JandJ Cottrell's Rail Photos: Blog http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) JandJ Cottrell's Rail Photos (JandJ Cottrell's Rail Photos) Sun, 05 Nov 2017 21:09:00 GMT Sun, 05 Nov 2017 21:09:00 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 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
8th & 9th March 2016 - Having a Smashing Time http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/having-a-smashing-time Tuesday 8th March 2016

Consideration was given to going out for a trip to Kranj on the 7:28 but a lie-in seemed a good idea after burning the candle at both ends over the last few days plus it would be another late finish tonight. It would be silly not to go out 20 minutes earlier to view EN415 though and the reward for this was a new class 541 so it was onto a scruffy Serbian coach for the extra move to Zidani Most. At least it was warm and clean inside, unlike the graffiti-covered exterior and it was lacking the usual quota of fogged up and water damaged windows.

541 017 at Ljubljana541 017 at Ljubljana9th June 2016. On EN415 20:40 Zürich HB to Beograd.

The train made good progress until Sava where it came to a stand in the loop there; ah yes, the usual problem of single line working at this time of day but we stood for far longer than usual with no sign of anything heading in the opposite direction. After what seemed like an age, the Zagreb to Frankfurt EC passed but EN415 still did not go and then the IC from Maribor passed with two class 363 locos on the front. Although there was booked to be an ICS “Pendolino” behind these two trains, it was the turn of EN415 next and off we went, passing a small group of workers seemingly grovelling in the ballast on the closed line followed by a tamper then regulating machine. The “ICS” was waiting for us to clear the single line but it was formed of a “Desiro” EMU this morning, hopefully the punters on board were not being charged for the “premium service” on board the rather poor Pendolino replacement.

312-102 at Ljubljana312-102 at Ljubljana28th April 2016. Siemens "Desiro" EMU working LP2238 16:54 Litija to Ljubljana in unseasonal weather.

We arrived at Zidani Most around 15 minutes late and expected “Citadella” to be similarly delayed but it was only a couple of minutes late and hauled by a class 342, number 25 with it’s white “City Park” livery on one side only. The train looked to have the same three coaches as yesterday so it was thought prudent to take up residence in the restaurant coach which was at the front and warm (see 25th January). A fellow UK "crank" joined at Pragersko, along with 664.116 which we'd also had back in January though this time it was on its own rather than being paired with another loco. The loco was clearly audible inside the air-conditioned coach as we sipped tea and chatted about various things and we arrived at Hodos on time with no other class 664s in evidence until the MAV class 431 dropped onto the train, revealing a class 664 in the siding at the Hungarian end of the station behind it; we'd never seen one parked there before.

431 015 at Hodoš431 015 at Hodoš8th March 2016. On EC247 8:45 Ljubljana to Budapest Déli "Citadella".

Once EC246 had arrived and the Hungarian electric taken off, 664.116 was attached to the front and we looked out of the window in time to see 664.112 rumbling past, was it also going onto the front of "Citadella"? No such luck as it was attached to one of the freight trains that were standing in the sidings. Never mind, there were four coaches on this train, 664.116 was rather loud and we had the front compartment to ourselves so no issues with open windows.

The same class 342 worked back from Ljubljana so we retired to the dining car for drinks; our fellow "crank" got off at Celje leaving us to carry on and decide where to intercept EC150 in order to return to Wien. The last chance for this was at Zagorje but, remembering that RG631, the 15:35 Ljubljana to Dobova was hauled we got off at Trbovlje to see what was on that. This proved to be a masterstroke as not only was a bonus photo obtained of a freight (not in the best lighting conditions though) RG631 was being worked by our last available class 342 for haulage, no. 022.

363 035 at Trbovlje363 035 at Trbovlje8th March 2016.

This train turned right rather than left at Zidani Most so it was off there to wait for EC150 which was hauled by another class 342 which was our highest mileage one until 025 snatched that distinction this morning, perhaps it wanted the title back! There was only one place to go on EC150, in the rare Slovenian dining car and get a beer to celebrate "clearing" what was left of the class 342 (8 locos out of 40). The dining car was very sociable and we had arranged to meet our Austrian friend in that coach later so the beer was eked out until some time after Maribor when it was time to eat, soup followed by a large and filling schnitzel and chips.

A few people got on at Graz so another drink was ordered with the aim of making it last to Wiener Neustadt but after taking a few sips there was a very heavy brake application in the vicinity of Frohnleiten causing a rapid grab for the glass and bottle to prevent them departing from the table. The train came to an abrupt stop followed by the sound of smashing glass, a number of glasses had departed from the cupboard outside the kitchen and crashed to the floor - lesson for the day, glass does not bounce on lino! Muttering what were probably naughty Slovenian words under his breath, the attendant toddled off to the cupboard at the end of the coach to fetch a dustpan and brush leaving us to ponder whether SZ would be sending ÖBB a bill as the train had been under the latter's control with an ÖBB class 1144 since Spielfeld Straß.

1144 096 at Florisdorf1144 096 at Florisdorf5th March 2016. On R2357 18:09 Florisdorf to Payerbach-Reichenau.   After standing for about 15 minutes the train set off again and though the braking remained a little erratic at times we did manage to pick up a little of the lost time. It was dark by now so it wasn't possible to admire the scenery over the Semmering pass before our friend joined at at Wiener Neustadt. Time for one final drink before reaching Wien, a quick trip down the platform to establish the loco number as it had not been convenient to do this at Spielfeld Straß then straight across the road to the Motel One again and bed.

Wednesday 9th March 2016

Just for a change it was breakfast in the hotel this morning as we thought that we really ought to try it at least once. It was a good spread with plenty of choice though there was a small amount of head scratching until the crockery was tracked down, in cupboards under the counters that the food was on; perhaps some signs might help?

With a flight at ten past twelve it wasn't really an option to stray outside beyond Meidling or Florisdorf, not exactly helpful when a required 1116 was seen on a Railjet, next stop St. Polten. Some late running in the northbound direction made "bashing" a little difficult; coupled with the fact that leaping between platforms at Meidling is not the easiest thing to do, even less so at Wien Hbf where the S Bahn tracks are underground but there were not many required locos around in any case. Another new loco on a Railjet was eventually seen and, luckily, it was on the train that was our intended move to the airport, bringing the total for this short trip up to 40 - not a bad score considering that getting as many new locos as possible was not the main aim of the trip.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
8th March 2016        
Ljubljana   8:25 541 020 EN415 20:40 Zürich HB to Beograd
Zidani Most 9:35 9:42 342 025 MV247 8:45 Ljubljana to Budapest Déli
Pragersko 10:47 11:00 664 116  
Hodoš 12:29 13:03 664 116 MV246 8:30 Budapest Déli to Ljubljana
Pragersko 14:32 14:41 342 025  
Trbovlje 15:59 16:19 342 022 RG631 15:35 Ljubljana to Dobova
Zidani Most 16:34 16:57 342 005 EC150 16:00 Ljubljana to Wien Hbf
Spielfeld Straß 18:47 19:01 1144 116  
Wien Hbf 22:07      
9th March 2016        
Wien Hbf   8:25 1116 247 RJ533 8:25 Wien Hbf to Villach / Lienz
      1116 226  
Wien-Meidling 8:29 9:26 1116 267 R2216 7:55 Payerbach-Reichenau to Florisdorf
Wien Hbf (Bst 1-2) 9:31   walk  
Wien Hbf   9:39 1116 241 RJ949 7:08 Salzburg Hbf to Flughafen Wien
Flughafen Wien 9:54   walk  
VIE   12:21 G-EZFT EZY5352 12:10 VIE to LGW
LGW 13:22      
Austria Slovenia http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/6/having-a-smashing-time Wed, 07 Jun 2017 18:41:31 GMT
7th March 2016 - Get it while you can http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/get-it-while-you-can Monday 7th March 2016

It was an even earlier start this morning as the aim of the day was to get to Ljubljana, using the old favourite EC246 “Citadella”. It wasn’t possible to get to Budapest in time for the 8:30 departure but there was a choice of three trains to head it off, leaving Wien Hbf at 6:19, 6:25 or 6:42. The first two were via Sopron with the 6:19 being dismissed as it was booked to be an EMU but the 6:25 EC had a new 1216 on the front so breakfast was purchased, seats found and lid removed from tea. Sitting in comfort and sipping the tea, time ticked by and 6:25 came and went with no sign of movement, then an announcement was made that due to a technical problem the train would be leaving a few minutes late.

This was not very helpful to say the least as the connection at Wiener Neustadt was only 8 minutes with no back-up move so we reluctantly got off and kept everything crossed that the 6:42, an overnight service from München, was on time; fortunately it was. The downside of going this way was a 50 minute wait at both Győr and Celldömölk, not the best time of year to be hanging around draughty stations though at least it allowed plenty of time for any delays.

An empty compartment was found but some minutes after departing Wien Hbf a man came in complaining that he had a first class ticket but couldn’t find any such accommodation (there wasn’t) and had initially got in the front coach. Upon finding it full (and no first class) he had traipsed through three or four sleeping cars looking for seats before finding some space and, despite his initial moans, turned out to be good company and spoke good English.

We were quite happy on our own in the compartment until Mosonmagyaróvár when we were invaded by five people who had seat reservations, EN trains being compulsory reservation within Hungary. As our new found acquaintance was going to Budapest and had a first class ticket it was only right that somebody using a staff pass should allow him to remain seated and it wasn’t that much further to Győr in any case, we could only hope that he didn’t get usurped by somebody getting on there.

418 305 at Győr418 305 at Győr7th March 2016. On 9200 8:40 Győr to Szombathely.

Time for a quick wander round at Győr before taking a pew on the 8:40 to Szombathely which was lovely and warm so catching up on some sleep was in order for the next hour or so until it was time to go back out into the cold. It was possible to go to Sárvár and catch the next train from there but as it was single line beyond Celldömölk and the two trains crossed at Sárvár it was not a wise move.  A quick walk round and taking some photographs filled the time before the brief 8 minute journey to Boba where we finally caught up with “Citadella”.

438 201 at Celldömölk438 201 at Celldömölk7th March 2016.

EC246 only had three coaches instead of the usual four today and one of those was the dining car but a compartment was found at the rear of the train with only one other passenger in who got off at Zalaegerszeg where the train reversed. It wasn’t very warm in there but that would be rendered rather irrelevant when the main attraction (a class 664 diesel) arrived at Hodoš. This of course was not a required one (don’t seem to have a lot of luck getting new ones of these) but at least it wasn’t one of those that we’d had earlier this year.

664 106 at Hodoš664 106 at Hodoš7th March 2016. After taking over from 431 146 on EC246 8:30 Budapest Déli to Ljubljana "Citadella".

It was a nice loud departure from Hodoš but things deteriorated after that, even though this line is relatively flat we have experienced better runs than this one; maybe one coach less than usual really did make a difference. Opening the window was not an option after Ljotomer when we were joined by someone who had been evicted from 1st class (even we can tell 1st and 2nd class apart, the seat colour for a start!) and another guy joined a couple of stops later. By now, the heat did not appear to be working at all though it had been when the 664 was first put on the train so it was a matter of keeping the window shut and attempting to keep warm.

Any disappointment was swept aside at Pragersko when a class 363 electric loco was spotted ready to replace the diesel and it turned out to be required for haulage, a real bonus! As the train headed towards Ljubljana, snow could be seen on top of the mountains and the river Sava in the gorge section around Zidani Most was a raging torrent so a fair amount of snow / rain must have fallen recently. The many primroses in bloom alongside the railway made quite an incongruous sight given the cold weather.

363 029 at Pragersko363 029 at Pragersko7th March 2016. On EC246 8:30 Budapest Déli to Ljubljana "Citadella".

We arrived at Ljubljana on time so had a quick dash down the road to check into the Central Hotel, returning to the station to view the 17:25 IC to Maribor. This was the same loco (363.029) off “Citadella” as expected though it is always worth checking as the loco does occasionally get swapped or an extra one added to the train. With the evening train to Koper being a bus and the identity of the class 342 on the 17:06 from Dobova being unknown there was little point in continuing the “bash” so it was off for a wander round this attractive city and a meal in the Sokol.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Wien Hbf   6:42 1116 035 EN472 23:31 München Hbf to Budapest-Keleti
Győr 7:54 8:40 418 305 9200 8:40 Győr to Szombathely
Celldömölk 9:52 10:43 431 188 905 10:05 Szombathely to Budapest Déli
Boba 10:51 11:09 431 146 EC246 8:30 Budapest Déli to Ljubljana
Zalaegerszeg 11:55 12:12 431 146  
Hodoš 12:47 13:03 664 106  
Pragersko 14:31 14:41 363 029  
Ljubljana 16:43      
Austria Hungary Slovenia http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/get-it-while-you-can Tue, 23 May 2017 09:38:11 GMT
6th March 2016 - Fishing for Goldfish Bowls http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/6th-march-2016---fishing-for-goldfish-bowls Sunday 6th March 2016

A late finish last night wasn’t the best preparation for catching the 7:09 this morning but choosing the scenic route via Břeclav and Kúty meant it was either that or the train two hours later. The plan had been to have breakfast in the Eiscafé at Břeclav but it was closed at this early hour so we had a cup of tea in the station buffet instead and photographed some of the long line of locos stored opposite the platforms before having breakfast on the EC en route to Bratislava.

751 149 at Břeclav751 149 at Břeclav6th March 2016. The bogies are marked up as "751 338"

Our friend had kindly got some tickets for a ride to Trnava on the 11:35 Regiojet service to Kosiče which was booked to be hauled by one of the new Siemens “Vectron” locos so we started off with a short trip to Bratislava-Vinohrady some 2 ½ miles away, to kill some time and get a couple of locos in the book, hopefully some class 240 "goldfish bowl" electric locos, so called due to their distinctive cab windows. It wasn’t a bad place for pictures but, being a junction station, there was no single place to stand to capture everything that passed – not that there was much as it was a Sunday.

386 007 at Bratislava-Vinohrady386 007 at Bratislava-Vinohrady6th March 2016.

There was enough time to get some more pictures back at the main station before the coaches for the Regiojet service turned up, the whole set was in their corporate yellow livery including the loco. All seats in the Regiojet trains are reserved and this train was full so it was obviously a popular service and despite our tickets costing the princely sum of just over a Euro we each got a free bottle of water.

193 206 at Bratislava hl. st.193 206 at Bratislava hl. st.6th March 2016. On RJ405 11:35 Bratislava hl.st. to Kosiče.

The return journey from Trnava was an EMU, one of the few that had been seen out working today but another couple of trips to Vinohrady bumped up the loco haulage total (but not the photograph count) before it was time to return to Trnava for another Railjet “Vectron”.

By now it was nearly half past four, a little too late in the day to head further afield and more trips to Vinohrady didn’t appeal so a class 2016 diesel-hauled train was taken on the direct route back to Wien, arriving in time to get an IC train to St Pölten to catch up with 1116.173 the second, the first loco to carry that number was written off in an accident during 2010.

2016 032 at Bratislava hl. st.2016 032 at Bratislava hl. st.6th March 2016. On REX 2517 11:38 Bratislava hl. st. to Wien Hbf.

One last move for the night was a quick trip to Vienna Airport for a “nightcap” on board the only working that takes a Czech Railjet set to that location. Unlike the Austrian sets, the ČD ones have draught beer in the restaurant car so a glass of Budweiser (the Czech version) was partaken whilst the crew dived out to pose for pictures under the Vienna Airport sign.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Wien Hbf   7:09 1216 230 RJ70 7:09 Wien Hbf to Praha hl.n.
Břeclav 8:08 8:59 350 013 EC273 5:49 Praha hl.n. to Budapest-Keleti
Bratislava hl.st. 9:57 10:03 363 144 R835 10:01 Bratislava hl.st. to Banská Bystrica
Bratislava-Vinohrady 10:08 10:47 240 127 Os4616 9:22 Nové Zámky to Bratislava hl.st.
Bratislava hl.st. 10:52 11:35 193 206 RJ405 11:35 Bratislava hl.st. to Kosiče
Trnava 11:59 12:24 671 019 3016 11:56 Leopoldov to Bratislava hl.st.
Bratislava hl.st. 13:05 13:07 240 145 Os4617 13:07 Bratislava hl. St. to Nové Zámky
Bratislava-Vinohrady 13:12 13:53 240 123 R836 10:35 Banská Bystrica to Bratislava hl.st.
Bratislava hl.st. 13:58 14:03 362 003 R839 14:01 Bratislava hl.st. to Banská Bystrica
Bratislava-Vinohrady 14:08 14:44 362 006 REX725 14:39 Bratislava hl.st. to Prievidza
Trnava 15:14 16:00 193 214 RJ404 11:17 Kosiče to Bratislava hl.st.
Bratislava hl.st. 16:25 16:38 2016 019 REX2527 16:38 Bratislava hl.st. to Wien Hbf
Wien Hbf 17:43 17:55 1116 175 IC744 17:33 Flughafen Wien to Salzburg Hbf
St Pölten Hbf 18:29 19:15 1116 173 IC721 15:40 Stainach-Irdning to Wien Hbf
Wien-Meidling 19:39 20:01 1116 195 IC745 17:12 Salzburg Hbf to Flughafen Wien
Wien Hbf 20:05 21:11 1116 231 RJ756 18:25 Graz Hbf to Flughafen Wien
Flughafen Wien 21:27 21:33 1116 231 RJ959 21:33 Flughafen Wien to Wien Hbf
Wien Hbf 21:50      
Austria Slovakia http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/4/6th-march-2016---fishing-for-goldfish-bowls Tue, 18 Apr 2017 19:40:22 GMT
5th March 2016 - Read all About It http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/read-all-about-it Saturday 5th March

 Today’s plans involved staying in Austria as there was an interesting tour, hauled by an interesting loco over an interesting route to a book launch at the Strasshof museum north of Vienna. This didn’t start until 12:00 at Wolkersdorf so most of the morning was spent in a fairly fruitless search for new Taurus locos for haulage, the final score being two out of eight before we had to head off on a class 1144-hauled R train to Florisdorf for an EMU to Wolkersdorf.

Although the train started at Wolkersdorf, it had to come from its base at Mistelbach and it arrived from there in good time looking very smart in a fresh coat of traditional “blood orange” livery with four blue and cream four wheel coaches. As the train stood basking in the spring sunshine a few of us took the opportunity to hop off the platform for a sneaky photo.

2143 070 at Wolkersdorf2143 070 at Wolkersdorf5th March 2016. On SZ14372 12:03 Wolkersdorf to Heizhaus Strasshof which was run in conjunction with a book launch at the museum.

We set off for Strasshof which was only just down the road from Wolkersdorf as the crow flies but a bit longer by rail, especially if any run rounds were to be avoided though the planned route looked to have been carefully thought out to provide maximum interest as well as providing other pick up points through the centre of Wien. To get round the city and end up facing the right way the tour first had to circumnavigate the huge yards at Kledering to the east of Wien using some interesting non-passenger track then we stopped for photos at the closed station of Oberlaa. One little problem though, the sun was still shining brightly and the train was standing in the shadow of the station building but that was easily solved by everyone walking away from the station whilst the train moved up until it was no longer in shadow; simples!

2143 070 at Oberlaa2143 070 at Oberlaa5th March 2016. Photo stop with SZ14372 12:03 Wolkersdorf to Heizhaus Strasshof which was run in conjunction with a book launch at the museum.

All back on board for the relatively short distance to Wien Meidling, where more passengers boarded then the train did an unusual move right across the whole layout to access the S Bahn tracks and into the tunnel for the low level platforms at Wien Hbf to collect some more passengers. There then followed one of the day’s highlights, a run through the S Bahn tunnels with a rather keen driver. The 77 class 2143s were a mixed bunch, the lowest numbered ones were mostly rather quiet and many of the later ones were very loud indeed with 2143 070 being very much in the latter category and our driver took full advantage of the fact, probably frightening the life out of a few “normals” as we charged noisily through the underground stations, it was worth the bargain €20 fare just for this bit.

Back out into the open air, we passed under our outwards route at Süßenbrunn and onto the Heizhaus Museum at Strasshof, which was actually closer to the next station on the line, Silberwald. This was another highlight as the train crossed over and took the track right into the museum, passing an extensive collection of stuff in various stages of decay – a shame more of it could not be kept under cover.

1665 at Heizhaus Strasshof1665 at Heizhaus Strasshof5th March 2016. 0-6-0 built by StEG (Vienna) in 1895, works no. 2466. It was previously Südbahn 32c1665 then MÁV no. 333.002.

Our train went onto the furthest road to the left and although the 2143 ended up behind a large thorny bush the rear of the train was next to a patch of grass where people could gather round and listen to the speeches announcing the new book. This was all about the class 2045 locomotives of which one of the seven remaining ones, 2045.20, was waiting to be shunted onto the other end of the train to provide a backdrop for the event. We had been lucky enough to have this loco for haulage on the Retz to Drosendorf line back in 2003 but next time we went there, two years later, it was out of use following an engine failure and a class 2143 was covering the duty.

2045.20 at Heizhaus Strasshof2045.20 at Heizhaus Strasshof5th March 2016. Posed at the head of a charter from Wolkersdorf which was run to the museum for the launch of a book on the subject of class 2045s.

As the speeches for the book launch would be in German there was not much point in standing at the back trying to look appreciative so the opportunity was taken to go round and get photographs of some of the huge collection of steam, diesel and electric locos on the site.

1040.01 at Heizhaus Strasshof1040.01 at Heizhaus Strasshof5th March 2016.

The “cranks” amongst the passengers had quickly worked out that the only way to get 2143.070 onto the other end of the train for the return journey was to shunt release it using one of the shunting locos that had been moving 2045.20 around. These were a class 2060 and 2067 though only the latter was running and we guessed that there would not be any issues with being on the train when the shunt was done to claim the haulage, all we had to do was make sure that we were on the train when the move took place.

2060.74  at Heizhaus Strasshof2060.74 at Heizhaus Strasshof5th March 2016. With 2067 090.

Most of the active locos based here were either inside the shed or parked just outside and it looked as if the most of the large number of locos parked in the open at the south end of the site were little more than mobile spare parts banks to keep the active stuff in service. By the time we returned to the special train the book launch had finished so the opportunity was taken to get some photos of 2045.20 and to have a look at the new book. It was a quality product filled with every detail imaginable about the class 2045 from their inception to demise and it was also lavishly illustrated; needless to say one was purchased to add to the pile of timetables that had already been acquired.

1020 038 at Heizhaus Strasshof1020 038 at Heizhaus Strasshof5th March 2016.

By this time, the class 2045 had been removed from the train and the 2067 / 2060 combination had been attached ready to release 2143.070 though only the 2067 was actually working and, as expected, there were no problems with being on-board whilst the shunt was done – in fact nearly all the passengers were on the train by now.

Fifty minutes later we were back at Praterstern (the former Wien Nord station) and a decision had to be made, stay on board for some more entertainment in the tunnels or get off and grab that required class 1144 that was temptingly less than 20 minutes behind the special. The latter option won and proved to be a good move as one new class 1144 turned into three, the perfect excuse for a trip with a couple of friends to the Lichtenthal Brew Pub, a 30 minute ride away on Tram route “D” past many of Vienna’s  interesting buildings.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Wien Hbf   8:25 1116 224 D15533 8:25 Wien Hbf to Lienz
      1116 247  
      1116 063  
Wien-Meidling 8:29 8:37 1116 217 RJ262 8:03 Flugahfen Wien to Salzburg Hbf
      1116 238  
St Pölten Hbf 8:58 9:10 1116 231 RJ49 5:05 Inssbruck Hbf to Budapest-Keleti
      1116 214  
Wien Hbf 9:39 9:55 1116 157 IC548 9:33 Flughafen Wien to Salzburg Hbf
Wien-Meidling 9:59 10:24 1144 079 R2322 9:38 Wiener Neustadt to Florisdorf
Florisdorf 10:50 11:05 4020 205 S24426 10:21 Mödling to Wolkersdorf
Wolkersdorf 11:27 12:03 2143 070 SZ14372 12:03 Wolkersdorf to Heizhaus Strasshof
Heizhaus Strasshof     2067 090 shunt
Heizhaus Strasshof   16:12 2143 070 ??? 16:20 Heizhaus Strasshof to Wolkersdorf
Wien Praterstern 17:02 17:18 1144 006 R2353 17:09 Florisdorf to Payerbach-Reichenau
Rennweg 17:24 17:36 1144 202 R2350 15:55 Payerbach-Reichenau to Florisdorf
Florisdorf 17:51 18:09 1144 096 R2357 18:09 Florisdorf to Payerbach-Reichenau
Wien Hbf (Bst 1-2) 18:28   walk  
Alfred-Adler-Straße   19:25 624 Tram D
Augasse 19:56 22:11 624 Tram D
Alfred-Adler-Straße 22:40      


Austria http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/read-all-about-it Tue, 21 Mar 2017 21:41:11 GMT
3rd & 4th March 2016 - Making the Most of It http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/making-the-most-of-it Thursday 3rd March 2016

Six rest days off work, a stash of FIP coupons which expired at the end of the month burning a hole in the desk drawer, sounds like a recipe for another trip! Vienna ended up being the chosen location with one night in Ljubljana, no prizes for guessing that the reason for the latter was to have yet another trip on “Citadella” as the overhead lines to Hodoš were imminently due to be energised.

The chosen flight was with Easy Jet from Gatwick but although it was now possible to use an Oyster Card to get there, it actually turned out to be marginally cheaper to buy an open off peak return (PRIV) and this was done a couple of days beforehand at our local booking office. The flight itself was unremarkable and landed in a rather damp Wien on time meaning a quick dash across the stand to take shelter in the bus.

Our Vienna-based friend had come to the airport to provide a “meet and greet” service and, since the timetable change in December, there was the bonus of being able to take an hourly loco-hauled IC train into the city rather than rely on the half-hourly S Bahn service or premium priced “CAT” (City Airport Train). The IC trains have a very quick turn-round at the airport so run top and tailed from Wien Hbf and the trip got off to a good start when the leading “Taurus” proved to be a required one and things got even better when we pulled into the Hbf opposite a required 1216 which was taken to Meidling before heading for the hotel. This was the fairly new “Motel One”, right opposite Wien Hbf and was exactly as expected, clean and comfortable with friendly and helpful staff.

Friday 4th March 2016

With a full set of FIP coupons available, the plan for today was either go to the Czech Republic or Slovakia and go to the other country on Sunday. The original thought was to go to Slovakia today as there were more trains to go for on weekdays but that also applied to the Czech Republic so when our Austrian friend said he was having a trip to Břeclav after work that became the deciding factor.

The day started with a dud 1216 on the 7:09 to Praha which was taken to Břeclav with the intention of heading to Přerov for some new track. According to the diagrams it should have been loco-hauled but something that looked like a shiny new unit appeared in the bay platform, fortunately a closer look revealed that it was a driving trailer with 362.087 on the north end. This was taken to the snappily named station of Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště where we risked stepping back onto EC104 for a new class 380 for the rest of the journey. This train was running a little late which made an already tight “plus” onto the Luhačovice service at Přerov even tighter making it a run through the subway, dive into the rearmost door and a walk through the train to see what the loco was though it was guaranteed to be new as we’d never had a CĎ class 150 before.

150 215 at Praha hlavní nádraží150 215 at Praha hlavní nádraží6th September 2013.

On the way back there the conductress came round, asked where we were going and when told “Luhačovice”, tried to direct us to the next coach as the front one was presumably being removed along with the loco at Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště. No, it’s OK – we’ll move when we get there, plenty of time whilst the locos get changed; this exchange went on a couple of times before she wandered off and left us in peace. Shortly before the train arrived at Staré Město etc etc, she came round again so we decided to keep the peace and move, getting off at S.M. etc to take pictures anyway.

The loco for the journey to Luhačovice was a class 754 “Goggles” diesel, they look quite interesting but are utter rubbish in the “thrash” stakes though at least it meant doing the line loco hauled rather than in a DMU. It was a pleasant enough line with about 40 minutes to look round a rather chilly Luhačovice and get lunch, an easy enough task as there were two bakers quite close to the station with at least another couple and some cafés within a few minutes walk.

754 018 at Luhačovice754 018 at Luhačovice4th March 2016. On R885 6:55 Praha hl.n. to Luhačovice.

The newly acquired Czech time table was put to use on the journey back to the main line with a view to doing the diesel line across to Brno but there were no suitable connections and a lack of hauled turns in the near future so it was back to Přerov to go round to Brno that way. It was a bit galling to get 150.202 again but it was possible to step back at Otrokovice for the local push-pull train behind, having first checked the diagrams to ensure that it wasn’t the same one as earlier.

We arrived in a bay platform at Přerov and noticed what looked like some sort of locomotive works next to the station with several electric locomotives in various states outside. This was the DPOV works, part of České dráhy and specializing in the repair / overhaul of electric locos but they also appeared to deal with private operators as well judging by some of the items outside.

182 094 at Přerov182 094 at Přerov4th March 2016.

Twenty minutes was ample to photograph all the locos outside the works before boarding a regional train to Brno which arrived there just in time for the evening peak meaning a move could be done to Tišnov using three different locos on stopping trains. There was one semi-fast train in the midst of all these which only had one stop between Brno and Tišnov so it was decided to give that one a miss, just as well as it was the same loco and coaches that had worked the train from Přerov, cleverly continuing to Praha as another train and avoiding the need for the loco to run round.

362 172 at Brno-Řečkovice362 172 at Brno-Řečkovice4th March 2016. On R976 16:20 Brno hl. n. to Praha hl. n.

A quick change of direction at Tišnov to catch a regional train which was taken to its one intermediate stop of Brno-Královo Pole then another step back onto a class 242 on a local train and back to Brno to wait for the Budapest EC back to Břeclav. This was showing five then ten minutes late and finally arrived behind a winning class 380 but any thoughts of sitting in the restaurant car for a nice drink quickly disappeared as it was rather full, along with the rest of the train, good job Břeclav was only half an hour away.

The Budapest EC arrived at Břeclav within a few minutes of our friend’s train from Wien and we had an hour here before the next train back south, ample time to visit the Eiscafe Delikana next to the station with its mouthwatering array of cakes which just had to be sampled. Our train back to Wien was a Czech Railjet which had a restaurant car on so dinner was had on board rather than later when we met two more friends at the 7Stern Bräu.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train / Plane Details
LGW   16:59 G-EZGF EZY5353 17:00 LGW to VIE
VIE 20:03   walk  
Flughafen Wien   20:33 1116 144 IC840 20:33 Flughafen Wien to Salzburg Hbf
      1116 146  
Wien Hbf 20:50 20:58 1216 210 RJ371 16:49 Praha hl.n. to Graz Hbf
Wien-Meidling 21:02 21:15 1144 204 R2264 21:15 Wien Meidling to Florisdorf
Wien Hbf (Bst 1-2) 21:20      
4th March 2016        
Wien Hbf   7:09 1216 230 RJ70 7:09 Wien Hbf to Praha hl.n.
Břeclav 8:08 8:35 362 087 4207 8:35 Břeclav to Přerov
Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště 9:29 9:43 380 011 EC104 8:09 Wien Hbf to Gdynia Główna
Přerov 10:09 10:11 150 202 R885 6:55 Praha hl.n. to Luhačovice
Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště 10:46 10:55 754 018  
Luhačovice 11:40 12:20 754 018 R886 12:20 Luhačovice to Praha hl.n
Staré Město u Uherského Hradiště 13:12 13:20 150 202  
Otrokovice 13:29 13:50 362 165 4211 12:35 Břeclav to Přerov
Přerov 14:22 14:44 362 172 R834 13:35 Bohumin to Brno hl.n.
Brno hl.n. 16:00 16:08 242 264 4940 15:41 Hrušovany u Brna to Tišnov
Brno-Řečkovice 16:27 16:41 242 228 4624 15:15 Břeclav to Tišnov
Čebín 16:53 17:06 362 082 4978 16:35 Brno hl.n. to Tišnov
Tišnov 17:12 17:15 362 160 R983 14:06 Praha hl.n. to Brno hl.n.
Brno-Královo Pole 17:30 17:54 242 261 4913 16:34 Žd'ár nad Sázavou to Vranovice
Brno hl.n. 18:06 18:37 380 013 EC281 15:52 Praha hl.n. to Budapest-Keleti
Břeclav 19:05 20:01 1216 229 RJ371 16:49 Praha hl.n. to Graz Hbf
Wien Hbf 21:03   Bus  
Siebensterngasse   23:17 719 Tram 49
Dr Karl-Renner-Ring 23:20 23:26 762 Tram D
Alfred-Adler-Straße 23:42      
Austria Czech Republic http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/making-the-most-of-it Sat, 11 Mar 2017 11:31:52 GMT
2nd February 2016 - Glass Half Full http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/glass-half-full Tuesday 2nd February 2016

Our host had kindly mention last night that there was a large group staying in the hotel who had arranged to have breakfast at 7 o’clock this morning so it would not be a problem if we wanted to go down a little earlier as well so we decided to give them a bit of a head start and went down at 7:15. Our loco this morning was the same one that we had photographed last night (649 in “20 minutes” livery) though we would have preferred 648 “Susch” as that loco was now our lowest mileage Ge4/4iii and it was currently in the original red RhB livery rather than advertising colours.

648 at Filisur648 at Filisur1st February 2016. View from the Hotel Grischuna of Ge4/4iii no. 648 "Susch" on RE1117 6:58 Chur to St. Moritz.

Some “gen” had been gleaned from the internet that our two missing SBB Re4/4s had been seen working, 11244 had been spied working between Zürich and Locarno and 421.383 had been one of the locos on the 18:09 EC departure from Zürich last night. Though the latter was not booked to appear until 18:09 tonight, long after our flight time, if it followed the diagrams around there was no harm in going from Chur to Zürich via St Gallen just on the off chance that it might appear on EC196. As a bonus, if we got off at St Gallen and cut across to Arth-Goldau on the Voralpen Express we might also catch up with 11244 if it had followed the diagrams around.

It was a nice cross-platform connection to an IC train at Chur so we had the bright idea of catching that to Landquart so save trundling the cases through the subway onto the RE train, thinking that the IC and RE trains would depart from the same platform at the latter. However, SBB had other ideas and put the RE over into the “loop” platform at Landquart so we had to traipse through the subway there instead.

The RE train was our first experience of one of the newish class 511 double deck EMUs but we can’t say that we were particularly impressed with it as 1st class was 2 + 2 seating rather than the more usual 2 + 1 and the base cushion was too small; to us, it felt like we were perching on the seat instead of sitting in it. Having said that, the seat was nice and soft to sit on, it’s just that there wasn’t enough of it! The train wasn’t very busy so we went into 2nd class and tried the seats in there which were strangely better and some rather un-scientific measurements determined that the seats were actually the same basic size; the extra padding on the 1st class seats actually made them more uncomfortable!

511 022 at Rorschach511 022 at Rorschach2nd October 2016. On RE4977 15:01 Wil SG to Chur.

We got off the RE train at St Margrethen to find that the EC was running around 10 minutes late, giving us enough time to photograph the Re4/4 in the head shunt then walk down the platform to phot the two Tms in the yard. There were two lots of border police waiting for the EC with a dog which sniffed disinterestedly as we walked past, it looked friendly enough but we weren’t going to test that theory out.

232 212 at St Margrethen232 212 at St Margrethen2nd February 2016.

As the EC approached we were surprised and delighted to see that it was 421.383 rather than 421.394 as we were expecting, the gamble of coming round this way had paid off handsomely. A quick revision of plans saw us heading to Zürich for more mileage with 383 rather than get off at St Gallen, we should still be able to catch up with the train from Locarno that we were after by catching the 12:09 from Zürich. The EC recouped the 10 minutes or so lateness as we expected and we went straight across to the usual platform for the Locarno IR service, finding that it was expected to leave 8 minutes late, not a problem as we had the best part of 30 minutes at Arth-Goldau.

421 383  at Zürich HB421 383 at Zürich HB2nd February 2016. On EC196 7:17 München Hbf to Zürich HB.

Next thing we knew, the platform had changed to 15, rather unusual for here, and the inbound train eventually arrived more than 8 minutes late – most un-Swiss. As the new loco was being attached we heard an announcement that the train would not be calling at Zug, so we guessed that it would be going via Rotkreuz, it certainly looked as if the inbound working had come that way judging by the platform it was in.

As we set off like the proverbial clappers we discovered from an announcement that the direct line via Zug was either closed due to the weekend engineering works overrunning or at least had restricted capacity, so it might mean that the train we were after would be diverted as well. The train was still speeding along so we were still hopeful of getting to Arth-Goldau in time but it slowed down considerably after leaving Othmarsingen and an extra stop was announced at Rotkreuz. By the time we arrived there it was looking doubtful that we would get to Arth-Goldau in time so we bailed off thinking there would either be a chance of the other IR stopping here as well or we might have a chance of getting another train to Zug if it went on its booked route.

Although there was a train heading to Zug we were not sure if it would get there in time for the northbound IR so decided to wait at Rotkreuz to see if it would stop here as well. Needless to say , the northbound IR never did appear and must have gone via Zug but we did get a small consolation in the shape of an Re10/10 (Re6/6 and Re4/4 coupled) on a freight which came racing through the middle road.

11272 at Rotkreuz11272 at Rotkreuz2nd February 2016. With Re6/6 11637 "Sonceboz-Sombeval".

Whatever was going on north of Zug, it wasn’t affecting the Luzern / Zürich IR service as we caught one of these, waiting at Zug whilst an EC from Italy went first. Our train called as usual at Baar, went up the hill and into the Albis tunnel where there was a severe speed restriction and jointed track, it looked like the line hadn’t been handed back in the intended condition which reduced capacity. The S24 service had been replaced by a bus and we guessed that the 12:09 to Locarno had missed its slot through being late so had been diverted. Never mind, there was no guarantee that 11244 would have stuck to its diagram and there was no sign of it lurking at Zürich so maybe we hadn’t missed out and SBB had given us a timely reminder that even the best railways get problems sometimes.

It was only just over two hours until our flight departed so we got the next hauled train to the airport and went to check in with our fingers crossed. Why? As we didn’t have access to a printer last night when we checked in on-line we had the boarding cards sent to our mobile phones and were worried that we might somehow delete them before checking in or that they might not scan properly. In the end, scanning the code on the phone proved to be surprisingly effective and painless, just like the rest of the journey home though the ongoing issues south of Bletchley on the Up Slow would no doubt come to haunt us when travelling in the opposite direction to work in the coming days.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train / PLane details
Filisur   8:01 649  
Chur 9:03 9:09 460 007 IC564 9:09 Chur to Basel SBB
Landquart 9:17 9:22 511 022 RE4866 9:12 Chur to Wil
St Margrethen 10:12 10:29 421 383 EC196 7:17 München Hbf to Zürich HB
Zürich HB 11:59 12:24 11196 IR2421 12:09 Zürich HB to Locarno
Rotkreuz 13:02 13:54 460 043 IR2650 13:35 Luzern to Zürich HB
Zürich HB 14:30 14:39 460 115 IR2123 14:37 Zürich HB to Konstanz
Zürich Flughafen 14:49   walk  
ZRH   17:05 HB-JVR LX466 17:10 ZRH to LCY
LCY 17:50      
Switzerland http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/glass-half-full Fri, 10 Mar 2017 11:50:00 GMT
1st February 2016 - Bernina Bahn http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/bernina-bahn Monday 1st February 2016.

By choice we would have moved on from Filisur this morning but couldn’t be bothered with all the hassle of changing hotels for just one night so we decided to stick around on the RhB for one more day as it was a few years since our last visit of more than the odd day. After checking that 703 was not down to work (it was still on repairs at Landquart) we decided to have a trip on the Bernina Bahn as it was possible to have a ride over most of the line using the two diagrams for the old (well, 1980s) ABe 4/4ii motor cars.

The 9:02 from Filisur to St Moritz allowed us around 40 minutes to observe the goings on, take photos and grab a drink. We watched the pair of motor cars arrive from the Pontresina direction but, rather than run straight round their train, they went into the sidings and brought out two more coaches. The shunting tractor which we had seen being delivered on Saturday was stabled in the sidings with one of the doors to the engine compartment open; they hadn’t broken it already, had they?

112 at St Moritz112 at St Moritz30th January 2016. Ge6/6ii no. 701 has just arrived from Samedan with Tm2/2 112 in tow. 701 has been attached to the coaches to form RE1358 16:45 St Moritz to Landquart whilst 112 will uncouple and replace classmate 114 as the station pilot.

The motor cars pushed the two extra coaches onto the pair that they had left in the platform and set the whole lot back towards the buffer stops but the rearmost pair of coaches were then uncoupled and left behind when we departed on time at 10:48. Ten minutes later we were in Pontresina where the Bernina Express coaches were to be added, this used to be done by a shunting loco so we got off to see it that was still the case and to try and “blag” a ride only for the doors to shut as soon as we stepped onto the platform and the train, complete with bag and tea, departed towards Tirano!

Fortunately, the train stopped just off the end of the platform to wait for the BEX coaches to turn up, their arrival being preceded by the grinding of the OHL switching gear as it changed the voltage from the Bernina Bahn’s 1,000V DC to the standard RhB 11kV AC. The loco, 623, was uncoupled and crossed over to the opposite line then the switch gear ground into action again to change the voltage back to DC ready for the two units to back their train ono the BEX portion; by the time they returned to the platform, the tea was just the right temperature to drink.

By now, the early mist had cleared to bright sunshine meaning we would get some great views of the mountains on the way to the summit near Ospizio Bernina and a clear views down the valley on the descent to Poschiavo. We had to get off at the penultimate station of Campocologno as the train we were aiming for departed from Tirano at the same time as the one we were on arrived but as we had done the line before that wasn’t an issue for us. The twenty minutes we had here was not quite enough time to walk down the road and try to get a picture of the shunting loco in the freight terminal, but there were some of the open “panorama wagons” stabled around the station that get attached to some services in the summer season.

B2098 at CampocolognoB2098 at Campocologno1st February 2016.

We had to catch one of the new “Allegra” units to get back to Poschiavo for the other pair of ABe4/4s and weren’t overly impressed with the door between first class and the vestibule that wouldn’t stay shut, nor the toilet that didn’t flush properly; modern rubbish!

3515 at Poschiavo3515 at Poschiavo1st February 2016. ABe 8/12 "Allegra" unit 3515 on 1652 13:00 Tirano to St. Moritz.

Numbers 54 and 55 had already arrived when we got to Poschiavo and were in the process of running round their train so photographs were taken along with De 2/2 no. 151 on a works train in the yard and former ABe 4/4 no. 48 which had been converted into a service vehicle.

232 01 at Poschiavo232 01 at Poschiavo1st February 2016. Xe 4/4 232 01 which was converted from ABe 4/4 no. 48.

The journey back up to Alp Grum and Ospizio Bernina was most enjoyable, the line winds its way up the hill with wonderful views to the south as the train zig-zags up the mountain, accompanied by the whine of traction motors from these powerful EMUs. There was a distinct shortage of snow around the summit of the line though the weather had started to cloud over some maybe there was some much-needed “white stuff” on the way.

PoschiavoPoschiavo1st February 2016. View over Poschiavo and Lago di Poschiavo from a train near Cadera.

Rather than go back to St Moritz and return straight to Filisur, we decided to change at Pontresina and go round in a circle via Klosters and Davos to avoid getting back too early. 633 was our loco to Sagliains then it was 619 for the trip through the Vereina tunnel which was flowing a bit better today, probably due to less car traffic as one of the sets was parked up in the siding at the Selfranga loading point. Klosters was reached on time which gave us six minutes to grab a photo of 701 on a one-wagon train carrying two waste containers and dash through the subway for the train to Davos.

701 at Klosters Platz701 at Klosters Platz1st February 2016. Ge6/6ii no. 701 "Raetia"

Unfortunately the train to Davos was an Allegra unit, though it should have been a Ge4/4iii loco according to the diagrams but we had to go that way now as the journey via Landquart and Chur would take over twice as long. There was a half hour wait at Davos where the unit dropped off the coaches attached on the rear and we grabbed a photo of shunting loco no. 120 and a cup of tea from the kiosk before re-boarding the same unit for the remainder of the journey to Filisur.

120 at Davos Platz120 at Davos Platz1st February 2016.

It was dark now and hard to see outside with the bright lights in the unit but it did look as if there was more snow on the ground in this area, perhaps something to do with all the hot air from the annual World Economic Forum which had been held in Davos just over a week previously!

There was time for one last photo attempt at Filisur then into the nice warm hotel for one final meal before settling our bill with the lady of the house as we wanted to be on the 8:01 departure in the morning.  Browsing idly on the internet later reminded us that this trip was about to end with the news that the West Coast main Line was in chaos yet again, this time due to a landslip near Bletchley; yes it was, despite the National Rail Enquiries site consistently saying the problem was near Watford Junction!

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Filisur   9:02 643 RE1121 7:58 Chur to St Moritz
St Moritz 10:06 10:48 52 1625 10:48 St Moritz to Tirano
Campocologno 12:49 13:08 3515 1652 13:00 Tirano to St Moritz
Poschiavo 13:35 14:27 54 1656 14:24 Poschiavo to St Moritz
Pontresina 15:47 16:02 633 1956 16:02 Pontresina to Scuol-Tarasp
Sagliains 17:00 17:03 619 RE1256 16:41 Scuol-Tarasp to Landquart
Klosters Platz 17:23 17:31 3513 RE1057 16:47 Landquart to Davos Platz
Davos Platz 17:56 18:31 3513 1849 18:31 Davos Platz to Filisur
Filisur 18:54      
RhB Rhätische Bahn Switzerland http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/3/bernina-bahn Wed, 08 Mar 2017 11:36:23 GMT
31st January 2016 - Dampffahrt Engadin http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/dampffahrt-engadin Sunday 31st January 2016

We had to be on the 8:00 train this morning so went down to breakfast about 7:15 and, as we suspected, the stuff had already been laid out so we got stuck in and finished just after the booking office opened at 7:45. Although the trip we had booked on would take up most of the day, we still decided to purchase a Lokdienst, if only to check that 703 hadn’t been resurrected and was on the booked Ge6/6ii turn from Landquart to St Moritz (it wasn’t). Whilst standing on the platform waiting for the train to St Moritz, we idly flicked through the turns to see what Ge4/4iii would be on our train only to find that it was Ge6/6ii 705, a welcome sight in the dull and rainy weather.

705 at Filisur705 at Filisur31st January 2016. Arriving at a gloomy Filisur on RE1117 6:58 Chur to St Moritz.

The rain turned to snow as we gained height but had more-or-less stopped by the time we arrived at Samedan where we had over an hour to wait before the special departed. We could have caught the train an hour later but chose to get there earlier in the hope that we might get some pictures rather than get there with a few minutes to spare and dive straight onto the train. This proved to be the correct decision as Tm2/2 no. 88 was buzzing around the station area shunting various coaches including a green liveried “heritage” set for the steam special.

88 at Samedan88 at Samedan31st January 2016. Tmf2/2 88 with vintage coaches for the Engadiner Dampffahrt which would be worked by steam loco G4/5 (2-8-0) no. 108.

The only sign of the steam loco was some smoke issuing forth from the shed but it appeared to be reluctant to emerge in front of its expectant passengers until about 25 minutes before departure time when a whistle was heard from the depths of the shed. We peered into the gloomy interior, expecting to see some lights heading towards us but they appeared one-by one from the side instead; there must be a traverser inside with more roads behind the offices that were at the front on the left hand side of the building.

108 at Samedan108 at Samedan31st January 2016. G 4/5 (2-8-0) no. 108 "Engiadina" comes off shed to work a special to Scuol-Tarasp.

Our loco for the day was one 29 2-8-0s (G4/5 in Swiss parlance) built for the RhB between 1904 and 1915 of which two (107 and 108) remain on the railway to work special trains such as the one we would be doing today.  We had noticed Ge6/6i “krokodil” loco no. 415 on the Lokdienst working a similarly timed train to the steam special and assumed that it would be coming with us in some sort of supporting role but there was no sign of it though a friend of ours who was also on the trip seemed confident that it would appear at some stage during the day.

Comparing the special train’s timings to those of a service train showed that it was going to be a very slow journey and we guessed that there would be some prolonged stops along the way to let other trains overtake or pass. Sure enough, after crossing a train at Zuoz we stopped at S-chanf where there was another train booked to cross and one to overtake us as well. Quite a few of the other passengers crossed the track to get a photo so we decided that when in Rome (Graubünden!) etc  and followed suit. Some people clambered up the small bank to a narrow road but as it was rather slippery we chose to stay at track level.

108 at S-chanf108 at S-chanf31st January 2016. G 4/5 (2-8-0) no. 108 "Engiadina", working 2930 9:55 Samedan to Scuol-Tarasp, is given a quick check-over whilst waiting to be overtaken by a service train.

Two stations later and we were at Zernez where the train stopped for an hour for various other trains to cross and overtake and gave us the chance to get some more photos. Whilst there was not the scrum that usually takes place in the UK whenever a steam train runs on the mainline it was still a challenge to get a photo of 108 without anybody standing in the way.  We thought that 415 might catch us up here but there was no sign of it nor was there any sign of 108 needing to take water which we also thought might have happened.

108 at Zernez108 at Zernez31st January 2016. G 4/5 (2-8-0) no. 108 "Engiadina", working 2930 9:55 Samedan to Scuol-Tarasp.

Setting off again, we had a brief stop at Susch to cross another train then had the rare experience of passing through Sagliains non-stop before making one final stop at Ardez to cross the two trains that depart Scuol-Tarasp within 10 minutes of each other. On arrival at Scuol-Tarasp, 108 dragged its train up the headshunt before propelling it into a loop opposite the platform before heading off to be serviced and answering our question regarding turning the loco; yes, there is a turntable here.

108 at Scuol-Tarasp108 at Scuol-Tarasp31st January 2016. G 4/5 (2-8-0) no. 108 "Engiadina".

We photographed the trains arriving from Pontresina and Disentis then went for a lunch break before returning in time for the next two arrivals an hour later. Just before the first of these, a member of staff went across to the station’s shunting loco, started it up and drove it down the siding next to the small goods yard. The train from Landquart arrived first with a refrigerated van on the rear, motor whirring away, which the shunting loco quickly grabbed before the train loco ran round. By now, the train from Pontresina could be seen standing at the home signal but the loco carried on with the shunt which we found slightly puzzling until it headed back towards the station, placing the van on the buffer stops in the bay platform, quickly dropping it off there and scurrying back into the siding. Once this move was completed, the train from Pontresina was allowed into the station, straight on top of the van which was coupled to the rear of the push-pull train ready to drop off at whichever station it was bound for; told you this railway was good when it came to operations!

111 at Scuol-Tarasp111 at Scuol-Tarasp31st January 2016. Tm2/2 no. 111 places a freight wagon into the platform to be attached to the 14:34 departure to Pontresina.

We were still half expecting “krokodil” no. 415 to turn up but it never did, meaning that 108 would have to tackle the steep climb up to Ardez on its own. It had to work very hard and the sound could be enjoyed by opening the window opposite the toilet in the middle of the coach which was separated from the seats either side by a solid door meaning there were no complaints about draughts.

It was trying to rain / sleet again as we passed non-stop through Sagliains again and we stopped to cross another train at Susch before arriving at Zernez again where we had another wait of around an hour for both service trains to cross here. We got out of the train, expecting it to be shunted into the third platform but it promptly shunted to the opposite main platform, then into a siding beyond the station. It was a good job we had taken our bags with us as it was raining harder now and a lot colder making the idea of catching the 15:20 Landquart to St Moritz train rather tempting even though we knew 703 would not be working it. This would get us back to Filisur an hour earlier and, much as we had enjoyed the ride behind 108, a Ge6/6ii was not to be sniffed at so that and the earlier finish time got our vote.

704 at Zernez704 at Zernez31st January 2016. Ge6/6ii no. 704 "Davos" on RE1351 15:21 Landquart to St. Moritz.

The driver of 704 was very keen and shot off with gusto, arriving at Samedan with just enough light to take a few final photographs for the day before heading for the “Avec” store for a nice hot drink to warm up. A bit of uncharacteristic late running was in evidence as the combined RE and Glacier Express to St Moritz was running 17 minutes late though it didn’t affect our train which turned up on time with 646 on the front.

The booking office was still open when we arrived at Filisur so we decided to try and get a Lokdienst for tomorrow, having heard from various sources that it is normally published between 4pm an 5pm the previous day.  The lady in the booking office greeted us and went straight over to the computer as soon as we walked through the door (think she had us "sussed" by now!) and we were soon leafing through the pages looking for 703 which was still on repairs though it would have given us a rather large dilemma if it was booked out on the one weekday turn which starts at Ilanz at 7:53 and which would mean leaving Filsur long before breakfast to do it.

After suffering a burger last night it was a pleasure to eat in the hotel again with it excellent and beautifully presented food.

Station Arr Dep Motive Power Train Details
Filisur   8:02 705 RE1117 6:58 Chur to St Moritz
Samedan 8:50 9:55 108 2930 9:55 Samedan to Scuol-Tarasp
Scuol-Tarasp 13:03 14:50 108 2949 14:45 Scuol-Tarasp to Samedan
Zernez 15:50 16:29 704 RE1351 15:20 Landquart to St Moritz
Samedan 16:58 17:17 646 RE1160 16:57 St Moritz to Chur
Filisur 18:06      
RhB Rhätische Bahn Switzerland http://jandjcottrell.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/2/dampffahrt-engadin Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:20:58 GMT