Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Virgin Lands II

The sequel of Akash's Post:

Towards the virgin lands beneath Nandigram exp- Part II- J-NED on a full moon night

After I dropped my wife at her hostel at 23.30, still I had enough time. Pleased that I would get some time for railfanning at Jalna (J) station, I directed the autorikshaw driver to take me directly to station.

"Saab, ye waqt konsa train milega aapko?"

Thinking what the hell he would know about Nandigram exp, I chose not to enlighten him too much and gave restricted information, "wo Nanded janewala train hai na raat ko 1 baje"

"Ok saab, wo Nandi express hai na, jo abhi nagpur bhi jata hai, wo hi bolrahe na aap?"

"Hmmm… You must never underestimate anyone. General public also has some awareness about trains", I thought!

As I entered Jalna station, I remembered the same observation I made 3 days ago when getting down in the morning from 1005 Latur exp- The platform has clearly been elevated to its present level in recent past. All the important offices on Pf 1 like parcel off, SM off, TTE off etc are situated at least 2 feet below the Pf level and so you have to climb DOWN each time. And so, all the windows almost touch the Pf levels. This can be seen in the pic-


Is this a remnant effect of earlier MG days?

The first announcement I heard the moment I got in the station was "516 Nanded-Daund Passenger is running 2.10 hrs late and 2730 Nanded-Pune exp running 1.10 hrs late." My reaction was mixed- I was afraid even my train- the 7605 CSTM-NED-NGP Nandigram exp might get late. I was quite tired and wanted to go back to sleep. But I was delighted too, because this meant that due to a single line, both these trains would meet us for crossing after my train started from J.

There was a lot of crowd on the station- seemingly for the 516 passenger. I went to SM office and got to know that 7605 is running right time. On asking coach position, he stared at me from top to bottom and told to check the chart. There was no chart of 7605 on the chart box. But I chose to remain silent. After all, what big deal to find out S5 in a small train!

At 01.15, a faint hooooooooooooorn from far away was followed by a light emerged out of nowhere from behind a curve. Slowly a great looking Pune WDM3A entered the station with its pants and puffs and brought 7605 to halt. I got in the S-5 and found my side lower berth. As I had already predicted from the number 23, it was in the 3 rd bay- which meant an emergency window which could be lifted completely up! Wow, I thought, good for cool breeze and good for tomorrow's photo shoots! I quickly and very sternly rejected the request of a seemingly healthy middle aged man. He was offering me an UPPER BERTH for my Side Lower telling me it would be good for my height! Hehehe, you want breeze, I know you honey, I thought, but YOU DON'T KNOW ME! I want VIEW!!!

I was already getting excited and had by now forgotten the fatigue and sleep I experienced few minutes back on the platform! It was a full moon or at the most one day prior to full moon! The moonlight was adding great "nashaa" to the cool breeze! I had already chained my suitcase and lay flat on the SLB gazing at the stars. The uncle was staring at my activities- "taken out his pen, notepad and lying down without taking out his spects? Whats this man up to?" he must have thought!

Soon a TTE came asking for the occupant of berth no 23. As he checked my ticket, he chuckled, "Sewagram!!! Didn't get any other train or what?" He was really surprised.

I grumpily said, "yeah, why, everyone is getting down at Nanded or what?"

He affirmed to my surprise, "yes, sir, what to do, this train has started running beyond NED only last week na! Nobody knows about the extended run till now"

I put the ticket in my pocket and again started gazing out! Within some 20-25 minutes, the train slowed down, suddenly shifted to a loop line and came to a halt. It was such a tiny station that only after it switched the tracks, did I realize that this is a station- KODI. Now this had to be a crossing- mostly with 2730 NED-PUNE exp going by its late status. I asked the uncle to keep a watch on my shoulder bag and ran to the door. Seeing no sign of the crossing train, I got down on the other side of platform i.e. on the side of the crossing. As there was no sign of anything, to note few things which I couldn't at Jalna, I walked till engine avoiding the curious glances of public from GS & SLR as to why should someone walk past a train at 1.45 AM?

Well, ours was a Pune WDM3A #18764R with LHF alignment. And the rake was arranged in this manner: Loco – SLR – GS – S6 to S1 – AS1 – A1 – GS – SLR. As I walked on the tracks to avoid the stones, some of the public started asking me "kya hua" thinking I was a station staff! Suddenly a light appeared at far and approached with great speed. I was 3 coaches away from S5 and so started walking back. The darkness and the speed made it difficult to check which train it was. But presence of an AC coach and the timing almost confirmed it was 2730. The loco was a WDM- couldn't see WDM2 or 3A, couldn't see the shed too!

I came back fast to my coach and got in. Slept somewhere around 2 am after Usmanpur passed by.

At around 3.15 suddenly I got up due to lot of noise and on enquiry was told that Parbhani Jn is coming. After that I could not resist the temptation of seeing all these unseen sections as I have never traveled anywhere on the whole MMR-NED stretch! And so the 1-1.15 hr sleep I took was all that I could afford! Within half an hour of Parbhani, Purna Jn came. I was thrilled to imagine that this would have been a major hub of MG trains till few months back. Here a passenger rake crossed and speeded past us just as we were entering Purna. I couldn't read the boards but it was headed by a KZJ WDM2 #18268. From the timing, it seemed like 1322 NZM-PUNE passenger.

All through the way, I was intermittently noting the Km distance marks. There were slight discrepancies from the information in SZ TT.

Station Distance ex. MMR- What I saw Whats given in SZ TT

Jalna 176 179

Kodi 194 199

Purna 318 326

Nanded 350 358

I know these might appear too minor differences. But why should there be difference in the actual distance marks and information given in SZ TT.

In this regard, I have 3 queries-

  1. Till when this section was MG? Or was it BG from the beginning? Could this sort of discrepancies arise at the time of Guage conversion?
  2. Was MMR-AWB section built prior to or later to MMR-DD section?
  3. Is there any kind of crossing between the CR and SCR lines at Ankai Killa? Did both the lines follow their present alignment from their inception? Or was there at any time a common path for CR and SCR lines from MMR to Ankai Killa?

Anyway, so finally we reached Nanded (NED) at about 05.20 i.e. some 15 minutes late than the scheduled 05.05 arrival. As the train crawled in the station, Pf came to the side opposite to my berth. So I could see the yard from my berth, and I got to see an unusual sight! On the tracks just next to our train 2 rakes stood one after the other with their engines. Thus it was an arrangement of Engine-rake- some space (hardly 10 meters)- 2 nd engine-end rake! The first rake was KZJ WDM2 followed by NED-SBC Hampi Link exp. Just behind this, there was another KZJ WDM2 with the full rake of 7687/7688 Dharmabad-MMR Marathwada Exp! Behind the loco the rake was SLR – 1 or 2 GS – 6 or 7 chair cars (Non AC) – GS – SLR.

At NED, almost the whole train got empty. Even the staff got down as there was to be a crew change here. I badly needed a walk as my back and legs were sore- nothing I could blame except my own decision to give Side lower berth as priority while booking and then sticking to it even in a relatively less crowded train. I could easily have got any other upper berth where I could have easily and quite comfortably stretched my 6 feet body. But the double mazaa of a side lower berth of a sleeper coach with double view and double cool breeze have always been great temptations- great enough to make me forget my height and the resultant backache on SL berth!

We were on Pf no 3 which came on the side opposite to my side berth. As I got down, I could hear announcements for 6593 NED-SBC Hampi Link exp being made. It was supposed to depart at 06.00 and so was expected to be brought to Pf no 2 soon. As I sipped hot masala ginger tea, slowly the same rake I had seen from my side berth came back crawling and repositioned itself on Pf no 2 and the last coach came just at the place where my coach was there. I decided to take a walk up the 6593 rake till the loco. A quick walk up and down revealed few unusual things:

  • The rake was KZJ WDM2- SLR- S12/S1 – S11/S2 – S10/S3 – S9/S4 – S8/S5 – S7/S6 – AS2 – GS – SLR (marked NED-GTL)
  • Allover the rake, all the coaches contained the boards as 6591/6592 NED-SBC. 6591/6592 is the Hubli (UBL)-SBC part of the Hampi Link express which gets attached to 6593/6594 at Guntakal (GTL). The SZ TT show both the sets of train numbers between GTL-SBC, which means these are treated as 2 different trains which run combined between GTL-SBC. Then why should one rake have the numbers of others when the announcement was done correctly for 6593?
  • The last SLR had a board of NED-GTL! So it must be getting disconnected at GTL. Does that mean the NED part attaches to the front of the UBL part at GTL?
  • If the NED part attaches to front of UBL part, does the loco which hauled 6593 from NED-GTL continues forward? Or is it the loco of UBL part?
  • Why should this train get a KZJ WDM2? My obvious guess would have been a GTL loco or at the most a Gooty one or even KJM at times? Is KZJ a regular loco link?

As I was examining the tiny and cute 10 coached 6593 rake, at about 05.35, 7688 Dharmabad-MMR Marathwada exp arrived on Pf 1 behind a Pune WDM2. The Marathwada rake I had seen was still standing in the yard. What could it be doing in an en-route station? Does Marathwada exp has rake sharing arrangements with some other day train?

Exactly at 06.05 i.e. bang right time, after few long whistles our WDM3A started puffing smoke and moved slowly out of NED station

Check snaps of the trip here: http://www.irfca.org/gallery/Trips/nandigram_akashb/

(to be contd.)...

Please click here for the Legends.

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