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Published by membersonly, 2018-04-15 14:32:56

1248i

9th January 2016

INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1248 9 JANUARY 2016

BRANCH LINE NEWS

INTERNATIONAL

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

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Taken early on a Sunday morning, the picture shows the square in front of Rotterdam Centraal station to be unusually
quiet. The 1957 station building was closed in 2007 and demolished in the following year to make way for the new
station, which was completed and opened in 2014. Access to the subway and platforms is only possible with a smart card
or ticket with suitable barcode.

EUROPE

[001] Europe - Retours
A website that cannot be recommended highly enough is that of Arjan de Boer. It is called Retours, and
describes itself as a digital magazine on railway history, design and photography. It comprises 32 short

presentations, each of 10-15 slides, each featuring poster art or photographs as well as informative text on
a variety of European railway historical subjects. The most recent, and of topical interest as it was recently
covered in BLNI, is Gateway of the Continent: Hook of Holland harbour station. Your International Editor,
who often despairs at the tedious and poor presentation of information in museums, finds the
presentations an absolute joy to read. If there is one New Year’s resolution you need to make, it is to visit
and linger on this website. http://retours.eu/en

[002] Austria – Gmunden tram line closed for section to be rebuilt
According to L'Echo du Rail no. 396 December 2015 the closed section of the Gmunden town tram line
from Rathausplatz to Franz Josef Platz is to be rebuilt, providing a through route between Gmunden
Bahnhof and Vorchdorf-Eggenberg which is expected to open from summer 2017.

[003] Finland - Comments on ‘A Railway Touring Company tour parts 1-3’
A member on the same RTC tour comments as follows:
1) The reference to the closed platform at Hyvinkää infers that it is old. It actually was built 2011 for the
charter trains to/from the Museum running in 2012 in connection with the VR 150th Anniversary and has
since been used for the annual Museum day each August to which special trains operate.
2) The reference to 'ORION' not being suitable for the W&L officially is 'It was found to be too large and
heavy for the W&L track and despite its weight, on the 1 in 29 gradients with tight reverse curves, it was
prone to slipping due to the swing link trucks partially relieving some of the adhesive weight from the
coupled wheels'. (extract from 3 part article on Finnish rolling stock in the UK printed in the RCTS 'RO'
March 2015). 3) The extension of the JR towards Forssa (note spelling) is planned for a distance of
approximately 1 1/4km. 4) Toijala Museum, apart from 933 contained mostly diesels but also in the
Museum and locked away, was steam Vr2 0-6-2T 964 (not seen by many of the visitors!).
5) Finnish and Swedish are both official languages. Pre-recorded on train announcements are in
Finnish/Swedish/English. 6) At Porvoo the local town guides said that there was not time to visit the old
railway station. A handful thought otherwise and found Tk3 1132 in the straight shed, Tve1 416 and 418 in
the shrubs and Dm7 4140 and 4201 frames only with no visible identification. Excursion trains formed of
Dm7 units come here from Helsinki on some summer Saturdays.
Finally one point of correction in BLN1247 is that the National Railway Museum does possess an electric
item. It is Sm1 6001/6201, the first emu, and is not at the Hyvinkää Museum and so was not seen on the
RTC tour. It is currently at either the Hyvinkää Railway works or Ilmala depot, Helsinki.

[004] France – More on the St. Brieuc to Auray line and Morlaix to Roscoff line
A member has provided some clarification on the item in BLNI 1247.444. Freight traffic to/from Loudéac
arrives and departs via St-Brieuc, however rusty the track there may appear. The section between the
sidings south of Loudéac and the stop-blocks a short distance north of St-Gérand is emphatically out-of-
use, as it has been for several decades (during which time it became seriously overgrown by vegetation).
There is thus no question of freight traffic at Loudéac being served “via Auray”. In recent years, there has
been discussion (at a local political level, as well as that fostered by the CFCB) of reinstating the “missing
link”, but in practical terms, the only result of this has been some inconclusive clearance of overgrowth.
Our member goes on to comment about the bridge problems on the Morlaix to Roscoff line referred to in
BLNI 1242.359. It is well-known locally that the viaduct over the Penzé estuary has been gently subsiding
into the mud for years: it has had a speed restriction for at least 15 years. What to do about it (and about
the rail service to Roscoff) is another issue, but this certainly isn’t a recent problem, as the item implied.
Subsequent to this being received news came that from 13 December 2015 trains on the branch will travel
at 40km/h rather than 70 km/h and the passage of the Penzé viaduct, built in the late nineteenth century,
will be at 30 km/h, due to the fragility of the structure.

[005] Germany – Changes to obscure routes from 12 December
Each year at the timetable change the compilers of the Enthusiasts Guide to Travelling the Railways of
Europe (EGTRE), scour the new timetables for trains using obscure routes and these are entered on the
EGTRE website, which may be found at http://egtre.info/wiki/Main_Page.
The principal changes in Germany are summarised as follows:
Baden-Württemberg: The Münster (Westf) – Klagenfurt EC train pair do not call at Stuttgart Hbf during
August and early September, and use the connection between the Schnellfahrstrecke and Stuttgart-
Zazenhausen. The AutoZug that used to run via Freiburg (Breisgau) Gbf now runs via the Hauptbahnhof.
Bayern: There are no passenger trains between München-Pasing and München Ost via Laim Rbf, though a
few remain running direct between Abzw Landsberger Straße and Abzw Friedenheimer Brücke, nor are
there any direct between the Ingolstadt line and München Ost, unless some AutoSlaap, Ski Trein or Alpen
Express holiday services to and from the Netherlands use these routes.
Berlin and Brandenburg: Except for the Paris – Moskva service, long-distance trains no longer use Berlin-
Lichtenberg, resulting in less or no use of various routes within Berlin. There are no trains between the
south side of Cottbus station and the Leipzig line. EC/IC trains between Berlin and Dresden are diverted via
Falkenberg (Elster) and Zeithain Bogendreieck from August to December.
Hamburg: During July and August several long distance trains between Lübeck and Hamburg run via the
south-eastern quadrant of the Hamburg Ring Line, via Horn and Abzw Ericus.
Hessen: The overnight trains between Zürich and Hamburg follow a curious route between Frankfurt am
Main Hbf and Frankfurt West, running via Frankfurt-Niederrad, Abzw Forsthaus, Main-Neckar-Brücke and
the avoiding line that crosses the approaches to the Hauptbahnhof. Extensive service alterations in the
Frankfurt area in July and August see more trains than usual via Abzw Forsthaus. In particular, ICE/TGV
services between Frankfurt and Paris are diverted via Darmstadt, with many running via Frankfurt-
Niederrad. A Fridays only train from Stuttgart to Hamburg and return workings on Saturdays and Sundays,
running from 18 March, provide an opportunity to travel between Flieden and Elm during daylight hours.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: There are no longer any trains via the Rügendamm curve, unless the Malmö
overnight train runs that way; in recent years it has reversed at Stralsund Hbf.
Nordrhein-Westfalen: The Fridays only IC that used to run from Dortmund to Hamm via Horstmar has
been withdrawn. During July and August some IC/ICE trains between Wuppertal and Köln are diverted via
Düsseldorf-Eller, Opladen and Hilden. Cut backs in overnight services result in far fewer trains via Köln-Kalk
Nord, and passenger use of the Südbrücke is confined to one ICE during the night. A Mondays only return
service between Stuttgart and Aachen, operating from 18 March, runs direct between Köln-Ehrenfeld and
Köln West.
Rheinland-Pfalz: There are no passenger trains between Mainz-Mombach and the Kaiserbrücke.
Sachsen: There are no longer any passenger trains between Halle and Leipzig via Delitzsch. The only
passenger workings between Leipzig Hbf and Leipzig-Leutzsch via Wiederitzsch are the overnight Zürich –
Berlin trains. There are no longer any trains between Leipzig Hbf and Engelsdorf via Leipzig-Thekla and
Leipzig-Schönefeld.
Sachsen-Anhalt: There are now trains every two hours using the connections between the two lines at
Lutherstadt Wittenberg. The Köthen avoiding line is no longer used.
Schleswig-Holstein: There are no longer any passenger trains via the Flensburg avoiding line, but during
July and August the overnight train between Hamburg and København is diverted via the Kiel avoiding line.

[006] Germany – New section of light rail opens in Köln
The third phase of the Nord-Süd Stadtbahn project in Köln was inaugurated on 12 December. Regular
services began the following day. Construction of the Nord-Süd Stadtbahn to connect the north-south light
rail routes through a tunnel under the old town started in 2004 but was delayed by a ground collapse in
March 2009. The first two phases opened in 2012 and 2013; the final stage between Severinstraße and
Heumarkt is still to open. The 2.4 km section forms a branch off Route 16 at Schönhauser Straße, running

north to Bonner Wall, Chlodwigplatz, Kartäuser Hof and Severinstraße. It is almost entirely in 30 metre
deep twin-bore tunnels.

[007] Germany/Netherlands - Bridge damage closes line
On 4 December a ship crashed into the railway bridge near Weener causing major damage. The bridge may
be beyond repair as the piers have been moved. International services on this secondary line between
Nieuweschans (Netherlands) and Leer (Germany) have been replaced by buses. Dutch radio reports that
repairs or construction of a new bridge may take five years.

[008] Germany - Aachen Ringbahn completion in sight
There are new pdfs for table 482 with effect from 12 June 2016 showing trains running beyond Eschweiler
St. Jöris to Stolberg thus finally completing the re-opening of the line from Herzogenrath.

[009] Germany - Düsseldorf tram line to disappear
The current Stadtbahn (effectively a metro system today, though with a railway history) expansion project
under construction is a new 3.5km tunnel from the Düsseldorf-Bilk station in the south of the city to the
Düsseldorf-Wehrhahn station, and this will be known as the Wehrhahn-Linie. As with every other
underground line opened previously in Düsseldorf, the Wehrhahn-Linie will be a replacement for surface
tram lines, with current tram lines 703, 712 and 713 expected to be replaced by the Stadtbahn service.
With completion of the project, trams on this line will enter the new tunnel over a ramp at Bilk railway
station and run from there underneath the city centre towards the north-east, where they will emerge
shortly before Wehrhahn railway station.
The present above-ground tram route that will be replaced passes through the city centre with separate
and parallel street running sections and will close in February 2016, possibly on 20 February. As at October
2015 it was used over its whole length by routes 712 and 713. It is also used in part by other services, so six
curves on routes 703, 706, 707 and 715 are likely to close on the same date.

[010] Greece – The Velestino to Aerino railway
This is the sole remaining working section of the former Volos – Velestino –
Palaeofarsalos – Kalambaka metre gauge railway built by Thessaly Railways and
completed on 16 June 1886. It was 142km long. Thessaly Railways also built a
metre gauge line from Larissa to Velestino, which was therefore an important
junction. Construction started in 1882 under the general management of chief
engineer Evaristo de Chirico. The section from Volos to Larissa, 61 km long, was
inaugurated on 22 April 1884 by King George I and operated by the Chemins de Fer
de Thessalie. Thessaly Railways operated the railway until 1955, when it was
absorbed into Hellenic State Railways. In 1960 the line from Larissa to Volos was
converted to standard gauge and was connected at Larissa with the mainline from
Athina to Thessaloniki, all trains using the OSE station. Traffic started to fall off in
the 1960s, and in the 1980s and 1990s the western end of the line, from
Paleofarsalos to Kalambaka, was rebuilt as standard gauge. When the rebuilding
was finally completed in 1999 the Paleofarsalos – Velestino – Volos section was
closed to regular services, though excursion trains ran for some years. Today only
the 14 kilometre section from Velestino to Aerino is open. The line is maintained
by volunteers for the Museum Railways Company or EMOS (Greek: Εταιρεία
Μουσειακών Σιδηροδρόμων or ΕΜΟΣ). EMOS preserves a variety of rolling stock
owned by the Hellenic Railways Organization under long term loan. The star exhibit
is a 1937-built Linke-Hofmann DMU, a metre gauge version of the railcars being
built for inter-city services being set up by the Nazi authorities in Germany at the

time. The railway was visited by the PTG Railtours ‘Rail Wonders of Southern Greece’ in October 2015. The
Linke-Hofmann DMU apparently has power unit problems, so the passengers on the tour travelled in a
wooden bodied coach behind Nippono Sharyo diesel shunter No. 3, built in 1971 and formerly used by the
Hellenic Public Power Corporation at their lignite mines in Aliveri, where her duties was pulling the lignite
trains from the mines to the electricity plant. It transpired that this too had power unit problems, so two
return trips had to be made as the loco could not take all the passengers up the long graded section at one
time.

Nippono Sharyo diesel shunter No. 3 ready to depart from Velestino station. The loco will propel the PTG charter to
Aerino. The standard gauge tracks are behind the photographer.

The maximum gradient on the line is 3%. Velestino station is over a kilometre from the north eastern
corner of Velestino town in a very rural setting. The diesel and wooden coach was waiting on the metre
gauge track by the station building, which is still in use. Leaving the station, the run-down depot area is on
the left with some rather derelict looking stock present and also a water tower. It quickly became
apparent that vegetation was taking over the trackbed, which at times was not visible for long periods.

Volunteers had cleared some of the worst of the overhanging
branches and inspected the track the previous week. When
questioned it transpired that it had been a year since the last
train ran on the line. Clearly this is not your average tourist
railway. Passing a semaphore almost completely covered by
Ivy, after 1.5km the line diverges away from the standard
gauge line and starts a huge loop towards the town of
Velestino. A small station (picture on left) with concrete
shelter is present and carries the nameboard Stasis Velestino.
Only one road crossing was deemed worth of manual

intervention in the form of a man with a red flag. Otherwise a volunteer at the front
of the coach (the loco was propelling) would simply wave the driver forward. At one
point in the passage through the town the train was confronted with a wall of
vegetation with the track beyond invisible until the coach had pushed through it.
Many more branches would be encountered, and some people got cuts on their
arms as well as damage to clothing (picture on right). It was really quite dangerous.
Once out of Velestino the line follows a winding course south, passing through an
attractive landscape of large fields and rising steadily. The locomotive needed a
couple of ‘rests’ before continuing. At one point the line gets close to the Athina –
Thessaloniki highway before turning west to arrive at the small town of Aerino
(spelt Aerinon on the station building). Beyond Aerino station are sidings with old
stock, and the remains of a turning triangle. The line continues towards
Paleofarsalos – disused. There was time for a brief walk round before everyone got back on board for the
return journey and another load of passengers.

Aerino station, and a member watches anxiously in case there is a shunt which would get him more track!

At Velestino some enterprising souls were taking orders for drinks and light refreshments, then driving into
the town to buy them. There was plenty of time to explore the depot and station area. Once the second
group arrived back light relief was afforded as the volunteers removed the benches from the carriage and
replaced them in their normal locations outside the station!

A run-past on the return journey reveals the rolling countryside typical of the line, as well as the very obvious gradient

[011] Italy - A last minute visit to Pré Saint Didier and Derby
There had been strong suggestions in internet forums that the final section of the 131km branch from
Chivasso to Pré Saint Didier was under threat of closure at the December timetable change. The section in
question is from Aosta to Pré Saint Didier , and is 31.4km long. “Just in case” two members visited the line
on Saturday 28 November and at least two more members have visited subsequently.
The late November visit was on a sunny, cloudless but cold day and encountered a number of lineside and
car chasing photographers on the threatened part. FS staff at Aosta booking office went as far as agreeing
services were under threat but were unable to say if trains would continue running or not. Then a visitor
on Tuesday 8 December, just five days before the new Timetable period started, was advised that last
trains would run on 24 December. By then neither the Trenitalia or Valle d’Aosta regional pages on the FS
website had any comment whatsoever, although the Journey Planner was loaded with timings to Pré Saint
Didier up to March 2016. So it was only on the timetable change day of Sunday 13 December when the
new PDF’s and an amended Journey planner confirmed the closure date, with last trains shown as the
19:59 from Aosta and 21:06 return from Pré Saint Didier on Christmas Eve with nothing, not even buses,
thereafter.
To reach Pré Saint Didier required two changes of train and took just under three hours each way. The first
33km to Ivrea is electrified with through trains from Torino. These reverse at Chivasso (on the main line to
Milano), some even loco hauled with class 464 electric and lengthy push pull sets, so it was to be expected
that this section would be very busy. From Ivrea it was mainly modern Aln 501 Minuetto DMUs to Aosta,
but apparently these newish units do not go to Pré Saint Didier as track curvature wears out the flanges.
So even though bi-mode trains are on order which would at least eliminate one change of train, no doubt
these could not get to Pré Saint Didier for the same reason, so would not help in reducing costs by running
a through service. Pre-trip searches suggested some of the connecting trains up the valley were cancelled,
but on arriving at Ivrea and expecting a wait, it was observed that the locals dashed across the tracks (from

full height platforms) towards a multiple unit at the far end of a different platform. So an immediate
connection was indeed available and its three coaches departed full and standing. Leaving Ivrea the valley
width slowly reduces with the still busy railway running for most of its length along the southern side of
the valley. Many passengers were travelling to Aosta, a town of 35,000 inhabitants according to Wikipedia.
Unfortunately this is where luck ran out as an announcement was heard including the dreaded words
“cancellato” and “pullman” with waiting FS staff rounding up the few passengers wishing to continue
towards Pré Saint Didier onto a waiting bus. This led to some confusion as the members tried to establish
(in schoolboy French and Italian), if all of the days service was by bus. The initial interpretation of the FS
staff replies was there was a track problem, but our members wanted to know if this was temporary or
serious enough to bring forward any permanent closure? Salvation was at hand with a much younger
booking office clerk who spoke good English, so after explaining that they only wished to travel onwards by
rail, the excellent news after she made a phone call was that the next departure 80 minutes later would be
a train. So after a wander around this pretty town centre and a drink, on departure in a single railcar it was

quickly realised it was going to be a very scenic journey. The
valley narrowed and the line climbed and twisted with numerous
tunnels, some quite long, plus many concrete snow shelters to
reach a height of 1,005 metres at the terminus, with a view of
snow covered mountains, including Mount Blanc, in the distance.
As a consequence the line must cost a fortune to maintain but its
fare box revenue on that Saturday afternoon was minimal. A
maximum of six other passengers travelled outbound, with the
two members being the only ones travelling to the end. There
was a slight technical hitch on approaching Pré Saint Didier when
the brakes came on when still in the last tunnel and a 5-10
minute delay with the driver dashing between the front and rear
cabs to reset. This actually happened four times on different
types of trains over this weekend, (causing a connection to be
missed the next day), so what is so different on FS
trains/signalling/safety equipment? On eventually arriving at Pré
Saint Didier the time for photos etc. was much reduced, even
more so by meeting an IBSE member who had been there since
earlier in the day! Just the three enthusiasts departed and en
route a second train of two single railcars had also entered
service to operate the full scheduled timetable but these were
passed carrying nothing but fresh air and of the four services seen, the maximum number of passengers
was nine. Our members’ IBSE friend then advised that every second train in the morning had been
replaced by a bus, so the cancellations were either crew or multiple unit shortage and not track related.
There are nine intermediate stations on the line. One, in the suburbs of Aosta and serving a college, is of
the bus shelter type. Our member speculates that this station may survive as presumably it is well used by
students. The remaining stations are of a wooden chalet style with raised individual letters forming the
station names on the building in addition to the blue FS station platform nameboards. It may have been
noticed flippantly in an earlier main BLN Headlines that one of these is at a small village called and spelt
Derby, but the automatic on board announcements pronounced it as (say second syllable quickly)….
Derrbee.

[012] Netherlands - New Train Service To Eemshaven
Groningen Province, ProRail, the municipality of Eemsmond, AG Ems and Groningen Seaports have finally
agreed on the route for a new passenger line to Eemshaven, mainly on the existing freight line. The work
will start in spring 2016 with the first train in April 2018. Eemshaven then will be the place with the most

northerly station in the Netherlands. Currently it is Roodeschool and this village will get a new station on
Hooilandseweg. There will be 3 km new track laid and more than four kilometres of existing goods track
will be improved to passenger standards.
At Eemshaven the station is next to the large car park for the Borkum Ferry. The new line will give the
German island's tourism a boost as well as improving onward transportation for the Islanders. This will
mean that the current Roodeschool station will close and a new station will open nearby.

[013] Poland – Update on reopenings and closures
BLNI 1245.419 reported that line 322, Kępno – Wieluń – [Herby Nowe], would lose its local passenger
service from 12 December. Subsequent to the timetable change the new PDF’s show a pair of trains still
running, though they are extremely inconveniently timed. They run daily departing Kępno at 03:02 and
northbound from [Tarnowskie Gora 19:09], Wieluń Dąbrowa 20:55 and arriving Kępno at 21:32.
Meanwhile on the Polish/Czech border, the line from Wodzisław Śląski to Chałupki was meant to reopen at
the timetable change, but three days before this the reopening was cancelled and postponed to 18 January
2016, allegedly due to problems with the Spanish contractors.
In the north east of Poland BLNI1189.292 reported on reconstruction of part of line 35 to provide a rail
connection to Olsztyn airport, also known as Szymany Lotnisko. A new 1.57 km spur (line 747) will connect
the airport with line 35. From Szczytno (on the Olsztyn to Pisz railway line) trains will travel south down
line 35 approximately 8.16km to the junction with the new line (which is about 1.8km north of Szymany
station, which remains train-less,) and then head south west to the airport. The on-line station departure
sheets suggest two train pairs Tuesday – Saturday and one train pair on Sundays will start running to
Szymany Lotnisko from 21 January 2016.
Oleśnica - Syców - Kępno is being reinstated as a through freight route with completion due in January
2016. There is also talk of introducing a passenger service at least as far as Syców.
Regarding Somonino to Kartuzy, pdfs for tables 440 and 443 have been updated from 23 October removing
references to the two trains that had been shown as running on this freight line and, in table 440,
removing all reference to the line.

[014] Sweden - Sweden’s longest rail tunnel finally opens
Sweden’s longest rail tunnel has opened on the railway between Malmö and Göteborg more than 20 years
since the start of its construction. The €1.2 billion Hallandsås Tunnel was finally opened on 8 December.
The 9-kilometre, twin-bore tunnel will allow significantly more passenger services to operate along the
western corridor, creating capacity for up to 20 additional trains an hour. From 15 December 15, when the
tunnel is brought into service, 100 trains will travel through the Hallandsås Tunnel – twice as many as
currently use the route. The project has also seen new stations constructed in Förslöv, Barkåkra and
Båstad. Construction of the tunnel first began in 1992. Five years later, with a third of the tunnel bored,
the project was brought to a standstill after serious environmental concerns were raised. Construction
eventually restarted in 2003. The old route around the edge of the ridge has been closed and will be lifted.

REST OF THE WORLD

[015] Canada - Update from British Columbia
Victoria / Courtenay: VIA Rail passenger service has been suspended since 18 March 2011 due to concerns
over the state of the track, which if anything has continued to deteriorate, to the extent that remaining
Southern Railway freight operations between Duncan and Parksville were withdrawn in November 2014
and are now confined solely to local work within Nanaimo. Meanwhile, the line has been cut back at the
Victoria end, the city centre terminus being lost to road developments, restricting any possible reopening
to Victoria West (which was the terminus from 1972 to 1985), and of course VIA’s two Budd RDC-1 diesel
railcars have long ago been shipped back to the mainland. All is not lost, however: VIA, Southern and the

Island Corridor Foundation (owners of the infrastructure) have collectively secured funding commitments
to the tune of CAD 20.4 million towards infrastructure work, and indeed have agreed a provisional
timetable should this amount prove sufficient to facilitate restoration of services; there would be three
round trips between Nanaimo and Victoria West on Mondays to Fridays, with the full length of the line to
Courtenay served only at weekends and bank holidays. It is reported that tenders for the upgrade will be
invited in early 2016.
West Coast Express: Twenty years of operation were celebrated on 1 November 2015. As has been the
case from the beginning, the service is restricted to Mondays to Fridays, and comprises five inbound
morning peak trains from Mission City to Vancouver Waterfront, returning in the evening peak. Canadian
Pacific Railway is unwilling to offer any additional paths, despite repeated calls for a mid-day round trip.
The bi-level rolling stock is formed into two 10-car, a 9-car, an 8-car and a 4-car set, operated by
Bombardier Transportation crews. There will be interchange stations with the Skytrain Evergreen Line (see
next item) at both Coquitlam Central and Port Moody, which may lead to some abstraction of WCE
ridership into Vancouver.

View from the walkway over the platforms at Vancouver Waterfront showing stock stabled in the station and outside the
station ready to work the evening commuter trains to Mission City. A midday return trip would be very useful to gricers
as otherwise it is necessary to spend the night in Mission City.

Skytrain Evergreen Line (Loughheed Town Centre / Lafarge Lake-Douglas): Following delays due to adverse
ground conditions, tunnel boring was finally completed on 27 November. Opening of the line has however
been put back to “early 2017”. Recent official Translink announcements now rather confusingly refer to
the new line as “Millennium Line – Evergreen Extension”, with services to operate through beyond
Loughheed to VCC-Clark terminus over existing Millennium Line tracks.
CN Okanagan sub-division: Track lifting of the 29 miles between Kelowna and Lumby Junction commenced
on 13 November. CN has sold most of the abandoned line to local authorities, but has retained ownership
of 1.5 miles through lands of the Okanagan Indian Band.

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RAILTOURS AND DIVERSIONS OVER NON-PASSENGER LINES

This is provided as a service to members and details must be checked with the organisers.

Poland – Turkol programme 2016
Railway tourism company TurKol continue to expand their programme of special trains with over 80
planned for 2016, including several multi-day steam specials. As in previous years, there is freight line
content on some tours. Rare track details as follows:
Poznań circuits via Poznań Franowo: 24 Jan16, 2 May16, 27 Oct16, 26 Nov16 and 10 Dec16
Międzyrzecz - Wierzbno - Międzychód: 13 Feb16
Międzyrzecz - Międzychód – Sieraków 3 May 16
Międzychód - Wierzbno - Przytoczna - Skwierzyna : train to/from Gorzow: 3 May 16
Both routes to Międzychód are therefore possible on this date by booking on both specials.
Krzyż - Gorzów Wlkp. - Skwierzyna - Międzychód - Międzyrzecz - Skwierzyna - Gorzów Wlkp. - Krzyż on 13
Aug 16. So, both routes to Międzychód available on this date on the same train, but not to get to Sieraków,
only as far as Międzychód Letnisko. On this date they are also trying to get Międzychód - Gorzyń - Głażewo
– Łowyń by train, not for the first time and on previous occasions this has been a bus.
Międzyrzecz to Międzychód on 8 Oct16
Wągrowiec - Rogoźno Wlkp. - Bzowo Goraj - Czarnków : 27 Feb16 & 6 Aug16
Żagań - Szprotawa : 20 March16
Laskowice Pomorski, Bąk, Kościerzyna as part of a four day kettlex to Hel! : 16-19 April 16
Aleksandrów Kujawski - Ciechocinek : 16 April16 (part of above kettlex but can book separately)
Bydgoszcz Główna - Rynarzewo - Szubin: 16 April16 (part of above kettlex but can book separately)
Gniezno and direct curve towards Kruszwica branch and Kruszwica - Inowrocław: 14 May16
Inowrocław - Wapienno - Inowrocław: 14 May16
Kołobrzeg Port: 28 May16 & 29 PIRAT and 19 June 16 KATAMARAN, the latter again via Szczecin Główny
outbound and implying use of the Szczecin Dąbie avoider on the return. Also option of missing Kołobrzeg
and doing a NG diesel special on the normally one pair a day lengthy NG section from Gryfice to Trzęsacz.
Wągrowiec - Rogoźno - Wągrowiec: 5 June16 & 11 November16
Gniezno - Damasławek - Kcynia - Nakło and to Białośliwie for a NG steam gathering: 25 June 16
Possibly a mistake, but as part of a three day tour Poznań to Wrocław it states a route of Węgliniec - Żagań
and not Węgliniec - Żary suggesting route of freight line 389 from Jankowa Żagańska to Żagań: 29 Aug 16
Żagań - Bieniów - Lubsko: 10 September16
http://turkol.pl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7&Itemid=3

LCGB programme 2016
The Locomotive Club of Great Britain (LCGB) would like to make an open invitation to Branch Line Society
members to participate in its Overseas Study Tours. The tours have long enjoyed an excellent reputation
among enthusiasts with an interest in foreign railways, whether in easily accessible Europe or further
afield. Full or temporary LCGB membership is mandatory as is travel insurance.
Plans for 2016/2017 include:
France – April 2016 - a long weekend to the three day Baie de Somme Steam Gala, held every three years
on the Picardy coast in Northern France.
Netherlands – May 2016 – the regular long weekend to the bi-annual Dordrecht Steam Festival held in the
beautiful historic city of Dordrecht, with steam of all sizes from full-size to miniature on rail, water, road
and pavement, plus lots of other entertainment for all the family. Includes main line steam.
Poland (Northern) – August/September 2016 - many preservation sites plus main line steam from
Wrocław..

Brazil – September 2016 – A return to this fascinating country after a very successful and comprehensive
tour in 2014. The tour will mainly focus on preserved railways in the regions around Rio de Janeiro and Sao
Paolo.
Bulgaria – October 2016 – A return after previous successful tours. This time the newly restored 2-12-4T
plus Pacific will be used along with a 4-8-2, narrow gauge 2-10-2T and other locomotives, plus superb
scenery and culture.
South Africa – Spring 2017 – two weeks tour plus Sandstone Festival
Further details of LCGB Overseas Study Tours can be found on the Club's website along with booking and
contact details for each Tour. Website: www.lcgb.org.uk

January 2016 BLNI Extra No. 10 – Japan

[B1] Japan - JR West considering closure of Sanko Line
JR West has started negotiations with local communities for the closure of the 108.1 km Sanko Line. It links
Miyoshi in northern Hiroshima-ken and Goutsu in western Shimane-ken. The first section opened in 1930
but completion of the whole line took until 1975. Traffic density, which was 458 passengers/km/day when
JR West started, is now down to 50. In fiscal year 2014 passenger revenue was a paltry 23 million yen. The
area it serves is losing population and the line will not survive unless local communities agree to subsidize
operations. The most notable station on the Sanko Line is Uzui, situated in a deep valley which the railway
track crosses with a high bridge. On both sides are tunnels. The platform is 30 metres above ground level,
the highest in Japan. There is neither elevator nor escalator, so to board one must climb 116 steps.
Contrary to what Wikipedia claims, the station opened August 1975, not 1985. JNR lines that opened in the
1970s had long tunnels and elevated sections to avoid steep slopes and tight curves, and this applied to
both trunk lines and local lines so construction costs were high. Last year Uzui Station had on average less
than one passenger per day. Four trains in each direction serve this station. Although this station sees an
average of less than one passenger per day, this station has proved a point of interest to many who go out
of their way to see it. The station was even floodlit for a period in 2013.

Uzui station from ground level
[B2] Japan - Tunnelling begins on first Maglev line
Construction work has begun on Japan’s first magnetic levitation train line, with the Central Japan Railway
Company beginning a 25-km tunnel between Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures. The company, better
known as JR Tokai, held a prayer ceremony recently for the safety of the tunnelling work in Hayakawa,
Yamanashi Prefecture. Over 86% of the 296km route will be underground and will take 10 years to
complete and be up to 1400 metres deep. Maglev operations between Shinagawa and Nagoya are
expected to begin in 2027, and will be extended to Osaka in 2045.

[B3) Japan - JR East Tadami Line may reopen with assistance from local communities
Communities of Fukushim-ken along the JR East Tadami Line, which is currently closed between Aizu-
Kawaguchi and Tadami, have entered discussions for subsidizing railway operations with public funds.
The section has been closed since July 2011 when flash floods swept away several bridges. The Tadami
Line has never shown a profit. In recent years revenue was around 5 million yen per year, while
expenditures were 330 million yen. JR East estimates that 8.5 billion yen will be needed to restore
destroyed facilities and resume operations. The company does not desire to spend the money on a money
loser. The Tadami Line was built to carry construction material to hydraulic power plant projects. It
appears that the torrential rainfall of July 2011 caused the water level of the dams to rise rapidly and
spillway gates were fully opened to protect the dams. Ironically the railway became a casualty of the very
facilities it had helped build. The Tadami Line is one of the most scenic rail routes in Japan. Thus the entire
revenue JR East enjoys from this line may be more than 5 million yen as stated above for many tourists use
the Shinkansen for access.

[B4] Japan - Japan’s Top 10 Scenic Train Trips–according to two “densha otaku” train guides
http://en.rocketnews24.com/2015/07/02/japans-top-10-scenic-train-trips-according-to-two-densha-
otaku-train-guides/

[B5] Japan - Railways helping Turtles
The West Japan Railway Company and Suma Aqualife Park in Kobe have teamed up to make trains a whole
lot safer for the slower, smaller, more-reptilian local population: the turtles. The Suma Aqualife Park is a
giant aquarium/beach in Kobe that attracts plenty of tourists and families, most of whom get there by
train. However, due to the park’s proximity to the ocean, every year
several turtles get stuck in the train tracks and cause delays,
malfunctions, or even damage to the trains themselves. The most
common way for the turtles to get stuck is when they try crawling over
the railroad tracks and become trapped between the two high metallic
rails. Since they can’t climb out, they’re forced to follow along the track,
until eventually they either get run over by a train or get stuck in a part
of the rail-switching mechanism. The switch would crush the turtle at
some point, typically getting damaged in the process and forcing trains to stop until it was fixed. So in
order to keep both train-riding humans and rail-stuck turtles happy, Japan Railways has implemented this
solution: creating escape ditches for the turtles along the railway. This new turtle escape route has been
implemented since April this year, and from then to August there were 10 turtles observed making use of
them to leave the tracks. That means that in addition to 10 turtle lives saved, potentially 10 accidents have
been prevented, saving the time and money which would be required to clear up afterwards.

[B6] Japan - Narrow gauge trains to disappear from Seikan Tunnel next March
Hokkaido's local paper Hokkaido Shimbun reports that JR Hokkaido and JR East are in the final stages of
negotiations concerning train schedules after the Shinkansen opening to Hakodate, scheduled for
March 2016. The two companies do not plan to continue running Hakucho, Super Hakucho, Cassiopieia
and Hamanasu after the Hokkaido Shinkansen opens. Most probably no regular narrow-gauge trains will
stay running after next March. The Series E25 Cassiopieia formation is likely to be used mostly for
chartered services in Honshu, perhaps making a few runs per year as a seasonal service between Ueno and
Sapporo. The express train Hamanasu which departs Sapporo at 22:00 serves as the last run of the
evening. If no alternative train is installed, users of stations east of Higashi-Muroran will be greatly
inconvenienced. The citizens of Date City are particularly concerned.

With no 1067mm gauge passenger trains running through the Seikan Tunnel, it will become impossible for
Seishun 18 pass users to travel between Honshu and Hokkaido. Railway officials do not seem to be
enthusiastic about establishing a special provision. Discouraging Seishun 18 pass users from visiting
Hokkaido may be a bad idea. Local trains in Hokkaido, with the exception of those in the Sapporo area are
slow, infrequent and connect poorly with each other. Seishun 18 Pass users tend to pay extra and board
limited-express trains quite frequently in Hokkaido. (Using fast extra-fare trains is known as "warp" among
Seishun 18 Pass fans.)

[B7] Japan - Koboro Station, "most secluded" in Hokkaido to survive
Hokkaido Railway Co. (JR Hokkaido) had announced that it would permanently close the station, on the JR
Muroran Line, at the end of October at the earliest amid a streamlining effort, but the town of Toyoura in
Hokkaido offered financial assistance to keep the station, a big tourist draw, open. The town is nearing an
agreement with JR Hokkaido to offer assistance to keep the station operating, including bearing the
maintenance costs. Other stations are not so lucky and will be closed next Spring. These include Hanasaki
on the Nemuro Line. The closing of Hanasaki Station creates a problem: JR Hokkaido calls the Nemuro Line
east of Kushiro the "Hanasaki Line", which may not be appropriate without a Hanasaki Station.

[B8] Japan - JR East announces Tokyo Wide Pass
JR East will begin selling an upgraded version of the Kanto Area pass for foreigners next month called the
Tokyo Wide Pass. The cost of the pass will be 10,000 yen (adults) for three consecutive days of travel, up
from the 8,300 yen cost of the old Kanto Area pass. Sales of the new Tokyo Wide pass will commence on
19 November, with a start date of 19 December or later. The Kanto Area pass has not been sold since 18
December. The coverage area of the Tokyo Wide pass covers includes the entire coverage area of the
former Kanto Area pass, with these additions:
- Joetsu Shinkansen and Joetsu Main Line to Echigo-Yuzawa, and to Gala Yuzawa during the winter season
- Rinkai Line (Tokyo Waterfront Railway) for its entire length
More details: http://www.jreast.co.jp/press/2015/20151013.pdf

[B9] Japan - Hokkaido Shinkansen set to open
JR Hokkaido and JR East have announced that the Hokkaido Shinkansen will open on 26 March 2016, and
the two railways have also revealed the initial operating pattern for services over the 149km line from
Shin-Aomori to Shin-Hakodate. The northern terminus of the line at Shin-Hakodate Hokuto will be served
by 10 express Hayabusa services from Tokyo and one per day from Sendai, together with two Hayate
services, one from Morioka and the other from Shin-Aomori. Shin-Hakodate Hokuto and Hakodate city
centre will be linked by 16 shuttle services per day, most of which will be formed of three-car EMUs. The
launch of the Shinkansen will see the withdrawal of all 1067mm-gauge trains running through the 53km
Seikan tunnel between Honshu and Hokkaido, including Cassiopeia, Super Hakucho, Hakucho, and
Hamanasu trains. However, to provide connections with high-speed services, Hokuto and Super Hokuto
services on the conventional line from Sapporo to Shin-Hakodate Hokuto will be stepped up from 9 to 12
trains per day. In the longer-term a 211km second phase of the Hokkaido Shinkansen is planned, which will
extend high-speed services to Sapporo by 2030.

[B10] Japan - Last 'green frog' train running in Kumamoto headed for final run after 60 years
With a rigid suspension and no air conditioning, a ride on Kumamoto Dentetsu Co.'s Kikuchi Line's
"aogaeru," or green frog, does not offer the passenger comforts of a modern train. Painted bright green,
the car is still equipped with grab handles with old ads of Tokyo's Shibuya 109 department store building
printed on them, which were installed when the train was still in service for Tokyu Corp. But the green
frog, nearly 60 years old, still has many fans, who often say that the round "face" on the front of the car is
"charming" and "cute." Train buffs, however, may only have a few more months to see and ride the old

train before it is taken out of service. The train is officially known as the Tokyu 5000 series and has been
serving passengers on the Kikuchi Line for the past 30 years. It is scheduled to be withdrawn from service
before the end of the fiscal year. According to Tokyu, the Tokyu 5000 series trains were transferred to
private railway companies in cities such as Kumamoto, Nagano and Shizuoka, after being retired from the
firm's rail lines. Kumamoto Dentetsu received two cars in 1981 and four more four years later, but the one
transferred in 1985 is the only example that remains in service. Tokyu ran its last green frog trains in 1986,
and those dispatched elsewhere were all eventually withdrawn from service as well. Now, the last green
frog train, which was manufactured in 1957, is set to be taken out of service at the end of next March at
the latest. The train will be succeeded by a modified version of the Ginza Line 01 series of the Tokyo Metro
Co., but details on when it will be taken over remain undetermined. Many train buffs flock to the train line
to snap photographs of the green frog, which makes 28 round trips between the city's Kami-Kumamoto
and Kita-Kumamoto stations every Sunday. A popular spot for rail fans is Ikeda Station, where they can
grab a photo of the green frog train heading for Kami-Kumamoto Station, emerging from a tunnel covered
in trees. The Tsuboigawa river near Uchigoshi Station is also a popular scenic spot, as rail buffs can take a
photo of the train as it passes Kumamoto Castle in the background.

[B11] Japan – Beautiful, unique and hidden railway stations
http://en.rocketnews24.com/2015/05/18/five-of-japans-most-beautiful-and-unique-hidden-train-stations/

Shimonada Station (Ehime Prefecture)

Located in Futamicho Kaminada, Iyo, this is the
closest station to the sea in all of Japan. It’s about
one hour by train or car south from Ehime
Prefecture’s capital city Matsuyama.

Koboro Station (Hokkaido)

Koboro Station can be found on the Muroran Main Line which
runs along the coast of Iburi Subprefecture between Oshamambe
and Iwamizawa. The station is famous as being the most hidden in
all of Japan, as it’s enclosed by tunnels to the east and west and a
mountain range to the north. The only path is to the south, but it
ends at the sea. In other words, the only way to get to this
station is by train!

Okuoikojo Station (Shizuoka Prefecture)

This station can be found in Umeji, Kawanehon in
the rural Haibara District, which has a population of
under 40,000. The station is located at the head of
a spit of land that sticks out on the Nagashima
Dam lake like a peninsula. Up through the trees
behind the station is a log cabin with rest facilities
on the ground floor and a viewing platform above
where you can gaze out at the lake.

Doai Station (Gunma Prefecture)

Otherwise known as the “mole station,” at 70
metres beneath the earth, Doai Station is the
deepest underground station in Japan. From the
ticket gates to the platform you’ll have to go
down a 338-metre staircase of 462 steps.

[B12] Japan – Sapporo Streetcar extended
The Sapporo Streetcar is a 1067mm gauge tram network located in Sapporo, opened in 1909 as the
"Sapporo Stone Horsecar Railway", horses giving way to 600V DC electricity in 1918. At its peak in
1958, the network was 25 kilometres long, but it has shrunk as car ownership has increased, and is
now 8.41km in length. There are three lines currently in operation.
A new 450m section opened on 20 December and links two ends of existing lines at Nishi-Yon-
chome and Susukino, completing a loop. The previous extension was in 1964.

Lines and routes

January 2016 BLNI Extra No. 11 – USA

[B13] USA - The New York subway system runs on 100-year-old technology
A fascinating insight into the way the New York subway operates. A real time warp.
http://uk.businessinsider.com/this-is-why-the-new-york-city-subway-is-always-delayed-2015-11

[B14] USA - New York’s Grand Central Terminal to be connected to Long Island Railroad
MTA contractors have begun the process of breaking through the floor of Grand Central Terminal marking
the start of construction of one of several access points that will connect Grand Central Terminal to a huge
new concourse for Long Island Rail Road passengers being built below. The concourse being built is part of
the East Side Access construction project, which will bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central.
The opening now being created is located across from tracks 112-115, and will contain the structural
framework and supports for the future escalators and stairway that will be installed closer to the start of
new LIRR service. The work is projected to take approximately 12 to 18 months.
The space that will house the stairway and escalators is a former seating area on the west side of the
Lower Level Dining Concourse that was formally known as the West Pullman Dining and Seating Area. A
1,920-square-foot area has been closed to the public to allow construction to take place. East Side Access
is the largest transportation construction project underway in the United States. In addition to the
passenger concourse, platforms, and passageways being built under Grand Central, the project has
excavated 42,500 feet of tunnels in Manhattan and Queens, opened up a new entrance to Grand Central
at 245 Park Avenue and built a pocket park on 50th Street between Park and Madison Avenues. Metro-
North has decommissioned a set of 15 tracks on the west side of the lower level, previously used to stable
trains, and replaced them with a new yard in the Bronx.
The East Side Access project will increase the LIRR’s capacity into Manhattan, and dramatically shorten
travel time for Long Island and eastern Queens commuters travelling to the east side of Manhattan. It will
also allow Metro-North New Haven Line trains to access to the west side of Manhattan and four stations
that will be built in the Bronx.

[B15] USA - Denver launching commuter service from the airport to Union Station
Denver´s Regional Transportation District recently announced launch dates for commuter rail service to
downtown Denver´s historic Union Station from the airport. Beginning on 22 April 2016, at a cost of USD9,
visitors will have access to the 23-mile ride giving them a fast and affordable option to get to the heart of
the city. The rail line will service eight stations, including another new addition at the airport, the 519 room
Westin Denver International Airport Hotel.

[B16] USA – Detroit light rail under construction
M-1 RAIL is a 3.3 mile light-rail system under construction along Woodward Avenue, which runs north from
near the Detroit River. (Canada is south of the US at this point.) It is a non-profit making Public/Private
Partnership and is due for completion “in late 2016.” Part of it will operate “on-wire” and part “off-wire”
using stored energy. Woodward Avenue is entirely commercial. The line does not serve any residential
areas although there are residential streets on either side. However, many of the sites are vacant and most
other houses are boarded up. The light-rail line parallels the existing 53 bus which will not be withdrawn. It
runs every 8 – 10 minutes and seems to carry very few passengers. Nor are any alterations to routes
planned to connect with M-1. In any case, it will shut down at 22:00. The bus fare is $1.50 and the light-rail
fare, not yet set, is likely to be “around the same.” There will be no priority at traffic lights. A
correspondent was in Detroit recently during what was supposed to be the evening peak. There was hardly
anyone around and there was no traffic congestion so it’s hard to see who is going to use the new line. As
can be seen from the use of inverted commas, much of the planning seems to be a bit woolly. More
information at http://m-1rail.com/.

[B17] USA – Shinkansen line to be built in USA?
A plan to build a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston using Shinkansen bullet train technology
has moved forward as its developer has started to acquire land for the project. The railway, construction of
which is expected to start in 2017 for completion as early as 2021, is likely to become the first U.S. train
service using Shinkansen technology. It will connect the two U.S. cities in about 90 minutes.
Central Japan Railway Co., or JR Tokai, has been pushing for its Shinkansen technology to be adopted in the
project. The project is expected to cost $10 billion to $12 billion.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/06/business/texas-shinkansen-rail-project-moves-forward/

[B18] USA - Miles that aren’t a mile
A member comments that he has long known that the US Railroads are not very good at recording
accurate distances, but the details he got for the Alaska Railroad this week are beyond bad. The advertised
114.3 miles from Seward to Anchorage are fiction to start with as 0 to 1.6 were destroyed in an earthquake
in 1964 but the main problem is that most of their miles are anything but! Some are due to deviations but
it seems the whole railroad was poorly surveyed when built. For example: Milepost 13 to 14 , 5378 feet,
14 to 15, 5211 feet, 15 to 16, 5353 feet and so on. The longest "mile" is 6801 feet and shortest 3771 feet.
Between Seward and Fairbanks, 467.82 miles, there are nine !!!! "miles" which are 5280 feet. They were
not consistent when deviations were built either. At milepost 50 they got rid of post 50. At milepost 118
(2002 deviation away from airbase) 117 to 118 is now 6496 feet. When the line was diverted away from
another airbase (Clear) in 1959 this added two "miles" to the line so they added milepost 394A and 394B.
When a new safety system was introduced in late 2006 the entire railroad had to be accurately surveyed
and the distances between "mileposts" are a result of this. With the aid of the ARR working timetable and
google measuring our member is constructing a spreadsheet of all distances which will be ready soon. Both
the survey and the WTT ignore what is known as "yard limits". We would call them station areas, but the
resolution in the google images of places such as Fairbanks is excellent and can be accurately measured.
Not all US lines are as bad. He recently saw the track chart for the Amtrak route east of Sacramento and
while there are some "milepost equations" the majority of miles seem to be in order

[B19] USA - PTC deadline may be extended
The Rail Safety Improvement Act 2008 mandated that by 31 December 2015 Positive Train Control (PTC)
must be installed on those lines that carry over five million gross (short) tons of traffic annually and have
either toxic-by-inhalation hazardous materials or are used by passenger trains. By the middle of
September, it had become apparent that no railways would have completed installation and plans were
being made for hazardous materials to be declined and for Amtrak and many commuter railways to
suspend services. However, on 30 September a Bill was deposited in the House of Representatives
extending the deadline to 31 December 2018. Although it has yet to pass through both Houses of
Congress, its promoter believes that it will do so without too much difficulty. In addition, it permits the
Secretary of Transportation to extend the deadline for each railway by up to a further twelve months
subject to conditions.

[B20] USA - SMART marks first crossing on new Petaluma River bridge
In California a Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) rail car crossed the Petaluma River for the first
time on Wednesday 7 October over a recently installed bridge, another major milestone in bringing
passenger train services to the North Bay area of San Francisco. The refurbished 30-year-old drawbridge
was installed in August to replace the former Haystack Bridge, used to carry rail traffic over the river since
1904.
This crossing kicked off a new phase of the rail project, one that will be more visible to the public as rail
cars move up and down the first completed sections of the planned 42-mile route, from downtown San

Rafael to near the Sonoma County Airport. Work has begun on building platforms and installing ticket
machines at rail stations, starting at the San Rafael site.
Engineers will be conducting high-speed tests of the rail cars on a section of track north of the Redwood
Landfill in Novato, ahead of what is expected to be a full test run of the passenger line starting next
summer. The 80-ton commuter trains are set to reach top speeds of 79 mph outside of cities, and SMART
officials said the service is still on track to make its debut to the public late next year.
The Petaluma River bridge replacement was one of the largest single infrastructure projects for SMART in
its bid to overhaul more than 42 miles of railroad in Sonoma and Marin counties. The $4.2 million
replacement span, after being dismantled in Galveston, Tex., was brought by rail to the Bay Area and
mostly re-assembled at Mare Island. Known as a bascule drawbridge, it uses a counterweight to lift the
“leaf,” or rail bed, into an almost vertical position. The drawbridge will open or close in about 110 seconds
and reach about 157 feet into the air when fully raised. SMART trains will cross the bridge at a speed of
about 50 mph.
SMART is planning to operate seven two-car DMUs units along the route. While SMART remains on track
to debut service next year, funding for a planned link from downtown San Rafael to the Larkspur ferry
terminal is still in doubt. A congressional feud over a federal road and highway spending bill threatens $20
million the rail agency is seeking for the project.

[B21] USA/Canada - Montreal to New York service to be restored?
Discussions have started towards the restoration of a rail link between Montreal and Washington DC with
pre-clearance (immigration formalities) of passengers at Montreal Central Station, thereby saving two
hours on the schedule. Trains last ran through to the USA in 1995. The proposed service would represent
an extension of AMTRAKs ‘Vermonter’. These discussions are made possible by a framework agreement on
border controls reached earlier this year between the Canadian and US federal governments.

[B22] USA – Texas Eagle (BLNI1233.200)
On 17 December, a press release was issued jointly by Amtrak, Texas Rail Advocates and others stating
that trains 21 and 22 now use the Trinity Railway Express corridor between Dallas and Fort Worth. No
starting date was given but it seems likely from the journey times between the two cities shown on
http://dixielandsoftware.net/Amtrak/status/StatusMaps/ that the diversion started on that date. The
effect has been immediate. Instead of the usual one hour or more journey time, often affected by UP
freight trains and how well the Amtrak services are able to be dealt with at Tower 55, the trains have been
taking as little as 39 minutes. There are no intermediate stations (yet) and, for the time being, no schedule
changes.


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