8th & 9th June 2016 - Farewell to class 664 on Citadella
Wednesday 8th June 2016
The dreaded day of the overhead wires being brought into use between Pragersko and Hodoš had finally arrived and to mark the end of regular class 664 haulage on booked passenger trains in Slovenia a "fix" had been arranged with SZ for one of these locos to work "Citadella" throughout from Ljubljana to Hodoš and back again. The date had been set for Thursday 9th June and caused a number of rather desperate leaps from various protagonists to say their goodbyes to this popular class of loco on regular passenger trains.
Fortunately, there was enough notice to get a reasonably priced flight between Stansted and Ljubljana with Easy Jet, helped by that fact that only two nights away meant that we could manage with hand luggage only and it was also handy that the school holidays hadn't started yet not to mention that the date co-incided with a couple of rest days off work.
Not having to wait for a suitcase reaped dividends on arrival at LJU as it was straight out of the terminal and onto a bus which arrived at the station in time to view the 17:25 to Maribor which had a required class 363 on the front. It's a good job that the train is usually prepared in plenty of time as it allowed us to view then walk back to the ticket office which is some way from the platforms to get a return to the usual "leaping shack" of Zagorje.
For some reason, hotels in Ljubljana were quite expensive tonight but the Hotel Meksiko, next to the main hospital, wasn't quite as much as the others so that had been booked instead of one of our more usual haunts. After a quick wash and brush-up it was off to the Sokol for a meal.
Thursday 9th June 2016
So this was it, the final day of 664s between Pragersko and Hodoš; there hadn't been enough time to order FIP tickets for this but it wasn't much of a problem as an FIP return ticket was less than 20 Euros. There was also no point in doing any fancy moves to scratch the loco in on EN415 either as 664 118 was already on the front of "Citadella" complete with extra coach for the large contingent of cranks (over 40!) and the restaurant car from Maribor which had been specially requested as there was no Hungarian one due to engineering works in that country.
We set off a few minutes late along the scenic main line that follows the river Sava until Zidani Most with 664 118 very much sounding the part though we did have a driver who knew exactly what we all wanted; plenty of noise where possible. Our driver for the day (Robi) had also arranged an order of tee-shirts to commemorate the occasion; when informed that they were green, most of us were probably expecting a muted dark green to match the livery of the loco but they turned out to be a rather eye-catching emerald green instead! It wasn't long before many people migrated to the bar coach to toast the occasion including an American couple who wondered what on earth this sudden invasion of English speaking people clad in identical bright green tee-shirts was all about. They were probably even more surprised when we told them to get anything they wanted before Hodoš as the coach was going back with us to Ljubljana.
The two extra coaches were detached at the same time as the loco at Hodoš with most people staying on board whilst this was done, gaining an extra mile of haulage from 664 118 in the process. The train from Hungary was on time and we were soon on our way back south after the usual half hour break with a bonus "phot stop" at Pragersko as the train did not have to change locos like it usually did.
The kilometres rushed past, helped by the beer flowing in the restaurant car, until we finally arrived at Ljubljana, bringing down the curtain on 664 locomotives in regular passenger service on SŽ . It wasn't quite the end as there were a couple more 664s working between Pragersko and Hodoš in the following days until the change to electric traction kicked in fully but at least a large number of "cranks" had the chance to see the end of regular diesel hauled services in Slovenia off in style.
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