign. The square 'See Phaa' sign means 'Seethi Phaatak' in Hindi. This means, blow your whistle, level crossing ahead. The English version of this sign (also found extensively) reads W/L meaning 'Whistle, Level crossing ahead'.
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SGN.7 A shunt signal just outside the Parel Loco works. Such signals are fitted at waist level on signal posts at the end of the platforms at large stations and are meant for shunting engines, or engines returning light to shed. The 'PR SH7' means 'Parel Shunt Signal # 7'. The two horizontal lights mean 'stop'. For 'go', the top light will come on, and the light on the left will go off. SGN.8 CAUTION sign. The older signs have holes on the left and right yellow panels, where oil lamps are fitted. Nowadays, there are no holes, but luminous paint is used instead, due to which the entire board glows in the dark. SGN.9 INFORMATION sign. This is the clearest I could get: ther was a deep trench in front of my with loose earth along it: one drop and I'd have fallen into the trench. This board reads: ALL DRIVERS TO STOP BEYOND THIS BOARD IS SIGNAL AHEAD IS AT ON'.

<<< IR 150th Anniv., In & Around Bangalore, Madras, Poona

[IR150th Anniv.] [In and Around: Bangalore  Madras (Chennai)  Poona (Pune)  Bombay (Mumbai)] [Scenic, Fairy Tale Kamshet] [Trackside Signs]

Copyright (c) S. Shankar 2002.
Last updated: May 01, 2002
Contact: frontier_mail@yahoo.com

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