Ahmedabad to Jalgaon and More
by Abhijit Lokre
Last month, I traveled from Ahmedabad to Jalgaon, then to Aurangabad, Pune, Mumbai and back to Ahmedabad. The trip report for the first leg....
My wife (Shelly) and I were booked by the 8404 Ahmedabad Puri express from Ahmedabad to Jalgaon. Departure time 1800 from ADI. This is a pretty fast train with an impressive halt pattern. We rushed from office (as usual!!!) and managed to reach ADI station by 1750. 8404 was on platform 3. Gujarat Queen (ADI-Valsad) was on platform 1 with a BRC WAP-4 22279 in charge (note: not WAP 4E, so I assume it must be dual braked loco). Waist headlights and in the Rajdhani livery.
We located our coach S6 pretty soon and settled down. We than decided to check if we had sufficient cash to carry us till Aurangabad. We had about 400 with us…just enough, I thought, but still wanted to make a dash for the ICICI ATM in the main concourse. Shelly was horrified at my suggestion and vetoed it at once. Well…..I could not sit still in S6 for long and was soon out on the platform on the pretext of buying some water. Took a walk to check the loco in charge. It was a Bhilai WAM-4 DB 6P in orange and cream livery in charge. Nice livery…..looked very smart. Anyway, I managed to get in S6 at 1800 and at 1801, the loco sounded a long blast and we were off. We were a bit worried if we would be able to get up at 0440 in the morning for Jalgaon, but on checking the list (before I boarded!!), I found that this was a Jalgaon quota coach. So many passengers were supposed to get down there.
Just as we were leaving platform 3, a Ratlam WDM-2 (didn't get the number) with the Nadurbar-Surat-Jamnagar intercity entered platform 2. I has never heard of this train and checked my TAAG. Sure enough, the timing matched that of the Surat-Jamnagar IC express. Looks like there is some rake sharing between the Nandurbar-Surat passenger and the Surat-Jamnagar express. The rake was AB and had one sleeper. The rest were GS. No AC coaches.
As we passed by the trip shed, I saw a variety of loco parked there. Here is the list:
- WAP-4 22503 Santrgachi (the ADI-HWH express power)
- WCAM1 21823
- WCAM1 21820
- WCAM2P 21877
- WAM 4E 20483 from BRC
All WCAM1s in the old cream and red livery.
As we moved ahead, I suddenly saw a LHB liveried WCAM2P 21865 hiding between two locos. This was the first time I saw the WCAM2P in LHB livery and must say it looked horrible!!
Anyway, 8404 accelerated smoothly out of ADI and Maninagar and was soon doing a steady 90-95 kmph. Our co-passengers were some college boys returning to their college in Wardha and a family going to Surat.
The first halt was at Nadiad at 1846 (sch arrival at 1845) and we departed at 1850 (sch dep at 1847). The BRC-ADI intercity was on the adjoining platform headed by a WCAM1 in the blue livery. We passed Anand at 1901. Then we had a veg cutlet (full of beet) and ordered for dinner (egg curry). Vadodara was reached at 1950 (sch arrival 1957) and departure at 2005 (sch dep 2005). An announcement about the late running of the Karnavati express to ADI was being made as we left BRC.
I had been eagerly anticipating the crossings with the 2951 and 2953 Rajdhanis and settled down at the window for it. The 2951 reaches BRC at 2142 and I was expecting to cross it around 2100 just before we reached Bharuch. To my surprise the LHB rake sped by at 2050 itself. It was a beautiful sight to see the well-lit windows and the clean rake. Wow…I thought, the 2951 has a lot of slack here…it is almost 10 mins before time. I settled down for the 2953 then. The 2953 arrives at Bharuch at 2158 and departs at 2200, while 8404 arrives at 2105 and depart at 2107. So imagine my surprise when I saw the train leaving Bharuch just as we pulled in at 2115. 40 minutes before time???? It didn't make sense. I though about it for a few minutes before it struck me that the first crossing must have been the AC special we had discussed some days ago. That meant that the second train was the 2951 and the AK rajdhani was yet to pass. Ok…..that meant that the 2951 was actually 15 minutes late…..and not before time!!!
We left Bharuch at 2116 after a one minute halt. And crossed the mighty narmada immediately after. The next stop was Surat, but before that we crossed the 2953 (finally). But I was disappointed to see the normal Rajdhani rake and not the LHB. I wondered why the AK was still running on the old rakes when the AC special got a LHB rake….any ideas??? Point to note….neither of the three trains had the LHB WCAM2P.
I was supposed to meet a friend at Surat and as the train moved into the platform, I went to the side berth to check out on the platform. To my horror, I saw that the platform was chock-a-block with people. It looked like a mob was about to enter the whole train!!!! As the train lurched to a halt at 2222 (sch arr 2220), I had to abandon all ideas of a leisurely stroll and chat with my friend. There was no way I could have moved out of my place. In a few minutes, the compartment descended into complete chaos. It seemed as if,more than 200 people had confirmed reservations in S6 and Shelly and I watched the whole thing in amazement. We put up our berth and some luggage on it to demarcate our space!!! At 2235 (sch dep 2230), the train moved out. The 200 people had miraculously dwindled to about 100 and we relaxed a bit. I decided to check out the loo and after a obstacle course involving a table fan, a trunk, some mattresses and humans reached the loo only to find that somebody had thoughtfully placed a shoe rack in the space between the two toilets. After maneuvering my way thru this last obstacle, I could access the not-so-clean toilet and heave a sigh of relief!!! The return trip involved much of the same tripping and jumping, but I made my way back. Shelly decided to give this particular trip a miss and preferred to retire for the night!!!
Meanwhile, the train crawled thru Surat suburbs and Udhna before diverting to the Udhna-Jalgaon line. It crawled thru for about a km or so before picking up speed. I was thru for the day and made myself comfy on my lower berth (but of course!!). pretty soon, the space between the two berths was occupied by a WL passenger and the whole compartment drifted off to sleep.
My mobile alarm was set for 0430 and I awoke to find the train standing still just before it joins the Mumbai-Bhusawal mainline. It crept thru onto the mainline and stopped just outside the platform. Exactly at 0440, it halted on platform 1 at Jalgaon and we alighted. We freshened up at the waiting room before taking a autorickshaw for the ST stand for a bus to Aurangabad. Aurangabad is about 150 km from jalgaon and we managed to get the 0500 bus which left at 0530 and reached Aurangabad at 0900 via Ajanta...checked in and hopped onto an auto the enjoy daulatabad and Ellora caves....
Hope you all enjoyed the report. Leg 2 involving Aurangabad-Pune by bus, Pune-Mumbai by the 2128 intercity and Mumbai ADI by 2901 follows…..
Daulatabad and Ellora were the highlights of the Aurangabad trip. Anybody still to visit these places should certainly make a point to see them.
Now, the question was…..how do we get to Pune from Aurangabad….my destination was Ahmedabad, but with no direct trains available from Aurangabad and the link from Jalgaon at an inconvenient time for us, we had earlier decided to go via Pune/ Mumbai. The Ahimsa was full (when I tried it on the irctc site a month back) and so we decided to go to Mumbai and then board the 2901. Fortunately, 2901 Gujarat mail had RAC available. (in 2901, anything below 200WL generally gets confirmed!!!). So Aurangabad-Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad it was….
I checked at the AWB railway station for tkt avbl for 2128 from Pune and was found there were about 80 seats available. Didn't book cause there was a line!!!! Decided to get in done in Pune..At AWB booking office, a device to check availability status is kept in the foyer. You type in your train number and date of travel and get availability status. The interface is just like the screens in front of the booking clerk….never seen it before…..but was most impressed…
Pune-Auranagabad is 220 km by road via Ahmedanagar….a very good road and takes about 4.5 to 5 hours. After attending a reception in AWB (the real reason for the trip), we had a choice of leaving by the midnight Asiad or the early morning Nagpur-Pune Volvos. (0430-0530 was supposed to be the peak time). Accordingly, we managed to get a sleeper air suspension bus at 0600 and were in Pune by 1100. I really wanted to take the Nanded-Pune tri-weekly express (leaves AWB at 0030 and arrives PA at 0820, via Manmad, Daund), but the day didn't match….
The idea was to spend some time in Pune with friends and then take the 2128 intercity. I had heard of the reservation after charting facility at Pune and accordingly tried to locate the window at Pune station. After an irritating running round for the correct window (window number 30 for those of you who need to book at the last minute), I managed to locate the right window. Around 30 seats were available to my relief (!!!). I desperately wanted to go by this train and not Indrayani as this is the fastest train betn Pune and Mumbai..and would also drop me off at Dadar at 20.37 giving me ample time to cross over to Dadar W to board the 2901 at 22.05
The Vasco bound Goa express was on platform 1 and left at 1725. one 2AC and 3 sleeper and one GS coach for Hubli at the Mumbai end of the train….1077 Jhelum express on platform 2
Anyway, 2128 was shunted on platform 1 at 17.45. to my surprise, the SLR coach said Azad Hind express and the rest was in the normal CR day train livery (the Azad hind coach was detached and shunted out). Another surprise was that SC1-SC4 were reserved while the rest were unreserved. Not much rush for the train…it was reasonably full. We were off at 1800 sharp and soon picked up speed. Overtook a lonavla bound local at Pimpri/Chinchwad (don't remember) and then we really took off. The scheduled arrival time at Lonavla is 18.46 and we were there at 18.50…an average speed of 90kmph. A minute later we were off and after the mandatory halts in the ghats sped through Karjat and into Mumbai suburban territory. 2128 is really fast….I have traveled many times on this route on the DQ, Pragati and Indrayani and nothing could beat this.
Kalyan and the Mumbai bound Geetanjali was passed at 20.13 at about 30kmph and then we accelerated thru Dombivli and Diva. Thane arrived at 20.31, 16 minutes behind schedule. Half the train alighted here and we were off in half a minute. By the way, the halt at Thane makes tremendous sense for Pune trains. 2.5 hours to 3 hours for most trains beats road travel anyday…(I lived in Thane and study in Pune for many years and at that time Deccan express, Indrayani express, Sinhagad express did not have a stop here. Deccan exp used to stop only in the Mumbai direction.)
Thane to Vidyavihar was another fast run before we slowed down before Kurla. A very slow crawl thru Kurla and then a medium fast clip saw us enter Dadar at 20.50. Shelly didn't seem to have any idea of the amount of time the train would stop. I was busy gawking at the Kolhapur Mumbai Koyna express which is overtaken here, with the result that we just about managed to scramble out on the platform. As we picked ourselves up, the loco gave a short blast and was off. Again half a minute….
We walked out of Dadar onto a road jammed with taxis. After refusing some taxi drivers who wanted to take me to Ghatkopar, Borivili and Panvel, we set off for dinner. Shelly wanted to try some fish, but with a rucksack on my back, I was not very keen on long walks around dadar sniffing for fish…..and we settled down at open air restaurant across the street for Dosa and Pavbhaaji. At 2140, with a full stomach (and rucksack)we started the longish walk to Dadar West. As we crossed the overbridge, the 1003 Mumbai Nizamabad Devgiri express departed and the 2322 Howrah Mail was announced.
We took the southernmost overbridge which to my horror didn't lead directly to platform 5 of dadar West. We had to climb down from a point between central and West and dodge around some construction waste, before finally hitting a narrow road which led to an even narrower entrance to platform 5. Whew!!!! The ADI Shatabdi thundered past as we entered the platform.
As we had a RAC ticket, we had to check the charts. We were in EX 1. The announcer started giving the position of bogies…but EX1 did not figure in her list. After listening to the announcement in English, hindi and marathi and failing to find any mention of EX1, we approached a porter who guided us to the north end of the platform. S4, S5, S6, S7 and S8 were parked on a siding. People with reservations in these bogies had made themselves comfortable inside. S4 was a 04xxx coach, very well lit and clean. Manufacturing month was August 2004. Side tables and mirrors on the walls…..
2901 headed by WCAM2P 21871 in LHB livery pulled in at 22.15. Two points struck me about the LHB livery. One…this is a really horrible scheme. The grey is dull…tending more towards black and not silver….the paint job is bad… two, no wonder the Rajdhanis do not get the LHB WCAM2Ps. All of them seem to be doing duty on non-rajdhani trains!!!
Shelly was insistent that she would do the railfanning this time while I would be responsible for boarding with the luggage and locating our seats. 2901 came to a halt; EX1 was the first bogie with a big crowd inside. Here we go again…I thought. However, as soon as the train stopped, most of the people inside alighted and rushed to the S4-S8 parked on the opposite side. Ok….....they had reservations there and had merely adjusted in the other coaches from Mumbai Central to dadar!!!
Well…with nothing much to do inside the coach, I decided to pull down our berths, arrange the bedding and wait for Shelly. We had the MB and the UB ;-(. Shelly came to the window all excited about the happenings in the front. The WCAM2P had pulled out with the SLR coach and attached itself to S4 to S8 and then came back to the mainline to back up and complete the train.
We left dadar at 2235. We had some old folks for company and they got irritated with the lowered MB. Could not loose face now and so both of us clambered onto our berths and believe it or not were fast asleep even before Borivili!!!
Got massively cold in the night and with my mattress shifting around, the cold rexin ensured I had a miserable time on the UB. Anyway, I got up at Maninagar (0630), where the Chennai bound Navjeevan crossed us) and soon enough, at 0640, 2901 pulled into platform 1 at ADI. Came out into the clamor of autorickshaw drivers offering all kinds of fares, we finally settled down in one and were off to home…
Hope you all enjoyed the report.