“NIGHT AT MANMAD” – Part 2 of 3

ACTION-PACKED NIGHT AT MANMAD JN

Continued from part 1…

First Impressions at Manmad…

As we laid our first steps on MMR pf6 around 23.20, we were pretty much surprised by the unexpectedly cool atmosphere. However our enthusiasm shot through the roof once we realized the whole bunch of trains expected at various platforms. Although we spent the next one hour to figure out the track layout, I should probably brief you about it here before going on.

Looking from left to right while arriving from Mumbai,

  • A stabling line
  • Pf1 (mostly for loco change for trains towards Bhusaval [BSL])
  • A mini-length dead-end line for stabling locos to be coupled to pf1 trains
  • Pf2 (down through line towards BSL)
  • Pf3 (up through line towards Mumbai)
  • A mini-length dead-end line for stabling dead locos, especially WCAM-3
  • Pf4 (up loop line for trains towards Mumbai)
  • A couple of freight stabling lines
  • Pf5 & Pf6 (for terminating trains and trains from/towards Daund or Aurangabad, which may also involve loco change/reversal)

Too much of action to cover…

11077 Pune-Jammu Tawi (JAT) Jhelum Exp had already arrived on pf1 with Pune WDM-3D 11367 and WDM-3A 18748R combo. The combo then detached itself and moved ahead, and within minutes GZB WAP-4 22667, earlier stabled at the stabling line between pf1 and 2, reversed itself to couple to the rake. Indeed the first loco change seemed quite exciting. It appeared quite relaxed compared to the ones happening at IGP. On the other extreme end, the WCAM-3 21890 having brought our Rajyarani had found some other place to rest. A diesel shunter flexed its muscles just before midnight to have the rake of our Rajyarani pushed to the yard. The interesting part of this whole process was that the diesel combo reversing to another line, the GZB WAP-4 approaching the rake of 11077, the WCAM-3 moving to resting place and shunting of the rake of Rajyarani were all taking place simultaneously!

Around 23.35, 51421 Pune-Nizamabad (NZB) Passenger arrived on pf6 carrying a huge crowd. Suddenly the platform started bustling with activity. A short halt of around 15mins was enough to see it off. At the same time 18030 Shalimar (SHM)-LTT Exp had arrived on pf3 behind a Howrah (HWH) WAP-4 and soon proceeded ahead. Pf5 now welcomed 12150 Patna (PNBE)-Pune SF with a Bhilai (BIA) WAG-5A, making it the first offlink of the day! The stabling line between pf1 and 2 was now occupied by AJNI WAP-7 30304 in anticipation of 12113 Pune-Nagpur Garib Rath.

Around 23.40, the pf2 starter turned green and against all odds, a WAG-5 23082 and WAG-7 27xxx headed freight blasted its way through MMR just preceding Vidarbha Exp. Within the next 5mins, the sparkling rake of 12105 CSTM-Gondia (G) Vidarbha Exp made a grand entry into pf2 led by BSL WAP-4 22831. Although people in most of the coaches were in deep slumber, the situation on the platform was totally contradictory. A good number of passengers were somehow wrestling each other with their luggage in a bid to enter the coaches. It was not a surprise at all with respect to a premier train on a Saturday night. The halt easily extended to around 6min after which a superb show of acceleration saw the tail light disappearing rapidly. Soon after 12105, the already delayed 11077 was allowed to proceed ahead. The Ghaziabad workhorse gave out a soothing twin-tone honk declaring its willingness to discharge its responsibilities for the next 1595km and started rolling. Around 23.55, 12150 also departed towards Pune. We missed its loco change but nevertheless much more was in store ahead.

Things slow down, literally…

Around 00.00, 12113 Pune-Nagpur (NGP) Garib Rath Exp entered pf1 behind Gooty (GY) WDM-3D 11350. At the same time 12130 HWH-Pune Azad Hind Exp quietly entered pf6. A lazy decoupling process of 12113 on pf1 dimmed our immediate interest in it and we scaled the FOB towards pf6 as soon as possible. Once we walked the entire length of the platform towards the other extreme end, a tired BSL WAP-4 22928 was waiting to be decoupled. The LP stood aside on the platform waiting 15min for decoupling staff to attend his train! Once decoupled it was rewarded with the same diesel twins that brought 11077 Jhelum exp. After another 10-15min it could finally roll ahead. 12810 HWH-CSTM Mail arrived on pf3 with a Santragachi (SRC) WAP-4 and soon left.

Around 00.25, we managed to cross tracks and enter pf3/4 from a secluded end. An RPF constable approached us, but was dealt with quite easily. I should say RPF patrol is quite frequent and spread out across all platforms. However we did not miss 12289 CSTM-NGP Duronto, led by an unclean AJNI WAP-7, blasting through pf2. Truly an amazing 110km/h blast and even more amazing because it was a rarity!

Around 00.30, 11402 NGP-CSTM Nandigram Exp arrived on pf4 and in the next few mins, it underwent a loco change where WCAM-3 21899 took charge.  Around 00.40, GZB WAP-1 22049 with 12137 CSTM-Ferozpur (FZR) Punjab Mail completed its 2-min halt on pf2. Around 00.50, 12111 CSTM-Amravati (AMI) SF with WCAM-3 21961 passed through MMR at a sedate speed of under 80km/h, against our expectations of 105. Around 01.05, a surprise gatecrasher 12781 Mysore (MYS)-Hazrat Nizamuddin (NZM) Swarna Jayanti Exp with Krishnarajapuram (KJM) WDM-3A 14007R arrived on pf2, thus blocking the expected pass through of 12101. The technical halt easily stretched to 12min. Around 01.08, 12130 could finally proceed towards Pune after being stationary for 60min.

Just as 12781 cleared the through line, around 01.20 12101 LTT-HWH Jnaneswari Exp led by SRC WAP-4 22577 put up a subdued skip of MMR as it was closely trailing the former. Around the same time 17058 Secunderabad (SC)-CSTM Devgiri Exp arrived on pf6 with Maula Ali (MLY) WDM-3A pair 16477 and 18978R. It was my first ever encounter with a MLY pair and I felt quite thrilled that this railfanning trip was showering me with a good deal of unknowns. Around 01.28, 12112 AMI-CSTM SF, led by WCAM-3 21939, cruised through pf3 again at a slow speed. Just 10min later, BSL WAP-4 22834 arrived on pf3 with 12106 G-CSTM Vidarbha Exp and soon left without further delay. Around 01.50, 12809 CSTM-HWH Mail with SRC WAP-4 22465 arrived on pf2 about half an hour late.

In recent times, 12138 FZR-CSTM Punjab Mail has become a fairly debatable train with respect to its delays and step-motherly treatment by CR in its suburban stretch. However on such a lucky night, even this train showed up almost on-time around 02.15. A handsome GZB WAP-4 22723 was doing the honours. Quite of lot of passengers alighted from this train, apparently on their way to the nearby renowned Gurudwara and also to Shirdi for a Sunday morning Darshan of The Sacred Saint, SaiBaba.

Around 02.20, KYN WDM-3A 18926R entered pf6 with 12131 Dadar (DR) – Sainagar Shirdi (SNSI) Exp. It was packed to the brim and soon left without wasting much time. We were actually surprised that it had overtaken 17057 Devgiri Exp. Pretty soon pf6 was occupied by 17057 CSTM-SC Devgiri Exp brought by WCAM-3 21946. Due to these trains crossing over, poor 12152 HWH-LTT Samarasta Exp, led by SRC WAP-4 22634, had to make quite a long unscheduled halt at pf3. Another expected high-speed skip had gone down the drain!

Crisp action begins…

Having crossed the half-way mark of our overnight outing, we were now treated to some crisp action without the sluggishness exhibited till now. Around 02.50, Pune WDM-3D pair 11388 and 11378 with 12149 Pune-Patna SF arrived on pf2 and quickly left. BSL WAP-4 22913 with 11016 Gorakhpur (GKP)-LTT Kushinagar Exp was a guest for just 2min. Just as 12149 cleared pf2, HWH WAP-4 22331 brought 18029 LTT-SHM Exp to pf2 and soon left. Around 15mins after it had arrived 17057 Devgiri exp received MLY pair 18972 and 14071 for its further journey. Within a few mins, one of the rare catches on CR, a Jamalpur (JMP) WDM-2A, precisely 18604, arrived on pf5 with 11034 Darbhanga (DBG)-Pune Exp. It was literally overflowing with passengers.

Around 03.15, Hubli (UBL) WDG-4 12151 brought the heavily delayed 12129 Pune-HWH Azad Hind Exp to pf1. Apparently it had some problem after Daund that delayed it by 3 hours. The WDG-4 gave way to BSL WAP-4 22361. Around 03.25, AJNI WAP-7 30303 (palindrome) brought 12136 NGP-Pune SF to pf5. It was to be replaced by GY WDM-3D 11350 that had earlier brought the Pune-NGP Garib Rath. On the other hand 13202 LTT-RJPB Exp, led by ET WAM-4 20646, arrived on pf2 and left before 12129, which was presumably ready for departure.

Another mind-blowing scene was about to unfold. The starter of pf3 turned green. Announcements of a fast train expected to pass through were in full swing. Our eyes remained glued to the millimetre-sized white dot slowly growing on the distant horizon. In respect and anticipation we rose from our seats and prepared ourselves for the jolt. Adrenaline rushed through our blood and widened our pupils to capture the most-awaited few seconds of glory. As the glare of midlevel headlight blinded us to the approaching monster, our ears endured a continuous shriek of honking with the Doppler effect exemplified. As we got the first glimpse of the Duronto liveried WAP-7, it had flown past us at 110km/h (or even more) with several Duronto coaches in tow. The calm and dense air at 03.48 in the night was violently unsettled by a storm. Dust and papers confidently defied gravity while each and every living being witnessing the moment was shaken up to the soul. Without a doubt we registered this moment as the highest point of thrill in the entire outing. Yes, the 12290 NGP-CSTM Duronto, the cracker of a train on this route had lived up to its reputation unlike the other big-wigs who had failed to impress us.

As we took a few moments to calm down, 11015 LTT-GKP Kushinagar Exp quietly sneaked into pf2 behind BSL WAP-4 22203 around 03.50. However it was made to wait as the battered 12129 finally got to proceed, following which it got the starter. Around 04.00, 11025 BSL-Pune Exp made an entry into pf3 behind WCAM-3 21937. The huge slack would compel it to wait 30mins for departure. In spite of this, incessant announcements conveyed an immediate departure. After say 10-15mins passengers were quite obviously pissed off at such misguidance. Around 04.15, 12141 CSTM-RJPB SF, led by ET WAP-4 22731 made a quick halt of 2min on pf2 and proceeded ahead. 11025 finally came to terms with its schedule and left at sharp 04.30.

The third encounter with MLY pair came in the form of 16601 and 18887 leading 17020 Hyderabad (HYB)-Ajmer (AII) Exp into pf1 around 04.40. For a person like me who rarely ventures out of Mumbai, spotting 3 MLY pairs in a matter of hours was nothing less than a miracle. A few mins later 12618 NZM-Ernakulam (ERS) Mangala Lakshadweep Exp, led by BSL WAP-4 22204, and 11057 LTT-Amritsar (ASR) Exp, led by GZB WAP-4 22564 made their 2min halts and left. Around 04.55, GY WDG-3A 13583 with 57452 Hazur Sahib Nanded (NED)-MMR Pass arrived on pf6 and simultaneously 12811 LTT-Hatia (HTE) SF, led by SRC WAP-4 22263 made its 2min halt on pf2. The NED-MMR pass departed around 05.20 as 57562 MMR-Kacheguda (KCG) pass.

Our 22102 MMR-LTT Rajyarani Exp was berthed on pf4 since 04.30. With the doors closed and electricity switched off, we were bound to wait till around 04.50 when the staff did the needful. As expected, we were the only 4 people with reservation from MMR. A last stroll on the platform before leaving our camp for the night introduced us again to the familiar beast, WCAM-3 21890, which had hauled our 22101 Rajyarani and which would now haul us back. All of us were totally fatigued and with the little reserve energy we had, we were left anticipating the departure of our train in the next half an hour.

Continued in part 3…

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