27th January 2016 - Drawing Blanks
Wednesday 27th January 2016
It was straight out this morning in the hunt for the newly converted Cargo Re4/4 locos of which we needed five plus 421.383 which had recently appeared working EC trains between Zürich and Lindau in Germany. According to the diagrams, there should have been a couple of Cargo locos at Zürich at 8:36 and 8:40 but they were conspicuous by their absence so we went across to 421.371 on the EC to München for a trip to St Gallen instead.
We had been a little puzzled why it was now booked to leave at 9:09 rather than 9:16 which it had done so for several years previously but a leaf through the timetable revealed that the times had been tweaked to match up with the new hourly IR service to St Gallen with extra stops at Wil and Gossau, hence the slightly earlier departure. The train had also expanded to eight coaches in total (was previously six) and although we thought that the front two might be taken off along with the loco at Lindau, they were labelled up for München so presumably were going all the way.
We got off at St Gallen and waited for the EC in the opposite direction which was running ten minutes late, not an unusual state of affairs in Germany these days though we later received an e-mail from somebody “bashing” in that country who reported that EC196 was hauled by a single class 218 diesel instead of a pair which might explain the relatively minor loss of time.
A few minutes were picked up on the run to Zürich where we had a choice of three Re4/4s; one to Basel, one to St Gallen and one to Locarno. Two of the three were diagrammed to be Cargo loks but none of them were; in fact the only such loco we had seen so far was 11248 which was passed at Winterthur and was not one of our required ones. We are not fans of “deckchairing” (setting up camp in one location and watching / waiting for locos to turn up) and had Interrails burning holes in our pockets so to speak so we took the lowest mileage Re4/4 on offer, 11164 on the IR to Locarno, as far as Erstfeld.
Despite carefully checking any Re4/4s that we saw there was still no sign of any Cargo ones though we did get a minor bit of new track in as the southbound line had been moved across towards the portal of the new Gotthard base tunnel just north of Erstfeld. The northbound line was still using the old alignment but it didn’t look as if it would be long before it was also diverted.
Two freight trains turned up in the 13 minutes we spent there but we only managed to get a picture of one of them along with the snow blower and class 841 diesel shunter parked in the sidings there. Further to the north, 460.084 was parked in the remains of the tunnel construction sidings on what looked like a test train for the new tunnel.
11194 was the loco on the northbound IR and it went to Luzern rather than Zürich so we decided to go there for a change but there was still no sign of the elusive five Cargo locos or any others from that particular batch. 11196 took over the IR for the run to Basel and we stayed on board despite the temptation of 11138 on an “Ersatzzug” set covering for a class 460 and double deck set on an IR service to Zürich Flughafen. Also present at Luzern was BLS 465.004 and it’s matching “Kambly Zug” train advertising Kambly biscuits which runs every day except Monday and is marked in the timetable; perhaps we should go on it one day to find out if there are any free samples on board!
Around half-a-dozen Austrian Railways class 1042/1142 were passed at Sursee en route to Basel and there was also an Ae6/6 seemingly plinthed under a shelter in the Galliker Logistik factory near Dagmersellen but still no sign of any Cargo Re4/4s until we reached Basel where 11247 was waiting to work the train that we were on back to Luzern but it wasn’t one of the ones we were looking for. Another Re 4/4 was seen approaching the station as we got off the train but we nearly ignored it as it had the old style pantograph meaning it was a passenger sector one and we’d had all of those except one which was confined to ECS workings at Basel……err wait a minute….where are we?
It was indeed 11120 but it rolled into the platform and was attached to a rag-bag set of coaches which were obviously some sort of works or inter depot move. The temptation to try and get on and play the “dumb tourist” if we ended up in the carriage sidings was great but there were too many staff around to sneak on un-noticed and we guessed that the doors might be locked anyway. The other option was to actually ask one of the shunters overseeing the move if we could have a ride into the carriage sidings but we doubted that their English would be up to trying to comprehend an explanation of “bashing” from two crazy foreigners!
We decided to let 11247 go in favour of returning to Zürich to view a couple more diagrams that hadn’t been seen, the 16:47 was our old friend 11148 from last night but the 17:13 looked as if it was going to get a class 460 and it was not on the Re4/4 diagrams in any case so the earlier train it was. It turned out that we need not have rushed as both the 18:09 to München and 18:35 to Singen were duds, not helped by the fact that both trains only had one loco on instead of a pair.
It had been a rather frustrating day but, looking on the bright side, we’d had some nice runs with a good selection of different Re4/4s and had the best part of another two days to find the locos we were looking for so it was time to head to the Zeughauskeller for the usual slap-up meal.
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