INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1235 20 JUNE 2015
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
Wrocław Główny is the main railway station of Wrocław and was built between 1855 - 1857 as the start point of the
Oberschlesische Eisenbahn (Upper Silesian Railway). In those days Silesia was part of Germany, and the city was known as
Breslau. It was extensively refurbished in 2010-2012 for the upcoming Euro 2012 championships. Several hotels are
opposite the station – the picture is taken from the window of one of the hotel rooms. Very convenient for an early
 Albania – Station opening in outer Tiranë
Tiranë, the capital of Albania, has a station again, albeit only in the suburbs at Kashar about 3.3 km from
the new Tiranë Multimodal Terminal to which it is linked by a bus service. Services from Durrës had been
terminating at Vorë following the closure of Tiranë station in 2013 (see BLNI 1193.361). There are seven
trains pairs running between Durrës and Kashar – a major intensification of the service. As part of the
official opening a refurbished coach was on display, and it was announced that a further twelve were to be
modernised, along with an unspecified number of locomotives. Those familiar with Albanian Railways will
confidently expect the coaches to sport graffiti, collapsed seats and broken windows before long.
The timetable board at Kashar is undoubtedly the best in Albania
 Austria - A train inside a mountain over 1000 metres up
In the midst of Hohe Tauern National Park and in the heart of Salzburg province lies the village of Bad
Gastein, which is over 1000 metres above sea level. The radon rich waters draining from old gold mine
workings are believed to have curative properties and a health spa has developed for those wishing to be
relaxed or healed. The old mine galleries and their thermal waters (referred to as healing tunnels) are
extensively used for this purpose, and to facilitate travel a modern train runs 2 km into the mountain and
around an 800 metre loop with stations on it before returning. To do this railway you need to indulge in
some Radon therapy and on certain days a 2.5 hour package is available for €29.90 including a medical
examination and stay at one of the stations. Bad Gastein can be reached by bus from Bockstein or
 Czech Republic – Realignments on Beroun to Zbiroh section of the Praha to Plzeň Railway
Between 24 October 2008 and 31 October 2012 a project to straighten the Beroun to Zbiroh section of the
Praha to Plzeň Railway was undertaken. This led to construction of five significant deviations which can be
clearly seen on the map at this link:
Regrettably the map is too long (and in colour as well) to reproduce in BLNI.
 Czech Republic - Dates for trains to Jemnice in 2015
Trains run from Moravske Budejovice to Jemnice (closed line, only used for excursions) on the following
dates: 06.VI, 19 and 20.VI, 08.VIII, 13. and 28. IX, 31. X, 5. and 27.XII.
Times at : http://www.svd-jzm.cz/vyhlidkovy-vyletni-vlak/
 France - Rhône right bank diversion and a visit to Carpentras
There is engineering work on the Rhône left bank (the passenger route) on the Lyon – Valence – Avignon
section until 12 December. The first period, which ended on 31 May had Rhône right bank diversions over
the entire line, and a member duly set off to
take one of the affected trains on the 19 May.
The 12:28 from Lyon PD to Avignon was
indeed routed via Givors Canal, St Péray and Le
Teil. The train had a handful of passengers,
some of whom surprisingly used St Péray (for
Valence bus connection), and Le Teil (for
Montélimar). There were no other gricers on
board as far as he could see. On arrival at
Avignon he spotted that he had enough time
to fit in a quick side trip to Carpentras, before
his train to Marseilles Airport. The 16:07
departure was very well loaded leaving
Avignon Centre, complete with 6 SNCF police
on board (had they heard he was travelling?).
The train was a bi-mode unit, and our member
noticed for the first time the switch from
overhead to diesel, the diesel engine started
up prior to arriving at Sorgues on the move
whilst still taking the overhead power. Very
efficient, which is not a word one would
normally associate with SNCF. Passengers
alighted at intermediate stops with just a
handful leaving the train at Carpentras, where
there were 8 ticket inspectors (they definitely knew he was travelling!!). The new station at Carpentras was
well designed with an adjacent bus station and both an SNCF ticket office and a Vaucluse departement
transport office. The 16:54 return journey had 6 passengers from Carpentras plus 6 SNCF police, 8 ticket
inspectors and the guard. Thankfully our member had a valid ticket.
General information on the Rhône left bank engineering work may be found at:-
There are five periods which may have right bank diversions (but not period 2 apparently).
Period 2 1.VI – 12.VII, Period 3 13.VII – 20. IX, Period 4 21. IX – 1. XI, Period 5 2.XI – 12.XII
The timetables for periods 3 to 5 will appear at:-
https://www.ter.sncf.com/rhone-alpes/depliant/recherche. Select ligne 5 (Marseilles- Avignon- Valence –
Lyon) to bring up the pdf.
 France – Dates for TER Mer trains 2015
Some of these trains for daytrippers to the seaside towns north and west of Lille take unusual routes over
normally freight-only lines. 2015 dates are 4/5 July, 18/19 July, 8/9 August and 22/23 August. Details of
routes will appear on the EGTRE website when known.
 France - Nancy-Mirecourt-Vittel-Contrexéville-Merrey
Money for replacement of some sleepers and essential works has been found to keep this line open in the
short term, but much more is needed to give it a future. A local politician claims that without a petition
with 4000 signatures, the line would already have closed.
 France – The Chemin de Fer de la Vallee de l’Eure
This heritage railway operate services over a section of the old line from Rouen - Orléans,
closed to passenger services in 1950 and completely in 1989. Tourist trains started in
1996. There are a handful of services throughout the year, but the main season is in July
and August. CFVE own 25km from La Croix-Saint-Leufroy to Bueil, but only run normally
run trains from the mid-point of the line at Pacy-sur-Eure to Breuilpont and Pacy-sur-Eure
north to Jouy Cocherel. Only one train, on one day a year, visits the current northern limit
of Chambray. In 2015 this train runs on 2 August. Train times may be found at:-
 Germany – Website for miniature railways
Information and links to a great number of miniature steam railways in Germany can be
found at this site: http://www.dampf-modell-bahn.de/dclubd.htm
 Germany - Meppen - Essen (Oldb) slowly reopening
This 49.7 km long railway closed to passenger trains on 12 August 2014 due a freight train
derailment caused by poor track condition. Now 16 km of track is to be upgraded for
higher axle loads and provided that funding continues to be received should be completed
by the end of 2016. Passenger services will be progressively reinstated, and the Haselünne
to Herzlake section is already open for "theme cruises" on 4,11,25.VII, 8.VIII, 5,6, 19.IX and
 Germany – Temporary diversion on the Selfkantbahn
For those who wish to travel diversions over temporarily laid track there is a 230 metre long diversion at
the east end of Schierwaldenrath station which will probably be in use until the end of the 2016 season.
The Selfkantbahn is a heritage railway in the Ruhr running from Gillrath to Schierwaldenrath.
 Germany/Luxembourg – New day ticket covers two Länder and Luxembourg
A new one day Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket + Luxembourg ticket appears to have been introduced at the
timetable change. Apparently it is valid in the Rhineland-Pfalz and Saarland Länder on IRE, RE, RB and S-
bahn plus all CFL trains in Luxembourg with the exception of TGV. Valid in Germany as per all Lander
Tickets, so from 09:00 Mon-Fri and all day weekends and public holidays. No time restrictions
in Luxembourg apparently. It costs €30 from ticket machines or €32 from a DB booking office for the first
person, then €5 for each additional passenger to a maximum of 5 people.
 Germany – Halle station reconstruction to cause service changes
Halle Hbf is to be rebuilt in 2016 so half of the station will be closed and services around Halle (and further
afield) modified. Some of the changes are known in broad outline.
The S-bahn service from Halle Trotha to Halle Hbf is cancelled all year, and instead used by main line trains
towards Könnern and the Harz. Everything will go via Steintorbrücke S-Bahn station, so the flyover line
(line 6344) from the far side of the station will not be in regular use apart from one unspecified service
diverted from Halle Trotha to Halle Gbf. The Köthen avoiding line loses its sole passenger train as all
Bernburg to Halle trains run via Köthen. North of Rosslau a new connection between line 6207 and 6415
will allow trains passing through Hp Meinsdorf to take the Rodleben lines without passing through either
the station or the goods yard. Two (unspecified) passenger trains will use the new connection M-F.
At Lutherstadt Wittenberg newly installed point-work will allow trains to switch from one side of the
station to the other.
 Italy – Some observations on the Ferrovie de Sud Est
This extensive private railway system operates south of Bari into the ‘heel’ of Italy. The area south of Lecce
in particular is rather a backwater. Between Bari and Lecce however, things are changing. The overhead
wiring etc. is complete from Bari to Martina Franca but there are no electric trains yet. What our member
had not expected is that the Martina Franca to Taranto line is also being electrified, in spite of it not having
a very frequent service. The masts and arms had been erected on this section, but the arms were turned
parallel to the line and not at right angles to it. Hence there is of course no overhead wire as yet. FSE has
acquired some shiny new diesel units. Unlike the old railcars, there was no sign of graffiti, so it is suspected
that they are treated with anti-graffiti paint. One of these units was used on the 12:50 departure from
Maglie to Lecce, presumably because of the large number of school children travelling. However, it cannot
have been very economical as almost all the children got out at the next station. In both directions, the
train ran through between Lecce and Maglie, even though the timetable showed a change being required
at Zollino. Conversely, the railcar to/from Gallipoli ran only from/to Zollino, in spite of being shown in the
timetable as a through train from/to Lecce.
 Poland - Wrocław diversions
Following the excellent Waszkiewicz and Czerski Tour, the next day Sunday 26 April was the start of a new
timetable period with the long rumoured works on the lengthy viaduct to the west of Wrocław Głowny
commencing. This reduced available tracks from three to one and resulted in the majority of services
to/from Jelenia Góra on T240 diverted via freight lines 753 and 751 through Wrocław Gądów yard, re-
joining the original route 1km south of, but able to call at the re-fettled third platform at Wrocław
Zachodni station. There are also diversions by just two inbound only services so that they did not call at
Wrocław Głowny but used line 752 to call at Wrocław Nadodrze instead, one a TLK ex Jelenia Góra (so also
using line 751), plus a local on T260 from the Legnica line which uniquely used a short connection just
before Wrocław Nowy Dwór station into the west end of Gądów yard, plus three of sixteen inbound
services on T265 from Glogów using line 349 from Wrocław Kuźniki into Wrocław Gądów yard and then
line 753 to Głowny. All details are in EGTRE Poland Obscure or Sparse services, and all were sampled by
three members in the area and ran as expected, that is until the only one of the three from T265 was taken
and train R-66475, the 19:28 ex Wrocław Stadion, crossed tracks at Wrocław Kuźniki to travel “wrong line”
on the northern side as opposed to using the non-conflicting dive-under option of the two possibilities on
From photos taken and discussions between the travellers (as not all were together on the same trains), it
would appear all services used lines through the centre of Gądów yard but not necessarily the same pair of
tracks, on some occasions even
weaving to avoid /overtake
freights. Even on this first Sunday
punctuality at Wrocław Głowny
was slipping a bit, so with more
services affected during working
days this looks as though it could
have punctuality consequences. All
well worth doing if you have an
interest in Poland as it would
appear that none of these options
have seen passenger services,
specials or otherwise for at least
10 years. A hasty modification to the train destination boards on the carriages
To inform passengers that the train in NOT going to Wrocław Głowny
 Poland - Zamość extension opening
The extension of passenger services to Zamość Wschód reported in BLNI 1229.117 will open 14 June.
Zamość Wschód is 3.4km east of the existing station.
 Serbia – Landslide blocks Merdare line but now cleared
The Niš – Kuršumlija – Merdare service had been terminating at Kursumlija since 1 March due to a
landslide on the line south of Kuršumlija. Trains 7831 and 7830 now appear to be running through to
 Slovenia/Croatia – Cross border re-opening visited
The line between the Croatian station of Đurmanec and the Slovenian halt of Sveti Rok ob Sotli did indeed
re-open to passengers with the new timetable from 14 December 2014, but not to a through service and
to a rather limited one on Mondays to Fridays only. Two pairs traverse the cross border section, worked
by an SŽ 2 car DMU set which starts from Celje at 13:22 and arrives Đurmanec at 14:50. Here the visiting
train uses track 3, the northernmost loop of the station layout, consequently not giving full overlap with
the connecting HŽ 15:22 DMU to Zabok, which leaves from track 2, having arrived there are 14:56. The SŽ
set goes back at 15:00 as far as Rogatec, 10km back inside its own country, and stables. A 4 car set on a
commuter working through from Celje then works into the single line section as far as Sveti Rok ob Sotli for
a dozen passengers to the three halts still in Slovenia, returning advertised, only with your correspondent
aboard on the day he travelled. This stables at Rogatec to form two early morning departures. The original
two car set then leaves Rogatec at 16:40, to Đurmanec at 17:11 (again in track 3), returning at 17:19 and
working right through to Celje. The reason for cross border trains only in the afternoon is not clear.
However on the Croatian side of the border in the re-opened 7km section, a new halt has been provided at
Hromec, 3 km beyond Đurmanec, and four Zabok- Đurmanec trains a day, outside the period of the SŽ
shuttles, extend there. This means that whilst all HŽ trains use track 2 at Đurmanec, overlap with the single
track section, thence to Rogatec is possible by riding with the handful of local users of the short new single
platform with shiny shelter at Hromec. In March most of the reopened section was, all the track having
been re-laid, still subject to a 20kph speed restriction, including through a watershed tunnel midway
between Sveti Rok ob Sotli and Hromec (though the actual border is at a stream just west of the tunnel).
Border controls (Croatia not being in Schengen) are carried out by police, presumably based at the nearby
road border crossing, ferried by car to meet, and in some cases travel on, the trains.
 Spain - Catalonia Minor Lines
Two similarly described but VERY different minor lines are to be found in the "Theme Parks" at Tibidabo on
the northern fringe of Barcelona and Port Aventura which actually has its own RENFE station just beyond
Tarragona. At Tibidabo the Rio Grande train is almost a fairground ride approx 2 ft gauge figure of 8 100m
but adults are quite welcome to ride!
At Port Aventura the Rio Grande train is a very different beast, a 3ft gauge, 2km route serving 3 stations in
a loop actually distributing passengers around the large park, pulling a rake of 4 large coaches that could
carry over 300 passengers. The locomotive was built by Severn Lamb in Stratford Upon Avon UK in 1994
but actual propulsion appears to come from an engine in the tender engineered by a Spanish
firm Adodotren in 2010. Operation of both can be supposed to be at any time the parks are open.
 Spain - Line reopens to allow construction of metro line
According to "Today's Railways" and confirmed by a notice on the Euskotren website
http://www.euskotren.eus/es/node/3296 the section of the Bilbao Casco Viejo - Lezama line between
Casco Viejo and Loruri (formerly Ciudad Jardin) closed on 1 June for works in connection with the next
phase of Metro Line 3 (Extxebarri - Casco Viejo - Sondika - Lezama). In order to provide rail connection with
the isolated lines from Sondika to Loruri and Lezama, the line between Lutxana and Sondika (closed to
passengers on 1 January 1996) will reopen. At present it is used only by empty trains between Lutxana
depot and Lezama. The works will last at least two years, so there is plenty of time to travel over the
reopened line. A diagrammatic map and information in Spanish and Basque are available at
 Sweden - Work progresses on the South Marieholm Bridge
At present all rail traffic to the Port of Göteborg (pronounced Yotabori, but Gothenburg to the British) and
the industries on north Hisingen has to cross the Göta Älv river on the single track Marieholm Bridge
(Marieholmsbron), which is an openable bridge of the lift-swing type. The Port of Göteborg is the largest
port in Scandinavia with over 11,000 visits by ships each year, so the Marieholm Bridge is strategically very
important – and also very heavily utilised. On 23 May 2013 construction work started to build a second
railway bridge 75 metres to the south. This is the South Marieholm Bridge (Södra Marieholmsbron) and
the openable part of the bridge will be 72 metres long and 7 metres above the water. Its span of 1500
metres will, however, will be much greater than the present bridge since in addition to crossing the Göta
Älv River it must cross the Säveån River and the industrial areas of Marieholm and Tingstad.
The existing Marieholm bridge tracks (in red), new South Marieholm bridge tracks (yellow) and road tunnel (dotted)
taken from the project description pdf.
Once complete it will increase capacity to the docks and decrease the vulnerability of the rail link. A
member passing by in late April noted that the approach ramps on either side of the bridge were complete
but the bridge itself had yet to be started. Completion is expected in 2016, at which time 2000 metres of
new track will be available for gricing on special trains. A five minute video presentation on the bridge (and
the new road tunnel) can be found at :-
 Switzerland – Farewell to standard gauge Bremgarten West to Wohlen
There are free farewell trips on the standard gauge line between Bremgarten West and Wohlen on the
27 and 28 June. Times at http://www.bdwm.ch/aktuell/weschtfaescht/wf-extrazuege.
The closure of several industrial sources of traffic on the standard gauge line since 1995 meant that the
standard gauge tracks were only used for occasional excursions. After the farewell trains the standard
gauge tracks will be removed and from June 2016 only narrow gauge trains will operate.
 Switzerland – Monte Generoso railway closed all year
This 9km, 800 mm gauge railway in south-east Switzerland runs from Capolago, on Lake Lugano, to a
terminus near the summit of Monte Generoso. The railway station and restaurant complex at the summit
is being rebuilt and the whole line is closed for 2015, but expected to reopen in 2016.
 Switzerland - Travels by Steam tour, train and tram around Switzerland (Part 1)
A member has sent some notes from travels in Switzerland in January with the Railway Touring Company’s
“Alpine Steam Express”. This could not be called the most successful of railtours. The big selling point was
a long distance steam run, principally round the Canton of St. Gallen, with restored SNCF 2-8-2 No.
141R1244. Alas, this loco was declared a failure some time before the departure date, and a rather more
modest day tour elsewhere, with SBB 2-6-2T No. 5819 was substituted instead (annoyingly a loco
previously had for haulage and over lines mostly done steam hauled too..). Add to this, most of the party
gradually succumbed through the week to colds, flu and other ailments so they spent most of the week
squelching and sneezing their way round Switzerland. A tour to remember, but not necessarily for the best
4 January. To Switzerland. A Eurostar from St. Pancras with an Ebbsfleet stop, then fast to Paris Gare du
Nord for a bus to Paris Gare de Lyon. Then a TGV to Basel via Dijon and the LGV Est, where the hotel for
the week faced Basel SBB station. The hotel registration card doubled as a local runabout ticket, so in the
evening BVB tram route 2 was taken to its two extremities of Sunday working – Binningen and Basel
Badische bahnhof (including turning loops) from the tram station in front of the SBB station (and
conveniently next to the hotel).
5 January. Swiss Passes were issued to each party member, as a fair bit of the week’s travels would be by
service trains to and from the steam and other heritage traction activities each day. So, SBB trains took the
group Basel – Olten – Langenthal, where restored Langenthal-Huttwil Bahn No. 11, 2-6-0T built by
Schweizerische Lokomotiv und Maschinenfabrik (SLM) in 1908 awaited their pleasure at the head of two
coaches (also heritage vehicles). This locomotive took the group over its ‘original’ home line from
Langenthal to Huttwil (for a visit to the loco depot, now a preservation depot with two steam, two vintage
electrics and a diesel shunter), then on to Menznau, where the train was overtaken by a freight train
hauled by one of the new class Eem 923 4-wheel electro-diesel shunters, then on to Wolhusen. Here they
changed locos, and coaches, added a coach and changed direction – and none of this could be done in a
platform due to intensive occupation of the platforms by service trains, so was performed on a non-
platform track. SBB class Eb3/5 2-6-2T No. 5810 duly backed on, propelling three coaches onto the existing
two, and coupling on. Passengers then transferred to the three new coaches via the gangway connection
before LHB No. 11 and its two coaches were detached. 5810, its three coaches, and the group then
departed for Bern Hauptbahnhof via Entlebuch (water stop), Wiggen (prolonged photo stop and pathing
stop), Langnau and Worb. Wiggen station is a small wayside station that appears to have recently closed,
there being no staff to clear the snow from the platform. After arrival at Bern Hbf SBB electric loco 460-
118 whisked the group back to Basel via Olten on a service train. The Swiss Pass was then used to bash the
two BLT inter-urban tram routes not previously done: No.11 to St. Louis Grenze, and No. 10 to Rodersdorf,
including the two terminal turning loops. A curiosity of the Rodersdorf line is that the penultimate halt
before the terminus, called Leymen, is actually in France, but does not connect with any other form of
French rail transport. The station building at Leymen is quite substantial and looks as if it might have
previously been a station on a typical French secondaire/Intérêt local type line. Was it? (The answer
appears to be no, but it might have been if a future extension of the railway had been built. Leymen was on
the Birsigthalbahn, which ran from Heuwaage (in the outskirts of Basel) to Rodersdorf and was subsumed
into the Basel tram network in 1986. When completed in 1910 the line was planned to continue to Belfort
where it would join SNCF metals, but this never happened. It is possible the size of Leymen station reflects
an assumed future importance as an international frontier station on an international through route. Ed.)
REST OF THE WORLD
 Argentina - New stock and locos, same old not very useful times
1 April saw the first service leave Buenos Aires Retiro station for Rosario operated with new Chinese built
traction and rolling stock. Each train has capacity for 309 passengers, including two first class ‘Pullman’
coaches and a dining car. Fares are 30% less than the average coach fare. Operating daily, the new service
leaves Buenos Aires at 16:07 to arrive at the new Rosario Sur station at 22:35. In the return direction, the
train departs Rosario at 00:30 to arrive in Buenos Aires at 06:58. The journey time is expected to improve
as work is completed to renew 517 km of track between Buenos Aires and Rosario.
 Canada – freight line closure list
The following link gives a comprehensive list of all lines in Canada that the Canadian Pacific railway
company intends "to discontinue" within the next three years. It is an update of the CP Three-Year Rail
Network Plan dated 16 April 2015. It is all freight only.
 Chile/Peru – International service to restart in July
The service between Tacna, in southern Peru, and Arica, in northern Chile, was discontinued in March 2012
due to poor track condition and mechanical problems with the railbus. The track is being rehabilitated, and
the railbus repaired, so the 62 km long line should see passenger services restored in July with two round
trips each day. Freight services may also benefit. The Peruvian government agency ProInversión has
contracted a feasibility study into the operation of freight services between the port of Arica and the Tacna
Duty-Free Zone, both of which lie close to the railway, as well as local services in Tacna. If they prove
viable, the services would be put out to tender.
 Colombia – El Tren Turistico de la Sabana
For the railway enthusiast no visit to Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, would be complete without a visit to
the main railway station, known as the Estacion de la Sabana. This neoclassical building replaced an older
station built in 1880. It was built by an Englishman, William Lidstone, and inaugurated on 20 July 1917. It
was the terminus of the Ferrocarril de la Sabana as well as the Ferrocarril Nacional de Colombia (FNC). The
structure was greatly modified in 1954 with many of the internal decorations removed and later the east
wing was demolished. The building was declared a national monument in 1984 but continued to
deteriorate until recent renovation works halted the decline. Both railway companies closed in 1991.
Today part of the building is used as the headquarters of the Superintendence of Ports and
Transportation. The Tren Turistico de la Sabana is a tourist train running from the Estacion de la Sabana at
weekends and holidays to the popular tourist destination of Zipaquira where there is an underground
Cathedral carved out of salt deposits, the most popular tourist sight in the country.
Entry to the station is through a security cabin from where one walks through the impressive main
entrance into a hall filled, incongruously, with old police cars on display. Beyond this is another hall and a
sign directing prospective passengers to the ticket office. A simple return fare to Zipaquira was Colombian
pesos 36,000 (27,000 if over 60 years old), though these were due to increase from 1 March. For a further
pesos 29,000 coach transport and admission to the Salt Cathedral can be purchased. There are about 2000
pesos to the US$.
Passengers gather in the refreshment/waiting room which has many pictures and pieces of railway
paraphernalia to keep one entertained. Just before departure at 08:30 one of the staff gave a long speech,
incomprehensible to your scribe, but proving to be of no importance to the day’s events. The train is
advertised as steam, but is usually a heritage diesel and eight coaches. The loco was number 711, built by
Wilcox Babcock in the USA in 1969 and the one coach carrying a makers plate was built by ASJ of Linkoping
in Sweden in 1958. Seats are comfortable and reversible. Five derelict steam engines were present in the
sidings while on the other side in a small compound accessed from the easternmost platform, an
immaculate steam loco, no. 72, was present along with another heritage diesel, number 752 – like 711 in a
Turistren livery and looking very smart. The train runs along the Ferrocarril del Norte – the Northern
railway. It left on time, exiting the railway area (which is large and enclosed by a tall wall) through a
guarded exit directly onto the first of many crossings of major roads, usually with barriers and a
railwayman in attendance. The triangle that gave access to the Ferrocarrill del Sur proved difficult to
identify, but google maps suggests that the direct connection is still present. After fifteen minutes a yard
was reached. This was clearly in use, though only a few grafittied wagons were present. However a
modern five storey signal tower was present at the far end of the yard, from which a railwayman walked to
hand the train’s driver a paper authorisation to proceed. Before the end of the yard a line diverged right
and the train took this, the line soon being joined by the third side of a triangle, also in use. Line speed
now was 30-35km/h and the track rather bumpy. Several road crossings later the line slewed diagonally
over a broad highway into the central reservation of a major road and stayed there as it passed through
the seemingly endless suburbs of Bogota, a city of over 8 million people. The train was early at its first
stop, the beautifully restored station of Usaquena (15km) and a lot of people were waiting to get on here.
Most passengers for the tourist train boarded at the beautifully restored suburban station of Usaquena
A five piece band was playing, and unfortunately boarded as well to give rather loud musical
entertainment in each carriage. More suburbs followed as the railway followed a major road along which
development linked the cities of the route, so almost no running through open countryside for the entire
53km. At Le Caro (34km), a line diverged right. This was well used. Cajica (40km) was the next stop and
the final station of Zipaquira (53km) was reached ten minutes before the scheduled 11:30 arrival. The line
continued into the distance – a tempting but unavailable prospect. Coaches were waiting for those visiting
the Catedral de Sal, and the single cab loco ran round and used the reversing triangle to get the cab to the
front end of the train. After an hour the train starts the return journey to Bogota – at least as far as Cajica
where it is booked to wait over two hours while the coaches and their passengers catch up. Cajica is a
pleasant old colonial town, so the wait is quite agreeable. Then back to Bogota, where most passengers
disembarked at Usaquena. Arrival back at the Estacion de la Sabana was nearly thirty minutes early.
This is the only passenger railway in Colombia, though over 2600km of track is in use for freight, mostly at
914mm gauge. British interest comes from the £47m agreement between the Colombian Ministry of
Transport and UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on 3 February 2014. This is for the rehabilitation of
two railway lines for freight, one 750 km line from La Dorada to Chiriguaná and a second, 300 km line from
Belencito to Bogotá. Construction will use local contractors and is expected to take 18 to 24 months.
 Thailand - Mae Klong railway market to continue during track closure period
The State Railways of Thailand (SRT) has closed the line between the stations of Ban Laem and Mae Klong
in Samut Sakhon province to replace all the old sleepers and to elevate the existing level of the line higher
to prevent floods. It will reopen on 8 November. This would not normally attract much interest, but this is
an unusual case, as the railway line passes through Mae Klong, creating a unique tourist attraction, often
referred to as the Mae Klong or “Talad Rom Hoop” railway market. This fresh produce market is not just by
the tracks, it is over and indeed on the tracks between trains – which pass through eight times a day.
When the whistle of the train is heard the tourists get ready with their cameras. The stall owners hastily
clear a narrow route for the train with stalls and awnings being moved and umbrellas closed. The train
slowly passes through, cameras click frantically, and the market resumes in its wake. But tourists will not
be disappointed during the closure as SRT has promised to send a locomotive through the market several
times a day, and special shuttle buses will be arranged to get the tourists there.
Before the current engineering work a passenger train gingerly threads its way through the market
BLNI – Tramway and Streetcar Extra - June 2015
[A45] Bosnia and Herzegovina – The Sarajevo Tramway System
This system was thoroughly explored in April 2014, and is in fact one of Europe’s oldest, opening with
horse traction in 1885 and with a gauge of 760mm (Bosnian Gauge) but re-gauged to Standard Gauge in
1960. It comprises about 23Km of track which broadly runs east-west along wide boulevards from the
suburb of Ilidza (where it passes the end of the airport runway), until close to the city when it splits into a
long anticlockwise worked loop that threads the narrow streets. Initially it runs along the river and past the
Latin Bridge (famed as the assassination spot of Grand Duke Franz Ferdinand) before making a turn around
the Old Town (with many restaurants and souvenir shops!) and then returning to rejoin itself as the line
nears the triangular junction for the station branch. Whilst on the loop section the tracks are only two or
three streets apart and depending on how fast the tram negotiates the traffic and one could walk, getting
off and catching the same tram a short distance away appeared feasible! Apart from this broad geography
there is an early return chord connecting the inbound and outbound parts of the loop at Skenderija, which
specifically carries Route 6 trams (again always anticlockwise), a branch from a triangular junction to the
railway station which has passenger trams on all sides, and early turn back loops at Cengie Vila for route 2
and Nedzarici further out for route 5. It is important to note that on the ground there are no signs or
information whatsoever at ANY tram stop advising which route serves which line, what services can be
expected or times of operation or fares, so obviously the residents of Sarajevo are very well briefed!
Consequently having some information before you go is essential to avoid some level of frustration, at
least! So to address the practicalities of traversing the system: tickets are available from the drivers of the
trams for 1.80BAM (about 80 pence) but acquiring a day ticket for 5.60BAM is much more economical and
convenient. Your correspondent only identified two outlets, perhaps most conveniently from a small
“office” at the railway station tram stop and also from the station at Ilidza at the far end of the system to
the west where uniquely access to the departure platform is barrier and staff controlled. Otherwise the
usual spot checks are in force and were encountered several times. Note that the day tickets are valid for a
calendar day NOT 24 hours and the vendor will date the ticket in pen on the reverse so best to start early!
The system has SIX routes and each has some element unique to itself, so to address these in numerical
order: Route 1 is one of two routes operating through the single railway station loop and veers left at the
junction to circle the whole town and return; Route 2 circles the whole town and then runs to the early
return circle at Cengie Vila, this circle like that for route 5 comes off the outbound line, cuts straight across
the main running lines and trails back onto the inbound line. Note for a reason not fathomed Line 2 trams
appear to run mornings ONLY, in fact to 12.50 if the roster at the small office at the station tram stop is to
be believed, so make a point of doing this sooner than later. At Cengie Vila the set down platform is just off
the main lines and the pick-up platform is just before it crosses the mains on the flat. Negotiating the bit
between presented no difficulty other than convincing the driver a wait of 5 minutes was acceptable, the
only other concern was that the tram sat right outside the systems control offices with windows looking
right at the tram but apparently no-one queried the individual lingering on-board! Route 3 is by far the
most frequent service simply traversing the whole main system end to end. Route 4 is the other service
operating to the station but veering right at the triangle to visit Ilidza before returning, like route 1 it
allegedly finishes by about 18:50 but later services were seen. Route 5 operates around the city loop and
then to an early return circle at Nedzarici. Staying on and traversing the whole appeared perfectly
straightforward although here the distance between set down and pick-up platforms was larger and
divided by the flat crossing with the main running lines. Line 6 operates from distant Ilidza but returns via a
long single track chord on which a stop is positioned rather than traversing the whole city loop. Traversal
of all these routes provides complete coverage of the whole passenger system, at Ilidza. It is clearly
intended that all should get off and re-board beyond the entrance barrier but just sitting tight quietly and
behind a bulkhead appears to sort that one! In addition to these lines a circle facing outwards just beyond
the inward facing circle for line 2 at Cengie Vila is extant but rusty and conforms to no current service
pattern and a derelict triangle south just beyond here hints at some previous line or depot long gone. The
current depot at Otoka sits to the north a little further out still. This is home to an interesting mix of
second hand trams that operate this (busy) system including hand me downs from Amsterdam and Wien
(Vienna). An example of the latter was travelled in and showed no internal modification whatsoever and
an advert for the Vienna Ring-Tram dated 2004! The Sarajevo tramway system takes about 5-6 hours to
traverse thoroughly but also offers opportunities to take in a few sights, wander the old town, have a
Bosnian coffee and spot the buildings which still have bullet holes across their facade from the siege. An
excellent side excursion if time permits is to visit the Sarajevo airport tunnel which was dug under the
runway to help relieve the siege during the Bosnian war and even had a makeshift railway running through
it which can be seen to this day as part of the exhibition set up to commemorate the events of the time.
Sarajevo tram 510 on route 3 passes the route 2 turning loop at Cengie Vila. The route 3 tram will run anticlockwise
around the single track loop line in the city proper before returning to Ilidza. Route 2 trams run mornings only setting
down on the platform visible right. The brick building within the loop line is the control centre for the whole tramway
[A47] Colombia - The tramways of Bogota
The development of transportation in Colombia was complicated by its rugged, mountainous terrain.
Bogotá, at 2600 metres A.S.L. was not reached by railway until 1889 and the first horsecars and electric
trams had to be disassembled and transported on the backs of mules. The first horsecar line owned by the
Ferrocarril de Bogotá opened 1 December 1884 and was American owned. An unusual aspect of the
Bogotá tramway was its use of metre gauge. The first electric trams arrived in 1908, but did not enter
service until 1910. America was at this time deeply unpopular in Colombia due to its role in the secession
of Panama from the Republic and the building of the Panama Canal. On 7 March 1910 a small boy tried to
ride a tram without paying. The driver pushed him off and hit him. A crowd gathered, police arrived, a BCR
official narrowly escaped with his life and the tramway system shut down for a week. It reopened a few
weeks later, but was boycotted by the public. In September the business was sold to the city, which
formed the new Tranvía Municipal de Bogotá (TMB). The Colombians established full revenue service in
October and went on to expand the system. The last horsecar ran in 1921. At a conference held in Bogotá
on 9 April 1948 the chief of the Liberal Party was assassinated and a mob ravaged the city, killed
approximately 3,000 people, set fire to 136 buildings and destroyed 28 trams, a quarter of the TMB fleet.
It was the beginning of the end for the trams. The city's population was booming and Carrera 7, the
principal north-south tramway thoroughfare, was narrow and congested. The tram lines on other streets
were single track with passing sidings. Rather than rebuild the tramway system, the trams were replaced
with trolleybuses. Bogotá's last tram ran on the Pensilvania line on 30 June 1951 and the trolleybuses
lasted until 15 August 1991. The modern equivalent, started in 2000 is the TransMilenio, a bus rapid transit
system which has grown steadily until it is the biggest in the world.
Today all that can be seen of the old tramway system by the casual visitor are about 100 metres of track,
including a junction, set in the streets of the city centre. Much more detail and numerous photographs can
be found at http://www.tramz.com/co/bg/t/te.html
Remains of tram tracks in central Bogotá
[A46] Czech Republic – The tram pub starts running
A specially rebuilt K2R tram will take to the streets of Brno every Friday from early April until late October
offering an opportunity to buy your beer on the move. It is called the Brněnský Šalina Pub and it will
depart from Freedom Square at 18:00 every Friday, passing the main railway station to the nearby
Mendlovo náměstí tram stop, then back again. Four return trips are planned and the tram offers 38 seats
and 17 standing places, special holders for beer, toilet facilities, audio and video system, WiFi and other
devices for mobile restaurant operation. Tickets for one circuit can be bought in advance from the
information centre on Novobranská or shops in Joštova street for 50 Crowns. Tickets from the conductor
are 60 Crowns.
Inside the tram pub.
[A48] Germany - Leipzig tram line to close
It is planned to close line 9 between Connewitz and Markkleeburg West. The reason is reduced passenger
numbers since the Leipzig City tunnel opened and a wish to remove the flat crossing of the Leipzig Plagwitz
to Gaschwitz freight line. Local government boundaries are also an issue as part of the section to be closed
is not in the city of Leipzig.
[A49] Italy – Garibaldi to San Siro section of Milan Metro Line 5 opens
The Garibaldi-San Siro section of Milan's automatic Metro Line 5 in Italy has opened to the public,
providing access to the San Siro football stadium by metro for the first time. The 13km-long Line 5 of the
Milan metro runs completely underground covers the city with 19 stations between Bignami and San Siro.
In 2011, Milan signed a €872m ($1.18bn) concession agreement with Metro 5 for a 7km extension of Line
[A50] Kazakhstan – Almaty metro extended
The single line of the Almaty metro had a route length of 11.3 kilometres and served nine stations. On 18
April a 2.7km extension opened from Alatau to Moskva, with an intermediate station at Sayran.
[A51] Netherlands - First test train on Amsterdam North-South Line
The first dynamic tests on Amsterdam's 9.8km North-South Line were made on April 21 using an M4 train
from the Ring Line propelled by a shunting tractor. The tests took place at the northern end of the line
between Noord and Noorderpark stations. Further testing will be undertaken later in the year with an M5
train, by which time the third rail power supply will have been energised. Construction of the North-South
Line started in 2002. The northern section of the line is constructed at grade before diving beneath the IJ
waterway to reach Amsterdam Central station where it will connect with the existing metro and
Netherlands Railways (NS) mainline services. The line continues south beneath the historic city centre to
reach South station, where it also connects with light rail, metro and NS services. The line is due to open in
[A52] New Zealand - Christchurch tramway extension opened
The Prime Minister of New Zealand opened the extension of the Christchurch central city tourist tramway
on 12 February, later than planned due to delays caused by, amongst other things, an earthquake. The
extension is in the shape of a circle, which, when combined with the original circuit forms a figure of eight.
[A53] Poland - Warszawa’s second metro line opens
Warsaw’s metro operator, ZTM, has inaugurated the city’s second metro line, M2. The first trains ran on 8
March along the new underground east-west line beneath the Vistula River. The 6.7 kme core section is
served by seven new stations and a 400-metre tunnel connecting the new and old lines.
[A54] Poland – Tram tickets and travels in some major centres
Our member appreciates that trams are not to everyone's liking but suffice to say without going into detail
that some go so far out of town they become what PKP narrow gauge lines used to be like. Just forget they
are electrified and you are on a tram! Having done them they are in his opinion very rateable and highly
recommended. He spent time on Katowice, Częstochowa and Warszawa trams, so to assist others possibly
interested in such travels he has listed what he discovered on ticketing etc.
Łódź trams - Two different 24 hour from stamping tickets available here, 12zl for within Łódź limits or a
Bilet Aglomeracyjny for 14.40zl which also covers all of the Urban trams.
Again our member struggled to get the Bilet Aglomeracyjny at Łódź Kaliska station but was successful of
sorts at the adjacent bus station booking office as she knew what he wanted but didn't have any.
Accordingly she just stapled together a load of individual tickets to add up to the value of 14.40zl. In saying
that, all trams with ticket machines on board or the few seen at tramstops also sold them. The longest
urban route 46 to Ozorkow trundles for nearly an hour outside of the city limits and is worked by Dueweg
Trams with high backed and padded seats. Other extraurban routes are the 41 to Pabianice and 43 to
Lutomiersk. In many places they are roadside tramways, (in one case slicing through the middle of a
roundabout!) but in many places you are right out in the country and struggle to see any houses. Pabianice
terminus is almost outside the PKP station on the line to Zdunska Wola so perhaps the easiest to try, even
if just one way but look up the timetable first as for most of the day it only runs hourly. Elsewhere many of
the city centre routes are currently being dug up so he found two rare curves, plus one line with greatly
increased Depot run use were available.
Czestochowa trams - A 24 hour from first stamping ticket (Bilet Czasowy 24-Godzinny) costs 10zl but again
could not be bought from Tabacs at or near the station. Our member walked to the nearby Bus station
which has a MPK Czestochowa ticket office as well as one for PKS and easily bought one there. The
network has been recently extended from that shown in Quail with a new route taking 15 minutes one
way heading off south west from Estakada to Stadion Rakow. The system now has numerous new PESA
trams which glide along this new part and the common route past the main PKP station, but when you get
onto the branches to Rakow (irregular service) and Kucelin-Szpital the track is pretty ropey.
Warszawa Trams - This 24 hour from first stamping ticket is perhaps of most interest to members as it is
also valid on the Metro and SKW and KM trains. Two tickets, Zone 1 for 18zl which includes the Airport by
rail (check on bus r 175 to the Airport as that used to be just into Zone 2), and Zone 1 & 2 for 24zl. All tram
services running as per website map with no digging and good quality track throughout. The only odd
service route is the 2 from Mlociny Metro station which is extended peak hours only SSuX.
[A55] Spain – Valencia Metro line 9 opens
An opening ceremony for Valencia metro Line 9 took place on 6 March after a month of test running. The
inaugural passenger service from Riba-roja del Túria departed at 13:05.
Line 9 includes a 9.5 km, four-station branch off the western end of lines 3 and 5 at Rosas. After emerging
from a short tunnel section, the single-track section runs northwest to Riba-roja del Túria on an alignment
that uses parts of the trackbed of the former RENFE Valencia – Líria suburban line. East of Rosas, Line 9
services share track with Line 3, with most terminating at Alboraya-Peris Arago. Services run every 30 to
40 minutes. The journey time from Riba-roja del Túria to Xàtiva in Valencia city centre is 32 minutes.
Ridership on the branch to Riba-roja del Túria is expected to be 480 000 passengers/year. A further 5.9 km
extension from Riba-roja del Túria to Vilamarxant with three stations is scheduled to open in 2018.
[A56] USA – Dallas Streetcar runs again
The 13 April saw the official opening of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit's (DART) streetcar between
downtown Dallas and the city's Oak Cliff district officially. It is the first time that downtown Dallas has had
a streetcar service in nearly 50 years. The streetcar runs for 1.6 miles between Union Station and Oak
Cliff's Methodist Dallas Medical Centre. The weekday service is free of charge. Early 2016 should see
phase 2 of the Streetcar project completed with extension to Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District. A third
extension is expected to connect the line to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Centre and Omni Dallas
[A57] Spain – New suburban station opens in Madrid
A 1.53 km extension of Madrid Metro Line 9 from Mirasierra to Paco de Lucía opened to traffic on 25
March. The station has been named after an artist who lived in the Mirasierra district until his death in
2014, depicted in a mural covering 300 m² which Madrid Metro says is the first example of official ‘street’
art in a station in Spain. Contracts for the extension of Line 9 from Herrara Oria to Mirasierra and Paco de
Lucía in the northern suburbs of the capital were awarded in September 2009, with the first 1.5 km to
Mirasierra entering service in March 2011. According to Madrid Metro, Paco de Lucía will tap a catchment
area with 50 000 potential users, as well as more than 30 000 passengers on RENFE suburban services who
are expected to use a new interchange being funded by the Ministry of Development. The suburban
station served by routes C3, C7 and C8 is expected to open in September.
[A58] USA – New Orleans streetcar extension starts
The beginning of February saw construction commence on the 1.6-mile North Rampart Street/St. Claude
Avenue Streetcar Project which willl connect the French Quarter to Canal Street and Loyola Avenue. The
streetcars used will be those that currently operate along the Loyola and Canal Street lines. The locally-
built streetcars are replicas of the historic cars that run on the St. Charles line.
[A59] Venezuela - More metro in Valencia
The first section of the second phase of the light metro network in Valencia was officially opened on 29
April, although only for another 630 metres from Cedeño to Rafael Urdaneta and Francisco de Miranda.
When completed phase two be 4.3km long with six stations.