l Nieuwsbrief Issue 47 - December 2003
Contents Website Review Belgian Railway News Belgium August 2003
Ligne 162 Notes Belgian Tram News CFL News Dutch Light Rail News
Dutch Railway News Model News Book Reviews Video Reviews
Return to the Lowlands      
 

Websites Review

From Henk Hartsuiker
Here is a short review of some Internet sites which may be of interest to the readers of Nieuwsbrief.

www.dlcargo.com
DLC (Dillen and Le Jeune) is the first Belgian private operator. The site is in English and gives information about the history, routes and schedules of the company. Most interesting for us is the locomotive page with 3 types of locomotives.

www.ersrail.com
ERSrail is one of the larger private operators which appeared out of nowhere last year. The site is in English and gives detailed information about its history and activities. Pictures (Class 66) of rolling stock can be found under ‘equipment’.

www.rail4chem.de
Rail4Chem is a German operator. Its site is in English and has a locomotives page. Some of the company’s routes are through Belgium and The Netherlands.

www.bcargo.com
This is the site of the freight division of the NMBS. It gives general information about its products, routes and services. There’s also a page with a lot of information about different types of freight cars. This page however is only in French and Dutch though other parts can be viewed in English.

www.shortlines.nl
This is the site of one of the Dutch private operators. Most of the site is in English and contains info about services and about rolling stock and timetables though a page about rolling stock is missing.

www.acts-nl.com
This is the site of the first Dutch private operator. Alas this page is only in Dutch but it gives the Dutch readers a good idea of what ACTS is about. ACTS is working on an online photo-album for railway-enthusiasts. On the page ‘afzetcontainers you can find pictures of the company’s types of containers.

Here is another website, from Phil Colton

www.sporenplan.nl
I can’t remember how I discovered this site but it allows you to chose any area of the NS network and see track plans of every kilometre of mainline and siding.  It is an excellent tool for exploring the track plans of stations although it is diagrammatic.

Belgian Railway News

Rolling Stock

Class 15 - The NMBS are currently looking at withdrawing this class from 14th December and replacing the workings for Class 41 units.  Most of the Class 15’s currently work IR trains on Line 42 to Gouvy. 
Class 16 - From 1st September Class 16 locos will by wholly used on ‘Prestige trains’ such as EN 324/325 Donauwalzer between Brussel / Bruxelles and Aachen.
Class 23 - 2369 was badly damaged in a derailment at Monceau.
Class 25 - 2511 was derailed at Familleureux.
Class 41 - Following the arrival of unit 4196 the whole fleet has been delivered.  The motor coach of unit 4163 caught fire on 3rd September at Beringen.  There were no injuries but units 4117, 4126 and 4193, standing nearby, were also damaged.
Class 51 - 5122 has been bought by an Italian railway building company.
Class 54 - TUC-rail has brought 5401 & 5403 out of store back into traffic although 5407 remains out of service. 
Class 55 - 5513 was withdrawn in 1st September
Class 62 - On 1st August 6217; 6218; 6219 (green livery); 6220; 6222; 6228; 6238 and 6284 were ‘put to one side’.
Class 77 - From mid of September 7771-7790 entered service.  These locos are fitted with ATB for working to Kijfhoek in place of the Class 25.5.  The latest class 77 to be delivered is 7812.
Class 84 - The scrapping of this class seems to be patchy.  Those at Charleroi and Kinkempois have gone while Merelbeke and the infrastructure locos at Antwerpen remain serviceable.

Class 91 - From 14th December there is no diagrammed work for this class.  The locos will be used for engineering works trains and depot shunting.  On withdrawal it is thought that some locos will go to industrial railways.

Operations

As with nature, Railways seem to abhor a vacuum. With the withdrawal of the SNCB auto / passenger trains, there are reports of a private Dutch company [TTS] planning to recommence certain services. These will originate in The Netherlands and pick up in Belgium. Negotiations are under way to procure the ex SNCB auto carriers, including the Restos and Bar Dancing coaches. Southwards, SNCF are also interested in extending the departure point of some of their auto trains into Belgium.

September saw a flurry of “Denier Service” trains as virtually all the overnight and auto carrying trains were withdrawn.  As noted in Nieuwsbrief # 46, the only major international trains to run after mid December are the: “Vauban” to Milan, “Iris” to Chur and “Jean Monet” to Strasbourg.  It is not clear whether these will also be withdrawn next year. As noted in an earlier Nieuwsbrief, these withdrawals are the result of a recent EEC directive.  Under this directive the rail company originating the service must pay the total operating costs. However the originating company still only receives revenue for travel within that country. As all these services are deemed to originate in Belgium, the SNCB is now operating these services at a considerable loss. In addition the Belgian government has appointed a Mr. Vinck whose objective is to reduce all operating losses - hence all these withdrawals. The existing services “Le Grand Ducal” and “Etoile d’Europe” between Bruxelles and Luxembourg will be replaced by a “fast” service three times daily. These will be operated by the existing AM 96 units.

So now it is final, the SNCB Postales will cease running the 13 October. One week before the Postales still ran, but empty [!], as a standby in case of problems with the road distribution.

The Belgian culture of Law evasion apparently extends to the Railways. In 2002, approximately 180,000 passengers were “caught” without either a valid ticket, or no ticket at all. In all this equated to approximately 5 % of their receipts.
The first five tracks and platforms have been installed at the New Liege station. These give a far better alignment than the previous sharp curves at the old Guillemins station.

June 14 saw the last Diesel hauled passenger service in the Liege region. The “honour” fell to SNCB 5540 on the Liege - Gouvy service.
Earlier the SNCB loaned several dozen international coaches, [15, 16 & I10] to the DB

Since June, the majority of services through Quévy have been transferred to be routed via Mons. This ends about 40 years of service via Quévy.
Many of the withdrawn Inox coaches from the earlier “Etoile du Nord” service are now operating in Cuba, looking somewhat neglected and dust covered.
Two new Thalys services have been introduced, the first is a Saturdays only Bruxelles to Bordeaux return; the second is a once daily service between Paris Nord and Bruxelles airport, [via Bruxelles midi].  Thalys receipts for the first half of this year were down 2.5 % due to a 3.6 % reduction in traffic.
As from January 2004, all SNCB / NMBS trains will be “non smoking”.
SNCB / NMBS plan to increase fares by 3.16 % starting in February 2004.  This is, hopefully, to reduce their operating loss.  This year the first six months saw an operating loss of €149 millions, versus €122 millions for 2002. Part of this increase is due to a 2.5 % reduction in international travellers.
Depending upon negotiations with the Russian Transport minister as to sharing of operating costs, there is a possibility of resuming the earlier “East - West Express” from Bruxelles to Moscow.

Infrastructure

The top level of Antwerp central station now has all running tracks installed.
Liege Guillemins now has 5 of the new platforms installed together with the new station roof.
SNCB are considering re-opening Line 136, which is from Bif St. Lambert on Line 132 [near Walcourt] to the quarries at Florenes. This would solely be for freight service.
[Source: PFT publication “En-Lignes” translated by Ralph Hanley]

Belgium – 17 August 2003 by Chris West

A day trip using the Shuttle was used to visit some preservation operations in Belgium.

Preservation Association pour le Sauvegarde du Vicinal (ASVi), Thuin, Hainaut

ASVi was founded in 1972 with the aim of preserving relics of the Vicinal railways.  The vicinal line from Thuin to Lobbes was first used to operate preserved trams in 1978 and from 31 December 1983, when regular services were withdrawn, has been exclusively used by ASVi.
The tramway currently works from the quayside in Thuin to the river bridge, which parallels the SNCB, to the north of Thuin.  It is to be hoped that services will be extended through to Lobbes again in due course.  The connection to TEC at Anderlues is still in place, but clearly has not worked for some time.  A new museum has been constructed, and has been brought into use since our previous visit almost exactly a year before on 18 August 2002.
Metre gauge locomotive and diesel trams present on this visit were: -
(303)                     0-6-0Tr  Tubize 704                                         / 1888  display
AR86                    4wDM r/c Kuregem                                          / 1934  display
ART300               4wDM r/c Andenne                                           / 1947  shunting
Electric trams: -
A9073                   M2  Electricitié & Hydraulique                        / 1901  display
A9515                   M2  Roeulx                                                       / 1918  in use
9888                      M2  SAFB                                                        / 1932  on shed
9924                      M2  Dyle                                                           / 1931  on shed
10308                    M4  Baume & Marpent                                    / 1943  in use
10284                    M4  Braine-le-Comte                                        / 1936  display
10409                    M4  B&N                                                          / 1950  in use
Some of these had been present in August 2002, but AR86, 9888, 9924, 10284 and 10409 (at the TEC depot at Anderlues in 2002) were arrivals in the last year.
A9515, 10308 and 10409 were all in use on that part of the tramway that is operational.  10409 is of particular interest as it is a single-ended tram, but was driven from controls that are normally tucked behind the rear seat. Its first run of the day was unable to reach the quayside at Thuin as parked cars blocked the route.

Belgian National Railway Collection, Haine-St.-Pierre, Hainaut

Although the old steam shed at Leuven is the home of the larger part of the Belgian National Railway Collection some items are stored in Haine-St.-Pierre locomotive shed, which is adjacent La Louvière Sud station.
It was not possible to gain access to the shed but stored in the yard, with various carriages and wagons, was class 29 2-8-0 renumbered as stationary boiler A621/204.   The A621 number series was evidently used by SNCB for stationary boilers - it would be interesting to see the complete list with the former identities.
Two SNCB diesel locomotives could be seen under the doors of the shed.  These were 5917 and 8319.

Rail Rebecq Rognon, Rebecq, Brabant Wallon

Established in 1977 this 600mm gauge railway follows the course of a closed SNCB branch line.  It is best thought of as a tourist railway rather than as preservation.  The train operates on all Sundays and holidays from the 1st May to the end of September.  Departures from Rebecq are at 14:30, 16:00 and, in the high season, at 17:30.
We rode on the 16:00 departure, which was hauled by O&K 11908 / 1928 an 0-4-0WT.  This locomotive, which was fired on wood, and formerly named Birland, was built for the Aschaffenburger Zellstoff- und Papierwerke, Stockstadt, Germany.
It was not possible for us to visit the railway’s locomotive depot at Bloc U, but the train passes through the shed building, so it was possible to view most of the stock.  Three steam locomotives were present.  One was Henschel 15862 / 1917, an 0-6-0T.  This was built for the Austro-Hungarian Kriegsministerium where it was numbered "426".  After World War I it found itself in Italy working for Ferriera Fucino of Avezzano carrying the number "9" and name AQUILA.  It was eventually purchased by Roland Bude (co-author of O&K Steam Locomotives) for use at Rebecq.
The identity of the other two locomotives is less certain.  One may be O&K 4854 / 1911, an 0-4-0WT named Marie.  This locomotive was reported as at Rebecq in the early 1980s, but was at the Stoomcentrum, Maldeghem when I visited on 5 May 2001.  The other may be Maffei 2842 / 1908 an 0-4-0T that was formerly preserved on the platform at Etterbeek station in the Brussels suburbs, but which had disappeared from there by March 2003.
The railway also has many diesel locomotives.  A 1997 visitor reported there were nine diesel locomotives - an 0-4-0DM and a 4wDH by Deutz, a 4wDM by Diema, four 4wDM and an 0-4-0DM by Moës and two locomotives from unknown builders.  Most of these must have been at Bloc U when we passed through.
Since 1997 the railway has acquired two Moës 0-4-0DM from the Briqueteries de Ploegsteert SA, Hainaut, which I visited on 8 September 2000, before their railway was lifted.  Ploegsteert was understood to have the last working industrial narrow gauge in Belgium – information to the contrary would be welcome.  The Ploegsteert locomotives carried numbers 6001 to 6005 and were each in a different livery.  The red and the green locomotives (formerly 6003 and 6005) are now at Rebecq and have been given the names Jeaninne and Armande.
At Rognon station the remains of a Moës 4wDM were stored on a wagon and at the end of the line was O&K boiler 12768 / 1936.  This boiler is of interest as having been from an 0-4-0T supplied to Müller & Froitzheim, Köln, which is not known to be preserved.

Ligne 162 anecdotes

From Ralph Hanley
Two early anecdotes on the Ligne 162 from “La Ligne du Luxembourg”:
In 1880 a mutilated body was discovered between the rails at Ciney station. The body was identified as an engine driver from Jemelle depot. Not only that, but the driver of a freight train which had passed through some 20 - 30 minutes previously. Normally one would expect an engine driver to be quickly missed. On hearing that the train had arrived at Namur, the Ciney station master telegraphed Namur to demand an explanation particularly about the driver. The reply came back that everything seemed normal, with no report of a missing driver. Eventually the explanation came out. The freight train had been double headed, and the dead driver was on the main engine. For some reason, contrary to all regulations, he went back along the train jumping from wagon to wagon. Somewhere along the train he obviously slipped and fell beneath the wagons. The fireman did not find it strange that the driver had not returned, and remained on the footplate in Namur blissfully unaware that anything was wrong. Not unsurprisingly he was soon removed from footplate duties.
The winter of 1867 was exceptionally severe with days of continuous snow. In January the evening freight of 9 wagons, which included 3 closed wagons of sheep and cattle, had left Luxembourg towards Namur. Around Marbehan the train was getting into difficulties due to snow covering the line. Between Libramont and Poix St Hubert the snow became deep enough to threaten the boiler fire. [In those times the engines were coke fired with a low slung boiler]. The guard was dispatched forward to Poix to seek help. At that time the footplates were completely open with just a protective forward shield. There were 4 men on the footplate including a Customs official. Within about 10 minutes the crew became aware of a ring of 5 wolves surrounding the footplate, being drawn there by the scent of the livestock. At first nothing happened, and the crew opened the steam cocks, blew the whistle and waved their lanterns. This had no effect on the menacing silent pack. The crew quickly decided to abandon the footplate and half walked half slid back to the closed guards van, closely followed by the hungry pack. The first 3 got into the van, and the last one had some of his clothing ripped off whilst clambering up. Fortunately one of the crew had taken a poker with him and killed the leading wolf, just giving enough time to get the last man in the van. For the next 2 hours the wolves vigorously attacked the sheep and cattle trucks. It was only when a gang of 20 men arrived to dig the train out that the wolves gave up and fled. The vans incurred quite a bit of damage but the livestock, despite being in absolute panic, were unharmed. Subsequently crews of winter cattle trains carried rifles to ensure better protection against hungry wolves.

Belgian Tram & Light Railway News

De LIJN FLEET position at 31st December 2002

49 Coast trams
157 PCC cars in Antwerpen
54 PCC cars in Gent
31 low floor cars in Antwerpen
14 low floor cars in Gent
20 trolleybuses in Gent

New trams

After the delivery of the second series of 47 ‘Hermelijnen’ cars for Antwerpen (30) and Gent (17) two follow up orders have been placed of 10 and 10 for delivery on 2006/7.   The final aim is to have 96 cars in Antwerpen and Gent and 12 on the coastline.

Fleet modernisation

In Antwerpen all PCC cars from the 7001-7060 series have been modernised; in Gent all 22 PCC have been refurbished and on the Coastal line car 6000 was the last car to receive its low floor middle section.

TEC – Transports en commune

Charleroi

Car 7413 has entered service following renovation and re-paint while 7442 is being worked on now.  Also in progress is 6143, which will emerge as 7443.

MIVB - Brussel / STIB - Bruxelles

On 15th August Metro line 1B was extended to Erasmus / Erasme.  As a result trams route 56 only runs as far as Debussy and 56 peak service will not run at all.
A contract for 40 new low floor trams (20 thirty metre long cars and 20 forty-metre cars) has been awarded to Bombardier Transportation Belgium SA. They will build their Cityrunner cars in two variations: 19 seven-section cars (43.22 m, capacity 263 passengers) and 27 five-section cars (31.85m, 188 passengers).  Delivery is set for summer 2005 and will replace the old 7000 series cars.
On 9th November the Brussel tram museum organised a tour of the city.  The programme was very interesting, in the formation were car 4032 (“2 bedrooms & a bath”), a 2 axle 9000 series car and a Standard-car.  The trip ran from Schaarbeek / Schaerbeek station to Stilte / Silence with many photo stops in ‘retro style’ locations (e.g.: the Art Deco ex BRT Flagey Studios).

Kustlijn

A study has been carried out to investigate public transport provision from Knokke over the border to Breskens in Holland.  The options being looked at are a bus route, a people mover or an extension to the Coastal tram.  There is an EU subsidy available for the successful project.
Source: Het Openbaar Vervoer Railnieuws nrs. 8 & 9 (Aug/Sept & Oct 2003) translated by Kjeld Spillett

CFL News

The first two of the six Bo-Bo series 185 to be leased by the CFL arrived in Luxembourg depot, end June. These can operate on either 15 or 25 Kv systems. These will develop 4,400 Kw and provide 21.3 tonnes tractive effort. Top speed is 140 kph and the overall length is 18,900 mm. Current livery is a “mid Blue”.   These were put into service during August, mainly on the Luxembourg - Troisvierges line. Based on earlier evaluations and their short experience to date, CFL have now ordered 20 of these engines from Bombardier at a cost of €62 millions.  Delivery is planned between September 2004 and February 2005.  These are planned to operate over the SNCB and SNCF systems.  (Editors note: PIKO have produced a model of the 185 in various liveries including the blue/silver colour of the CFL locos.  They are however labelled for Hoyer or RAG.  The locos have moulded on handrails but are excellent runners and can be obtained in Britain for only £40.  Fantastic value for money.)
The CFL often overcomes its shortage of rolling stock, by “borrowing” DB, SNCB or SNCF rolling stock stationed overnight at Luxembourg. These are used on the early morning services, as one would expect, and returned in time ready for their owner’s return duties.
The endangered series 3600 were still seen at work late summer on a Rumelange - Luxembourg service with a rake of 1 CFL and 3 DB stock. During a recent visit in October, two 3600’s were seen working passenger stock, one at Clervaux, and the other in Luxembourg station. In all 20 of these were built by MTE in 1958 / 59. These were numbered 3601 - 3620.  All are scheduled to be withdrawn by the end 2003. These would develop 2,640 Kw [3,600 HP], had a top speed of 120 kph and provide 20.8 tonnes tractive effort. They weighed 84 tonnes with an overall length of 15,500 mm. Both Jouef and Marklin / Trix have produced HO models of this class.
The ex SNCF Inox emu suburban set class 250 and 260 are still in service. During our October visit, one was seen at Diekirch, and a further two on the Luxembourg to Dudelange service.
Earlier rumours of a tramway system to the east of the Duchy have ceased. Currently the CFL are looking at a tramway system within and around Luxembourg City.
Work is continuing on the Pulvermuhle viaduct outside Luxembourg station. This has necessitated the Trier - Luxembourg service to now both arrive and depart from the south. Also Cents - Hamm and Dandweiler - Contern stations have been temporary closed until 01 November.  During the weekend of 24 /25 May the CFL closed part of the line between Sterpenich and Luxembourg. All Belgian traffic was rerouted via Athus and Rodange.
During the “European Mobility” week, the autorails 2102 & 2104 worked the Wiltz to Ettlebruck service in tandem.
An immaculate leased diesel Vossloh type G 1206 no 1501 was seen at Luxembourg depot in October.
A new section of line with three new halts is planned between Esch and Belvaux. The new halts will be at: Belval Sud, Belval Lycee and Belvaux Marie. Completion is expected towards the end of 2005.

Dutch Tram & Light railway News

Utrecht Sneltram

This year sees the 20th Anniversary of the introduction of the Utrecht Sneltram.  An open day was organised on 20th September allowing visitors tours around Techno Service Nederland workshops, the possibility to drive a tram and vintage cars running over the route.

GVB – Amsterdam

Rolling Stock position – at 7th August
There ware a total of 222 trams in active service on 7th August.
3-G cars:   602, 605, 606,610, 611, 613, 619, 621-624, 626, 627,629-631, 634.  (Total: 17)
6/7G cars: (674-724): 674, 675, 680-682, 686-688, 690, 695, 700, 701, 705, 706, 709-711, 715-718, 720-724.  (Total: 26)
Blokkendozen:  780-816.  (Total: 37)
BN single ended:  817-841.  (Total: 25)
BN double ended: 901-920.  (Total: 20)
Combino single end:  2001-2075, 2077-2090, 2092-2095.  (Total 93)
Combino double end: 2201-2204.  (Total: 4)
The GVB declared at the last minute that there have been problems with the provision of trams to service.  The faster scrapping of the last ‘stuurstroomwagens’, the sale of the 3-G cars to Poznan (PL) and the slow delivery of ‘Combino’ cars from Siemens will mean that there will be problems when the winter service begins.  Only cars 615 & 619 have gone to Poland so far but there have been problems with the newly delivered ‘Combino's’ leading to a total of 20 cars being held out of service with various defects.  A modification programme has begun to replace all of the tail/brake lights with LED’s along with changes to interior fitting for security, disabled passenger access, door motors and software for multiple working.
Combino deliveries
The following Combino cars have entered service since 7th August: 2096 (11/09) this car caries the legend “100-ste Combino”; 2097 (12/09); 2098 (12/09); 2099 (23/09); 2100 (25/09); 2101 (26/09); 2102 (01/10); 2103 (08/10); 2104 (10/10).  The, as yet, undelivered car 2091 is at Wildenrath on load trials.

RET – Rotterdam

Citadis in traffic in Rotterdam
On 25th August the Citadis trams were officially brought in to use on the RET network.  Following a speech by the Mayor of Rotterdam and the Director of RET, Car 2007 complete with flower bouquet on the front ran at 11 30 along the Coolsingel to the city hall. From 15 00 that day 5 cars ran in service on route 20.
Data for Citadis cars: Length: 31.31m, Width: 2.4m, Height: 3,45m, Tare weight: 36797kg, Total seated: 63, Total standing: 118, 4 double door, floor height: 32cm above street, Life expectancy: 30 years.
Deliveries of Citadis cars: 2003 (17/7); 2006 (04/07); 2007 (07/08); 2008 (13/08); 2009 (26/08); 2010 (15/09); 2011 (24/09); 2012 (09/10
On 5th September all Citadis cars were removed from service over concerns about wheel wear.  The manufacturers, Alstom, held all cars for investigation under the warranty arrangements.  After a couple of days the cars were released back into traffic.
No metro for Ridderkerk
A study by the Rotterdam regional government has concluded that the project is unfeasible.  The findings indicated that this form of public transport is too costly without any guarantee that the local population will use the service.

Dutch Railway News

Operations

Collision at Venlo

Late in the evening of 15th August in the sidings at Venlo a  shunt with Plan V units 410 + 926 + 882 + 906 collided with a train consisting of 1827 + nine coaches + 1855 at 40 km/h.  The impact was so heavy that the loco and coaches were pushed 10 metres through the buffer stops.  The locos went to Tilburg for repair while the multiple units went to Haarlem.

Autumn working

In preparation for the leaf fall season this year the NS has fitted wheel slip protection to the DD-AR stock and is testing ‘Smartsander’ equipment on 3 units (4051; 4062 and 4084).  On-train staff can also be warned of areas of poor railhead condition by the Low Adhesion Warnings System (LAWS). 15 units are fitted with an onboard computer connected to a GSM mobile ‘phone which can receive sms-text messages to warn train crew about potential problem areas.

Smoke free trains

From 1 January 2004 all NS domestic and Benelux services will be non-smoking.  All ashtrays will be sealed and special ‘this train is smoke-free’ will be applied to the stock.  The new VIRM stock will be delivered with all non-smoking accommodation.  Thalys & ICE trains are already smoke-free.

Reduction in International Services

From the beginning of 2004 NS Internationaal are withdrawing one pair of Thalys services.  Trains 9328/9329 Monday – Thursday are withdrawn, as is 9349 on a Friday.  On Saturdays 9344.9349 are removed from the timetable while on Sunday 9344/9313 no longer runs.  The overnight services 288/289 Amsterdam CS - Paris Nord & v.v. are also withdrawn from the new working

Rolling Stock

Class 700

The first of the 13 new class 700 shunters, number 710, was delivered from Vossloh in Kiel (D) on 23rd August.

Class 1300

1308 was scrapped at HKS metals on 7th August.  1315 is at Eindhoven for driver training (for coupling and operation of loco hauled trains).

From DD-IRM to VIRM

The way that Double deck sets are organized is to be changed by the NS.  The existing method has 81 treinstams (fixed set formations): 34 3-cars (series 8200) and 47 4-cars (series 8400).  The ‘loose’ nature of this system means that sets can be re-marshalled this mixing up the coaches within a given set.  Under the VIRM project there are 3 phases:
VIRM-1 The 3-cars are going to have a fourth trailer coach added (type ABv6) fitted with a pantograph.  The main advantage here is the lengthening of the set and the extra current collection.  These will be renumbered in the 9400 series.  The 4-cars will have 2 coaches added – one trailer and one motor (mBv7). The new sets will be numbered series 8600.  The total order for new coaches is 81 type ABv6 and 47 type mBv7.
VIRM-2 & -3 The next phases include 13 new 4-car sets and 12 6-cars (phase 2) and a further 21 6-cars in phase 3.  The new sets will be identical to the ‘extended’ sets from VIRM-1.  The numbering will be 9500 (4-cars) and 8700 (6-cars).
The ‘temporarily lengthened sets’ (8489-8497) which are 3-cars with an extra ABv5 will be renumbered during this year.
VIRM sets that have been delivered from Talbot in Aachen are: ‘Extended’ 8641; 8649; 8653; 8654; 8668; 8671; 8676; 9417; 9418;
‘New build’: 8711; 8713; 8715; 8717; 9512; 9514; 9516;
Set 8215 was severely damaged in a collision with an armoured vehicle between Assen and Beilen on 17 June and has gone to Watergraafsmeer for repair.
From 6th September Bombardier have been working on 2 sets every Saturday 08 00 – 20 00 mostly doing interior trim work.  From 20 October a trial will be conducted with a passenger information system in 2 specially modified sets (8498 & 8499).  Screens in the coaches will display travel information and ‘infotainment’ – details of calling pattern, connections and delays, plus news, weather, events info, NS advertising and that of third parties.  The units will be kept on a fixed diagram running between Nijmegen and Den Haag.

Plan V

On 19 May unit 432 was taken out of service and sent to Zaanstraat for rebuilding.  It is the first Plan V to be refurbished that had not been done as a result of damage.  ABk 424 + Bk 444, ABk 413 + Bk 808, ABk 448, ABk 462 & Bk 413 have been broken up at HKS metals in Haarlem.
Unit 808 has been reformed from ABk 815 & Bk 808 and renumbered 815, while ABk 453 & Bk 462 have been formed to create unit 462.

SGM sprinters

Unit 2936 has been running out of Leidschendam for test runs between Kruiningen-Yerseke and Vlissingen.  In June test were conducted between Zaandam and Hoorn, over the bridges where there is no overhead line; and night trips on the Flevolijn. The testing continued until 1st August when NedTrain staff and driver training began.  Testing took place between Haarlem and Amsterdam with 2937 & 2938 on 13th/14th September.
On 19 May 2841 went from Leidschendam to Randers (DK).  The train was delayed at Bad Bentheim as the DB refused to convey the match wagons over their infrastructure.  The wagons were replaced with DB type R and the train continued on 22 May hauled by 6439 and additional brakeforce.
Unit 2840 has been fitted with a wheelslip warning system.
Unit 2847 was involved in a collision with a bus on a level crossing between Nootdorp and Leidschendam on 8th September.

Plan U

The damaged units 126 & 134 will not be repaired.  The ABk from 134 was seen being hauled by 191 (which has the motor coach of 126) to Arnhem for disposal.  126 was taken to Arnhem on 15/10.

ICR Coaches

Since 1st September an experiment has been taking place using push-pull-driving trailers between Zwolle and Maastricht.  Eventually this route will be operated with the new 6-car VIRM sets.

Fixed Set formations

Since 1st September train in the train number series 1900 and 2500 will run in a fixed formation of 2A (1st Cl) +3 B (2nd Cl) + BD (2nd Cl Brake + 4 B (2nd Cl.).  This is a result of problems with the correct formation of trains – particularly the positioning of the 1st Class coaches – caused by poor performance of shunting locomotives and a shortage of shunting staff to make the trains up.  In other train number groups (800, 900 and 3500) there are no longer ICK coaches in the formations.

RailLion

Several members of class 204 in service in Zeeuws Vlaanderen have been named after famous Dutch mariners: 204399 Michiel Adriaenszoom de Ruijter; 204366 Johan Evertsen; 204 626 Cornelius Evertsen; 204616 Frans Naerebout; 204 492 Jacob Roggeveen.
Postal unit mP 3030 arrived at Haarlem at the end of July for painting in RaiLion red.  3027 has been running as a Sandtite unit and is berthed at Breda.

ACTS

6702 has returned from Nymburk (CZ) after having oil spill arresters fitted to allow the loco to work to Onnen.  6703 has returned for the Czech Republic following collision damage repair.  Hired NMBS loco 6228 was returned at the beginning of June.  The second Class 58 loco for ACTS arrived in Holland on 16/10.  58044 will be renumbered 5812 and arrived from the UK with the ATB modifications already done.

Infrastructure

Double tracks between Groningen Noord and Sauwerd

During a 5-day possession the tracks were laid over a new bridge across the Van Starkenborg Canal and new safety systems were installed.  The total project is costing €19.5m and will also include the realignment of the curve near Sauwerd towards Delfzijl, improvements to the level crossings on the line – converting some the open crossings (Aki) to Automatic half-barriers (Ahob) and some to subways.    While improved safety systems are being installed NS are stopping short of full ATB (ATP).

Track renewal at the Moerdijk Bridge

Major service alterations were in force during August while renewal work was carried out on the Moerdijkbrug between Lage Zwaluwe and Dordrecht.  Single line working was instituted between Willemsdorp and Lage Zwaluwe allowing only 2 trains per hour over the bridge.  Most freight traffic for Rotterdam port was diverted via Utrecht and the Betuwelijn.  Benelux services and Thalys services ran via Den Bosch and Utrecht while domestic services in Noord Brabant and Zeeland were completely revised.  Venlo – Den Haag trains terminated at Tilburg and ran in a ‘Pull-Pull’ arrangement with a loco at both ends.  Heerlen-Den Haag ran to/from Eindhoven.  The first possession, which should have lasted 9 days, overran and lasted 14. As a result the NS are suing the contractor, ProRail for damages.

No light rail trial for Zandvoort

After 2 years of studies into light rail traffic between Zandvoort and Haarlem it has been decided that the project will not proceed any further on cost and safety grounds.  The plan was to use a CAF unit from the Amsterdam metro in an experiment for the shared use of the route for both ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ rail traffic. The biggest safety flashpoint was at Haarlem where the line crosses a mainline used by heavy freight traffic.  The similar trial for Gouda to Alphen also hangs in the balance.

Spoorwegmuseum, Utrecht

The Dutch National railway museum in Utrecht closed its doors to the public on 7th September to allow a yearlong rebuilding to take place.  The NS have invested €32m in the future on the site that will include a new 10000m² building.  The collection has been temporarily re-housed in the former depot at Amersfoort, sidings at Blerick, in the HTMU, Watergraafsmeer and Arnhem Berg.

Model News

From Ralph Hanley unless otherwise stated

Model Reviews

Two new models from Roco, the SNCB 8000 series diesel shunter Cat No. 63388, and the SNCB / CFL “NoHab” Cat Nos. 63475 / 63471. Both models maintain the high quality finish and running characteristics that one has got to expect from Roco. 
The series 8000 shunter is one of the models issued by Roco as part of their “International Collection”. Cost is around £ 90. Earlier Marklin issued their series 8000 serial number 3459 at a similar cost. Compared with the Marklin model, the Roco runs a treat. Low speed running is good with smooth take off from low speeds. One negative point is that most of the exterior handrails and appliances have to be retrofitted. Compared to the Marklin model these are quite delicate. A selection of couplings together with a reasonable “Maintenance Manual” is included.
Another Roco model just released is the SNCB / CFL NoHab; I bought the CFL version [in current rust / yellow livery]. Cost is around €160. Again this model runs beautifully, with a smooth take off from slow speeds. The model has a reasonable weight and is robust and “feels” right. As usual, Roco include a selection of couplings, in addition “non coupling” valences are included.
In summary both models are well worth buying and adding to ones stock  
Recently Kibri introduced a series of Belgian houses. I bought 8323 [two semi detached town houses] and 8315 [a three storey corner town house]. Each cost €21. Item 8323 was relatively easy to assemble, but 8315 was quite more difficult. The assembly drawing was not too explicit, and “dry assemblies” are recommended, as it was easy to assemble some components upside down. [This resulted in some time spent “de gluing” windows]. An improvement for both assembly instructions would be to also show a rear elevation. As with Kibri, there were quite a few parts left over and not required [unlike early days in DIY engine overhauls!].
These reviews are from Tom Nicholls and are is translated from Rail Magazine jan-feb 2003
The English firm Graham Farish was last year taken over by Bachmann. The mechanical parts from the N-scale models are being renewed. “So it is with the English Hippel, in her motherland known by the nickname Gronk.” These models were available in NS colours five years ago. Naturally, if you look at the photo, you can see that there is something wrong with the wheels and the coupling rods. Actually, the model should have outside frames, cranks and connecting rods.
Despite the fact that it is made in China there are a few points of criticism of the models running. The model waddles, starts badly and has a top speed that would make a racing driver jealous.  Despite the new motor this behaviour results from a gearing from the 1960s it is not known to us if Graham Farish will also put the Dutch version of this model on the market. 
Further images of model are available from
http://www.grahamfarish.co.uk/prod.php4?prod_selected=farish&prod_area=2

Modelspoor loco test an interpretation form the September-October issue.

Railtest class 77.
The class 77 has only just appeared on NMBS rails and hey presto it has already appeared in model form. For us as model collectors and model builders this is an unusual situation, so we can be nothing but happy at the initiative of Mehano and their importer Rocky Rail. Through this close collaboration we have, in a very short time after the appearance of the original, another superb model. Time then with the first production model, with conventional as opposed power, to have a rail test and a comparison with the real thing.
Background info: in the diesel depots of the NMBS can be seen the ageing locos of the last century. The Board of Directors have decided to build a new class of diesel locomotive. The class 60-61 had already disappeared and the class 59 has met the same fate. Most diesel locomotives originate from the 1950-1960s when steam locomotives were pushed (literally) of the rails. A successor was never foreseen, so that most diesels are between 35 and 40 years old. It goes without saying that at that age problems will start to arise. Also the NMBS have thus transferred all important passenger routes to electrical power, so that there are only a few freight services left for diesels. This last point means that the new engines as well as being in normal service need also to be used for shunting. After tendering in 1996 four possible builders were selected: Adtranz, GEC-Alsthom, Jenbacher Werke, and Siemens. The last one ultimately got the contract that was originally was for 260 locomotives split in 3 batches. The first 90 have already been delivered. The second batch is in production and the third batch is in danger of being postponed by economizing measures by the new NMBS chief.
The model of the class 77 (text massively abbreviated.)
It’s got a good box and is well packed. (though once you have fitted couplings it will no longer fit in the box. ED.).  With a technical drawing of the locomotive, front, back and from the side, how you can take the loco apart and how to affix some of the super detailing parts. How you oil the working parts etc. There is also a drawing which is very clear, enabling you to order spare parts. This is very handy. The 7764 looks good. Shape as well as colour is of a high quality. Mehano haven't skimped on anything to bring this model in the shop. The colours of the model are pretty much the same as its big brother. The spray paint of the body and the undercarriage is sharp, without bleeds, although there is a difference in the colour between the handrails and the back of the engine, which is moulded in yellow plastic. The etching is very good. We found only one small little fault: on the other side of the back of the body sits an irregularity that shouldn't have been there. Also on the roof of the cabin there are four orange lights. These comply only with locomotives for manual remote control. These locomotives have the numbers 7709-7728, while of course the model is 7764. There are lots of details that are really good especially on the underframe, e.g. ventilators, brake blocks etc.
Technical running.
It runs really well operating at low speed, although there is a problem with automatic coupling, using the NEM norm. But the directional lighting is really good.
Conclusion.
The Mehano class 77 is a very successful model. At a price of €152 approx. with other variations including a digital version with a sound module at a price of up to €269, with this model Mehano, a relatively small player in the market, does as well as the better known manufacturers.
Summary.
Positive:                                     Negative:
* excellent moulding              * couplings don’t spring back
* super detailing                     * front light too yellow
* nice paint
* good running
* good value for money
* a Belgian prototype
More Model News from Ralph Hanley
Due to space limitations, Model News intended for Nieuwsbrief # 46 has been postponed until this issue. Thus some of this news may by now be somewhat old. [We are grateful to “Train Miniature” as a source for much of this information].
As most members will probably know by now, the Lima Group [Arnold, Jouef & Rivarossi] have ceased to trade. Any models remaining have been just distributed to European distributors only and not to the UK. Possibly second hand Lima Group models will start to appreciate in value. Rumour has it that Marklin are looking to acquire the Arnold range, and Roco may also be interested in acquiring sections of the HO business. Hornby have apparently “nabbed” Lima’s stand for Nuremberg 2004. 
Despite Roco’s “International Collection” generally offering international models, there still appear to be releases specific to individual countries. During a recent visit to Luxembourg, a sample of CFL specific items were seen [and bought!]: Roco 45408/09/14 early Epoch I six wheeled coaches, 46976 long 8 wheeled tank car and 46767 long 8 wheeled closed wagon. In addition a Piko 95468 tarpaulin covered Shimmns wagon. One of the small irritations, particularly with Fleischmann, is the lack of choice of couplings provided on the model. Roco are the best, as each model includes a choice from three types of couplings. These are minimal cost, and every manufacturer could provide the same choice.
This time of year tends to be a “quiet” time for new releases. Specific [HO] recent and planned releases are:
Recently Electrotren released SNCF single double deck car transporters type STVA, [ref 6303 / 6016], which are frequently seen on the Benelux networks.
Marklin SNCB/NMBS series 25 electric with three M 2 coach set [end June].
Mehano SNCB/NMBS series 77 diesel in DC / AC versions. Also “N” gauge DC / AC [end June].  Digital versions [incl. “N” gauge] are scheduled for September.
Olaerts [Treinshop] are releasing a SNCB/NMBS steam engine series 10, with a base price of €1,300. An “O” gauge version is planned, priced at around €5,000.
Brekina through the Bruges “Modelbouwcenter” have released a limited edition of early VW “Henri Maes” beer delivery trucks at €10. In addition there are closed trucks and trailers “Transport Maes” of Merelbeke and “Galliker” and an articulated road tanker S.T.T. [Tournai],
LS Models have announced the provisional cost of the Heris SNCB/NMBS electric series 13 [and presumably the CFL series 3000] at €185. In addition LS Models advise availability of the following SNCB/NMBS coaches: I4 in Benelux or Memling, I5 in Railtour, I II; and NS couchettes Bcm. Most of these are limited editions of 200.
PB-Messing Modelbouw has made a set of lights to replace those fitted to the LS Model coaches, [which have been criticised]. These are available in packs of 8.
Rietze have a “Belgacom” short wheel based road truck no: 60632 at €15, also a Luxembourg City “flexible” bus RM 10 [available from “Model Shop” in Luxembourg priced around €20]. Other releases are: Mercedes tourist coach “Sercu”, and an articulated truck “De Post”.
Rivarossi did have a definite release date of October for their four coach Inox TEE set; these are priced around €180, ref 230.44. [Possibly some have been distributed]. These were the coaches earlier used on the Etoile du Nord. In addition a three car Inox commuter set have just been released. These were used around Paris, but are still in service on the CFL network, appropriate CFL decals will make a suitable conversion. Price is around €100, ref 230.050. However these were all snapped up on release!
Roco CFL NoHab, [also in “N” gauge], is now in the shops.   They have also now released their SNCB series 204 NoHab, [type 54], ref 63475 @ 160 -€180. Their latest International Collection has few Benelux items, those included are:
NS Class 500/ 600 Diesel at £90
NS Sliding wall wagon at £14
NS 2 axle closed wagon at £10.30
NS 2 x 2 axle tank wagons at £41
CFL Bogie stake wagon with steel load at £24
Marklin are advertising a new series of SNCB freight wagons exclusively for sale in Train City on Blankenberge Pier, these are:
Wagon Transport des Poissons scale 1, HO & N,
Wagon kangarou “Gilis-Driesen” in HO scale,
Wagon container “Godiva” scale HO, and
Old time wagon “St Feuillien” in scale HO.
In addition Marklin have released a set [4] of Z gauge SNCB Cereal wagons [firm CITA]. 
From end August, Mehano are releasing their HO scale G2000DLC diesel loco.
Probably a coincident, following Nieuwsbrief article on signalling, but Jocadis have released a series of Époque IV / V colour light SNCB signals.
Two New Model Shops have opened, these are:
CL-Decor in Stationsstraat 79, B-8340 Sijsele. Tel: 00.32.50.35.04.62, E-Mail “cl.decor@proximedia.be”. Saturday appears to be the only day open during “normal” hours. Other openings are either afternoon or evenings.
Cornucopia bvba, in Zwijnaardsesteenweg 56, B-9000, Ghent. Tel: 00.32.9. 371.48.59. E-Mail “info@cornucopia.be”. Normal weekday opening
Those members who visited the Eastleigh 2003 Eurotrack may have seen Martin Petch’s HO model of the SNCB AM 96 emu. This months Train Miniature has an in-depth article as to how Martin made this model using a LS Model I11 coach and the Australian made “Black Beetle” motor unit.   

Book Reviews

Chemins de Fer Belges - Horaires des Train - 1935 edition. Available from PFT at €20 plus €5 p & p, [French Text]. This is a complete record of all Belgian and Luxembourg railway / tramway timetable for 1935. Connecting International services are also included. In addition fare and freight costs are also included plus Luxury supplements. Generally the quality of reproduction is good, but there are several faint pages. One useful item is a map of the two countries rail system.
“Schmalspurbahnen in Luxemburg” by Ed Federmeyer, [German text], and published in 1991 by Groupement des Amis du Rail [G.A.R.] a.s.b.i. in Luxembourg, price €51. [Available from MBSL in Strassen]. This is a detailed history of the minor railways in Luxembourg [which were generally meter gauge]. The book is in two volumes: Volume 1 of 417 pp details the infrastructure of the lines including maps, station plans, buildings, gradient profiles etc.; Volume 2 of 498 pp details the extensive assortment of motive power used. In addition this volume lists many timetables and working practices. The book is exceptionally detailed and includes many black & white photographs of trains and stations generally in the pre war era. Where data is available technical specifications of the motive power used is included. Judging by some of the photographs, there seemed to be many incidents of collisions and derailments on these lines. One surprising omission is the Prince Henri line from Echternach to Diekirch which closed in 1964.
“La Ligne du Luxembourg” by Jean Dubuffet, [French text - 107 pp], and published in 1997 by C.F.F.L. editions of Rixensart in Belgium, price €24. [Generally available, e.g. from PFT, Train Miniature or Jocadis in Enghein]. This is a very readable account and history of the Bruxelles to Luxembourg line, [albeit terminating at the border village of Sterpenich], from its building until current times. The book has numerous B & W and colour photographs, some of which are of historic value, and includes early anecdotes and interesting details of incidents throughout the lines operation. Some of the early operating practices were somewhat “casual”.
“Lok - Modelle Pflegen + Reparieren” issued by Alba Modellbahn Praxis, [German text - 141 pp], and published by Alba, price €14.50. [Available from MBSL in Strassen]. This is the only book I have found which deals thoroughly with model maintenance, repairs and enhancements. All aspects of maintenance and repairs are covered for both motive power and rolling stock. In addition there are separate chapters covering wheels, couplings and lighting. The book is exceptionally well illustrated by photographs, [many in colour], and in addition includes many useful addresses.

Review by Phil Colton
Railways in the Netherlands (A brief history 1834-1994) by Augustus Veenendaal jnr.
This is a book of real quality and is the first about Dutch Railways I have seen which is written in English.  It is a brief history in that it does not go into great depth but gives an easily read overview of how the railways we know and love today have developed.  The book contains many interesting black and white pictures within its 235 pages.  It is quite expensive at £37.97 but I obtained it for a good deal less and it is very good value even at the full price.  ISBN: 0-8047-3947-1

New Publications

Balade Vincinale en Belgique “Tramreis door België” [French & Flemish text 176 pp] covers tramways from the Schelde to the Sambre during the period 1950 to 1975. Editions du Cabri @ €45.
Le Chemin de Fer du Bocq [French text 80 pp], an update of the decade earlier publication.  PFT editions @ €17, if purchased with the Video Ciney - Spontin - Yvoir [Ligne 128] a combined cost of €33.

Video Reviews

“The Railways of the Netherlands - Part 1 South” [TTR33] available from FHP [Ticket to Ride] @ £ 18.50 or £21 DVD - less 10 % for BRS members. Once again Ticket to Ride has produced a high quality interesting video. This provides a good general coverage of the Railways and Tram ways in the Roosendaal to Den Haag corridor. It makes a refreshing change from those others on the market which merely show an endless procession of trains with no commentary.   The commentary is relevant and informative, and there are sufficient “asides” to make this video interesting to wives and partners. Question - how come Tim always seems to find sunshine whilst in Belgium and The Netherlands?

Return to the Low Land

By Robert Palmer

After an absence of far too many years, I finally managed to pay a short visit to Holland with the main reason being a visit to EuroSpoor and then travel around and view the expansion works which have taken place over the last few years.  As I am more interested in what the trains actually run on than the trains themselves there should be plenty to keep me interested for the short stay.  Originally the intention was to travel with Allan Haynes (our former treasurer), but a couple of weeks beforehand he managed to seriously hurt his back, so in the end I was on my own.

I travelled on the 08.30 from Norwich on 17th October to catch the 10.40 HSS sailing from Harwich to the Hoek.  Whilst waiting in Ipswich for the connection to Harwich a class 57 pulled into the station with a long freightliner heading for Felixstowe, the international train from the rest of Greater Britain turning out to be a ‘bubble car’.  The sea crossing was hardly any rougher than the Anglia Railways journey to Harwich.  The HSS Discovery certainly has some impressive machinery to propel it through the water at 50 mph.  According to the on-board literature there are 4 gas turbines which provide a combined output of 100,000 hp and each of the 4 water jet propulsion engines pumps about 50,000 litres of water every second (I could do with one of them for my fish pond!).  Arrival at the Hoek was just about on time and a DD-IRM set was waiting as the boat train to Amsterdam.  Hoek van Holland station is a bit depressing for a railway enthusiast.  It is on of the few stations in Holland to have ‘shrunk’ over the last two decades, there are long platforms, long deserted where once long international boat trains to many parts of Europe arrived and departed in tune with the boat sailings.

The journey to Rotterdam, my first ever on a DD-IRM set, was uneventful, viewed from the upper deck.  At Schiedam the first new signs infrastructure development loomed high up on the right-hand side, this was the Metro extension to Schiedam, although the first part that you see from the Hoek end is actually the reversing siding as this is currently the end of the line.  Does anyone know whether it is scheduled to go any further?  As the track level is considerably higher than the main line for no obvious reason, it would suggest that it is destined to cross over it at some time in the future.  Next change was the demolition of part of the north curve at Rotterdam and the construction of a flyover for one of the tracks on the north side.  These are to accommodate the new high speed line, evidence of whose construction can be seen in the form of piling work just to the north of the former north curve.  As I soon discovered at Rotterdam, this was an unfortunate time to be in Holland as from 18th to the 31st October, ProRail were carrying out track replacement works on the Moerdijk Bridge leading to service reductions and re-routings.  After a short break it was on to Dordrecht on a stopping train.  The four tracking has now been completed through to here with evidence of the Betuwe line in the form of fly-overs around Barendrecht and Kijfhoek.  I must confess that either I was ‘asleep’ with my eyes open or there are few signs visible, but I did not see any sign of the HSL on this section.

I took a short break at Dordrecht to watch operations for a few minutes from the footbridge.  Whilst there a ShortLines class 66 trundled through, almost coming to a halt, and seemingly with very little effort accelerating its train away again.  Shortly after this another freight train came into view and came to a halt just as a Benelux push-pull came into the station.  The freighter was a 3x 6400 combination with a few dozen German bogie hoppers in tow, presumably iron ore from the Maasvlakte.  Much to my surprise this then accelerated out whilst the push-pull was carrying out station duties, presumably the NS were making use of the two-way signalling to get the passenger train past the freight?  I then boarded a train for my ultimate destination, Eindhoven.  Evidence of the new HSL was much more obvious on this section with track-bed preparations and bridge building, indeed the new Moerdijk bridge appeared to be almost complete structurally.  There is evidence of construction work on the existing line at Breda, is there due to be a connection to the HSL here?  The two freight trains which passed through Dordrecht earlier were waiting in the sidings at Breda.  I did not stop over in Tilburg, but just saw one or two ex DR 232’s, presumably in DB Cargo livery and a couple of class 66’s with no livery applied, amongst others.  Between Gilze-Rijen and Tilburg West it looks like they are building another station, can anyone confirm this?  After Tilburg it was an uneventful ride to Eindhoven, although the first time I had travelled over the quadrupled section from Boxtel.  Whilst walking away from the station to find my hotel, the aforementioned 6400’s and DB hoppers went screeching through the station.
Saturday had been set-aside for EuroSpoor, journeying to Utrecht on an extremely full 12-coach train (of which 2 coaches were double-deckers); they certainly use their trains there!  The journey to Utrecht still had some ‘new works’ to view, firstly of course the aforementioned quadrupling from Eindhoven to Boxtel followed by the enlarged facilities at ‘s-Hertogenbosch.  Then the Betuwe line crossing and connections around the Geldermalsen area and finally the shuttle tram between Houten and Houten Castellum.  Are there any development plans for this short shuttle tram?  It doesn’t look like it could be extended at the Houten end as it terminates at a terminal platform, presumably it could be extended past Castellum!  In Utrecht itself, it looks as though the space for a further island platform has been cleared although there is no sign of any construction as yet.

I was hoping to include a glowing report of the EuroSpoor exhibition, but regrettably after paying €12 to get in you are presented with two halls more suited for staging exhibitions of an outdoor nature than indoors, with uneven floors, chunks missing from the cable duct coverings, ‘crowd control’ crush barriers and mains leads trailing across public walkways.  From the safety aspect I do not think any exhibition manager of a UK organisation would have dared to risk it.  I will leave you to decide which would be more acceptable, but in this instance I know to what side of the line my judgement would fall.  There were several layouts to look at, but far too many of them with very low modelling standards, and lots of traders in a ‘swapmeet’ where the prices for continental items seem to be just as high as in this country!  For what it is worth, in my opinion there were only 3 or 4 layouts worthy of the description ‘layout’.  One was Feering, an S4 (or should that be P4?) from the UK; one was a lovely historic model of Driebergen, which was not always operated to best effect (station starts and stops effected with the section switch rather than the controller) and an American outline from Germany.  How is it that when modellers model American outline they always seem to make a good job of track and scenery but move the subject to the continent and anything is allowed to pass, why have a nice gentle curve when a bend will do?  Having written the above, I did enjoy my (whole) day there, meeting the van der Flier family and also Phil and Charlie Colton and Mike Boutle whom I knew were travelling over for the weekend to visit the exhibition on Saturday and to do some line side photography on the Sunday.  Whilst lurking around Eindhoven station prior to returning to my hotel, one of the yellow class 2200’s (Strukton?) scuttled through the station from the north, but as it dived behind some coaches in another platform I was unable to see which one it was.

The remainder of my time was to be taken up doing what I like doing most (well whilst in Holland anyway), which is just riding the rails.  First up was a trip to Amsterdam, taking in the quadrupling work between Utrecht and Duivendrecht, which is taking shape along most of this section, and the interchange at the latter place.  The long viaduct to take freight trains heading to the north-west of the country away from Amsterdam Centraal station by routing them over the southern and western ring lines is taking shape at Duivendrecht.  Amsterdam Centraal itself is being modified for the inclusion of the north south metro line (anyone got more information on this?).  Either this is a very extensive undertaking or is being built by one man with a wheelbarrow; as a notice outside the station advises that the line will not be brought into use until 2011.  The extension westwards of the far platform (can’t actually remember the number, is it 15?) following the recent six tracking of the western approaches has been completed, and once the approach tracks have been re-aligned etc, the island platform next to it will also be extended.  Whilst approaching CS it struck me that not only is the railway one large construction site, so are all the major conurbations.  From memory this was also the situation when I first started to visit Holland in the mid-eighties; how many more office developments and housing developments do they need?  Is all of Europe moving there?  All the sidings between Amsterdam Muiderpoort and CS appear to be empty and unused, are they to be turned into yet more offices?  Incidentally, the former postal depot at the eastern end of the station is in the course of being demolished.  Following a short stop in Amsterdam I went for a quick visit to Amersfoort, another much enlarged station with a much enlarged office complex to accompany it!  Just outside the station the former postal unit now converted to the Eurail Scout was resting and opposite the platforms was another former postal unit in full RaiLion livery (what is this used for?).

Returning to Schiphol I noticed that the west facing curve from the Lelystad line (Gooiboog) is almost complete.  I recall that this was a line which the NS really didn’t want to build but the regional authority did, maybe it will ‘come into its own’ if and when the Zuiderzee line connection from Lelystad to Zwolle is ever built.  Between Duivendrecht and Schiphol much has happened since I last travelled this section, completion of the Snel tram line and quadrupling of the line to Schiphol from the junction with the western ring line and enlargement of the station at Schiphol itself.  From Schiphol the next trip was back to Centraal.  Another part of the freight avoiding line; the Hemboog at Sloterdijk, which is also largely on viaduct is also taking shape although I must confess I did not see any signs of the southern or western ring lines being expanded to accommodate the additional traffic, or more importantly any signs of how the trains will get from the southern ring line to the western ring line!  Hopefully someone will be able to let us know what is proposed to happen here.

From Amsterdam it was back to Duivendrecht for a short photo session.  It is really quite busy here, even on a Sunday, with two NS lines and two Metro lines, although one of them has no station.  From Duivendrecht it was on to Leiden, before Hoofddorp had been reached the preparation works for the high-speed line could be seen.  It appears that the track will be laid on a continuous bed of reinforced concrete as this follows the ordinary line until curving south just before Nieuw Vennep.  Last time I was in Leiden the station building was still being reconstructed and I do not think they had started reconstruction and enlargement of the station itself; likewise, the quadrupling of the line to Den Haag had not been completed.

From Den Haag CS it was back to Utrecht.  Shortly after leaving the station the sidings at Binckhorst (?) are passed which are also being enlarged.  Being something of a cynic I cannot decide whether they are being enlarged to accommodate all the new stock being built or acquired or whether they are acquiring new stock to fill up the additional sidings they are building!  Reason for the indecision is that whenever you travel through the larger stations there are always hundreds of passenger vehicles standing around doing nothing, even in rush periods, yet the NS is always moaning that it is short of stock, maybe they should try running some of the idle stock occasionally!  Anyway, a bit further on and there looks to be what will be another large housing development at Nootdorp, and just past Zoetermeer station the high speed line comes into view again, on viaduct for as far as the eye can see in both directions.

The layout at Gouda has been altered again since my last visit as the line from Alphen a/d Rijn has been moved onto the old alignment of the line from Den Haag and over a separate bridge at Gouda, again using the original alignment.  As our train passed under the road bridge before the ‘junction’, the train from Rotterdam was approaching and as we negotiated the flyover we were more or less directly above it.  We kept moving slowly all the way into the station where our two trains were combined.  Again, Woerden has been rebuilt and the flyover built which connects to the Amsterdam Utrecht line has been built since my last visit.
From Utrecht it was back to Eindhoven and the following day (Monday), no new ground was covered before the sea journey back to Blighty, leaving Eindhoven just before 10.00; the train was again very well loaded, even at that relatively late hour in the day.  However, north of Eindhoven, the new Vossloh diesel (pictured in issue 46 but now painted in ShortLines livery) was spotted delivering containers to a (private?) siding and a few seconds later a DLC class 66 headed south doing what DLC class 66’s seem to do best, hauling trains of empty wagons, in this instance empty car transporters.  (This comment follows on from seeing a photo in the April 2003 Rail Magazine of a DLC class 66 hauling a train of container flats with one container present.  The caustic comment from the magazine was that the loading of the train offered potential for growth!).  The sea crossing back to the UK was I think the roughest I have ever experienced (certainly in daylight hours and without the benefit of a cabin), but still did not deter the ship from charging through the water at 50 mph!  I shudder to think what the crossing would be like in anything approaching a gale!  You instinctively knew when England had been sighted as the ship slowed to a crawl.  It’s like being back at school and running down the corridor and slowing down to walking pace as soon as a teacher is spotted.  It probably took as long to dock in Harwich from the time land was sighted as it did to get to that point from the Hoek!
Thus ended my short visit.

 

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