2951 Rajdhani to Delhi: Trip Notes
by Shashanka Nanda
Just arrived back in Delhi today after a 2 month stay in Mumbai. Before I start, a word of thanks to the Pune & Mimbai gangs for making this trip memorable. I left 21st evening by 2951 Rajdhani Express. Since my coach A3 was towards the rear of the train and I had quite a bit of luggage, I didn't do my customary loco check. Anyways the train departed at 1656 by the platform digital clock and after crawling through the points we hit the fast Mainline and while passing the Mahalaxmi EMU carshed, I noticed an EMU car half finished in silver-primer, the strange thing was that the cab had a slanting profile as compared to the vertical one of the normal EMU. It could have been an MEMU as well, but then how did it get to Mahalaxmi? Does the car-shed deal with AC customers as well?
We picked up speed and were doing around 50kmph while passing Lower Parel where ol' pal Vivek Manvi was waiting to wave me goodbye... Earlier on the phone with him.. I learnt that the Bandra (BDTS) - Patna (PNBE) Express had left behind a WDM3A and he advised me to watch out as we overtook it. Crossing the Kandivili EMU car shed, I saw one brand new EMU cab which had a white top half and a deep blue bottom half, very different from the pics Prakash had put up recently. This EMU too had a single piece full width windscreen like the Hyderbad MMTS locals. Reaching Vasai Road yard, I saw my first ever SC locos in Mumbai namely a Kanpur WAG7 and a Valsad (BL) WAG5 along with 2 WCAG1s from Kalyan hauling BCNA rakes. Crossed an incoming passenger just outside Virar as we switched from DC to AC after which I moved indoors to watch the countryside speed by from my trackside side lower seat. Just before Palghar, while we were doing 100 plus the Raj came to an abrupt halt... there was a flurry of activity right outside my coach and I too got down to inspect. Reason: No water flowing in any of the taps in my coach. A quick inspection on the underside of the coach showed the culprit - A closed valve. There is a 1hp motor under the coach which pumps water into the overhead tanks... there is an outlet valve next to it which regulates the water flow along with a bank of slide valves in a panel next to the washbasin... some quick modifications and voila!! there was water again:o)
This disruption caused a 10min odd delay which was augmented by a slow crawl from thereon to Palghar after which we truly hit 120kmph. Apart from intermittent caution orders the driver kept a fairly fast pace though we were about 15mins behind schedule as we crossed the Mumbai bound Surat (ST) - Bandra (BDTS) Express which is one peculiar train. It doesnt have any SLR, but Jan Shatabdi Second CC = Guard vans, it also has one Jan Shatabdi style Second Seating, One FC Chair Car plus normal GS coaches with seats aligned bus style!!
Reaching Vapi I saw a the LHB design Self generating rake headed towards Mumbai... the 14-15 coach rake was without a loco and peculiarly had an AC coach at each end next to the SLRS and was without a loco!! IRFCAn Bharat Moro was waiting for me at Atul station as we thundered past at over 100kmph... after which darkness fell and I curled up in my seat reading the adventures of young Jim Hawkins aboard the Hispaniola. Mix Vegetable soup was served, which was a welcome change from the staid tomato soup I was used to... and shortly after crossing ST (8 mins late) we were served dinner.
The Veg meals that I had ordered had Jeera roti (instead of Rumali), Palak Paneer, Yellow Dal & Pulao along with the curd (real bad) and pickle.... The track between ST and Baroda (BRC) has very high lateral movements and gives me a jittery time always while the Raj hurtles down at 120kmph. We reached BRC some 10mins late and I jumped off to check out the loco change. On PF1/2 the Indore bound Shanti Exp stood as its Ratlam WDM3A (in DMW livery) reversed. The WCAM2P #21874 hauling the 2951 cut off and moved away while a WCAM1 brought in the rake of the BRC-BCT Superfast rake on PF5. This was followed by my trains loco, which turned out to be yet another WAP4 (BRC #22351). My bad luck with the 2951 continued... till date I have travelled 5 times on the 2951, 4 times we got a WAP4 and once a WAM4!! When will I see a WAP5 on this train:o(
Moving on from Baroda... we crawled painfully through the rather large road, while I exchanged my berth with a couple and got a full size lower berth for myself:o) The AC was rather warm and I slept without even taking a bed sheet, while many passengers had wrapped themselves in thick blankets!! My sleep was very fitful as the numerous jerks (the LHB specialty) made it impossible to sleep beyond half an hour on a stretch... many times I woke up with a startke thinking we had hit something!!
Anyways, I woke up at 0630 and found ourselves at Gangapur city.. standing on the mainline... we were there for a few minutes after which we rumbled at about 40 kmph where we overtook the culprit...a slow moving container rake behind a Valsad WAG5!! The entire runt o Mathura was made up of fast 130kmph bursts coupled with 40kmph crawls due to slow trains ahead. At Bayana, I saw Baroda's star loco the Rajhans (#22540) standing forlornly in a siding and at Bharatpur we overtook the famed Palace on Wheels (Another culprit). The 21 coach rake looked majestic as rich oldies (One looked like a Texas oil baron complete with his 10 gallon hat and cigar) trooped pff to be welcomed with the traditional tilak and aarti... At the helm of the train was a lone WDM2 (#16603 from TKD) rather than the usual twin locos....
We reached Mathura (MTJ) about 20mins late and crawled at 15kmph through the yard. The Dakshin Express towards Hyderabad was leaving the platform headed by WAP4 #22511 from Lallaguda. On the platform, the Ernakulam bound Millenium Express waited with an AJJ WAM4PE #21233. The rake also had 2 milkvans at the end. From the looks of people on the platform, it looked as if the Millenium Exp. was waiting there for a long time!! Does the Dakshin overtake the Millenium at MTJ? If so, then it's probably the only train that the Dakshin would ever overtake!! Another strange thing about the Dakshin was that its VSKP link coaches were marked as SECR and not ECoR. I thought that the link was an East Coast Rly train & not SE Centrals... anybody clarifiying here? The entire goods yard was stark empty except for a loco less BCN rake while MTJ's famed OHE car 'Brij Sundari' /users/shanky/general/ohe-mtj.jpg has been painted in a sick looking cream-green color much like the Delhi EMUs though it retains its name thankfully...
The burst crawl mode of the Raj continued till Palwal, where we caught up with the another culprit.. the Paschim Express which was headed by BRC WAP4 #22324. I have noticed something... ever since the formation of the WCR by splitting WR, the Raj's do not get the same preference as they used to get earlier... they lose a lot of time on the BRC-Kota-MTJ run, and MTJ-NDLS is anyways a bugbear! Forget running 130, running 100 plus for more than 15 mins on this track is a miracle these days!!
Reaching Tughlakabad we weere made to crawl around a freight on the mainline, while I spotted a Jhansi WAG5HB numbered 23865 in maroon livery!! This is very strange since WAG5HBs are all in 24XXX series and come in BHEL colors of grey-red-cream and have a large BHEL builder plate.. this one looked totally like a CLW loco!! Rabi Da, any thoughts??
Reaching Nizamuddin (NZM), I spotted a brand new rake belonging to the newly inaugurated Chattisgarh Sampark Karnti which had just finished its maiden run. It was hauled by a bright looking and highly decorated Bhilai WAM4 #21206 which had 'SAMPARK KRANTI' painted in bold on the sides!! In the NZM yard, BRC single windscreen WAP4 #21562 readied with the Trivandrum Rajdhani... New Delhi was arrived finally at 1030 a full 35 mins behind schedule, which has become more or less a norm these days...