12th September 2015 - Happy Anniversary
Saturday 12th September 2015
Today was the first of two days of celebrations to mark 100 years of electric trains in Sweden, the whole reason that we chose to pay a visit to the country in the first place. The star attraction of the weekend was Swiss Railways Ce 6/8 iii “Krokodil” no. 14305 which had travelled all the way from Switzerland by rail though not without incident as it suffered a “hot box” in the Berlin area and needed the ministrations of a team from Meiningen Works before it could continue. This problem meant that it had missed the first part of its odyssey in Sweden (a tour from Ängelholm to Stockholm) but some smart work had enabled it to catch up in time to work the special train from Stockholm to the Swedish Railway museum at Gävle where it would go on display along with more local electric locos.
As we were eating breakfast in the hotel with a view over the station we noticed that the EMU in the bay platform appeared to have gained an old-fashioned pantograph and a closer look revealed something dark green standing behind it; the “Krokodil” had arrived already! It looked as if a 30 minute stand at Uppsala had been built into the schedule and plenty of people dressed in traditional Swiss footplate attire and high-vis vests were taking the opportunity to have a good look round it, a sensible precaution in light of its earlier “hot box”.
Our tickets for the train had been booked on-line, a simple enough operation once the tickets had finally been released for sale, but there was some confusion regarding seat numbers as our seats were already taken and the people already on board said there had been some mix-ups. Fortunately there was a pair of empty seats nearby so we sat in those instead.
There were two special trains running from Stockholm to the event at Gävle and the second one (hauled by Rc4 1290) shot past us near Örbyhus before we headed into the yard / loop beyond the station, presumably for the “krok” to have another examination. An IC train went past, followed by an EMU then we carried on with our rather slow and stately journey. The weather was fairly dull but it was not raining and the occasion had attracted plenty of photographers along the route including a very professional looking pair wearing SBB HV vests with a broadcast quality video camera and large microphone on a separate boom.
We had one further stop at Skutskär, where a new deviation was under construction, then onto Gävle past the museum, where a large crowd had assembled to watch the arrival of the star attraction, through the station and into the freight yard where the train was propelled round a triangle so that 14305 could arrive leading into the museum.
The museum had certainly put on a show to celebrate 100 years of electric traction with a huge number of electric locos of varying ages on display around the site. A fair amount of care had been taken to position as many as possible in good positions for photography but this proved rather challenging due to the large number of people milling around and the fact that some locos had been parked in the museum’s station platforms to enable cab visits.
As the museum was some distance from the station, a shuttle service formed of three suburban type coaches topped and tailed by two old locos in brown livery had been provided. One of our friends who was already on site had already established that the same locos would be in use all day but we still decided to catch the next available shuttle to the station just in case either of the locos were unexpectedly swapped for any reason. There was a wooden shed at the entrance to the platform which was selling tickets to the event for people who had arrived from the station on the shuttle but when we tried to go in the opposite direction, explaining that we had arrived on the special train and wanted a ride on the shuttle, we were given a ticket each without question.
Having established that the shuttle was running every half hour between the station and museum, we decided to skip one and photograph it returning to the museum as well as the two hauled RE services to and from Linköping.
Returning to the museum we had almost three hours to explore and spent most of it walking round trying to get photos of everything which required a fair amount of patience. There were two roundhouses on site, one of which was mostly empty with the items which presumably normally lived in there dragged outside for display, this didn’t take long to go round as most of the people round there looked to be enthusiasts who understood the need to try and keep out of each other’s photos.
The other roundhouse was sealed up and housed the main part of the museum with plenty of displays documenting Swedish Railway history and a number of locomotives, mostly steam and including a sectioned one. One display that we particularly liked were several cases of N gauge models representing just about every loco type and livery in Sweden since 1900, somebody had put a lot of effort into building and painting these models. There was a nice-looking café attached to this roundhouse but there was a rather long queue so we went outside instead where there was a barbecue doing a roaring trade in hot dogs which were very tasty.
The sun had started to come out by now so we had a further attempt to photograph the stuff in the station area helped by the fact that the crowds had started to thin out a little and a diesel shunter had started to move some locos around, including digging out freshly repainted Rc1 1007 which was booked to work our special train back to Stockholm along with Rc4 1290.
One thing that we had noted was a number of rakes of coaches parked around the area, some of them with historic electric locos attached which were not part of the display and we discovered from a Swedish friend that we bumped into during our wanderings that there had actually been five special trains to the museum today from various locations across Sweden.
Our special train was booked to return to Stockholm at 4pm and would be hauled by the museum’s Rc1 1007 along with heritage livery Rc4 1290, owned by Green Cargo. The Rc1 took us to the station as we started dinner, which was available to book on-line with a choice of meat, fish or a vegetarian option; we went for the meat which was a nice tender beef steak served with boiled potatoes and green beans. Drinks and dessert were extra which seemed a good way of going about things as it gave people a choice of what to drink and whether they wanted “afters” or not.
It was a much quicker run back south with the more modern electrics, 14305 was staying at the museum for the weekend where it was available for cab visits for a small fee for the rest of today and would be working some special trains tomorrow. We stayed on the train until Stockholm this time round as there was a choice of two loco-hauled trains within three minutes to get us back to Uppsala, we caught the first one whereas the rest of the growing contingent of UK cranks caught the second train which came through from Linköping.
There appeared to be something going at Uppsala as there were a lot of people around and, rather surprisingly given the late hour, the narrow gauge railway “Lennakatten” whose station was next door to the SJ one appeared to be running. Further investigation revealed that it was some sort of special day at Marielund, roughly halfway along the line and there were three trains running, one steam hauled, one diesel hauled and a DMU. Unfortunately there was not enough time to go all the way to the end of the line at Faringe but the helpful and friendly staff happily shared the contents of their working timetable graph and marked up what each item of motive power was doing and we found out that we could get the steam-hauled train to Marielund for the diesel-hauled one back.
We had just under half an hour before the steam-hauled train arrived so we nipped back to the hotel to dump our bags and were rather taken aback when we returned to the station just as another special on the mainline turned up and stopped in the platform. It must have come from Gävle and was showing as a train to Stockholm on the platform departure board though we couldn’t actually see any passengers on board; it stopped in just the right place to grab a photo of it though!
Just as the special departed on the mainline, the steam-hauled train arrived on the narrow gauge line and ran round, it had started to rain as the other UK cranks turned up to do the same move so we had a good old chat as we headed east for a “plus 5” at Marielund. We did start to get a little anxious about this as despite rattling along at what appeared to be a fair old rate of knots the train was running late and a quick change of trains would not be helped by one of our number having his leg in plaster but the guard assured us that we would get the other train.
It was pretty dark at Marielund with the only light coming from the café in the station, a few strategically placed candles outside and the dim lights in the steam-hauled train. We all managed to get safely on board the diesel-hauled train, including the plastered leg and accompanying wheelchair and we discovered why the guard was so confident about us making the return journey, he had swapped over as well! Unlike the other train there were no lights at all in this one but it did mean that we could see a little of the outside world though we would have to pay another visit some time, not least to travel over the rest of the line.
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