by Vivek Manvi
Here is a detailed account of the trip to BRC over the last weekend.
Sachin and I had to go to BRC to meet up with a family friend. It was planned at the last minute and we were happy that we got confirmed reservations in the 9011 Gujarat Express. Our coach was SC-2 (Second Sitting). We met at Borivali station at 06:00 and headed to a restaurant for a quick snack and tea. We reached the platform at 06:15. The train was expected to arrive at 06:24. However, there was no sign of the train even at 06:28. Suddenly, we could make out the marker lamps of an approaching WCAM-1 in the distance. The train arrived at exactly 06:31 and there was a mad scramble of people trying to board the General coaches. We were glad that we had confirmed reservations.
The WCAM-1 gave a long hoot at 06:35 and we were on our way. The weather was cloudy and cool and there was a nice breeze. What a great time to travel!! We soon passed the Vasai Road yard and to our surprise, there was not even a single container rake parked there. Anyway, Virar and the AC-DC neutral zone were passed at 40kmph. As soon as we approached Vaitarna, we could see dark, ominous rain clouds on the horizon. The temperature suddenly dipped and it started to drizzle slowly. The drizzle turned into a heavy downpour as we reached Saphale. It was a great joy to watch the train travel at 100kmph even in such heavy rain.
The rain cleared soon as we were slowing down on the approach to Boisar, our first halt. As soon as the train halted, our train was invaded by hordes of vendors selling all kinds of snacks. The stuff on offer was hot and freshly prepared. We feasted on Medu wadas, Dhoklas and Chai. These guys make roaring business on the 9011 as it is the first train out of Mumbai in the morning and it is also a commuter train. Our hunger satiated, we looked forward to the next leg of the journey.
After routine halts at Dahanu Road and Umargam, we halted at Sanjan near Vapi. This was the station where the 2009 ADI Shatabdi was supposed to overtake us according to the WR Working TT. Sanjan station was nice and quite at that time in the morning. People from our train got down to stretch their legs and stroll around the station. Sachin and I got down and positioned ourselves at the opposite platform with the camera. There is a LC gate just north of the station and it was open. The starter signal on the mainline was red. Within 5 minutes, the starter turned green and we set our sights on the track coming from Mumbai. Just then we saw a WAG-7 approaching from the Vapi side in the distance. The WAG-7 appeared to be traveling at a good speed. At that same time, we could make out a WCAM-2 approaching us from the Mumbai side. We made a quick decision and boarded our coach. Our decision proved right as the WAG-7 reached the station first with the container rake. It was doing atleast 80 kmph. I clicked a quick snapshot of the WAG-7, changed the camera mode from STILL to VIDEO and aimed it at the approaching WCAM-2. It reached us in the next ten seconds. It was a WCAM-2P # 21880 with the 17-coach Shatabdi rake traveling at over 100kmph. Coaches passed us in milliseconds and the entire rake was gone within 20 seconds. The thunder had passed and Sanjan station became quiet again. Content with the treasure, which we had just captured, we went back to our seats. The WCAM-1 sounded its horn after five minutes and we were on our way. We spent the next 15 minutes reviewing the Shatabdi video again and again.
The strong stench of chemical fumes signaled the arrival of Vapi. We were in and out of Vapi in 2 minutes. Although our coach, SC-2 was a fully reserved coach, there was a huge crowd of daily commuters traveling on unreserved tickets/season tickets. Due to this, we could not occupy our rightful place by the door. After Valsad, I dozed off to catch up on my lost sleep. As I had got back from office only at 2am, I had got roughly 3 hours of sleep before leaving home to board the train. There was intermittent rain and sunshine and the train kept a steady pace of 100kmph. I woke up just before Udhna Jn. There was a WAP-4 hauled train waiting at the branch line coming from Jalgaon. Soon we approached Surat and halted at the outer. It was an agonizing wait of 10 minutes especially for standing commuters waiting to alight at Surat. We slowly pulled into platform no. 2. Within 5 minutes, the same train, which was at the Jalgaon-Udhna loop pulled into platform no. 1. It was the HWH-ADI Express hauled by a SRC WAP-4 # 22503. We departed as soon as the HWH-ADI express came to a halt. The crowd had thinned considerably by then and we found our place by the door.
The action between ST and BRC was great with a train passing every 10-12 min. We saw an assortment of WAG-5s and WAG-7s with the occasional BRC WAM-4 thrown in. A LGD WAP-4 hauled train also crossed us. Any ideas which train?? We also saw a blue-cream WDM-2B # 16030 with a track maintenance rake. The shed could not be identified.
The Narmada river bridge at Bharuch was crossed at a slow speed of 40kmph. The run from Bharuch to Vadodara was pretty fast. We finally reached Vadodara at 13:25, 15 min late. Spotted BRC WAP-4E # 22561 with a single-piece windscreen. The huge windscreen gives the WAP-4 a really cool look.
Here is Part 2 of the BRC Trip Report.
After reaching Vadodara, our first job was to secure reservations for the return journey to Mumbai. I had checked the availability charts for all the trains leaving BRC in the evening and at night and all were full except the 2952 Mumbai Rajdhani and the 2954 AK Rajdhani. This was a blessing in disguise and we rushed to the booking counter to book our tickets. We got confirmed reservations on the 2952 and both of us were assigned Lower Berths as requested. We had crossed the 2952 on our way to BRC and it was a conventional rake. This meant that the 2952, which we were going to board, would be the LHB rake. Sachin was overjoyed, as it was his first time traveling on the LHB rake.
After taking care of our work, we returned to the station at 22:00 hrs. The 2951 Mumbai Rajdhani towards NDLS was waiting at Platform no.2 with a BRC WAP-4E # 22553 in charge. Sources at BRC shed had told me that no WAP-5 had come with the Mumbai Rajdhani since the last 10 days. There seems to be a problem with NR's loco allocation off late. Delhi gang, any idea what's happening? Any way, we went ahead and checked out the loco. This one was in the blood red livery with roof-mounted DBRs. The sound of the Rajdhani's Generator car was defeaning.
Finally, the starter turned green at 22:05 and the WAP-4E let out a long blast of its horn. It did not move an inch though. Another blast of the HT and the LT horns and it inched ahead slowly. The Rajdhani crawled graciously out of Vadodara Jn with the WAP-4E in charge. I have shot a nice sequence of the Rajdhani starting out of the station. Will upload it soon.
This was the beginning of a long night of action at BRC. Our train, the 2952 Mumbai Rajdhani had been rescheduled and was expected to arrive two hours late. These seem to be bad days for the Mumbai Rajdhani. First, the LHB debacle, then the bomb threat and lastly its regular delays…
With around 6 hours to kill, we started trainspotting in earnest. BRC sees a heavy rush of trains during the night. It felt as if I was at NDLS, with a train arriving and leaving every 15 minutes.
Here is a list of arrivals and departures at the mega busy BRC station.
- 4708 BDTS-Bikaner Ranakpur Express departed behind a BRC WAM-4E at 22:20.
- 2979 BDTS-Jaipur S/F Express departed behind a BRC WAM-4E # 20635 at 23:00.
- 2953 AK Rajdhani arrived behind a BL WCAM-2P # 21880 at 23:10
- 2953 departed behind a BRC WAP-4E # 22564 at 23:30.
- 2904 ASR-BCT Golden Temple Mail arrived behind a CNB WAP-4 # 22547 at 23:15
- 2904 departed behind a BL WCAM-1 at 23:42
- 2962 Indore-BCT Avantika Express arrived behind a BRC WAP-4E # 22394 at 23:44
- 2962 departed at 00:22.
- 2902 ADI-BCT Gujarat Mail arrived behind a WCAM-1 at 00:10.
- 9017 BDTS-Jamnagar Saurashtra Janata Express arrived behind a WCAM-1 at 00:25 and departed at 00:33.
- 9008 JP-BDTS Aravali Express arrived behind a WCAM-1 # 21805 at 00:32 and departed at 00:38.
- 2955 BCT-JP Superfast Express arrived behind a WCAM-2P # 21877 at 00:56
- 2955 departed behind a BRC WAP-4E # 22542 at 01:15.
- BCT-ADI passenger arrived behind a BRC WAM-4E # 20539 at 00:45
- BCT-ADI passenger departed behind a BRC WAM-4D # 20496 at 01:12.
- 9006 Okha-BCT Saurashtra Mail arrived behind a WCAM-1 # 21829 at 00:55 and departed at 01:02.
- 2961 BCT-Indore Avantika Express arrived behind a WCAM-1 # 21810 at 01:25.
- 2961 departed behind a BRC WAP-4E # 22324 at 01:44.
- 2956 JP-BCT Superfast Express arrived behind a BRC WAP-4E # 22280 at 01:32
- 2956 departed behind a WCAM-2P # 21873 at 01:51.
- The ADI-Varanasi Sabarmati Express with an old VB rake arrived behind a BRC WAM-4 # 20443 with the blue-dark blue livery.
- 5063 Avadh Express arrived behind a BRC WAP-4E # 22344 at 02:15.
- 5063 departed behind a WCAM-1 at 02:38.
- ADI-BCT Passenger arrived behind a BRC WAM-4 # 21324 at 02:50 and departed at 03:06.
At around this time, it was announced that the AK Rajdhani was expected to arrive right time at 04:25. We decided to have a cup uh I mean a kulhad of tea. This was my first time having tea in a kulhad and I must say, I quite enjoyed it. Maybe the tea was good, maybe I was tired or maybe it was the earthy flavor of the kulhad, I enjoyed every sip of it. All the tea/coffee vendors at BRC station had switched over to the kulhads. Amazing how some orders are followed instantaneously. Just then, it was announced that the 2952 Rajdhani was expected to arrive at 05:30, two hours late.
At about 04:00, two WCAM-2Ps - 21877 and 21878 coupled together moved towards the Mumbai end of BRC station. These were the locos for the two Rajdhanis. We quickly found out that the 21877 was to haul the AK Rajdhani and he 21878 would haul the Mumbai Rajdhani. The WCAM-2P # 21877 had brought in the 2955 BCT-JP S/F to BRC. So, this was the loco link for the AK Rajdhani…
At 04:30, there was no sign of the AK Rajdhani. Then, at about 04:35, we could see waist-level headlamps of a WAP-4 approaching. The AK Rajdhani finally arrived, ten minutes late behind a BRC WAP-4E # 22393. After checking out the loco, we strolled on the platform to check out the rake. The coaches were mostly from the 97-98 era. Most of them looked dirty although a couple of them looked shining new. Anyway, the AK Rajdhani departed at 05:00. It was followed by the New Bhuj-BDTS Kutch Express behind a WCAM-1.
It was now almost time for the arrival of the 2952 Mumbai Rajdhani. Sachin was hoping against hope to see it arrive behind a WAP-5. We positioned ourselves at the north end of the station and waited. At exactly 05:30, we could see a loco with a waist-level headlamp closing in from a distance. We put our eyes into 10X Optical zoom to try and find out whether it was a WAP-1, WAP-4 or a WAP-5. As the loco came closer, I could not see the CFL lit driver's cab and large windscreens, so typical of WAP-5s. As the rake entered the platform, we saw the Mumbai Rajdhani was hauled by a CNB WAP-4 # 22300!!! Something seems seriously wrong with NR's loco allocation. However, this was not the first time I had sent the Mumbai Rajdhani behind a CNB WAP-4. No WAP-5, but we were happy that atleast we had the LHB rake. After shooting the sequence of the train entering the platform, we proceeded towards our coach - AS-1.