8th September 2015 - Best Laid Plans
Tuesday 8th September 2015
Plan “A” this morning had been to head for Copenhagen via the train ferry from Puttgarden; but replicating the route our friend took yesterday via Esbjerg would actually get us some new track in Denmark so we revised our plans and went out for the 9:20 IC to Westerland again. Unfortunately IC2314 was running 20 minutes late this morning and, from past experience in Germany, we knew that could easily mean the train being 30 minutes or more late by the time it actually turned up. This would probably lead to a missed connection in Niebüll and mean that we would not be arriving at our hotel in Copenhagen until at least 19:30 unless we missed out the section of line between Bramming and Esbjerg,
Missing out the line to Esbjerg would only mean another visit to do it and we didn’t want to arrive that late into Copenhagen so it was back to “Plan A” and onto the 9:28 ICE(TD) to go via Puttgarden which was, unusually, a double unit. We made ourselves comfortable and waited but the first indication that things were not going to plan was when a policeman walked into the coach, looked up and down then went back outside and stood by the door. By now the “penny was starting to drop”, was the extra set on the rear for transporting migrants to somewhere en route? It couldn’t go through to Denmark as there is only room for one set on the boat. An announcement was made saying there would be a delay of around 30 minutes; perhaps we should have gone via Niebüll as we had no idea what would happen if the train missed the boat. How frequently did they run? Did all the boats on the route have rails on board? Would the space for a train be filled with trucks if there was no train booked on that sailing? Any further thoughts were soon deemed irrelevant when the conductor came through and said that the train was cancelled due to the migrants, we think that they had been allowed to board both units rather than just the rear one – what a shambles!
By the time all this had taken place the IC to Westerland had actually departed, we didn’t see it leave but did think that we had been correct in that it would be nearer to being 30 minutes late than 20. The conductor kindly gave us details of the next alternative which we had already worked out for ourselves and that was to go to platform 13 for the RE train to Flensburg and change to a Danish one there. The stock to form this train was late arriving from Flensburg meaning that there was a scramble to get off and on, not helped by the extra number of passengers off the ICE and by 1st class not showing in the correct place on the platform indicator. We had realised this as the train ran in so were able to make our way down the platform to the correct place as the passengers got off though there didn’t appear to be too many 1st class passengers as we kept a compartment to ourselves for the whole journey; quite sure the same didn’t apply to 2nd class!
The late arrival meant a three minute late departure but we arrived on time at Flensburg despite some slow running en route and an unsolicited heavy stop between stations near Rendsburg. It was nice and sunny again this morning meaning there were some great views as we crossed the Rendsburger Hochbrücke which dispersed any lingering irritation after this morning‘s shenanigans. A three car DSB "rubber ring" DMU was waiting at Flensburg, might be a bit of a squeeze later though it would be joined up with other trains later in the journey.
At Padborg, the first station in Denmark, some police got on, ignored us and the two other people sitting opposite then asked the next two people for their passports. Outside on the platform was a TV camera and reporter with microphone, three other reporters with notebooks and a couple of photographers. One policeman looked like he was doing an interview with the TV crew and there were more police on the platform watching a growing number of migrants being escorted off the train including an old man with a stick, young children and a woman holding a baby. One young man looked very pleased and was raising his arms in celebration towards the TV cameras before giving several thumbs up and V for Victory signs. Back with the trains, there were some interesting items dotted around the station and shed area here, including three former CFL (Luxembourg) class 1800s (1812, 1820 and one whose number was obscured by bushes) and the carcass of a Nohab loco outside the depot. A serviceable Nohab and MZ type loco, both belonging to private operators were stabled near the station.
On to Kolding, where we joined up with the IC service from Esbjerg which was an hour ahead of the service that we would have been on if we had made the 12:07 from Niebüll and we had a good run until Middelfart where our train was overtaken by what we think was a late running faster IC train. Sometime after that our train slowed down and crawled along before stopping completely, a performance that was repeated a couple more times, as if we were in a queue of trains that were being cautioned for some reason but no explanation was forthcoming from the crew.
A third unit joined as at Odense and the train was very busy now with people standing in 2nd class though there were still a couple of empty seats in first. A feature of 1st class in Danish IC trains is free tea and coffee but the hot water for this had been lacking up until now – we had thought that the guard might bring some once the tickets had been checked but they didn’t. A new guard joined at Odense so we asked her if there was any hot water when she came round to check the tickets; she seemed quite surprised that there wasn’t any and soon came back with a couple of flasks so we could enjoy a hot drink on the last leg of the journey.
The IC we were on handily went through to Østerport where the hotel of the same name is just across the road. It is a modern building built alongside the railway and although we had asked for a room on the opposite side to the line when booking we had presumably been beaten to it as there none left by the time we arrived. It was nice to have a view of the line and helpful for ME spotting but not so good when there was one standing in the bay platform right outside though it was just about bearable if the window was kept shut.
All that sitting down meant a brisk walk was in order so it was off down the road to Dag H, a restaurant / café that we visited on our last trip here. It was a pleasant enough place with an English version of the menu though we did find it rather limited as we didn’t see anything that grabbed our fancy on the starters and only really liked one main course. We had the same problem with dessert which ended up being “chocolate crunchy”, an interesting selection of various lumps of chocolate served in a glass jar. Being Copenhagen, the meal was not cheap but at least there was a supermarket right next to the station which meant reasonably priced supplies could be obtained for day use.
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