Supplement to e-BLN 1268 BLN Pictorial 5 November 2016
Welcome to BLN Pictorial 1268, taking a look at some of my favourite countries. You'll notice the fairly limited selection, and there's a simple reason for
that. Like the late lamented Magnus Magnusson, 'I've started so I'll finish' - once I've started travelling in a country I don't really rest until I've done all its
passenger lines. Although as a result there aren't that many different countries, I've tried to give you some idea of the variety that there is to be had even
in that limited selection, together with a few from countries bordering ones that I've concentrated on. There's still time for a few more though, hopefully.
The usual system applies in this issue, where clicking on the page number next to the caption will take you to the picture, and clicking at the bottom left
hand corner of the picture will take you back to the caption page. Clicking on the bottom right hand corner of a picture will take you to a map of the
countries concerned, and clicking on the camera symbol on the map will take you back to the corresponding picture.
It remains only to thank the many contributors who have generously provided material for BLN Pictorial, the BLN Editor for giving me a free hand as to
content and presentation, the various members who have given up their time to correct my various sins both of omission and commission before (and
sometimes after!) the end product is let loose, those who have provided information to back up the photos and of course all those of you who have taken a
look at 'BLNP'. Quite a range of subjects has been covered, so I hope there's been 'something for everyone' somewhere along the way - and as I've
corresponded with members on all sorts of subjects, I've been amazed, almost bewildered, by their depth of knowledge of everything rail related. Very
soon it's off into the sub-editorial sunset for me - but first, off across La Manche for BLNP, starting in 2003 with an early outing for the digital camera.
8. The Czech Republic is one of the countries where I've spent quite a lot of time. It's more railway-minded than some, and while the infrastructure is
gradually being updated, there are still plenty of branches which haven't really moved on since the end of the Communist era. The national operator,
České dráhy (ČD or Czech Railways) has an active museum at Lužná u Rakovníka in the west of the country. This picture was taken at Kladno during a
stop on a steam special from Prague to Lužná in connection with an open day at the museum on 4 October 2003. The loco, 2-8-0 434 2186, built by
the Breitfeld-Danek works at Slaný in 1917, appeared to be in rude health, so the reason for the crew's attention remains a mystery.
9. One of the easier European countries to 'ink in' is Luxembourg. BLNPs 1245 and 1252 featured the excellent BLS 'Tour de Luxe' on 2 May 1993, which
did quite a lot of the CFL (Société nationale des Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois) system for me. CFL had a class of 20 of these centre cab electric
locos, whose workings in later years included cross border services to Longwy in France, where this picture of 3608 on a rush hour service was also
taken on 8 April 2004. The train I'd taken from Luxembourg to Longwy was hauled by a modern 3000 class loco but I had been lucky enough to be
hauled by centre cab 3609 as far as Bettembourg on my way to Volmerange earlier in the day. This was quite a varied day, starting with 07:43 London
Waterloo International-Brussels, continuing to Luxembourg, then taking in the two locations in the photos, and finishing with another loco hauled
working (this time a German class 181) to Trier in Germany, where I found a hotel in the fifth country of the day.
10. This isn't the best picture I've ever taken (thank goodness) but it's the only one of three taken at the time that had a train in it! The reason I've
included it is that it shows my arrival in a landlocked country by ferry - the country being Switzerland and the water in the foreground being Lake
Constance, a.k.a Bodensee. There's a handy one-day rover ticket, catchily named Tageskarte Euregio Bodensee, which covers rail, bus and ferry
transport in three zones surrounding Lake Constance and therefore including parts of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The photograph shows the
view from the ferry from Friedrichshafen (Germany) approaching the Swiss side of the lake at Romanshorn on 28 August 2004.
11. So far, this is the only country, even by the loosest definition, where I've managed to finish the regular passenger track in a day. Even Monaco took
me two attempts, although on the first, we were able to catch the bus from row 4 of a Formula 1 starting grid, having walked round the circuit. This,
however, is the main station serving (at a bus-ride's distance) a prosperous European capital - Vaduz in Liechtenstein. The station name follows
Continental practice of a hyphen between two towns served; nearby Schaan (population 5,800), is larger than Vaduz (5,100). Fortunately for me the
guard was more amused than annoyed when I insisted on setting foot in Liechtenstein and taking a very hasty photo, thus delaying his train, which
had started in Switzerland and finished in Austria. The date is 28 August 2004, but I don't suppose it's changed much in the intervening 12 years. The
9.5km of railway in Liechtenstein is part of the Austrian national system, Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB).
12. Locomotive racing is generally frowned upon by officialdom, and rightly so, but both Budapest, in Hungary, and Zvolen, in Slovakia, hosted a 'Grand
Prix' (nearer to drag racing really, though just a little slower) for a number of years, both apparently ceasing with the 2015 events. A friend and I
attended the 2006 event at Zvolen in the course of one of our Central Europe bashes and witnessed the strange sight of six steam locos being put
through their paces over a course of a few hundred metres of parallel tracks. Unsurprisingly, the small Czech 0-6-0Ts, with their light weight and small
wheels, were easy winners, the Hungarian 4-4-0 on the left being a distant 6th! The date is 9 September 2006.
13. Amazingly ČD (Czech Railways) still have one narrow gauge line in operation, 9 years after this picture was taken on 7 October 2007. A previous
attempt to do the line had been in vain due to the only available loco having failed, but this time Mrs C and I were luckier and we got to Osoblaha, a
small town in the east of the Czech Republic near the Polish border. We even managed to find a shop open on a Sunday, at least sufficiently so to sell
us a celebratory beer! Regular (but not very frequent) ČD trains are worked by these small diesel locos of class 705 but there are now also steam
tourist trains operated by Slezské zemské dráhy (Silesian Railways) using, inter alia, a Henschel 2-10-0 from Bosnia. 5 of the class 705s, built in the
1950s and operated by ČD and JHMD, (a private operator in the south of the country) underwent a major rebuild in the 2005-2010 period and now
have up to date engines and control systems.
14. You might find it surprising that I was waiting for a train when I took this picture - perhaps even more surprising that it did arrive! The date is 13 July
2008, the location Kamienna Góra in south-west Poland. A joint Czech-Polish initiative had produced a summer weekend cross-border service from
Trutnov in the Czech Republic to Jelenia Góra in Poland, worked by Polish diesel hydraulic multiple units of class SA134, built by PESA at Bydgoszcz. I
had arrived the previous afternoon on SA134-005, which slid to a halt at the far end of the platform - hence the selection of this photo, to
demonstrate the state of the track. I had decided to stay overnight there having discovered there was a heavy metal festival in Trutnov that
weekend - not exactly my favourite musical genre - and the photo was taken while I awaited the first train back to Trutnov. The summer weekend
service still runs (or did in 2016, at least), but now only from Trutnov to Lubawka, the first station in Poland, with connecting trains to Jelenia Góra.
15. An August 2008 Desperate Railtours 3-day venture in Austria, ominously titled 'The Terminator', seemed a suitable event to mark one of my
significant birthdays a couple of weeks in advance by covering a variety of interesting track - notably a freight line serving a factory on the outskirts
of Graz, where the British company which was then providing my day job was building some rather expensive cars. Unfortunately ÖBB (Austrian
Railways) decided to do some serious digging in the area, so I never did see the factory before they moved production back to Warwickshire. We did
briefly visit Slovenia, however, then a new country for me, which enabled me to tick a couple of cross border lines. The main power for the tour was
preserved Austrian Bo-Bo diesel-electric 2050.04 (Henschel 29791/1958) but this was not allowed to haul the train in Slovenia, so SZ (Slovenian
Railways) General Motors designed Co-Co diesel-electric 664 102 powered from Spielfeld-Strass (Austria) to Maribor (Slovenia) and on to Bleiburg
(Austria) where the photo was taken on 9 August 2008. This was the only picture I got of both locos as 2050.04, which had been towed at the rear of
the train, waited for the SZ loco to be removed so that it could take over for the next stretch to Klagenfurt.
16. On the last day of the Desperate tour we visited the 'Breitenauerbahn', a 760 mm gauge line from Mixnitz on the main Vienna-Graz line in Austria
(the Südbahn). A passenger line until 1966, the line has been retained to serve a magnesite plant just short of its original terminus at St. Erhard. This
curious ensemble, pictured at the Magnesitwerk Veitsch-Radex, is the stock normally used by the 'Friends of the Breitenauerbahn', a local society
running passenger trains on a very small number of occasions each year. On this occasion, 10 August 2008, it was run as a charter for Desperate
17. Mariazell in Austria is the terminus of a lengthy (91 km/57 mile) 760 mm gauge line from St Pölten, on the Wien-Linz main line. It was opened in
stages, from 1898 to 1907. In state ownership from 1922, it was still run by Austrian State Railways (ÖBB) until 2010 when responsibility was
transferred to NÖVOG, a company owned by the provincial government of Lower Austria. The 1099 class, which worked most trains at that time,
date from 1911-1914, though modernised (retaining the original traction equipment) in 1959-62. This example, 1099 011, was photographed at
Mariazell on 28 December 2008; the first of an order for low floor EMUs was unveiled in December 2012 and these EMUs now work all the normal
18. On the Czech-Polish border at Harrachov, a long closed link across the border to Szklarska Poręba Górna reopened on 12 December 2010. On 5 June
2011 Polish DMU SA134-007 is seen at Harrachov having just arrived with a terminating service. Beyond the unit the ČD (České dráhy, or Czech
Railways) line continues to Tanvald where main line services terminate.
19. Four months later I was in Bavaria, on the public holiday weekend in October 2011 (the public holiday marking the reunification of Germany on 3
October 1990). In 2011 this was conveniently a Monday, allowing the Fuchstalbahn (Fox Valley Railway), a heritage operation over a 28.7 km line
between Schongau and Landsberg in Bavaria, to run a 3 day 125th year 'jubilee' event. Schongau and Landsberg are the termini of DB passenger
services from the south and north respectively, and having done both services in 2005 I'd been eyeing the gap ever since, waiting for an opportunity
to ride on one of the Fuchstalbahn's very infrequent passenger services. The photo shows the regular passenger service (franchised to local operator
BRB) and the Fuchstalbahn train side by side at Schongau on 2 October 2011. The Fuchstalbahn steam loco is 1936-built (for Romanian Railways),
Austrian based 4-6-0 38 1301, belonging to the Austrian Society for Railway History (ÖGEG).
20. Just over a year later (6 October 2012) Mansfelder Bergwerksbahn (Mansfeld Mining Railway) 0-8-0 no. 20 stands at the level crossing over the
D180 road about 2 km east of Klostermansfeld in the former East German state of Sachsen-Anhalt. This preserved 750 mm gauge industrial system
was another gap in my German coverage, having confused me no end on my first German venture by car in 1992. Driving from Leipzig to visit the
Harz system, I crossed a narrow gauge line at a point where I knew I was well short of the Harz system (and as I was driving I didn't notice the 250
mm disparity in gauge either!). This picture was taken from the same road I'd driven over 20 years previously. It was some time before I found out
that it was the remaining part of a system, dating from 1885 and reaching a total of 95 km at its peak, which served extensive copper mining activity
in the area. Mining ceased in 1969, passenger traffic in 1970, and the last smelting plant closed in 1989, taking the railway with it - however in 1990
this 11 km stretch reopened as a heritage line. In addition to their normal weekend services they run 'information' trains which include stops to view
lineside features. Not knowing what to expect, Mrs C and I were surprised, at this particular stop, to be marched up a substantial mining spoil heap
adjoining the line, to view the surrounding landscape including a number of other similar spoil heaps from the 13 copper mines in the otherwise flat
countryside. This picture (much better than mine!) is worth viewing to get an idea of the size of these spoil heaps.
21. Back to France, where in common with most European countries, trains do run on Christmas Day. This picture from 25 December 2012 shows DMU
AMP805 of the metre gauge Chemin de Fer de Provence (CFP), at Digne-les-Bains, the northern terminus of the line from Nice. Although the line has
been under the control of local authorities since 1967, at the time of my first visit in 1991 it was a ramshackle affair still using its original terminus in
Nice, which had a corrugated iron shelter at the buffer stop end to protect passengers from falling parts of its overall roof. That terminus has now
been converted to a car park (only the beautifully restored terminal building remains) and the CFP runs from a smart modern terminus some 200
metres west of the original. The trains, in 1991 an equally ramshackle assortment of elderly diesel railcars, are now smart low floor units with air
conditioning, ordered from CFD Bagnères in 2010. These are a development of the AMG800 series built for SNCF in Corsica, the 'AMG' standing for
'Autorail Métrique Grand confort'. To return to the branch line theme, through lack of time in 1991 I had only travelled a very short distance out of
Nice, to La Madeleine, but that was sufficient to cover that 200 metre portion of the line which has now vanished into the car park, so in 2012 I was
able to complete the line to Digne with overlap!
22. Having completed routine passenger track in the Czech Republic there are still freight lines, diversions and 'PSUL' to get me there now and again.
This UK-organised (by Desperate Railtours again) weekend tour was booked to do the freight branch to Praha (Prague) Žižkov, just east of the city
centre on its second day - this was a particular requirement of mine, but the first day also contained some required bits, notably the west to south
curve avoiding Hradec Králové. The Saturday tour (on 2 March 2013) was headed by a Polish ET41 double electric loco, hardly ever seen on
passenger service in Poland, let alone the Czech Republic. The train is seen here before departure from Prague's main station (the hard to
pronounce Praha hlavní nádraží to the locals). The diesel loco at the rear of the train had brought in the empty stock, which consisted of two railcar
trailers. On the second day, Sunday 3 March, ČD sadly decided that precedence on the Žižkov branch should be granted to a revenue earning
container train and despite the organisers' best efforts, we weren't able to go there. The last train ran at the end of 2015 and the site is now to be
redeveloped, so for me that's 'one that got away'.
23. Two months later, the spring had sprung and the early May bank holiday provided some more opportunities in the theoretically 'completed'
Germany. The city of Karlsruhe, close to the Rhine in the north of Baden-Württemberg, is well known as a leading exponent of the 'tram-train'
principle, whereby trams complying with main line specifications run both in heavy rail and tramway environments. 24 years after Karlsruhe
embarked on what has turned out to be a very successful venture, the UK is about to take its first hesitant step with the Sheffield-Rotherham
project. The Ulm-based society UEF operate in several locations and run a number of trains each year from Ettlingen to Itterbach, normally the
preserve of the trams. On two weekends near the beginning and end of the season these trains run from the main station in Karlsruhe, which
involves using a freight only line just over a mile long, from Ettlingen West to Ettlingen Erbprinz, to reach their normal starting point at Ettlingen
Stadt (town). UEF's preserved 2-10-0, 58 311, provided the haulage and made a suitably smoky departure from Ettlingen Stadt after Mrs C and I
had left the train with required track duly done. The date was 1 May 2013.
24. UEF also run the metre gauge line from Amstetten, some 17 miles north west of Ulm, to Oppingen. This is the 3½ mile remaining portion of a rural
line originally extending a further 8¼ miles south west to Laichingen. It operates intermittently, and rarely on the same dates as another UEF
operation, this time standard gauge, to Gerstetten, north east of Amstetten. I'd done the Gerstetten line but had never managed to be near
Amstetten when the Oppingen line was running, so I took the opportunity to combine it with the Karlsruhe-Ettlingen trip. Here Borsig 0-6-0T 99
7203, built 1904, is about to be removed from the train to run round at Oppingen on 1 May 2013. Despite the infrequent operation, the station is
immaculate and was provided with a bar (Kaiser beers, for those interested) and a sausage stall. Unfortunately once I'd photographed the railway
side of things I didn't have time to sample either - an unusual lapse of attention to duty!
25. At the end of May 2014 a major steam event, Dampfspektakel 2014, was held over several days. Robustly supported by local and state authorities,
and practically overwhelmed by paying customers, this was based at Neustadt an der Weinstrasse (literally, Newtown on the Wine Road) in the
south western state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland Palatinate - which may make it clearer than it does to me, or not!). Main line steam trains ran on
several routes radiating from Neustadt, to destinations which on this occasion included Heidelberg and Worms, as well as some nearer at hand.
This photograph of 'Kriegslok' 2-10-0 52 4867 was taken at Enkenbach where Mrs C and I were staying - the train is heading south from Grunstadt
back to Neustadt on 31 May 2014.
26. Some six weeks later there occurred the 50th birthday of a well known British enthusiast. He arranged a railtour to celebrate, which was an
excellent bash providing, for me, two branches, the west to north Bamberg avoiding curve, and the freight only link between the isolated Nürnberg
(Nuremberg)-Gräfenberg passenger branch at Nürnberg Nordost, and the Nürnberg-Würzburg main line near Fürth. This was a fine day out, which
indulged another of our host's (and my) interests by visiting a brewery as well, and was very much in the style of UK branch line tours in - good
heavens, can it be - the last century. The photo, taken at Stadtsteinach on 11 July 2014, shows diesel-hydraulic 217 002 at Stadtsteinach where
passengers were disembarking to visit the Schübel brewery.
27. Following the reunification of Germany in 1990, several narrow gauge lines in Saxony were inherited by Deutsche Bahn from the former East
German national operator, Deutsche Reichsbahn. One of these was the 750 mm gauge line from Zittau, east of Dresden and close to the point
where Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic meet. So close in fact, that by the time you've gone three miles south east from Zittau and reached
the Czech Republic you've already passed through two miles of Poland. The narrow gauge line, however, runs south west and remains just within
Germany, dividing at Bertsdorf to reach the two mountain resorts of Kurort Jonsdorf and Kurort Oybin. Having travelled over the whole system
before, I was really only paying it a courtesy call on my way back to Berlin on 19 April 2015 to fly home after visiting the Dresdner Dampfloktreffen
(Dresden Steam Loco Meeting), an annual event which had been on the 'to do' list for a while. On this occasion I only did the line to Kurort Oybin,
where the photo was taken of the 2-10-2T, 99 787, running round the train prior to returning to Zittau. I'd got to that event by way of a main line
steam charter from Cottbus, and whilst in that part of the world took the opportunity to do the newly-reopened (closed since WWII) cross border
connection from Sebnitz (Germany) to Dolní Poustevna (Czech Republic), a distance of all of 300 metres ... but these things matter.
28. There are various assorted railway events around Europe timed to coincide with local or national occasions of one sort or another. This one is in the
Czech Republic where the annual knees-up in the town of Karviná, in the east of Moravia near to the border with Poland, features steam operation
on the freight branch to Karviná město (town) a former passenger station a little way to the east of the current passenger station which lies on the
main line from Žilina in Slovakia to Ostrava in the Czech Republic. Although the two stations are just under a mile apart, the rail journey between
them is of the order of 10 miles and with a reversal at the junction station of Petrovice, takes somewhat longer than it would to walk. That's not the
point though, and we had a very enjoyable run with 2-8-2T 433 002 doing most of the work, top and tailed by Bo-Bo diesel 742 280. The picture,
taken on a hot 13 June 2015, shows the steam loco having its water supply topped up by the local fire brigade at Karviná město.
29. This photo is quite a good demonstration of how branch lines work in countries with a more user-friendly system than ours. We're at Čata in the
south of Slovakia on 15 June 2015. This rural junction is situated on the main line from Štúrovo, a Slovakia-Hungary border town on the river Danube,
to Zvolen, a town of some 40,000 in the centre of the country. A branch diverges to the east, now ending at the small town of Šahy though it used to
provide an alternative route to Zvolen. From left to right, the trains (all of the still common class 812 4-wheel railbuses or derivatives) are
southbound on the main line, northbound on the main line, westbound on the branch and eastbound on the branch. As you can see, all arrive around
the same time, people swap between the various trains, and off they all go. None of them leaves before they're all there to provide the connections,
and nobody gets fined if they're one or two minutes late, though they rarely are. What could be simpler?
30. A choice piece of Czech track to finish with, from just a few months ago. One train a week, at 'stupid o'clock' on Sundays, is booked to work through
from Kutná Hora, a junction on the secondary main line from Kolín to Brno, to Třemošnice, the unpronounceable (I know this, because the guard
tried hard, but unsuccessfully, to teach me how to say it) terminus of a branch from Čáslav, also on the Kolín to Brno line. The point of all this is that
the branch platform at Čáslav is some way east of the main line and to access it normally requires a significant walk. On the photograph, looking
south-east on 26 June 2016, you can see the start of the branch platform towards centre left, above the white car. The main line station is to the
right; the overhead catenary masts can just be seen among the trees top right beyond the wagons. The move to the branch requires the train to
proceed on the main line beyond the goods yard, reverse, run through the link in the centre of the picture - unclipped hand operated points and all -
ending up off the bottom left hand corner of the picture at a headshunt where another reversal occurs so that the train (a class 810 railbus) can run
into the branch platform. Definitely worth missing my breakfast for!
I hope that this, and my other occasional diversions of BLNP towards matters on the mainland, might have sparked a bit of interest in what goes on in
other countries. I haven't included those regions of the world where the other 88% of its population live, and I'd be the first to agree there's even more
interest and variety there than there is in Europe! Sadly, I just haven't been there - but Paul Griffin, our hard working International Editor, and many other
members and correspondents have, and its always worth keeping an eye on e-BLN International for their special reports from far flung places. Nobody
who's on the e-BLN mailing list will need reminding that the Internet has revolutionised the business of travel in all sorts of ways, and there are a few links
below which you may find useful. 'And finally' ... thank you for looking at BLNP, and my very best wishes to those taking up the reins of BLN Pictorial from
Enthusiast's Guide to the Railways of Europe - the clue's in the name. Many of the compilers and contributors of this excellent site are BLS members and
as well as general information about the railway systems of each country there is a 'PSUL' section for each one. Highly recommended.
The World Beyond Europe - our member and PSUL compiler, Richard Maund, maintains this as part of his PSUL web site. Unusual passenger workings in
South Korea or Zimbabwe? No problem!
The Deutsche Bahn site has much useful information about DB and a good journey planner which can cope with most European countries. There is a more
limited English version. Most operators now have web sites of varying usefulness - far too many to list here - and many local transport authorities too. For
a pan-European offline timetable for Android and iOS devices, the Eurail Rail Planner App is a good bet (details here).
Although it may not seem immediately relevant to BLS interests, Money Saving Expert does have a lot of useful basic information about foreign travel.
Hannover Berlin BELARUS
Köln Oybin Harrachov POLAND
Frankfurt Stadtsteinach Kladno Prague Ostrava Karviná
Longwy Enkenbach Nürnberg CZECH REPUBLIC
Et ltingen SLOVAKIA
Oppingen München Linz Vienna Brat islava Cata ROMANIA
Romanshorn AUSTRIA St Erhard Budapest
SWITZERLAND Klagenfurt Bleiburg HUNGARY
Milano Venezia CROATIA