Short Trip to Surat

by Vivek Manvi

February 2004

IRFCAns Sachin Balwatkar and myself went on a short trip to Surat on Sunday. We had initially planned to obtain reserved seats in the 9011 Gujarat Express, which has recently got an air-braked stock. However, all our hopes were dashed when we found out that the reservation status was WL-91 for the Gujarat Express on Saturday evening. We bought ourselves unreserved general tickets and prepared for the worst.

We reached Borivali station at 6:00am on a pleasant Sunday morning. Here were two rail-fans who had woken up at five in the morning when the rest of Mumbai was fast asleep. Anyway, the 2962 Avantika Express had just arrived on platform no. 5, and there was a fair crowd at the station. The arrival of the 9011 was at 06:27. Two Virar bound EMUs came and left before we could make out the white marker lamps of a WCAM-1 approaching from a distance. Within no time, it arrived. The 9011 Gujarat Express, headed by a WCAM-1 no. 21836. A huge crowd of people tried to get into the already crowded general compartment of the 9011. We decided to board the SC-1 coach and pay the reservation charges to the TTE when he showed up. We plonked ourselves at the door and readied our cameras.

The departure was at exactly 06:33. The WCAM-1 sounded a strange WAP-5 like horn and we were on our way. The first train to cross us was the 9006 Saurashtra Mail behind a WCAM-1. Our driver notched up quickly as soon as we crossed Bhayandar. We were doing around 70-80 kmph in that section. This is when we crossed the Jaipur - Mumbai Superfast Express behind a WCAM-2P.

We saw a couple of freight trains parked at the Vasai Road yard. One of them was behind a WDx loco. This loco was really strange with a blue-grey livery. The name "PRABAL" was marked on its sides. We couldn't really make out the shed name or loco number. Does anybody have any idea about this??

There was some steady running till Nallasopara, after which we slowed down before coming to a complete halt at the outer signal of Virar. A WCAM-1 headed container rake crossed us, followed by a EMU. We started soon after the EMU passed us and within no time, we were at the AC-DC neutral section. The neutral section was crossed at a speed of 40kmph. We picked up speed soon after Vaitarna was crossed. After this, there was hardly any slowing down. The WCAM-1 maintained a steady speed of 100kmph.

We crossed a couple of container trains hauled by a WCAM-1/2. We were waiting for the 2952 Mumbai Rajdhani to cross us. At Palghar, we saw a WCAG-1 hauled container rake parked at the siding. Sachin was focusing his Handy-Cam on the WCAG-1, when suddenly we saw a WCAM-2 approaching in the distance. Within the next three seconds, the WCAM-2P was upon us. It was the Rajdhani, and was doing atleast 110kmph. The entire train passed us in roughly 10-12 seconds. That was some crossing!!!

Our train slowed down as we approached Dahanu Road, where we spotted a blue TKD WAG-7 no. 27634. This is the second time I have seen an AC loco this close to Mumbai. I am told that the AC locos haul the freights right upto Dahanu Road/Saphale from where an AC/DC loco takes over.

Other notable sightings include WAG-7s from Ajni, MGS, and also from LGD!!! We couldn't recognize the LGD loco till it came really close to our train. This was a newer WAG-7 no. 27554 with mid-mounted headlamps. We also spotted a Jhansi WAG-5HB hauling a container rake.

The AK Rajdhani crossed us very slowly headed by a WCAM-2P.

At Vapi, we were put into a siding to allow the 2009 Ahmedabad Shatabdi to overtake us. The Shatabdi arrived on platform no. 1 behind a WCAM-2P no.21875. Both the Generator cars were in the Rajdhani livery. We departed within 5 minutes of the departure of the Shatabdi.

At Valsad, we saw the ADI-BCT passenger arrive behind a BRC WAM-4E 20539. A dead WCAM-2P 21872 was attached behind the WAM-4. Apparently, the loco had failed and was therefore hauled to Valsad behind the WAM-4.

We reached Surat on time. As soon as we got down from the train, there was an announcement that the ADI-Chennai Navajivan Express was expected to arrive on Platform no. 2. We were into our position at the north end of the platform in no time. Very soon, we could hear the piercing horn of a WAP-4. It was an Erode beast, WAP-4 22268. We rushed towards the south end of the platform to catch the action of the WAP-4 starting up. We requested the driver to sound the twin-tone horn and he readily agreed. I have recorded the sound, and will upload it soon.

We spent nearly two and a half hours at Surat station.

We had planned to take the 9216 Saurashtra Express back to Mumbai. As we waited for the train to arrive at the station, a container train arrived behind an Erode WAG-7. The 9216 finally arrived behind a WCAM-1 no. 21805. We boarded the 3AC coach for a much needed rest.

On our way back, we crossed the same WAG-7s we had seen earlier.

At Maroli, we saw a WAP-4 hauled express train approaching us. We were half surprised, half shocked to find out that the train was none other than our counterpart, the 9215 Dn Saurashtra Express. The loco hauling it was a BRC WAP-4E 22335.

I soon learnt that the 9215/9216 get a loco change at Valsad. The halt at Valsad for this pair is 30 minutes. What a waste of time!!! Anyway, we arrived at Valsad on time. Our WCAM-1 21805 was detached and another WCAM-1 no. 21826 took its place. Maybe, the loco link is such that the 9215/9216 are used for locos going to the Valsad shed for maintenance/repairs.

Tired after a half-day's worth of railfanning, I decided to take a nap. Woke up just near Palghar. Crossed the 2951 Mumbai Rajdhani between Virar and Nallasopara. Just when we were entering Borivali station, the 2953 AK Rajdhani crossed us with horns blaring.

Overall, it was a great rail-fanning trip and a nice way to spend a Sunday. Pics will be up soon.:-)

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