The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - India, 1982-5, Round 2
Part 2 - Murtajapur to Khandwa

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, which includes many earlier Indian tales.

This tale includes coverage of what was once the Central Railway's only metre gauge line between Purna and Khandwa. It seems that around 1977 it was transferred to the South Central Railway. I have searched for information on this, but without success. If you can add to my knowledge please email me at the address at the bottom of the page. RD

After my less than successful visit to Pulgaon on New Years Eve 1981, I boarded an express train west and in doing so I overtook WP 7004 on its leisurely journey and later saw it at Murtajapur:

I had just an hour between trains. The timetable showed a ng departure at 16.10, but all I saw was B1 771 which did some leisurely shunting. The engine was built in 1926 to a 1917 design. From the footbridge I was able to see the shed yard contained a couple of ZDs and what looked to be an elderly pacific, (but must have been the sole BS allocated to the CR, 622). I had gathered quite a crowd which I did not want to inflict on the shed staff and my elevated perch meant the rubber necks would not get in my way. A pleasant break here was spent watching the lethargic shunting prior to joining an express to Bhusaval.

I returned to Murtajapur on 24th January 1985, earlier that morning I had injured a leg which severely hampered my range! I had arrived behind WP 7039 on a Bhusaval-Nagpur train running as a lengthy mixed with 7 or more vans of bananas behind the engine. On arrival at Murtajapur I hobbled forward for a mediocre departure shot and later saw WP 7000 arrive on the stopping train to Bhusaval. The engine’s buffer board carried the Hindi name Mayur, (Peacock), but it no longer had the finery adorning it when I saw it in 1983.

At the ng shed I met the new foreman J.N. Wankhade, it seems most only stay for two years and this gentleman hoped to be no different! He had been transferred from Bombay where he had been a suburban driver, which did not seem a prerequisite for running a ng steam shed in what he described as a “remote” location. BS 622, the only CR member of the class was dumped outside the shed.

F class had recently been transferred in from Kurduvadi only one B1 remained, 768 (NB 1917), which I saw inside the shed, under repair. F 720 (NW 1929) was pilot and other F class on shed included:- 719/721/722/723, the last of these was in steam and nicely positioned:

ZD 552 (Nippon 1957) was in steam whilst 553 and 550 were both undergoing heavy repairs, with ZD 550 over the shed wheel drop.

I did not bother with photographing the departure of the mixed for Achalpur, the only decent shot looked likely to be a considerable walk and my leg was in no fit shape to undertake this. I spent the remainder of the afternoon stretched out on a station bench enjoying the sun. 

Further west on the CR bg was Akola Junction. By 24th January 1985 WG hauled freights on the mainline were unusual, so I was pleased to see this early morning departure from Akola to Bhusaval.

Akola was of interest for the mg line which connected Ajmer (WR) to Purna (SCR). In effect it provided a link between the mg railways of Southern India with those further north. This was the route for trains 69/70 the Janata Express to Kacheguda (Secunderbad). By 1985 the Khandwa - Akola - Secunderbad sector was one of the longest runs behind steam left on the mg. A YP which had a tender fitted with “hungry boards” to increase coal capacity worked (much of?) it..

On 24th January 1985 A SCR YG in unusual passenger livery (it looks like CR but the upper tender would then be black) departs Akola on a local train, the first coach (at least) is WR stock.

Khandwa Junction, 31st December 1982

I had travelled overnight on the stopping train from Bhusaval to Itarsi, I overslept and woke at 07.00 as the train drew to a stop at Khandwa, we were running six hours late! A rapid change of plans saw me stumble onto the platform half dressed; as a WG rolled a freight through the station. It felt as though my back was on fire; I must have been bitten by bed bugs or fleas during the night; ah the romance of Indian rail travel!

Early morning was spent at Khandwa instead of Itarsi. I had plenty of time to watch train engine WP 7629 being serviced. A WR YP in excellent condition made an on time arrival on the passenger from Mhow. SCR YP 2579 in an unusual green livery together with a distinctive stylized target logo on its tender arrived from the shed to take over the train and departed for Akola Junction. The sad reality was bg steam was becoming limited to classes WP/WG and WL whilst the mg was ruled by YP/YG and a limited number of YL. Other classes were becoming rare in this period.

YG 3115 in SCR livery poses in front of the Hindu Temple.

WG 8447 which I had seen the previous night at Bhusaval drew into the station, it had suffered a similar delay to the train I rode while a YG simmered in the mg yard behind.

Given the speed the crew worked the WG to the water crane and their haste to swing in the bag it looked as if either the water was low or they wanted to hand over to a relief crew. The parcels train was to be further delayed when station staff pointed out that the doors of a freight wagon had been broken open and the railway police were called to investigate. 

I spent a couple of hours here before continuing my journey to Bhopal. I passed through Khandwa again in 1989, by then all CR bg trains were diesel, but the mg passenger traffic was still steam worked.

On 20th January 1989. YP 2021 in SCR livery rolls down from the shed to take over an express from a WR engine, at an earlier date it had been part of the very small CR mg allocation.

Later it made an attractive departure on the express to Secunderabad.

Other Round 2 Indian Tales:

Rob Dickinson