INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1291 21 OCTOBER 2017
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
Please note new contact email address above
This mailing of BLN includes two new Rodger Wilkinson maps of the Leipzig area. These will be
available as A4 maps to paper BLNI subscribers and as downloadable PDFs to those who prefer e-
BLNI. The maps show the situation that will apply, probably from some time next year, as follows:
1) It shows proposed stations at Essener Strasse and Mockauer Strasse. These may be open by next
year. 2) The layout between Mockau and Hbf shows the layout of tracks as it will be in 2018 (and
under construction at present). This has all the running lines on the west side and the carriage sidings
on the east side.
The Helsinki airport station is underneath the airport and reached by the longest escalators (72 metres) in Finland.
Signs proclaim the airport in Finnish (Lentoasema), Swedish (Flygplatsens) and English (Airport) as seen on the right
of the picture. Being a ‘Ring’ railway, trains go to Helsinki main station from either platform. The Ring Rail Line
(Kehärata) opened 1 July, but the airport station itself opened 10 July 2015. Note the absence of conductor wires
above the tracks.
 France – Belfort to Delle reopening date announced
The official end of the long running saga of the project to re-open Belfort - Delle has been announced.
The line will re-open on 9 December 2018, after 3 years of re-construction. It is nearly 10 years since
the inauguration of Belfort-Montbéliard TGV station on the LGV Rhin-Rhône, which is the principal
motive for the renaissance of the line. Courtesy of The French Railways Society
 France – Service over the Sablé comma suspended
The opening of the Bretagne-Pays de la Loire LGV was accompanied by opening of an associated curve,
the Raccordement de la virgule de Sablé-sur-Sarthe, 30km west of Le Mans. This forms a connection
between the Bretagne-Pays de la Loire LGV (towards Rennes) and the connection to Sablé (towards
Nantes) allowing trains between Nantes and Rennes to avoid Le Mans. The 3.612 km-long single track
raccordement is therefore the third side of a triangle of high speed lines as seen on the map (e-BLNI
only). Since 2 July 2017 it has been used by high speed TER services between Nantes and Rennes
calling at Ancenis, Angers-Saint-Laud, Sablé and Laval with five round trips on weekdays, two on
Saturdays and four on Sundays.
There has however been a ‘technical incident’ which has caused these trains to stop using the
raccordement and run via Le Mans instead, with over 45 minutes increase in journey times. It seems
that one TER train ‘disappeared’ off the signalling system briefly due to a contact problem between
train and rails. This is not the first time SNCF have had a similar problem, and that took a long time to
sort out, so the closure of the raccordement could be quite lengthy. TGV services on the LGV are not
 France - Network Developments
Alsace - On 31 August the line from Barr to Sélestat re-opened, having been closed for two months
while 7 km of track has been replaced in a project costing €20 million. The line will be closed again for
a second phase of engineering work scheduled for the half term holidays from 23 October - 4
The line from Haguenau to Neiderbronn les Bains re-opened on 2 September having been closed for
five months. 22km of track has been renewed involving 30,000 tons of ballast and 16,500 new
sleepers. The stations at Reichshoffen and Gundershoffen have been modernised. Line speed has been
increased to 110km/h in places and new crossings will enable the line to handle two trains at peak
times, with the service increasing from fifteen to twenty trains per day
Auvergne - The Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Region is showing some commitment to rail services in the
region by contributing €23 million of the €40.6 million budget to rebuild the section between Vorey
and Bas Monistrol. Traffic has been suspended between Le Puy en Velay and Firminy since 10 April
with the work scheduled to last for nine months. The project includes the relaying of 35 km of track in
the Loire Valley between Vorey and Bas Monistrol. Ten tunnels and eighteen other structures are
being re-furbished to protect the line and avoid landslides and rock falls. The platforms at Retournac
and St Vincent are being extended and the line equipped with fibre optic cables.
Brittany - As part of a project to improve the robustness of the Caen to Rennes line the section from
Avranches to Dol de Bretagne will close from 20 November 2017 to 30 March 2018. Track and
signalling will be replaced at a cost of €18.4 million. On Rennes - Châteaubriant traffic will be
suspended during the period 6 - 17 November as part of major engineering work with the
Châteaubriant - Retiers section suspended from 21 October until August 2018.
The St-Brieuc - Loudéac freight line has been closed since the beginning of 2017. There is apparently
some interest in creating a passenger service again but little sign of solid plans to achieve that. The
heritage association CFCB based at Loudéac with diesel railcars has been unable to operate this year
and the outlook is bleak.
There are rumours that the Morlaix - Roscoff branch line will close in January 2018. 40 million euros
are needed to repair the 20 km line and in particular a viaduct. This line suffers from the lack of freight.
Transport of local agricultural produce was transferred to the roads a few years ago.
Occitanie - There are also rumours that Rodez – Sévérac-le-Chateau in the Aveyron will close in
Rhône-Alpes - When the département of Isère in Rhône-Alpes votes to fund roads instead of repairs to
the "Ligne des Alpes" (Grenoble - Gap) which partly runs through its territory this is bad news for the
railway. It is consequently more than probable that this line will close within 12 months, a tragedy for
supporters of the railway and a lack of vision by local politicians.
Courtesy of The French Railways Society
 Germany - Railway ramblings in Germany (part 1) – The Tortoise and the Hare
Our member goes over to Germany at least once a year and usually finds something of railway
interest. This summer was no different. This year’s trip started with a journey from Chesterfield to
Manchester airport. No problems with this, but at the airport they were caught up in a huge queue for
check in at the Ryanair desks. All the automatic baggage machines were ‘kaput’ and there were only
two members of staff available to deal with the crowd. Bear in mind this was the Thursday before the
August Bank Holiday! It was with great relief they caught the plane and arrived uneventfully in
Nürnberg. Slick working of the baggage reclaim system meant they could get straight to the U-bahn
and thus to the main station. However, once there they were faced with the dreaded ‘replacement
bus’ because of ongoing works on the new Nürnberg -Erfurt high speed line. Our member has been
watching the installation of this line every year since he first went over in 2011 and it is now all but
complete. The new services start in December this year. Rather than catch the replacement bus, he
ascertained that there was one train which would get them past the ongoing works as far as
Lichtenfels, but that it would involve a lengthy detour via Bayreuth (pronounced Beirut). The main
interest of this journey, apart from doing a new bit of line, was the sight of a big 2-10-0 outside the
museum at Neuenmarkt.
2-10-0 outside the Deutsche Dampflokomotiv-Museum at Neuenmarkt, seen from the station
The museum is well worth a visit and has an operational 600mm line as well as the standard gauge
exhibits. The steam runs from here are spectacular as the line towards Marktschorgast includes the
Schiefe Ebende, the German equivalent of the Lickey Incline. The rest of the journey to Pressig-
Rothenkirchen was uneventful.
On arrival at their friends’ home in Pressig, he was asked if he would like to go for a train ride between
Jena and Naumburg. He thought this a little odd as this particular line is nothing special, being part of
the main, electrified route between Nürnberg and Leipzig/Berlin. However, he was told that there was
to be an attempt by a runner and a cyclist to beat the train. This caused him to raise his eyebrows even
further, because we are talking of a distance of 29km (18 miles) and the trains do this in a little over ½
hour with six intermediate stops. He was then told that the train would be watched from the lineside
and he could also expect to see trees running and a shark. At this point our member began to seriously
worry about the sanity of his informant, but then a train ride is a train ride, so he decided to give it a
go. The ride to Jena was uneventful, though it’s an interesting route as it has some severe gradients
and was once one of the few crossings between West Germany (Bavaria) and East Germany
(Thuringia). They changed trains at Saalfeld and then went on to Jena. Apparently their train from
Saalfeld was one of a few that went through to Naumburg and he was told that this was a good thing
because if they had had to change again at Jena they would be lucky to get a seat. This seemed a bit
OTT, but sure enough, as they pulled into Jena Paradies it was clear that there was a huge crowd
waiting for the train. It was the same thing at the next Jena station and passengers were pressing up
against the right hand windows and doors. It soon became obvious why. As they pulled out, a chap in
full running gear started to sprint along the adjacent platform accompanied by another chap on a bike.
Both disappeared into the station building, but as the train left the confines of the station there were
the runner and the cyclist again, slightly ahead of our train!
The train soon overtook them to the laughter of those on board but shortly afterwards as they
emerged from some of the forested land, lo and behold, there was the runner somewhat ahead of us
and on the road beside the railway was the cyclist pedalling like a mad thing and keeping pace with the
train remarkably well. There was a roar of laughter as everyone realised that the whole thing was a
cunningly staged modern day version of the tortoise and the hare story. At each intermediate station
the runner and the cyclist were always seen just jogging onto the platform as the train arrived or
running like mad as it left.
In one field there was a line of large holes. As the train passed, the runner appeared to fall into the
first of the holes, to cries of “Oh dear” or whatever passes for that in German. However it was notable
that quite a few people just laughed – in best British tradition. Then a great roar of laughter as the
runner emerged from the second hole, promptly fell down the third hole and so on across the field. Of
the cyclist there was no sign but a little further on the line ran alongside the road again and there he
was still cycling madly and almost keeping up with the train. It was at this point that they realised that
the cycle was fastened to the roof of a car!
In the next field there were half a dozen very tall ladders with people standing on the topmost rungs
waving. In another field a group of people were busily covering a tumbled-down barn with a tarpaulin
to give it the appearance of a house. This was getting more like a scene from a Monty Python sketch
by the minute. A couple of fields further on they were still accompanied by the runner who vanished
into a clump of trees, except that, as he did so, the trees grew legs and scampered across the field with
him. Again, great waves of laughter from our travelling companions, but where was the promised
shark? The train was nearing Naumburg now and the runner seemed to have given up, along with the
cyclist as they clattered over a bridge across the River Saale. There was the runner, seemingly very
reluctant to jump into the water and there was a chap in a rowing boat, fishing. As the train passed he
got a bite, hauled on his line and, yes, you’ve guessed it, up came a very large shark. Everyone
cheered. As they pulled into Naumburg it was obvious that everyone had really enjoyed the event, but
our member was a bit disappointed that the runner and the cyclist had given up; but wait, what was
this? There, on the adjacent platform was the runner, looking fresh as the proverbial daisy, just
trotting along to the finishing line. There too was the cyclist, sitting nonchalantly on a station bench
with his cycle beside him, looking as if he’d been there all day. A great cheer went up from all the
passengers and a hearty round of applause. And what was the reason for all this effort and frivolity?
Our member confesses that he’s not really sure. True there was a wine festival going on in Naumburg,
but that seemed almost incidental. If it was a stunt dreamed up by the railway company, it certainly
succeeded as the train was absolutely packed. He left the train thinking whether we could do
something similar on the Matlock branch or the Hope Valley line.
 Germany - Jena tram system to extend
It is planned to build a 750 metre extension from the current northern end of the line at Zwätzen to
the Himmelreich housing estate in the next 12 months, and also construction of double track south
from Zwätzen to the city centre.
 Germany – Frankfurt light rail extension gets underway
A groundbreaking ceremony for a 2.7km western extension of Frankfurt’s light rail network took place
on 21 September. It will run from the city centre to Europaviertel and is planned to open at the end of
2022. There will be four stops, one of which is underground. Work on the above-ground section is due
to begin in 2020.
 Germany – Zugspitzbahn terminal to be relocated
The Zugspitzbahn runs between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the summit of the Zugspitze, the highest
mountain in Germany. It is operated by the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn Bergbahn who plan to relocate
the terminal station in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, reducing the length of the line slightly. How much
depends on the source of the information: a press report says 80 metres, but the magazine Bahn-
Report says 150 metres. The work should be complete in 2018/19.
 Germany - Difficult days for the Bayerisches Eisenbahnmuseum
The lines from Nördlingen to Dombühl and Nördlingen to Gunzenhausen are used by Bayerisches
Eisenbahnmuseum heritage trains, but major changes are in prospect from the infrastructure
manager, Bayern-Bahn Betriebs. Bayerische Eisenbahngesellschaft (BEG - the Bayern transport
authority) plan to re-introduce services between Dombühl and Dinkelsbühl, creating obvious problems
for the heritage railway, but there is worse to come as Bayern-Bahn Betriebs has put the Nördlingen to
Dombühl line up for sale as it cannot finance the necessary upgrading to passenger standards. Bayern-
Bahn Betriebs is also proposing to buy the Nördlingen to Gunzenhausen line. This is because the
Bayern garden show in 2019 will be at Wassertrüdingen which is on this line, and they wish to operate
passenger trains in connection with the event.
 Italy/France – Torino to Bardonecchia services extended across border to Modane
On 10 September Trenitalia regional trains reached the French alpine town of Modane for the first
time in a decade. Initially, regional trains on route SFM3 between Torino and Bardonecchia are being
extended through the Frejus Tunnel to Modane on Sundays and public holidays. For a long time the
only passenger service between Torino and Modane has been SNCF’s three times per day TGV service
between Milano and Paris, which can only be used with a reservation and is much more expensive.
 Italy – The Ferrovia Stresa Mottarone
Stresa is located on the western shore of Lake Maggiore and at the foot of Monte Mottarone. In 1911
the Ferrovia Stresa Mottarone built a rack railway up the mountain from a pier on the lake. This was
metre gauge, electrified at 750 volts and used the Strub rack. It was 9.8 km long and rose from 197m
above sea level at the lake to 1,380m near the mountain top. There was street-running in Stresa,
where a short branch ran to the main railway station. The line was well-used, because Mottarone was
popular with skiers. When major renewals became necessary, the railway was replaced by a cable car
in 1963. It would have been a scenic ride on the train, but the cable car gave a shorter and much
quicker journey. The former trackbed is evident towards the top of Monte Mottarone and what would
appear to have been the depot building can be seen from the main line just south of Stresa station.
 Norway – Bore completed on the Bergen line
On 29 August a ceremony in the suburb of Fløen marked the breakthrough of the 7.8 km Ulriken
tunnel. The bore will complement an existing single track tunnel, and eliminate a bottleneck for freight
and passenger services. It is expected to see its first trains in 2020. Excavation began in the town of
Arna in January 2016, and the next step in the construction phase requires the boring of 16 cross-
passages to link the new alignment with the existing tunnel.
The project is part of an upgrading programme for the Oslo – Bergen corridor which includes
construction of a 69 km double-track alignment between Voss and Arna.
 Romania - Berzovia to Oravița reopens
This line south of Timișoara reopened on 1 October 2017 with two return trips by a private operator.
These allow travellers from Timișoara or Reşiţa Nord to get to Oravița by train to do the spectacular
Anina line and get back by train.
 Spain – Light rail opens in Granada
A new 15.9km light rail opened in Granada at noon on the 21 September. The line runs from Albolote
in the north to Armilla in the south and there are 26 stops, of which three are on a 3 km underground
section in the city centre. Services are operated by the Avanza Metro de Granada which is a joint
venture of Avanza, Tuzsa and Corporación Española de Transporte.
 Switzerland – Usage of the Olten diveunder
The member writing in BLNI1290.397 was surprised to find trains using the Olten diveunder as he had
been told that there were no regular services. Another member has supplied the following
information. This piece of track is in regular passenger use throughout the day as follows:
All trains from Basel to or through Olten. Trains through or from Olten to Basel which either start in
Olten or run from the Luzern line. Trains from Bern to Basel use platforms on the north of Olten
station and do not use the diveunder. The highest number platform at Olten is 12 which dates from 01
October1978. The diveunder opened 04 May 1980.
REST OF THE WORLD
 Argentina – Developments on the Buenos Aires suburban system
The Retiro terminus in Buenos Aires is actually three adjacent stations, Mitre, Belgrano and San
Martin, all serving different commuter lines north of the city.
The Mitre terminus is the busiest, with lines to José León Suárez, Tigre, and Bartolomé Mitre. The line
to Tigre is to have a new 3.9km viaduct constructed between Avenida Dorrego and Avenida Congreso
allowing eight level crossings to be eliminated and new road connections to be built. The stations of
Lisandro de la Torre and Belgrano C will have to be completely rebuilt. Work was ceremonially started
on 9 September, and the project is due for completion in mid-2019.
Commuter services from the San Martin station at Retiro go as far as Pilar. It was announced on 24
August that a U$400 million loan had been agreed to part fund electrification of the 76.3 km route. As
well as electrification at 25 kV AC, the programme will include track renewals, resignalling, a new
telecommunications system, construction of a rolling stock maintenance facility at Playa de Alianza
and refurbishment of Pilar station.
The Ministry of Transport announced on 6 July 2017 the start of work on a new 5.6km elevated
alignment for the metre gauge Belgrano Sur commuter route into Buenos Aires which will allow
Belgrano services to run into the Plaza Constitución terminus of the 1676 mm gauge Roca network in
2019, rather than terminate at Buenos Aires station as at present. The new elevated section will
eliminate 8 level crossings and allow a new elevated station at Dr A Sáenz to be constructed. The new
route will form part of the RER network currently being developed.
It was recently announced that the Ministry of Transport has sent out a tender for 1500 EMU cars to
be used on the Buenos Aires RER network (Red de Expresos Regionales) which is soon to start
construction. Phase one of this new railway involves building a north-south tunnel underneath the
centre of Buenos Aires connecting the Mitre and San Martin lines into Retiro with the Roca and
Belgrano Sur lines, which link Buenos Aires and Constitución stations with the southern suburbs and La
Plata. Phase two will see an underground link constructed between Retiro and Once station, which will
connect the Mitre and Sarmiento lines. In the longer-term it is planned to link the metre-gauge
Belgrano Sur and Belgrano Norte lines and incorporate them into the RER network. A detailed
schematic of the Buenos Aires network after construction of the RER can be found at:
 Cuba – Railways to be modernized, and railways in trouble
Preliminary documents have been signed for a €1.9 billion contract between Russian Railways
subsidiary RZD International and Ferrocarriles de Cuba (FCC) which will allow FCC to commence
preliminary work immediately. The contract will be finalised and signed in November during the 2017
Havana International Trade Fair. The bulk of the package includes a comprehensive upgrade of the
entire Linea Central including track, signals, crossings, stations etc. as well as the Santa Clara to
Cienfuegos line, the Linea Sur between Havana and Jovellanos and the entire Havana area network.
Modern technology and equipment to carry out these works will start arriving in Cuba shortly. The
agreement also includes the construction of new segments of railway not yet made public with the
exception of a line that would reach the main tourist resort of the country, Varodero.
Meanwhile bad news for the already struggling Hershey railway in the form of damage to the catenary
by Hurricane Irma. Efforts are being made to repair the damage to pole line and catenary so that at
least the service between Hershey and Jaruco gets reinstated in the near future. However, the damage
reported on the main line between Havana's Casablanca station and Matanzas is more serious and will
require more capital and time. According to FCC it will be very difficult to have the entire Hershey
system back in operation anytime soon.
List of Special Trains on Lines without Passenger Services
Note: Entries marked with a "+" were updated within the last four weeks.
Germany 2017 Shuttles Salzwedel - Klötze [also 29.X]
Essen-Katernberg Nord, Essen Nord, Essen-Vogelheim, Essen Stadthafen, Gelsenkirchen-Horst
27. 10. + DBV Nord CANCELLED
28. 10. + DGEG 2 x Bw Adorf - Adorf(Vogtl) - Zwotental and back
AB Industriegebiet Cottbus-Ost, Heizkraftwerk, Werkstätten DB AG, KW Jänschwalde SOLD
29. 10. + EN Vogtland OUT
04. 11. + LDC Diversion of ICE/IC between Eberswalde Hbf and Berlin Hbf via Berlin-Karow – Abzw. Berlin-
Karow West (Haltausfall Berlin-Lichtenberg, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen)
04/05. 11. DB Tram charter to depots: Düsseldorf Hbf - Lierenfeld - Steinberg - Neuss - Heerdt - Oberkassen -
Lörick - Krefeld Rheinstraße - Düsseldorf Hbf
05. 11. + DGEG Special train around Dortmund, Hamm and Unna
Nossen - Freiberg(Sachs) (- Cranzahl) and back
25. 11. DGEG (Tübingen Hbf -) Stuttgart-Untertürkheim - Abzw Nürnberger Str. (- Regensburg Hbf) and back.
02. 12. IG Nossen Aken(Elbe) - Köthen (- Wernigerode) and return PLANNED
02. 12. + EFZ Übg Pirna
03. 12. EF Aken Dresden-Neustadt - Dresden-Altstadt
03. 12. + OSEF Nossen - Döbeln (- Leipzig - Saalfeld) and back
03. 12. + OSEF Zwotental - Adorf(V)
03. 12. IG Nossen (Bautzen -) Löbau(Sachs) - Ebersbach(Sachs) - Rumburk and return[DE/CZ]
09. 12. Press Shuttles Gütersloh Nord - Hövelhof
09. 12. + OSEF Neuhausen(Erzg), Marienberg(Sachs)
10. 12. ET SPNV-Probebetrieb Lüneburg - Bleckede
10. 12. TG Ferkeltaxi AB Silberhütte
11-16. 12. + AVL (Luxembourg -) Abzw Karthaus Nordwest - Abzw Moselbrücke - Konz (- Saarbrücken Hbf) and
16. 12. FKS return[LU/DE]
16. 12. + 5519 Neubeckum - Wadersloh and return CANCELLED
Ennigerloh - Neubeckum - Münster(Westf)Hbf and back
22. 12. + ET
23. 12. ET
19-24.10. PTG Contumil - Leixões - Ermesinde PT
20-22.10. KŽC CZ
Knoten Česká Třebová seř nádr., Brno-Maloméřice St. 6 - Brno-
21. 10. Maloméřice - Brno-Zidenice (- Brno dolní nádr. -) Horni Heršpice - odb. CZ
21. 10. Státni silnice, Ivančice - Oslavany, Hrušovany n. J. - Hevlín FR
22. 10. MhmP Praha round trip AT
28. 10. SK
28. 10. + CFTSA Hagondange BV Voie Bis - Metz-devant-les-Ponts - Peltre, Thionville - HU
28. 10. Bening FR
28. 10. CZ
05. 11. Karisch Tram charter in Wien: IT
05. 11. IT
11. 11. Veterány.eu (Košice -) Moldava nad Bodvou - Medzev and back PL
01. 12. PL
ÉSZAKERDŐ (Miskolc -) Papírgyár - Mahóca and back
02. 12. CZ
02. 12. AJECTA (Longueville -) Provins - Villiers-St-Georges and return [also 10.XII] SK
03. 12. PL
08. 12. KDS Kladno Kladno-Dubí - Skanzen Mayrau [also 11.XI, 2.XII] IT
09. 12. SK
09. 12. + Molise Sulmona - Castel di Sangro and return [also 26.XII] AT
10. 12. AT
FFI (Milano -) Novara - Varallo Sesia and return [also 10.XII]
+ TurKol Poznań round trip [also 25.XI, 9.XII]
ČD (Wrocław Gł -) Legnica - Jerzmanice Zdrój - Legnica - Rudna-
Gwizdanów - Legnica (- Wrocław Gł.)
(Brno -) Ivančice - Oslavany and back
PPS Prievidza - Nitrianske Pravno and back
+ TurKol Nysa - Kamieniec Ząbk
FFI Ceva - Ormea and back
Albatros (Bratislava hl.st. - Galanta -) Sered' - Leopoldov (- Kúty - Bratislava hl.st.)
+ MLV 2 x Zwettl - Schwarzenau im Waldviertel and back
+ MLV 2 x Zwettl - Waldhausen and back
06. 01. ET (Lengerich(Westf) -) Münster(Westf)Hbf - Neubeckum - Lippstadt - Warstein and back
28. 04. + Pursche "Unruhestandstour"
01-06. 05. Special train around Chemnitz
19. 05. DGEG Operating day Ziegeleibahn Herzfelde
13-15. 07. ??? Shuttles Greifswald - Greifswald-Ladebow Hafen
26. 08. + Press Shuttles Ibbenbüren-Aasee - Dörenthe Hafen
26-29. 04. + BLS Special trains in Central Finland PLANNED FI
05-08. 05. CZ
17-22. 05. Steam Story Übg Čáslav [CZ/SK/DE/AT] HU
PTG Special trains in Hungary [HU/HR]
Overseas 2018 Darjeeling Narrow gauge in India IN