25th January 2016 - Here we go again
Monday 25th January 2016
“Citadella” departs at the sociable time of 8:45 from Ljubljana but an EN (Euro Night) train to Beograd runs 20 minutes in front of it so it is no great hardship to turn up 20 minutes earlier to see what is on that. This turn is booked for a class 541 electric loco which was required 541.016 this morning, wearing a livery to mark the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity. A look at the diagrams after we got on the train revealed that the same loco should be on the train we were planning to catch tomorrow morning; oh well, but it was probably a good idea to do it now in case the diagrams got swapped round in the next 24 hours.
There was no loco on “Citadella” as we pulled out of the station and EN415 was soon whizzing along nicely but we came to a stop at Litija with just the loco on the platform, had it failed or was there some engineering work ahead? The train stood for at least 5 minutes and we were starting to get a little twitchy as it had stopped in an unusual place but then 541.102 went past on the morning train from Zagreb and we set off again over a section of single line working. As the train was not booked to call at Litija, the driver must have stopped with the train off the platform to avoid any problems with people trying to get on.
We were only five minutes late arriving at Zidani Most where there were a group of welders / grinders working on the track a short distance from the platform and whilst watching the activity we were accosted by a man in SŽ uniform who we think was the station “red cap” sans hat. We have never experienced any grief whatsoever whilst taking photos in Slovenia nor were we about to now as it turned out that the gentleman was interested in photography and wanted to discuss cameras, having seen that we had a Canon 5D; he was thinking of purchasing a 7D.
“Citadella” was also running five minutes late and, much to our surprise and delight, appeared with a class 363 rather than the expected class 342 on the front. A few more minutes were lost north of Celje and we arrived at Pragersko to the sight of a nice clean class 664 waiting in the sidings but it was not quite close enough to read the number. Electric loco off, diesel starts moving, oh goody it’s a winner…..not. 664 111 was attached to it and the angle was such that it couldn’t be seen until nearly in the platform. Unfortunately 664s do not have multiple working and although the rear loco was manned and would be providing ETH for the train there was no easy way of telling if it would actually work or not.
Slinking back to our compartment in the rear coach, we spent a while peering out of the window to try and decide if both locos were working but as 664s do not do “clag” as a rule it was impossible to tell. Even a wander up to the front coach, an air-con 2nd class MÁV compartment which was freezing without a single vestige of warmth, did not yield any clues so we couldn’t really count 664.116 for haulage.
Both locos were removed at Hodoš and replaced by the usual MÁV class 431 but we were a little surprised by the sight of a GySEV sister loco, class 430, which had arrived on a car train. Whilst watching this, we tried to keep an eye on the pair of 664s, one of which went on a freight but we couldn’t be sure which one as they were both the same way round. It was nearly time for “Citadella” to arrive from Budapest which we photographed to take our minds off the suspense of waiting to see which 664 we would get back and it turned out to be 664.116; there is a “664 bashing God” after all!
We thoroughly enjoyed the run back to Pragersko but were nearly presented with a dilemma at Ormož when we passed 664.106 on the 12:25 Maribor to Murska Sobota; it was a good job that we didn’t need it as there was probably insufficient time to grab our stuff and leap for it.
363.011 was waiting at Pragersko, it was probably too much to expect that it would go to Maribor and get swapped for another one; that would be too greedy! Another 363 was passed en route standing in for a class 342 on an RG service and a 342 was seen vice an EMU before we arrived back at Ljubljana a few minutes late and hung around to see what would work the 17:25 and 17:45 departures.
The carriage shed “pilot” loco was a class 642 rather than the smaller class 732 and this kept us entertained thrashing around and emitting a fair amount of black “clag”. 644.012 was parked opposite the carriage sidings and 661.032 was on the fuel point and had to shuffle around a little to get off “shed”, thus providing further amusement whilst we waited.
We thought that the “carriage pilot” loco would do the same as yesterday and put the coaches for both the Maribor and Koper trains in the same platform as one shunt but today it was only the stock for the IC to Maribor that appeared. 363.011 dropped on to this as expected, so there would be no point in doing that and the two class 541s we could see that might be for the Koper IC went onto a freight instead, not that any coaches had appeared for it. Another class 363 then appeared in the distance and dropped on top of 363.011 and the 17:25 to Maribor; the pantograph was dropped on the latter, the two locos were coupled and 363.028 was required so that’s the next move sorted. There was still no sign of the 17:45 to Koper by the time we departed but it was all rather irrelevant now as it was only possible to do one or the other.
Off we went, past the power station where the fireless steam loco was busy shunting wagons to be tipped, then we became aware of a smell of dragging brakes but could not see or hear anything that was obviously amiss even after opening the window and looking out. The smell waned only to re-appear a short time later and when the train had its booked stop at Litija one of the conductors went rushing up to the loco so it wasn’t just us that noticed. The driver got out, went to the dead loco and fiddled with something under the sole bar causing a rush of air, went back to the cab and the conductor gave the “right away” but there was no movement. Exit the driver from his cab again for another fiddle and we were just wondering whether it would be best to cut our losses and get off here when he got back on and departed. There was no further acrid smell of binding brakes so whatever had been done must have sorted it and we arrived at Zagorje 5 minutes late, still in plenty of time for the train back.
Zagorje doesn’t have a footbridge or subway so passengers have to wait on the same platform as the station building until invited to cross both tracks to the other side. The announcement was duly made so we crossed over and were delighted to find that the EMU to Ljubljana was actually 342.023 and a set of coaches, shame it wasn't one number lower (342.022 our last one for haulage).
As we were a little later than yesterday we didn’t bother walking all the way into the centre to eat so went to Rio Momo, a Serbian restaurant which we have visited before and a place where the portions are generous to say the least.
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