5th March 2016 - Read all About It
Saturday 5th March
Today’s plans involved staying in Austria as there was an interesting tour, hauled by an interesting loco over an interesting route to a book launch at the Strasshof museum north of Vienna. This didn’t start until 12:00 at Wolkersdorf so most of the morning was spent in a fairly fruitless search for new Taurus locos for haulage, the final score being two out of eight before we had to head off on a class 1144-hauled R train to Florisdorf for an EMU to Wolkersdorf.
Although the train started at Wolkersdorf, it had to come from its base at Mistelbach and it arrived from there in good time looking very smart in a fresh coat of traditional “blood orange” livery with four blue and cream four wheel coaches. As the train stood basking in the spring sunshine a few of us took the opportunity to hop off the platform for a sneaky photo.
We set off for Strasshof which was only just down the road from Wolkersdorf as the crow flies but a bit longer by rail, especially if any run rounds were to be avoided though the planned route looked to have been carefully thought out to provide maximum interest as well as providing other pick up points through the centre of Wien. To get round the city and end up facing the right way the tour first had to circumnavigate the huge yards at Kledering to the east of Wien using some interesting non-passenger track then we stopped for photos at the closed station of Oberlaa. One little problem though, the sun was still shining brightly and the train was standing in the shadow of the station building but that was easily solved by everyone walking away from the station whilst the train moved up until it was no longer in shadow; simples!
All back on board for the relatively short distance to Wien Meidling, where more passengers boarded then the train did an unusual move right across the whole layout to access the S Bahn tracks and into the tunnel for the low level platforms at Wien Hbf to collect some more passengers. There then followed one of the day’s highlights, a run through the S Bahn tunnels with a rather keen driver. The 77 class 2143s were a mixed bunch, the lowest numbered ones were mostly rather quiet and many of the later ones were very loud indeed with 2143 070 being very much in the latter category and our driver took full advantage of the fact, probably frightening the life out of a few “normals” as we charged noisily through the underground stations, it was worth the bargain €20 fare just for this bit.
Back out into the open air, we passed under our outwards route at Süßenbrunn and onto the Heizhaus Museum at Strasshof, which was actually closer to the next station on the line, Silberwald. This was another highlight as the train crossed over and took the track right into the museum, passing an extensive collection of stuff in various stages of decay – a shame more of it could not be kept under cover.
Our train went onto the furthest road to the left and although the 2143 ended up behind a large thorny bush the rear of the train was next to a patch of grass where people could gather round and listen to the speeches announcing the new book. This was all about the class 2045 locomotives of which one of the seven remaining ones, 2045.20, was waiting to be shunted onto the other end of the train to provide a backdrop for the event. We had been lucky enough to have this loco for haulage on the Retz to Drosendorf line back in 2003 but next time we went there, two years later, it was out of use following an engine failure and a class 2143 was covering the duty.
As the speeches for the book launch would be in German there was not much point in standing at the back trying to look appreciative so the opportunity was taken to go round and get photographs of some of the huge collection of steam, diesel and electric locos on the site.
The “cranks” amongst the passengers had quickly worked out that the only way to get 2143.070 onto the other end of the train for the return journey was to shunt release it using one of the shunting locos that had been moving 2045.20 around. These were a class 2060 and 2067 though only the latter was running and we guessed that there would not be any issues with being on the train when the shunt was done to claim the haulage, all we had to do was make sure that we were on the train when the move took place.
Most of the active locos based here were either inside the shed or parked just outside and it looked as if the most of the large number of locos parked in the open at the south end of the site were little more than mobile spare parts banks to keep the active stuff in service. By the time we returned to the special train the book launch had finished so the opportunity was taken to get some photos of 2045.20 and to have a look at the new book. It was a quality product filled with every detail imaginable about the class 2045 from their inception to demise and it was also lavishly illustrated; needless to say one was purchased to add to the pile of timetables that had already been acquired.
By this time, the class 2045 had been removed from the train and the 2067 / 2060 combination had been attached ready to release 2143.070 though only the 2067 was actually working and, as expected, there were no problems with being on-board whilst the shunt was done – in fact nearly all the passengers were on the train by now.
Fifty minutes later we were back at Praterstern (the former Wien Nord station) and a decision had to be made, stay on board for some more entertainment in the tunnels or get off and grab that required class 1144 that was temptingly less than 20 minutes behind the special. The latter option won and proved to be a good move as one new class 1144 turned into three, the perfect excuse for a trip with a couple of friends to the Lichtenthal Brew Pub, a 30 minute ride away on Tram route “D” past many of Vienna’s interesting buildings.
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