The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - India, 1980-7
The South Central Railway, Part 1
Goa Part 1

Terry Case writes about his travels for steam. Further tales will follow from time to time covering more of Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Click here for the Case Notes Index.

For other Indian tales in this series, please see:

The rail line out of the ex-Portuguese colony of Goa on Indiaís west coast was always high on my list of favourites, particularly the ghat (or hill section) from Kolamb to Castle Rock. It took me 3 tries at this line before getting it right. In 1980 coal shortage saw all steam hauled trains cancelled on the ghat section, in 1982 I was defeated by a series of strikes. I found solace in the magnificent beaches and the presence of attractive girls. In 1983 after a disastrous start when I found the top section of line closed for two days due to a derailment (more beach time), it finally came good and I got a last crack at it in 1985. This was a great place and possibly the last location to see the YD class on line work, but with no road access and only a couple of halts it was difficult to cover.

Londa, was the South Central Railway (SCR) junction for Castle Rock and Vasco. I first travelled there in December 1979, the connecting train from Miraj was hours overdue. Vendors made the most of the captive audience offering cucumbers, split and served with a sprinkling of pepper or a dried rice mixture with tomatoes, beans and lemon served up in old newspaper; yum! This was YP 2866 on the Bangalore- Miraj Mail on 26th January 1983, the engine took water and had its fire cleaned here.

YD 30269 offered more distraction, this was my first view of this pre-war designed 2-8-2, and all those I saw in this area were in the attractive SCR passenger livery. When the diesel hauled express did roll in it was already overcrowded, I shared a perch on the attendantísí wooden bench at the end of one of the carriages, the advantage was the open doorway nearby; although the smell from the nearby loo was appalling. The descent began in earnest after Castle Rock, with the first view of the Dadh Sagar Falls, you could hear gasps and exclamations of pleasure from passengers the train was full of Goans taking their New Year holidays and they were happily singing, chanting and screaming as the train passed through the tunnels. I had a perfect view looking back to the Falls, note the railway viaduct just below them.

30171 banks a diesel hauled express, the YD had been built in 1930 for the Nizamís State Railway

Initially I stayed in Vasco before making Margao (further up the line and offering easy access to the beaches), my base for future trips. Margao is the second biggest town in Goa, but the station (and town) are usually known as Madgaon, confusing as this is not the usual re-naming exercise, but seemingly a dual name.

On my first morning in Vasco I slipped out of the hotel to photo the 07.00 departure, I rushed through the small park opposite the hotel, which was surprisingly crowded. The train got slowly away from the station and then quickly accelerated past my spot; the stock was in blue and cream local livery and looked quite smart. Whereas I looked quite sheepish making my exit through what turned out to be a political rally. They gaped at the madman decked with cameras who had raced past their beloved candidate to take pictures of an old steam engine.

I took a trip to the end of the line through the docks complex, the shuttle was hauled by YD 30270 (VF 1928) one of a batch built for the MSMR (Madras & Southern Mahratta Railway). The short journey saw the train running alongside the dock complex, I did not see any of the 4-8-0s built by Bagnall that were formally used in the Port.

On a later trip, 24th January 1983, a YD on the morning train to Londa arrives at Madgaon/Margao from Vasco.

For my final morning, 30th December 1979, I rode the 07.00 departure behind YD 30270, here at Majorda  it crosses 30171 bound for Vasco, the station was surrounded by luxuriant tropical foliage.

it was worked hard and the blast from the chimney was superb. I was riding in the first class coach which was fitted out with couch seating, sheer luxury! The train was cancelled beyond Kolamb due to coal shortage. YD 517 was built for the West India Portuguese Railway and it was never renumbered into the all India system. Note the rather British looking water crane.

YD 30172 leaves Kolamb for Vasco.

After 30172 departed, the coffee and tea stalls closed and the station went back to sleep, to be re awakened by momentous events like a goat being expelled from the station office. I had to wait till early afternoon to take the diesel hauled express which departed with a steam banker, it was only put to use on re-starts so in the afternoon heat I and the other passengers snoozed as the train headed for Londa and Miraj.

Rob Dickinson