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Published by membersonly, 2018-03-21 02:52:34


24th March 2018




This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.

Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.

International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY


The picture is from a calendar produced
by SZD, which is the Slezské zemské
dráhy, better known as the narrow
gauge railway from Třemešná ve Slezsku
to Osoblaha. Trains like the one in the
picture still work this branch in the
north east of the Czech Republic.
The calendar is on display in the railway
museum at Kyjov, east of Brno, which is
in a disused signal box by the road
crossing at the north end of the station
and includes a collection of railway
memorabilia as well as a small model
For some members the picture may
bring to mind the famous scene in the
Railway Children, where the children
warn the Engine Driver of the landslip
by waving red coloured undergarments.
Certainly these young ladies would have
no problem attracting the Engine
Drivers complete attention.


[112] France - Re-development of Mulhouse Station
SNCF Réseau has announced plans for the re-development of Mulhouse station. The present layout
dates from 1957 and reflects the traffic levels of that era. Today Mulhouse, the second busiest station
in Alsace, handles 4.7 million passengers a year and 250 train movements a day covering TGV, TER and
freight services. Traffic approaches the station from five routes, Strasbourg, Kruth, Müllheim, Basle
and Belfort, and with its mix of French and German railway heritage sees both left and right hand
running. The present layout results in congestion and limited capacity.
The re-development will consist of two components. The first is a €68 million re-signalling that is part
of the overall centralized network control (CCR) operation for the French network, conducted and
financed 100% by SNCF Réseau, and aimed at consolidating traffic control from the current 1500
locations to 16 main centres across France. The opportunity will be taken to increase the flexibility of
the Mulhouse layout with more either way running, particularly on the Basle route, to avoid conflicts
at crossovers.
The second element is a €47 million project, mainly funded by the State and the Region to increase
capacity at the station. An additional running line and platform face will be created on the north-east
side of the station to provide a dedicated platform and approach for services to Müllheim and
Freiburg. This will allow a more frequent service, while Colmar services will use the opposite platform
face to provide easier connections. Two of the island platforms will be extended at the east end of the
station to increase to six the number of platforms able to accommodate double TGV sets. Some
trackwork alterations will also be made, in conjunction with the re-signalling, to create new diagonal
crossovers and increase flexibility. This will also enable the approach speeds to be increased to 60km/h
improving the running times of the TER 200 services.

[113] France – Laon to Paris Est service to terminate in Northern Paris? Correction and update
First the correction – for Paris Est read Paris Nord, services from Laon having always terminated there.
And it seems are likely to continue to do so, as a very well informed correspondent has investigated
and found that diversion of the service is unlikely to happen.

[114] Germany - Uelzen to Dannenberg West line being lifted
This is line 1963 and had been out of use for so long that it was overgrown with vegetation which had
to be cleared before lifting could commence at Molzen at the beginning of February east to the local
council boundary at Stoetze km 18.9. However not all is being lifted - some of the line is in a nature
reserve so whilst tracks can be removed the ballast cannot (probably as lizards etc., live there - exactly
the same happened at the new Berlin airport - the old aircraft fuel line is lifted but not the ballast) and
so Stoetze to Dannenberg West remains with track and is likely to do so for some time. Uelzen town
council has pre-emption rights to buy the connecting line to Uelzen Hafen as far as Molzen. Harbour
expansion is planned so this may happen.

[115] Germany – Freight branch reopens
The Donautalbahn runs between Donauwörth and Ingolstadt, with the town of Neuburg at the halfway
point. A few kilometres east at km 16.8 is Neuburg Grünau from where a short branch runs north
towards the Donau (Danube) to serve the Verallia Deutschland glassworks. The line had been closed
for several years, but has been reopened with 1-2 trains per week.

[116] Germany – Heritage service extended due to bridge repairs
Bohmte is on the main line between Bremen and Osnabrück, and from the adjacent Bohmte Ost
station line 9168 runs east to Preußisch Oldendorf. However due to bridge works the line between
Wehrendorf and Bohmte is severed from 3 April until 15 June. Because of this, on four dates trains of
the Museums-Eisenbahn Minden will be extended eastwards from Preußisch Oldendorf along the old
line to Holzhausen-Heddinghausen as far as Offelten, thereby reopening this short section of line after
about 30 years.

[117] Hungary - Work begins on Budapest tram extension
Work started on construction of the southern extension of Budapest tram line 1 on 11 November. The
project will extend the line 1.7km from Fehérvári út to a new four-track terminus at Etele tér adjacent
to Kelenföld main line station and the terminus of metro Line 4. It is due for completion in early 2019.
In addition to the extension, the project encompasses the rebuilding of the 1.6km Győrffy utca -
Mester utca section of Line 1.

[118] Italy – Tram and Metro atlas available
A new A4 sized atlas of Italian tram, "metro", and regional lines has been published. The 44 maps show
details for 52 cities and their surrounding areas. Although in Italian this is likely to be of especial
interest to gricers as it shows all the routes planned to be in operation for 2020 once current works are
completed. The author is Andrea Spinosa and the atlas is available from at a cost of €20.

[119] Italy – Lercara Variante opens on Palermo to Agrigento railway
The December timetable change on 10 December 2017 saw the opening of the Lercara Variante (see
BLNI 1281.192 for more detail and e-BLNI for map). This big new cut-off runs through the 2.787 km
long Lercara Nuova tunnel and simultaneously the old route from Roccapalumba-Alia (km 69 + 200) to
Castronovo di Sicilia (km 84 + 500) was closed.

[120] Netherlands - Amsterdam Tram and Metro Update 2018
After a decade of construction (and associated disruption!), the North-South Metro line is finally
scheduled to open on 22 July 2018. The Metro will extend rail-based public transport beyond Centraal
Station to Amsterdam North (of the IJ) for the first time since the ferry–connected metre gauge
‘Waterlandse Tram’ network was closed in 1956. (Their splendid wooden Ferry terminal at CS was
rebuilt after demolition for the original metro works and serves as the GVB - Amsterdam Transport -
and Tourist Information Office).
The Metro opening will see the biggest reorganisation of the Amsterdam Tram network for a
generation. The full details (in Dutch!) can be found in the ‘Concept of Transport Plan for the opening

of the North South metro” or “Beter bereikbaar in een drukkere stad Concept vervoerplan bij start
Noord/Zuidlijn” at:
For a reasonably accessible English summary, see the Dutch Wikipedia page: and use autotranslate (The English Wikipedia page
will no doubt be updated after it all happens…). For BLS Tram aficionados, part of Tram 7 route (Witte
de Withstraat) has already been abandoned (diversion via ‘de Hoofdweg’ because of track
deterioration). The changes will see the discontinuation of regular 14 services across Dam Square
(including closing the minimalist tram stop in Paleisstraat), and cessation of services on a lengthy
stretch of tram 16 in Oud Zuid district via De Lairessestraat and Cornelis Krusemanstraat. (Route 14
was actually only reinstated at Dam Square in 1982 after a wartime abandonment). Many other
services will be reorganised, and end up in different termini to the present one. Indeed, GVB
contemplated abandoning the current numbering system entirely, but decided that would be
altogether too confusing. Apart from decrepit Witte de Withstraat, it is not currently planned to
abandon any other track, to allow for diversions and shed journeys (the latter especially in Amsterdam
Zuid). Longer term plans (to 2025) include activating the tracks in ‘Haarlemmer Houttuinen’ which
were laid in 1985 (!) but never fitted with overhead or connected up (and we think Great Western
Electrification has problems…!).

[121] Spain - Expensive infrastructure with little if any use
There has been debate on the cost of PAET which are emergency or overtaking loops on AVE lines,
provided for operational reasons but which need to be equipped with a platform to disembark
passengers if required. See for example recent press rants about an AVE "station" being built at Otero
de Sanabria (population 26) at a cost of over €5M. Google "Otero de Sanabria estacion" for details.

[122] Spain - Adif to complete electrification of Spain - Portugal link
Infrastructure manager Adif expected to receive bids on 19 February for a €34.3m contract to electrify
at 25kV the final Salamanca - Fuentes de Oñoro section of the main line which connects Medina del
Campo with the Portuguese border. This is part of a €66m project to electrify the final section of the
main line from Irun on the French border to Lisbon and upgrade it for 200km/h operation. This section
also forms part of the European Union’s (EU) TEN-T Atlantic Corridor linking France and Germany with
the Iberian peninsula. The project is being co-financed by the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
Adif completed the electrification of the first part of the line from Medina del Campo to Salamanca
and its connection with the Madrid - Galicia high-speed line in December 2015, reducing journey times
by an hour.

[123] Switzerland – New tram to Ostermundigen approved
Building of a new tram line replacing the existing SVB Bernmobil bus line 10 has been approved in a
referendum. The cantonal contribution of CHF 102M was accepted with 51.6% yes against 48.4% no.
The Federal and the communal (municipalities of Bern and Ostermundigen) contributions had been
approved earlier. The tram line will branch off at Bern, Viktoriaplatz and end at Ostermundigen,
Sportplatzweg. An earlier project had included the last two stops of the current line 10 up to
Ostermundigen, Rüti. However, the steep road would have required quite expensive building,
including a tunnel. The municipality of Ostermundigen had voted no to this project.

[124] Australia - Portland, Victoria
The earliest European settlement (1834) in what became the state of Victoria, Portland is today a
holiday resort and major port. The original station, opened 19 December 1877 with the extension of
the line [Ararat – ] Maroona – Hamilton line, was located on the waterfront alongside Bentinck Street
with stopblocks below Cliff Street (see reference to town plan at foot of next paragraph). After closure
of the station from 6 May 1968, the whole site was landscaped – it is difficult to credit the change
without the clear impression of what the area previously looked like from the historical model of the
site in the tramway depot building. Rail reached the site by a bridge under Bentinck Street – while the
bridge itself was removed, the parapet on the seaward side was restored and this identifies where –
on the opposite side of the road – evidence of the former railway cutting is still to be seen in adjacent
house gardens. The line’s former course also explains why there is a gap in Otway Street – which has
never been completed. Passenger service was cut back to the North station, where a new passenger
station was officially opened on 29 June 1968 - platform still extant off Hedditch Street, adjacent to the
goods depot site. Passenger service was withdrawn from the whole line from 12 Sep 1981. The goods
depot site remains, with all its broad gauge track extant but abandoned – the layout has been useless
since the line’s gauge was changed from 5’3” to standard in 1995; the depot is, appropriately, reached
via Freight Road. About 1.5km further on (i.e back towards the junction), the line to the new port
(opened 1960) ( handling alumina (bauxite), grain, forest products (woodchips
and logs) and aluminium ingots, swings away round the west side of town. This, and the line to
Hamilton, is in active use, having been converted from 5’3” gauge and reopened as standard from 23
May 1995.

View from the site of Bentinck Street bridge (the "replaced" parapet on right),
looking down over the landscaped 1877 station site, with the tram track climbing
centre. The museum is away ahead of photographer, the water tower way behind.

a similar view from the "replaced" parapet looking down on the old station site. You can
just make out tram shelter no. 4, centre under tree, partway down the tram incline.

Portland is also home to the Portland Cable Trams – a somewhat
misleading title as only the trailer cars are relics of the former Melbourne cable car tram system which
was abandoned (on being superseded by electric trams) in 1940; the cars are hauled now by diesel-
powered replicas of the erstwhile cable haulage vehicles. So don’t go looking for a cable trough along
the line! The line, which was only constructed this century, opened in March 2002, having had no
predecessor here. It is 3.7km long and journeys start at the depot at the western end of Bentinck
Street, running five round trips every day (not just seasonally). “Trains” (power car plus trailer) first
proceed north to Powerhouse (actually serving a vintage motor car museum in former gas works
building – “powerhouse” has nothing to do with powering the tramway!) where the tram uses a
balloon loop, returning via its depot for a run parallel to the shore through the (landscaped) area of
the original railway station, climbing to an old watertower now housing a World War II museum. Here
the “train” reverses by means of a triangle (wye in American parlance) to return by the same route.
The route is shown – rather schematically – at:- –
incidentally, the yellow area just to the left of stop 4 marks most of the old VR station site.

Car at watertower/WW2 museum (the leading vehicle is the diesel-powered replica haulage vehicle)
"train" (haulage vehicle facing us) alongside the tramway museum building

"train" (haulage vehicle facing us) alongside the tramway museum building

[125] Australia - Melbourne opens elevated rail alignment
Revenue services began operating on a new elevated alignment through the Melbourne suburb of
Noble Park on 15 February, when the Victoria state government’s Level Crossing Removal Authority
commissioned the first section of viaduct on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line.
A 2.7 km section of the city’s busiest suburban line through the southeast suburbs is being rebuilt on
an elevated alignment under an A$1.6bn contract awarded in February 2016. The work to grade-
separate nine busy level crossings and rebuild five stations will facilitate the operation of a more
intensive train service in conjunction with construction of the cross-city Metro Rail tunnel.
Opening of the first section, including the new station at Noble Park, has allowed the removal of the
level crossings at Corrigan, Heatherton and Chandler roads, which were used by more than 40 000
vehicles per day. The line already carries more than 275 trains per day, including Metro Trains
Melbourne suburban services, V/Line regional passenger trains and freight services to the Dandenong
region. This led to the gates at each crossing being closed for more than 80 min during the morning
peak period. According to the authority, there had been 60 incidents at the three crossings over the six
year period. Heatherton Road had the worst safety record of all the 50 level crossings identified for
removal, seeing three vehicle collisions between 2011 and 2017 and 15 near-misses in 2016-17 alone.
Following completion of the elevated structure, a two-week blockade was needed to connect up the
track and overhead line equipment. All services were suspended between Westall and Dandenong
from 30 January and replaced by a bus shuttle.

The remaining six level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong are due to be removed by the end
of the year, with the opening of the remainder of the elevated alignment and rebuilt stations at
Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale and Clayton. Meanwhile, work will continue to complete the
station facilities at Noble Park and remove the ground-level infrastructure to make way for a new
public open space.

[126] Panama – The Panama Canal Railway visited
One of the easiest ways to grice the railways of Central America is from a cruise ship. Our
correspondent was thus looking forward to an excursion called "Costa Rica by Rail and Canal" when he
was berthed at Puerto Limón on the 18th January. Unfortunately the train bit was cancelled due to
flooding and he never even got to the station. It seems rather ironic that a railway built to transport
bananas through a rain forest would be unable to cope with rain. This clip shows the line that they
were intended to do.
A day later the ship was docked at Colón in Panama and our member was relieved to see that the
weather had improved and the excursion "Panama Canal Railway and Locks by Standard Train" would
go ahead. The Panama Canal Railway is primarily a freight line providing a link between the Pacific and
Atlantic oceans for cargoes not wishing to use the very expensive eponymous canal. It sees only one
scheduled passenger train per day in each direction (SSuX), departing Panama City at 07:15 and
returning from Colón at 17:15. These services are aimed at commuters between the two ports. With
Colón being a rather rough city, these are not attractive timings for the independent traveller. In
between times, the stock is used for cruise-ship excursions whose passengers pay considerably more
than the 25 dollar single-fare asked of locals (who can pay on the train). However it is worth it. After a
stop at the canal visitor centre at Agua Clara and a drive across the country to the capital, our
member's coach eventually took him to Panama City's modern single-platform station. This is on a
short spur in the suburb of Corozal, some four miles from the city centre, off the main line to Balboa
port. There is a large waiting hall with a small shop, but he was given very little time to explore or take
photographs. The wood-panelled coaches were comfortable and an observation car was also offered
at a supplement. His train did not linger and covered the 48 miles in about an hour. On-board
refreshments were on sale from a trolley. The non-electrified standard-gauge line is mainly single track
with passing loops. One freight train passed them. The Atlantic passenger station at Colón is also on a
short spur close to the port and city. While the single platform is attractive, there are no facilities for
passengers. There the excursionists were reunited with their coaches, which had beaten the train, for
the transfer back to the ship through the down-at-heel city.

Colon platform
Panama City platform

PCR loco at Colon

[127] Turkey (Asiatic) – Trains to return to Istanbul Haydarpasa
Since 2013 Istanbul Haydarpasa railway station has not seen any train traffic after being shut for
restoration work and a major upgrade of Turkey's railway network. Built in the first decade of the 20th
century as Europe's gateway to the east, Istanbul Haydarpasa railway station stands proudly on the
Asian side of the Bosphorus, its gothic towers looming over the waters. The imposing facade has
witnessed and survived more than a century of turbulent and sometimes tragic history; the collapse of
the Ottoman Empire, World War I, the deportation of Armenians, military coups and a devastating
November 2010 fire that destroyed the roof. The situation sparked alarm among Turkish architecture
and heritage activists, who staged weekly demonstrations to salvage its future. In 2012, when the
number of trains pulling in and out of the station had already dropped off, Haydarpasa -- pronounced
Haydarpasha and named after the neighbourhood where it is located -- was placed on the watch list of
endangered heritage by the World Monuments Fund NGO. There was talk of making it a hotel or
shopping centre. However the station's future as a railway terminus seems to be assured after a period
of uncertainty and an official has said that "the trains will begin to arrive as of 2019." Once the station
is reopened, it should be the terminus for the new high-speed trains from Ankara which are currently
stopping in Pendik, well outside the centre, as well as again being a hub for commuter trains.
Haydarpasa station -- designed by two German architects -- was inaugurated in its current form in
1909, five years before the outbreak of World War I. It was a symbol of the friendship between the
Ottoman Empire and Imperial Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was determined to expand

Berlin's influence deep into the Middle East and had sealed a strong relationship with Sultan
Abdulhamid II. The station was to be the key hub of the kaiser's dream of a Berlin to Baghdad railway
passing through Constantinople, Aleppo and Mosul, with a branchline south to Damascus.
One of the darkest moments in its history came on 24 April 1915 when Haydarpasa was used as the
starting point for the deportation of the first convoy of Armenians rounded up in Istanbul.
It was also the starting point of the Istanbul-Baghdad train service -- the Taurus Express -- which
features in the opening chapter of Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" but is now
indefinitely suspended.

Haydarpasa station from the Bosphorus
[128] USA – Two minor railways in Hawaii
Report on the internet of a visit to the 3ft gauge Kauai Plantation Railway, just west of Lihue on the
Island of Kauai. #25, a GE 25 tonner (1948/29241) was in use on the 3km figure of eight track.
Also visited was the 3ft gauge railway of the Hawaiian Railway Society at Ewa on the island of Oahu.
#423, a 45 ton Whitcomb was in use on the 10km run to Kahe Point. There's no run round so the loco
propels back.
[129] USA - PTC costs to shut part of Utah commuter line
Transit officials in Utah plan to suspend services on a section of commuter railway connecting the
suburbs north of Salt Lake City, citing the prohibitive cost of complying with new federal safety rules
mandating PTC (Positive Train Control). The FrontRunner commuter rail service from Ogden to
Pleasant View, with the lowest ridership in the Utah Transit Authority system, will be suspended
indefinitely from 12 August 2018, with, possibly, a bus replacement. Pleasant View sees two trains a

day northbound, and four trains southbound. Traffic is restricted by an agreement with Union Pacific
since the northern Weber County commuter line opened in 2008. The FrontRunner services involved
run over Union Pacific tracks scheduled to be upgraded with Positive Train Control by December. The
Utah authorities want to eventually acquire their own right-of-way to build a line from Ogden north to
Pleasant View, as well as to expand north to Brigham City in Box Elder County.

[130] Vietnam - Excerpts from a trip report
All trains are compulsory reservation and had been booked in advance through It is
possible to turn up and buy tickets on the day but some of the popular trains will be sold out. In
addition, DSVN/NVR (Vietnam Railways) don’t like passengers milling around on platforms so once
leaving a train you’re often ushered off the platform and the waiting room doors will be locked behind
you until the next train is due. There’s often a way round this but even then, only one door per train is
opened (padlocked shut when on the move!) and every door is stewarded – no ticket, no entry. There
were only had two exceptions to this all week – they managed to blag their way onto an empty stock
move from Gia Lam to Long Bien (they had a ticket for the train from Long Bien and showed the
“colleague” photos), and when unable to buy a ticket from Hanoi to Gaip Bat, they used a back-route
onto the platform, played the colleague card again and were let on for free. There are loads of
intermediate staffed stations on the network without a train service that are just used as passing loops
making it difficult to switch between services but helping to keep the timekeeping reasonably
punctual. The network is all metre gauge except for a dual metre/standard gauge line to Dong Dang
and a standard gauge line to Hanoi.
Saigon – Da Nang:- There are nine daily departures from Saigon of which four are overnights. Five
trains go to Saigon, one goes to Hue, one goes to Nha Tang and two branch off the mainline (one to
Phan Thiet and one to Quy Nhon). There is one train a day that’s booked down the branch to Quy
Nhon but it was terminated at the junction shack of Dieu Tri instead on the day they were on it.
Da Nang area:- All passenger trains reverse in the station and all seem to re-engine. Freight services
can use an avoiding curve to the west of the city. Trains SE21/SE22 run from/to Hue, about three hours
north of Da Nang. Both trains were banked by D11H over the Hi Van pass between Lang Co and Kim.
Freight services appear to be banked as well but trains with D19E locomotives appear to go over the
pass unassisted.
Da Nang – Hanoi:- Several D19E were seen on freight in the southern Hanoi suburbs and a couple of
branch lines were viewed, presumably freight only.
Hanoi area (general):- There are five local routes radiating from Hanoi. Four of them head out via Long
Bien to Gia Lam but it seems as though daytime services are suspended between Hanoi and Long Bien
between 07:00 and 19:00, possibly due to the high volume of road traffic negotiating the level
crossings. This creates a problem for DSVN as Long Bien is a single platform, so some trains have to be
dragged ECS to/from Gia Lam. All trains ran through on Saturday.
Hanoi – Lao Cai:- This route runs via Gai Lam and then branches off at Yen Vien. Our intrepid explorers
only got as far as Dong Anh as there is only one day train on the route and that only runs half way up
the branch to Yen Bai. The other two services are overnights, one has single a seating coach at each
end of a dozen sleepers, the other is sleepers only.
Hanoi – Quan Trieu:- Another branch with one solitary service which stables overnight! It branches off
the Lao Cai route at Dong Anh. This was one of the services that required a drag to/from Long Bien.

Hanoi – Hai Phong:- The busiest of the local routes with four passenger services a day as well as freight
services to the docks. The route branches off at Gai Lam.
Hanoi – Gia Lam - Dong Dang:- Gia Lam is the starting point of the only standard gauge operation in
the country and this route is dual gauge throughout. The standard gauge service through to China runs
from here and the Chinese stock stables on one of the two dual gauge tracks at Gia Lam during the day
meaning that the other standard gauge service (to Ha Long) only operates from the next station, Yen
Vien, as it can’t run round at Gia Lam! It appears that local tickets are available on the Chinese train to
Bac Ninh and Dong Dang (the border).
Yen Vien – Ha Long:- Yen Vien is the rather inconvenient starting point for the daily standard gauge
service to Ha Long due to the lack of run round facilities at Gia Lam. This is the only standard gauge
service run by DSVN and there’s no connection to or from Hanoi so a lengthy taxi ride is required. The
train heads out on the dual gauge towards Dong Dang but reverses at Kep from where the line is
purely standard gauge. However, things might be changing as the huge station at Ha Long is equipped
with five dual gauge platforms, there were loads of rails and dual gauge sleepers dumped in stations
along the route and several passing loops were dual gauge. So it appears as though the route is in for a
serious upgrade including possible realignment to speed things up. The current one round trip a day is
a 30 km/h stagger with a D14E and three ropey old coaches, mainly used by locals taking their produce
to the market which opens up on the platform at Ha Long upon arrival. The town itself seems to be
undergoing major development for tourism so a working hypothesis is that DSVN want to run more
trains and it’ll be easier to run metre gauge services to/from Hanoi on new track than it would be to
replace/increase the standard gauge stock. They speculate that the standard gauge freight operation
will continue to/from the docks. It was found that the easiest way to cover the passenger service was
to catch the 06:00 Hanoi – Hia Phong service, then taxi the 18km to Uong Bi. They arrived an hour
before the Ha Long train despite it starting its journey over an hour before them! Just to the east of
Uong Bi a metre gauge line was crossed which appeared to be a completely isolated 15km line running
from the riverside north into the hills – presumably with mineral traffic of some sort.

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