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9th February 2019

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Published by membersonly, 2019-02-06 16:55:35


9th February 2019




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 Gare du Nord was rebuilt in the 1860s, including the magnificent frontage to the Rue de Dunkerque illustrated above, which features the
names of various towns and cities in France and further afield with a statue representing each. The figures along the top of the roof represent
(left to right): Francfort, Amsterdam, Varsovie, Bruxelles, Paris (most prominent position, of course), Londres, Vienne, Berlin and Cologne. The
smaller figures, lower down, represent French towns and are (left to right): Boulogne, Compiègne, St Quentin, Cambrai, Beauvais, Lille, Amiens,
Rouen, Arras, Laon, Calais, Valenciennes, Douai and Dunkerque. See also item 044 in this BLNI.

[042] Austria – Two lines to close at the December timetable change
According to this document
fahren-weiter/?no_cache=1&cHash=cab29b5df2259cf18425a5a30a773c72 two lines are to close in
December. They are:
St Nikola-Struden to Sarmingstein (after traffic on 14 December 2019)

(Wels-) Haiding to Aschach an der Donau (after traffic on 13 December 2019)
LILO (the Linzer Lokalbahn) should be taking over the Eferding – Aschach section of the line in the future.
The Mühlkreisbahn (Linz Urfahr - Aigen-Schlägl), Hausruckbahn (Attnang-Puchheim - Schärding)
and Almtalbahn (Wels - Grünau im Almtal) will continue until 2029.

[043] Austria - Section of line to be de-electrified
The Leobersdorf to Wittmannsdorf section of the Leobersdorf to Weißenbach-Neuhaus line (it once ran
all the way to St Pölten) was electrified on 10 March 1957. The last electric service train (an emu) ran
on 10 December 2015. There was also an electric special train on 24 December 2017. ÖBB will be
removing the catenary during February 2019.

[044] France – A little history of Paris Gare du Nord
The Gare du Nord was rebuilt in the 1860s, including the magnificent frontage to the Rue de Dunkerque.
This features the names of various towns and cities in France and further afield, with a statue
representing each. Most of these are places to which one could plausibly depart from the Gare du Nord,
but there are some exceptions. Given that La Compagnie des chemins de fer de l'Est was well-established
by 1860, it is interesting that the Nord claimed to be the railway for Frankfurt and Wien. It would have
been a somewhat indirect journey from the Gare du Nord to either of these places, probably via Liège.
The line from Paris St Lazare to Rouen was completed in 1843, but the Nord claimed Rouen as its own
twenty years later. The company did reach Rouen via Beauvais and Abancourt, but that was hardly
convenient for a journey from Paris. [One could plausibly depart from Paris Nord for Frankfurt as late as
the early twentieth century. Bradshaws Continental Guide for July 1913 quotes three direct routes
between Paris and Frankfurt. These are Paris Est to Frankfurt via Metz, Saarbrücken and Mainz 424 ¼
miles in a best time of 11 ¼ hours, Paris Est to Frankfurt via Strasbourg and Karlsruhe 454 miles in a best
time of 12 hours, and Paris Nord to Frankfurt via Namur, Liege and Köln 444 ½ miles in a best time of 13
¼ hours. It would be interesting to know how the times compared in the 1860s. – Ed.]

[045] France - French postal workers add railway duties to their rounds
French postmen and women have been given the duty of supervising small railway stations under a
scheme to counter the demise of letter delivery. In an experiment in northern France that could extend
to 2,000 stations nationally, the postal workers are stopping on their rounds to check the condition of
mainly rural stations which have lost all their staff after cuts at the SNCF state railways. Their visits enable
station waiting rooms to be kept open, an important service in winter. Les postiers, who are a popular
feature of French life with their yellow vans or electric bicycles, have successfully added other
community services as letter-sending has dwindled.

[046] France – Memories of SNCF winter sports extras
SNCF winter sports traffic runs from Christmas to the end of March. Today it is handled mostly, if not
entirely, by TGV. The extent and nature of the service is difficult to determine, because no timetable is
published. One has to book airline-style, indicating where and when you wish to travel, and see what is
available. Previously, travel was mostly by overnight trains, with schedules appearing in the SNCF
timetable books, even for services which ran on only a few nights. This had the advantage that one could
deduce use of lines that were rarely covered by passenger trains.

Trains ran from all parts of France to the French Alps, principally to St Gervais, Bourg St Maurice and
Briançon, but there were some to other places, including Evian-les-Bains, Modane and Grenoble. There
were trains to the Alps on Friday night and back on Saturday night. Some from major cities ran at the
same time each weekend, but schedules were greatly complicated by French school holidays varying
around the country. Half of provincial France has a holiday early in February and the other half in the
middle of the month, with the Paris area having its holiday after that. Naturally, there was much greater
demand at these times, requiring a different timetable every weekend. Some sets of carriages would
work to the Alps on Friday night from one place, but return on Saturday night to somewhere quite
different. There would probably be a lengthy empty working during the week, to position the train for
next Friday’s working. The rolling stock spent much of its time in sidings, but did also see use during the
summer holidays.
Many trains included portions for different resorts and Culmont-Chalindrey was a key location for winter
sports traffic. During the early hours of Saturday trains would arrive from Lille, Metz, Strasbourg and
other towns across Northern France. There were also trains from Paris Est, because there was not
sufficient capacity at Gare de Lyon to handle all the traffic. The main effort at Culmont-Chalindrey was
to assemble complete trains for Briançon. There was some remarshalling of trains for Bourg St Maurice
and St Gervais, but dividing combined trains at Aix-les-Bains was straightforward, because the St Gervais
portion had to reverse.
The complexity of some workings was staggering, even by SNCF’s standards. As an example, there was
a train from Tourcoing at 18:15 on most Fridays from 22 December 1989 until 30 March 1990, usually
including portions for Bourg St Maurice, St Gervais and Briançon. It also ran on Thursday 21 December,
Tuesday 13 February and Saturday 17 February, but not on Friday 23 February. Normally only couchettes
were conveyed, but there was second class seating to Bourg St Maurice on 16 February. First class
couchettes were not available to Bourg St Maurice on 17 February or to St Gervais on 21 December.
There was no portion for St Gervais on 22 December, nor to Briançon on 16 February.
Our member made several journeys on winter sports trains, to travel over ‘rare curves’. The first was a
modest trip on 30 December 1988. There was a train from Lille to the Alps, which called at Valenciennes,
Cambrai Annexe and St Quentin, so had to do the Cambrai avoiding line. What is more, it reached St
Quentin sufficiently early in the evening that it was possible to get back to Lille via Aulnoye. The train
was advertised only to convey couchettes and sleeping cars, for which reservations were required, and
was not meant to be available for local journeys. All he had was a return from Lille to St Quentin. He
therefore decided it would be prudent to join the train at Cambrai Annexe, rather than risk being
required to alight at Valenciennes. He had imagined himself mixing with a happy throng of skiers at
Cambrai Annexe, but found that he was the only passenger there. Accordingly he opted to wait for the
train at the darkest point on the platform, as far from the building as possible, in the hope of avoiding
staff who might want to check where he was going and his non-existent reservation. In fact, they were
happy to remain in the warm inside the station building, until the chef de gare had to come out to
dispatch the train. Our member joined a couchette car near the front of the train and found it almost
empty. The avoiding line was duly griced and the return trip via Aulnoye ran to schedule.
The next trip was on 16 February 1990, on a train that ran from Lille to Metz without calling at Charleville-
Mézières. Passenger use of the Charleville-Mézières avoiding line was, and remains, extremely unusual,
so following the Cambrai experience, he decided to have a reservation to St Gervais. The train was
scheduled to leave Lille at 17:18 from the platform on the north side of the main station. This is the one
used by passengers to reach the north-side bay platforms that were added in 1956. Unlike at Cambrai,

there was a large crowd of skiers, with all their luggage and equipment, creating a formidable obstacle
to home-going commuters. The turmoil became even worse when the train came in formed the opposite
way round from advertised. It was hauled from Lille by a BB16500 electric locomotive, not a type
associated with long-distance workings. That did make him wonder whether there might be an
unadvertised call at Charleville-Mézières to change the locomotive, but fortunately not. The avoiding
line was used.
The journey back from St Gervais on Saturday morning was of interest, with the local service crossing a
procession of overnight trains at the passing loops. The level of demand was such that one train was
formed of Lourdes ambulance cars. The amount of traffic resulted in the onward train from Aix-les-Bains
to Bourg-en-Bresse being almost an hour late. Fortunately, that still left time for an afternoon trip to
Mouchard via St Claude and Morez.
Having travelled from Lille to St Gervais by couchette, our member opted for a single sleeping berth for
his third winter sports trip. Other passengers in the compartment tend to object to alarm clocks and
activity in the small hours of the morning. The train this time, on 8 February 1991, was from Bretagne
to Briançon, but he joined it at Tours. It turned out to comprise one couchette and one sleeping car,
attached to a train to the Haute Savoie. These were detached at St Etienne and worked round to Valence,
to be attached to a train from Northern France to Briançon. Despite the very light load over a fully-
electrified route, the locomotive assigned to this duty was a CC72000 diesel. However, the main
attraction was the west to south curve from Givors Bif km 2.6 to Chasse-sur-Rhône. The train to which
the carriages were to be attached at Valence was hours late. It had still not arrived when dawn came.
Having been to Briançon previously our member went off to get breakfast and took the opportunity to
go to Dunières. Portion working such as this was far from unique. Perhaps the most bizarre was the
service from Basel to Briançon. The couchettes formed part of an overnight train from Metz, having
arrived there attached to an early evening train from Basel.
His final trip on a winter sports train was seven years later, on Saturday 15 February 1998, by which
time, overnight trains were giving way to TGVs. The Gare de Lyon could not accommodate all of the
trains from Paris, so there was a TGV from Paris Nord to the Alps at 07:16. Most conveniently, it also
stopped at Aéroport Charles de Gaulle, which was reached via the south curve at the Triangle de Vémars.
In the company of an eminent BLS member he travelled on this train as far as the airport. It was not
possible to buy a TGV ticket for such a short trip, so they had to make do with ones from a RER vending
machine. The train was almost empty from Gare du Nord, so there was no pre-boarding checking of
reservations, and no sign of the controlleur on board. Having done the required track, they were back
in Paris in time for a delayed breakfast at the hotel.
Oh, and has our member ever skied himself? No. He is well able to recognise an activity where he would
be highly likely to break a leg!

[047] Germany – Ulm tram line 2 opens
Tram line 2 in Ulm was approved in May 2015 and opened on 8 December 2018, doubling the size of the
network to 19.1km. The 9.8km line, which shares almost a kilometre of tracks from Theater to Ehinger
Tor with line 1 in the city centre, links Wissenschaftstadt Science Park II in the north-west with Kuhberg
Schulzentrum in the south-west, passing the main railway station on existing tracks. The project included
a new bridge, the Kienlesbergbrücke, for pedestrians and trams to take the new tracks to
Wissenschaftstadt across the existing line 1.

[048] Greece – New alignment opened
[BLNI 1299.078] The new alignment between Lianokladi and Domokos opened on Tuesday 29 January
2019. The former alignment had been severed by the previous Friday.
Electric operation is expected to commence in a few weeks.

[049] Italy – Seregno to Carnate-Usmate bustituted
All services on line 172 between Seregno and Carnate-Usmate have been replaced by buses since 9
December 2018.

[050] Netherlands – Metro to reach Schipol?
Amsterdam officials and Schiphol airport have reached agreement on tackling the airport’s public
transport problems, including the option of extending the city’s new metro route to the main terminal
building and the first proposals are now with central government. The city is in talks about ‘improving
the connection between the south west of the city and Schiphol, including extending the metro’. The
city’s new metro line, which is just 10 kilometres long, opened this summer but critics say officials
wasted an opportunity to make a link to the airport, which is becoming increasingly difficult to reach by
car, as well as commuter towns to the north.

[051] Spain – Serra Grossa tunnel opens near Alacant
The former metre gauge railway from Dénia to Alacant is now part tramway and part heavy rail. Trams
run from the underground city centre station of Luceros to El Campello and Benidorm, where passengers
change to DMU for travel to Dénia. The end section from Calp to Dénia has been closed since 2016,
officially for conversion to tram operation, but with no final date published. At the Alacant end of the
tram line a 1.48km tunnel has been bored under the Serra Grossa mountain to eliminate a single track
section of coastal running between the stations of Sangueta and Isleta. This is the Serra Grossa tunnel,
and one track opened on 18 December 2018 with the other planned to be in service by the start of
March. Operator FGV will then revise the timetable to reduce journey times. The old coastal route may
well become a promenade.

[052] Spain – Palma to Manacor electrification complete

Map courtesy of

On 29 October electric services started between Palma and Sa Pobla, with transfer to DMU at Enllaç
continuing for passengers to Manacor. Electric services commenced between Enllaç and Manacor from
8 January and Enllaç station closed from that date. This now means that all train services on Mallorca
are electric as the Mallorca – Sóller route was electrified in 1929.

[053] Spain – Trams in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Like the city, the trams and stations are immaculate! There are two lines at present which intersect. Line
1 is the most important, running some ten miles from the principal bus station, through the city centre,
up steep roads, across scrubby semi-developed areas to the centre of the city of La Laguna. En route
hospitals and university campuses are served. End to end takes about half an hour with trams mostly
running in the centre of roads and with immediate priority as there is no waiting. Right-hand operation
on double track.
Line 2 crosses the above with a short section common to both. The intersections involve a complicated
system of tunnels and bridges which seems out of all proportion, being a major feat of construction.
Lines lead into a large depot.
Machines deliver tickets for varying periods. The simplest option is €1.35 for a single adult ticket.

Other options include all trams and buses throughout the island of Tenerife.
Modern three car trams are used with an aqua-blue colour featuring, but many are covered with
advertising. This shrouds the windows and unfortunately inhibits viewing. There are clear
announcements on board, but only one tiny map on the cars. Tickets are scanned on entry and many
passengers used their smartphones.
Journeys are very frequent, but on the day of our member’s travel a strike of some sort was announced.
Even so there were plenty of trams operating. Some photographs were seen of trams, probably at the
end of the 19th century, with two small cars, the second being a trailer. Today’s vehicles are driven from
both ends. All stations have island platforms with ticket machines on each platform. Notices are clear
and there is plenty of seating and cover.

[054] Switzerland – Short double track section gets financing
The federal government approved a financing agreement on 14 December 2018 to enable Swiss Federal
Railways to go ahead with double-tracking the 800 metre Goldach – Rorschach Stadt section of the St
Gallen – St Margrethen route. Construction permits have already been obtained, and work is expected
to begin by March.

[055] Switzerland – Three railways future up for decision
Three sections of railway in Canton St. Gallen and Appenzell Ausserrhoden will need significant
investment in the coming years, so they are investigating whether they should continue as ordinary
railways, be converted to automatic operation, or closed. The lines are Gais−Altstätten Stadt, Rorschach
Hafen−Heiden and Rheineck−Walzenhausen.
und-.html (German)


[056] Australia – More on the Adelaide trams
A member has supplied additional information which may be of interest
At the time of transfer from the SAR to the MTT in 1929 the (present) line was converted from broad to
standard gauge. The alternative SAR northern route from the City to Glenelg was closed at the same
time. All travel on the tram within the City proper and the extension to the Entertainment Centre is free,
a policy that has its origins in the free Bee Line bus that used to link the railway station and the former
tram terminal in Victoria Square. Put another way, a fare is only required for the section from South
Terrace to Brighton Road. (A local trip along Jetty Road, Glenelg, is also free.)
The boom gates (and associated signalling) at all arterial and collector road crossings date from the
1970s, when the platforms were staggered to place them after the crossing in both directions. Prior to
that the trams stopped before the intersections and crossed when it was safe to do so, without any

[057] China - China opens six new lines
China added 866km to its high-speed network on 25 and 26 December 2018 with the opening of three
new lines, bringing the country a step closer to completing its ambitious ‘Four Vertical and Four
Horizontal’ high-speed system. Three conventional lines also opened on 26 December.
25 December 2018 saw the opening of two lines. The 293km Harbin – Mudanjiang line serves
Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province, adding 11 stations to the high-speed network. It includes
109 bridges and viaducts totalling 103 route-km and 39 tunnels accounting for a further 69 km. As part
of the project, the existing main stations at Harbin and Mundanjiang have been remodelled and
extended. The 250km/h line cuts the journey time between the two cities from more than four hours
to 1h 28min. A 380km extension across the China-Russia border to Vladivostok is proposed.
The 287 km Hangzhou – Huangshan dedicated passenger line forms the eastern section of the
Hangzhou – Nanchang high speed axis, which is due to be completed throughout by 2022 and will
connect southern Anhui province with the cities of the Yangtze River Delta. The biggest engineering
works included the 12 km Tianmushan tunnel and the 4.1 km Shinuishan tunnel as well as the 2.3 km
Chuanfang viaduct. Construction began on the project in June 2014 and the nine-station 250km/h
railway reduces the Huangshan – Hangzhou journey time from three-and-a-half to one-and-a-half-
hours. The line is expected to provide a boost to regional tourism, as Huangshan is one of China's four
‘sacred mountains’, while nearby towns such as Qiandaohu have become tourist destinations in their
own right.
The 308km Jinan – Qingdao high-speed line opened on 26 December. Forming part of the national ’10
x 10’ high speed grid, the 307.8 km line is connected to the Beijing – Shanghai route at Jinan. This line

allows travellers from those two cities to reach Qingdao entirely on 350 km/h routes, apart from a short
section between Jiaozhou Bei and Hongdao which is restricted to 250 km/h. Under construction since
December 2015, the line runs almost entirely on viaduct, with 87% of the route elevated. A 7.5 km
tunnel takes the line under Qingdao Airport, where an underground station has been provided. Rather
than running into the city’s main station, most trains terminate at the Qingdao Bei high speed hub,
where connections are provided to the growing metro network.
China Railway Corporation also opened three conventional mixed-traffic lines on 26 December.
Yancheng – Qingdao. This 428.8 km coastal route with 15 stations is initially served by two daily EMUs
in each direction.
Huaihua – Hengyang (318km). Another 200 km/h mixed-traffic line with 16 stations, this line had been
under construction since June 2014. It required 41 tunnels and 243 bridges totalling 57% of the route
length. As well as the 17 km Liangshan tunnel, major bores include the Jianfengshan (6,406 m),
Xiangjiashan (4,014 m) and Baishiwan (3,788 m) tunnels.
Finally the line from Tongren to Yuping (66km) which is also built for 200km/h operation.

[058] China – Phase 3 of Suzhou metro network starts construction
This 41.3km line will connect the Suzhou and Shanghai networks and will run east from Yiting Road
station in Suzhou Industrial Park to Kunshan City and Kunshan Huaqiao, which has been served by
Shanghai metro Line 11 since October 2013. There will be 28 stations and trial passenger services are
expected to begin in December 2023.

[059] China - Shanghai Songjiang Tramway phase 1 opens
Public services began operating on the first phase of the Shanghai Songjiang Tramway network on 26
December with the start of operations on the 13.9km section of Line T2 from Canghua Road to
Zhongchen Road. Line T1 from Chenta Road to Xinqiao main line station is due to open next year. Line
T2 will become a circular line when the link between Zhongchen Road and Jinxi Road is completed,
sharing Line T1 tracks between Jinxi Road and North Sanxin Road.

[060] India – Bogibeel bridge inaugurated
On 25 December (Good Governance Day) the Indian Prime Minister inaugurated the country's longest
road and rail bridge over the Brahmaputra river at Bogibeel near Dibrugarh in Assam. The bridge is
4.94km long and double decked. Started in 2002, the bridge has taken 200 months to complete, with
heavy rainfall being the main reason for the slow progress. The bridge is in an earthquake prone area
and is therefore the first bridge in India to have fully welded steel-concrete support beams capable of
withstanding an earthquake of magnitude 7 on the Richter scale. The train pair using it will only run five
days a week but will cut the train-travel time between Tinsukia in Assam to Naharlagun town of
Arunachal Pradesh by more than 10 hours. With its proximity to the Chinese border, the bridge also has
tremendous significance for India's defence and has been built strong enough to support the movement
of tanks and even fighter jet landings.

[061] New Zealand - Picton to Christchurch line reopens and Coastal Pacific & TranzAlpine investment
A special commemorative train departed Picton at 08:00 on 23 November with Government VIPs,
tourism chiefs, workers, Kiwi and Kaikoura locals celebrating what KiwiRail’s Acting Chief Executive Todd

Moyle said was an incredible rebuild effort not seen since World War II. “It has been a massive task
getting the line ready to carry passengers again after the earthquake just over two years ago. I cannot
praise highly enough those who made that possible, and it is fitting that members of the workforce that
put the line back together will be on today’s special journey.”
The line reopened for night-time freight services after just 10 months of work, allowing the rebuild to
continue during daylight hours and in October freight services began running both day and night. The
line will now be open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
During a celebration in Kaikoura on 23 November as the first passenger train ran on the line from Picton
to Christchurch, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a $40 million investment from the
Government’s Provincial Growth Fund which will allow KiwiRail to run the Coastal Pacific all year round,
add an additional 63-seat carriage to meet demand in peak season, and add a new luxury premium
carriage which will offer more space and high-quality food and beverages to go along with the
spectacular views.
The TranzAlpine scenic train will also have a further two 63-seat passenger carriages added and
introduce a new premium carriage. The TranzAlpine passenger business has grown by 90% over the past
five years, with February and March 2018 being record months for ticket sales.

[062] USA - Foxborough stadium gets commuter service trial
Services run from Boston south west to Franklin, passing through the junction station of Walpole. From
Walpole the Framlinghan subdivision heads south on CSX owned tracks through Foxborough to
Mansfield. Until now the only passenger trains from Boston South station through Walpole to
Foxborough have been for concerts or New England Patriots games at the Gilette stadium. But from 20
May 2019, an 11 month pilot programme of commuter rail services will begin, with seven trains per day
between the Foxborough stadium station and Boston’s South Station — three in the morning, one in the
afternoon, and three at night. Before getting approval the town had to address resident concerns over
noise, trains blocking grade crossings, and overnight train storage. The agreement does not allow trains
to be stabled in Foxborough overnight.

[063] USA – New commuter line opens in Fort Worth
The new 27-mile commuter rail line from Fort Worth ITC to DFW Airport North Station opened on 31
December 2018 with a preview service, and formal services commenced on 10 January 2019. The line
uses Stadler Flirt DMUs for the 30 minute ride and is operated by Trinity Metro (formerly Fort Worth
Transportation Authority). This segment of the Cotton Belt Rail Line will be operated independently of
the other two segments, as it is was built by Trinity Metro, rather than DART, who will be building
segments to the east. The DFW North station is shared with DART's Orange Line Light Rail to/from Dallas,
while the Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center Station is shared with Trinity Railway Express
and Amtrak (Texas Eagle/Heartland Flyer).
A particular engineering challenge was the approach to the Fort Worth ITC, known as the 'Hole in the
Wall' under a freeway called Spur 280, where several rail lines run parallel and the TexRail system was
cut into the Trinity Railway line to access the ITC station. Most of the alignment is former Cotton Belt
and the middle section has recently hosted a tour train based in Grapevine, which ran to/from the Fort
Worth Stockyards, crossing UP's Choctaw Sub and two BNSF lines en route. In the future DART will

provide another commuter rail service (project name currently the 'Cotton Belt') between DFW North
and Plano to the east, making this rail station adjacent to DFW Terminal A busy spot with three rail
services once DART's Cotton Belt service is open (estimated in 2023).

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