8th & 9th March 2016 - Having a Smashing Time
Tuesday 8th March 2016
Consideration was given to going out for a trip to Kranj on the 7:28 but a lie-in seemed a good idea after burning the candle at both ends over the last few days plus it would be another late finish tonight. It would be silly not to go out 20 minutes earlier to view EN415 though and the reward for this was a new class 541 so it was onto a scruffy Serbian coach for the extra move to Zidani Most. At least it was warm and clean inside, unlike the graffiti-covered exterior and it was lacking the usual quota of fogged up and water damaged windows.
The train made good progress until Sava where it came to a stand in the loop there; ah yes, the usual problem of single line working at this time of day but we stood for far longer than usual with no sign of anything heading in the opposite direction. After what seemed like an age, the Zagreb to Frankfurt EC passed but EN415 still did not go and then the IC from Maribor passed with two class 363 locos on the front. Although there was booked to be an ICS Pendolino behind these two trains, it was the turn of EN415 next and off we went, passing a small group of workers seemingly grovelling in the ballast on the closed line followed by a tamper then regulating machine. The ICS was waiting for us to clear the single line but it was formed of a Desiro EMU this morning, hopefully the punters on board were not being charged for the premium service on board the rather poor Pendolino replacement.
We arrived at Zidani Most around 15 minutes late and expected Citadella to be similarly delayed but it was only a couple of minutes late and hauled by a class 342, number 25 with its white City Park livery on one side only. The train looked to have the same three coaches as yesterday so it was thought prudent to take up residence in the restaurant coach which was at the front and warm (see 25th January). A fellow UK "crank" joined at Pragersko, along with 664.116 which we'd also had back in January though this time it was on its own rather than being paired with another loco. The loco was clearly audible inside the air-conditioned coach as we sipped tea and chatted about various things and we arrived at Hodos on time with no other class 664s in evidence until the MAV class 431 dropped onto the train, revealing a class 664 in the siding at the Hungarian end of the station behind it; we'd never seen one parked there before.
Once EC246 had arrived and the Hungarian electric taken off, 664.116 was attached to the front and we looked out of the window in time to see 664.112 rumbling past, was it also going onto the front of "Citadella"? No such luck as it was attached to one of the freight trains that were standing in the sidings. Never mind, there were four coaches on this train, 664.116 was rather loud and we had the front compartment to ourselves so no issues with open windows.
The same class 342 worked back from Ljubljana so we retired to the dining car for drinks; our fellow "crank" got off at Celje leaving us to carry on and decide where to intercept EC150 in order to return to Wien. The last chance for this was at Zagorje but, remembering that RG631, the 15:35 Ljubljana to Dobova was hauled we got off at Trbovlje to see what was on that. This proved to be a masterstroke as not only was a bonus photo obtained of a freight (not in the best lighting conditions though) RG631 was being worked by our last available class 342 for haulage, no. 022.
This train turned right rather than left at Zidani Most so it was off there to wait for EC150 which was hauled by another class 342 which was our highest mileage one until 025 snatched that distinction this morning, perhaps it wanted the title back! There was only one place to go on EC150, in the rare Slovenian dining car and get a beer to celebrate "clearing" what was left of the class 342 (8 locos out of 40). The dining car was very sociable and we had arranged to meet our Austrian friend in that coach later so the beer was eked out until some time after Maribor when it was time to eat, soup followed by a large and filling schnitzel and chips.
A few people got on at Graz so another drink was ordered with the aim of making it last to Wiener Neustadt but after taking a few sips there was a very heavy brake application in the vicinity of Frohnleiten causing a rapid grab for the glass and bottle to prevent them departing from the table. The train came to an abrupt stop followed by the sound of smashing glass, a number of glasses had departed from the cupboard outside the kitchen and crashed to the floor - lesson for the day, glass does not bounce on lino! Muttering what were probably naughty Slovenian words under his breath, the attendant toddled off to the cupboard at the end of the coach to fetch a dustpan and brush leaving us to ponder whether SZ would be sending ÖBB a bill as the train had been under the latter's control with an ÖBB class 1144 since Spielfeld Straß.
After standing for about 15 minutes the train set off again and though the braking remained a little erratic at times we did manage to pick up a little of the lost time. It was dark by now so it wasn't possible to admire the scenery over the Semmering pass before our friend joined at at Wiener Neustadt. Time for one final drink before reaching Wien, a quick trip down the platform to establish the loco number as it had not been convenient to do this at Spielfeld Straß then straight across the road to the Motel One again and bed.
Wednesday 9th March 2016
Just for a change it was breakfast in the hotel this morning as we thought that we really ought to try it at least once. It was a good spread with plenty of choice though there was a small amount of head scratching until the crockery was tracked down, in cupboards under the counters that the food was on; perhaps some signs might help?
With a flight at ten past twelve it wasn't really an option to stray outside beyond Meidling or Florisdorf, not exactly helpful when a required 1116 was seen on a Railjet, next stop St. Polten. Some late running in the northbound direction made "bashing" a little difficult; coupled with the fact that leaping between platforms at Meidling is not the easiest thing to do, even less so at Wien Hbf where the S Bahn tracks are underground but there were not many required locos around in any case. Another new loco on a Railjet was eventually seen and, luckily, it was on the train that was our intended move to the airport, bringing the total for this short trip up to 40 - not a bad score considering that getting as many new locos as possible was not the main aim of the trip.
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