11th September 2015 - Happy Hectors
Friday 11th September 2015
Three days was quite enough for us in Denmark so it was time to move on to a new country; not completely new as we had previously had a brief visit to Malmö, just across the Øresund strait from Denmark. This first section of the journey was easily done by catching an Øresundståg train direct from Østerport which took us across the spectacular Øresund Bridge, the bright sunny weather ensuring some great views across the sea.
There was an hour to spare at Malmö where we had hoped to get an up-to-date copy of the very handy timetable book that we picked up on our visit three years ago but, unsurprisingly, there was no sign of anything meeting that description. There was a “ticket office” at the station but it appeared to be run by the local transport authority rather than SJ and we subsequently discovered that there are only two such establishments run by SJ in the whole country.
We had a choice of two trains to take us from Malmö to Stockholm, an SJ one at 9:11 worked by an X2000 unit and taking 4 ½ hours and a hauled service by private operator Snälltåget at 9:20 and taking just over 5 hours. Interrail was valid on both trains with a seat reservation but we chose to try our luck with Snälltåget since a) the train was more interesting and b) we had booked to go on the same train last year but were “bowled out” by circumstances (see report). It is necessary to get a seat reservation when using an Interrail but this was easily done via their website now, unlike last year when we had to phone them up. The Snälltåget train was already in the platform and posed nicely in the sun so time for a photo once we had settled into our home for the next few hours.
It was an interesting train comprising of nine coaches hauled by a Hector Rail “Taurus” type loco on hire from MRCE Dispolok numbered 242.503 which we presume was it “Swedish” number as it also carried the German style number 182.503. The coaches looked quite old to our eyes though they were all plated to run at 160kmph (99 ½ mph) and some were couchettes in use as day coaches, perhaps they were also used on the sleeper service between Malmö and Berlin, also worked by Snälltåget.
The interior of our coach looked quite old-fashioned with plenty of wood panelling but it could really do with being refreshed or updated as the reclining mechanism of both of the reversible seats in the middle of our section was broken meaning that anybody sitting in them was halfway to being horizontal when leaning back; the two people who had booked these decided to move to two other unoccupied seats. There were also plugs and wi-fi was meant to have been provided but we received a text message the previous day to say that they were experiencing problems with this and so it proved – it was possible to get connected but the actual signal was either non-existent or too poor to do anything with. As we are old enough to remember life before smart phones and the internet this was not an issue to us and we had plenty of other things to amuse ourselves with during the long journey, not least just looking out the window taking in the scenery of this new country.
It was bright and sunny outside and the older coaches meant that there was no air-con so it did get a little hot and stuffy inside, more so than we would have thought - perhaps the vehicles had better than normal insulation to help protect against the harsh Scandinavian winters. The 1st class ticket reservation / supplement included breakfast which had to be collected from the restaurant / buffet car. As we had eaten in the hotel this morning we waited until about mid-day before collecting the meal and eating it as lunch instead. The buffet was very well stocked with a wide selection of stuff to eat and drink probably just as well with the train being well filled with passengers. “Breakfast” came in a stout paper bag which contained two rolls with butter, cheese and marmalade, a carton of orange juice, a yogurt and a plastic knife and spoon with a choice of tea or coffee, not a bad little feast.
Stockholm was reached a couple of minutes late and we had eight minutes to find the top and tailed loco hauled RE service to Uppsala with platform 17 looking to be an awful long way from platform 3 but we got there with a minute to spare and hopped on board for our first two SJ locos, two black liveried Rc6s.
On arriving at Uppsala we went to check into the hotel (the Radisson Blu, right next to the station); we would have preferred to stay in Stockholm but reasonably priced hotels were in short supply due to a half marathon event taking place over the weekend so we had to look elsewhere. After settling in and having a quick freshen-up we went back to the station and caught another of the RE trains to Knivsta where we had noticed a Nohab railcar converted to departmental use parked up.
After taking photos, we caught another RE (with the same two locos we had earlier from Stockholm) back to Uppsala to meet up with the same friend that we had bumped into last Monday and catch the IC train from Mora into Stockholm. On the way south, it was pointed out to us that our 1st class Interrails gave us access to the SJ lounge so the three of us trooped in for a quick drink and snack of cheese and biscuits.
Back on the platform we bumped into a second friend (who we also knew was heading here this weekend) and the four of us had a brief chat on the platform before the other two caught the 19:06 to Hallsberg, run by private operator Tågab using an Rc3 type loco.
We returned to Uppsala on the 19:11, getting two more Rc6s in the process but it was an awful run back. First of all we passed a heritage train which we assumed was heading to Stockholm for tomorrow before staggering along and crossing over to the “wrong” road to pass an old loco (208?) which was probably on its way to Gävle museum for the event tomorrow. Back over to the “right” road, still running slowly then we crossed over again at Knivsta where something hauled shot past us, back to the “right” road again and finally arriving at Uppsala a little later than intended.
It was a bit later than we normally liked to eat and we’d had some “nibbles” in the SJ lounge meaning that we didn’t fancy a large meal so it was off to our “place of last resort”; McDonalds. We sometimes jokingly refer to these establishments as “McRancids” but this one did really live up to that name. There only appeared to be two members of staff, discarded food wrappers were strewn all over the place, a drink had been spilled on the floor which nobody had mopped up and the floor itself had a greasy sheen to it; never again - or at least not this particular branch. Perhaps the locals thought the same way as we can’t remember seeing so few people in one of these normally popular outlets.
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