INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1246 5 DECEMBER 2015
BRANCH LINE NEWS
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 NEWS TEAM:-
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
On 24 October Mercia Charter’s, ‘The Eternal Tide’ started from the only remaining operational platform at the former
terminus station at Hoek van Holland, now a sad sight for a station from where passengers arriving by ferry from Harwich
Parkestone Quay would join international services to locations all over Europe. Today only the through lines to Hoek van
Holland Strand are used for local services, and even these will be converted to metro lines soon (see BLNI1231).
 Austria – New flyovers and diveunders to come into operation in Wien
The following sections of track are due to open at the timetable change on 13 December2015.
Connections from S-Bahn tracks after Matzleinsdorferplatz via separate flyovers for each direction (conflict
free junction) to Wien Hauptbahnhof platforms 3 and 4. Wien Hauptbahnhof is km99+947 and the
diveunder which will take a train departing platform 4 under one arriving into platform 3 from the Ostbahn
starts at km100+799 and ends at km101+088.
There is another diveunder that can be accessed from platforms 9 to 12. This will go under the majority of
lines and connects with the other diveunder at its eastern portal. It will be for trains heading towards
Simmering/Gänserndorf and points east. This starts at km100+745 and ends at km101+088.
Both diveunders will normally be used in the directions mentioned above only. Google maps has recently
been updated and there is a good view of the S-Bahn connection after Matzleinsdorferplatz.
 Finland - A Railway Touring Company tour (Part 2)
Seventh July started with a bus cross country to Orivesi (on the direct route from Toijala to Jyväskylä), from
where, once again with 1009 and its coaches, they branched north through Vilppula to Haapamäki, for
another museum-locoshed visit. Haapamäki was not to be missed, being the location of the biggest
concentration of extant steam locos in the country. Steam traction officially ended on VR in September
1974. The government then initially decided to retain a strategic reserve of 200 steam locos of four of the
most useful and versatile classes: Hr1 (4-6-2), Tr1 (2-8-2), Tk3 (2-8-0) and Vr2 (0-6-2T). This reserve was
disbanded in 1986, and a fair number of the locos ended up at Haapamäki. Some are restored, some are
being restored, more are braving the Finnish climate in the hope that one day their turn will come. Two
Russian locomotives were also present, 2-10-0s Nos л(L)2196 and Tэ(TE)3397, the latter ex-Deutsche
Reichsbahn 52.3397 (regauged ex-standard gauge). Incidentally, it appears there is, today, officially a 4mm
difference in track gauge between Russia and Finland (respectively 1520mm and 1524mm), but it doesn’t
hinder through running. In total there were 48 steam locos present, though our member missed one in a
locked outbuilding. Onward in the rain they continued, via Keuruu to Jyväskylä and on to Pieksämäki. Here
was a water and servicing stop in the station for 1009. A nice touch here was a local railway preservation
group having their restored class V1 0-6-0T No. 665 in steam, posing for photos with 1009. The tour then
continued to Savonlinna for the night, traversing a long freight only section from Huutokoski (junction for a
line to Joenssu which they would traverse later). Despite the track being in evidently good condition
(judging from their relatively rapid progress over it) they were told that Huutokoski to Savonlinna was
threatened with closure later this year. Savonlinna has a small, unstaffed, modernised one platform station
close to the town centre, served by a DMU shuttle to Parikkala. After depositing its passengers, 1009 and
train disappeared off down the line to a stabling siding at the next station, but propelled back to
Savonlinna the next morning.
The following day 1009 continued from Savonlinna to Parikkala, providing a runpast over a viaduct at
Savonlinna for those photographers who didn’t mind one station gap on their maps. That didn’t include
our member. Parikkala was a reversing point for the tour, and the closest point the group got to the post-
1945 Russo-Finnish border (I.e. after the U.S.S.R. helped itself to Eastern Karelia in the ‘WinterWar’ of
1939-40, etc.). They now proceeded north, tender first to Joenssu, and after a water and servicing stop,
continued further north to Nurmes for the night.
Ninth of July and another day, another loco. This day, for one day only, the tour had class Hv3 wood
burning 4-6-0 No, 995, locally based at Nurmes, with a different set of wooden coaches. The most
prominent features of VRs wood burning steam locomotives are a) the large bell-mouth spark arrester
chimneys, and b) the very high, extended fuel rails on the tender, so that the maximum amount of fuel
(usually birch logs) can be piled on, up to the loading gauge limit. So, another wet day as they continued
north to Kontiomäki, the most northerly station reached on the tour. It has an impressively large yellow
painted station building, with Russian style tinplate-sheet roofing. With 995 turned and back on its train,
the tour headed due south, with another servicing/photo stop at Iisalmi, and again at a closed station
called Pöljä. At the latter station, the platform was fenced off, but the building appeared to be in use as the
village shop, and many villagers came out to observe the proceedings. Beyond here, the tour branched
eastwards just before Siilinjärvi, onto a long, freight only line to Viinijärvi, near Joensuu. They shortly
passed the triangular junction for the freight only branch to Kemira. The latter location, home of a huge
fertiliser works, was noted as spawning a gigantic waste-tip, probably Finland’s biggest industrial eyesore.
(The name Kemira UK Ltd., will be familiar as owner of various (formerly?) rail-served fertiliser depots
around Britain). At Viinijärvi, the passenger network was rejoined on the Pieksämäki – Joensuu line, and
they continued to Joensuu for their overnight stop. 995 and its coaches would return e.c.s. to Nurmes.
 France - Notes from Nice
The Chemins de Fer de Provence is something of a ‘hidden gem’, and independent of RFF and SNCF, this
metre-gauge line runs for 151km from Nice to the spa town of Digne-les-Bains, serving 51 stations and
halts in its 3hr 15min journey. There is a reasonably intensive service of 24 trains each way (Monday to
Friday) over the southern section between Nice and Colomars La Manda, of which 9 down and 10 up
extend to Plan du Var, but only 5 per day beyond there. Services are operated by a variety of diesel
railcars, but on Sundays from May to October a steam-hauled train runs between Puget-Théniers and
Annot (with connections from Nice). The beautiful station building in Nice, with the legend “Chemin de Fer
du Sud de la France” inscribed in its stonework, is still standing but now looks out over a building site; the
former station site is undergoing redevelopment, but the replacement, some 200m up the line,
nevertheless provides an attractive and adequate modern 3-platform terminus.
Further south the buildings of the 6-platform Nice-Ville station of the former PLM company offer another
period architectural delight, but are currently in the throes of internal redevelopment, with the new SNCF
ticket office rather hidden away at the west end and not visible from the main concourse, resulting in long
queues of bewildered tourists trying to fathom the complexities of the ticket machines (which,
incidentally, take only cards or coins, and not bank notes). The adjacent tram stop is named “Gare Thiers”,
and this title also appears in local publicity, the station being located in Avenue Thiers.
And finally, the Nice tramway. Construction work is underway for the underground city-centre section of
Line 2, which will serve the Airport. Line 1, meanwhile, comprises a “V-shaped” route from north-west to
north-east via the city centre, wholly on-street but always in reserved lanes, and with traffic-light priority
ensuring minimal delays. Much of the north-eastern arm is attractively laid in grass-covered central
reservation. End-to-end journey time is around 35 minutes, including two sections taken on auxiliary
power, avoiding the need for overhead wiring across the main town squares of Massena and Garibaldi.
Beyond the north-west terminus of Henri Sappia, tracks continue in a rising spiral to enter the 5-road
depot which, interestingly, is glass-fronted, hence allowing public viewing; the other terminus, at Hopital
Pasteur, has a scissors crossover with both platforms in use, and there is an additional turnback siding at
the penultimate stop, Pont Michel, where there are panoramic views across the extensive SNCF freight and
rolling stock depots.
 France - The Ligne Cévenol is visited
Mentioned in BLNI 1242.359: The 1413 Nîmes – Clermont Ferrand (CF) is advertised with 1st Class, and
your correspondent and wife were (via a travel agent) in possession of such tickets, but the departure on
Monday 7 September was formed by a single standard class “suppository” DMU. In the station, the train
was on the screens and in announcements as for Clermont Ferrand, but on the vehicle as for La Bastide,
and an announcement confirmed that it would indeed be “autocar” from there to Langeac; a quick look at
the “horaire” (expiry date Decembre) on arrival at the latter confirmed a departure time of 17:48 (as
shown in the March European Rail Timetable used in initial planning of the trip); it was too close to
departure time to get an idea whether this was a temporary timetable or not. The three-car DMU from
Langeac did have 1st Class. Back at Nîmes, away on time and heading east, the unit crossed to the south
side of the layout and on to the single track which climbs up and swings over the main lines and the yard;
your correspondent understands that the viaduct is a relatively recent construction, and that as recently as
2010 such trains were required to reverse at the east end to access the Ligne Cévenol (this is the Viaduc de
Courbessac, reported in BLNI 1176.005 as opening 25 March 2013.Ed).
The stage to Alès was accomplished at a good speed; the train stopped at the relatively well-maintained
south end of the large - and long - station building there; to the east lie two island platforms, the nearest
of which has some “bus shelters”; the furthest has none, and only track on the east side; various DMUs
(the line is unelectrified throughout from Nîmes to Clermont Ferrand) were occupying those – there is a
service calling at the local stations to Nîmes. Beyond this is a large grass-overgrown yard with a handful of
virtually derelict vehicles. The Alès coalfield was a principal reason for the building of the line, with
Languedoc wines also contributing to its traffic. Beyond Alès, the line passes into country which justifies its
tag as “scenic”, accompanied by a drop in speed. Quite a few stations have been closed on the line, but it
appeared that some of these, still carrying the painted name on their large building, have been fenced off
and are in use as dwellings or suchlike. The line twists and climbs; at some stops passengers board or
alight; the unit has never been more than moderately loaded. Eventually, at La Bastide-St Laurent, junction
for the line to Le Monastier on the Ligne des Causses, and where there were some hoppers in the sidings,
everyone got out and (mostly) joined either of the two buses on offer; about 20 to 30 for Langeac; it made
its way through the Allier gorges and right through the town of Langogne to call at the station there, but
there was no custom. One novelty - not available on the railway – was the sight of a temporary traffic light
powered via jumper cables and the open bonnet of an adjacent car. The autocar element lasted 88
minutes and finished in Langeac station yard; there were loaded timber wagons in the sidings. From here
the country is more rural than rocky, and the passengers joining started to look more like suburbanites. At
Brioude, on a siding on the west side of the station was a diesel loco-propelled push and pull train, the
stock being reminiscent of the stainless steel EMUs seen on Parisian suburban trains. At Arvant, the Ligne
des Causses joins. Its double track back to Clermont Ferrand, where arrival was one minute early.
 Germany - Extracts from recent editions of Bahn Report, Der Schienenbus and IBSE Telegramm
Baden-Württemberg: - Aulendorf – Pfullendorf. The line has recently been bought by three of the
adjoining local communities. There was hope of reintroducing freight trains to Pfullendorf itself for a
company (Schweizer) Boxtango GmbH , but agreement could not be reached with a firm which occupies
the old container terminal site at Pfullendorf. Boxtango are instead receiving and dispatching their
container traffic from Ostrach, one of the intermediate stations on the branch.
Haltingen – Kandern. Locals are still trying to get the line reopened to regular passenger services despite
an adverse cost benefit analysis a few years ago.
East of Stuttgart the branch from Schorndorf to Rudersberg-Oberndorf continues as a heritage railway to
Welzheim. However beyond Laufenmühle a viaduct needs expensive renovation and the operating licence
expires at the end of 2015, calling the viability of the operation into question. Luckily the council in
Welzheim are committed to the tourist train and will pay for repairs. Trains will run to Laufenmühle until
the repairs are complete in 2017, when trains will return to Welzheim.
Meanwhile west of Stuttgart work to reopen the Weil der Stadt to Calw railway was reported in BLNI
1206.137 and 1242.361. The two existing tunnels (the 696 m long Forst Tunnel and the 554 m long
Welzberg tunnel) have now been rehabilitated and secured against human access. The local bat population
will presumably be ‘relocated’ at some point. A new tunnel to shorten the line will be built at Hacksberg.
Reopening should be in 2018.
Bayern:- Gotteszell – Viechtach. A trial regular service is set to start in September 2016. The line is
currently served by tourist trains only.
Wolfratshausen - Geretsried A 9.2 km extension of Munich S7 services beyond Wolfratshausen is planned,
but will not be open before 2024.
Schweinfurt - Kitzingen-Etwashausen A firm called Blumquadrat is involved with the acquisition of the
former US Harvey barracks at Kitzingen-Etwashausen. They would like to acquire the whole of the line to
maintain a connection for freight trains. At present Deutsche Regional Eisenbahn (DRE) lease the section
from Gochsheim to Kitzingen-Etwashausen. DB, who own the section from Gochsheim to Schweinfurt have
already advertised their section of the line for closure/takeover by third parties. The reason for the DB
move is the closure of the nuclear power station at Grafenheinfeld which generated 53 return journeys
over the line in 2013.
Niederbiegen - Baienfurt This line, which has had no goods traffic since 2012 has been advertised for
closure/ takeover by third parties.
In northern Bayern the branch from Bayreuth to Weidenberg has a passenger service, but the rest of the
branch has no traffic. One station beyond Weidenberg is Mengersreuth and line owners Deutsche
Regionaleisenbahn (DRE), have put the 7.3km from here to the final station of Warmensteinach up for
sale. This section closed to passenger use in 1993, and will close permanently on 10 January 2016 unless
someone buys it. Part of the line has already been demolished.
Berlin/Brandenburg: - Halensee – Tempelhof. DB wants to reopen this line to freight traffic in 2016 and
have it electrified by 2018. Through goods traffic was suspended in 2001.
Hessen:- Local politicians are said to be interested in reviving the Bad Wildungen to Hemfurth Edersee line
to improve access to the Edersee for tourists.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern:- Güstrow – Meyenburg. Discussions are still going on locally to see if a
passenger service can be reintroduced. In the meantime two excursions have run over parts of the line -
One ran Malchow - Karow - Güstrow on 11th July in connection with Warnemunde Woche and the second
on 8th August ran from Pritzwalk to Warnemunde.
Niedersachsen:- Schöppenstedt – Schöningen. Local groups would like to see this section of the line from
Helmstedt to Wolfenbüttel which closed in 2007 reopened to passenger trains to serve a tourist attraction,
the Forchungsunderlebniszentrum at Schöninger Speerer. The 2007 closure was to allow brown coal
Lüneberg - Dannenberg Ost. Having spent a number of years under threat of closure, this line is to see
track improvements which will reduce the journey time from 67 minutes to 45 minutes and allow a 2
Dannenberg Ost – Lüchow. Special trains due to take place on 3 October were cancelled as a result of the
need for bridge repairs.
Sande. Agreement has been reached for the construction of a new line to by-pass the town of Sande. The
by-pass will be of that part of the Sande- Esens line which runs through the centre of Sande. Work is
expected to start in 2017 and finish in 2020.
Rheine – Quakenbrück. Work started earlier in the year on construction of 4.6 km of track to serve Spelle-
Venhaus harbour. Construction should be finished by the end of 2015.
Bremerhaven - Additional tracks have been provided at the Kaiserhafen, further tracks are planned at the
Hafenbahnhof at Senator Borttscheller Strasse and at Speckenbüttel. The rail network at Bremerhaven is
said to be working at very close to its capacity at the moment. In 2014 at total of 30200 trains either
arrived or departed from the port with a peak of 660 in one week.
Nordrhein-Westfalen:- Between Soest and Paderborn is the junction station of Geseke, from where line
2963 headed south to Buren (Westfalia). The northern 4 km of this line had new ballast and wooden
sleepers replaced by steel sleepers completed by the end of September. A few months earlier the short
private line at the end of the DB Netz track was also renovated, so now the Elsa Cement Works has a
secure rail connection. The rest of line 2963 remains OOU.
Rheinland-Pfalz:- Bitburg-Erdorf is on the non-electrified line between Trier and Gerolstein. South of the
station line 3104 goes west to Bitburg; the line used to continue to reach Trier by a more westerly route
than the present line. The branch used to be owned by Stadt Bitburg, and shuttles sometimes ran on the
line, but the track has now been sold to Amprion who make and repair 200 tonne transformers. 9000
wooden sleepers are being replaced by cement ones, and the bridges are being strengthened to allow
Amprion to move the transformers by rail.
Sachsen:- Coswig - Dresden Neustadt. At present S-Bahn and local trains are able to use their own
separate tracks between Coswig and Radebeul Ost, but then have to share tracks with long distance trains
for the section onwards to Dresden Neustadt . The two new tracks from Radebeul Ost to Dresden Neustadt
are expected to open by March 2016.
Leipzig Stötteritz - Engelsdorf This line is currently used by S1 trains in Leipzig running from Miltitzer Allee
to Borsdorf, Wurzen and Oschatz. DB expects to rebuild the bridges, the station at Anger Crottendorf and
increase line speed to 80kph starting in 2018.
Dippoldiswalde - Kurort Kipsdorf. Almost 14 years after the line was severely damaged by floods,
reconstruction work is expected to start shortly.
Chemnitz Süd:- A 3.7km long industrial line opened in 1953 closed in April this year with lifting starting
almost immediately. The line once served rolling mills and other steel works. The reason for the closure is
given as the cost of having to upgrade the line, and in particular the level crossings.
Sachsen-Anhalt: Zeitz – Tröglitz. A chemical park near to Zeitz was served by trains from Zeitz itself until
June 2013, when a bridge at Tröglitz was washed away by floods. Since then rail access has been via
Altenburg and Meuselwitz. Money has now been found to rebuild the bridge, which should be complete by
the end of 2016.
Pratau - Bad Schmiedeberg. NASA, the organisation with overall responsibility for public transport in
Sachsen Anhalt has advertised for bids to run up to 11,000 train miles of "tourist" services over this line in
2016 and 2017.
Fordervereins Historische Westsachsische Eisenbahnen are trying to reopen the former narrow gauge line
6663 from Schönheide Ost (where the station has been restored) to Schönheide-Süd and ultimately
Muldenberg, to trains as well as the present draisine traffic. Progress is extremely slow, partly due to
finding funding and partly because the whole line is in a water protection zone with stringent controls on
the use of herbicides.
The closure and removal of the Mühlrose branch of the Waldeisenbahn Muskau NG railway has been
covered in BLNI1177.032. This was to clear the way for brown coal opencasting by Vattenfall, who also
agreed to fund a new 4km branch. Construction of this started on 29 October, and it will run on the edge
of the new working offering panoramic views of a big hole! It should be ready for use in April 2017.
A long metre gauge tram route runs from Halle (Saale) south to Bad Dürrenberg. Operator HAVAG has a
loss of 900K euro forecast for 2015 and service reductions proposed from 34 to 20 a day with services
ending at 18:00. The future of the line is now under discussion.
Thuringen:- Triptis – Unterlemnis. A local group have cleared some of the track of vegetation, possibly with
a view to operating draisines. The section involved is that from Triptis to the now missing bridge over the
BAB 9 road.
Line 6710, known as the Kanonenbahn, used to run Silberhausen – Geismar – Eschwege – Treysa and was
a railway affected by the division into East and West Germany after WW2. On the GDR side services
terminated at Geismar, services lasting here until 1992, after which further cutbacks were made and the
line decommissioned in 1998. Since then a draisine operation has been running from Lengenfeld unterm
Stein (km 31.4) west to Geismar (km 34.7) and east to Küllstedt (km 17.9). On 3 October 2015 draisine
operation became possible from Küllstedt to Dingelstädt (km 10.1). http://www.erlebnis-draisine.de
 Italy - Notes from an Italian holiday in late September
Paris - Milan TGV routing
The 10:41 Paris Gare de Lyon to Milano Porta Garibaldi service, having taken the Torino Porta Nuova
avoiding curve as booked, called at Torino Porta Susa using the right hand (in the direction of travel)
platforms. It then continued along the r/h lines (shown as under construction in the S&W atlas) before
taking the flying junction connection onto the old main line. Presumably the electrical arrangements
prevent the use of the high speed lines, which could have been used as far as the connection at Bianze.
Saronno – Seregno
This line, reopened to passengers in 2012, is used by the half hourly S9 service to Albairrate. The line, as
shown in the S&W atlas, left Saronno from the west side of the station and crossed over the main line, but
this has been superseded. The line still leaves Saronno on the west side of the station and initially climbs
away on the original formation but then curves right to run alongside the Milan line before entering a new
tunnel, passing under the line at Saronno Sud, where there is a low level station. The new line then climbs
to ground level where it rejoins the old formation about 2 km east of Saronno Sud. Both old and new lines
can clearly be seen on Google Earth. The remainder of the line is on the old formation.
Milano Lambrate - Pioltello Limito
The 17:00 Milano Lambrate to Brescia service, which commences its journey at Sesto San Giovanni,
departed from platform 1, the furthest east platform, and covered EGTRE line IT15/11. The description
given in EGTRE doesn't tell the whole story, however, as after passing east of the sidings, which don't now
seem to be used, the route continues at ground level and passes under the passenger lines, which at this
point are on a viaduct. It then continues at this lower level, running alongside Smistamento Yard, before
eventually joining the Direttissima lines, which have by now dropped to ground level, east of Segrate
station. The route is shown clearly in the S&W atlas and, in total, is around six kilometres long.
Brescia - Edolo
The 11:07 service was formed of a new 2 car low floor unit, comfortably filled for most of the journey,
although much quieter beyond Breno, where alternate trains terminate. The train ran nonstop to Iseo, the
operational centre of the line. The depot is here and is situated on the alignment of the earlier route from
Paderno, replaced in 1911. The depot headshunt runs for a few hundred metres south on the old line, the
very end being filled with a variety of old locos and stock, and beyond here the line has been converted
into a footpath, although how far this extends was not observed. The tracks to the original terminal station
are still in situ, but are no longer used and have been tarmaced in (but not over) as the alignment is now
used as the bus depot. The original station building still survives. The journey to Edolo takes 2 hours, but
there is a limited bus service onwards to Tirano for those who do not wish to make the return trip.
Further up the line at Pisogne, where the S&W atlas implies that there was a rail served factory across the
lake (?), the remains of a short branch to what looks like an old train ferry berth can be seen.
Rovato Borgo – Bornato Calino
This line was reopened to passengers in 2010 and has a limited service of three round trips in the morning,
three in the evening and one at lunchtime. At Rovato Borgo (a separate station on the opposite side of the
road to the main line one of Rovato), a new island platform has been constructed on the curve which
connects the two lines. The old ones, which were terminal and at right angles to the main line, are still in
situ. The curve itself still appears to be used. There was a small party otherwise just a handful of
passengers. No intermediate passengers.
Other Sparse services:
170 Molteno - Lecco: although this appears to be sparse, there is in fact a regular service on table 171.
 Lithuania - (Kaunas)-Palemonas- Gaižiūnai - (Silenai) line
This route was lifted for Rail Baltica works around 2013, but now fully restored enjoys a daily out and back
working from Kaunas at 15:21 returning from Silenai 19:01 formed of a single coach railcar. Previously this
service ran FSuO so loadings are obviously considered good enough to support a daily service. Quite what
the works apart from a really well laid Russian Gauge track have contributed to Rail Baltica (a standard
gauge projection nominally to Tallinn) is not clear. The track is certainly NOT dual gauge, but without close
inspection it was not possible to ascertain whether the sleepers have some passive provision for an
internal rail or interlacing. The route was actually originally built much later than the routes it connects
(making the north-west side of a big (25km) triangle), being opened in 1916 as opposed to the 1860s/70s
for the other lines.
 Macedonia/Kosovo -From Macedonia into Kosovo for the Mercia tour
Our reporters returned to Skopje in order to travel to Kosovo to participate in the Mercia Charters ‘The
New Frontier Part Two’ tour. After a morning in Skopje they arrived at the station to buy their tickets to
Priština to learn that there were no trains in Macedonia because of a strike. It was later learned that this
was Day 4 of the strike, which would be continuing for perhaps a further week. The advent of the strike did
not, however, affect the electronic indicator at Skopje Station which, as always, showed trains as running
whether or not they really were. There was no choice but to travel by bus, which was not an especially
comfortable experience, but you do get a stamp in your passport at the border (though this is unlikely to
help you enter Serbia next time you wish to). Some had used the bus only to the border station (Hani i
Elezit) and picked up one of the rare Trainkos workings from there, but our reporters elected to remain
with the bus. Although some publications indicate that the trains from Skopje to Priština are through
trains, it is in fact always necessary to change at the border. On the Friday morning, tour passengers
proceeded to Priština Station, which can best be described as functional rather than grand. There are
much worse places in the world, but the station at nearby Fushë Kosovë is an infinitely grander affair,
being located at the junction between what were once the main north-south and east-west lines. First
seen was the late-running railcar to the border, followed by the late-running train from Pejë; this was a
loco plus four ex-OBB cars and would be passed several more times during the day. The charter left soon
after the return working had run to Pejë. It was made up on the Friday by 2640 003, the only functional
‘Nohab’, hauling two quite smart ex-SJ coaches. The whole of the line to Pejë was traversed and it was
evident that it is well patronized. On the outward journey the train halted at Drenas, where the loco ran
around and took the train along the private line to the Newco Ferronikeli complex which receives two
trains a day equating to 500k tonnes of ore a year. Participants were allowed to watch the unloading of
one train, an interesting if grubby experience, and even to take (normally forbidden) photos. Mercia had
requested a selection of locos for the tour, but Trainkos was clearly limited by the fact that very few were
operational. Nevertheless, they provided something different on the Saturday – 2640 010 with the same
two carriages as the previous day. After a reversal at Fushë Kosovë, the train proceeded along the
currently freight-only line to Mitrovicë. The journey was not without incident, as a farmer had placed his
irrigation pipe across the track – this was not a plastic pipe or rubber hose, but a metal one which had to
be dismantled before further progress could be made. The second incident on this line was a car racing the
train to get to the level crossing first: a serious incident was only just avoided. Trainkos is generally plagued
with level crossings – it was said there were 100 on the line to Pejë alone. Mitrovicë was the scene of many
skirmishes during the Kosovo War and a two-hour break allowed time to visit the pedestrian-only Peace
Bridge (rebuilt by the French) which is under United Nations’ surveillance, though there is a road bridge
close-by that is not monitored by peacekeeping troops. Residents in the north of the town are
predominantly Serb and those in the south, Albanian. Services from Kraljevo in Serbia proper are run by
Serbian Railways and terminate north of Mitrovicë, the line between the two stations being disused. On
return to Fushë Kosovë, the train continued into the depot, where there was a wide selection of stock –
most of it unusable or awaiting repair. Some were marked UN or KFOR. There is a small museum on Fushë
Kosovë Station, but it was shut (as was the booking office which once had four windows). A steam loco is
plinthed outside the grand modern (60s?) station and those with more general transport interests enjoyed
seeing a real Green Goddess fire engine in a nearby yard. The tour train was hauled into the station by the
Nohab and a shunter, before 2640 007 took over. The whole train then formed the afternoon departure to
the border at Hani i Elezit, giving ordinary passengers a treat (though not those who wanted to sit in the
area reserved for tour participants). It had not originally been intended that the tour would travel on this
line, but the Trainkos representatives (who had provided excellent help throughout) agreed the move so
that those who had missed out earlier because of the strike in Macedonia could do the line: can anyone
imagine that being allowed in Britain? A quick run-round and the tour returned to Priština just 15 minutes
late with all extant passenger lines covered plus the ferronickel one. A fascinating two-days indeed. Next
trip – to have another go at doing the line from Skopje to the border.
 Moldova/Romania/Ukraine – New cross border links
National railway CFM has put refurbished diesel multiple-units into service on the route from Chișinău to
Iași in Romania. The early morning Chișinău – Iași service was launched at the end of September. CFM
services previously terminated at the Romanian border station of Cristești Jijia, but now continue over the
dual gauge route to Socola station in the city of Iași, which is an important education and employment
destination for Moldovans. Separately, CFM and UZ have agreed to reinstate the 21.5 km line between
Basarabeasca in southern Moldova and Berezyne in Ukraine, which was lifted in 1999. UZ’s Berezyne –
Artsyz line will also be upgraded, and a joint border checkpoint developed. Work is scheduled to start in
early summer 2016. The two railways envisage a service of six daily return trains. Re-opening of the link
would provide Moldova with a route to Odessa and southwest Ukraine which does not pass through the
separatist Transnistria region.
 Sweden - Further information
In BLNI 1240.320 our member comments on the rather irregular service to Ystad in Sweden, with the
suggestion that these are dictated by the tides. A correspondent points out that the tidal range in the
Baltic is very small, and the trains connect with boat sailings which are commercially and seasonally driven.
Entering the train ferry at Ystad. There are sailings to Rønne, Bornholm and Świnoujście.
REST OF THE WORLD
 Djibouti/Ethiopia – First freight on new railway
The first freight train to operate on the new standard gauge railway between Djibouti and Addis Ababa
arrived at a temporary unloading facility in Merebe Mermersa, 112 km south of Ethiopia's capital, on 21
Construction of the railway has not yet been completed, but freight services have been launched to enable
the delivery of large quantities of wheat which the Ethiopian government has purchased for use in areas
affected by drought. Deliveries are expected to run for 10 days.
The first train was hauled by a diesel locomotive and took 16 hours to travel from the port to Merebe
Mermersa, but this is expected to be reduced to between 10 hours and 12 hours when construction is
completed next year and electric trains are able to run at up to 120 km/h.
The 756 km line replaces the out-of-use metre-gauge railway between Addis Ababa and the coast.
BLNI – Switzerland Extra December 2015
[A99] Switzerland - Buechiwaldtunnel opens
The line from Zweilütschinen to Grindelwald (part of the Berner Oberland Bahn) was closed from 08
November 2015 to 21 November 2015 to allow commissioning of a new deviation through the 708m
Buechiwaldtunnel. The deviation is between km9.20 and km11.03 and reduces the distance by 80 metres.
[A100] Switzerland - Difficulties in doing difficult to do lines
One of the most difficult lines to get in Switzerland is Sursee to Triengen as it only has passenger trains on
3 or 4 days a year. Our member was finally able to travel on the line on 24 October. This was a fondue
special departing 19:05 ex-Sursee hauled by steam loco No. 5 which left from Sursee platform 1 and
therefore covered the SBB/ST connection. The scheduled return 21:00 ex Triengen, was delayed as No. 5
had been failed and the train was returned to Sursee hauled by tractor Tm 9456. This ran into the
(unnumbered) Sursee bay platform which was already partly occupied by another tractor and a coach.
Covering the entire length of some Swiss mountain railways presents difficulties as they have a convoy
system with maybe 4 trains or railcars leaving together. To cover the whole of the line it is necessary to be
at the right end of the queue so that you end up in the train or railcar nearest the buffers in each direction.
[A101] Switzerland – Hope for the Weissenstein tunnel
BLNI1216.318 reported on the need for expensive renovation of the 3,700 metre Weissenstein tunnel on
the Solothurn to Moutier railway and discussions to be held between the Swiss Confederation and the
cantons of Bern and Solothurn to discuss its future. What they have got is breathing space. 17M Swiss
Francs will be spent on temporary repairs to ensure the tunnel can be used until at least 2020. What
comes next is a study during 2016 of the options available, still including complete closure.
[A102] Switzerland - Ligerz tunnel will enter service in 2025
Those who own the Schweers and Wall railway atlas of Switzerland will see that on page 24 the line
between Neuchâtel and Biel/Bienne has just one short single track section between Chavannes and Twann
on which is the halt of Ligerz. To remove this bottleneck and increase capacity 2.1km of new double track
is to be built, much in a new tunnel parallel with an existing road tunnel. This will be called the Ligerz
tunnel and the new railway will replace the present lakeside railway which will be dismantled.
[A103] Switzerland – New deviations
The introduction of ETCS between Altdorf and Erstfeld on 16 August 2015 also saw the first stage of track
layout alterations in the area. The original line is being diverted to the east to form a conflict free junction
with the lines to and from the base tunnel. Because of the curved flyover in the southbound direction to
get above the base tunnel portals the southbound line is a little longer than the northbound. The following
are provisional figures, and may be superseded by a new network statement. Brunnen to Erstfeld is 35m
more in the southbound direction on what will be the northbound track. The actual amount of new track is
2.803km leaving the old formation at 37.832 and rejoining at 40.635 = 40.600
In the northern outskirts of Lausanne on the Chemin de fer Lausanne-Échallens-Bercher a new deviation
has been completed just north of Cery-Fleur-de-Lys starting at km 2.75 and ending at km 2.94 (so about
200 metres of new track). The new line is about 5 metres longer than the original. The deviation puts the
line on a bridge over a new road scheme as well as eliminating a level crossing. The old line was taken out
of service 09 October and the deviation opened 25 October.
[A104] Switzerland - New diveunder at Bern
The release of a fifth tranche of funding under the ZEB railway infrastructure development programme
paves the way for Swiss Federal Railways to start work on six enhancement projects worth a total of
SFr170m. The biggest of these is the long-standing scheme to separate traffic flows at Wylerfeld east of
Bern. This will be achieved by construction of a single track diveunder from the north side of the Bern
station approaches to the south side of the alignment. This will pass below the three tracks of the Bern –
Olten main line to emerge at Wankdorf Süd, eliminating conflicting movements between Bern – Olten
trains and services between Bern and Thun. Completion is envisaged in 2021.
[A105] Switzerland – New tunnel for Gotthard line
The Swiss Federal Office of Transport has granted a permit to Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) to construct the
new Bözberg railway tunnel. This is the biggest single project in a scheme to increase the loading gauge on
the 270km Gotthard line between Basle and Chiasso, and follows the Swiss policy of encouraging a shift of
freight from road to rail. The new tunnel will replace the existing 2.5km tunnel, which will be used for
technical and emergency services. Preliminary construction work started in mid-October and a ground-
breaking ceremony is planned for March next year, with completion scheduled for 2022.
The Swiss government has allocated SFr 710m to upgrade the Gotthard line to transport lorries and other
road vehicles with 4m corner height by rail. The project involves modifications at over 80 locations,
including stations, signalling, electrification and other installations, as well as a dozen tunnels.
[A106] Switzerland - Phase two of Zürich cross-city link complete
Phase two of Zürich’s cross-city rail link – the largest urban construction project in Switzerland – has been
completed. The latest stage of the 2 billion franc project has involved the commissioning of the Letzigraben
(1156m.) and Kohlendreieck bridges (394m), which will extend the line from Löwenstrasse station to
Altstetten. Following eight years of construction, the link, known as the Durchmesserlinie (DML) or cross-
city line, now finally links Altstetten with Oerlikon via Zürich Main Station. Phase one opened in June 2014,
with the completion of the Weinberg tunnel, which lies between the western approach to Zürich Main
Station and the southern approach to Oerlikon station, and the new Löwenstrasse low-level station.
Completion of the line to Altstetten means the 9.6-kilometre line will be able to go into commercial
operation with the 2016 timetable change. Although associated infrastructure works, including the
expansion of Oerlikon station, won’t be completed until mid-2017.
[A107] Switzerland – Some notes on kilometre distances
The official distance point for through stations in Europe has traditionally been the centre of the station
building and this is still used but there are a few problem stations for working out distance travelled such
as Zürich Wiedikon where the station building is an overhead structure, no part of which is above the
platform. Here however the line is liberally supplied with 3 decimal place posts. Problems can arise with
newer stations in tunnels where the official distance point tends to be somewhat random resulting in
shorter trains passing it completely or not reaching it depending on stopping point.
The three tunnel parts of Zürich HB present three different scenarios. First we have the SZU part, currently
platforms 21 and 22, which was noted as km 0 in the normally accurate BAHNPROFIL SCHWEIZ. As there
are sidings beyond the platforms our member thought that might be wrong and queried it with the railway
themselves who confirmed that zero is in fact the buffers at the end of the sidings. The middle of platforms
21/22 is km 0.193.
Zürich HB platforms 31 to 34, opened last year, are officially 200.860. This post however is at the far
eastern end of the platforms and currently nothing stops adjacent to it. Part of the train may do so when
intercity services start to use the station in December, but this is another station where 3 decimal point
posts are liberally provided, in this case wall mounted, for working out distance.
The 1990 S-Bahn platforms, now 41 to 44, are officially 99.840 but stopping points are such that 4 car S-
Bahn sets (100m) heading towards Hardbrücke stop with the front of the train 35m before this point while
a 4 car heading towards Stadelhofen will have the front 135m after it. Longer trains will be stopped with
part of it adjacent to 99.840.
The Chemins de fer du Jura rebuilt Le Noirmont station last year with new platforms, no part of which are
adjacent to the old station building. The centre of these platforms is 23.016, the centre of the building
22.979. The CJ platform in La Chaux de Fonds is officially 44.033 but this is end of track and trains stop at
about 43.986. They share the platform with the Les Transports Régionaux Neuchâtelois (TRN) line to Les
Ponts de Martel which is officially TRN zero but again this is end of track and trains stop at around 0.047.
Finally, having discovered differences between the table in BAHNPROFIL SCHWEIZ and the graphic
timetable at www.fahrplanfelder.ch our member consulted the author of the former and he confirms his
table has an error which results in 60 metres missed out. The graphic timetable does not take into account
180m more than the posts near Locarno and at the other end of the line the distance has not been correct
since the original Domodossola station closed on 10 May 1961 (line now runs into a low level station).
LOCARNO 51.159 0 50.916
SANT' ANTONIO 49.408 1.751 49.165
FP +180m 49.000 2.159 48.757
FP +180m 49.180 2.159 48.757
SOLDUNO 48.763 2.576 48.340
SAN MARTINO 48.139 3.200 47.716
PONTE BROLLA 46.064 5.275 45.641
TEGNA 45.115 6.224 44.692
VERSCIO 44.063 7.276 43.640
CAVIGLIANO 43.403 7.936 42.980
INTRAGNA 41.317 10.022 40.894
CORCAPOLO 38.852 12.487 38.429
VERDASIO 36.479 14.860 36.056
PALAGNEDRA 34.854 16.485 34.431
CADANZ-BORGNONE 34.022 17.317 33.599
CAMEDO 32.941 18.398 32.518
CONFINE 32.335 19.004 31.912
RIBELLASCA 32.235 19.104 31.812
Olgia 2 Loop 30.076 21.263 29.653
ISELLA-OLGIA 29.147 22.192 28.724
27.632 23.707 27.209
DISSIMORE 25.874 25.465 25.451
VILLETTE 24.508 26.831 24.085
MALESCO 22.523 28.816 22.100
ZORNASCO 21.923 29.416 21.500
PRESTIONE 20.927 30.412 20.504
S.MARIA-MAGGIORE 19.356 31.983 18.933
BUTTOGNO 18.520 32.819 18.097
DRUOGNO 17.013 34.326 16.590
GAGNONE-ORCESCO 15.657 35.682 15.234
COLMO 13.928 37.411 13.505
MARONE 12.157 39.182 11.734
VERIGO 9.701 41.638 9.278
TRONTANO 8.068 43.271 7.645
CREGGIO 5.770 45.569 5.347
MASERA 3.972 47.367 3.549
Vigezzina 0.773 50.566 0.350
DOMODOSSOLA 0.471 50.868 0.048 Platform 2
DOMODOSSOLA 0.423 50.916 0 Platform 1
[A108] Switzerland - Testing begins in Gotthard Base Tunnel
AlpTransit Gotthard confirmed on 16 October that test trains have begun operating through the entire
57km Gotthard Base Tunnel as the project enters its final phase before opening to traffic in December
2016. After receiving approval from the Swiss Federal Office of Transport trial operation began in the
tunnel on 1 October, and the first test run with ETCS Level 2 took place a few days later.
Testing of GSM-R radio is currently being carried out using a measuring coach provided by Swiss Federal
Railways (SBB) and monitoring of the rail-wheel interface and interaction between pantograph and
catenary contact wire will begin soon.
The speed of test trains will be incrementally increased and AlpTransit expects to carry out testing at up to
275km/h during November and December. Freight train testing is due to start in February. German Rail's
(DB) ICE S test train will be used to conduct high-speed testing in the tunnel.
Around 5000 test runs will take place by the end of May under the supervision of AlpTransit, with SBB
providing locomotives, rolling stock, and train crew.
Following the completion of the test campaign, control of the tunnel will be transferred to SBB in time for
the opening ceremony on 1 June 2016. There will then be a period of driver familiarisation before the start
of commercial services in December 2016.
[A109] Switzerland - Voters approve Limmattalbahn
Funding which will enable the construction of the Limmattalbahn was approved by voters in Zürich Canton
on 22 November. Turnout was 40%, with 64·5% of voters in favour. Zürich is to provide SFr510m for
construction of the line and a further SFr136m for changes to the road network.
The 13·4 km light rail line will link the Zürich suburbs of Altstetten, Dietikon and Killwangen-Spreitenbach.
Construction is to begin in the second quarter of 2017. The first phase between Altstetten and Geissweid is
due to open in 2019. The remainder of the route, with 18 stops, is due to follow in 2022.
Around 92% of the metre-gauge route will be on reserved track permitting speeds up to 60 km/h. It will be
electrified at 600 V DC between Altstetten and Schlieren for compatibility with the network of Zürich tram
operator VBZ, and at 1200V DC from Schlieren to Killwangen for compatibility with the local railway
operated by BDWM Transport. VBZ, BDWM Transport and Sihltal-Zürich-Uetliberg Bahn have expressed
interest in operating the route.