30th April 2016 - C'mon Feel the Noise
Saturday 30th April 2016
The weather carried on where it left off yesterday and we basked in a bright sunny morning as the station pilot loco brought the tour coaches into the station. Our loco for the trip was 664.116, not that there was a lot of choice with only two or three locos being authorised for use in Croatia though it was slightly galling for us as it was the third time we had been hauled by this loco this year.
Departure was on time and it was a nice noisy run even before we reached the first climb of the day out of Borovnica though the ascent itself was slightly underwhelming, probably due to the fact the train only comprised of three coaches. Rakek was manned for a change as the local EMU service from Ljubljana was terminating there due to engineering works at Postojna but anyone of a nervous disposition was probably best advised to avert their eyes passing through the latter; the train slowed to a crawl as is passed right underneath two huge cranes engaged in the work. Hard hats appeared to be an optional extra amongst the workforce and freight trains were also running, being dragged by diesel locos, mostly hired in Austrain class 2016s, between Rakek and Prestranek. Of course our train was not unduly affected as it was diesel hauled and we carried on to Pivka, turning left towards the Slovenian border at Ilirska Bistrica where there was a cursory passport inspection and the first of many photos stops for the day.
Next stop was the Croatian border station of Šapjane and a further brief passport inspection then on to Opatija Matulji which made for a nice photo with a cascade of purple flowers adorning the station.
Onwards to Rijeka where more photos were taken, including an electrical transformer on a wagon, before curving to the left, over the level crossing, through the tunnel and up the climb to Škrljevo where the train needed to reverse to access the first bit of freight only track of the tour. Any doubts about the loudness of 664.116 were totally dispelled on this section, it was 12 kilometres of solid notch eight “thrash”, totally awesome not to mention ear-shattering!
More photos were taken at Škrljevo whilst the loco ran round then we set off to the port of Bakar, a short distance as the crow flies but the railway had to get there via a large “S” bend in order to get back down to sea level. There was an oil refinery with its own shunting loco about halfway down and an ore loading terminal in the port. We were initially told that it was not possible to get off in the port but the question was asked again once the loco had run round and this time it was agreed that we could get out for photos. Two diesel locos had been there when we arrived but they were standing on the run round loop so had departed before we were allowed off the train but there were also a pair of class 1141 electric locos present on a train and it was possible to get a nice photo by standing on the rocky shoreline even if the sun wasn’t quite right.
There were no fireworks back up the hill as the linespeed was too low and the three coaches not heavy enough, perhaps we should have tacked the two electrics and their ore train on the rear! Another run round at Škrljevo then back down the hill to Brajdica Docks, which we had been unable to trace on the map and no wonder; the main line was comparatively level at this point whilst the line to the docks dropped discreetly away to sea-level via a spiral tunnel which went underneath the main line.
A private class 2132 and HŽ loco of the same class along with a Train Hungary class 40 were in the sidings at Brajdica and we were allowed out of the train again after our loco had run round to take even more photos though the pair of class 2132s were too far away to get to during our brief time there. It is possible to get from Brajdica Docks straight back to the station at Rijeka via a section of street running which we had partially explored on foot during a previous visit here. This had been requested for the tour but refused so we had to head back though the spiral tunnel tpwards Sušak Pećine. Rather than running round there where the docks branch joins the main line, our train went all the way up the hill to Škrljevo again which at least meant some more 664 “music” to make up for not doing the street running section.
Following a brief stop in the station at Rijeka we headed out of Croatia via Šapjane where there was a very relaxed border “grip”. The tour leaders had a list of all the passengers and their passport details and we were allowed off the train whilst the border guards perused this and some people asked for a stamp in their passport. With Croatia now being an EU member there was no need for this but the border police readily produced the stamp when asked and although we already had a stamp for this location, we asked for another when we saw that it was a new one with the EU symbol on it.
The tour returned to Prestranek to run round as it was manned due to the engineering works whereas there was nobody at Pivka. There were three locos on hand here to assist with the diesel dragging, one each of ÖBB and Adria class 2016 either side of an SŽ class 661, “a rose between two thorns” as somebody aptly described it. There was another class 2016 visible in the distance along with a class 541 electric loco and a class 363 electric arrived on a container train just before our train departed.
Next stop was Hrpelje-Kozina where we changed drivers before heading off towards Croatia again, a major reason for the pair of us wanting to do this tour as we had never been to Pula. Although an “international” line, it was not exactly a major route which was reflected in the general quality of the track though it was perfectly good enough for the train to romp along at a decent enough speed and for the loco to be put through its paces at times.
There were quite a few stops along this section including the two border stations and meetings with a HŽ service train and the daily Inter City service to Ljubljana worked by a Slovenian Railways class 711 DMU so we had plenty of opportunities to increase the photo count. Pula was reached three minutes late and we grabbed a couple of final shots including an Italian Railways 0-6-0T steam loco plinthed outside the station, a nod to the fact that Pula was in Italy between the two World Wars.
Our hotel for the night was the Park Plaza Histria, which was some distance from the station on the coast and required a coach journey to get there. It was a four star hotel and had its own restaurant which we didn’t try as we don’t like eating late and an outdoor pool; also declined as the temperature had dropped quite a bit since the sun went down. As it had been a long day, we just relaxed and enjoyed the location ready for another fairly early start in the morning.
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