Reliving the past: LTT-SBC on the 1013 LTT-CBE Express
by Vivek Manvi
The year was 1997 and I was 20 years old. I was an avid rail-fan even then but never knew about anybody else who shared the interest. My family and I were to travel to Bangalore by the 1013 LTT- Coimbatore Express. We traveled by EMU to Kurla and from there, we took an auto rickshaw to what was then known as Kurla Terminus. We reached there at about 2200 and the rake of 1013 was just being shunted into the station.
We boarded our coach A-1 and settled down in our seats. My berth was Side-Lower but not trackside. The train departed right time at 2235 and after traveling through the long Kurla yard, joined the mainline. The run up to Karjat was pretty uneventful but fast. At Karjat, I could hear the screaming WCG2 bankers even in the air- conditioned coach. When I was a kid, I used to actually get scared by the loud howl of the WCG-2s. Those were the days when there were hardly any AC 2 tier coaches and we used to travel by the non-AC First Class. Anyway, I went to sleep soon after we departed Karjat and woke up just when we were entering Pune. The 1013 entered platform no. 6 at Pune. The time then was around 0200. Our coach came to a halt bang in front of a light post on the platform. The fluorescent light was irritating so I quickly drew the curtains and fell asleep.
It must have been a really sound sleep because I didn't remember waking up any time in between; till the time I started feeling really hot and uneasy. I opened my eyes and noticed that the train was standing at a station. I checked the time and it was 0530hrs. I guessed that we were somewhere between Kurduwadi and Solapur. I opened the curtains and what I saw next shocked me out of my wits. It was the same light post on platform no. 6, Pune station. I sat up startled and discovered that we were still at Pune, stationary for the past three and a half hours. No wonder the coach attendant had switched off the air-conditioner to avoid draining the coach's battery. I lay there on the berth, not knowing what to do. Everyone else in the coach was fast asleep with two-three loud snores coming from behind closed curtains. I looked outside the window; there was hardly anybody on the platform at that hour. Soon, it was 0615 and I decided that I had enough of this. I got up and walked out of the coach. As soon as I got down on the platform, the early morning chill hit me. It was October and it was really cold. Funny, that I was actually sweating in the "air-conditioned" coach just a couple of minutes back.
There were a few early risers from our train who had got down and were strolling on the platform. The TTE was not to be seen and our coach attendant was missing as well. No announcements being made and there was no way to find out what had happened. The rail fan in me knew that there had to be some accident/derailment ahead due to which we were stuck there for the past four hours. Finally restless people from our coach (and others) started coming out on the platform. At about 0700, the confirmation came. There was an announcement that a derailment had happened near Daund and this was causing the delay. It looked like our well-made vacation plans were about to be ruined. I crossed my fingers and hoped that we would be able to continue our journey. My prayers were answered and at about 0745, there was an announcement stating that we would depart soon. The passengers heaved a collective sigh of relief and went back to their respective coaches. We departed Pune at about 0830 after a halt of six and a half hours. We soon had breakfast and I was enjoying the fast run behind a WDM-2. Not for long though coz after an hour and a half of sustained fast running, the train slowed down to a harbour line speed of 30 kmph. Soon, we stopped at a small wayside station. After an unbelievably long halt of 20 minutes, we started again to reach a top speed of 30kmph. This stop-start routine was to continue for the next couple of hours. We stopped at Washimbe station near Daund. This is a neat little station with an open air platform and the station master's office on top of a small hillock next to the platform. After about five minutes, I heard the horn of a WDM-2 from the distance. I stood at the door and saw an express train approaching behind a maroon WDM-2. In those days, AB rakes were just being introduced and even those were maroon in color. It was the Chennai-Mumbai Express behind a Kazipet WDM-2A #17499. The traces of the pista-green livery of the Kazipet loco could be seen at some places.
Anyway, the train passed at around 40kmph with the WDM-2 sounding its horn continuously. We departed soon after and continued our slow 30kmph trundle till we arrived at the derailment site. Our speed dropped further to about 10kmph. I saw that the coaches of the derailed Mumbai - Hyderabad Express were simply lifted and dumped next to the tracks.
Work was on in full swing to repair the track and sleepers. The coaches were AB and I couldn't see any significant damage to any of the coaches meaning that the derailment was not that severe.
We picked up speed for the first time in hours and I was now beginning to enjoy the journey once again. We were now about eight hours late and we would reach Bangalore only the next morning instead of the scheduled time of 2215. Solapur was reached sometime in the late afternoon but I was feeling really tired and exhausted and lay in my berth for the rest of the afternoon. In the evening, the effects of an impending throat-infection and a subsequent bout of cold were becoming evident for me. The dinner on the train was hardly appealing and for the first time in my life, I wanted the train journey to end as soon as possible! I fell asleep really soon and woke up only at dawn the next day. By then, I had a full-blown throat infection and cold. I was feeling miserable in the air- conditioned compartment and so I stood at the door. I could see that we were in AC electrified territory now but couldn't make out where exactly we were. On asking the coach attendant, I came to know that we were approaching Bangalore. The time was about 0700 hrs. Soon, we arrived at Bangalore Cantt and I saw an express train headed by a WAP-1 loco. Couldn't catch the shed name but in all probability must have been AJJ. We moved slowly through the suburbs of Bangalore and I was looking forward to arriving at Bangalore. A couple of BCNA rakes headed by WAG-5s and WDM-2s were crossed and we finally entered Bangalore station at 0730 hours, nine hours late.
Thus ended the longest and most eventful rail journey yet in my life and as we walked over the FOB, I thanked God, we made it till Bangalore. I had learnt on the way that the Udyan Express on the day of our departure from Mumbai had been cancelled!