26th January 2016 - Alpine Transit
Tuesday 26th January 2016
Time to love and leave Slovenia this morning although our original plan of catching the 9:28 was changed to the 7:28 instead as we considered a 25 minute connection to the Zürich EC at Schwarzach St. Veit insufficient if anything went wrong. One issue that we had considered was the “migrant situation” and although it looked as if they were being put on their own special trains at Dobova on the border with Croatia and sent straight to Austria, we still went out for the earlier train as other things were more than capable of going wrong.
541.016 had followed the diagram round from yesterday and was on MV314 as expected. It was a beautiful morning with the rising sun glinting off the Julien Alps and we tried taking a few pictures from the window between Kranj and Jesenice with mixed results.
The border police had a wander through the train during the stand at Jesenice but didn’t appear to find anything or body of interest so it left on time, arriving one minute early at Villach Hbf. There were no through coaches on this working so we had to change trains here, fortunately only across the platform to a Klagenfurt to Dortmund IC train. This was a standard DB (German Railways) IC set hauled by a class 101; boring but needs must as it was far too early for lunch and we still didn’t want to risk the +25 onto the Zürich train later on.
We thought we were in luck when we found an empty compartment in the buffet coach, nice and close to the hot drink supply but quickly realized that it was b****y freezing though not quite as bad as the front coach on the train to Hodoš yesterday. A hasty retreat was beaten to the open coach at the rear where things were a lot cosier and investigations made into where to have lunch; we settled on Bischofshofen as it was a bigger place than Schwarzach St. Veit and there was slightly less time to kill. The weather was still nice and clear, affording us some nice few from the train though it did get a little misty at the top of the Tauern and there was not as much snow as we were expecting up there.
The place we had eyed up at Bischofshofen was allegedly a six minute walk down the road according to our map “app” but it turned out to be a little further than that and although we walked past plenty of shops, there was nothing by way of places to eat a meal in. This didn’t bode well, as when we arrived at the location there was a sign on the door saying that smoking was allowed which put us off straight away so we turned round and headed back towards the station to see if anything could be found in the other direction.
We hadn’t gone far when we saw a restaurant up a side street which we hadn’t seen as it would have been behind us when walking in the opposite direction. The board outside the door said food was served from 11:30 and as it was 11:20 now we, correctly, guessed that being 10 minutes early would not be a problem. It was a family owned restaurant named Ortners and we were made welcome, ushered to a seat straight away and handed a menu, opting for the fixed menu of green vegetable soup and turkey curry which was very tasty and most definitely home-made. As we still had some time to spare we pushed the boat out and had dessert as well which was every bit as good as the rest of the meal and beautifully presented; we would definitely eat here again if we happen to find ourselves in the vicinity in the future.
Back to the trains and the EC to Zürich produced a dud 1116; at least it was not a class 101 and the weather, which had earlier clouded over, brightened up again. It was interesting to note the former Mariazellerbahn EMUs in the sidings at Zell am See; heaven knows what the Pinzgaubahn want to do with those bearing in mind the line is not electrified though they might find the centre coaches and driving trailers of use if they can be adapted to be hauled by something else.
During the six minute stand at Innsbruck, the air-con went off alerting us to the possibility that there might have been a loco change; being in the rear coach meant it would be a long walk to the front to check but it was easy enough to wait for the first curve so we could see the front and discover that there were now two locos on the front. After enjoying the trip over the Arlberg route in the last of the winter light, it was time for a walk up the front just in case the extra loco was taken off at Bludenz or Feldkirch but it stayed on until the train reversed at Buchs and proved to be a winner meaning that we wouldn’t end the day empty-handed.
A brisk walk along the platform to the other end was had just in time to see Re4/4 11148 backing on. So much for EC164 being listed in the nice set of diagrams headed “SBB Cargo Re420” as we had been hoping for one of the Cargo locos in the 1124x and 1125x series that had recently been fitted with UIC18 equipment to work passenger trains. Still, at least it was an Re4/4 and not a class 460 for the final leg of the journey to Zürich where we stopped off to buy the latest timetable for 16 CHF (about £12) before heading downstairs to the S Bahn where a train formed of two class 450-hauled sets was in the platform. They were both dud of course but with just 6 out of 115 locos required we were not going to bother setting up the proverbial deckchair at this time of night so it was straight to our usual abode in Zürich, the Ibis Zürich City West near Hardbrücke station.
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