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India 2012 - 25: Mumbai - Vaitarna Western Railway Morning (50 p.)

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19 Mar 2007
Vienna, Austria

The previous trip report part:
India 2012 - 24: First Class Goa - Mumbai - Pune (50 p.)

The accompanying video:

February 22 2012

Anand had ordered a taxi for me at 3:30 a.m., it actually came around 2:30. We asked the driver to wait for at least half an hour, but then I had to get up. I was driven to Bandra Junction, a suburban station, where the first train north was supposed to leave at 4:41. Of course I arrived there way too early, the taxi driver and a policeman were worried, as it was not the safest of areas. So I sat down at an empty stall next to the policeman and another nice gentleman, who turned out to be a civil engineer named Vineet from a village in Uttar Pradesh. We exchanged mail addresses and phone numbers. In the meantime several police cars on patrol came by and stopped, but hardly any other passers-by. At four o'clock Vineet was recruited by the policeman to accompany me to the platform and wait for the train. The rake was already standing there, but of course no passengers had boarded yet. Apart from my stop at Kalyan a week ago I could examine the Mumbai train system in detail for the first time. Sadly all Western Railway EMUs I saw already consisted of the new, ugly MRVC ("Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation") design class, as the line had been completely converted to AC during my visit on February 5. At the platform you could find displays showing departure time, destination code, number of coaches (9 - after my visit soon to be converted to 12 - , 12 and newly a few 15) and type of service (S - slow, F - fast, skipping stops). Once the first passengers took place inside the train, Vineet left for work into the other direction towards the centre. It soon turned out that those other people also waited for another train and got up again, but it posed no problem. The trains featured first class and compartments for women only next to second class as well, always at the same position so they could be indicated by signs on the platform. At this early hour I chose second class to sit in the company of other passengers. Most had similar outfits as me, young folks on the way to their jobs carrying backpacks, many with an MP3 player and earphones on. You noticed in Mumbai that a quite large smart population was living here. Even second class did not fill up, so I could enjoy my first Mumbai suburban experience to the fullest. All stations were announced in three languages, additional LCD displays showed the next stop, destination and occasional advice. Sometimes we proceeded slower, sometimes faster, the train density was so high that we had to wait in front of some stations.

More informations about the Mumbai suburban system can be found here, including schematic map:

The timetable of my train:

1	BA	Bandra Jn		04:41		WR	0	1	 
2	KHAR	Khar Road	04:43	04:44	1	WR	2	1	 
3	STC	Santa Cruz	04:45	04:46	1	WR	3	1	 
4	VLP	Ville Parle	04:48	04:49	1	WR	5	1	 
5	ADH	Andheri		04:53	04:54	1	WR	7	1	 
6	JOS	Jogeshwari	04:56	04:57	1	WR	9	1	 
7	GMN	Goregaon	05:01	05:02	1	WR	12	1	 
8	MDD	Malad		05:05	05:06	1	WR	15	1	 
9	KILE	Kandivli	05:08	05:09	1	WR	17	1	 
10	BVI	Borivali	05:13	05:14	1	WR	19	1	 
11	DIC	Dahisar		05:16	05:17	1	WR	22	1	 
12	MIRA	Mira Road	05:21	05:22	1	WR	25	1	 
13	BYR	Bhayandar	05:26	05:27	1	WR	29	1	 
14	NIG	Naigaon		05:31	05:32	1	WR	33	1	 
15	BSR	Vasai Road	05:37	05:38	1	WR	37	1	 
16	NSP	Nalla Sopara	05:42	05:43	1	WR	41	1	 
17	VR	Virar		05:50	Last Stn	WR	46	1

In the end we reached the northern terminal Virar almost punctually but stopped at a platform slightly outside the station. This had been announced by the driver shortly before. I walked along with the other passengers and asked for the 6:15 69157 MEMU (= mainline EMU) towards Dahanu Road. It was waiting at a dead end track behind the station. I took a seat in a quite empty first class and was soon discovered by Mumbai railfan Karthik who I had originally planned to start the excursion with. However, he lived in an area not well served by public transport during the night and so had planned to follow a little later. Luckily Mohit, who joined us soon afterwards, had taken him to the station by motorbike. We even had traveled in the same train, they had searched all first class compartments for me not knowing I was sitting in second. They were nice, smart boys at the age of 17, engineering students and piloting aspirants, taking a great interest in railways on the side. Karthik showed me on his mobile phone a server indicating current position and speed of important IR trains. Some of which we were about to see soon afterwards, especially the Rajdhanis from Delhi. After only a ten minute ride we got out at my desired station, Vaitarna. We looked for the station master and showed him the permit. Heinrich had been there three days earlier so he knew it already. We got the OK and started climbing a nearby panoramic hill. Some locals had burnt the vegetation shortly before which left dark marks on our trouser legs. A few of us had troubles with the climb, but lastly everyone made it to the summit. We were offered a magnificent view, the landscape still was slightly shrouded in morning fog, to the east there was a temple and you could see a great distance from here on clear days. In front of us, on Vaitarna River, you could witness an extreme abundance of boat traffic, at the shore you could find several sand pits which turned out to be our doom later on. The friends told me that there often were problems here taking pictures with local police. However, at the moment everything was wonderful and several trains hauled by various locomotive classes turned up.

We were waiting at the Western Railway mainline northbound from Mumbai, most connections towards Delhi and the north were passing by here. An overview:

View east before sunrise with temple and Vaitarna River.

As soon as we had made it up the hill the first express from Mumbai rushed past Vaitarna station.

The northbound train was hauled by Kazipet WDM-3A 18795.

Some of the coaches were already equipped with LCD displays shining out of the darkness instead of train running boards.

Morning fog at the river.

Headlights emerged out of the fog in the north.

Samastipur WDM-3A 16330R provided us with the first audio-visual spectacle of the day, even along electrified mainlines in India diesel enthusiasts get their money's worth!

12215 Delhi Sarai Rohilla - Bandra Terminus Garib Rath (see travelogue part 16) consisted entirely of AC III coaches aided by generator cars.

Boats were bustling on the river, I probably never had seen that much active boat traffic outside a harbour.


The next northbound approached through the fog behind the station.

It was pulled by a local speciality, a class WCAM-1. These dual current locos had been built from 1975 and were only operated by Valsad shed on the Western Railway along the westcoast north of Mumbai. Due to the complete switch to AC some engines had their DC capabilities removed.


The sun rose over the mountains to the east.



Karthik portrayed by Mohit.

In the meantime 71082 Dombivli - Boisar Passenger had stopped at Vaitarna. It was comprised of a "DMU", in this case an ALCO "wrapped" by a four coach push-pull set on each side.

Still, we had to be vigilant on the other side as well, as a red-striped tiger was sneaking through the mist.

Yes, it was 12952 "Mumbai Rajdhani" New Delhi - Mumbai Central, one of Indian Railways' top trains.


The rake consisted entirely of LHB-designed coaches including two generator cars.

The Mumbai Rajdhani 360° sunrise panorama.

Mohit filmed the exactly timed meeting of Ghaziabad WAP-5 30019 with Kalyan WDM-2 18560.
In other words: a Swiss SBB class Re 460 "Loco 2000" met an ALCO based on blueprints from the 50s! ;)

No, the generator car did not blow up into smoke, these still were ALCO-fumes left from the DMU departure!

The passenger disappeared into the fog accelerating.

The Rajdhani as well, on its soon ending journey from the capital to the metropolis Mumbai.

A requested photo for Karthik.

The river got more and more busy.

Shortly afterwards a railway employee came and called us back to the station.

On the way down I managed to quickly capture Ludhiana WAG-5 23465 with freight.

Suddenly the station master wanted to wait for confirmation of the permit the by Western Railway CPRO who only would be at his office from 10 a.m., at the moment it was 7:30. The friends explained to me that the sand pits along the river were illegal, and the station master probably was coerced by local "businessmen" to prevent us from taking pictures. He himself was friendly, invited us to a cup of tea, but what good was that… If I would have been alone I probably would have been more urgent, but I also did not want to spoil good connections to local railwaymen for my friends. So, we were stranded and only could watch the trains pass by. 12954 Hazrat Nizamuddin - Mumbai Central "August Kranti Rajdhani", also from Delhi, hauled by a class WAP-7. Shortly before 12922 Surat - Mumbai Central "Flying Ranee", a classic commuter train with roots in colonial times, pulled by WCAM-1 and consisiting mainly of double decker coaches. Northbound 12009 Mumbai - Ahmedabad Shatabdi hauled by a class WCAM-2. Mohit took the first local train back to Virar to maybe reach someone by fax, and returned about an hour later accompanied by another railfan, Raj, completing our troop. We sat at one end of the platform, where the guys tried out my 7D with manual focus.

At 9 o'clock a special treat approached which we railfans could not miss: heavily smoking Ratlam WDM-2A 17303 transferred a green South Eastern Railway suburban EMU to Mumbai! Luckily Raj had his compact camera at the ready and could capture it in time (as a reminder: with permit from the railway board we were only hindered from taking photos by local criminals). In the picture you can spot the difference in dimensions well, IR suburban trains were four metres wide.

(photo Raj Upadhyay)

Leaving a smoke trail through the station.

(photo Raj Upadhyay)

At 10 a.m. we finally got the OK and could start taking photos again:

These buckets for firefighting can be found exactly like this at every British heritage railway.

The platform probably was as good a place as any to sort oranges...

The next Mumbai-bound express already announced itself on the other side of the bridge.

Indian rural life in the vicinity of the big city.

WCAM-1 21845 rushing past people walking on the brigde.


Only five minutes later, again from the hill: southbound 12479 "Suryanagari Super Fast Express" from well-known Jodhpur to Bandra.

WCAM-1 21848 accelerated after crossing the bridge, you can clearly discern the two types of pantograph.

Only three minutes behind it: Pune WDG-4 12381 hauling 06512 Jaipur - Yesvantpur Garib Rath - seems familiar? Oh yes, I had caught it on Monkey Hill, also hauled by a GM freight class (see report part 16)!


We had no break: only five minutes later another express towards Mumbai. As you can see high tide had set in, the water rushed inland through the pillars of the bridge.

Vadodara WAP-4E 22810 pulled 12240 Jaipur - Mumbai Central Duronto (see travelogue part 15) across Vaitarna River.


The rake also consisted entirely of LHB designed coaches.

Very friendly and bright chaps, the city youth lacked only one thing a little: offroad-capabilities! ;)



Due to the excellent train frequency in good light I chose to take the 10:42 MEMU towards Mumbai. The heat was getting extreme again and I still wanted to visit the city terminals. We clicked a group portrait at the platform, then I had to squeeze into first class where I had to cling to a pole close to the door, but it was only a ten minute ride to Virar anyway.

We will explore the heart of the metropolis in the next and probably last full trip report part...
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