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Published by membersonly, 2018-04-23 00:44:36


9th July 2016



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 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


Policy change for BLNI. Since the founding of the Society it has been the practice for BLN contributions to be written in
the third person, and this has led at times to considerable amounts of re-writing and paraphrasing by your
International Editor. However, first person reports have been seen in BLN for some time and following consultation
with the BLN Editor it has been decided to extend the permissible use of first or second person narratives to BLNI.
However please note that third person remains the preferred format.

Louka u Litvínova, in the north of the Czech Republic, has a sizeable station for a village of 767 people and this can
be attributed to the fact that it is at a junction of four lines. The tracks are, unusually, set well back from the
platform. There is no ticket office and payment is made on the train, even though the station is manned. Every
hour three or four trains arrive in the space of a few minutes, exchange passengers, and depart. Also typical of
the Czech Republic is the wide veranda, offering shade in summer and shelter from the elements in winter.


[260] Albania – Bank loan agreed for railways
The EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) announced on 21 June a loan of €86
million to Albanian Railways. This will be used to rehabilitate the 34.7km of railway line between Tiranë
Terminal (PTT) and the city of Durrës as well as the construction of a new railway between the airport and
PTT Tiranë.

[261] France - SNCF to stop maintaining 700km of TER lines in Grand-Est
SNCF has announced that it will stop maintaining 700km of TER lines in the new Grand-Est region (Alsace-
Lorraine-Champagne-Ardenne), with the new region expected to pick-up the cost of €300-400 million. The
threatened routes have not yet been specified.

[262] France – Three frustrating days
Having read of the possible threat to the line from Limoges Bénédictins to Montluçon, our member and his
partner decided it was time to take another trip to France to ride on the line. It was a long way to go, so
they decided to fit in a few more lines too, but had no idea how frustrating three days could be. The first
hint that the trip might not go smoothly was on arrival at Paris Montparnasse on Sunday 28 May. The
chaos reported during the previous week because of signalling problems had clearly not abated and their
train to Niort was an hour late, missing the connexion to Saintes and Royan. They could (and did) take the
following train (over two hours later) and determined that they could still make their first overnight stop
(Limoges) by going direct from Angouleme to Limoges rather than via Poitiers as planned. They set off
from Niort on time, munching the very acceptable ‘delayed passenger’ packs they’d been given at Niort
and were still eating these when the train ran over something. They never discovered quite what, but the
delay (plus running at caution for a while thereafter) was nearly enough to put paid to the revised plan
too. They just made it into Royan and round onto the Angouleme train (they’d assumed it would be the
train they’d arrived on, and might have bailed out earlier had they realized it was a different train and that
the connexion would be so tight). They made Limoges and looked forward to better luck the following day.
The rain which had started at about the time they’d arrived at Montparnasse the previous day continued
and, indeed, it barely stopped raining the entire time they were in the country – by the end, the TV was
showing pictures of floods in many parts, being light relief from pictures of deserted stations because of a
strike. They went from Limoges to Chateauroux and onto Vierzon without incident, and then onto Bourges.
The plan was take the Intercities train from there to Montluçon and return direct to Limoges. The
Intercities train was 50 minutes late because of trees on the line and failed to make up any time, so they
arrived at Montluçon 15 minutes after the last train of the day had departed for Limoges. Luckily a very
nice booking clerk endorsed their tickets so they could return by their outward route, including an
unsolicited upgrade to First as far as Vierzon. Corail coaches are truly excellent anyway, and they now
know that first class Corail carriages are even better.
Another late return to Limoges and now two lines not done (including the one that justified the trip in the
first place). Day three had been intended to be easy, travelling via Angouleme to Bordeaux. In fact they
had already done the line from Angouleme to Limoges on Sunday, so they set out to do a return trip to
Montluçon, followed by the line to Poitiers and TGV to Bordeaux. They wouldn’t be able to use the TGV
tickets they had bought in advance, but at least they would do all the lines. Half an hour into their outward
journey to Montluçon, the train ran over a tree branch. Another delay, followed by some running at
caution but they made it into Montluçon with plenty of time before the unit was due to return. They set
off on the return, but the entire journey was at caution and the two hour journey took three. So they
missed the train to Poitiers and had to get the booking clerk to alter their tickets so they could travel via
Perigueux to Bordeaux. Luckily this gave them another piece of line not in the original plans, but Limoges

to Poitiers is still undone. Perhaps they will manage that if they ever return to try to do the Felletin branch
(which requires an overnight stay in the town). Arrival in Bordeaux was on time, half an hour before an
indefinite strike by CGT members began on SNCF, so it could have been worse!

[263] Germany – Two lines to close in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern?
The IBSE Telegramm reports that new bus schedules from 1 August may mean that Pritzwalk – Putlitz and
Pritzwalk West – Meyenburg may close. Both lines have survived threats before, but this one may be the
last. If you haven’t done them get out there quickly.

[264] Germany – Scheduled services between Gotteszell and Viechtach
The branch from Gotteszell to Viechtach is in eastern Bavaria off the Plattling to Bayerisch Eisenstein line.
Heritage tourist trains have run on the Wanderbahn for years on Sundays throughout the year, mainly in
the summer months, but from 12 September a trial service commences with trains running daily, the
service being hourly Mondays to Saturdays and two hourly on Sundays.

[265] Germany - Trains run again from Finsterwalde to Lichterfeld
The Lausitzer Dampflok Club e. V are running trains from Finsterwalde to F60 Lichterfeld (line 6591) on
Sundays until 16 October (except 7 August, but additionally on 7,8,9,11 July). €8 for return trip from
Finsterwalde. Times: Falkenberg (Elster) d. 11:15, Doberlug-Kirchhain d.11:35, Finsterwalde d. 11:45
Lichterfeld F 60 a. 12:16, d.14:10, Finsterwalde a. 14:41, d. 14:45, Lichterfeld F 60 a. 15:15, d. 15:20,
Finsterwalde a. 15:51, d.16:00, Doberlug-Kirchhain a. 16:10 and Falkenberg (Elster) a. 16:30

[266] Germany – Magdeburg connecting line in use
Magdeburg station is being rebuilt, with work proceeding on the west side platforms at present. As a result
all Hannover - Magdeburg - Halle - Leipzig IC services are diverted from the east side platforms over a 300
metre chord, not normally used by passenger trains, just north of Magdeburg Hasselbachplatz to gain the
correct line at Magdeburg Buckau.

[267] Germany/Czech Republic - Oberpfalzbahn - Marktredwitz - Cheb - Hof - Secret Service over the
former Iron Curtain and some not!
A member visited the Oberpfalzbahn railway on 15 May and found it quite a trial! He noted on the
departure board at Marktredwitz a train for Hof via Cheb, so enquired at the station information desk
about travelling on the service as he was in possession of a "Bayern -Ticket" at a cost of Euro 23. "You
cannot travel on it", he was told, "we have no information we cannot issue tickets". When further pressed
he was shown the results of the request entered into the DB computer; which refused to give any
information at all! Although rebuffed, however, he thought I am unlikely to be here again, so he had a
conversation with the member of staff on the station despatching trains and got the same story.
The train was now imminent and was advertised as Hof via Cheb and Frantiskovy Lazne at 17:08 on the
platform departure indicator screen. It ran in and our member approached the conductor aboard the
single unit railcar. “I will sell you a "Grenze Carte" for Euro 3.80”. That solved that problem so off we went
to Cheb. Only three passengers to Schirnding and on the way the conductor seemed concerned for his
safety as she said "robberies were common". Our member wondered if maybe he had missed something
going on behind him; however he got invited to the rear cab of the railcar and had a lovely view of the line
from Pomezi nad Ohri to Cheb and Selb Plössberg and Hof where the train arrived at 18:48. There were
probably thirty passengers from Cheb to Aš (CZ) and then he had the train to himself (exactly the same as
your International Editor, a month earlier.Ed.). The line has been expensively re-engineered from Aš (CZ)
to Oberkotzau with new deeply ballasted track and modern signalling. Another unit was passed at Hazlov
on the 17:07 Hof - Marktredwitz plus another unit at Frantiskovy Lazne on a Gera - Cheb train. There is a

train every two hours from 05:08 to 19:07 from Hof with hourly trains from Hof to Selb Stadt which has a
short branch of its own; and from Marktredwitz to Hof from 07:12 to 19:11 with a dated later train. With
services from Saxony to the Czech Republic under threat one wonders how long this line from Bayern
(Bavaria) into the Czech Republic will survive (another traveller over this line recently had the same
comments and the lady guard confirmed that low loadings were the norm. Ed.)
While in the area he also took the opportunity to travel by train from Neustadt to Sonneburg and Hof to
Plauen which at the time of his last visit in 1968 was not possible! When at Neustadt in 1968, he arrived
behind a Class 86 2-8-2T, every siding was full of wagons plus another Class 86. The only movement
available was to put the 86 which was already there on the back of the passenger train and depart back to
Coburg; leaving the 86 which powered the passenger train to Coburg to shunt the yard and work the
freight traffic to Coburg. What a change now, no sidings or wagons but of course one can now continue on
to Sonneburg, in what was East Germany. At Hof it was possible to travel on a Hof to Dresden train with a
Class 143 electric loco to Plauen and return; these are shortly to be replaced by EMU sets.
Wieslaufltalbahn - Schorndorf (Stuttgart) - Rudersberg - Oberndorf - (Welzheim)
Our member travelled on this steeply graded line with two silverfish (silberling) coaches and a bogie goods
van on 16 May with 2-6-2T 64.419, which is based there for the season but normally lives in Crailsheim, at
the remains of the former steam depot. The train departs from a platform on the north side of Schorndorf
station on its own alignment at the start of this 22.8 km line. A private railway the "Wieslaufltalbahn" runs
over the line from Schorndorf to Rudersburg and Oberndorf on Mondays to Saturdays but on Sundays and
Fair Days the line is handed over to the DBK Society from Crailsheim and runs tourist trains with either the
64.419, 212.084 or V60.328 on three return trips at 9:30, 12:30 and 16:00 from Schorndorf and 12:04,
15:34 and 18:34 from Weizheim. The line has some fine viaducts (the biggest of which gave major concern
earlier this year, but has since been approved for another season) and a very twisting steep climb beyond
Oberndorf at (he thinks) mainly at 1 in 27 for 10km. Further dates are 12 June, 10 and 31 July, 14 August, 4
and 8 September and 2 and 3 October 2016. Well worth a visit.

64.419 arriving at Schorndorf as a DB train formed of double decker stock departs

[268] Italy - A very strange tram starts in Trieste
A new tram/train service has started on the old waterfront railway tracks connecting Trieste Centrale to
Trieste Campo Marzio, which have been out of use for many years. The first train ran at 10:00 on 11 June
and comprised a pair of small Badoni diesel shunters in bright yellow livery with red under-frames
operating in push-pull mode with two ex-Austrian coaches. The train travels between Pier IV and Centrale
Idrodynamica, a distance of about 1200 metres. For the current year the service will be available free of
charge from Friday to Sunday and by the end of summer the route will be extended another 600 metres to
Barcola. The idea is to ease the traffic congestion in the area. A further extension into the Carso area is
being considered. Full Italian text and photos:-

[269] Italy - Ferrovie del Gargano cut-off opens
BLNI 1245.417 reported that the existing Ferrovie del Gargano railway from San Severo to Peschici-
Calenella closed between San Severo and Portone Perrone (though most sites say San Nicandro Garganico,
which is where train services forward to Peschici-Calenella resumed) from 20 September 2015 to allow
further construction work and connections to be made to the new railway from San Severo to Portone
Perrone via Apricena Città. Apricena Superiore was on the closed section. This was a long way from the city
and high up on the mountainside. The Monte Tratturale tunnel (3178 metres) on the new line has been
completed during early 2016. Trains started running from San Severo on the 11.7km of phase one of the
new line to Apricena Città on 15 December 2015. The first train over the whole of the new single track line
ran on 13 June 2016 and was train 22400, the 05:50 San Severo – Rodi Garganico. A full service from San
Severo to Peschici-Calenella has been introduced. The map from the European Railway Atlas (to whom
thanks for allowing reproduction of the map - eBLNI only) shows a further cut-off planned between San
Nicandro Garganico and Cagnano Varano, but no timescales have been announced and, if ever built, will
be many years in the future.

[270] Portugal - Carris Museum/Museu Carris, Lisboa
Very highly recommended in Lisbon is a visit to the Carris Museum. Carris is the operator of Lisboa’s trams,
buses and funicular railways. The museum is not very well publicised and was only spotted by chance
whilst travelling on tram 15E – the stop “Est. Sto. Amaro” is directly outside the museum. It is right
underneath the 25 de Abril road/rail bridge crossing the River Tagus. The museum is part of a large depot
site that also houses Carris administrative offices. They were just looking for the way in when a friendly
lady beckoned them past the security barriers and sold them tickets at EUR 4. She explained that the

museum was in three sections and that they would be conveyed between them in a 1901-built tram. It
appeared that they were the only visitors in Section 1 that morning apart from a large school party that
soon moved on. Section 1 contained mainly archive material, going back to the original horse-drawn
“Americano” trams and including the Lisboa Metro, although today this is run by a separate company. The
displays were very well presented with explanations in Portuguese and English, although clearly with a
mission to present the company’s “party line”. As soon as they indicated that they had seen enough in
Section 1, an attendant who had been loitering ushered them out to where their tram was waiting; it felt
like a de-luxe model with padded seats. It took them several hundred metres deeper inside the site, to
Section 2, which contained a wide range of historic tram and bus vehicles, also a small shop. Their private
tram was ready to take them on to Section 3, by a different route, going back towards the site entrance.
Section 3 consisted of a smaller collection of historic vehicles, mainly buses. From here it was a short walk
back to the street and the continuation of their journey on present-day tram 15E.

1901 tram at section 2 stop Interior of 1901 tram

Carris museum under the Tagus bridge

Tram map – maximum extent of the system

[271] Romania - Narrow gauge railways in Romania 2016
Waldbahn, Viseu de Sus - Paltin (km 21.6),; Departs daily 9:00
ex Waldbahn Moldoviţa, 1.VII - 11.IX: daily, Moldoviţa 10:00 and 14:00 / mocanita-hutulca-Moldovita /
ex Waldbahn Covasna, 30.IV - 11.X: daily, departure from Hotel Clermont ,
ex Waldbahn Comandău, 6 + 7.VIII,
ex CFI Brad - Criscior, 7.VII - 11.IX: Sat + Sun, Criscior 13:00 and 15:00,
ex KBS 204 Cornatel - Ri Hosman, only special trains (24.-26.VI)
ex KBS 309 Abrud - Câmpeni, 7.VII - 11.IX: Sat + Sun, Abrud 1:00, 13:00 and 16:00
ex KBS 407 CAMPU Cetăţii - Sovata, 1.V - 1.VII: daily from Sovata 11:00, 13:30, 17.00
ex KBS 408: Raciu - Teaca, appointments 2016

[272] Spain - A Spanish track grice (Part 2)
Travelling from Madrid Chamartin to Ourense the 09:15 departure (a Class 730 bi-mode unit) started on
the standard gauge side of the station and initially took the AV line to the junction near Olmedo Bif. Galicia
where it used the non-flyover line, which is contrary to standard practice (right hand running in Spain) and
requires use of crossovers between the main running lines. Apparently the flyover route sees no passenger

use. Medina del Campo AV station did not appear to be open and is in the middle of nowhere, very far
from the city to which it is related by name alone. The train paused about 2 minutes in the through lines
adjacent to the rusty platform loop to the right and our member speculates that this is to effect a re-boot
of the on-board computer between two different signalling systems. Continuing north the train entered
the Toro loop on the single line towards Zamora and was duly passed by a southbound service. At Zamora
the diesel engines audibly fired up and the train passed very smoothly through the gauge changer and
onto the single track Iberian gauge classic route to Ourense. On this sinuous section there are many once
substantial stations but the line seems to pass near almost no settlement of any consequence, and so the
distant cities of Galicia must be the justification for the substantial works clearly visible wherever the train
came close to or intersected the original route. On emerging from the tunnel just beyond Zamora a long
stretch of new trackbed runs just to the west and approaching Puebla de Sanabria substantial works
including twin tunnels and viaducts are clearly evident. At Lubian new tunnels and formation are quite
distinct and at Gandina very substantial works including tunnels, a formation looking capable of
accommodating FOUR tracks, and concrete batching plant with a fleet of concrete mixer trucks are all
evident as the Iberian gauge line swings over the new line. Beyond the very smart looking Banos de Molgas
station where wagons appear rusted into the sidings, many viaducts and cuttings appear finished although
trackless. In all the AV line to Galicia appears to be very well advanced and a lot of money is being spent.
On the return journey the train went main line at Toro loop and paused again (for another re-boot of the
computer?) in the up platform loop road at Medina Del Campo AV station.
Travelling from Madrid Chamartin to Salamanca via Medina del Campo AV brought to light the curious
arrangement at Segovia Guiomar.

Trains coming from or travelling to the Guadarrama tunnel use the outer tracks of the Segovia-Guiomar railway
Here the two lines avoiding the station platforms flank the station higher than the rest of the layout which
is in a trough between the up and down through lines and which has loops serving the outer faces of two

island platforms, one of which was used northbound. There are further loops from these serving the two
central tracks which ultimately terminate in stabling sidings that rise back to the levels of the flanking
through lines and would appear to be used by services terminating and originating here. The overall layout
sets up some interesting questions as to what might be considered separate and discrete routes! At
Medina Del Campo AV station the train paused fairly briefly in the up platform loop before proceeding
through the gauge changer, taking the single chord and descending to the Iberian gauge line to Salamanca.
This train, the 20:35 ex Madrid, used the Cantalapiedra avoiding line, not unexpectedly as Cantalapiedra
was not a booked stop. Travelling from Salamanca to Medina del Campo the following day the 09:54
departure which had been chosen to avoid Cantalapiedra was not only looped at Cantalfino to allow an
opposing service to pass but also used the line via Cantalapiedra as a glorified passing loop where it sat in
the station a few minutes to allow another service to pass southwards. Our member comments that this
illustrates that selecting non-stopping services is no guarantee of obtaining the avoiding line, and made
him very grateful for having done it the evening before!
Our member now travelled from Palencia to Burgos de Lima Rosa, partly to traverse the elevated flying
junction southbound where it joins the direct route towards Burgos near Magaz. The high speed line runs
parallel nearby allowing a fairly consistent monitoring of progress. It runs to the south until shortly after
Quinta del Puente where the Iberian gauge line burrows underneath and remains south of the AVE line.
Based on observed progress the suggested date of opening to Burgos this year seems unlikely. While some
sections appear to have at least one track complete actual levels of activity on a weekday appeared fairly
minimal and in many areas nothing seemed to have progressed beyond the flat formation, awaiting track
and all superstructures. Burgos de Lima Rosa is a large split level shed between a semi-derelict urban
wasteland where it appeared the landscaping money finally ran out on the fringes of Burgos, and on the
other side, fields. It is a classic example of mad transport planning in that vast sums are being spent to get
high speed trains here having moved the station many miles out of town necessitating a taxi or bus which
adds expense and also removes the time advantage over air travel. Arriving from the west the old
alignment into Burgos can still be seen, diverging roughly where the re-routed section of the Directo de
Burgos from Aranda de Douro trails in.

[273] Vatican City/Italy – Visiting the Vatican City railway
As promised in BLNI 1254.158, our intrepid members went on to visit the world’s shortest international
railway. The tour company had been less than responsive in initial correspondence, leading to some
concern that the hotel pick-up would not happen. In fact they called the hotel and left a message the night
before and the arrangements worked well. The self-guided tour of the Vatican ran from 0800 to 1000,
when those with tickets for the Full Day Tour assembled for the walk through the extensive grounds to the
Vatican City Station. No deviation was permitted from the crocodile wending its way and security was
clearly the top priority. This extended to arrival at the station, where the only permitted activity was to
wait at the end of the platform, be told when to walk along it and which train door to use. It was not
possible to take a photograph of the station itself except from above the tunnel within which the line
terminates. Anything else would have meant a deviation and the most that was permitted was to stand at
the corner of the station building and take a photo from there. There were very few railway enthusiasts
apparent – indeed some tourists seemed totally unmoved by the whole thing. The train was a smart ETR
425 ‘Minueto’ unit (No 071), which left at 10:58 and paused at S. Pietro from 11:01 to 11:08. It was then
non-stop to Castel Gandolfo where some participants left to join coaches to the Castel Gandolfo Gardens,
while the rest continued on to the end of the branch at Albano Laziale to join coaches. The reasons for the
different alighting points were unclear, but meant that the lucky ones (us included) got to do the whole
line. After a strictly controlled tour of the gardens by roadtrain, participants had 3.5 hours to enjoy the
delights of the town before joining coaches to Castel Gandolfo Station for return to S. Pietro on the unit
which had brought participants out (no return to the grounds for any reason). Vatican City Station is a
white building with a single platform. In addition to the tour train there were two freight wagons in the

station (the graffiti had presumably been added somewhere other than in the Vatican grounds). A wall and
gate run diagonally towards the track and is described at:, which explains in great detail how long
the Vatican railway is in total, but this has not been updated since the death of Pope John Paul the Second.
We were lucky enough to be right at the back of the train and thus about 20 metres the Vatican side of the
gate, which felt a more comprehensive experience than it might have been boarding on the outward side
of the gate, though the sheer satisfaction of achieving a departure on a train on the world’s shortest
national railway made it all good. There may well be other ways of booking this tour than the way
described in BLN 1254.158, but this all worked out well and ticked all the boxes. If your allocated carriage
is not the rear one you might get away with walking back through the train unobtrusively.


[274] Japan - JR Tokai begins construction of maglev line station at Shinagawa
Central Japan Railway Co (JR Tokai) held a ground-breaking ceremony on Wednesday 27 January to begin
work on the construction of a station 40 metres below Shinagawa Station which will serve as the starting
point for its ultra-high speed magnetic levitation (maglev) line that will run between Tokyo and Nagoya.
The maglev train can reach a top speed of over 500 km/hour and is expected to be operational by 2027.
There will be four stations on the route between Shinagawa and Nagoya and both Shinagawa and Nagoya
stations will be about 40 metres underground. Nearly 90% of the journey will be in tunnels. JR Tokai has
been conducting test runs on a 42.8-kilometre track in Yamanashi Prefecture. The L0 maglev train, which is
driverless, has five cars and is 2.9 metres wide and 3.1 metres high.

[275] Mexico/USA - New operators for the Desert Line
From the 10 June 2016 San Diego-Union Tribune: A new company will take over repairs and eventual
operations of the beleaguered Desert Line railroad, clearing the way for work to begin this summer and for
trains to move goods made in Mexico into the United States in 2018. In a deal finalised on 9 June, the Baja
California Railroad will sublease the old and dilapidated line from the Pacific Imperial Railroad, a company
that has leased the tracks from its landlord, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit District, since 2012. The
agreement cuts Pacific Imperial out of most Desert Line operations and repairs. The company has no
experience running a railroad and has been the subject of a federal inquiry. Officials said the sublease is a
crucial step in getting the Desert Line running again so that products made in Mexico’s maquiladoras can
be efficiently shipped into the United States by rail rather than sitting for hours in trucks at the region’s
border crossings. Between $60 and $70 million in repairs on 70 miles of track, 57 bridges and 17 tunnels
are needed before any freight is moved.

The two rail companies will pay for the renovations. A 10-mile stretch from Coyote Wells to Plaster City in
Imperial County is now supposed to be repaired by March 2017 and begin limited operations by the end of
that year. The 60-mile span from Division near the border to Coyote Wells must now be repaired by April
15, 2018, begin limited operations by 15 August 2018 and complete full-scale repairs by 21 December
2018. Baja Rail has already repaired the Mexico Line, a 40-mile stretch of track that connects with U.S.
trains in Tijuana and heads east to Tecate before crossing the border and connecting with the Desert Line.
The Mexico Line is ready to start moving goods from maquiladoras toward the U.S., but still lacks a station
where freight can be loaded from trucks onto train cars. The sublease divides responsibility of the Desert
Line into two sections. The eastern portion runs approximately 60 miles from the border just east of
Campo to Coyote Wells, which can handle trains of up to 30 cars, will be repaired and operated by Baja
Rail. Work on this span is expected to begin this summer. Near the eastern terminus, Pacific Imperial will
build a facility to load truck freight onto rail, and assemble trains with as many as 100 cars. From this hub
trains will run on a 10-mile stretch repaired and operated by Pacific Imperial with Baja Rail’s help and then
connect to the Union Pacific Railroad in Plaster City, the end of the line. There are also plans for an
international security checkpoint near the border. The Desert Line is a portion of the San Diego & Arizona
Eastern Railway built by sugar magnate John Spreckels under the San Diego & Arizona Railway Company.
Spreckels broke ground in 1907, but construction was a challenge. Mexican revolutionaries interrupted
work in 1911, and the U.S. government seized railroads in 1917 in support of the war effort. Construction
was eventually finished in 1919. It has been nicknamed “the impossible railroad.”

The section of the Desert Line which runs between Campo and Plaster City features the Goat Canyon Trestle. It is
considered to be the tallest curved wooden trestle in the world

[276] Singapore – Former rail terminus to be integrated into new metro station
The Land Transport Authority has announced details of how the future Cantonment metro station on the
final phase of the Circle Line is to be integrated with the historic Tanjong Pagar station. The former
terminus of main line rail services from Malaysia, Tanjong Pagar is designated as a national monument
‘with deep historical, architectural and social significance’. The new metro station is to be built under the
platform area of the former station, requiring about 290 m of each platform to be removed and then

reinstated. On 27 May LTA called tenders for a contract to dismantle and repair the existing canopies,
which are to be reinstated when the metro station opens in 2025. The first 80 m of each platform will be
unaffected. LTA said the new station would be ‘carefully integrated’ with the Art Deco building designed by
Swann & Maclaren, which was opened by the Governor of the Straits Settlements in May 1932 and closed
with the end of rail services on June 30 2011. The old building is to be used as a multi-functional
community facility for 20 years after the metro station is completed.

[277] USA - Construction commences on Southeast Rail extension
A groundbreaking ceremony marking the start of Denver's Southeast Rail Extension was held on 10 May,
with construction starting on 16 May. The extension will add a further 2.3 miles to the 19 mile long
Southeast Line. The route will serve Sky Ridge and the future Lone Tree City Center before turning east to
reach the new terminus at Ridge Gate Parkway. The line is due to be completed by 2019. Trains from the
extension will continue onto three existing routes: the E Line to Union Station, the F Line to 18th &
California in the city centre, and the orbital R Line through Aurora.

Book reviews
If you are visiting Lisbon it might be worth looking out a pocket-sized booklet "Tram Tours of Lisbon" by
Joseph Abdo, priced at a bargain EUR 4. It covers each of the 5 routes in detail, stop-by-stop, with a
description of the area's history and sights. The booklet has a map of each line; it was first published in
2015 and the English translations are a little rough in places.
A very unusual publication, priced at EUR 12 (122 pages A5), is "Lisbon and Prague by Tram" by Rafael
Santos, which first appeared in 2015. The text is in Portuguese, Czech and English - the Portuguese author's
interest in Prague began when Benfica football club recruited a Czech player in 1998; historic trams are an
obvious link between the two cities. The book contains many fine black and white photos, mostly from the
modern era, a short history of both tram networks and guides to seeing both cities by tram. A map of the
Lisbon network shows the maximum extent of the tram network, with the current lines highlighted, but
with only minimal detail. The Prague map is a reproduction of the current colour tram/metro map and is
quite hard to read in black and white and at such a small size.



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

Czech Republic - Brno diversions
Because of platform reconstruction work at Brno hlavni there is limited capacity and many changes to local
trains 28 August to 11 September. Generally Breclav to Zdar / Tisnov local trains terminate at Brno hlavni,
and at Modrice passengers change into a fresh train starting there going via Brno dolni to Zidenice thence
to Zdar / Tisnov. The line via Brno dolni is currently freight only.

Czech Republic - Normally freight only lines again available this year
Railway Capital Services will again run DMUs from Opava to Svobodne Hermanice this summer. Timetables
for this and their other services (Lovosice to Most, Kadaň to Podbořany/Radonice u Kadane and Moravské
Budějovice to Jemnice) can be found at:

Germany – Diversion around Stuttgart this summer
Between 30 July and 11 September, daily, trains 115 (Münster (Westf) Hbf – Klagenfurt Hbf) and EC 114
(Klagenfurt Hbf – Dortmund Hbf) are diverted between Mannheim and Plochingen (and vice versa) via
Stuttgart-Zazenhausen and the Stuttgart avoiding line thereby using the otherwise freight only connection
of line 4820.

July 2016 BLNI Extra No. 15 – Reminiscences of Germany and Canada

[B49] Germany - Germany 1985
The recent IBSE railtour of the Nürnberg area brought back memories of a previous trip in 1985, when the
150th anniversary of German railways was being celebrated. Events were centred on Nürnberg, as the
terminus of the line to Fürth, which opened in 1835. This historic railway is long-closed and part of the U-
Bahn is roughly on its alignment. Various special trains operated and I secured bookings on two of them,
attracted more by use of vintage electric locomotives than where they went.
I started out on Princess Beatrix, overnight from Harwich, arriving at Hoek van Holland on 23 May. I had
decided to travel on the Rheingold, one of the few remaining Trans-Europ Express trains. This ran from
Amsterdam to Basel, where through carriages to Brig, Chur and Milano were attached to regular SBB
trains. The train originally had a portion from Hoek van Holland, but that was withdrawn at the start of the
1979 summer timetable. Therefore I travelled on the Berlin train to Utrecht, to join the Rheingold there.
Originally, the Rheingold carriages had been superior to those of other German expresses, but a general
improvement in rolling stock meant that this distinction had been lost. The carriages were not very
different from the air-conditioned types used on normal InterCity services, though the train remained first
class only. It is not surprising that the Rheingold was replaced at the start of the 1987 summer timetable by
a normal express train. The train was hauled from Amsterdam to Emmerich by a class 1100 locomotive,
1127, a modest machine for a prestigious service. DB 103 238 took over at Emmerich.

23 May: 103 238 having taken over the Rheingold at Emmerich

The train appeared to cater very largely for tourists, with souvenirs of the journey available for sale. I
acquired a set of Rheingold postcards and what was supposed to be a copy of the internal destination
display cards. However, that on sale listed every single stop, so a purchaser could be sure that their station
was shown. Those used in the train just showed the main stations and were more legible.
I left the Rheingold at Mannheim and had about two hours there before catching a train to Nürnberg. I
remember being intrigued by the restaurant cars used on InterCity trains, which were fitted with a
pantograph that was raised while the locomotive was being changed. This maintained the electricity supply
to cooking appliances and refrigerators. There were two through trains daily between Mannheim and
Nürnberg, one mid-morning which started from Saarbrücken, and the other, which I used, leaving in the
afternoon. This was a traditional D-Zug, with compartments and drop-windows. That made for a very

pleasant ride along the scenic Neckar valley. A change from electric (110 288) to diesel (218 452) traction
was made at Heilbronn. Next day I visited the anniversary exhibition in Nürnberg, but before that opened I
had time to travel over the Altdorf branch. Now part of the Nürnberg S-Bahn, it was then worked by class
141 locomotives and Silberling carriages, then still in unpainted livery. Internal seating was still rather
basic, but the carriages had been designed to allow quick conversion to ambulance trains in event of a war.
The exhibition was staged at Tafelwerk Nürnberg, a former iron works adjacent to Nürnberg Ost station. In
addition to the normal trains, a shuttle operated between Nürnberg Hbf and Nürnberg Ost, for the benefit
of visitors. One of the early class 628 diesel units with the prototype cab design, 628 103, was used for this
– and extremely crowded it was too.

24 May: 628 103 at Nürnberg Ost with the exhibition shuttle from Nürnberg Hbf

From a platform near to Nürnberg Ost station, described as “Ludwigsbahnhof”, there was a shuttle train
into the exhibition. That comprised a small tank engine working top and tail with a Köf on three vintage

24 May: The steam shuttle into the 150th Anniversary exhibition

The exhibition was devoted to the history and future of the German railways. By far the most surprising
exhibit was a mural comprising a very large black and white photograph of the platforms at an unidentified
main line station, with the figure of a man (in full colour) painted on to it. The station depicted was
Brighton, complete with 2Hap and 4Cig units!

24 May: Mural featuring Brighton station at the 150th Anniversary exhibition

Returning to Nürnberg Hbf at lunchtime, I found one of the prototype class 120 locomotives, 120 004,
about to leave on a train to München, so took that to Augsburg. The rest of the day was devoted to a loop
round via Stuttgart, Würzburg, Bamberg and back to Nürnberg.
The railtour on 25 May used a rake of main line carriages that looked as if they dated from the 1920s. It
was hauled from Nürnberg Hbf by E44 119, built in 1941 to a design introduced in 1930. The electric
locomotive hauled the train initially as far as Forchheim.

25 May: E44 119 with railtour at Lichtenfels

There diesel V80 002 took over for a trip up the branch to Ebermannstadt. Steam locomotive Nürnberg, a
diminutive tank engine, was added there and the train continued over the Dampfbahn Fränkische Schweiz
line as far as Muggendorf. Nürnberg ran round at Muggendorf for the return to Ebermannstadt.

25 May: Steam locomotive Nürnberg prepares to couple to the railtour at Ebermannstadt

It is doubtful whether it could have hauled the train up any gradient, or even on the level, but downhill was
not a problem. Why the train did not go all the way to Behringersmühle I do not know, but I did get to the
end of the line thirteen years later. V80 002 worked the tour back to Forchheim, whence E44 119
continued to Lichtenfels.

25 May: V80 002 on the railtour at Muggendorf

From there diesel V200 002 hauled the train to Neuenmarkt Wirsberg, for a visit to the railway museum.

25 May: V200 002 stabled with the railtour at Neuenmarkt Wirsberg

Later in the afternoon V200 002 continued to Bayreuth, where steam locomotive 01 1100 was waiting to
take the train back to Nürnberg.

25 May: 01 1100 with the railtour at a photo-stop at Vorra

Apart from half of the Dampfbahn Fränkische Schweiz line, no noteworthy track was covered, but it was a
pleasant day nonetheless.
The same carriages were used next day, but this time E04 20, dating from 1934, was at the head of the
train from Nürnberg Hbf. There was a good long run behind this vintage electric to Plattling.

26 May: E04 20 comes off the railtour at Plattling

From there diesel 218 217, in InterCity maroon and cream, hauled the tour up to the junction with the
Regentalbahn at Gotteszell. There was some shunting about here, with 218 217 transferred to the rear of
the train and steam locomotive 378.32 coupled to the front. This was a substantial 2-8-2 tank engine from
Austria, later ÖBB class 93, which hauled the train, with some assistance from 218 217, up to Viechtach.

26 May: A photo run past near Gstadt on the Regentalbahn, with 378.32

Lunch was taken there, and while tour participants were partaking of vast quantities of pea soup, würst
and beer in marquees by the line, the tour train was used for a passenger service to and from Blaibach.
With replete passengers, the tour continued behind 378.32 to Blaibach. This section of the Regentalbahn
closed following storm damage in 1990 and 1991. From Blaibach V200 002 hauled the train to Amberg,
where steam 23 105 took over for the return to Nürnberg. There was a slight delay approaching Hersbrück
(rechts Pegnitz), waiting for an express from Praha to Stuttgart to precede us. Today Praha to Nürnberg

and Stuttgart by train would involve a series of local services and be much less convenient, even though
the Czech border can be crossed without any formalities.
Over the following week I toured lines in Bayern and western Austria. Of note was a trip on the Füssen
branch in a train comprising prototype vehicles 628 010 and 627 007. The latter was a single car, of which
there was no series production. This and the shuttle to Nürnberg Ost were the only journeys by DMU in
the entire holiday. Almost every other trip was locomotive-hauled, the opposite of what may be
experienced today. Starting to head towards home, I wished to travel from München to Hamburg and
decided to do so via Berlin. I had previously visited Berlin, in via Helmstedt and out via Gutenfürst, and had
been fascinated by the opportunity to see something of the DDR. This time I would travel via Probstella
and Büchen. The morning train on 2 June left München at 07:40 behind 111 048. I was quite surprised
when this was changed to 151 045 at Nürnberg. Class 151 is a freight locomotive, but they did have a few
passenger workings. DB worked to Probstella, in the DDR, where the electric came off and diesel 132 382
came on. There was another 132 on the front, but that was detached at Halle and there was no way of
seeing which one it was. Getting off the train in the DDR was forbidden.
Once the train was under way, officials came round to issue transit visas. This was essentially a job-
creation and money-making exercise for the DDR. One of the officials had a pad of pink visa forms and a
tray hung round his neck that he could use as a writing desk. Each visa form was filled out by hand and an
official stamp applied. One’s passport was also stamped, indicating the border crossing used, mode of
transport and date. There were spaces on the visa form for the passenger’s name and date of birth to be
filled in, but latterly officials only entered the passport number. It should also have been indicated where
the passenger was transiting to, but that was left blank as well. In retrospect it was all a bit like the man
going down the promenade issuing deck chair tickets. Visa fees were paid by the West German
government and were a useful source of Deutschmarks for the East.
Trains to and from West Berlin were not meant to stop within the DDR, other than at the border
checkpoints. However, this train stopped in Halle (Saale) Hbf, though not on a platform track. Officials
stationed themselves at the carriage doors to make sure that nobody got on or off. It was Saturday
lunchtime, at a time when most German shops closed on Saturday afternoon. Therefore, a large number of
people were waiting on the station to catch the train home. It was very noticeable that they all did their
best to avoid looking at this train of westerners just a few metres away from them.

Photographing the railway and border installations in the DDR was not encouraged (or even permitted),
but……2 June: Electric locomotives at Halle (Saale) depot

Most transit trains between West Germany and West Berlin ran via the checkpoint at Griebnitzsee.
Passenger trains did not normally enter West Berlin via Drewitz (now Potsdam Medienstadt Babelsberg).
Trains from Probstzella and Gutenfürst therefore ran via Dessau and Ferch-Lienewitz. Checking at
Griebnitzsee could take a considerable time, as DDR officials searched the train for any people trying to
enter West Berlin without permission. Specially trained dogs ran under the train, looking for anyone
hanging onto the underframe or bogies. DDR frontier stations had observation bridges, allowing officials to
observe carriage roofs, and trap points to prevent unauthorised departures to the west. Railway lines were
extremely securely fenced between the DDR check point and the border.
There was no more than half an hour at Berlin Zoologischer Garten before the 17:27 to Hamburg departed,
hauled by 132 553. The main line railways in West Berlin were very run down, with extensive facilities long
out of use. The train stopped at Spandau, where there was little or no custom, and the old station
buildings appeared derelict and overgrown. The checkpoint for trains leaving West Berlin for Hamburg was
at Staaken; the route via Albrechtshof was not permitted at that time. I recall seeing lines of steam
locomotives in the sidings at Wustermark, though most, if not all, were probably withdrawn by then. The
Hamburg main line was gained via the route from Wustermark to Nauen, which closed in connection with
construction of the high-speed line to Wolfsburg.
The transit visa performance was repeated, with officials not questioning or even noticing that I was
leaving Berlin so soon after arrival. The search for unauthorised passengers was made at Schwanheide, just
short of the border, but the DR train crew worked through to Büchen in the west. Only employees who
were married were allocated duties that took them into West Germany, on the assumption that they
would not abandon their spouses in the DDR. 218 107 took the train forward to Hamburg. The journey
from Berlin took a bit over four hours, whereas now it can be done in less than two and it was not much
over three hours in 1914!
I concluded my holiday by visiting some lines in the Ruhr, including the Wuppertal Schwebebahn, and
returned home on the jetfoil from Oostende.

27 August 1990: This shows the border control point at Gutenfürst, north of Hof, a few weeks before German
unification. Arrangements at other border crossings were similar. Many of the buildings at Gutenfürst are still
there, but the observation bridge has gone and the railway has been electrified.

2 June: Two pictures of border installations at Schwanheide. The one on the left shows the inner fence, with
typical concrete watchtower, and the picture on the right the outer one. The outer fence was not actually on the
border. It had to be set back to allow for construction and maintenance. Immediately inside the outer fence is a
concrete-lined trench, to stop vehicles, and adjacent to that is a 6 metres wide strip of loose soil or sand, used to
indicate any unauthorised approach to the wall. This section of the border does not appear to be mined, because
there was usually a double outer fence with the mines between them.

[B50] Canada - Railway Memories in British Columbia
Seeing the article about the Skeena service (Item A72 in the BLNI Canada Extra, September 2015) brought
back memories of a visit that my wife and I paid to the area almost 24 years ago, when we used this train.
Unlike your correspondent who took the quick route from Vancouver, we spent three days on this journey.
Day one started with the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, in order to position ourselves for the daily
bus service to Port Hardy at the far north end of Vancouver Island. This took most of the day and included
a number of stops at logging camps, which doubled up as service stations. We also caught a glimpse of a
train on the Englewood Railway, which I believe still runs and is the last logging railway on the island. After
overnighting in Port Hardy we caught the Inside Passage boat service from here to Prince Rupert, a 16 hour
journey but truly spectacular. The following morning we visited the preserved station, Kwinitsa, before
catching the Skeena. I hadn’t realised until reading the article in BLNI that the original station at Prince
Rupert had closed, so here are two pictures of it.

The stock of the ‘Skeena’ at the old station in Prince Rupert. The bridge for road access no longer exists.

The former station building at Prince Rupert which today is closed and derelict

When we used the Skeena it ran straight through to Jasper so the overnight was on the train and the
formation included sleeping accommodation and a bar/dining car with observation level.
I’m not sure what it’s like these days but, when we did it, it was very much a locals’ train – there were only
two other visitors on board. The train stopped at various isolated wayside stations where it would drop off
and pick up both passengers and post.

The train called at Cedar Vale where the postman is seen about to pass over his mailbag

The other features of the trip were at Terrace, where some of the crew went off to the local supermarket
to buy supplies for dinner, and at Smithers where, with light fading, the loco was refuelled from a road

Refuelling from road tankers is a common practice for long distance trains in Canada

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