INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1323 23 FEBRUARY 2019
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
Tortosa is now the end of an 11km branch from L'Aldea-Amposta, but prior to 1983 the Barcelona - Valencia main line
ran through this town of around 30,000 inhabitants until a cut-off with a long high viaduct opened, bridging the River
Ebro much closer to the coast. Since 2012 the surviving railway bridge in Tortosa (seen at dusk in the photograph) has
been restored as a public footpath, as has the trackbed for 2km beyond, where it becomes a road. The current bridge
of 150m is not the original which was built for a single track in 1868 and replaced by the current double track bridge
in 1913. It will be noticed one span of the four is different as it was blown up by Republicans in 1938 during the Spanish
Civil War and replaced in a different style.
 Czech Republic – Renovation and reopening of Hrušovany u Brna to Židlochovice progresses
The old tracks have now been dismantled and renovation and electrification off the 2.966km branch is
expected to be complete by December 2019. Židlochovice station building has already been renovated
and trains will stop at a platform with direct interchange with buses.
The branch is off the Brno to Břeclav line, opened by the Kaiser Ferdinands-Nordbahn (KFNB) on 17
September 1895. The branch was not only important for the transport of passengers, but for sugar as
well. In the 1940s and 1950s there were sixteen trains pairs daily, but patronage diminished with the
rise of the motor car and passenger traffic was discontinued on 2 June 1979. Sugar traffic ended in 2000
leading to complete closure, though the tracks remained.
 France – Nice tram branch opens
On 15 December 2018 the 1.7km branch line from Grand Arénas (towards the western end of tram line
2) to Aéroport T2 commenced operation. Extension eastwards of tram line 2 is expected in mid-2019
with the opening of the initial part of the tunnelled eastern section between Magnan and an interchange
with T1 at Jean-Médecin. The final section of tunnel under the old city to Port should open in September
 France – Assorted news
Laroche-Migennes - Auxerre electrification cancelled
BFC council has decided to cancel the long outstanding project to electrify this short 17 km line that is
partly single and mechanically signalled. The manually operated level crossing at Appoigny will be
replaced with an automatic crossing. The mechanical signalling will remain at present. Auxerre - Paris-
Bercy, and Dijon - Auxerre services will continue to be operated with bi-mode AGC 3 and 4-car units.
Paris RER Woes
The Paris RER network often faces delays as it struggles with antiquated equipment, suicides and other
problems. Teething problems with software in the new signalling centre at St Denis have recently (on
two occasions) misdirected Regiolis units from Laon into the RER B/D tunnel at Gare du Nord. At
Fontainebleau on RER Line R delays were caused when a camel escaped from a circus and grazed the
The station at this busy junction in the Seine valley will be drastically modified from 2019 in connection
with the arrival of the new RER E services in 2024. Currently Mantes-la -Jolie is terminus for Transilien
line J (Saint-Lazare, Poissy) and Line N (Versailles-Chantiers, Montparnasse). The Paris - Rouen - Le Havre
and Paris - Caen - Cherbourg trains pass through the station to a junction "on the flat" at the west end.
There are 7 platform lines.
During 2019 work will accelerate on a wide range of sites at Mantes-la-Jolie station:
- modernisation of the station building on the north side and creation of a new building on the south
side to be connected by two pedestrian bridges (one new) for access to the platforms.
- creation of a new maintenance depot for the RER E trains
- creation of a flyover to carry Cherbourg, Caen traffic over the Le Havre line in the direction of Poissy,
Paris Saint-Lazare. Modification of the track layout, new signalling.
- demolition of buildings on platforms 2/3 in connection with creation of RER E terminus.
Courtesy of the French Railways Society
 Germany – News from the Länder
Line 12930 Eggmühl to Langquaid heritage services to start again
Museum trains on this branch line (the Laabertalbahn) were suspended two years ago, but will start
again from 14 April 2019 when there is a Spring Market. Further dates and the timetable are available
Steigerwaldbahn re-opening being taken seriously
Line 5231 ran south from Schweinfurt for 50.1km to join the Würzburg to Nürnberg main line at
Kitzingen. No trains have operated for several years, and access to Kitzingen is not possible due to a
missing bridge. The City Council of Gerolzhofen had voted in June 2016 to decommission and redevelop
the line, but at a meeting at the beginning of January 2019 reversed this decision in the face of petitions
and studies showing the line could make a profit and support for reopening from townships on the line.
A long way to go yet, but definitely one to watch.
Two routes for services extended from Berlin Lichtenberg to Ostkreuz
Line 6006 is the S-Bahn line between Berlin Lichtenberg and the low level platforms at Ostkreuz. Line
6078 runs from Kostrzyn to Berlin Lichtenberg and continued as a goods line parallel to line 6006 to the
low level platforms 7 and 8 at Ostkreuz. Line 6078 was the Ostbahn which historically linked Berlin with
East Prussia. There is another route from Berlin Lichtenberg to the high level platforms 13 and 14 at
Ostkreuz and this uses lines 6139 and 6170. This route has been in use by passenger trains since about
2015, but use of 6078 to Ostkreuz only started at the Deecember 2018 timetable change. Both routes
are therefore used by passenger services which used to terminate at Lichtenberg, but now start and
finish at Ostkreuz, but usage is more complex than one might think.
RB 26 services to/from Kostrzyn use the low level platforms at Ostkreuz and line 6078.
RB25 services to Ostkreuz from Werneuchen arrive at the high level platforms at Ostkreuz via
6139/6170. These trains then become RB12 services to Templin Stadt via 6139/6170.
RB12 services to Ostkreuz from Templin Stadt use the low level platforms at Ostkreuz and line 6078.
These trains then become RB25 services to Werneuchen, also via 6078.
Frankfurt tram line reopens
From the December timetable change Line 14 from Gustavsburgplatz to Gallusviertel reopened after
Uelzen to Dannenberg West
This is line 1963. It is being lifted and dismantled between Stoetze and Uelzen. The rest should become
a draisine line in 2019.
Alpen to Büderich up for sale
This is line 2517 and is a single-track, non-electrified branch line near Wesel about 5.2 km long, with a
line speed of 50 km/h. It is currently without traffic. DB Netz have offered it for sale with bids due by 8
February. If there are no offers the line will be closed.
Wiehltalbahn reopening in sight
The Wiehltalbahn runs from Osberghausen – Waldbröl and anyone who uses google translate to read
the wikipedia entry (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiehltalbahn) will know that the line has led a
charmed life in recent years. With no freight, the line has survived by running heritage trains despite
powerful lobbies to close and dismantle the line. BLNI has previously reported the closure of the line
due to a factory being built too close to the railway at Denklingen. An amicable settlement has been
reached in court and the factory will pay for ‘catch rails’ between the rails by the factory. They were
supposed to be installed in October 2018, but this had to be delayed, but should soon be in place. There
are other problems to resolve however including damage to a turnout in Hermesdorf by a construction
vehicle and also track damage at Waldbröl station. Nevertheless the line looks set to reopen at some
point this year.
Mainz-Mombach to Mainz Abzw Kaiserbrücke West gets a service
This is line 3525 and now sees one weekday train which is RB 29681, the 06:40 Bad Kreuznach to
Wiesbaden Hbf arriving 07:31. The return service at 17:05 reverses in Mainz Hbf.
Windbergbahn boosted by Strabag
In 2018 apprentices from civil engineering company Strabag renovated the ‘completely dilapidated
curve below the Dresden-Gittersee train station’, the biggest problem the museum railway faced, and
the reason for the branch closing in 1998. Subject to availability of suitable rolling stock, it is hoped that
trains can run this year on a 1.5km section of the line. Restoration work by volunteers continues on
other parts of the line.
Double track section reopened on Stendal to Uelzen line
On 29 October 2018, the second track between Rademin (km 45.0) and Salzwedel (km 57.1) was put
into operation. The line had been double track previously but was singled by the DDR.
Short connecting line at Großheringen closes to passenger services
The December timetable change saw the end of the services over line 6303 (1.4km) between
Großheringen Bahnhof on the Thüringer Bahn and Großheringen Süd on the Saalbahn. All trains from
Saalfeld/Jena now continue directly to Naumburg/Halle/Leipzig. However, Weimar to Gera will see
electrification works in a few years time and it is probable that the line will see diverted traffic.
 Germany - A railtour by service train
Mondays to Fridays from 18 March to 17 May 2019 (but not 19 or 22 April), IC 2223 has a routing via
several freight lines or obscure routes between Berlin and Aachen as follows:
(Berlin –) Abzw Lüstringen – Abzw Stahlwerkskurve – Abzw Schinkel (– Osnabrück Hbf (upper station) –
Münster (Westf) Hbf –) Recklinghausen Hbf – Abzw Recklinghausen Blumenthal – Gelsenkirchen-Buer
Nord (– Gladbeck West – ) Abzw Bottrop Hbf Gbf – Abzw Essen Prosper-Levin – Strecke 2280 – Abzw
Oberhausen Walzwerk – Oberhausen West – Duisburg-Beeck Gbf – Abzw Meerbeck (– Moers –) Trompet
– Krefeld-Uerdingen (– Krefeld Hbf – Aachen Hbf). The return working offers less interest but does the
same curves in Osnabrück.
 Hungary – Fourteen lines to close in December?
A list of closures has been proposed by MÁV but not yet made official. The lines are:
Almásfüzitő-Esztergom, Csorna-Pápa, Zalaegerszeg-Rédics, Somogyszob-Nagyatád, Godisa-Komló,
Szentlőrinc-Sellye, Mohács-Villány, Gyöngyös-Vámosgyörk, Hidasnémeti-Szerencs, Nyékládháza-
Tiszaújváros, Tiszafüred-Karcag, Mezőtúr-Battonya, Nyíregyháza-Nyírbátor and Mátészalka-Csenger.
Most of these lines have been threatened before, but this might be a good time to start thinking about
a holiday in Hungary.
 Hungary – Galgamácsa to Vácrátót line open for six weeks
From 1 April to 12 May 2019 due to the complete closure of Aszód station, all Balassagyarmat to Aszód
trains will reverse at Galgamácsa and take the freight only line to Vácrátót for connections with the
national network. Galgamácsa to Vácrátót closed to passenger services about 15 years ago.
 Italy - Lecce Station and Railway Museum revamping
After the worksite materials were delivered last December, work began on the revamping of the RFI
station in Lecce (served by Trenitalia and Ferrovie Sud Est). The project involves the construction of a
new main access to the airport, on the opposite side to the historic FS passenger building in Viale Oronzo
Quarta, then construction of an extension of the pedestrian underpass to serve all the tracks and the far
side of the station.
The new access will be in the area between the FSE workshop/depot and the "Railway Museum of
Puglia" and will feature a new modern passenger building on three levels. Only the ground floor will be
open to the public and the rest will be offices for the FSE. The redevelopment will have a significant
impact on the areas behind the airport, close to Via Giuseppe Codacci Pisanelli, today in the grip of
negligence and decay. The project is estimated to take 510 days.
 Italy - Savigliano to Saluzzo reopens
This is timetable 106, formerly from Savigliano to Saluzzo and Cuneo. It was closed by the previous
government in the Piedmont region (one of 14 lines closed), but on 21 December 2018 Savigliano to
Saluzzo was ceremonially reopened at Saluzzo station. From 7 January 2019 there are sixteen train
services available from Monday to Friday.
 Netherlands - Hook of Holland metro conversion hit by more delays
The conversion of the Schiedam to Hook of Holland Line from heavy rail to light metro and connect it to
the Rotterdam Randstadrail metro system is almost complete, but far from ready due to persistent
problems with the safety software which means that supplier Bombardier has still not been granted a
safety statement. The line was originally scheduled to reopen in September 2017, but the discovery of
asbestos and contaminated ground pushed this back to February 2018 and further construction
difficulties meant further delay to the end of 2018. In August 2018 it was confirmed that the opening
would be delayed until May 2019 due to the problems with signalling and safety systems. However, even
this deadline now appears to be unachievable.
 Poland – Mrozy horse tram started up again
Mrozy is a town in east-central Poland approximately 17 kilometres east of Mińsk Mazowiecki and 56 km
east of Warszawa. At the beginning of the 20th century, workers started to set up a sanatorium in the
Polish locality of Rudka. To get construction materials on site, a 2 km narrow gauge (900 mm) railway
was laid through the forest from Mrozy. The single wooden wagon loaded with bricks was pulled by a
horse. The sanatorium was finished in 1908 and the horse tram thereafter started to carry
convalescents. The "kleinbahn" survived two world wars and ran until 1967. In the 1970s it was
dismantled, and only some sleepers in high grass remained. In 2007 it was decided to re-establish the
operation. A copy of the original wagon was manufactured and after successful trials in 2011, the horse
tram came back on the Mrozy-Rudka route one year later, carrying people seven months out of a year.
In recent years the tram has not operated, but in 2019 days of operation are expected to be: 5,12.V, 9.
VI, 14.VII, 11. VIII, 9.IX. Trams run from 14:00 to 18:00.
 Romania - Săcueni Bihor to Sărmăşag changes operators
This is timetable 413, and the section in question was operated by Interregional Calatori until they
withdrew their service on 31 December 2018. CFR Călători decided to take over the service and ran test
trains with Desiro DMUs on 9 and 10 January, then announced that from 14 January 2019 they would
operate a two train pair service.
R 4062 Jibou 03:05 - Marghita 06:10 and R 4061 Marghita 06:20 - Jibou 09:43
R 4064 Jibou 12:33 - Săcueni Bihor 16:22 and R 4063 Săcueni Bihor 17:36 - Jibou 21:17
The Săcueni Bihor avoiding line (Săcueni Bihor h. - Ram. Diosig) is no longer used for passenger services.
 Spain - A surprise at Águilas
A member travelled the 117km branch from the city of Murcia to Águilas on the Mediterranean Coast
on Sunday 27 January 2019, and with over two hours before his return (on one of the 3 pairs a day winter
service) set off to explore on a glorious sunny day with temperatures in the low 20s Celcius. As a long
line of ferry wagons could be seen berthed beyond the station platform, any railway enthusiast would
obviously want to trace how far these sidings went towards the sea, but what followed was a totally
unexpected discovery, not listed in current Lonely Planet or Rough Guide’s.
The buffers were reached after around 500m with a footbridge immediately beyond over a road leading
to the nearby promenade, and by its base was a tourist notice board in Spanish, Catalan and English with
black and white pictures showing that the other side led towards a protected coastal bay, with defunct
tracks continuing to a still standing “staithe” jutting 170m out into the sea. A path to it had been created
by sanding the gap between the rails, then a fenced latticed metal route took visitors to a viewpoint
over what is known as the Embarcadero del Hornillo; you cannot walk onto it as it is in need of major
The approach railway from Lorca via Almendricos to Águilas was built by the British Great South Eastern
Spain Railway Company between 1887 and 1896 in order to transport minerals, principally iron, from
the Sierra de los Filambres to the coast, and in 1901 work began to construct a purpose built loading
dock for the export of larger volumes of ores. It opened on 18 August 1903, with the last ship leaving on
1 December 1970. The works involved included a viaduct (where the footbridge now stands), three
single track tunnels (two reaching the jetty), plus two sidings laid on the flattened surface of the hill on
top of the tunnels and stone walls used as containing barriers for a large storage area. The ore was
placed there by drops from these two external sidings, and from the third dead end siding between the
two reaching the jetty.
The staithe at Águilas
The view over the jetty, and still standing but bricked up Port Office building, to the Bahía del Hornillo
and the nearby Isla del Fraile was superb on a still, sunny day, but perhaps more surprising is one of the
tunnels has been restored and is a visitor centre. Fortunately it opened during our members time on site
to display numerous fascinating photographs and drawings of the complex under construction and in
use in the tunnel alcoves, and all for free. The full story and the centre’s opening hours are at
The visitor centre in an old tunnel at Águilas
 Switzerland – Zürich tram rare route gets weekday train
Monday to Friday from 25 February 2019 the section of track that connects lines 11/14 to lines 4/13 and
avoids the main railway station will have one working per day in each direction. It is normally only used
for football specials or engineering diversions, both irregular. To cover it travel from Stampfenbachplatz
to Sihlquai on the 15:29 route 8 tram from Salersteig to Hardturm or in the opposite direction on the
18:41 route 8 from Hardturm to Sternen Oerlikon.
REST OF THE WORLD
 Australia – First sod turned on Inland Rail freight corridor
Construction of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail freight corridor was officially launched on 13
December when the Australian deputy PM turned the first sod at Parkes in New South Wales. This
marked the start of construction of the first 5.3 km of new line, which has been bundled with the
upgrade of 98 km of the existing route between Parkes and Narromine. When complete, double stack
trains up to 1800 metres long will be able to travel the length of the line in 24 hours, making it
competitive with road haulage. The corridor will be 1700 km long and will include 600km of new
alignment as well as upgrading of 1100km of existing line. It is scheduled for completion in 2025.
 Brazil - São Paulo ring line project moves forward
On 29 January a letter of intent was signed between the federal and state governments for the
construction of the 53km northern section of the Ferroanel de São Paulo ring line from Perus to Manoel
Feio station in Itaquaquecetuba. As part of the early renewal of its rail freight concession MRS Logistics
has agreed to invest in the line, which will divert freight away from lines currently shared with suburban
trains operated by Paulista Metropolitan Trains Company. Construction is expected to begin this year
and take four years to complete.
 Kenya - KRC to order new DMUs for Nairobi Commuter Rail network
Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has confirmed that it will place an order this year for 11 new metre-
gauge DMUs as part of the rehabilitation of the Nairobi Commuter Rail (NCR) network.
According to KRC around 30,000 passengers a day currently travel on locomotive-hauled trains on the
160km NCR network. The goal is to move eight million commuter passengers by 2022.
At the beginning of January KRC introduced a new timetable with additional peak services from
Embakasi Village and Kahawa to Nairobi.
 New Zealand - The Kingston Flyer set to return
Blenheim-based Pounamu Tourism Group successfully launched The Marlborough Flyer steam train,
between Picton and Blenheim last summer (summer was December 2017 to February 2018 in the
southern hemisphere). Plans are on track to relaunch the historic Kingston Flyer steam train which has
been off the rails since 2013. All being well, the Kingston Flyer will be operating again on the 14km
Kingston to Fairlight line by November 2019. Plans include a fast-ferry service from Queenstown to
Kingston to connect with the train, a look back to the days when lake steamers used to connect with the
Flyer. The ferry would also act as a commuter option for the bottom-of-the-lake township, which is
about to accommodate a large residential subdivision.
 New Zealand - New freight hub near Palmerston North
A Provincial Growth Fund’s $40m investment will see KiwiRail purchase land for an inter-modal rail and
road freight hub near Palmerston North, which will be easily accessed by distribution companies and
other businesses. KiwiRail is now beginning detailed plans for the freight hub, which will include
identifying potential sites and seeking resource consent to designate land for rail use. They will work
with key customers on major infrastructure requirements to encourage freight businesses into the area.
Once the new hub is established, KiwiRail will, over time, move operations from their Palmerston North
Freight Yard. The yard was initially established in 1964 on the city outskirts but is now surrounded by
urban development. This will allow the land to be used for business and housing.
 Phillipines - The trolley ‘trains’ of Manila
A video of one of the most dangerous commuter services of the world
 Senegal/Mali – Dakar to Bamako railway rescue plan
There has been almost no traffic on the Dakar-Bamako Ferroviaire route for almost six months following
a strike by Malian and Senegalese employees. To resume operations, the two partner states Mali and
Senegal must agree to finance an emergency plan of €30 million. A subsequent long-term five-year
renovation and refurbishment will require more than €870 million for which Wold Bank funding has
 South Korea - Construction starts on first GTX line in Seoul
Construction of Line A of the planned three-line GTX high-speed regional rail network was officially
launched at a ceremony at Kintex in Seoul on 27 December. It will be 83.1km long and the 43.6km
northern section will run from Unjeong northwest of Seoul via Kintex, Yeonsinnae and Seoul Station to
Samseong. A 6 km section is already under construction from Samseong to Suseo where it connects with
the existing high-speed line serving Seongnam, Yongin and Dongtan, which will also be used by GTX
services. Trains will operate at a maximum speed of 180km/h and a commercial speed of 100km/h,
which will cut journey times by between 70 and 80%. It is planned to open Line A in 2023.
Two more GTX lines are planned: Line B from Songdo to Cheongnyangni, and Line C from Uijeongbu to
 Vietnam - Some notes from a trip on Vietnamese railways
Visiting Vietnam over Christmas / New Year 2018/19 provided many glimpses of the existing and future
systems and included one journey by sleeper. This was not a railway-oriented trip but mainly by road
and air, which is how most Vietnamese people travel, with the main cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
/ Saigon being overrun with motorcycles. The existing rail infrastructure consists of the metre-gauge
North-South Railway, (the ‘Reunification Line’) with a length of 1072 miles which reopened in 1976 after
what we call the Vietnam War. It is single track with passing loops and has basically five trains in each
direction with end-to-end journey time of about 30 hours. Plans to replace it by a Japanese-built high
speed line have stalled over the years because of high costs of variously $30b - $56b and a suspicion that
much of the country’s demand for rail services would not be catered for by its construction. There are a
number of other high speed projects at the planning stage internally and in the wider region, and in Ho
Chi Minh City a significant metro project is under construction with building works in the city centre
A metro is also planned for Hanoi and is rumoured to be under construction but was not seen.
Metro works in Ho Chi Minh City
Observations were made at Hanoi Station where there are two buildings widely separated across several
A postal service was being shunted in the middle of the day
A passenger train’s loco ran round its coaches while our member was there. It’s impossible to see the
tracks from the main station which was a modern construction after wartime bomb damage.
Sleeper services are accessed from the station on the other side of the tracks with several shops over
the road used as booking/check-in offices. It’s wise to keep sight of your baggage or it may disappear en
route to the train!
Hanoi railway station
Our member’s group travelled on the overnight sleeper from Hanoi to Lao Cai, near the Chinese border
to spend time in Sapa and the villages in this mountainous area. The train leaves at 21:35 and there are
reliefs at 22:00 and on some dates 22:30. Journey time is eight hours and they had a punctual arrival at
05:30. The sleeping cars had four berth cabins available for double or single use as appropriate; western
tourists being booked through travel agencies as part of package holidays. Free coffee or wine was
available on departure and a light snack on arrival.
The journey starts with the train threading its way through the congested streets of Hanoi over some
very well protected level crossings and then over the long French-designed bridge over the Hanoi river.
The early part of the journey is on mixed gauge track past a container port and with a branch up to the
Chinese border at Dong Dang, via which it is possible to reach Beijing. The journey was comfortable but
slow with lengthy stops at two or three passing points.
On his next visit our member plans to travel over the rest of the system, particularly from Ho Chi Minh
City to Hanoi.
Further south a freight train on the north-south line
On the same road journey a yellow plant machine complete with a large umbrella (front) was seen across a river
Hué railway station has a decidedly French colonial look.
In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City the main line threads its way incongruously across busy modern highways. A motorbike was seen
parked across the main track to the north and China but no trains were due so maybe the owner felt the risk worth taking
The A4 map supplement of railways in Sofia with this e-BLNI are thanks to Rodger Wilkinson.
Note that dashed lines are closed/lifted.