8th May 2016 - Cowboys and Indians
Sunday 8th May 2016
We had about six hours sleep and woke up in time to catch the 12:00 towards Dresden using the Sachsen Länder ticket that we had purchased from the ticket machine at Wittenberge last night whilst the loco was being serviced. Target for the day was the Lößnitzgrundbahn between Radebeul Ost and Radeburg which was running a special timetable for a "Karl May" event; a "wild west" themed event to celebrate Karl May, a German author who lived in Radebeul for many years and who is noted (amongst other things) for a series of books set in 19th century America which have quite a following in Germany.
There is the odd hauled RE turn between Leipzig and Dresden but the 12:00 was not one of them and comprised of a five car class 442 unit coupled to a three car one; totally inadequate for the number of people using the service though we managed to avoid the worst of the overcrowding by getting in the front. We had just over an hour to wait until the train on the Lößnitzgrundbahn so went to a nearby road overbridge to photograph the arrival of both the service train and the "Traditionszug" train forming the shuttles to the festival. The latter was a very long train and was topped at tailed by two 0-4-4-0T "Mallet" locomotives with a diesel locomotive on the Radebeul end as well.
Once we had photographed these we hung around and got some photos of passing IC trains before making our way our way back to the narrow gauge station where we discovered that tickets for the service train could only be bought from the guard. This train was hauled by 2-10-2T 99.1761, fortunately not the same loco that was working when we last went on the line 16 years ago. Whilst sitting on this train waiting for it to depart we heard an announcement from the adjacent mainline station to the effect that the RE to Dresden was running 15 minutes late. It didn't appear before we departed so it was just as well we decided to catch the earlier train from Leipzig.
Most of the passengers on the train were going to the festival at Lößnitzgrund and many of the children were dressed as cowboys or indians (mostly the former). Both sides of the line at the festival location were lined with a large number of tent "encampments" with bars and stalls selling all manner of "wild west" themed items, some flying early versions of the American flag. We more-or-less had the train to ourselves after Lößnitzgrund though the open "cabrio coach" was quite full and entertainment was provided at Moritzburg by a woman rushing up and down the platform pushing a bike who did not appear to understand that she had to put the bike in the guards van before choosing a seat on the train. We think that she wanted to travel in the "cabrio coach" but there was nowhere to put a bike in that particular vehicle.
The loco was uncoupled from the train before we had even had time to get off so we had to content ourselves with a photo of it outside the shed which is home to the "Traditionsbahn" group who look after the Mallet locomotives, two of which were on the special train to the festival. There was a green Mallet bearing the number 176 (99.586) in the shed but we could not tell if it was serviceable; it had an overhaul date of 29.11 on the front but no year which would give away whether it was still "in ticket" or not.
The loco only came off the shed to work the return journey at the last minute so we departed about 5 minutes late and more time was lost at Lößnitzgrund and Weißes Roß whilst a large number of festivalgoers shoehorned their way on board. We arrived back at Radebeul one minute after the "Traditionszug" to the festival should have departed so it was a question of diving straight across the platform into the rear coach. We set off with 132 (99.539) on the front sounding like it was doing the lion's share of the work up the gradient to Lößnitzgrund with 99.1608 doing very little but diesel no. 1 on the rear was giving some lusty assistance on the steep climb through the town.
Any thoughts of leaping off for a photograph where the train terminated were rapidly dispelled by the sheer number of people waiting to get on, it was definitely best to stay put as if we'd got off the was a good chance that we might not have been able to get back on the train as a number of people were left on the platform; it was more like London Underground in the rush hour! 99.1608 did do a little bit of work on the downhill station but, there again, it didn't need to - we did wonder if it was not in the best of health, hence the accompanying diesel.
We arrived back at Radebeul a couple of minutes late but still in good time for the RE back to Dresden which was the same 3 + 5 car combination but it was a lot busier this afternoon. There were very few luggage racks which was no use whatsoever when many people had bags of varying sizes; there was a least one pair of seats filled with large suitcases, something which we usually have no tolerance for on a busy train but in this instance we could not see what else to do other than leaving them on the floor blocking the aisle.
Leipzig couldn't come soon enough on such an uncomfortable for of transport and we were glad to get off and go in search of somewhere for dinner. Auerbachs Keller was the chosen location in the city centre; a bit awkward to find as it was literally in a cellar accessed from an arcade but well worth the effort. The food was typical of what one would expect from such an establishment, very good and filling and not too pricey either but make sure you take some cash as a sign on the door said that they did not do card payments. We finished eating with enough time to have a look at a couple of class 182s but no sign of any new ones so we caught one back to the Hbf to save us the walk.
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