Dadar to Thivim by 2051 Madgaon Jan Shatabdi
by Vivek Manvi
Photos from this trip can be viewed here: Goa Trip
My wife and I wanted to escape the madness that Mumbai is during summer. We decided to take a Friday off and head to Goa for a short weekend trip. We booked our tickets on the 2051 DR - MAO Jan Shatabdi and I was really looking forward to the trip as it was going to be my first time on Konkan Railway. I wanted to experience a ride on one of the fastest diesel hauled trains in the country and there were only a few days left to experience this magic. KR's monsoon timetable was to come into effect soon and I was lucky to have booked tickets on a day prior to this!
We reached Dadar (CR) station at 04:00 and were surprised to see the station buzzing with activity even at this hour! There were a steady stream of incoming mail/express trains into Mumbai. There were atleast eight arrivals in a span of an hour and fifteen minutes. By contrast, Dadar Terminus looked pretty desolate with only a few people sleeping peacefully on the platform. The rake of the 1058 Amritsar-Dadar Express was parked at platform no. 8 behind WCAM-3 #21947. It was terribly warm even at this early hour. When will the rains hit Mumbai? was the only question in everyone's mind at that time. Although my wife was bored sitting there, I was constantly entertained by the continuous arrivals of the long distance trains. At about 04:50, the rake of the Jan Shatabdi was shunted into platform no. 7. We walked to our coach - SC1 whose number was 03605AB. I was surprised to see a '03 built coach on the MAO Jan Shatabdi. The lights inside the coach were not switched on yet, so we waited a little longer on the platform. In the distance, I could see a diesel loco being attached to the rake and this made me impatient. Finally the coach lights were switched on and we found our seats. Although, we had a window seat, it was a rear facing seat and the window was partially blocked by a column. This was not the way I was going to make my first journey on KR and I vowed to find another seat for us.
I now decided to check out the JS rake and the loco. It was a 9- coach rake and the coach composition was: SL-1, C-1, SC-1 to SC-6, SL-2, Loco. I am surprised why CR does not attach a second AC Chair car to this ever popular train! Even during the off season, the AC Chair Car coach showed a huge waiting list. Comparatively, the second sitting coaches SC-3 and SC-4 were fairly empty and I eyed them for finding an alternate accommodation for the both of us. The JS rake has a mix of the original '02 built coaches and the newer '03 built JS coaches with larger windows and seats facing both directions. The loco hauling our puny 9-coach train was ERS WDM-2C #14051. The loco was idling with a low rumble and the drivers were making their final preparations for departure. On asking, the driver told me that the MPS on the CR section was 105kmph and on KR, it was much higher. After taking a good look at the loco, I headed back to the coach. We decided that we would shift to either SC-3 or SC-4 well before KR territory begins. At exactly 05:35, the WDM2C sounded its horn and we were on our way. The points were negotiated slowly and the loco throttled up as soon as we crossed Matunga station. The 9-coach load was nothing for the 3100HP WDM2C and we were doing nearly 90kmph by time we crossed Sion. Surprisingly, we speeded through Kurla at 80kmph which meant that the work on the subway at the north end of the station is now finished. We blasted through the eastern suburbs of Mumbai as dawn broke. The throbbing of the Alco engine and the horn made for some fine music early in the morning for me. As for my wife, well she fell asleep as soon as we departed Dadar! The coach was only 40% occupied but I knew that it would be full at Thane. We slowed down on the approach to Thane and came to a halt at 05:55. As soon as we stopped, a massive crowd of people got in pushing and jostling with each other to find their seats. It was like traveling on a Mumbai EMU during the peak hour. An elderly Bengali gentleman sitting next to us, who was a regular on this train shook his head and commented, "These people will never improve" At 06:00, we started from Thane. The loco accelerated at a leisurely pace and we were doing only 50kmph when we entered the Parsik tunnel at 06:05.
We slowed down after crossing the tunnel and came to a halt at the approach to Diva station. Our train was stationary bang in the middle of the beautiful curve at this location. Soon, a WCAM-3 led express train blasted past us at 90kmph. The train was gone in seconds and left behind a trail of dust. There was no way anyone could have figured out its name sitting inside the coach. After a wait of nearly ten minutes, we got the signal to cross the mainline tracks and enter Diva station. We crossed Diva Jn at 06:17 and at a speed of 30kmph. The Diva-Savantwadi passenger was stationed on the adjacent platform headed by ED WDM-2 #18533. We picked up speed thereafter and maintained a constant 80kmph through Nilaje, Taloje and Navde before slowing down near Kalamboli. A maroon WAG-5 headed container train crossed us between Taloje and Navde. At Kalamboli, I could see the yellow and green BCC rake stationed inside the compound of the yard. I was wondering what loco would have hauled the rake till Kalamboli and I did not have to wait long. We slowed down further on the approach to Panvel. As we were just about to enter the platform, I saw a blue-grey WDG-4 parked right outside platform no. 1. It was WDG-4 #12035, cab facing towards Diva. The loco was idling with the crew inside. This was the loco that must have hauled the BCC rake all the way upto Kalamboli!
We came to a halt at 06:40 and I resisted the temptation of sprinting down the platform and clicking more pics of the WDG-4. We departed at 06:45 and crossed a container train headed by an Ajni Tigerface WAG-7. I was heading into this territory for the first time and I was getting restless as the TTE was nowhere in sight. The single AC electrified track towards Jasai/JNPT veered sharply towards the right whereas the track towards Karjat ran parallel to us for some time before climbing up a slight gradient and diverging to the left. We were trundling along at a speed of around 60kmph and crossed the Roha-Diva passenger headed by KYN WDM-2 #18560 at the first station out of Panvel. I finally managed to convince the TTE and we moved to coach SC-3 and got nice forward facing seats. Pen was crossed at 07:30. The speed in this section never crossed 80kmph. We overtook a couple of freights headed by Guntakal WDM-2s and KYN WDG-3A. We went through a tunnel at 07:58 before Roha. Roha was passed slowly at 08:05. We were now entering Konkan Railway territory and I was ready for the action. The speed went up dramatically and Kolad, Indapur and Mangaon were all passed at 105kmph. After Mangaon, I clocked the speed at 110kmph! There were hardly any lateral oscillations even at that speed quite in contrast to the CR section till Roha. The KR authorities have done a fantastic job in maintaining the track. Goregaon Rd (and not Goregaon, WR) was passed at 08:32. Sape Wamane was crossed at 08:40. I then spotted the wreckage of the Matsyagandha Express which had derailed after hitting a boulder last monsoon. The skeletal remains of the ERS WDM-2 #18320 was also seen.
The rock cutting at this place is really sharp and narrow and the fact that we were doing 100kmph was quite scary. KR has covered the entire hillside with strong steel mesh. Karanjadi station was passed at 08:46 and the 4.3km long Natuwadi tunnel was passed at 08:58. As this was my first time on KR, the tunnel seemed never ending! Also, the WDM-2C was doing 100kmph through the tunnels as well and I am used to speeds of 50kmph through the tunnels of Bhore and Thull ghats. One can actually feel the ear popping as the train enters a long tunnel at high speed. In addition to this, the smoke from the loco fills up the coach and is quite disturbing for some folks. I on the other hand was enjoying the diesel smoke and the high speed run. I also noticed that the "ear popping effect" is more when sitting near the windows rather than standing at the door. This maybe because the air is forced at a higher speed through the windows as compared to the door. Throughout its run on KR, the JS passes through some great scenery - rivers, viaducts, tunnels and curves. You name it and the route has it. It's a real treat to the eyes!
Khed was passed at 09:10 where we crossed the Ratnagiri-Dadar passenger headed by KYN WDM-2 #18163. After a nice speedy run through some spectacular scenery, we arrived at Chiplun, our first halt in KR territory at 09:30, 7 minutes late.
The departure was at 09:34 and we crossed the NZM bound Mangala Express headed by an ERS WDM2 at 09:45. Sangameshwar was passed at 10:08 and then began the series of some really long tunnels. Here are some of the names and lengths of tunnels that I could note:
- Ambed tunnel - 1.2km
- Parchuri tunnel - 2.73km
- Ukshi tunnel - 872m
- Karbude tunnel - 6.506km!!
The Karbude tunnel was the longest that we experienced. Also, as the tunnel had a speed restriction of 30kmph, it seemed never ending. The engineering marvel that Konkan Railway is becomes quite evident as one encounters these tunnels. As someone had said before, KR's motto seems to be - if there is an obstacle, go through it rather than go around it! Bhoke was passed at 10:35 and we slowed down on our approach to Ratnagiri. We finally arrived at Ratnagiri at 10:40. We were now running 18 minutes late! The LTT bound Netravati also arrived at Ratnagiri at 10:45, headed by what else - an ERS WDM-2C #14030!
The departure was at 10:47 and we picked up speed instantly. Adavli, Vilawade and Vaibhavwadi were all passed at 100kmph. At Nandgaon, we blasted past a Ro-Ro rake headed by a KYN WDG-3A. We arrived at Kankavli at 12:08 and departed at 12:10. We were steadily losing time and now we were running half an hour late. At Sindhudurg, we crossed the CSTM bound Mandovi Express headed by a KJM WDMx loco. The arrival at Kudal was at 12:35. I spotted a cute looking blue colored track inspection vehicle belonging to KR. This small diesel powered vehicle was also fitted with the Anti Collision Device.
We depated Kudal at 12:38, forty minutes late. After Kudal, the terrain is relatively flat and the JS was traveling at a very high speed. I stood at the door with the stopwatch and measured the speed of the train over varying distances. The average speed over a 5km stretch was 114.5kmph and the top speed clocked was 117.5kmph. Not bad for a diesel loco on a single line! Savantwadi Road was passed slowly at 12:50 and we picked up speed again. This time, we went even faster, with the average speed clocked over a 5km stretch was 117kmph and the top speed clocked was - hold your breath - a hefty 118.7kmph!! This was the fastest diesel run ever in my life. We crossed over into the state of Goa and our first halt, Pernem came at 13:00.
The scheduled halt at Pernem was just two minutes, but our train had been stationary for a longer duration. I knew that this had to be a crossing. Throughout the journey, other trains were made to wait for our Jan Shatabdi to cross and this was the first time we were made to wait for another train to cross. This could mean only one thing - The TVC-NZM Rajdhani was about to cross us. One look at my watch confirmed this. I rushed to the door on the opposite side and waited. I could see a green colored WDP-2 approaching us from the distance. With its horns blaring, the 14-coach TVC Rajdhani headed by GOC WDP-2 #15534 crossed us at a speed of about 50kmph. The front Generator car was in the dual Rajdhani-Shatabdi livery whereas the rear one was in the Shatabdi livery. The roar of the Generator cars could be heard for a long time after the train was gone.
The departure from Pernem was at 13:07. After a quick sprint, we arrived at our destination - Thivim at 13:15, exactly one hour fifteen minutes late!
What a run this was - diesel smoke, long tunnels, spectacular scenery, high speed crossings and a top speed of 118.7 kmph! It's a diesel lover's dream come true!