6th September 2015 - One Train a Day
Sunday 6th September 2015
Our next destination was to be Hamburg, at the opposite end of this very large country, a destination that could be reached in less than seven hours but we were not going to do anything as sensible as that of course! There was just one IC departure from Passau a day, as opposed to a 2 hourly ICE service and even by catching this we could get to Hamburg in less than seven hours by changing to an ICE service at Würzburg but the IC itself went to Hamburg via the Rhein / Ruhr so, being gluttons for punishment, we decided to do the thing throughout barring the final 6 ½ kms to Hamburg-Altona.
Just in case 11 hours on one train was not enough, IC2024 had been retimed to leave at 6:41 rather than 7:17 due to engineering works so there would no doubt be a large diversion somewhere en route, probably between Nürnberg and Würzburg looking at the timings. We had booked some seat reservations, expecting the train to busy later on in the day but one of the compartments in the buffet car had no reservations at all so we sat there in preference to our two allocated seats, side by side in the open coach – much nearer the source of sustenance that would no doubt be required throughout the journey plus it only had four seats and enough space to store the suitcases on the floor.
It was raining as forecast as we made our way to the station; Yormas was open at 6am even on a Sunday so breakfast was purchased along with something for later and we settled down for the duration. The rain had petered out by the time we reached Regensburg and after leaving Nürnberg, we turned left and went via Ansbach as we had guessed. This route is about 30 km longer and slower than the direct route, hence the extra 36 minutes added on to the start time.
We pulled up next to another IC service at Würzburg which we thought a little strange as our IC was not booked to connect with anything. There were some police on the platform and the train looked busy and it was a few moments before we realised that it was not an IC service at all but a train load of migrants, presumably from München. It was a long train, we couldn’t see what was on the front and it left before we did – we guess that it took the original route via Gemünden whereas our train went via the high speed line to Frankfurt but despite keeping a lookout we did not see it again before the “old line” disappeared from view.
Next stop Frankfurt (Main) Hbf, where the train reversed but upon leaving we travelled a matter of yards before grinding to a halt with the rear of the train still in the platform. There were no clues as to what was going on but we did notice that we appeared to be heading towards the carriage sidings so maybe the driver stopped and queried the route; it was certainly not the way we were expecting to go. A minute or so later the train carried on and its unusual routeing meant that we could grab a couple of photos out of the window as we slowly passed the sidings and shed.
Frankfurt Airport was the next station stop, then Mainz Hbf where the train stood in the platform slightly longer than booked. Hearing a train approaching we looked up just in time to see a class 120 shoot past on what we could only assume was the same “migrant-ex” that we had seen at Würzburg. Our train departed a couple of minutes later and we thought that we might be following it along the left bank of the Rhein but around Bingen we saw what looked very much like the same train heading along the opposite side of the river. A short while later our train stopped between stations, directly opposite Kaub but there was no further sign of the class 120 on its lengthy train, only a class 101 on a much shorter IC rake. An announcement was made apologising for the delay and putting it down to a train ahead of us suffering from “technical problems” and we eventually moved off after standing for about 10 minutes. Our train was 15 down by the time it arrived at Koblenz, lost further time after it crawled into Bonn Hbf and came to a dead stand outside Köln Hbf before being diverted via Düsseldorf, missing out the stop at Solingen.
An “open day” was in progress at the Abellio depot just after leaving Hagen with steam loco “Waldbröhl” topping and tailing some sort of shuttle service with a blue class V60 type diesel and a further item of interest was an ÖBB class 1042 or 1142 in an orange livery on a Sonderzug at Dortmund. This wasn’t the only special train out today as we passed three more specials heading towards Dortmund on the single line between there and Münster and a fourth one at Osnabrück, all hauled by private operators locos, we can only assume that Hamburg was popular that weekend for some reason!
At Bremen, our train pulled in alongside a class 120 on an IC train which the platform indicator showed as a 17:57 departure to Hamburg. IC2024 was over 30 minutes late by now and it’s platform indicator had a message scrolling round saying (if we had translated it correctly) that the train was very busy and passengers without reservations were advised to catch an alternative train. We could not be bothered to go and see if 2nd class really was that busy or if the note on the platform board was merely put up to deter passengers from diving off the 17:57 to try and get an earlier train but nobody had come to share our compartment for the entire journey and there were only four other people in the rest of the half coach though the buffet was very busy.
Although we had a nice speedy journey to start with after leaving Bremen, the train started trundling around the Tostedt area as if we had caught something up and we eventually arrived at Hamburg Hbf 41 minutes late; not bad considering the length of journey and what could have gone wrong on the modern day DB.
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