2nd February 2016 - Glass Half Full
Tuesday 2nd February 2016
Our host had kindly mention last night that there was a large group staying in the hotel who had arranged to have breakfast at 7 o’clock this morning so it would not be a problem if we wanted to go down a little earlier as well so we decided to give them a bit of a head start and went down at 7:15. Our loco this morning was the same one that we had photographed last night (649 in “20 minutes” livery) though we would have preferred 648 “Susch” as that loco was now our lowest mileage Ge4/4iii and it was currently in the original red RhB livery rather than advertising colours.
Some “gen” had been gleaned from the internet that our two missing SBB Re4/4s had been seen working, 11244 had been spied working between Zürich and Locarno and 421.383 had been one of the locos on the 18:09 EC departure from Zürich last night. Though the latter was not booked to appear until 18:09 tonight, long after our flight time, if it followed the diagrams around there was no harm in going from Chur to Zürich via St Gallen just on the off chance that it might appear on EC196. As a bonus, if we got off at St Gallen and cut across to Arth-Goldau on the Voralpen Express we might also catch up with 11244 if it had followed the diagrams around.
It was a nice cross-platform connection to an IC train at Chur so we had the bright idea of catching that to Landquart so save trundling the cases through the subway onto the RE train, thinking that the IC and RE trains would depart from the same platform at the latter. However, SBB had other ideas and put the RE over into the “loop” platform at Landquart so we had to traipse through the subway there instead.
The RE train was our first experience of one of the newish class 511 double deck EMUs but we can’t say that we were particularly impressed with it as 1st class was 2 + 2 seating rather than the more usual 2 + 1 and the base cushion was too small; to us, it felt like we were perching on the seat instead of sitting in it. Having said that, the seat was nice and soft to sit on, it’s just that there wasn’t enough of it! The train wasn’t very busy so we went into 2nd class and tried the seats in there which were strangely better and some rather un-scientific measurements determined that the seats were actually the same basic size; the extra padding on the 1st class seats actually made them more uncomfortable!
We got off the RE train at St Margrethen to find that the EC was running around 10 minutes late, giving us enough time to photograph the Re4/4 in the head shunt then walk down the platform to phot the two Tms in the yard. There were two lots of border police waiting for the EC with a dog which sniffed disinterestedly as we walked past, it looked friendly enough but we weren’t going to test that theory out.
As the EC approached we were surprised and delighted to see that it was 421.383 rather than 421.394 as we were expecting, the gamble of coming round this way had paid off handsomely. A quick revision of plans saw us heading to Zürich for more mileage with 383 rather than get off at St Gallen, we should still be able to catch up with the train from Locarno that we were after by catching the 12:09 from Zürich. The EC recouped the 10 minutes or so lateness as we expected and we went straight across to the usual platform for the Locarno IR service, finding that it was expected to leave 8 minutes late, not a problem as we had the best part of 30 minutes at Arth-Goldau.
Next thing we knew, the platform had changed to 15, rather unusual for here, and the inbound train eventually arrived more than 8 minutes late – most un-Swiss. As the new loco was being attached we heard an announcement that the train would not be calling at Zug, so we guessed that it would be going via Rotkreuz, it certainly looked as if the inbound working had come that way judging by the platform it was in.
As we set off like the proverbial clappers we discovered from an announcement that the direct line via Zug was either closed due to the weekend engineering works overrunning or at least had restricted capacity, so it might mean that the train we were after would be diverted as well. The train was still speeding along so we were still hopeful of getting to Arth-Goldau in time but it slowed down considerably after leaving Othmarsingen and an extra stop was announced at Rotkreuz. By the time we arrived there it was looking doubtful that we would get to Arth-Goldau in time so we bailed off thinking there would either be a chance of the other IR stopping here as well or we might have a chance of getting another train to Zug if it went on its booked route.
Although there was a train heading to Zug we were not sure if it would get there in time for the northbound IR so decided to wait at Rotkreuz to see if it would stop here as well. Needless to say , the northbound IR never did appear and must have gone via Zug but we did get a small consolation in the shape of an Re10/10 (Re6/6 and Re4/4 coupled) on a freight which came racing through the middle road.
Whatever was going on north of Zug, it wasn’t affecting the Luzern / Zürich IR service as we caught one of these, waiting at Zug whilst an EC from Italy went first. Our train called as usual at Baar, went up the hill and into the Albis tunnel where there was a severe speed restriction and jointed track, it looked like the line hadn’t been handed back in the intended condition which reduced capacity. The S24 service had been replaced by a bus and we guessed that the 12:09 to Locarno had missed its slot through being late so had been diverted. Never mind, there was no guarantee that 11244 would have stuck to its diagram and there was no sign of it lurking at Zürich so maybe we hadn’t missed out and SBB had given us a timely reminder that even the best railways get problems sometimes.
It was only just over two hours until our flight departed so we got the next hauled train to the airport and went to check in with our fingers crossed. Why? As we didn’t have access to a printer last night when we checked in on-line we had the boarding cards sent to our mobile phones and were worried that we might somehow delete them before checking in or that they might not scan properly. In the end, scanning the code on the phone proved to be surprisingly effective and painless, just like the rest of the journey home though the ongoing issues south of Bletchley on the Up Slow would no doubt come to haunt us when travelling in the opposite direction to work in the coming days.
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