JandJ Cottrell's Rail Photos: Blog http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) JandJ Cottrell's Rail Photos (JandJ Cottrell's Rail Photos) Mon, 19 Feb 2018 19:19:00 GMT Mon, 19 Feb 2018 19:19:00 GMT http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-5/u1007686578-o893523952-50.jpg JandJ Cottrell's Rail Photos: Blog http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog 82 120 15th August 2016 - Exploring Eastern Hungary http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/exploring-eastern-hungary Monday 15th August 2016

Plan A this morning was to catch the 7:12 to Fehérgyarmat as that train had a good connection to Zajta, which didn't have too many trains, but further investigations revealed that we could catch the 9:15, do the lines to Csenger and Fehérgyarmat and go to Zajta later on. There was also an 8:45 to Füzesabony and a 9:12 to Valea lui Mihai in Romania so we made sure that we were at the station in time to look at those as well. The latter had a required 418/3 on but it was a "move to nowhere" as if we had taken it to the border there would be a two hour and twenty minute fester there before anything back and we didn't want to cross the border having neither a CFR timetable or currency.

The class 418 on the 9:15 was not required but the main aim of the day was new track so we got on for the slow journey to Mátészalka which was quite a large station where four lines diverged and services to a further two places which branched off the other lines. We only had four minutes to change trains with more than one to choose from but the nearest Bzmot was clearly labelled as going to Csenger so there were no problems. There were few people on board, most of whom got off at various stations en route but we stayed on until the end of course, taking a couple of pictures before returning on the same unit to Mátészalka where there was about half an hour to visit the Co-Op mini opposite the station and photograph the plinthed steam loco outside the station.

376.513  at Mátészalka376.513 at Mátészalka15th August 2016. 2-6-2T plinthed outside the station at Mátészalka.

Next, we took another loco-hauled train to Fehérgyarmat to connect with a unit to Zajta, which was a heavily rebuilt class 127 "Inter Pici" Bzmot which had new seats and air conditioning; truly a silk purse from a sow's ear. If we thought that the lines we had been on so far today were slow then they had nothing on this line, 50 minutes to do 25 kilometres and we have to confess to nodding off on the way.

Zajta was not as good as Csenger for photographs but we did take a token photo before heading straight back after six minutes at this outpost of the MAV network.

127 415 at Zajta127 415 at Zajta15th August 2016. On 32413 15:08 Zajta to Fehérgyarmat.

As the train stopped at the first "station" after leaving Zajta a white car screeched to a halt in a cloud of dust next to the dirt platform, doors flew open, two young people leapt out and raced round to the boot to collect their luggage before running to the train, talk about cutting it fine. We did wonder whether they had actually intended to get on at Zajta, missed the train and got their driver to chase after it, probably no mean feat as the roads looked as if they were in no better comparable condition than the railway.

By the time we got back to Fehérgyarmat, the sky was very dark and threatening to the north though the sun was still out where we were so a couple of pictures were taken including a narrow gauge C50 type loco, Gv3729, which was plinthed inside a barbed wire topped compound.

Gv3729 at FehérgyarmatGv3729 at Fehérgyarmat15th August 2016.

A couple of stations further down the line, the sun had disappeared and something went "clonk" on the roof, followed by another one, then another, then it sounded as if we were inside a steel drum and it was barely possible to see further than a couple of hundred yards across the fields. At the first signs of the downpour we had leapt up and closed all the windows in our section of the train but didn't realise that one in the vestibule was open, only noticing when a stream of water started running under the door!

The rain had just about stopped by the time we got to Mátészalka but there were large puddles everywhere though it hadn't rained everywhere as some places we passed through on the way back to Debrecen looked quite dry. After sitting on the train for most of the previous 2 1/2 hours we decided to walk back to the hotel as it was not raining and passed one of the restaurants that had been marked on our map last night. It was called Belga and was a little further along than where the "X" had been marked on the map and had a good  selection of Belgian beers; perhaps it was a friend of the similarly-stocked restaurant in the hotel Raba in Győr? The food was very good but almost double the price of the Csokonai last night and more like the amount we would expect to pay in somewhere like the UK or Germany.

Music could be heard as we walked the rest of the way back to the hotel after eating and this was traced to the stage that we had noticed yesterday in the main square which had been moved a short distance and was now occupied by an orchestra who were playing "Clair de lune" by Debussy. The concert was being filmed and relayed to a couple of large screens to the side so that people further back in the crowd could see the musicians at work. We stopped and listened for a while and noticed what looked to be an army band preparing to perform next, there was a plain dull green coach parked nearby which looked rather military. Standing in the open air listening to a free concert was certainly a nice relaxing way of rounding the day off.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train details
Kossuth  tér   8:30 522 Tram 1
Nagyállómás 8:35   walk  
Debrecen   9:12 418 188 6322 9:12 Debrecen to Fehérgyarmat
Mátészalka 11:00 11:05 117 369 36214 11:05 Mátészalka to Csenger
Csenger 11:54 12:10 117 369 36215 12:10 Csenger to Mátészalka
Mátészalka 13:00 13:34 418 131 6314 11:12 Debrecen to Fehérgyarmat
Fehérgyarmat 14:06 14:12 127 415 32416 14:12 Fehérgyarmat to Zajta
Zajta 15:02 15:08 127 415 32413 15:08 Zajta to Fehérgyarmat
Fehérgyarmat 16:00 16:16 418 120 6333 16:14 Fehérgyarmat to Debrecen
Debrecen 18:53      
hungary http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/exploring-eastern-hungary Mon, 19 Feb 2018 19:18:56 GMT
14th August 2016 - Going Hungary Again http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/going-hungary-again Sunday 14th August 2016

This trip was one of those that started off with one idea and just grew and grew until it morphed into something lasting a whole month! Our rostered annual leave was in August this year and we had toyed with the idea of trying to swap it for something earlier but this was easier said than done so we stuck with what had been given. The PTG tour in Sweden started less than a week after the leave period finished and taking rest days into account we would have been returning to work for just two days before heading back for that. We had enough leave to cover these two days so these were applied for and granted so, deep breath, two large suitcases packed and off we go.

The first port of call was Hungary as we were hoping that the M61 would have a turn round Lake Balaton again but not this year. Never mind, there was still plenty of things we wanted to do in that country so it was off to Budapest on a late morning flight from Luton to Budapest with Wizz, fighting our way through the huge queue of traffic trying to get up to the bus station and drop-off point. You would have thought that such major work woud have been scheduled for outside of the holiday period but this looked as if it was so extensive that the whole project would take well over a year to complete

The flight was pretty full and notable only for one person who rocked up at the gate with a handbag and a small suitcase so instantly got "chinged" for the extra bag at the gate. We arrived about 5 minutes early, waited for about as long as we expected for the luggage then went to the BKK office in the arrivals hall and bought two tickets to Ferihegy station, a flat fare of 350 HUF each (around £1). It is possible to buy them from the driver but this costs an extra 100 HUF each.

Bus 200E runs every 7 to 8 minutes and one turned up just as we got to the relevant bus stop. There was a bit of a scrum to get on, not helped by all the passengers having to enter via the front door past the driver then many displaying a reluctance to move along to the far end of the vehicle (it was a "bendy bus"). The bus dropped us on the opposite side of the road from Ferihegy station, near the huge footbridge spanning the busy throughfare and we were not best pleased, to put it mildly, to find the lift on this side was out of order. Fortunately, the lift on the other side was working and the ticket office, housed in a shipping container, was on the same side that our train went from. The lady there couldn't speak English but we had anticipated this and had written our requirements on a piece of paper which we pushed through the hatch along with our FIP cards with two tickets for the 15:43 IC train to Debrecen being produced in return. We had been given seats 67 and 68 whch we thought were side-by-side but they were actually diagonally opposite each other in a bay of four. Being a Sunday afternoon, the train was very busy and we did consider that we might have been lucky to get any seats at all, let alone be seated in close proximity to each other. We did ponder the question if these trains ever get fully booked and what happens then, we've been "bowled" like that in Spain in the past, hearing the dreaded word "completo" when trying to book tickets for longer distance trains.

We arrived around five minutes late at Debrecen and had our first laugh at the expense of a "normal" passenger. The train was booked to stand for five minutes to detach a portion for Mátészalka and this was quickly done but just as the Záhony portion was dispatched a man came dashing up the subway steps, waving his arms and shouting. He might have just turned up too late and missed it but as he appeared rather frantic we got the impression that he may have nipped over to the station for something and his family / luggage may have been off to Záhony without him. It did cross our minds that they might have been on the Mátészalka portion and he didn't realise that it was still in the platform but the arrival of a class 418 from the opposite direction diverted our attention.

418 188 at Debrecen418 188 at Debrecen15th August 2016. On 6322 9:12 Debrecen to Fehérgyarmat.

Our hotel for the next few days was the Centrum Hotel, about a mile down the road but there was a tram service with tickets costing 300 HUF or 400 HUF from the driver. There was a ticket office inside the terminal loop outside the station and we easily purchased some tickets from the nice young lady in there who could speak good English. The hotel was quite nice but had a strange arrangement where the reception was on the ground floor in the middle of a row of shops and all the rooms were above the shops. The building was an odd shape which meant the interior was rather like a rabbit warren with the breakfast room being a little hard to find down one end.

We asked the receptionist for recommendations of where to have an evening meal and he marked out three on a city map but we were flummoxed when it came to finding the nearest two (or read his writing for one of them!) so went to the furthest (Csokonai) which was his highest recommendation. The menu was in Hungarian and English with pictures and some dishes were available as half portions which was probably a good idea looking at the size of some of the servings. Two starters, two mains and three drinks cost the equivalent of under £30, so hardly likely to break the bank by eating here.

On the way back to the hotel, we passed an interesting looking ice cream parlour so went in to try it as a treat seeing that it was our first night. Once inside we saw that it was self service with about half a dozen different flavours of ice cream dispensed by pump with a large selection of toppings in containers to choose from. You started off by choosing the desired size of tub which you then filled with whatever you wanted with the price being worked out by weight, an interesting and, judging by the number of people inside, popular idea.

hungary http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/going-hungary-again Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:19:22 GMT
8th & 9th June 2016 - Farewell to class 664 on Citadella http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/farewell-to-class-664-on-citadella Wednesday 8th June 2016

The dreaded day of the overhead wires being brought into use between Pragersko and Hodoš had finally arrived and to mark the end of regular class 664 haulage on booked passenger trains in Slovenia a "fix" had been arranged with SZ for one of these locos to work "Citadella" throughout from Ljubljana to Hodoš and back again. The date had been set for Thursday 9th June and caused a number of rather desperate leaps from various protagonists to say their goodbyes to this popular class of loco on regular passenger trains.

Fortunately, there was enough notice to get a reasonably priced flight between Stansted and Ljubljana with Easy Jet, helped by that fact that only two nights away meant that we could manage with hand luggage only and it was also handy that the school holidays hadn't started yet not to mention that the date co-incided with a couple of rest days off work.

Not having to wait for a suitcase reaped dividends on arrival at LJU as it was straight out of the terminal and onto a bus which arrived at the station in time to view the 17:25 to Maribor which had a required class 363 on the front. It's a good job that the train is usually prepared in plenty of time as it allowed us to view then walk back to the ticket office which is some way from the platforms to get a return to the usual "leaping shack" of Zagorje.

363 016 at Ljubljana363 016 at Ljubljana9th June 2016. On IC504 14:44 Koper to Maribor "Pohorje".

For some reason, hotels in Ljubljana were quite expensive tonight but the Hotel Meksiko, next to the main hospital, wasn't quite as much as the others so that had been booked instead of one of our more usual haunts. After a quick wash and brush-up it was off to the Sokol for a meal.

Station / Airport Arr Dep Motive Power Train / plane details
STN   12:54 G-EZGE EZY3245 12:55 STN to LJU
LJU 16:52   bus  
Ljubljana   17:25 363 003 IC504 14:44 Koper to Maribor
Zagorje 18:08 18:19 342 022 LP2272 17:06 Dobova to Ljubljana
Ljubljana 19:10      

Thursday 9th June 2016

So this was it, the final day of 664s between Pragersko and Hodoš; there hadn't been enough time to order FIP tickets for this but it wasn't much of a problem as an FIP return ticket was less than 20 Euros. There was also no point in doing any fancy moves to scratch the loco in on EN415 either as 664 118 was already on the front of "Citadella" complete with extra coach for the large contingent of cranks (over 40!) and the restaurant car from Maribor which had been specially requested as there was no Hungarian one due to engineering works in that country.

664 118 at Ljubljana664 118 at Ljubljana9th June 2016. On MV247 8:45 Ljubljana to Budapest Déli "Citadella" which it worked through to Hodoš to mark the end of 664 haulage on this service.

We set off a few minutes late along the scenic main line that follows the river Sava until Zidani Most with 664 118 very much sounding the part though we did have a driver who knew exactly what we all wanted; plenty of noise where possible. Our driver for the day (Robi) had also arranged an order of tee-shirts to commemorate the occasion; when informed that they were green, most of us were probably expecting a muted dark green to match the livery of the loco but they turned out to be a rather eye-catching emerald green instead! It wasn't long before many people migrated to the bar coach to toast the occasion including an American couple who wondered what on earth this sudden invasion of English speaking people clad in identical bright green tee-shirts was all about. They were probably even more surprised when we told them to get anything they wanted before Hodoš as the coach was going back with us to Ljubljana.

The two extra coaches were detached at the same time as the loco at Hodoš with most people staying on board whilst this was done, gaining an extra mile of haulage from 664 118 in the process. The train from Hungary was on time and we were soon on our way back south after the usual half hour break with a bonus "phot stop" at Pragersko as the train did not have to change locos like it usually did.

664 118 at Pragersko664 118 at Pragersko9th June 2016. On MV246 8:30 Budapest Déli to Ljubljana; this loco worked throughout on the Slovenian section from Hodoš to Ljubljana to mark the end of 664 haulage on this train between Pragersko and Hodoš.

The kilometres rushed past, helped by the beer flowing in the restaurant car, until we finally arrived at Ljubljana, bringing down the curtain on 664 locomotives in regular passenger service on SŽ . It wasn't quite the end as there were a couple more 664s working between Pragersko and Hodoš in the following days until the change to electric traction kicked in fully but at least a large number of "cranks" had the chance to see the end of regular diesel hauled services in Slovenia off in style.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train / plane details
Ljubljana   8:52 664 118 MV247 8:45 Ljubljana to (Budapest Déli)
Hodoš 12:29   664 118 shunt, 68.45 - 68.8 - 67.85 - 68.25km
Hodoš   664 118 664 118 MV246 8:30 (Budapest Déli) to Ljubljana
Ljubljana 16:44   bus  
LJU   22:43 G-EZFX EZY3248 22:55 LJU to STN
STN 23:50      
slovenia http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/2/farewell-to-class-664-on-citadella Sun, 18 Feb 2018 22:43:08 GMT
16th May 2016 - More Trouble! http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/more-trouble Monday 16th May 2016

Another easy start to the day though the end would be rather later than the previous two! A 9:05 departure from the station gave us plenty of time to get to the station and get some photos as No. 4 shunted the stock from one platform to the other before running round.

4 at Westport4 at Westport15th May 2016. Berthing the coaches after working B804 16:15 Castlerea to Westport "The Croagh Patrick" tour which actually started at Claremorris.

Due to the turntable issues two days ago, no. 4 had to return bunker first to Dublin but that didn't appear to hamper it in any way as we made our way to Ballyhaunis where there was a water stop. There was a slight delay here meaning that we had to stop again at Castlerea to allow the 9:45 Westport to Dublin past but once that was out of the way, it was a straight run to Athlone for more water. Whilst this was taking place, 085 passed on a liner train and there was time for a quick look at the small display of railwayana in the station before we departed around 35 minutes late.

085 at Athlone085 at Athlone16th May 2016.

After further stops to cross a Dublin to Westport train at Tullamore and for more water at Portarlington we were making good progress along the man line back to Dublin until stopped by signals at Hazelhatch with reports of a lineside fire in our wake with the finger of suspicion pointing at no. 4. In the circumstances it was not totally unexpected when Iarnród Éireann control decided to terminate the train at Hazelhatch and Celbridge where we arrived at 15:27. Although the return to Belfast was not due to leave Dublin until after 19:00 with a different loco and set of coaches there was an immediate flap as a group from America who had been with us for the weekend had to be on the 16:50 departure to Belfast and time was getting short for that.

4 at Portarlington4 at Portarlington16th May 2016. Working B801 9:00 Westport to Dublin Connolly the "Croagh Patrick" railtour.

With commendable speed, I.É. decided to terminate a Portlaoise-bound DMU (it wasn't going beyond Hazelhatch in the immediate future due to the fire anyway) and put all the railtour passengers on it to Dublin Connolly, where we arrived at 16:41, just in time for our American friends to catch their train. Meanwhile the rest of us had enough time to get fed and watered before the train back to Belfast with "Merlin" treating us to another storming run on the Mk2 set. This had a handy set down at Botanic just after 10pm, about half a mile down the road from our hotel, the perfect way to end our long overdue return to the Emerald Isle.


ireland rpsi http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/more-trouble Sun, 14 Jan 2018 17:25:13 GMT
15th May 2016 - A Frustrating Day http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/a-frustrating-day Sunday 15th May 2016

The weather this morning carried on where it left off yesterday, being warm and sunny so we took a stroll to the station where we had plenty of time to take some photos of the now disused signal box and diesel 078 which was still parked in the same siding as it was last night.

078 at Westport078 at Westport15th May 2016.

Today's tour should have been an easy day out, covering the Ballina branch and a couple of "fill-in" moves to Ballyhaunis and Castlerea to pad the day out but, with no. 4 running bunker first, there appeared to be some operational issues, alledged to be lineside fires, and we stopped at Claremorris for some time before the loco ran round and headed to Ballina, missing out the extra 22 mile round trip to Ballyhaunis.

Ballina had created a bit of controversy in that the single platform there wasn't long enough to take the whole train and there had been talk of the tour not being able to go there until a solution was reached in that the passengers would not be allowed off the train. A further issue was that it is no longer possible to run round without going into the freight yard so, without a compromise of allowing the passengers off the train in the platform and shunting it to the yard or setting down a method of working to allow the train into the freight yard, no. 4 could not run round.

A solution was at hand though in the shape of diesel 075 which was stabled in the yard for the weekend and a driver had been rostered to use this loco to drag the whole train back to Claremorris so, in the end, we spent less than 15 minutes in Ballina and never even got the chance to get out and have a look round. In our case we had been there previously with steam both ways in 1992 before the layout was changed and the steam loco could run round.

075 at Ballina075 at Ballina15th May 2016. Preparing to work the Croagh Patrick tour back to Claremorris.

No. 4 did not return on the rear of the train from Ballina but followed it light engine. The train with 075 on the front was still running late and was allowed to go in front of the 13:45 West port to Dublin from Manulla Junction, meaning that the light engine move was also delayed whilst waiting to follow that. For the uninitiated, the line to Ballina leaves the Westport line at Manulla Junction which is nothing more than a set of points and a double sided platform with no road access; it's only purpose being for passengers to transfer between trains on the Dublin / Westport line to the Ballina branch.

We arrived back at Claremorris somewhat late and the news filtered through that we had missed our path to do the extra trip to Castlerea (round trip of 44 miles this time!) so would be remaining at Claremorris until our booked time back to Westport which should have been after both an Up and Down train had passed. However, the powers-that-be had other ideas and we departed soon after the Up train had arrived leaving some people in the local pub!

Arrival at Westport was even earlier this afternoon at 17:10; we chose to walk back to the hotel again and, after eating, decided to take a walk along the steeply graded former line to Westport Quay which had been turned into a footpath and cycleway following closure and lifting in 1977.

ireland rpsi http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/a-frustrating-day Sun, 14 Jan 2018 16:15:06 GMT
14th May 2016 - The Loco's not for Turning http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/the-locos-not-for-turning Saturday 14th May 2016

Day one of the main three day "International Railtour" started from Dublin Connolly with "Jeep" 2-6-4T no. 4 which is usually based in Dublin along with ex Dublin an South Eastern Railway 2-6-0 no. 461 which was not appearing on this tour, we guess due to it's low maximum speed.

The tour started from Dublin Connolly again and took the same slow route to Islandbridge Junction that the diesel tour took yesterday but once on the Cork mainline no. 4 quickly got the seven Cravens and generator van up to speed. Not for long though as we stopped at Kildare where single line working was in operation and the pilotman had just sent a train through in front so our train had to wait for it to clear the section . We didn't have to wait to long for our turn, proceeding carefully "wrong road" past the worksite where a ballast cleaner and regular were working. Our next stop was Portarlington where 087 was stabled in the sidings with an engineers train and no. 4 was booked to take water courtesy of the fire brigade who were on hand to pump water from the hydrant on the overbridge down to the platform.

4 at Portarlington4 at Portarlington14th May 2016. Taking water whilst working B800 10:05 Dublin Connolly to Westport the "Croagh Patrick" railtour.

Leaving Portarlington, the train turned right towards Tullamore, Athone and Roscommon, where there was a stop to pass a service train, and a further stop to allow another one to overtake us at Castlerea where it appeared that a good proportion of the local population had turned out to see the train.

CastlereaCastlerea14th May 2016. The closed signal cabin at Castlerea.

A long stop had been planned at Claremorris to service and turn the loco. The track layout had been heavily rationalised and control passed to the CTC in Dublin since our previous visits though the signal box was still standing and the turntable was still in situ and had been recently overhauled. Unfortunately it resolutely refused to turn when no. 4 was placed on it, despite the loco being repositioned several times and defeat was eventually conceeded; the loco trundling off to stand on the line to Athenry to be checked over and replenished with coal and water. Once this was done, the train carried on to Westport, arriving at the very sociable time of 17:29, despite being over an hour late by this time. A couple of coaches were available for the trip to the hotel (Wyatts) but as it was barely a mile away and it was a nice day we decided to walk there instead.

WestportWestport14th May 2016. 2-6-4T no. 4 stands next to 078 after working B804 16:15 Castlerea to Westport the "Croagh Patrick" railtour.

ireland rpsi http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2018/1/the-locos-not-for-turning Sun, 14 Jan 2018 14:12:39 GMT
13th May 2016 - 071 class 40th Anniversary http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/071-class-40th-anniversary Friday 13th May 2016

In recent years, the RPSI have taken to running a diesel tour on the Friday of the May "International Railtour" with the excuse this year to mark the 40th anniversay of the class 071 locos. This was actually not quite true as although the first members of the class were built by GM at their plant in La Grange, Illinois in 1976 they didn't cross the Atlantic and enter service in Ireland until 1977 but why spoil a good excuse for a celebration.

Class leader 071 had been repainted in it's original livery for the tour and looked immaculate as it backed the train, formed of the RPSI's "Dublin set" of Cravens coaches, into the platform. The crew had kindly stopped short of the buffer stop so the loco could be photographed in the sunshine and as many cameras clicked and whirred, we checked our records and discovered that our previous journey behind this locomotive was exactly 18 years ago on 13th May 1998!

071 at Dublin Connolly071 at Dublin Connolly13th May 2016. 071 working B500 10:35 Dublin Connolly to Waterford the "071 Class 40th Anniversary Tour".

We set off seven minutes late and had a slow run along the more usual route to Glasnevin Junction before crossing over to gain the line to Islandbridge Junction and the main line to Cork out of Heuston station. Passing Inchicore works it looked as if the entire workforce were lined up to admire their handiwork as 071 roared past, gleaming in the sunshine. Left hand down a bit onto the Waterford line at Cherryville Junction, still a few minutes late but with stops at Athy and Carlow to maybe make up a few minutes. The first stop was to cross a DMU but the second one was to cross a liner which wasn't running so the lost time was regained and we arrived on time at Waterford in the bay platform with the sun just right for photographs.

071 at Waterford071 at Waterford13th May 2016. 071 on B500 10:35 Dublin Connolly to Waterford the "071 Class 40th Anniversary Tour".

Waterford had changed a lot since we paid a few visits to chase the sugar beet trains in the early 1990s; the track layout was an absolute mess due to part of the layout being out of use following a landslip affecting the sheer rock face which overlooks the station meaning our loco could not run round. Sister loco 079 was on hand in the yard to assist with a shunt-release but even this was not as straightforward as it sounded as the only way into and out of the yard was at the west end so all the shunts had to go the length of the yard to Waterford West box for each move. The easiest way would have been to swap locos, as the IRRS tour had done last month but, presumably, 071 was meant to stay on the train for the whole of it's special day or was required back at Inchicore.

079 at Waterford079 at Waterford13th May 2016.

Leaving 14 minutes late, we then headed cross country along the secondary line to Limerick Junction with little chance of any spirited running. Our minds drifted back to the early 1990s and a previous trip over this line when we had an (authorised) cab ride on "baby GM" 182 working a liner "overload" to Limerick. It was a heavy train, right on the limit for one of these locos along this route and the loco was thrashed mercilessly in notch 8, up hill and down dale just to keep the train rolling along at anything like line speed. A conversation in the cab was impossible and it must have sounded awesome from the lineside.

Back to the present and we were held outside Limerick Junction as the Up and Down Cork trains passed before we made our way across the flat junction into what is now known as "Limerick Junction Pocket Loop"; we have always known it, or at least the far end of it as "Keane's Points". The train needed to reverse into the platform for the run back to Dublin and we were just wondering if modern operating proceedures would neccessitate two run-rounds rather than propelling a train load of passengers when the train was carefully set back into the platform. More remenicences of a bygone age when the Waterford / Limerick services (usually a "baby GM" and two coaches with a steam generator van) used to come to a stand at Keane's Points, go straight into reverse and propel at a fair old lick on the through road (now removed) past the platforms, over a hand-worked level crossing then into the south bay (also now removed) after a second reversal.

192 at Ballybrophy192 at Ballybrophy21st March 1996. 189 at Ballybrophy after arriving on the 1545 from Limerick.

Now pointing in the correct direction it was full pelt, apart from a short stop at Thurles, back to Dublin and Islandbridge Junction where we turned left and made our way slowly along the suburban line to Dublin Connolly. It had been a good day and it was interesting to see how much had changed since our last visit nine years ago, let alone our first one nearly 30 years ago. Dinner was taken at "Eddie Rocket's", an American-style diner on O'Connell Street and though it was only a short walk away, getting there took longer than anticipated as the road traffic was horrendous due to a tram strike; at least we could get everywhere we needed to on foot.

ireland rpsi http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/071-class-40th-anniversary Fri, 22 Dec 2017 17:38:33 GMT
12th May 2016 - Magic Merlin http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/magic-merlin Thursday 12th May 2016

Off to Whitehead this morning as planned for our first RPSI tour for nine years, it just hadn't fallen on the right weekend leave-wise in the past few years and on the one occasion that it had, the tour was moved to the autumn due to the Giro d'Italia bike race starting in Dublin on the same weekend. Today was a "positioning move" to get the coaching stock to Dublin for the main tour and it provided an opportunity for ex GNR(I) 4-4-0 compound no. 85 "Merlin" to stretch it legs; it is too heavy to work on many lines so this was an ideal opportunity to let it loose on the line it was built for. Quite a few people joined us on the service train from Belfast to Whitehead including the NIR crew who were going to drive and fire the loco to Dublin.

85 at Whitehead85 at Whitehead12th May 2016. GNR(I) "V" class 4-4-0 no. 85 "Merlin" waits to depart from the RPSI platform with B171 9:06 Whitehead RPSI to Dublin Connolly.

The train set off on time with decent run to Belfast, though there were never going to be any fireworks due to the nature of the line, until we stopped just before York Road depot; we think due to some sort of signalling failure. A nice slow run past the shed gave an opportunity for some photos but GM loco 8113 which was nicely parked near the mainline last night was now hiding between two sheds but we did get a shot of the class 80 "thumper" unit converted to a sandite car.

8094 at Belfast York Road8094 at Belfast York Road12th May 2016. NIR 80 class DEMU power car which was part of the NIR sandite train.

Over the river Lagan on the William Dargan bridge, a stop at Belfast Central to pick up, then off to Lisburn to take water which was not as easy as its sounds as the water column is on the north end of the northbound platform. In order for the loco to take water, the train was crossed over to to "wrong road" before the station and the loco stopped next to the column with the train out of the platform. Once the loco had been refreshed, the train was brought into the platform and the passengers could stretch their legs whilst a couple of DMUs and the 10:35 "Enterprise" service to Dublin passed. Unfortunately an attempt to cross to the other platform to get some photos was thwarted when a DMU pulled in and disgorged a seething mass of humanity who went straight over the footbridge in the opposite direction so there was no chance of going against the flow. There appeared to be some sort of show in the park next to the station as there was a lady standing on the footbridge valiantly trying to hand out leaflets and parroting "enjoy the show" so we retreated and busied oursleves photographing the items in the sidings including a couple of former Gatwick Express coaches and a track machine.

8947 at Lisburn8947 at Lisburn12th May 2016. NIR MkIIF coach which was formerly pasrt of the Gatwick Express fleet.

There was one further stop at Portadown to pick up then "Merlin" continued south and was soon flying along sounding absolutely superb. Across the border to the Irish Republic and another water stop at Dundalk and a chance to look in the museum on the station platform housed in what was the top of the former Dundalk Central signal cabin which had been moved from it's previous location following closure in May 1996.

Dundalk CentralDundalk Central18th May 1996. Dundalk Central signal cabin a few days before closure. The top of the structure was subsequently moved onto the platform to serve as a small museum.

We thought that the crew might have changed to an IE crew at Dundalk but the NIR crew stayed on board and treated us to a fine run to Dublin with a further brief stop at Drogheda until we came to a stand shortly before Dublin Connolly having caught up a DART suburban EMU and finally arriving seven minutes late.

Our hotel here (Wynns) was booked through the RPSI and was abut a 15 minute walk from Connolly station so we went to dump our bag before making our way to Docklands station as there was some new track which had opened since our previous visit to the area. The area around Docklands was unrecognisable since our days of chasing freight trains down to North and East Wall Yards and the Alexandra Road "tramway". Lots of new flats, shops and offices had sprung up and Docklands station itself had been built on the site of the former North Wall Yard and we were very surprised to see that Church Road signal box was still open, a long-range shot of it was possible from the station platforms.

Church RoadChurch Road12th May 2016. View of Church Road signalbox from Dublin Docklands station.

As we had a bit of time before the train we walked down the road and just missed 075 doing a shunt in East Wall yard so we hung around to see if it would continue but the driver got off and walked away so we had to be content with an overall view of the yard.

North WallNorth Wall12th May 2016. View of Dublin North Wall yard with 075 in the background.

Docklands station had barriers but the man in the booking office readily opened the nearest one with a cheery wave when we flashed our FIP coupons at him and we went onto the platform to wait for the train, which was late. We had thought that it departed at 15:45 but the platform indidcators said 15:50 but it eventually turned up, reversed and set off along the previously rare route for passenger trains alongside the Royal Canal to Glasnevin Junction. We then joined the line to Maynooth and Mullingar as far as Clonsilla where the train turned right onto our second bit of required track along what used to be the branch to Navan and Athboy which had closed in 1963. This had been re-instated to a new station called M3 Parkway near Dunboyne and had opened in September 2010 though we noticed that the track continued for some distance before disappearing into the undergrowth. We believe that the intention is to carry on to Navan at some stage in the future.

22231 at M3 Parkway22231 at M3 Parkway12th May 2016. On 16:35 M3 Parkway to Docklands.

We missed a trick on the return journey in that we could have got off at Clonsilla and updated our photo of the signal box there whilst waiting for a train to Connolly station which would have saved us a walk back in Dublin. Never mind, we wanted a further look round the much-altered Docklands area and need the exercise as well. There was a branch of Boojum opposite the hotel, we had tried (and failed) to eat in the Belfast one yesterday so as this one did not look as busy we decided to give it a try. Our verdict? Not bad really, the best way that we can think of describing it was a Mexican answer to McDonalds though we much preferred it to the "golden arches". There was a choice of a burrito or hard / soft taco which was served with the filling of your choice and there was quite a selection to choose from, a nice tasty way to end the day.

ireland rpsi http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/12/magic-merlin Thu, 21 Dec 2017 22:56:40 GMT
10th & 11th May 2016 - A Desperate Leap http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/a-desperate-leap Tuesday 10th May 2016

We could easily have spent another day in the Leipzig / Dresden area but it was time to move on as we needed to be in the Netherlands for a flight from Schiphol to Belfast. Why? Being gluttons for punishment, we wanted to do the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland's (RPSI) annual "International Railtour" which started in Northern Ireland and Schiphol was just about the only place you could fly direct to Belfast from in Europe

Our original intention was to catch the 9:39 IC which would be a class 146/5 and double deck stock but it would mean a 20 minute connection at Hannover, not a good idea with the way that German Railways perform these days so an alternative was sought. This was an 8:15 ICE service to Berlin and we noticed that it was formed of one of the 14 coach ICE1 sets so there should be no problems getting a seat, a theory which proved correct. Berlin Hbf was reached on time and we attempted to make our way to the Stadtbahn platforms to catch a train to the Ostbahnhof, failing miserably and managing to end up on the S Bahn platforms instead. At least they went there as well even if the S Bahn took a little longer.

401 577 at Wächersbach401 577 at Wächersbach9th June 2014. ICE297 05:49 Berlin Gesundbrunnen to Interlaken Ost.

We had hoped that the train would be in the platform at least five minutes before departure time giving plenty of time to choose a suitable seat for the journey to Amsterdam but it pulled up in the platform about two minutes before departure time so it was a question of diving on through the nearest door. We found an unreserved compartment in the buffet car but the air conditioning did not appear to be working and when the situation hadn't improved by the time we left Spandau in West Berlin we went for a wander and found another free compartment in the front coach, where the aircon was working and managed to keep it to ourselves for the entire journey apart from one man who joined us between Wolfsburg and Hannover.

Berlin to Amsterdam takes just over 6 ½  hours with the chance for a leg-stretch at Bad Bentheim where NS 1753 took over from the DB’s 101 027. A further country was represented here in the shape of SBB (Switzerland) 421.386 which was stabled in the sidings having caught fire here a couple of weeks previously. There was no apparent sign of damage and we guessed that it was waiting for a tow back home for repairs.

1753 at Bad Bentheim1753 at Bad Bentheim10th May 2016. On IC146 10:23 Berlin Ostbahnhof to Amsterdam C.S.

The train arrived at Amsterdam a couple of minutes late so we had to rush to get our planned connection but that too, was a few minutes late. It was quite busy as we expected though 1st class was not so bad; just as well bearing in mind it was a double deck set with no luggage space, not even a luggage rack for small bags, so we had to hog a whole bay of four surrounded by our luggage.

Leiden, where we were staying in the Ibis Hotel opposite the station, was busy and bustling with people on bikes whizzing around all over the place, not a helmet to be seen and some bikes didn't appear to be fitted with brakes either. We managed to cross the road without getting mown down and went to our room, complete with view of a windmill, to freshen up before dinner. "Oudt Leyden" sounded good with the pancakes being recommended but we hadn't realised that the whole menu consisted of pancakes. Never mind, we had a savoury one each and shared a sweet one and very good they were too.

Wednesday 11th May 2017

Straight to the airport this morning using, an NS FIP ticket to get us there; the plane pushed off about 20 minutes late and the wheels stopped turning at Belfast International around 10 minutes late. This is one of two Belfast Airports and was previously an RAF base some distance away from the city, requiring a bus journey to get there. This was painless enough and we bought return tickets for £10.50 each, valid for a month and a saving over buying single tickets at £7 a go. The bus took 45 minutes and went to the Europa Bus station at the rear of the Europa Hotel where we were staying which was rather more expensive than the sort of hotels that we normally use but we won't bore you with the numerous reasons as to why we stayed here.

Northern Ireland had completely changed since our last visit here twelve years ago with all the older class 80 and 450 DMUs having been replaced by new modern units and the only loco-hauled services being the approximately two hourly Dublin / Belfast "Enterprise" service. There wasn't enough time to go too far so we decided on a trip to Larne Harbour with a stop-off at Whitehead to remind ourselves of how to get to the RPSI station, pretty obvious in fact. We had a quick look through the gate whilst there, the coaches for tomorrow were in the platform with diesel B142 visible behind and smoke rising from tomorrow's motive power 4-4-0 no. 85 "Merlin" further back.

WhiteheadWhitehead11th May 2016. View of the RPSI platform and site with the NIR line to Larne on the left.

Returning to the NIR station, a couple of photos were taken of the impressive station building and disused signal box before completing our journey to Larne Harbour and returning to Belfast for dinner.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train / Plane Details
10th May 2016        
Leipzig Hbf   8:15 401 019 ICE906 8:15 Leipzig Hbf to Hamburg-Altona
      401 520  
Berlin Hbf 9:36 9:43 481 416 S75 9:30 Berlin Westkreuz to Wartenberg
Berlin Ostbahnhof 9:54 10:23 101 027 IC146 10:23 Berlin Ostbahnhof to Amsterdam CS
Bad Bentheim 14:43 14:54 1753  
v. Almelo, Deventer, Apeldoorn, Amersfort, Hilversum        
Amsterdam C S 17:02 17:27 9516 IC2269 17:12 Amsterdam C S to Dordrecht
Leiden Centraal 18:02      
11th May 2016        
Leiden Centraal   10:06 2613 5735 9:47 Den Haag Centraal to Utrecht Centraal
Schiphol Airport 10:26   walk  
AMS   12:52 G-EZSM EZY6772 12:30 AMS to BFS
BFS 13:14   Bus  
Great Victoria Street   15:15 4007 15:15 Great Victoria Street to Larne Town
Whitehead 16:01 16:35 4016 15:45 Great Victoria Street to Larne Harbour
Larne Harbour 16:53 17:02 4016 17:02 Larne Harbour to Belfast Central
Belfast Central 18:06 18:11 3001 17:37 Bangor To Portadown
Botanic 18:13      
germany ireland netherlands http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/a-desperate-leap Sun, 05 Nov 2017 21:08:40 GMT
9th May 2016 - Leaping round Leipzig http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/leaping-round-leipzig Monday 9th May 2016

We had one day to spare in the Leipzig area before moving on so decided to start off with the new diesel hauled service on the Leipzig / Chemnitz RE service, a line which we had done many times around the turn of the century but only once to the best of our recollections since the class 219s finished on the route. Since then, the service had been in the hands of the vile class 612 units until the last timetable change when the route was taken over by Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn who drafted in the three DE2000 locos displaced from the Hamburg / Westerland line plus a couple of others.

223 053 at Leipzig Hbf223 053 at Leipzig Hbf9th May 2016. On RE74729 8:20 Lepzig Hbf to Chemnitz Hbf.

We needed one of the ex NOB ones plus the two new ones but the 8:20 departure was one of the locos that we'd previously had so we went for a walk whist waiting for the next one an hour later, noting a required class 112 on an RE service to Magdeburg and one of our last two class 182s on S2. As we had diagrams for the latter it was easy to take note of what it should be working for the rest of the day and although we didn't have any class 112 diagrams it wasn't hard to work out what it should do.

Back to the diesels and the 9:20 was one of the new hired in class 223s so that was the next move sorted. The third diagram was passed shortly after leaving Leipzig and was the other hired in loco so we had to decide whether to double back from Chemnitz for it or wait for an hour until it caught us up. In the event, we arrived at Chemnitz to the sight of a required class 143 heading towards Zwickau which was leaving in two minutes so it was a question of leap first and ask questions later. We worked out that there was a minus two minutes at Hohenstein-Ernsttahl onto a train from Hof or plus thirteen minutes onto an RB service from Zwickau which had a rather tight plus six onto the Leipzig train back at Chemnitz. Naturally trains are never late when you want them to be and the Hof train passed just before we arrived at Hohenstein-Ernsttahl so we had to wait for the RB from Zwickau.

143 283 at Erfurt Hbf143 283 at Erfurt Hbf24th January 2011.

A small kiosk selling drinks and snacks was noticed just outside the station so we decided to get a cup of tea whilst waiting, nearly a big mistake as we hadn't realised that the serving lady needed to boil the kettle to make it. The saying about a watched pot never boiling sprung to mind but it did eventually and we had a fast walk back to the platform only to find that the train was running five minutes late, not especially helpful with only six minutes to connect. Just for a change the train was slightly less than five minutes late, in Germany when you see that a train is late you can usually double the time that is shown on the screens, and we arrived at Chemnitz with two minutes to spare, just long enough to dash through the subway towards the furthest bay platform where the Leipzig train was.

Time for lunch at Leipzig then operation catch-up to get the 182 and 112 that we'd seen earlier which was quite easy, catch the S2 towards Dessau and get off at a station where the RE also stopped. We had considered going to Bitterfeld but changed our minds when the S-Bahn service arrived at Delitzsch unt Bf where two class 232 "Kolumna" locos were spotted stabled opposite the platforms so we got off to get some photos and saw a third one further away attached to a blue shunter. Regarding the two locos next to the station, one was rather faded and there was something slightly strange about the other one which we couldn't quite work out until we stood directly opposite and realised that it was possible to see right through the side windows, there was no engine in there which made it sit a little higher than the other one.

232 701 at Delitzsch unt Bf232 701 at Delitzsch unt Bf9th May 2016. Outside the Leipziger Eisenbahnverkehrsgesellschaft shed.

We took the following RE service to Bitterfeld where there was what we first thought to be a class 143 on two double deck coaches but it was actually a class 114 which was required for haulage so we took that to Wolfen for the Magdeburg to Leipzig RE back. Items of interest at Bitterfeld were a class V60 loco on a short tank train with another loco of the same type stabled along with a class 294.

294 663 at Bitterfeld294 663 at Bitterfeld9th May 2016.

114.004 caught us up and we took this train to Halle to see what was around there these days after the invasion of new units last December and were pleasantly surprised to see that S7 was still hauled with one of the two locos on the route being required for haulage. There was not much else around and with half of the station being closed for rebuilding so we waited until the next IC which was one of the new double deck sets heading to Norddeich and took this to Magdeburg with the intention of catching another IC train back to Leipzig.

Part one was accomplished and on arrival at Magdeburg we made our way to the IC for Leipzig only to notice the platform indicator flip over to "zug fällt aus" (cancelled) as we walked up to view the loco number. We had earlier noticed that there was an IC from Halle to Koln that was cancelled but we didn't think that it would affect our moves though maybe it was a lack of conductor or driver who worked both trains to and from Magdeburg. Luckily we noticed the cancellation in time to rush down to other end of the station where there was an RE leaving a minute later in the opposite direction going via Dessau, taking 25 minutes longer. The loco was the same class 114 that we'd had earlier and proved our suspicions, taking into account the lack of diagrams, that there were only two locos doing the Leipzig / Magdeburg RE trains. The route via Dessau was worth doing as well with quite a bit of interest to see, including a couple of passing freights.

It was now time for dinner so we went to Auerbachs Keller again which was a lot busier tonight but we were still served quickly and efficiently meaning we could finish off the track through the new city tunnel to Stötteritz and Connewitz, both of which had changed almost beyond recognition from when we last in the area 17-odd years ago.

182 016 at Leipzig-Connewitz182 016 at Leipzig-Connewitz9th May 2016. On an S2 service, the 21:08 Leipzig-Connewitz to Dessau Hbf.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Leipzig Hbf   9:20 223 152 RE74769 9:20 Leipzig Hbf to Chemnitz Hbf
Chemnitz Hbf 10:25 10:30 143 120 RB26912 9:07 Dresden Hbf to Zwickau (Sachs) Hbf
Hohenstein-Ernstthal 10:52 11:08 143 837 RB26917 10:39 Zwickau (Sachs) Hbf to Dresden Hbf
Chemnitz Hbf 11:29 11:31 223 144 RE74776 11:31 Chemnitz Hbf to Leipzig Hbf
Leipzig Hbf 12:30   walk  
Leipzig Hbf (tief) 12:30 13:07 182 019 S2 12:53 Leipzig-Connewitz to Dessau Hbf
Delitzsch unt Bf 13:23 13:37 112 139 RE17690 13:19 Leipzig Hbf to Magdeburg Hbf
Bitterfeld 13:45 13:52 114 004 RB37832 13:19 Halle (Saale) Hbf to Wolfen
Wolfen 13:59 14:06 114 028 RE17691 13:04 Magdeburg Hbf to Leipzig Hbf
Bitterfeld 14:09 14:37 114 004 RB37831 14:30 Wolfen to Halle (Saale) Hbf
Halle (Saale) Hbf 15:00 15:20 143 857 S7 15:20 Halle (Saale) Hbf to Halle Nietleben
Halle Silberhöhe 15:27 15:33 143 867 S7 15:18 Halle Nietleben to Halle (Saale) Hbf
Halle (Saale) Hbf 15:40 16:07 146 553 IC2034 15:39 Leipzig Hbf to Norddeich
Magdeburg Hbf 16:54 17:04 114 028 RE17695 17:04 Magdeburg Hbf to Leipzig Hbf
Leipzig Hbf 18:41 18:49 1442 130 S1 18:24 Leipzig Miltitzer Allee to Leipzig-Stötteritz
Leipzig Markt 18:50 20:16 1442 122 S1 37661 20:04 Leipzig Messe to Leipzig-Stötteritz
Leipzig-Stötteritz 20:26 20:30 ?? S1 20:30 Leipzig-Stötteritz to Leipzig Miltitzer Allee
Leipzig MDR 20:34 20:38 182 016 S2 20:10 Delitzsch unt Bf to Leipzig Connewitz
Leipzig Connewitz 20:41 20:58 1442 114 S3 20:28 Borna (Leipzig) to Halle (Saale) Hbf
Leipzig Hbf 21:07      
germany http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/leaping-round-leipzig Sun, 05 Nov 2017 20:27:31 GMT
8th May 2016 - Cowboys and Indians http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/cowboys-and-indians Sunday 8th May 2016

We had about six hours sleep and woke up in time to catch the 12:00 towards Dresden using the Sachsen Länder ticket that we had purchased from the ticket machine at Wittenberge last night whilst the loco was being serviced. Target for the day was the Lößnitzgrundbahn between Radebeul Ost and Radeburg which was running a special timetable for a "Karl May" event; a "wild west" themed event to celebrate Karl May, a German author who lived in Radebeul for many years and who is noted (amongst other things) for a series of books set in 19th century America which have quite a following in Germany.

There is the odd hauled RE turn between Leipzig and Dresden but the 12:00 was not one of them and comprised of a five car class 442 unit coupled to a three car one; totally inadequate for the number of people using the service though we managed to avoid the worst of the overcrowding by getting in the front. We had just over an hour to wait until the train on the Lößnitzgrundbahn so went to a nearby road overbridge to photograph the arrival of both the service train and the "Traditionszug" train forming the shuttles to the festival. The latter was a very long train and was topped at tailed by two 0-4-4-0T "Mallet" locomotives with a diesel locomotive on the Radebeul end as well.

1 at Radebeul Ost1 at Radebeul Ost8th May 2016. V10C type diesel no. 1 (built by LKM in 1967, works no. 250426) assisiting 0-4-4-0Ts 99 1608 and 132 (on rear) on a shuttle service from Loßnitzgrund serving the annual Karl May Fest.

Once we had photographed these we hung around and got some photos of passing IC trains before making our way our way back to the narrow gauge station where we discovered that tickets for the service train could only be bought from the guard. This train was hauled by 2-10-2T 99.1761, fortunately not the same loco that was working when we last went on the line 16 years ago. Whilst sitting on this train waiting for it to depart we heard an announcement from the adjacent mainline station to the effect that the RE to Dresden was running 15 minutes late. It didn't appear before we departed so it was just as well we decided to catch the earlier train from Leipzig.

143 884 at Radebeul Ost143 884 at Radebeul Ost8th May 2016. On an S1 service, the 13:47 Meißen Triebischtal to Schöna.

Most of the passengers on the train were going to the festival at Lößnitzgrund and many of the children were dressed as cowboys or indians (mostly the former). Both sides of the line at the festival location were lined with a large number of tent "encampments" with bars and stalls selling all manner of "wild west" themed items, some flying early versions of the American flag. We more-or-less had the train to ourselves after Lößnitzgrund though the open "cabrio coach" was quite full and entertainment was provided at Moritzburg by a woman rushing up and down the platform pushing a bike who did not appear to understand that she had to put the bike in the guards van before choosing a seat on the train. We think that she wanted to travel in the "cabrio coach" but there was nowhere to put a bike in that particular vehicle.

The loco was uncoupled from the train before we had even had time to get off so we had to content ourselves with a photo of it outside the shed which is home to the "Traditionsbahn" group who look after the Mallet locomotives, two of which were on the special train to the festival. There was a green Mallet bearing the number 176 (99.586) in the shed but we could not tell if it was serviceable; it had an overhaul date of 29.11 on the front but no year which would give away whether it was still "in ticket" or not.

99 1761 at Radeburg99 1761 at Radeburg8th May 2016. 99 1761, a 2-10-2T built by LKM Babelsberg in 1955, works no. 32032 runs round at Radeburg before working P3009 15:41 to Radebeul Ost.

The loco only came off the shed to work the return journey at the last minute so we departed about 5 minutes late and more time was lost at Lößnitzgrund and Weißes Roß whilst a large number of festivalgoers shoehorned their way on board. We arrived back at Radebeul one minute after the "Traditionszug" to the festival should have departed so it was a question of diving straight across the platform into the rear coach. We set off with 132 (99.539) on the front sounding like it was doing the lion's share of the work up the gradient to Lößnitzgrund with 99.1608 doing very little but diesel no. 1 on the rear was giving some lusty assistance on the steep climb through the town.

132 at Radebeul Ost132 at Radebeul Ost8th May 2016. 0-4-4-0T 132 on the rear of a shuttle service from Loßnitzgrund serving the annual Karl May Fest. The loco was built by Hartmann in 1899, works no. 2381, and later carried the numbers 99.539, 99.1539 and 099.701.

Any thoughts of leaping off for a photograph where the train terminated were rapidly dispelled by the sheer number of people waiting to get on, it was definitely best to stay put as if we'd got off the was a good chance that we might not have been able to get back on the train as a number of people were left on the platform; it was more like London Underground in the rush hour! 99.1608 did do a little bit of work on the downhill station but, there again, it didn't need to - we did wonder if it was not in the best of health, hence the accompanying diesel.

We arrived back at Radebeul a couple of minutes late but still in good time for the RE back to Dresden which was the same 3 + 5 car combination but it was a lot busier this afternoon. There were very few luggage racks which was no use whatsoever when many people had bags of varying sizes; there was a least one pair of seats filled with large suitcases, something which we usually have no tolerance for on a busy train but in this instance we could not see what else to do other than leaving them on the floor blocking the aisle.

Leipzig couldn't come soon enough on such an uncomfortable for of transport and we were glad to get off and go in search of somewhere for dinner. Auerbachs Keller was the chosen location in the city centre; a bit awkward to find as it was literally in a cellar accessed from an arcade but well worth the effort. The food was typical of what one would expect from such an establishment, very good and filling and not too pricey either but make sure you take some cash as a sign on the door said that they did not do card payments. We finished eating with enough time to have a look at a couple of class 182s but no sign of any new ones so we caught one back to the Hbf to save us the walk.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Leipzig Hbf   12:01 442 118 RE16517 12:00 Leipzig Hbf to Dresden Hbf
Radebeul Ost 13:18 14:26 99 1761 P3008 14:26 Radebeul Ost to Radeburg
Radeburg 15:23 15:46 99 1761 P3009 15:41 Radeburg to Radebeul Ost
Radebeul Ost 16:41 16:44 132 16:40 Radebeul Ost to Loßnitzgrund
Loßnitzgrund 16:54 17:00 1 17:00 Loßnitzgrund to Radebeul Ost
      99 1608  
Radebeul Ost 17:16 17:29 442 117 RE16526 17:15 Dresden Hbf to Leipzig Hbf
Leipzig Hbf 19:04   walk  
Leipzig Markt   20:31 182 021 S2 20:23 Leipzig-Connewitz to Delitzsch unt Bf
Leipzig Hbf (tief) 20:33      
germany lößnitzgrundbahn http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/cowboys-and-indians Sun, 05 Nov 2017 16:47:44 GMT
7th May 2016 - The Longest Day http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/the-longest-day Saturday 7th May 2016

Two German steam locomotives that we particularly wanted to ride behind were "Pacifics" 18.201 and 03.1010 so when a special from Leipzig to Hamburg for the harbour festival was advertised it was a good opportunity to cane both in despite the very long day (due out at 6am and not back until gone 2am the following morning!) As is normal with German special train organisers there was an on-line form to fill out which would probably lead to payment being made by bank transfer (expensive) but after a bit of digging around on the internet, we found that the Traditionsgemeinschaft Bw Halle had a Facebook page and contacted them via that method, making a booking by filling the form out but arranging to pay on the train.

Nothing more was heard until a couple of weeks before the trip when we received an e-mail with our seat numbers and the final timings; a 20 minute later start but an eye-watering one and a half hours later arrival back at 03:36 - we normally need to be paid to be awake at that sort of time not paying for it! Still, we couldn't let the Traditionsgemeinschaft Bw Halle down now; we had said we were going so we would have to put up and shut up unless we spent a fairly large sum on a return from Hamburg on a service train. One final issue reared its head when we checked the groups Facebook page for any last minute alterations the previous evening and found that 03.1010 had failed and could not be repaired so the train would now be worked by 18.201 with 243.005 (AKA 143.005, in other words an electric loco) though there was no indication as to what it might do.

243 005 at Leipzig Hbf243 005 at Leipzig Hbf7th May 2016. Arriving on the ECS for SDZ61078 6:20 Leipzig Hbf to Hamburg Hbf.

It was a beautiful morning and 18.201 glistened in the sun at the front of the 13 coach train whilst 243.005 was attached to the rear. One of the reasons we wanted to sample 18.201 is that it is the fastest steam loco in Europe with a maximum speed of 160 kph (99.5 mph) but it would not be able to demonstrate it on this occasion as the class 143 and some of the 2nd class coaches on the rear of the train were limited to 120 kph (74.5 mph). The big oil-fired 4-6-2 quickly got into its stride after negotiating the maze of track outside Leipzig Hbf though we did think that the electric might have been discreetly assisting on the rear. It didn't appear to be the loudest of machines either, unlike 03.1010 which we had heard is a bit of "thrash monster", but it was certainly impressive in the way that it rapidly gobbled up mile after mile without any fuss or apparent effort.

18 201 at Leipzig Hbf18 201 at Leipzig Hbf7th May 2016. On SDZ61078 6:20 Leipzig Hbf to Hamburg Hbf.

More passengers were picked up at Bitterfeld and Lutherstadt-Wittenberg then the train headed for Berlin and a spin round part of the " Außenring" (outer ring) in order to access Lichtenberg where there was a break for the loco to take water (and some of the passengers to get tea). Lichtenberg was a shadow of the station we remembered from the turn of the century when it had a good selection of loco-hauled trains though one familiar item was the class 109 electric parked in what looked like the same siding we had seen it in eleven years previously. It had been used on the privately run overnight train that runs between Berlin and Malmö (Sweden) though it did look a little unloved and we did not know whether it was still used on this train.

109-1 at Berlin Lichtenberg109-1 at Berlin Lichtenberg21st May 2006. This loco was formerly 109 084.

We had hoped that we would be able to claim the electric loco for haulage back out to the Außenring and carry on round there but the train continued with 18.201 on the front and took some unusual track avoiding Gesundbrunnen and past Blankenburg before re-joining the Außenring until branching off to join the mainline to Hamburg shortly before Nauen. We soon got up to the maximum speed and reeled off the kilometres at a steady 120kph until Wittenberge where 18.201 was detached and sent to the local shed which is now a museum. The museum was actually open but was unfortunately just far enough away to dissuade us from paying a visit, we might have been there for only ten to fifteen minutes which was not worth the effort especially as it was now rather sunny and hot.

18 201 at Wittenberge18 201 at Wittenberge7th May 2016.

Perhaps we were missing something in the translation but it was hard to tell from the tour leaflet if the train was terminating at Hamburg-Altona or Hbf so we asked the organisers who clarifed that the train was terminating at Altona but leaving from the Hauptbahnhof. This made sense as doing this meant that the whole train would be turned which would get round the issue of only turning the steam loco and messing around swapping it and the electric over for the return journey; much easier to turn the entire train and a bonus for us as it meant that we would be at the front for the whole of this lengthy tour.

Whilst most people probably went to the Harbour festival we, of course, took the opportunity for a bit of a "bash" and the first thing that we saw was a new class 245 diesel on the service to Westerland. There was no time to get a ticket so we hopped on anyway with the intention of getting one from the guard but we didn't see anybody before we got off at Elmshorn where we went straight to the ticket machine and decided that a three zone Hamburg area day ticket was the best option and it would also cover us for the journey to Elmshorn that we had inadvertently "effed".

245 215 at Elmshorn245 215 at Elmshorn7th May 2016. On NOB81752 15:03 Hamburg Hbf to Westerland (Sylt).

We had hoped to see at least one of the two Kiel based class 112 locos that we still needed for haulage but there was no sign of either so we retreated to the Hauptbahnhof to have the meal that we originally intended to eat on our arrival, in the Blockhouse of course.

There were still two hours to departure time when we finished eating so it was time to do a bit of "fishing" but with no sign of the two class 112s and no new class 143s in evidence there was not a lot of new locos to be had without going back to Altona for the class 245s and there wasn't really time for that. Required 246.006 came to the rescue on a Cuxhaven service but things were starting to fray around the edges by now as the train departed late then got stopped en route to Harburg whilst a freight was run across in front. We arrived at Harburg with only enough time to get the first "Metronom" service back to Hamburg so we went to the relevant platform and were pleased to see the signal off for a passing freight. Cameras at the ready, the platform indicator suddenly changed to show a late running IC train at the platform we were standing on and this promptly ran into the platform at the precise moment the freight went past with a hard-working "Blue Tiger" type loco on the front causing some rude words to be muttered.

101 085 at Mannheim Hbf101 085 at Mannheim Hbf2nd October 2007.

The "Metronom" was dud of course and we arrived back at the hauptbahnhof to a scene of chaos with huge crowds coming into the city, probably for the fireworks display later and we actually had to queue to get off the platform. There also looked to be a football match on as well judging by the number of people wearing FC Hamburg shirts and scarves; we have seen some busy scenes at Hamburg but not this crowded.

We also discovered that there were two other specials for the Harbour Festival, one from Berlin which was an ODEG double deck EMU and another from Menden (Sauerland) which was steam-hauled. We had caught a glimpse of another "kettle" in Eidelstedt earlier and shouldn't have been surprised by this as we had seen a trip advertised a few months ago using UEF's 01.1066 but had promptly dismissed it from our thoughts as we have done two or three trips with this loco in the past. It would have been a nice trip as it had 12 coaches and no form of modern assistance but the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing and your certainly can't legislate for any last minute failures.

01 1066 at Nürnberg Hbf01 1066 at Nürnberg Hbf9th December 2006. Oil-burning 4-6-2 01 1066 on a charter from Ludwigsburg to Hersbruck; the return of the trip that 41 018 worked in the morning.

Our train departed a few minutes late as the stock arrived very close to departure time and it took some time for everyone to get on board in the general hubbub. We set off with some nice three-cylinder noises coming from the front but soon stopped in the suburbs af Hamburg near Tiefstack where we stood for around half an hour, watching S Bahns going past before the staff came round telling each compartment that there were "people taking photographs on the track". Eventually an ICE train went past running "wrong road" then after a suitable interval waiting for it to clear, we set off again with more steady running at maximum speed until we arrived at Wittenberge about two minutes after we should have departed.

18.201 went off to the shed / museum again but it was a bit easier this time as train was in the right side of the station for the loco to go straight to the shed and it was on the correct end this time. The loco was serviced quite quickly and we left 39 minutes late, it was getting dark by now and our eyelids were getting heavy so we missed the exact route taken round Berlin but it must have different to this morning's as we arrived at Lichtenberg facing the same way as earlier.

Refreshed by the doze, we proceeded to make a careful note of the route taken from here towards Gesundbrunnen again, but this time we went through the station and followed a fairly tortuous route through Wansee and Potsdam, past the freight yards at Seddin and round an almost complete circle at Genshagener Heide to regain our outwards route to Leipzig.

Now back on the mainline, 18.201 got back into its stride and was soon effortlessly gliding along at 120kph whilst all five of us in the compartment succumbed to the late hour and long day, only waking up as the train ran into Leipzig arriving 22 hours and one minute after we left, 45 minutes late at 4:21am with dawn just beginning to break.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Leipzig Hbf   6:20 18 201 SDZ61078 6:20 Leipzig Hbf to Hamburg Hbf
v. Bitterfeld, Schönefeld Flug, Biesdorfer Kreuz Süd     143 005  
Berlin Lichtenberg 8:55 9:31 18 201  
v. Pankow, Blankenburg, Außenring 35.6km, Brieselang        
Hamburg-Altona 14:31 14:40 245 208 RE81718 14:40 Hamburg-Altona to Westerland (Sylt)
Elmshorn 15:00 15:50 112 181 RE21075 14:15 Flensburg to Hamburg Hbf
Hamburg Hbf 16:14 18:11 246 004 RE81527 18:06 Hamburg Hbf to Cuxhaven
Hamburg-Harburg 18:23 18:41 ME146-10 RE82028 17:33 Bremen Hbf to Hamburg Hbf
Hamburg Hbf 18:51   18 201 SDZ61328 19:27 Hamburg Hbf to Leipzig Hbf
      143 005  
Berlin Lichtenberg 0:37 1:10 18 201  
      143 005  
v. Gesundbrunnen, Jungfernheide, Wansee, Potsdam Hbf, Seddin, Genshagener Heide, Bitterfeld        
Leipzig Hbf 4:21      
germany http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/the-longest-day Thu, 02 Nov 2017 21:51:47 GMT
6th May 2016 - Moving On http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/moving-on Friday 6th May 2016

We could easily have stayed for a few more days in the Czech Republic but it was time to move on as we needed to be in Leipzig for a tour tomorrow. There was a choice of leaving at 7:30 or 9:30 so we opted for the latter as we had a very early start tomorrow but it was late, leading to a bout of nail-biting over whether we would make the connection at Praha though in the end we had a good run and picked up all the lost time so made the connection with ease.

In true ČD fashion there was no platform shown for the EC to Kiel, despite there being less than 20 minutes before departure. This might have had something to do with two platforms being out of use due to building works but ČD do have a tendency to only provide platform "gen" shortly before departure. EC378 only pulled into the platform at its booked departure time so that was an instant late start though as we had plenty of time at Dresden it wasn't a problem for us.

371 002 at Dresden Hbf371 002 at Dresden Hbf9th September 2013.

It was a good run to Dresden with some nice scenery along the Elbe valley and there were still some class 143-hauled S-Bahn services in evidence. As we passed what would be our train to Leipzig in the sidings on the approach to Dresden Hbf it was pleasing to see a class 120 electric on the front, especially as it was our lowest mileage one by far. The only previous time we'd been hauled by it was between Hamburg Hbf and Dammtor; less than a mile!

120 129 at München Hbf120 129 at München Hbf25th May 2005.

Past the Lößnitzgrundbahn at Radebeul with two 0-4-4-0 "Mallet" locomotives and one of the more usual 2-10-2T outside then, a little later on, the Döllnitzbahn where there was no sign of any narrow gauge trains. We arrived in Leipzig at 16:30 so after a quick visit to our hotel (The Inter City) we returned to the station to see what was about, one of our three remaining class 182s would be nice but there was also a whole new sub-class of IC 146/5s to look for plus a new diesel-hauled service between Leipzig and Chemnitz. As the departure of the latter was imminent we checked that out first but it was one of the ex NOB (Nord-Ostsee Bahn) locos that we'd previously had on the Marschbahn so our attention turned to the white double-deck set a few platforms away which would be a guaranteed winner.

146 573 at Dresden Hbf146 573 at Dresden Hbf7th February 2017.

Halle (Saale) would be quite far enough as it would be dinner time by then and we wanted to check out the progress of the station rebuilding, it was certainly extensive with half the station being out of use. Almost everything had been removed, track, overhead line equipment, platforms; in fact the only thing still standing were the station canopies. We had already noticed that the restricted capacity was causing delays, especially when things were running late - not an unusual occurrence in Germany these days.

143 891 at Halle (Saale) Hbf143 891 at Halle (Saale) Hbf23rd November 2015. On S7 37745 15:21 Halle-Nietleben to Halle-Trotha.

After a quick meal at the Asian "restaurant" in the station we returned to Leipzig on an ordinary IC train as the new double deck ones only ran every two hours and we wanted to have a quick look at the class 182s on the S bahn. This proved to be a worthwhile operation when one of our last three for haulage turned up there was only time for a short run as we had to be up early in the morning.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Brno hl.n.   9:45 380 009 EC280 5:25 Budapest-Keleti to Praha hl.n.
Praha hl.n. 12:10 12:34 371 003 EC378 12:27 Praha hl.n. to Kiel Hbf
Dresden Hbf 14:44 15:20 120 148 IC2444 15:20 Dresden Hbf to Köln Hbf
Leipzig Hbf 16:30 17:42 146 552 IC2032 17:39 Leipzig Hbf to Emden Hbf
v. Leipzig / Halle Airport        
Halle (Saale) Hbf 18:10 18:54 101 117 IC2047 13:13 Köln Hbf to Dresden Hbf
v. Leipzig / Halle Airport        
Leipzig Hbf 19:14   walk  
Leipzig Hbf (tief)   19:33 182 021 S2 19:23 Leipzig-Connewitz to Delitzsch unt Bf
Leipzig-Messe 19:38 19:52 182 022 RB17717 18:04 Magdeburg Hbf to Leipzig-Connewitz
Leipzig Hbf (tief) 19:56      
czech republic germany http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/11/moving-on Thu, 02 Nov 2017 20:14:39 GMT
5th May 2016 - Autobussy! http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/autobussy Thursday 5th May 2016

We went out for the 7:20 to Plzeň again this morning, this time staying on the train when it reversed at Jihlava though the class 242 this morning was actually one of the handful that we had for haulage previously. We only went one stop, to Kostelec u Jihlavy as we had plans and were a little disappointed that the only other train we saw at this pleasant rural station during the 35 minute wait for the train back the other way was a DMU.

841 009 at Kostelec u Jihlavy841 009 at Kostelec u Jihlavy5th May 2016. On 28308 9:09 Dačice město to Kostelec u Jihlavy.

On our return to Jihlava, the train went around 100 metres further north to what was almost a different station to the platforms next to the station building that we had stopped at in the opposite direction. The same class 750 that we’d had earlier took over the train but we only took this for around 29 kilometres to Okříšky where we changed for one of the regionova DMUs for the 90 minute long journey to Znojmo. These units consist of a rebuilt class 810 four-wheel railbus with a trailer coach permanently attached with a corridor connection to make a two-car train. The track was not of the best quality so this two axle unit did not ride very well, bumping and screeching round curves, up hill and down dale along this rural line which was still controlled by semaphore signals.

814 067 at Okříšky814 067 at Okříšky5th May 2016. On 24809 11:17 Okříšky to Znojmo.

We stopped for 15 minutes at one of the larger stations en route whilst a similar unit passed in the opposite direction and passed a rather nice freight train at the next loop along the line, a mixed freight hauled by a pair of class 742s and including a rather nice transformer transporting wagon on the rear.

Znojmo was reached on time and we soon spotted our next move, the reason for us going here in the first place, a single cab class 714 diesel on two DMU trailers. There is just the one turn for one of these locos between Znojmo and Břeclav on Mondays to Fridays and we were joined for this section by a friend who also needed the track and had travelled here via Retz in Austria. It was nice sunny and hot now, in contrast to the previous couple of days so most of the windows were open which made it rather hard to hold a conversation and it was a relief when we stopped at Hrušovany nad Jevišovkou for nine minutes to cross another train. The sun was just right for a photograph but it would not be a good idea to traipse across the track with another train approaching so we waited until the other train had departed before asking the “red cap” who readily agreed to our request.

714 211 at Hrušovany nad Jevišovkou714 211 at Hrušovany nad Jevišovkou5th May 2016. On Os4515 12:55 Znojmo to Břeclav.

Our intention had been to visit the eiscafé on arrival at Břeclav but a required loco heading towards Přerov arrived right in front of us so, deciding that it would be rude not to, we headed north to Hodonín where our friend doubled back towards Győr, Hungary, whilst we stepped back onto the following EC train after finding an eiscafé replacement a short walk down the road. The EC loco was dud but we got on anyway to spent 50 minutes at Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště where we had hoped to see some freight action, no such luck but our train back to Brno was already there and perfectly positioned for the sun.

750 710 at Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště750 710 at Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště5th May 2016. On Sp1732 16:35 Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště to Brno hl.n.

We set off on time along a double track secondary route with pleasant enough scenery so we settled down and enjoyed the ride until about 30 minutes before we should have arrived at Brno when the conductress opened the compartment door and said “Slavkov u Brna, autobussy”, just about the only Czech word we knew and not one that we wanted to hear. Despite checking the engineering works on the ČD website this one had somehow eluded us so we were left with a 27.5 km gap in our track coverage and we only just managed to find two separate seats on the bus though, checking the map on our phones it didn’t look as if it would take too long to get to Brno thanks to a nearby motorway.

Slavkov u BrnaSlavkov u Brna5th May 2016. Looking towards Veseli nad Moravou.

After setting off, the bus took a rather strange diversion off the main road then, annoyingly, got stopped at a level crossing on the nearby electrified route to Brno near Holubice station whilst a freight went past after which it went back onto what appeared to be the same road we had just left, we can only presume that it was some quirk of the road layout or perhaps there was engineering work on the road as well.

Once on the motorway we made good time but the state of the inside lane was appalling, even worse than some UK roads which is saying something, judging by the conspiring looks exchanged with the Czech couple sitting opposite they were of the same opinion. There was a bit of traffic on the way into Brno but we pulled up into the coach station at the rear of the main station having only taken seven minutes more than the train. We had planned to have a walk into the city to have dinner but couldn’t really be bothered after the unwanted bus ride so went back to the hotel instead only to find that the restaurant was closed due to some event. We were re-directed to the bar where the same menu was on offer; it was very good and surprisingly good value for money considering this was a four star hotel, certainly a lot cheaper than the equivalent would be in the UK or Germany.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Brno hl.n.   7:22 750 711 R668 7:20 Brno hl.n. to Plzeň hl.n.
Jihlava 9:16 9:25 242 205  
Kostelec u Jihlavy 9:42 10:17 242 218 R661 6:02 Plzeň hl.n. to Brno hl.n.
Jihlava (+100m) 10:33 10:40 750 711  
Okříšky 11:06 11:17 814 067 24809 11:17 Okříšky to Znojmo
Znojmo 12:47 12:55 714 211 Os4515 12:55 Znojmo to Břeclav
Břeclav 14:31 14:43 362 128 Os4215 14:35 Břeclav to Přerov
Hodonín 14:59 15:30 380 013 IC102 14:09 Wien Hbf to Warszawa Wschodnia
Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště 15:45 16:38 750 710 Sp1732 16:35 Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště to Brno hl.n.
Slavkov u Brna 18:05   Autobussy  
Brno hl.n.        
czech republic http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/10/autobussy Sat, 14 Oct 2017 21:46:09 GMT
4th May 2016 - Czech Circular http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/9/czech-circular Wednesday 4th May 2016

It was time for us to start getting acquainted with the Czech Republic so we devised a circular trip for today starting with the 7:20 to Plzeň which was diesel-hauled to Jihlava along a line with pleasant scenery and old fashioned infrastructure including semaphore signals; right up our track! The loco was a rebuilt “Goggles” loco (class 750) which was nothing to write home about in the noise stakes though neither was the original version; a classic case of something looking far more interesting than it sounds.

750 718 at Třebíč750 718 at Třebíč4th May 2016. On R668 7:20 Brno hl.n. to Plzeň hl.n.

We made a schoolchild error at Jihlava and caught a DMU to Havlíčkův Brod when we should have carried on towards Plzeň with the class 242 electric loco then had two more and still been able to carry on with our leisurely journey. The idea of stopping off and taking photos at various locations on the way was not helped by the fast that it was raining by the time we reached Havlíčkův Brod but the only thing in a suitable position for phots was a green and white class 742 standing outside the shed.

742 452 at Havlíčkův Brod742 452 at Havlíčkův Brod4th May 2016.

The next departure from here was towards Praha and it had a required loco on the front which wasn’t really surprising given how little we had done in the country so we took this to Kolín, where it was still raining so it was off to the station café for lunch. 25 minutes was quite long enough here so we headed for Pardubice where it was still raining and some notable late running from the Budapest direction though there were a few items of interest to photograph.

730 625 at Pardubice hl.n.730 625 at Pardubice hl.n.4th May 2016.

From here we caught a local train to Choceň where we planned to step back onto the following “R” train which overtook the local train here but it turned out to be a “Regio Panter” EMU. Getting back onto the all stations to continue our journey would have taken a lot longer so we boarded the new unit which was so new that it still had that “new train” smell.

661 109 at Česká Třebová661 109 at Česká Třebová4th May 2016. On R868 "Špilberk" 12:57 Brno hl.n. to Praha hl.n.


Next stop was Česká Třebová, 20 minutes further down the line, so we didn’t have to spend too long on this new contraption and had an hour to spend in this interesting location which proved to be quite interesting though the rain continued to fall.

122 027 at Česká Třebová122 027 at Česká Třebová4th May 2016.

We had arranged to meet a friend at Břeclav just before 6pm so caught a semi-fast train to Brno hauled by a class 242, changing there for a local train with another class 242 on the front to Břeclav which took an hour as opposed to 30 minutes for a faster train but there was no need for us to rush there and at least we got a seat, unlike the previous occasion two months ago on an EC train.

Our friend and a companion arrived off a northbound EC soon after we arrived and we went to the usual Eiscafe though they were a bit disorganized on this occasion. We chose our food and ordered it at the till, the drinks quickly arrived and were followed a short time later by three (sweet) pancakes despite the fact that we had also ordered some toasties. We had assumed that common sense would dictate that the savoury stuff would be served before the dessert but maybe the fact that the main part of the business was serving cakes and ice cream meant that they found it easier and quicker to serve things “back to front”!

Kristoff had only ordered a sandwich wrap and that took longer to arrive than the toasties; it took so long that he was getting worried that it might not arrive before his train back to Wien but it did eventually turn up and there was no requirement for a “doggy bag” to take it away.

After waving our friends off back to Wien we chose to get another local train back to Brno as the next EC heading that way had a dud Slovakian class 350 on the front. Although we couldn’t initially find the train in the class 242 loco diagrams it did turn out to be hauled and we eventually tracked the turn down in one of the two diagrams for the two class 263 locos; it was probably a bit much to expect 100% class availability all the time so perhaps it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to find other locos covering one of the turns. One advantage of catching this train was that it stopped at all stations which enabled us to get a shot of 721.517 in the last of the daylight being prepared for a nights work whilst we stood at Šakvice, a nice little bonus at the end of an interesting day.

721 517 at Šakvice721 517 at Šakvice4th May 2016.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Brno hl.n.   7:20 750 718 R668 7:20 Brno hl.n. to Plzeň hl.n.
Jihlava 9:16 9:22 841 009 28304 7:03 Slavonice to Havlíčkův Brod
Havlíčkův Brod 9:49 9:57 362 118 R986 8:20 Brno hl.n. to Praha hl.n.
Kolín 11:10 11:35 150 209 R889 10:55 Praha hl.n. to Luhačovice
Pardubice hl.n. 12:04 12:44 163 069 5007 11:37 Kolín to Česká Třebová
Choceň 13:20 13:25 660 105 R867 11:55 Praha hl.n. to Brno hl.n.
Česká Třebová 13:45 14:49 362 033 Sp1977 14:48 Česká Třebová to Brno hl.n.
Brno hl.n. 16:14 16:40 242 238 Os4627 16:00 Tišnov to Břeclav
Břeclav 17:41 19:38 242 253 Os4632 19:38 Břeclav to Tišnov
Brno hl.n. 20:51      
czech republic http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/9/czech-circular Tue, 05 Sep 2017 21:09:53 GMT
3rd May 2016 - A Trip Through Four Countries http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/a-trip-through-four-countries Tuesday 3rd May 2016

Time to move on from Slovenia, to the Czech Republic in fact but of course we weren’t going straight there; another trip on “Citadella” was a must bearing in mind it might be our last one behind a 664 with electrification imminent. Naturally we went out to view EN415 first and were rewarded with a new class 541 so it was off to Zidani Most to wait for “Citadella” to catch up, EN415 actually arriving there on time for once rather than being held up with engineering works as is often the case.

“Citadella” did not have a loco on when we left but a class 342 was seen at the far end of the carriage sidings as we departed from Ljubljana so it was no surprise when the train arrived with 342.005 on the front. There were still plenty of “cranks” around after the tour yesterday so an attempt had been made to “fix” 664.105 for the diesel leg as many of us required it for haulage and, sure enough, there it was waiting at Pragersko. Only one problem, as it backed onto the train, 664.112 was coupled in front of it – déjà vu for us as exactly the same thing had happen to us in January with 664.116! This time however, there was no chance of a "clawback" on the return journey as we had to keep going unless we wanted to arrive in Brno in the early hours of the morning.

664 116 at Pragersko664 116 at Pragersko25th January 2016. With 664 111 about to attach to MV247 8:45 Ljubljana to Budapest Déli "Citadella" which they will work to Hodoš.

The inevitable happened at Hodoš when 112 went off to work a freight whilst 105 waited to work the return of “Citadella” and just to rub it in we had a dud class 431 onwards whilst the southbound working had a required one; never mind, onwards and northwards.

Things improved a little at Zalaszentiván when required 418.332 turned up on our next train and we had an interesting journey to Szombathely spotting the progress of the lines electrification with many mast bases in evidence plus a shabby class M25 and freshly painted Nohab on works trains duties.

418 332 at Zalaszentiván418 332 at Zalaszentiván3rd May 2016. On 8905 10:15 Pécs to Szombathely.

There was time for a quick trip to the café across the square from the station at Szombathely to grab to sustenance to fortify us for the next leg of the journey which would be on a new “FLIRT” EMU, there being few loco-hauled trains on the line to Sopron these days. More drinks and some photographs at Sopron before boarding another unit, a DMU this time which was a mixture of two ÖBB single car class 5047s coupled to a GySEV (ex ÖBB) class 5147. Our Austrian friend had arranged to meet us on this section so we could catch up with each other’s news, punctuated by a bit of a dash at Wiener Neustadt as our train arrived a couple of minutes late.

A platform change at Wien Hbf meant an easy cross platform change to train D100 which only had three coaches hauled by a Czech Railways class 380 but we weren’t on this for long as we had to change at Břeclav for a Budapest to Praha EC train for the last leg of the journey. This turned out to be hauled by a Slovakian class 350 loco, meaning that we had been hauled by locos from five different countries today though only having travelled through four of them. Our hotel for the next three nights was the Grand Hotel Brno, quite posh but not too expensive in our opinion especially as our room was a suite with a separate bathroom, lobby and “sitting room”.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Ljubljana   8:28 541 003 EN415 20:40 Zürich HB to Beograd
Zidani Most 9:20 9:46 342 005 MV247 8:45 Ljubljana to Budapest Déli
Pragersko 11:50 12:03 664 112  
Hodoš 12:30 12:52 431 188  
Zalaegerszeg 13:28 13:45 431 188  
Zalaszentiván 13:54 14:02 418 332 8905 10:15 Pécs to Szombathely
Szombathely 14:55 15:36 415 502 9163 14:36 Szentgotthárd to Sopron
Sopron 16:26 16:44 5047 028 7152 16:44 Sopron to Wiener Neustadt
Wiener Neustadt 17:27 17:33 1116 239 RJ750 15:25 Graz Hbf to Wien Hbf
Wien Hbf 18:03 18:09 380 017 D100 18:09 Wien Hbf to Ostrava
Břeclav 19:05 19:15 350 012 EC272 15:25 Budapest Keleti to Praha hl.n.
Brno hl.n. 19:44      
austria citadella czech republic hungary slovenia http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/a-trip-through-four-countries Sun, 27 Aug 2017 07:02:56 GMT
2nd May 2016 - Tidying up some loose ends http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/tidying-up-some-loose-ends Monday 2nd May 2016

We woke up to the sound of rain again this morning which was rather annoying as it had been forecast to clear though as we were in a mountainous area it wasn’t  really surprising. After a hearty breakfast the rain had eased as we walked up to the station in good time to bag a seat in what would be the front coach only to find that they had disappeared! They must have been taken back to Nova Gorica with the Avtovlak train after the service finished last night.

One thing that was there, stabled in the loading dock headshunt, was a class 644 which we thought might have been 005 but a closer inspection revealed that it was in fact 644.012, our last one which we had actually asked the organizer if it could be provided; cheers to Phil for passing on the request and to SŽ driver Robi for bringing it from Ljubljana.

644 012 at Bohinjska Bistrica644 012 at Bohinjska Bistrica2nd May 2016.

The Avtovlak was running late and we guessed why when 644.020 appeared on its own with both the car train and our coaches in tow; now that would have been worth going down to Nova Gorica or Most na Soči for. The train was routed towards the loading dock but it had to go down further than usual in order for the loco to run round. Once it had done this, a quick shunt was performed so that our coaches were next to 664.012 in the shunt neck and the flat wagons next to the loading dock for the cars of which two turned up. We went in top and tail mode to Most na Soči as it is mostly downhill so no need for a second loco.

A family tried to board our coaches at Podbrdo but were shooed down to the four wheeler coach at the other end mainly because the conductor of our train did not have a machine to sell them a ticket. Things were kept simple at Most na Soči, our coaches with 644.012 on the north end were dropped off in the platform after which 644.020 did the usual shunt to put the Avtovlak next to the loading dock. The sun made a brief appearance before we all descended onto the café on the platform; they have probably never been so busy.

644 020 at Most na Soči644 020 at Most na Soči2nd May 2016. 644 020 / 012 double head a combined AVT854 10:31 Most na Soči to Bohinjska Bistrica / PTG tour.

There were no cars for the return journey but there were a couple of foot passengers who made themselves as comfortable as they could in the four wheeled “thunderbox” which would be at the rear, our three coaches would be taking up the “number one” position at the front of the train. We had hoped that the staff would keep it simple again and run top and tail but 644.020 ran round after shunting the Avtovlak so the two locos would be double heading this time. It was still a superb experience with 644.020 on the front sounding as if it was doing slightly more work than 644.012 inside though we consider that last night’s run behind 644.005 had the edge over this morning’s effort.

644 020 at Bohinjska Bistrica644 020 at Bohinjska Bistrica2nd May 2016. 644 020 / 012 double head a combined AVT854 10:31 Most na Soči to Bohinjska Bistrica / PTG tour.

Over the past couple of days we couldn’t help noticing that a photographer driving a white van had been following the train; it wasn’t the vehicle that caught our attention but the rather lurid silver coat that he was wearing – it certainly stood out. He had put his van on the train last night but had either driven round the long way or taken his van back south on the train again as we noticed said vehicle following us after leaving Most na Soči, no doubt off to find another photo location. We didn’t notice the rather obvious silver coat at the lineside but the white van raced up to the loading dock as we arrived at Podbrdo and was put on the train to Bohinjska Bistrica again.

On arrival at the latter the train went straight into the Avtovlak dock where 644.020 was taken off the front and run round leaving 644.012 to pull the train up until the car wagons were positioned correctly for unloading before shunting the tour coaches off the front and into one of the station platforms. We should have had around 40 minutes at Bohinjska Bistrica so many people gravitated to the bar again but the wait ended up being over an hour as the service train we were booked to cross was running late.

644 012 at Bohinjska Bistrica644 012 at Bohinjska Bistrica2nd May 2016. On 17025 11:53 Bohinjska Bistrica to Jesenice.

Next stop after leaving Bohinjska Bistrica was Jesenice where the our train had to reverse but first of all there was a rare bit of track to do, the stub of the former line to Tarvisio which had closed in the mid 1960s. This line now terminates at Hrušica, some 2 ¾ km from Jesenice and has been used for passenger trains during skiing events at Kranjska Gora though these are usually DMUs as there is no run round loop.

644.012 ran round at Jesenice to put it at the right end for the journey south and 643.043 appeared from the yard to take us the short distance down the branch. We had trouble locating this line on various maps and it wasn’t really surprising as it ran parallel to the main line to Villach for most of its length and was only noticeable as a separate alignment for the last 500 metres or so when the mainline swung away, rising to the left in order to pass over the former line to Tarvisio which now ends a short distance from the bridge carrying the main line over the trackbed.

643 043 at Hrušica643 043 at Hrušica2nd May 2016. The end of the line at Hrušica on the Jesenice to Tarvisio railway. The line was closed beyond here in 1967; the line between Jesenice and Villach (Austria) can be seen passing over the former line in the background.

It was obvious why the location gets used as a railhead for skiing events as there was a large car park next to the siding giving plenty of room to park and load road coaches without clogging up the road outside Jesenice station. We were allowed out for photographs, taking care not to fall into the ditch on the opposite side of the line to the car park but it had started to rain again and there was a very cold wind sweeping down off the mountains, a similar situation to the one we had been in at Ajdovščina yesterday.

644 012 at Hrušica644 012 at Hrušica2nd May 2016. On 17025 11:53 Bohinjska Bistrica to Ljublana via Naklo.

Fifteen minutes was ample time to get photographs of both ends of the train and to investigate the start of the trackbed to Tarvisio; the 643 was uncoupled from the train during this time and followed us back down the branch at a respectful distance to Jesenice where it went straight back into the yard to carry on with whatever it had been up to before our arrival.

An EC train had passed us as our train was coming off the branch and was still in the station when we arrived so we had to wait for that to leave before following it towards Ljubljana but only as far as Kranj where there was one last item of interest to do, the freight only line to Naklo the only remaining section of the 15km long line from Kranj to Tržič which closed in 1966. A man and a child joined our train at Kranj and a small group of locals watched our progress from an overbridge not far from Kranj. We passed a couple of sidings and a small distribution centre around 3km from the mainline which looked as if they were the reason for the branches survival, the rails being quite rusty beyond here to the end of the line at the former Naklo station. There was nearly half an hour here to photograph the train, the end of the line and the plinthed steam loco and coach before the tour train shuffled back a few yards to the run round loop points before setting off back to Kranj.

NakloNaklo2nd May 2016. 644 012 working 17025 11:53 Bohinjska Bistrica to Ljublana via Naklo with plinthed 53-019, a 2-8-2T built by WLF (Florisdorf) in 1928, works no. 2976.

There was a short pause here whilst we waited for a northbound EC train then the final 28 ½ kilometres to Ljubljana to round off what had been an interesting tour for us, even without the original plan of taking a 664 to Trieste as we had done some new lines in Slovenia that would not have otherwise been covered. We lingered at Ljubljana and watched a trio of class 363 locos being assembled to work the 17:25 IC to Maribor but although the leading one was required for haulage we decided against doing it for various reasons and had an excellent meat platter in the “Sarajevo ‘84” restaurant instead.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Bohinjska Bistrica   9:10 644 020 AVT853 9:09 Bohinjska Bistrica to Most na Soči
Most na Soči 9:54 10:38 644 020 AVT854 10:31 Most na Soči to Bohinjska Bistrica
      644 012  
Bohinjska Bistrica 11:18 12:20 644 012 17025 11:53 Bohinjska Bistrica to Jesenice
Jesenice 12:53 13:02 643 043  
Hrušica 13:15 13:30 644 012  
Kranj 14:39 14:50 644 012  
Naklo 15:02 15:30 644 012  
v. Škofja Loka sta.        
Ljubljana 16:36      
ptg tours slovenia http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/8/tidying-up-some-loose-ends Sat, 26 Aug 2017 19:23:32 GMT
1st May 2016 - Who took the Sun out of Sunday? http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/who-took-the-sun-out-of-sunday Sunday 1st May 2016

This morning was payback time for the beautiful weather yesterday; it wasn’t just dull, it was chucking it down with rain as well and forecast to be like that for most of the day. Breakfast was served from 6:15 so we made sure to be there promptly and have a leisurely breakfast before going out to the coach which was booked to leave at 7:15 except there was just one problem, the coach was conspicuous by its absence. Phone calls were made to the agency that the coach was booked through, the coach company itself and even the driver but to no avail so, with the aid of the hotel, a fleet of taxis were summonsed and turned up commendably quickly for a Sunday morning.

The three of us in our taxi were charged 110 HZK (between £10 and £11), exactly the amount we were advised it would be, a receipt was obtained and re-imbursement in Euros of the equivalent amount was quickly forthcoming from the tour organizer before we crossed the border back into Slovenia. On the downside the lack of coach cost us a small section of track as the plan had been to set the train back around 500 metres to the end of the line at Pula Obale but it was fortunate that we got to the station in time to leave only 13 minutes late, grabbing a quick photo of the two DMUs stabled outside the shed as we passed.

PulaPula1st May 2016. 7122 018 and 7122 019 outside the shed at Pula in the pouring rain.

There were stops at Buzet and Rakitovec for passport / customs, a passport stamp was asked for and willingly provided at the former but, other than a police car, there was no sign of anybody at the latter so we just took some more photos in the rain though it had eased a lot since leaving Pula.

664 116 at Buzet664 116 at Buzet1st May 2016. On 15581 8:00 Pula to Buzet / 17026 9:50 Buzet to Hrpelje-Kozina.

The loco had to run round at Hrpelje-Kozina for the next leg of the tour to Koper, a freight train was already here heading towards Ljubljana with a class 363 on the rear and as our loco ran round, 363.029 came up the hill from Koper with a container train but there was no chance of getting a picture as we had been herded back onto the train which departed as soon as the freight had cleared the points; we didn’t want to cause any delays on this very busy route.

Instead of going to the passenger station at Koper we turned right into the large freight yard and kept going out the far end and towards a container terminal where an LTE class 2016 was stabled. There was an area of hard standing just beyond here with one railway track set into the tarmac and a few minutes after arriving we were allowed out with no apparent requirement for the HV vests that we had been told were necessary two days ago. As we had gone to the trouble of getting some we did wear ours but many others were not and there were no issues. It was still raining slightly when we first got out of the train but it soon cleared up as we waited for the shunting locomotive that was allegedly being sent to drag the train back to the main line, there being no run round loop at this location.

664 116 at Koper Luka664 116 at Koper Luka1st May 2016. On 17014 10:45 Hrpelje-Kozina to Koper Luka.

We had been there for the best part of an hour before something was heard approaching but it was one of the Ports own locomotives, a grey and blue Vossloh G6 type loco which was propelling some containers into the far side of the terminal. Not far behind it was SŽ 643.009 which was attached to the rear of our train then the Port’s loco re-appeared behind it, were we going to have a bonus of two locomotives? No such luck as the Vossloh diverged off into another siding but at least it was in a good position for photographs.

0650 117 at Koper Luka0650 117 at Koper Luka1st May 2016. Vossloh type G6 loco works no. 5102064 built in 2013.

643.009 dragged our train back the couple of kilometers to the main line and was detached as we stood behind the signal, ready to head back into the freight yard once we had gone towards the passenger station where there was nearly an hour to stretch our legs and get some refreshments though there was not a lot open bearing in mind it was a Bank Holiday Sunday. McDonalds was open of course and the two of us avoided the queues (and the burgers!) by using the McCafe section as usual and made use of the wi-fi to catch up on a few things.

The next part of the tour was one of the highlights for us, a 664 up the steep gradients out of Koper. 664.116 did not disappoint and a seriously noisy 20 minutes were enjoyed as well as the views including the sight of a top and tailed oil tank train following us a couple of sections further back down the hill. A small section of new track was done as we went round the Divača avoiding curve before we had a stop at Sežana to attach 644.005 to the rear for the trip across the Italian border to Villa Opicina, at least we could do the border crossing here even if Italian Railways had refused the request to take the class 664 to Trieste. Photos were taken to mark the occasion although the train wasn’t in the best position, sandwiched between the station buildings and a rake of grain hoppers in the opposite platform.

664 116 at Villa Opicina664 116 at Villa Opicina1st May 2016. On the rear of 17023 Villa Opicina to Ajdovščina, this loco was removed when the train returned to Sežana.

A quarter of an hour was quite long enough here before returning to Sežana where we bade farewell to 664.116 which had given us so much entertainment over the last couple of days, the rest of the tour would now be in the hands of the smaller class 644 locos though that wasn’t an issue as they are no slouch in the noise department themselves.

As we headed downhill along the Bohinj line towards Nova Gorica, it was noted that the connection from Kreplje to Villa Opicina was very rusty and had not been used for some time which probably explained why our train hadn’t been booked to cover it. Onwards to Prvačina where the loco had to run round to cover the 15 kilometre long line to Ajdovščina, a required branch line for us as it had an extremely sparse service of two trains a day which we hadn’t got round to doing before they ceased altogether in December 2014. The rails on the branch were surprisingly shiny and the track was in good condition for what thought might have been a disused line but there were some log wagons at the end so there was still a freight service down here. The weather here was very windy and rather cold, a phenomenon that can occur in the end of a valley at the foot of a mountain range but at least it wasn’t raining.

644 005 at Ajdovščina644 005 at Ajdovščina1st May 2016. On 17024 16:45 Ajdovščina to Most na Soči.

It was ten to five when we left Ajdovščina but there was more to come today, starting with a journey of just over an hour to Most na Soči where the tour coaches were to be combined with the booked “Avtovlak” train departing at 18:34. This train was in its usual position next to the loading dock at Most na Soči, complete with 644.020 which seemed to have semi-permanently allocated to the train recently and we had around half an hour to theorize as to how they would combine the two trains. Some people who hadn’t managed to get 644.020 for haulage during the many months it had spent working the Avtovlak hoped that both locos would be put on the front and work in tandem (644s are not fitted with multiple working) but the train’s staff went for the simple option; shunt the Avtovlak in the usual manner but straight onto the south end of our train, leaving 644.020 on the rear.

644 020 at Most na Soči644 020 at Most na Soči1st May 2016. On AVT860 18:31 Most na Soči to Bohinjska Bistrica.

The line climbs more-or-less the whole way from Most na Soči to the summit in the Wocheiner Tunnel  so we set off with some “maximum power” from 644.005 and it sounded absolutely outstanding when it reached the steepest part of the bank. Savouring the performance from an open window in the front coach a feeling of “déjà vu” washed over us and the years rolled back to Southern Ireland 25 to 30 years ago when we spent a lot of time chasing the 001 or “A” class. The two classes share the same General Motors 12 cylinder 645E type engine and although there were minor differences in horsepower and exhaust arrangements the end result was remarkably similar and a real blast from the past for us.

012 at Waterford Yard012 at Waterford Yard31st October 1994. 012 on a short liner train in Waterford Yard.

All too soon, we reached Podbrdo where there is a booked stop though no more cars or passengers were picked up and there was one final blast to the summit in the tunnel before rolling down the other side to Bohinjska Bistrica where the train terminates. We had been told that the train would stop in the platform where we were asked to get off as quickly as possible before it was moved up to the goods dock for the cars to be unloaded but we actually went straight to the latter which was quite sensible as the higher platform was level with the coach floor so we could all alight a lot more quickly than clambering down one by one to track level.

Our hotel for the night was the Bohinj Eco Hotel, a short walk from the station. We had planned to eat at a local restaurant which had been recommended to us but the hotel had an “all you can eat” buffet for €19 which had a decent selection of food and very good it was too, especially the “cream of cottage cheese” soup.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Pula   8:13 664 116 15581 8:00 Pula to Buzet
Buzet   9:50 664 116 17026 9:50 Buzet to Hrpelje-Kozina
Hrpelje-Kozina 10:34 10:47 664 116 17014 10:45 Hrpelje-Kozina to Koper Luka
Koper Luka   12:28 643 009 17027 12:20 Koper Luka to Koper T.
Koper 27.6kp 12:40 12:41 664 116  
Koper 12:47 13:42 664 116 17021 13:40 Koper to Villa Opicina
Villa Opicina 14:59 15:15 644 005 17023 15:15 Villa Opicina to Ajdovščina
Prvačina 15:59 16:15 644 005  
Ajdovščina 16:34 16:48 644 005 17024 16:45 Ajdovščina to Most na Soči
Most na Soči 17:58 18:34 644 005 AVT860 18:31 Most na Soči to Bohinjska Bistrica
Bohinjska Bistrica 19:11      
ptg tours slovenia http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/7/who-took-the-sun-out-of-sunday Mon, 31 Jul 2017 20:48:40 GMT
30th April 2016 - C'mon Feel the Noise http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/cmon-feel-the-noise Saturday 30th April 2016

The weather carried on where it left off yesterday and we basked in a bright sunny morning as the station pilot loco brought the tour coaches into the station. Our loco for the trip was 664.116, not that there was a lot of choice with only two or three locos being authorised for use in Croatia though it was slightly galling for us as it was the third time we had been hauled by this loco this year.

Departure was on time and it was a nice noisy run even before we reached the first climb of the day out of Borovnica though the ascent itself was slightly underwhelming, probably due to the fact the train only comprised of three coaches. Rakek was manned for a change as the local EMU service from Ljubljana was terminating there due to engineering works at Postojna but anyone of a nervous disposition was probably best advised to avert their eyes passing through the latter; the train slowed to a crawl as is passed right underneath two huge cranes engaged in the work. Hard hats appeared to be an optional extra amongst the workforce and freight trains were also running, being dragged by diesel locos, mostly hired in Austrain class 2016s, between Rakek and Prestranek. Of course our train was not unduly affected as it was diesel hauled and we carried on to Pivka, turning left towards the Slovenian border at Ilirska Bistrica where there was a cursory passport inspection and the first of many photos stops for the day.

664 116 at Ilirska Bistrica664 116 at Ilirska Bistrica30th April 2016. On the Slovenian border with 17022 8:00 Ljublana to Šapjane.

Next stop was the Croatian border station of Šapjane and a further brief passport inspection then on to Opatija Matulji which made for a nice photo with a cascade of purple flowers adorning the station.

664 116 at Opatija Matulji664 116 at Opatija Matulji30th April 2016. On 15551 10:05 Šapjane to Bakar.

Onwards to Rijeka where more photos were taken, including an electrical transformer on a wagon, before curving to the left, over the level crossing, through the tunnel and up the climb to Škrljevo where the train needed to reverse to access the first bit of freight only track of the tour. Any doubts about the loudness of 664.116 were totally dispelled on this section, it was 12 kilometres of solid notch eight “thrash”, totally awesome not to mention ear-shattering!

More photos were taken at Škrljevo whilst the loco ran round then we set off to the port of Bakar, a short distance as the crow flies but the railway had to get there via a large “S” bend in order to get back down to sea level. There was an oil refinery with its own shunting loco about halfway down and an ore loading terminal in the port. We were initially told that it was not possible to get off in the port but the question was asked again once the loco had run round and this time it was agreed that we could get out for photos. Two diesel locos had been there when we arrived but they were standing on the run round loop so had departed before we were allowed off the train but there were also a pair of class 1141 electric locos present on a train and it was possible to get a nice photo by standing on the rocky shoreline even if the sun wasn’t quite right.

1141 012 at Bakar1141 012 at Bakar30th April 2016. With 1141 218 on an iron ore train.

There were no fireworks back up the hill as the linespeed was too low and the three coaches not heavy enough, perhaps we should have tacked the two electrics and their ore train on the rear! Another run round at Škrljevo then back down the hill to Brajdica Docks, which we had been unable to trace on the map and no wonder; the main line was comparatively level at this point whilst the line to the docks dropped discreetly away to sea-level via a spiral tunnel which went underneath the main line.

A private class 2132 and HŽ loco of the same class along with a Train Hungary class 40 were in the sidings at Brajdica and we were allowed out of the train again after our loco had run round to take even more photos though the pair of class 2132s were too far away to get to during our brief time there. It is possible to get from Brajdica Docks straight back to the station at Rijeka via a section of street running which we had partially explored on foot during a previous visit here. This had been requested for the tour but refused so we had to head back though the spiral tunnel tpwards Sušak Pećine. Rather than running round there where the docks branch joins the main line, our train went all the way up the hill to Škrljevo again which at least meant some more 664 “music” to make up for not doing the street running section.

Following a brief stop in the station at Rijeka we headed out of Croatia via Šapjane where there was a very relaxed border “grip”. The tour leaders had a list of all the passengers and their passport details and we were allowed off the train whilst the border guards perused this and some people asked for a stamp in their passport. With Croatia now being an EU member there was no need for this but the border police readily produced the stamp when asked and although we already had a stamp for this location, we asked for another when we saw that it was a new one with the EU symbol on it.

664 116 at Šapjane664 116 at Šapjane30th April 2016. On 15553 13:15 Rijeka Brajdica to Šapjane / 15552 14:53 Šapjane to Prestranek.

The tour returned to Prestranek to run round as it was manned due to the engineering works whereas there was nobody at Pivka. There were three locos on hand here to assist with the diesel dragging, one each of ÖBB and Adria class 2016 either side of an SŽ class 661, “a rose between two thorns” as somebody aptly described it. There was another class 2016 visible in the distance along with a class 541 electric loco and a class 363 electric arrived on a container train just before our train departed.

363 001 at Prestranek363 001 at Prestranek30th April 2016.

Next stop was Hrpelje-Kozina where we changed drivers before heading off towards Croatia again, a major reason for the pair of us wanting to do this tour as we had never been to Pula. Although an “international” line, it was not exactly a major route which was reflected in the general quality of the track though it was perfectly good enough for the train to romp along at a decent enough speed and for the loco to be put through its paces at times.

664 116 at Buzet664 116 at Buzet30th April 2016. On 17028 16:00 Prestranek to Buzet / 15580 17:40 Buzet to Pula.

There were quite a few stops along this section including the two border stations and meetings with a HŽ service train and the daily Inter City service to Ljubljana worked by a Slovenian Railways class 711 DMU so we had plenty of opportunities to increase the photo count. Pula was reached three minutes late and we grabbed a couple of final shots including an Italian Railways 0-6-0T steam loco plinthed outside the station, a nod to the fact that Pula was in Italy between the two World Wars.

835.040 at Pula835.040 at Pula30th April 2016. FS (Italian Railways) 0-6-0T built by Breda in 1908, works no. 959, plinthed outside Pula station.

Our hotel for the night was the Park Plaza Histria, which was some distance from the station on the coast and required a coach journey to get there. It was a four star hotel and had its own restaurant which we didn’t try as we don’t like eating late and an outdoor pool; also declined as the temperature had dropped quite a bit since the sun went down. As it had been a long day, we just relaxed and enjoyed the location ready for another fairly early start in the morning.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Ljubljana   8:00 664 116 17022 8:00 Ljubljana to Šapjane
Šapjane     664 116 15551 10:05 Šapjane to Bakar
Škrljevo 11:06 11:20 664 116  
Bakar 11:41 11:56 664 116 propel
Bakar 12.1kp 11:58 12:00 664 116 15550 12:05 Bakar to Brajdica
Škrljevo 12:22 12:38 664 116  
Brajdica 12:54 13:15 664 116 15553 13:15 Brajdica to Šapjane
Škrljevo 13:30 13:46 664 116  
Šapjane 14:38 14:53 664 116 15552 14:53 Šapjane to Prestranek
Prestranek 15:41 16:00 664 116 17028 16:00 Prestranek to Buzet
Buzet 17:29 17:40 664 116 15580 17:40 Buzet to Pula
Pula 19:33      
Croatia PTG Tours Slovenia http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/cmon-feel-the-noise Mon, 19 Jun 2017 20:25:54 GMT
28th & 29th April 2016 - Here we are again http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/here-we-are-again Thursday 28th April 2016

This trip started as two separate tours but grew and grew in the planning stage, eventually expanding to nearly three weeks and three tours! Our original aim was to do a PTG tour taking a Slovenian Railways class 664 diesel to Rijeka and Pula in Croatia and Trieste in Italy then the annual RPSI "International Railtour" two weeks later but whilst sorting out annual leave, we decided that it would probably be a lot easier just to fill the gap between the two lots of leave and have the whole lot off. Much searching of flights between Europe and Ireland and discussing other things to do in between eventually led to us heading off to Stansted for a middle of the day flight to Ljubljana with Easy Jet, the first time we had used this particular airport for a few years.

It was bright and sunny, if not particularly warm, when we left the UK but we were rather surprised to break through the clouds approaching Ljubljana and be greeted with a snowy landscape that wouldn't look out of place on a Christmas card; was it really May in three days’ time? We arrived about 20 minutes early giving us hope of catching the 16:00 bus into the city but the hold luggage didn't appear very promptly so that idea was out the window. Normally the bus runs every hour but today it was only running two hourly and for the following two days. We could not fathom out why this should be as although the 27th April is a bank holiday in Slovenia, there did not appear to be a reason for the service to be reduced after the event. Fortunately there is a minibus shuttle service run by Prevozi Markun and the next one was leaving at 16:15 though with only eight seats we might have been fortunate to bag two of these unless there was a second vehicle nearby to take any excess passengers.

It was a flat fare of 9 Euros each which was probably much less than a taxi and we considered it reasonable value for money as it was a door to door service and almost certainly quicker than the bus which goes via Kamnik, calling at various villages en route. The minibus went straight to the city and we marvelled at the amount of snow that had fallen last night. Much of it had melted by now but there must have been at least a couple of inches as the roads looked to have been cleared by a snowplough and the weight of snow had completely snapped many tree branches, including some quite thick specimens.

643 028 at Ljubljana643 028 at Ljubljana28th April 2016.

We arrived at the hotel (City Hotel) with enough time to check in, dump the bags and walk to the station in time to view the 17:25 to Maribor which, as we expected being essentially a Bank Holiday, was hauled by a class 342. There was also engineering work on the line to Koper between Rakek and Prestranek with all passenger trains being replaced by a bus so there should be plenty of units and 342s available without resorting to pinching class 363s from the freight sector. After taking a couple of snaps in the unseasonal weather we made our way to the garage opposite where the lines to Jesenice and Borovnica split only to be met by the sight of a class 643 slowly passing hauling a brand new transformer in one of the purpose built wagons for moving such items around. Although it was only moving slowly there was insufficient time for us to get the camera out and into position for a photograph which was rather annoying but there was no way we could have seen it approaching or known about the move.

The reason for our trip to the garage was that we had been told that anybody wishing to leave the train in Koper docks on Sunday would need to be wearing a HV Vest. We have plenty at home but they were not a lot of use when we only got the message about the requirement after landing at Ljubljana Airport. 9 Euros and two universal size orange HVVs later we made our way into the city and tried out a new place for dinner, the Güjžina , which proved to be very good and featured fresh seasonal produce such as asparagus.

Friday 29th April 2016

Naturally, there was only one train to do today, "Citadella", as it would probably be one of our last chances for class 664 haulage on service trains with the imminent switch over to electric haulage between Pragersko and Hodoš. Of course we made sure that we went out for EN415 about 20 minutes in front and were rewarded with the sight of required 541.009 but just as we were checking our records a further pair of 541s appeared and coupled to 009. A further quick glance through the records revealed that 018 leading was also required and 012 was dud but then the driver and shunter started messing around with the multiple working cables between the three locos with the result that when they had finished, 018 and 009 had their pantographs raised with 012 being dead between them, perfect from our point of view! Turning round to get on the train we then noticed that there were only two coaches, one Serbian and one Slovenian, no sign of any others including the sleeping cars from Zurich. We had heard that the line between Jesenice and Villach, in Austria, had been closed due to snowfall so can only assume that it was still shut though guess that the problem might have more to do with the snow bringing trees down rather than the white stuff on its own. Anyway, whatever had gone on further north we set sail on time with more locos on the train than coaches!

EN415 had a straight run to Zidani Most for a change, most time we have done it recently there had been single line working closing one of the tracks on this stretch of line so we had the full 25 minutes at this picturesque junction station during which time two freights passed heading towards Ljubljana.

2016 904 at Zidani Most2016 904 at Zidani Most29th April 2016.

As expected we had bumped into a few people who were doing the tour tomorrow and no doubt more would be arriving as the day progressed but we settled down in the restaurant car with a cup of tea to start off with before heading towards the front coach ready for the "main event" from Pragersko. Some attempts had been made to "fix" certain 664s to work "Citadella" either side of the tour and 105 had apparently been asked for yesterday but didn't appear. 664.112 had been the requested "sticky digits" for today, being somebody's last one for haulage and, much to their delight, that was the loco waiting for us at Pragersko.

664 112 at Pragersko664 112 at Pragersko29th April 2016. On MV / EC247 8:45 Ljubljana to Budapest-Déli "Citadella"

It was an enjoyable run with good company and we had the same locos for the return journey and it was also 664.112 driver's last day at work so a presentation was made to him on the return to Pragersko, it also probably explained the reason for him wearing a JŽ (Yugoslavian Railways) hat.

664 112 at Pragersko664 112 at Pragersko29th April 2016. After working EC / MV246 8:30 Budapest Déli to Ljubljana "CITADELLA" from Hodoš. It was 664 112 drivers last day at work so a presentation was made to him when the train arrived at Pragersko.

With other people arriving for tomorrow’s tour, some “gen” regarding loco hauled turns from Ljubljana was filtering through prompting some of us to get off at Zidani Most for some required class 541s which were following each other east meaning that one could be taken to Sevnica and the second to Krško. Of course the train back to Ljubljana was an EMU but we could hardly complain given that we had “scored” five out of the six locos had today, an excellent result considering the number of times we have been to Slovenia recently.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Plane / train details
28th April 2016        
STN   12:51 G-EZDH EZY3245 12:55 STN to LJU
LJU 15:40      
29th April 2016        
Ljubljana   8:25 541 018 EN415 20:40 Zürich HB to Beograd
      541 009  
Zidani Most 9:14 9:41 342 023 MV247 8:45 Ljubljana to Budapest Déli
Pragersko 10:47 11:01 664 112  
Hodoš 12:33 13:10 664 112 MV246 8:30 Budapest Déli to Ljubljana
Pragersko 14:35 14:45 342 023  
Zidani Most 15:54 15:58 541 001 EC211 12:53 Villach Hbf to Vinkovci
Sevnica 16:14 16:51 541 007 RG631 15:35 Ljubljana to Dobova
Krško 17:08 17:20 612 118 LP2272 17:06 Dobova to Ljubljana
Ljubljana 19:03      
Citadella Slovenia http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/here-we-are-again Tue, 13 Jun 2017 10:28:03 GMT