l Nieuwsbrief Issue 46 - June 2003
Contents CFL News Dutch Tram News SNCB/NMBS News
Belgium 2003 Easter 2003 June 2003 Model News
       
  Some of the articles from this issue have been extracted and are found elsewhere on this site

CFL News

By Ralph Hanley
There are rumours that CFL is studying the feasibility of a new tramway system from Echternach to Luxembourg, and possibly from Wasserbillig to Echternach.
A novel idea for a wedding reception was provided by one Luxembourger who chartered a special train hauled by a very polished NoHab no. 1604.
CFL are considering leasing 6 new diesel locomotives type G 1206 from the German firm VSFT. These are very similar to the SNCB’s type 77, and are being leased to supplement the existing CFL diesel stock.
Earlier this year CFL ordered 85 double decker coaches from Bombardier at a value of €121 million, 18 of these will be driving coaches. Delivery will be from November 2004 to September 2005 and when delivered they will replace the older Wegmann coaches.
DLC locomotive PB12 was seen in Luxembourg on a driver instruction roster. This is probably to cater for the Ford Auto train [Dillingen - Antwerp] now being routed via Athus and Wasserbillig.
A new halt has been opened on the Luxembourg - Kleinbettingen line at Mamer.
The old station at Manternach near Wasserbillig has been closed and demolished.

Dutch Tram & Light Railway News

Source: Het Openbaar Vervoer/Railnieuws translated by Kjeld Spillett

GVB – Amsterdam

Ticketless travel
The GVB and Amsterdam police have staged a clamp down on ticketless passengers. Revenue protection staff, backed by police, have patrolled metro platforms.  They are equipped with debit card (“PIN”) readers to collect the €30 fine from those caught without tickets.  The clampdown has resulted in 3214 prosecutions.
No trams in the centre of Amsterdam for Koninginnedag
On 30 April, Queen’s day in the Netherlands, trams were banned from the city centre to allow national festivities to take place.  Only route 9 ran to Plantage.
Rolling Stock
The following cars have been sent to HKS (or Ceres then on to HKS) for scrapping – 608, 611, 620, 645, 649, 653, 654, 660, 663, 667, 684, 685, 692, 679, 691, 702, 704, 708, 772 and 773.   Stored out of service waiting disposal is car 643 at Lekstraat.  Car 702 had a short reprieve on 23 May when it came out of store into traffic; however 2 days later the car failed which marked the end of its service.  Cars 642, 647, 652, 658, 659, 665-669 were due to be withdrawn from service on 27 June.  Car 609 has gone to the Fire Brigade training centre at Spaklerweg for emergency exercises.
GVB are sending 10 more cars from the G3 series (602-634) to Poznan, Poland to join the other second hand cars that have run there for ten years.
The tourist tram “Red Crosser” car 767 has been renumbered 3001.
The following single ended ‘Combino’s’ have been delivered – 2001–2070, 2072-2075, 2077-2081 (in service) plus 2071, 2082-2084.  2076 remains in Düsseldorf.
Metro
GVB are to refurbish 44 metro units from the oldest classes (M1, 2 & 3 - units 1-44).  Technical upgrading and renewal of interior trim will allow the units to run until 2010 – when the Noord/Zuid metro line will open and new units will be delivered.  The first refurbished unit will be running by the middle of 2004 with the project scheduled for completion in 22 months.
Infrastructure
Overhead line has been installed on the Amstelveenseweg between Stadionplein and De Boellaan for the extension of route 16, due to open on 16 August, Stadionplein has a turning triangle as the loop there has been taken out of commission.

HTM – Den Haag

New Trams
HTM have ordered and paid for 45 new low-floor trams with an option on a further 10.  They are to be double-ended cars that will be suitable for both light and heavy rail use. Delivery is expected in 2006.
Rolling Stock
Car 6053 was used in test runs on route 11 at the end of April with a view to complete operation of the route with these cars.  The 6000 series cars have different stop request buttons – situated by the doors rather than above the seats – which could potentially cause delay or over-carrying.  The tests ran successfully for 2 days, and then a failure caused the car to be out of service for 2 days.
Car 6037 is still out of service following a collision in December.  It has become the depot ‘Christmas tree’ being robbed for parts for other 6000 series cars.
Tram operated water spray
At the end of routes 8 & 9 at Vrederust a whistle operated water spray has been installed to wash trams at the end of the journey.  A similar piece of kit has been installed at Moerwijk last year.
Derailments/Accidents
The third derailment in a short time occurred at Resident on 8th June, 3136 on route 3 was involved this time.  3065/6 and 3103/3 were derailed in exactly the same place recently.  On this occasion only the leading bogie was derailed and there was minor damage to the hydraulic systems on the car.
At about 2100 on 13 June a car was in collision with car 3044 on route 17 in Parijsplein.
On 17 June 3125 was derailed on the loop at Zichtenburg.  The 2nd and 3rd cars left the rails and the car came into contact with an overhead line mast.

RET – Rotterdam

Cost Reductions
The national government has asked the RET and ConneXXion to reduce its costs.  The subsidy to RET will be reduced by €12.5m and has responded with a list of cost cutting measures:
Metro services will start and 06.15 and trams 06.30 instead of 06.00
The service will close from 23.00 instead on midnight with all cars in berth by 24.00.
The rationalisation of trams & bus stops – consolidating stops that are close together, which means fewer stops leading to reduced journey times (which could ultimately mean few trams on the street. KS)
As the new TramPlus network takes shape parallel bus routes would disappear.
From 1st January 2004 there will be a reduced metro service between Hoogvliet and De Akkers; a less frequent evening service over the whole metro network; Tram route 3 will not run after 20.00 and there will be no night buses.

Randstad Rail
Work will begin on the Randstad Rail project in October at the Statenweg.  An underground station and tunnel under the Statenweg are being constructed which should be finished in 2008.  Route 3 is affected by this work and is diverted for the duration of the work.
Carnisselandlijn
On 1st May the construction of the TramPlus line to Carnisselande in Barendrecht officially began with the tram viaduct over the A15 motorway. 
Toursittram RoMeO
Tourist trams route 10 ran for 48 days this year from 1st July to 7th September.  The service was operated using 2 4-axle cars one of which was 523 towing trailer 1001.
Rolling Stock
The first new Citadis trams have been delivered from Vienna.  By 13th June 2004 & 2005 had arrived in Rotterdam while 2001 has gone to Alstom in France for modifications and 2002 & 2003 have remained in the Austrian capital, one testing in the climate chamber, the other for collision testing.  Back in Rotterdam driver training began on 22nd July.  It is hoped that five Citadis cars will be in traffic for the winter timetable although some ex-Vienna cars are being retained as a backup.
Ex-Vienna cars 657, 658 & 660 are stored at Kralingen while 651, 652, 653, 655 & 659 are at Hillegersberg.

SNCB/NMBS Railways News

Source Journal du Chemin de Fer and En Lignes, translated by Ralph Hanley

Motive Power CHANGES:

Deliveries 3 series 41 to Merelbeke, 10 series 77 Diesels to Antwerp North.
Withdrawals nos. 709/16, 932, 1505, 14 series 5100 diesels, 7307/7334, 9 series 7600 diesels, and 21 series 8000 diesels.
Cut Up nos. 2247, 8058, 8427/42/56/59 and 5113/60
Electrics.
Introduction of the series 13 onto the LGV 2 and SNCF network to Saint Louis is being hindered by the delay in replacing the 13’s by series 21 or 27 on the IC Ostende to Eupen service. Since April the remaining series 15 are rostered on the IR Liege to Gouvy service. Series 20 are now working the Bruxelles to Luxembourg service with M 6 coaches and have replaced the series 96.
Diesels
All series 51 are withdrawn; two have been retained to work a PFT “Farewell” in the autumn. Most of the series 52 - 54 are stored, now being surplus after the latest delivery of the series 77.  Series 77 are now pretty much spread out over the whole SNCB network. Two of series 85 have been transferred from Antwerp to Athus.
Autorails
Since mid June the “Breaks” have replaced the “classic” double deckers on the IR Leuven to Geraardsbergen service. This has saved one shunter at Enghein. All series 900 are now “non smoking”; this has pleased many of the SNCB staff, as the smoking areas were adjacent to the driving compartment. The last two series 41 of the current batch have been delivered.
Rolling Stock
The M 2 type carriages have been withdrawn from service as from mid June. This is due to the return of K 4 stock loaned to the NS, and the introduction of series 41 autorails. The M2 coach earlier on display at Blankenburg has been relocated to Oostmalle in the parking area of the old Kemba Toy Factory.
Type M 6 double decker coaches are now in regular use and are now used on the Bruxelles to Luxembourg service, hauled either by a series 20 or 26 electric.
B Cargo has rented 70 open wagons type Eaos from the DB and SNCF for steel transportation.
HSA [High Speed Alliance] jointly owned by KLM, NS & SNCB has ordered 16 high-speed units to replace the existing Benelux sets between Bruxelles and Amsterdam.  These are planned to be double decked, capable of 220 kph and to operate on 1.5 kV DC, 3 kV DC or 25 kV AC.
Postal Trains
By now most readers will be aware that virtually all the SNCB Postal trains have been withdrawn. The one exception being to Ghent, which will finish in December. This has long been a traditional service as the first Belgian Postal service by train ran between Bruxelles and Antwerp in 1840. It was not until 1968 that the SNCB used dedicated Postal trains, which were conversions of the earlier automotrices. These were replaced in 1988 by conversions of the current two car emu’s automotrices. In all 15 were converted and these operated until withdrawals began in March this year. 
Operations
SNCB have proposed radical measures for their cost reductions. As noted in NB 45, SNCB have announced the withdrawal of most International trains as of 14 December. Only three will remain: Iris [Bruxelles - Zurich], Vauban [Bruxelles - Milan], and Jean Monet [Bruxelles - Strasbourg]. In addition it appears that the Overnight Car Trains will also be withdrawn. These are all seen as loss making services. The reason being is the accounting system which debits the operating cost against the originating station [SNCB], but only credits receipts for travel within the SNCB network.
In addition as of mid December the London to Bruxelles Eurostar will disappear except for perhaps two through services per day. After this date passengers will be required to change at Lille. Thus the 20 minutes saved with the opening of the TGV line to Folkestone will be lost at Lille. Reasons are poor receipts and that SNCB are short of Thalys units, and the redundant SNCB Eurostar units will be repainted to supplement the current Thalys services.
Further, SNCB are to close the ticket office in about 50 stations. These will probably be replaced by machines and on train inspectors.
Finally SNCB are considering finishing with first class. SNCB contend that second class is now of a comfortable standard, and the additional costs to build/maintain first class is no longer justified. So in future SNCB look like becoming just a local national railway.
Private Operators
CFD Locorem contract for shunting at Schaerbeek expired at the end of March. Their type 432 BB was transferred to work at Antwerp North to replace a type V211 hired by CFD from Genifer. Cockerill Mechanical Industries have reactivated 3 of their 4 Fauvet-Girel diesel locomotives on a charter to DUFERCO at La Louvière and Clabecq.  DLC have been crew training on a new service from Zeebrugge to Dillingen, they also have a new service from Ford at Genk to Berlin
Infrastructure
In March the SNCB replaced two sections of the Moresnet viaduct on line 24 east of Montzen. This was done over a weekend with the new sections fabricated at Montzen some 750m away. Total height was 28m and each section weighed close to 700 tonnes. Each section was transported into position by two class 51 diesels operating side by side on each of the two lines.
From the Magazines
Journal du Chemin de Fer nos. 133/134: interesting articles on the: [133] SNCB Postal trains, replacing the Moresnet viaduct, LGV 2, expansion of DLC, and [134] on board an ICE 3, SNCB series 26, & series 77.
En Lignes nos. 55/56: informative articles on: [55] series 62, shed locations for the SNCB motive power, and [56] privatisation in Europe, & end of the Postal trains.

Belgium, April 2003

By Chris West
For 5 April 2003 the Campaign for Real Ale, Kingston & Leatherhead Branch organised an outing to Brussels.  On arrival at Brussels a group visit to the nearby Cantillon Brewery had been arranged, which included a guided tour and a glass of gueuze.  One of my fellow tour participants, who has a special interest in railway breakdown cranes, suggested that we use the free time after the brewery tour to visit Leuven.  The scrapping of two steam locomotives that had been stored by the Leuven museum collection had raised doubts as to whether the museum’s breakdown cranes were secure.  These doubts having been further fuelled by a report of a steam breakdown crane stored in the yard at Leuven.

Itinerary

Service trains

5/4/03                      Waterloo → Brussels Midi                     Eurostar
                                Midi → Leuven                                      1319 (at rear)
                Leuven → Midi                                      1328
                Brussels Midi → Waterloo                     Eurostar

STIB/MIVB

5/4/03                      Midi – (90) – Etterbeek                          7808
                                Etterbeek – (23) – Midi                          7740

SNCB/NMBS

The class 80 0-6-0DH with their silver exhaust stacks used to be a feature of the Brussels railway scene.  These locomotives have now all been withdrawn and a line-up of fifteen of the class was seen to the north of Schaarbeek locomotive depot.  Transfer and shunting duties around Brussels are now carried out by the similar, but newer, class 82 0-6-0DH, several of which were seen around Brussels and at Schaarbeek.  Several ex-NS Bo-Bo DE, now class 76, were also noted stabled at Schaarbeek locomotive depot.
The journey from Brussels to Leuven gave a good opportunity to view the works underway to upgrade this line.  Leuven station is being improved, with a new roof under construction.  Stabled in Leuven station was 5320, lettered for Tuc Rail, at the head of a works train.  The yard contained a further two class 52 and five class 53, which are all, presumably, used on works trains.  Also in the yard were 6225 and 6227, both lettered ‘TBL2’.

Industrial Railways

The yard at Leuven contains the distribution depot of Evian Volvic Benelux.  This not only offers a contrast to the nearby Stella Artois brewery, but also is known as having been a customer of CFD-Locorem.  They supplied a General Electric to the depot, which was then recorded as owned by S.A. des Eaux Minerales d’Evian, Leuven.  Unfortunately the depot was closed for the weekend and it could not be confirmed if the locomotive was present.

Preservation

Belgian National Railway Collection, Leuven

The old steam shed at Leuven is the home of the larger part of the Belgian National Railway Collection.  This has recently received some very negative publicity after a class 29 2-8-0 and a class 44 0-6-0, that had been stored in poor condition behind the shed, were scrapped.  5th April was not an open day for the collection, so it was not possible to view the locomotives that were locked in the shed.  In the adjacent yard we found a British built steam crane.  This was: -
21431700 310/6      4w+4w    20 ton      Cowans Sheldon     / 1917
The crane has a Spencer-Hopwood boiler, number 12139, and is lettered for Merelbeke Loco depot.  It is not clear why the crane is in the yard at Leuven and clearly there is a risk that it is no longer considered a part of the collection and may be scrapped.
All SNCB cranes appear to be numbered in a computerised series.  This consists of four elements.  (1) 214 indicates a crane.  (2) The next digit may be the type of crane; with 3 a breakdown crane.  (3) The year the crane was placed in service.  (4) The running number.  The number 310/6, which was noted on the runner, is presumably an older series.  Further information on SNCB crane numbering would be welcome.
Outside the old steam shed was three-car diesel unit 4006, built at Mechelen in 1961, which I previously had seen at Kortrijk in July 1995 when travelling with the ADL Grand Belgian Depot Tour.  With 4006 was the leading unit of an articulated railcar set.  This was not identified, but was noted to be similar to a railcar stored at NV. Induver, Maldeghem, which I visited in May 2001. 
I previously visited the museum collection on 15 June 1996 when full access had been made available to an ADL group.  Present on that occasion were: -
1.002       4-6-2                       Consortium I           / 1935                                      wdn 10/1962
7.039       4-6-0                       HStP                       1326 / 1922                             wdn 3/1962
10.018     4-6-2                       Cockerill                  2819 / 1912                             wdn 2/1959
12.004     4-4-2                       Consortium II         / 1939                                      wdn 9/1962
16.042     4-4-2T                     Tub                         1594 / 1905                             wdn 6/1964
29.013     2-8-0                       MLW                      74510 / 1945                           wdn 4/1967
44.225     0-6-0                       Cockerill                  2663 / 1908                             wdn 6/1948
1152        0-6-0T                     Evrard                     316 / 1880                               wdn 2/1929
5620        0-8-0T                     Boussu                    178 / 1904                               wdn 7/1966
MF72      0-8-0T                     Cockerill                  509 / 1859                               (a)
                0-4-0VBT               Cockerill                  2435 / 1904                             (b)
                0-4-0VBT               Cockerill                  3145 / 1926                             (c)

  1.     0-4-0F                    Hens                        3541 / 1916                             (d)

                0-4-0T                     La Hestre                39 / 1923                                 (e)
12            0-8-0F                     LaM                        5265 / 1954                             (f)
211.006   B-B DH                  ABR                        / 1962                                      wdn by 1984
Rosalie     0-4-0D                    Deutz                      55034 / 1952                           (g)
a)             ex Nord-Belge 615 Huy, sold in 1935 to charb. Monceau Fontaine where it became number 72 with name Bertha.
b)             ex Willebroek.
c)             new to Sablieres de Braine l’Alleaud, ex Darsen.
d)             ex BASF, Antwerpen.
e)             new to Cokes Willebroek, ex Darsen
f)             ex KS Beringen
g)             ex REMY, Wijmaal

Etterbeek station.

For many years a narrow gauge 0-4-0WT was preserved on the platform of this station in the Brussels suburbs.  The locomotive was complete and may at one time have been preserved in working order, although there is only a short length of track.  I last saw this locomotive in June 2000.  In March 2003, when passing through Etterbeek on the Mercia Charters’ “Unnatural Selection” railtour, I was not able to see the narrow gauge locomotive and determined to return on 5 April to confirm that it was still there.  On this visit I found that although the track was still in place the locomotive was gone.  The exact history of the locomotive is not known with certainty, but by the mid-1920s, it was in Belgium and at work on the construction of the Brussels – Charleroi canal.  It was purchased for preservation in the late 1960’s by a Brussels watchmaker from the yards of Ponts, Tunnels & Terrassements S.A. at Lembeek.  At first stored at the Scepdaal Museum, by 1972 it had moved to Etterbeek.
The locomotive is generally recorded as Krauss (Munich) 4018/1904.  It carries two plates on the boiler back head; one shows ‘Maffei 2061 10K’, the other ‘Brabant No. 1861’.  In the published Krauss works list 4018 is a 600 mm gauge 0-4-0T delivered to Schramm & Kraus, München in 1900.  Maffei 2061 was a standard gauge 2-6-0, used in Bavaria, so the plate must refer to a separate series for boilers.  The second boilerplate is believed to show the boiler registration number. 
When I checked the locomotive’s motion I found the number 2842 in two places.  Maffei 2842 was a 600 mm 0-4-0T ordered in 1908 by Leipziger & Co., Köln for Kaiser & Schorr, Beilingries.  From this I deduce the locomotive is Maffei 2842, carrying boiler 2061, and possibly incorporating some parts of Krauss 4018.
Any further information on the history, or current whereabouts, of this interesting locomotive would be welcome.

Britain/Spain

Noted on 5 April in the yards at Dollands Moor were Co-Co DE numbers 58041 and 58043 in the livery of GIF, the Spanish infrastructure organisation.

Easter 2003 in Belgium

TALES OF A BENELUX NED

From Roger Sanday
8 Days in Belgium = Heaven on Earth, and I’ve recently sampled Heaven. I travelled with my best friend, Richard, who is Head of Music at a local Secondary School in Sutton Coldfield and seemingly spends most of his life either dreaming of trains or riding on them – an ideal companion! Even better, we also share a passion for good beer (real ale) and good food.
We chose a very economical package with Bridge Belgian Travel Service (0870 010 2456), £130 for 7 Nights B&B in The Kingston Hotel, Oostende. The deal included slam door train travel from Charing Cross to Dover (Unit 3547), coach transfer to the Hoverspeed Terminal (which failed to materialise so a taxi cost us £3.50p.), SeaCat to Calais and road transport to Oostende. Rail Europe (08705 848 848) supplied the 6-Day First Class EuroDomino tickets at £76.00 each. No amount of money could buy the superb weather we enjoyed over Easter, clear blue skies with most days circa 75o F. In late April, that was a real bonus.
This is the story of 6 long, hard days riding as many trains as possible. Our target was 50 new locos each for haulage – achievable as we are still relative novices in Belgium. Of equal importance was to find a good watering hole in Oostende with food available.
Necessities on such a holiday, therefore, are a Railway Timetable (€4.50) and CAMERA’S ‘Good Beer Guide to the Benelux Countries’ by Tim Webb (£11.99), a superb read full of essential information and no small amount of humour. Prior to this holiday, we didn’t have all the available information on the ‘P’ trains through Brussels, but this has now been down-loaded from the Web together with stock formations, stabling points, other loco hauled diagrams, banked trains out of Liege etc. It is wonderful that other enthusiasts have taken the time out to provide such a wealth of information and I express my gratitude and admiration to them.
As the Kingston Hotel was a bit of a walk (i.e. over half a mile) from Oostende Station, another bargain is a 7-Day Rover ticket on the entire De Lijn tram and bus systems for €10 (£7.00). It therefore includes Oostende, Ghent, Antwerpen and Brugge. “Tres Useful, Tres Bonne Value.”
Arriving in Oostende a bit late on Good Friday for anything other than food and drink (shame!), enter the value of Tim Webb’s Guide. There can be no better Café Bar in Oostende (or most of Belgium) than the Bottleje (19 Louisastraat, Tel 059 700928). The beer list varies between 200 – 250 (mainly bottled but about 10-12 on draft) and quality Bar Food including steaks is available until 2200. The bosses (Jean Pierre & Henriette) are ably supported by the lovely Kathy. Their beer knowledge is incredible and, needless to say, having discovered the Bottleje, there seemed little point in trying elsewhere. The Bottleje also has a separate Restaurant (Lucullus) and a Hotel above (The Marion – e-mail: hotel.marion@hotelmarion.be) where we are already booked in for 6 days in August. Details of some of the best beers are set out later.
Much of the following is “aka” number crunching, the trains we rode, saw stabled or working.

Saturday 19th

Due to breakfast not being available until 0800, early starts were impossible. We reached the Station about 08.40 to view the 08.44 Eupen, the 08.49 Antwerpen and if they didn’t reap, the 09.12 Kortrijk. We rode the former (IC 1808) to Ghent with 1359. Stabled in Oostende Yard were three beauties, 1605, 1602, 1601, which last year we rode on the Köln trains. I had my first sighting of the new double deck coaches, which included 69012, 62033, 62061, and 61010. Stabled at Brugge were 2316, 2352, 2362, 2324, 2346, 2352, 2318, and 6301. When we arrived in Ghent, 1208 passed through on a freight. To fill in time, we rode 1319 on the 09.32 (IC 1830) back to Brugge, then 1360 on the 10.05 (IC 1809) back to Ghent and 1357 on the 10.41 (IC 531) to Brugge again! There was an extra train to Blankenberg at 11.27 hauled by 2754 + 52283, 52412, 52416, 52407, 52312, and 58048. It stabled there all day so we were forced onto Rubber 541 on the 12.12 (IC 1512) back to Brugge, but not before a refreshing Hoegaarden Wit Beer (5%) in the Station Buffet.
At Brugge, 2132 was noted on the 12.31 to Kortrijk. New sightings in the Yard included 2111, 2312, 2106, 2144, 2149, 2122, 2129, 2101, 2366, and 1208. We rode 1340 on the 12.59 (IC 512) to Ghent. Stabled locos at Ghent included 2365, 2127, 2749, 2113, 2159, 2312, 2118, 2358, 2314, 2350, 2503, 2308, 2373, 2360, 2708, and 2737. The influx of Class 41 DMU’s has had a marked effect on local trains with 4154 on the 14.16 to Eeklo and 4191 on the 14.14 to Geraardsbergen.
Time for a change of scenery with 2146 on the 14.05 (IC 734) to Antwerpen Berchem. This was part of Richards’s ploy to get his last two Class 11s (1184/6). 2552 was stabled in Ghent Westpoort Yard and 6303 was at the north end on a ballast train. Whilst festering at Berchem, 2626 + 2629 passed on a long coal train, Thalys 4332 went southbound, 4538 northbound and 2013 and 2379 both topped northbound freights.
The somewhat undesirable 1192 took us to Brussels Midi at 15.47 ((IC 636) where 75 mins passed before a good score with 2002 on the 17.32 (EC 295) to Namur and 2023 on the 18.49 return (EC 90). Final ride was the 20.10 to Oostende ((IC 541) with 1358 leading.

Sunday 20th

I don’t think Sundays are ever the best for “bashing” but it was reasonable with 5 new locos and 6 new units for haulage. We started an hour later with the 09.44 Eupen (IC 509) as far as Brugge with 2120 + 59928, 52190, 52163, 52171, 58025, 51007, 52257, 52147, 52247, and 52133. The 3 Class 1600s were still stabled in the yard. At Brugge we noted 2362, 2324, 2346, 2311, 2329, 6301, 2129, 2128, 2122, and 2101 together with new double deckers 61013, 62009, 62007, 61003.
We then carried on to Ghent with 1338 heading the 10.05 (IC 1809). Stabled at Ghent included 4193, 4172, 2708, 2737, 2742, 2749, 2314, 2350, 2319, 2503, 2308, 2373, 2360, 2127, 2758, 2159, and 2756. A freight towards Zeebrugge was double headed by 1344 & 1307. We rode 1358 on the 11.22 to Brussels Nord (IC 510), a “smart” move by Richard to view another ex-Amsterdam train and guess what, 1192 again!
South of Midi we noted 8251, 8246 with 2014, 2154 and 8206 stabled at Midi. 6240 was on an engineering train at Nord and there was an EC train at Midi formed of 2154 + 14545, 14526, 14507, 16005, and 4794.
We rode the 12.40 Midi to Schaerbeek (IC 1911) formed of 2760 + 52405, 52361, 52276, 52299, 52298, 51037, 58049 and the same train as the 13.07 to Silly (IC 1934).
At Silly we had little choice but 2720 + 52296, 52251, 52417, 52379, 58059 on the 14.08 to Halle (IC 1913) to pick up the previously seen 2116 + 52397, 52381, 52308, 52270, 58063 on the 14.35 (IC 1935) back to Silly. Again there was little joy on the 15.08 to Brussels Midi (IC 1914) with 2145 + 52334, 52341, 52286, 52319, 52408, and 58038.
Thalys 4322 was still stabled outside Forest Depot sporting its crumpled nose-end, apparently after a “contre-temps” with a tractor on a level crossing.
Mini bashing without Richard between Midi and Nord produced 1356 +12834, 12820, 12824, 12854, 12899, 12838, 12802, 12801, 11828, 11814, 11824, 19805 on the 13.52 to Eupen (IC 514), 428, 317, and 1188 whilst he rode his beloved 1186 in ex-works condition, just so he could get a good photo!
A French registered hot air balloon (F-GXLS) was seen rising from somewhere near Nord station – a strange place to lift off from. Seemingly M Chirac will do anything to get publicity!
At Brussels Midi there was a Sleeper Train, the Euronite 325 to Vienna formed of 2727 + OBB Stock 7381 2191 171-8; 7381 2191 185-8; 6181 2171 039-5; 7381 5991 213-3 and Sleepers 7381 5991 109-3; 7381 5991 202-6; 6181 7070 009-9; 6181 7070 002-4. Needing the loco I tried to get a ride but even though it stops at Nord, Leuven and Liege, the guard pretended not to speak any English other than “No”.
A bash to Brussels Luxembourg at 17.32 reaped 2014 (EC 295) with unit 699 on the 17.53 return. Time filling added 928, 1358, 924 and 607 before our only meal in Brussels, a high-pressure sales affair in La Belle Époque, Rue Des Bouchers. A 3 course set meal came in at €17.20 with one free beer and another ‘double primus beer’ at €5.00.
The reason for this change of dinner venue was the knowledge that 1333 was working the (ex-Eupen) 22.10 Midi to Oostende (IC 543) – the final score of the day, celebrated with just `a couple` in the Bottleje before bed.

Monday 21st

On Monday, 2120 + 2144 had joined the other locos stabled in the Station. 2132 arrived to work the 09.12 to Kortrijk and 7362 was busy in the Yard.
We rode the 08.44 (IC 508) with 1356 as far as Brugge and had to leg it back quick at 09.03 on 1357 (IC 529) to score 1346 on the 09.49 (IC 1809) to Antwerpen.
At Brugge, French loco 436055 was in the yard, light engine. At Ghent, 2708, 2737 + 2742 were all noted coupled up to coaching stock and 1210 was in Ghent Dampoort Yard.
At Antwerpen, I had made up my mind not to fester with Richard whilst he pursued 1184. It took him 4+ hours, so I made a good decision to ride unit 302 on the 11.36 to Liege (IR 2911) via the scenic route of Lier, Aarschot and Hasselt. Me doing 83.00 miles on a unit – very rare, except when I am working out of Birmingham New Street! At Lier I noted 8451, 6248, 6291 plus 6317 + 6326 in ex-works condition. A superb sight! Stabled at Hasselt were 5143, 7372, 7373, 7336, 7371, 4121, 6297, 6298, 6231, 6267, 6299, 6268, 4117, and 4112. 2133 + 2736 were both coupled to coaching stock. A longer rake had 2711 + 2109 on new double deckers 62002, 62023, 61006, 69001, 62011, 62038, 62046, 61007, 69009, 62016 with 2105 on the rear! 2719 was also visible on double deckers. The Guard told me that they all work to Brussels via Landen, but that they cannot work to Liege due to loading gauge restrictions.
En route between Bilzen and Tongeren, I passed 5167 running light engine.
Liege was lunchtime as I had quite a wait for my CFL hauled trip towards Luxembourg. Whilst there I saw 1357 heading for Oostende and Thalys 4304 on the 14.26 to Köln. Only one banker loco was working, 2249.
I rode the 15.18 Luxembourg train (IR 119) as far as Vielsalm with modern CFL 3019 and four very modest CFL coaches 8140 491-5, 2240 462-8, 2240 442-0, 2240 468-5, a strange combination indeed. East of Liege I noted 2138, 2715, 2759, 2731, 2248, 2247, 2211, 1503, 6323, 6289, and 6274. 6262 was working a freight on the line below towards Kinkempois. Apparently 1503 worked a later train to Gouvray.
My return was with CFL 3004 and Belgian stock on the 16.33 (IR 116) back to Liege. Departure was 19 mins late and 10 mins were caught back by Liege – creative timetabling is not just confined to Virgin Cross Country. The desire to make Oostende for food and drink led to high-mileage 1317 on the 17.57 (IC 540). Leuven Yard hosted 1332, 1336, and 1349 amongst others. Schaerbeek notables included 6312, 7370, 6227, 2635, 5316, 5312, 5265, 5316, 8455, 6242, 8219, 2204, 2342, 2749, and 7623.

Tuesday 22nd

As is so often the case, the Class 1300 locos don’t shuffle too often, so the early Eupen and Antwerpen trains were passed over in favour of the 09.12 to Kortrijk (IC 809) as far as Brugge, formed of 2147 + 52261, 52359, 52331, 52273, 58035. Many of the locos stabled in Oostende Station had left, as had 1601 + 1605 from the yard.
At Brugge, 1342 + 1323 passed double heading a freight. Rubber 528 was used to get to Ghent on the 09.33 (IC 1509) and passing Brugge Yard, 2229 was noted on P train stock, 2749 on double deck stock and 2316 passed light engine.
At Ghent, 2126+2128 were on new double deckers 62049, 62018, 61010, 69008, 62027, 62047, 69002, 61011, 62006, and 62019. Class 41s seen included 4143, 4194, 4183, 4141, 4187, 4185, and 4192 and stabled locos included 2353, 2503, 2221, and 7368. A slight change of scenery saw us ride the 10.09 to Deinze (IR 4130) hauled by 2144. The return at 10.39 (IR 4110) was our Oostende – Kortrijk train with 2147. Few trains terminate at Kortrijk; they get a new reporting code and carry on to Mechelen. At Deinze, 2224 passed southbound with a long mixed freight including car transporters.
Back at Ghent, the 11.08 to Genk was seen with 2109 + new double deckers 62002, 62023, 61006, 69001, 62011. The 11.09 to Deinze (IR 4131) reaped again with 2124 and the 11.39 return (IR 4111) had 2146 + 52310, 52343, 52371, 52403, 58040.
Next score was 1341 on the 12.22 Ghent to Brussels Midi (IC 511) followed by 2105 on the 1358 to Leuven (IC 2213) with our first ride on the new stock in 61007. The ambiance was quite pleasant; the ride decent but most modern stock seems to lack character. Too much plastic, but that is why we now have Voyagers, and to think Brugge was responsible for them. Shame!
At Schaerbeek, 2750, 2204, 2502, 2103, 2729, 2245, 2702 were all noted on stock (a hint of the rush hour to come). Stabled locos included 8059, 5311, 2359, 2760, 2216, 2608, 7622, 8249, 2511, 2702 and 8216 in ex-works condition. Approaching Leuven, two engineering trains on the new high-speed line were hauled by 5316 and 5313. Another was toped-and-tailed by 5205 + 5308. Locos stabled in Leuven Yard included 1324, 1322, 1316, 1308, 1336, 1349, 1343, 7785, 7779, 1342, 1323, 8455, 6312, 2383, 2354, 2358, 6227, 2382, 7366
Rubber 526 took us back to Brussels Midi via Weerd at 14.57 ((IC 1536). It was P train time! Spoilt for choice, 2200s were to be targeted where possible. First in line was the 15.47 to Ghent via the scenic route (P 8066) up to Nord with 2223 + stock including 29511, 21507, 22524, 22520, and 22526. At Nord, the 16.02 Tournai (P 8511) produced 2204 + 59906, 52055, 52076, 51026, 52122, 52022, 52016, 52053 for a mere 1.00 mile to Central. The 16.09 Kortrijk (P 8902) had 2240 + 52082, 52087, 51046, 52097, 59913, ridden as far as Midi (1.25m). I do prefer to score my locos for 10+ miles, but sometimes it has to be quantity, not quality.
More mini-bashing included 2005 (P 8969), 2151 (P 8003), 2230 (P8067), 2237 (P 8741), 2234 (P 8894). The 17.20 Midi to Dendermonde (P 8095) was hauled by 2501 + 52241, 52287, 52156, 52046, 52233, 52120, 58029. At Nord, a conscious decision was made to have a longer ride so 63.00m was devoted to the 17.50 to Kortrijk (P 8008) with 2504 + 12620, 12712, 11709, 11711, 12734, 12744, 12742, and 12706.
A beer break was necessary before the 19.48 to Oostende (IC 840) produced my 16th new loco of the day, 2746 + 52411, 52301, 52327, 52262, 58064.

Wednesday 23rd

The holiday seemed to be speeding by. Staying in Oostende limits you to 3 loco hauled trains an hour, so it is often necessary to get moving with whatever is available, on this occasion 1355 on the 08.49 (IC 1808) to Ghent. The “plus” side is that accommodation is very much cheaper than Brussels and other high profile tourist cities. Observation of passing trains will provide the knowledge to backtrack or carry on and this time is was “back to Brugge ASAP”. 1359 at 09.32 (IC 1830) got us there for 1353 on the 09.59 (IC 509) to Ghent, then 1354 was another score on the 10.32 to Antwerpen Central (IC 1809).
Sightings included 2125 on the 09.12 Oostende – Kortrijk, 2377 on passenger stock and 6252 on a ballast train in Brugge Yard. 2316 was moving around light engine, 2346 + 2324 were stabled by the station; 2365 worked a freight towards Zeebrugge.
Ghent Yard included 1206, 2201, 2319, 2350, 2373, 2360, 2758, and 2756 together with units 4187, 4157, and 4192. 2223 was coupled up to passenger stock.
Leaving for Antwerpen, Dampoort Yard had 7743, 6244, and 7748. 8261 was at the north end on a ballast train in connection with recently re-laid track and pointwork.
Antwerpen is another station with limited loco-hauled opportunities. This is largely compensated for by some of the finest railway architecture in Belgium. The on-going expansion works still have a very long way to go but the main buildings and roof are testimony to the grandeur of a by-gone age.
I scored No. 3 of the day on the 11.40 to Midi (IC 4532) comprising 2726 + 52557, 52515, 52533, 51511, 52582, 52534, and 59955. At Mechelen, the balancing working from Midi was noted with 2748. Locos at Schaerbeek included 8216, 8242, 2366, 2504, 2741 with 2116 and 2503 on stock.
At Midi, 8212 was station pilot, 2148 was working the 12.38 to Quiverain and 8246 brought in some international train stock, seemingly just to throw out some dirty bed linen. The coaches were 12615, 14530, 14536, 14543, 14523, and 4532.
A “positioning move” to Nord on 427 was undertaken to get the previously seen 2748 on the Antwerpen – Midi train (IC 4533).
Next move was the 13.58 (IC 2213) a far as Leuven with 2128 + 62011, 69001, 61006, 62045, 62023. Leuven Yard hosted 6227, 6312, 8455, 5407, 6296 & preserved 4006 was visible outside the shed. Our return was the 14.58 (IC 1736) with 2142 as far as Nord to get in place for the early P trains. Locos stabled on Schaerbeek included 1601, 8216, 2245, 2116, 8236, 8242, 2506, 2702, 2747, 2760, 2513, 2349, 8059.
The 15.50 to Midi (P 8001) was hauled by 2226; the 16.12 Midi to Charleroi (P 8757) as far as Nord was 2304 + stock including 42326, 49273, 41005, 42601, and 42463. More short trips produced 2131 (P 8004), 2230 (P 8067), 2502 (P 8906) before we went for our “longer” ride of 18.75m. The 17.16 Midi to Braine-Le-Comte (P 8894) produced 2216 + 43208, 42581, 42539, 42569, 49202.
Much, much earlier, we had seen 1327 on the 13.05 Midi to Oostende, so on the “knowledge is power” principle, we rode the 18.07 Braine-Le-Comte (IC 1717) to Leuven with 2142 to pick the 13 up on the way back to Oostende. That was the theory, anyway. The 19.33 service (IC 541) duly arrived some 25 mins late with 1347 providing the power. Apparently 1327 had been ripped at Oostende with low power and the substitute was little better! Happily, 1347 provided my 12th score of the day.
Locos on Leuven yard included 2322, 2621, 2635. 5205 + 5308 were still about on either end of an engineering train. 1332 + 1314 passed through the station on an eastbound freight and a little later 1344 + 1334 passed westbound, also on freight. A night train to Vienna paused with 2713 + OBB stock 6181 5991 108-5; 6181 2170 144-4; 6181 2171 005-6; 7381 5991 101-0; 7381 5991 108-5; 7381 5991 104-4 + 2x First Class Sleepers with numbers below platform level! The last sighting was at Ghent where 2324 + 2346 passed the station on a westbound freight.

Thursday 24th

Our last full day and with 45 locos scored already, another 5 seemed eminently possible. In the final analysis I managed 13 (not so unlucky) but subsequent holidays will be much harder as the number of wanted locos diminish. I never want to ride them all so I have every excuse to keep going back!
First off the blocks was the 09.12 Kortrijk (IC 809) to Brugge with 2738 + 52414, 52388, 52344, 52293, 58058. In Oostende Yard, 6242 and 6240 were both on engineering trains. Shunters noted were 7362 & 7353.
A lay-over at Brugge saw 2353 moving around light engine and a big bonus was to see 8431 working very hard to haul a long ballast train out of the yard through the station.
The sound of power was a delight; to be rudely interrupted moments later by “Euro 66” PB14 hauling a west bound car train. I don’t like 66s in the UK and I don’t like them over there either. Such an ugly thing should be covered in a paper bag.
Sightings included 2331, 2219, 2122 plus 2356 on passenger stock in Brugge Yard. Ghent Yard area hosted 7368, 2221, 2201, 2319, 2350, 2758, 2503, 2749, 2129, 2338, 7767, 6212, 7359 plus 2223 on stock. 1338 + 1340 passed Ghent on a westbound freight. Next was the 10.05 Brugge to Ghent (IC 1809) with 1350 and then the 10.38 back to Brugge was an “Extra” train with 2157 providing the power. 1359 worked the 11.05 back to Ghent (IC 1810). There was another extra Blankenberg train at 11.38 but this time it was unit’s 755+762+699+184, not so desirable as a loco. 6304+6307 passed through eastbound light engine and the 11.53 to Mechelen was noted with 2109 + 52310, 52343, 52371, 52403, 58040. 2312 then passed westbound with a long car train.
With little else about of interest, we rode the 12.08 to Midi (IC 2212) with Rubber 525. The alternative route taken by this train took us past Merelbeke for the first time. Noted were 6303, 5107, 5108, 5109, 6230 and Postals 965, 973, 962, 970, 972, 968. At Aalst we passed 2716 + 62011, 69001, 61006, 62045, 62023, presumed to be on a Genk to Ghent train. 6235 was seen at Denderleeuw and south of Midi 5311 & 8212 were noted.
Yet another change of scenery took us on the 13.07 Midi to Leuze (IC 1934) with 2140, a stunning 39.00m journey. The return was just as good at 14.05 (IC 1913) with 2739 + 52299, 52298, 51037, and 58049. Noted at Ath were 6314, 7323, 5514, and 5506. South of Brussels, 5512 was working light engine.
Mini bashing resumed, mainly on the Midi-Nord corridor. Locos included 2135 (IC 1714), 2724 (IC 4515), 2214 (P 8001), 2218 (P 8757), 2511 (P 8969) then 689 got us back from Jette to resume with 2158 (IC 1738), 2724 (IC 4517) and 2152 (IC 2238) to Ghent. The final move back to Oostende was with 2106 via Kortrijk (IR 4139 then IC 840) – a stunning 72.00m journey to conclude a wonderful Rover, travelling well over 2000 miles (forget kilometres & PB 66s).
Our last night at the Bottleje was memorable. A full and descriptive beer list with food menu is available all round the bar area for quiet contemplation and admiration. An A4 copy of the beer list can be bought for a mere €1, a perfect souvenir of a perfect hostelry
Beer, like food, music, wine, trains, women and the like, is very much a personal taste. Whatever your taste, however, the Bottleje has it in abundance. One surprise was the number of locals drinking draft Guinness. I wonder if they go to Ireland for GM thrash?
We didn’t have a bad beer but the ones that appealed most were (not in any order) Kwak (8.0% - 2.50e – served in a miniature version of the “Yard of Ale” glass in a wooden holder); Chimay Triple (8.0% - 2.30e); Hoegaarden Grand Cru (8.7% - 3.00e); Grimbergen Bruin (6.5% - 2.70e); La Chouffe (8.0% - 2.30e); Westmalle Dubbel (7.0% - 2.60e); Gouden Carolus (6.5% - 3.40e); Boerken (9.5% - 2.80e) and Rochefort 8 (9.2% - 3.30e). Of course there were others; many, many others.
Every beer has its own glass, all different shapes and logo’s, most of which are held in ceiling racks above the Bar area. Heaven only knows what would happen if Oostende ever suffered an earth tremor. Bedroom accommodation in the Marion has already been booked for August and I still have 10 days annual leave in early October. I wonder??

Friday 25th

As we were not due to leave Oostende until 15.00-ish, we used our De Lijn ticket to ride the full length of the Coastal Tramway. First north to Knokke on No 6003 (65 mins) which also took us south to Le Panne (2 hrs 20 mins) where we swapped onto 6032 to return us to Oostende. Total journey length was over 70 miles.
One word of warning, if northbound near Zeebrugge you see a very large cargo ship passing before your very eyes and the roadway is angled very steeply towards the sunny skies – Beware!! The driver hopped off, changed the points and we proceeded “inland” via the diversionary route. This adds about 1 mile to the journey and makes the driver somewhat mad, because it reduces his break time at Knokke. Whilst speed doesn’t frighten me, right-angled bends do. As we hit an immediate left onto the next bridge, my delicate perch on the front seat was exchanged for a crumpled heap on the floor. Two ‘very mature’ Belgian ladies sitting behind me had more mirth and merriment from my swallow dive than they have probably had from their equally aged husbands in many a long year.
A coach transferred us to Calais where the same SeaCat brought us back across the Channel. A very good decision was to upgrade to First Class at £15. Space is very limited if not pre-booked, but the extra fare includes a seat the size of a small single bed and a 2-course meal (Coq-au-vin with rice then a little mousey fruity thing) plus 2 glasses of wine and coffee.
This time there was a coach back to the Station and slam door 1742 rattled us back to London Bridge.
It was a superb holiday in a superb country. The people we met were kindness personified. As soon as most of their train crew realised I was a Senior Conductor on Central Trains, their sympathy at the state of our railways knew no bounds. B is for Benelux, B is for beautiful and GAS is for Going Again Soon. Heaven on earth indeed.

June 2003 in the Netherlands

Tales of a Benelux Ned – 2

By Roger Sanday
It didn’t seem 20 months since my last visit to the Netherlands, until - haven’t the IRM units grown in length? Aren’t there a lot of refurbished NS & former DB coaches in mixed formations? Stability, however, was confirmed by the “fairly” punctual time keeping and the friendliness of the staff.
Using one of my long weekends, I flew with ‘Mytravelite’ from Birmingham on Friday 6th at 06.05 which gave me 5 full days away by returning on Tuesday 10th at 21.45. The basic fare was £33.44 plus taxes – very reasonable. Staying in the Netherlands is expensive for me on a sole-occupation basis. I always stay at the Hotel Campanille in Gaasperplas (Tel: 020 6961129; E-mail: amsterdam@campanille.nl), which is at the end of Metro line 53. A 5-day GVB pass covering all metros, trams and buses was €16.30 and a 5 day all NS 1st class EuroDomino was £89.50p. It was my 4th visit to the Campanille and whilst €80 per night for the room, €9.95 for breakfast and €16 for a 3-course dinner may seem expensive, I have to feel comfortable where I stay – and the staff are superb. Ravin, the Assistant Manager, has been there for years and always makes me welcome, although not fully “understanding” the pleasures of my chosen hobby. “Hello Roger – trains, trains, trains, food & drink”, my long-time motto!
Prior to this holiday, I needed haulage with 15 of the 105 x 1700/1800 passenger locos. NS had contrived to up-the-ante by acquiring 1626-33, adding another 8 locos to the pool. A minor complication was having ridden with 1630 and 1632 previously!
I have no major prejudice against units so I was determined to keep riding whilst looking out for the “chosen few”. Most days I caught the Metro to Amstel and transferred onto the NS into Centraal Station.
I learned from a fellow passenger on the first day that the Den Haag – Rotterdam – Eindhoven corridor was closed for the weekend due to essential engineering work in connection with the new high-speed line. Added to this, Monday 9th turned out to be a Bank Holiday, which further reduced the rush-hour formations. On telling him that I have become rather partial to their Jenever, (35% proof clear spirit like schnapps, for the un-initiated) he recommended one called ‘Ketel 1’ available from a superb off-licence above Utrecht Station – follow the signs for Jaarbeursplein.  It cost €14.50 and I bought two, one for nightcaps whilst I was there and one to bring home.
On Friday I concentrated on the Amsterdam – Utrecht – Roermond corridor with a trip out later to Almere Centrum. During the day, I scored 1739 & 1829, with 2 other locos breaking through the 100-mile barrier. Total mileage for the day was 325m on 9 journeys.
On Saturday I rode 13 trains for only 286 miles, scoring 1716 & 1781, a better start to the weekend than I was expecting.
Several disappointments now affected my love of the NS. It was very irritating that the 1st class coaches in all the trains I rode were not formed together, so finding a decent seat meant walking quite extensively through the trains. 3 such coaches could be dotted around anywhere in an 11-coach formation. Secondly and more contentious, no doubt, is the decision by NS to ban smoking next year, not only on trains but also on stations. I had always admired the Dutch tolerance of all sectors in society, but stations as well??? The train crew I spoke to are very upset at the decision, not just because many of them smoke, but they wonder who is going to enforce the ruling? The train crew certainly won’t want to - because it is confrontational. As a guard myself, the less reasons you have to engage in a row with passengers, the better. Time alone will tell.  As an aside, there is a whole list of ‘don’ts’ in the Amsterdam Metro Cars. These include the words (in three languages) “ It is prohibited; to smoke; to use a radio, Walkman or musical instrument; to eat, drink or carry un-packaged food or drink; to put your feet on the seat; to wear skeelers (??) or roller skates; to be under the influence of alcohol or narcotics to such an extent that this (may) cause a nuisance to other passengers or to use the above mentioned substances”. I saw all or most of these broken EVERY evening when returning to Gaasperplas and no one said a word.  Finally, if smoking is to be banned, how about chewing gum? On one layover at Utrecht Station, I stared at the platform paving slabs and they were literally covered in discarded gum, unsightly and surely unhygienic.
Very noticeable compared with previous visits was the number of immigrant beggars. I was approached about 4 times each day, either on platforms or trains. They were all polite and certainly not aggressive. My pleas of “Sorry, I am English” were replied to with “I can beg in many languages”!! Oh dear!!
Sunday reaped 1827 in spectacular fashion. As I was arriving in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, 1827 was working northbound. I knew that if I caught the next one, 1827 should back onto my stock at Haarlem – and so it did. Unfortunately, an illegal immigrant on the train meant that the Police were called and they did not exactly hurry along the platform! Is that why they call them Plods? I was still on the train when the next one arrived and all passengers were told to catch the alternative. No good to me! Eventually, armed with my staff passes & an HV vest (neither required, however), I asked to ride the ECS move back to ‘s-Hertogenbosch with the guard. Another failure but then (with the deepest of joy) the driver took sympathy on me and I had the most spectacular cab ride of my life, 65.75 miles including centre road through Amsterdam Centraal. Money cannot buy that sort of experience. I could have kissed him (but didn’t)! We talked trains, football, and the Euro – how can 90 minutes pass so quickly?
On Monday, I opted to do two new routes, Zwolle – Emmen (Unit 2103) and Zwolle – Kampen (Unit 3413). En-route, ACTS 1254 was noted at rest in Amersfoort Yard on a long container train. The ride to Emmen was most enjoyable through contrasting urban and rural scenery. Later on, I scored two ICE units (406 006-7 and 406 054-7). First Class smoking is right behind the driving cab with a clear glazed screen providing a perfect forward view!
On the 17.04 Amsterdam – Köln - Frankfurt (ICE 221) with unit 054 and in the Amsterdam Muiderpoort area, there appeared to be a loss of power and the screen became “milky” and translucent, a weird sensation that lasted about 1 minute.
Low spot of the weekend was probably seeing Euro-66 PB01 on an empty inter-modal at Utrecht and actually taking a photo of it. Shame on me! Several freight trains hauled by 1600s were noted, but most of the locos’ were extremely dirty and not very photogenic.
When I did manage to ride the Den Haag – Eindhoven corridor on Tuesday, I noted 232 901-9, 232 902-7, 232 903-5 & 232 904-3, either in Kijfhoek Yard or in front of Tilburg Works. Also noted were 2 more Euro-66s, PB19 & 29003. Of infinitely more interest was passing DB 241 353-2 powering a long coal train across the bridge just north of Utrecht Station, a real beast on full throttle.
In the 5 days I totalled 1586 miles riding 56 trains. I scored 3 x 1700 and 4 x 1800 together with 2 x 1800 which I had ridden as 1600s. I also scored 3 x ICE units and many Emu’s.
One final question relating to many of the extremely attractive female ‘grippers’ in the Netherlands, how come they shout when using a mobile phone, yet as soon as you put a PA mike in their hands, you can’t hear a flippin’ word?
It will take a lot of homework and observation to establish the former identity of all the IRM formations. It used to be 82xx and 84xx. Now there are new 84xx plus 86xx, 87xx, 94xx, 95xx and 96xx. Mind-boggling! Several of the DDM1 double deck coaches also appeared to have been re-numbered. Perhaps there is a need for Nieuwsbrief to have a formal section dedicated to stock changes for all the Benelux systems. The excellent Platform 5 Benelux book was produced 3 years ago in 2000 and much as I feel Today’s Railways is a very well presented magazine, I cannot justify £3.35 per issue when, usually, only 3 or 4 pages are of interest to me.
On top of all that, there were so many new Combino trams in Amsterdam to cope with. How much change in 20 short months.
Future plans in 2003 include 6 days in Belgium in August, another long weekend in the Netherlands in September (possibly) and 10 days in Belgium in October (certainly). The things you can do when you are 54 and long-time divorced.
“Trains, trains, trains, food & drink”. A much better - and more satisfying – ride!

Model Review

By Ralph Hanley
Despite Trix’s earlier scheduled delivery of end year for their CFL 3600 series model no. 22306, this has now become available. At €249 the price is about right, [comparing with some Mehano products at €280].  The price is reflected in the quality of finish, details and running performance. It comes complete, i.e. there is no need to fiddle about trying to include small detail items, with a spare pantograph and maintenance information. The 8-pole motor gives it exceptional running performance, particularly at slow speeds, with smooth acceleration.  Noise levels are also low. My only comment is that it is in the earlier CFL Blue livery rather than the current Rust Brown. A suggestion for any member’s wife asking, “what would you like for your birthday/Christmas?”

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