2nd May 2016 - Tidying up some loose ends
Monday 2nd May 2016
We woke up to the sound of rain again this morning which was rather annoying as it had been forecast to clear though as we were in a mountainous area it wasn’t really surprising. After a hearty breakfast the rain had eased as we walked up to the station in good time to bag a seat in what would be the front coach only to find that they had disappeared! They must have been taken back to Nova Gorica with the Avtovlak train after the service finished last night.
One thing that was there, stabled in the loading dock headshunt, was a class 644 which we thought might have been 005 but a closer inspection revealed that it was in fact 644.012, our last one which we had actually asked the organizer if it could be provided; cheers to Phil for passing on the request and to SŽ driver Robi for bringing it from Ljubljana.
The Avtovlak was running late and we guessed why when 644.020 appeared on its own with both the car train and our coaches in tow; now that would have been worth going down to Nova Gorica or Most na Soči for. The train was routed towards the loading dock but it had to go down further than usual in order for the loco to run round. Once it had done this, a quick shunt was performed so that our coaches were next to 664.012 in the shunt neck and the flat wagons next to the loading dock for the cars of which two turned up. We went in top and tail mode to Most na Soči as it is mostly downhill so no need for a second loco.
A family tried to board our coaches at Podbrdo but were shooed down to the four wheeler coach at the other end mainly because the conductor of our train did not have a machine to sell them a ticket. Things were kept simple at Most na Soči, our coaches with 644.012 on the north end were dropped off in the platform after which 644.020 did the usual shunt to put the Avtovlak next to the loading dock. The sun made a brief appearance before we all descended onto the café on the platform; they have probably never been so busy.
There were no cars for the return journey but there were a couple of foot passengers who made themselves as comfortable as they could in the four wheeled “thunderbox” which would be at the rear, our three coaches would be taking up the “number one” position at the front of the train. We had hoped that the staff would keep it simple again and run top and tail but 644.020 ran round after shunting the Avtovlak so the two locos would be double heading this time. It was still a superb experience with 644.020 on the front sounding as if it was doing slightly more work than 644.012 inside though we consider that last night’s run behind 644.005 had the edge over this morning’s effort.
Over the past couple of days we couldn’t help noticing that a photographer driving a white van had been following the train; it wasn’t the vehicle that caught our attention but the rather lurid silver coat that he was wearing – it certainly stood out. He had put his van on the train last night but had either driven round the long way or taken his van back south on the train again as we noticed said vehicle following us after leaving Most na Soči, no doubt off to find another photo location. We didn’t notice the rather obvious silver coat at the lineside but the white van raced up to the loading dock as we arrived at Podbrdo and was put on the train to Bohinjska Bistrica again.
On arrival at the latter the train went straight into the Avtovlak dock where 644.020 was taken off the front and run round leaving 644.012 to pull the train up until the car wagons were positioned correctly for unloading before shunting the tour coaches off the front and into one of the station platforms. We should have had around 40 minutes at Bohinjska Bistrica so many people gravitated to the bar again but the wait ended up being over an hour as the service train we were booked to cross was running late.
Next stop after leaving Bohinjska Bistrica was Jesenice where the our train had to reverse but first of all there was a rare bit of track to do, the stub of the former line to Tarvisio which had closed in the mid 1960s. This line now terminates at Hrušica, some 2 ¾ km from Jesenice and has been used for passenger trains during skiing events at Kranjska Gora though these are usually DMUs as there is no run round loop.
644.012 ran round at Jesenice to put it at the right end for the journey south and 643.043 appeared from the yard to take us the short distance down the branch. We had trouble locating this line on various maps and it wasn’t really surprising as it ran parallel to the main line to Villach for most of its length and was only noticeable as a separate alignment for the last 500 metres or so when the mainline swung away, rising to the left in order to pass over the former line to Tarvisio which now ends a short distance from the bridge carrying the main line over the trackbed.
It was obvious why the location gets used as a railhead for skiing events as there was a large car park next to the siding giving plenty of room to park and load road coaches without clogging up the road outside Jesenice station. We were allowed out for photographs, taking care not to fall into the ditch on the opposite side of the line to the car park but it had started to rain again and there was a very cold wind sweeping down off the mountains, a similar situation to the one we had been in at Ajdovščina yesterday.
Fifteen minutes was ample time to get photographs of both ends of the train and to investigate the start of the trackbed to Tarvisio; the 643 was uncoupled from the train during this time and followed us back down the branch at a respectful distance to Jesenice where it went straight back into the yard to carry on with whatever it had been up to before our arrival.
An EC train had passed us as our train was coming off the branch and was still in the station when we arrived so we had to wait for that to leave before following it towards Ljubljana but only as far as Kranj where there was one last item of interest to do, the freight only line to Naklo the only remaining section of the 15km long line from Kranj to Tržič which closed in 1966. A man and a child joined our train at Kranj and a small group of locals watched our progress from an overbridge not far from Kranj. We passed a couple of sidings and a small distribution centre around 3km from the mainline which looked as if they were the reason for the branches survival, the rails being quite rusty beyond here to the end of the line at the former Naklo station. There was nearly half an hour here to photograph the train, the end of the line and the plinthed steam loco and coach before the tour train shuffled back a few yards to the run round loop points before setting off back to Kranj.
There was a short pause here whilst we waited for a northbound EC train then the final 28 ½ kilometres to Ljubljana to round off what had been an interesting tour for us, even without the original plan of taking a 664 to Trieste as we had done some new lines in Slovenia that would not have otherwise been covered. We lingered at Ljubljana and watched a trio of class 363 locos being assembled to work the 17:25 IC to Maribor but although the leading one was required for haulage we decided against doing it for various reasons and had an excellent meat platter in the “Sarajevo ‘84” restaurant instead.
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