INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1305 02 JUNE 2018
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
This type of station will be a familiar sight to travellers on the Paris Metro system, but details of the architectural
style are less well known. This new development was directed by the architect Paul Andreu and the decorator
Joseph-André Motte and came to be known as Andreu-Motte style. It was implemented at over a hundred stations
on the network between 1974 and 1984 and is based on white and classic bevelled tiles, but with the introduction of
colour in the stations by means of two coloured lines in the lighting strips and the seats. From 1984 budget cuts led
to cheaper variants for refurbishment, designated type A and type B. The station in the picture is Daumesnil station
on line 8, and is a type A station with the original tiles reused but stabilized by a resin. Type B had the original tiles
replaced with flat tiles of 10 × 20 cm but only up to the height of the light strip, the upper part being coated with
resin. The architectural team intended that, unconsciously, travellers would memorize the colour associated with
their station and recognise it without looking at the station name signs.
 Austria - Stadt-Regio-Tram Gmunden
The opening of the full tram route between Gmunden ÖBB station and Vorchdorf-Eggenberg will be on
1 September 2018 at 11:00. From mid-August, the route between Klosterplatz and Franz-Josef-Platz
over the Traunbrücke and the Rathausplatz should be open for schoolchildren’s trains. On working
days there will be a service to Engelhof (where there is a turning circle) every 15 minutes, and every
second tram continues to Vorchdorf. Engelhof station is renamed to Gmunden Engelhof.
 Czech Republic – Deviations around Plzeň opening dates
An approximately 500 metre deviation at the beginning of the Plzeň to Domažlice line should open on
15 March 2019.
BLNI Extra 36, item D5 reported that the new cut-off east of Plzeň through the Ejpovice tunnels would
open in December 2018. In fact the southern tunnel is scheduled to open on 15 November 2018 and
the northern tunnel on 7 December 2018.
 Germany – Brandenburg trams and line 2
Following the IBSE weekend tour, which set down in Brandenburg, two members had decided to stay
overnight and tackle the Brandenburg tram system the following morning. Early morning rain was not
a problem as the tram stop was opposite the door of their hotel. The system is metre gauge and was
horse drawn from 1897 to 1911, when it was electrified at 600V DC.
There are three lines Monday to Saturday (routes 1, 2 and 6), but on Sundays the outer ends of routes
1 and 2 combine to form route 12, meaning some city centre track has no service on Sundays [and a
fourth, which is a combination of two of the lines, on Sundays]. The whole system can easily be done in
a morning – assuming no engineering works or temporary closures. So it was with some concern that
our members found tram 2 deviating from its timetabled course via Hauptstrasse and running via
Kanalstrasse to the common section at Nicolaistrasse after which the three lines radiate westwards.
The most southerly is the line to Quenzbrücke where passengers must alight for the train to go round
the loop. Timing was important as the 08:39 service from Quenzbrücke runs to the depot at
Hohenstücken Betriebshof, taking a TSUL (Tram Service over Unusual Line) avoiding Fouquestrasse
onto line 6; this curve is also used by route 12 all day on Sundays. A short wait here and another tram
6 to the terminus at Hohenstücken Nord, where again, the tram ran empty around the loop. Returning
as far as August Babel Strasse our members joined several members of the public waiting for a tram on
the middle branch of the system to Anton Saefkow Allee. This was a particularly interesting journey
which will be described in more detail.
From August Babel Strasse tram 1 proceeds north, then swings right through woodland to loop
through 270 degrees and pass under line 1/6. Now heading westward the tram runs alongside a canal
as far as Am Silokanal. The next few stops serve an extensive area of housing and apartment blocks of
the type beloved of the former Communist government. Before Bhf Görden the tram line crosses the
heavy rail line between Brandenburg and Rathenow on the flat. (There is another flat railway crossing,
with the freight line diverging north-east from Altstadt on the Brandenburg-Rathenow line, on the
common section of routes 1 and 6 further in.) A few metres on the right is Görden station, so tram to
heavy rail interchange is possible. At Waldcafé Görden the double track ends and the single track
enters forest, soon enjoying views of the small Gördensee lake on the right. Asklepios Klinik stop
serves the large chateau-like building on the left. It was built by the Province of Brandeburg as a
provincial health and nursing home in 1911, but served a much more sinister purpose in the days of
the Third Reich. In 2006 the house was taken over by Asklepios Kliniken, a major provider of
healthcare facilities. Just before Kaltenhauser Weg a former railway line is crossed, again on the flat,
and rails are still present on the crossing and the northern side. Look on the right now for the plinthed
Soviet tank before arrival at Anton Saefkow Allee, where as usual the tram disappeared ECS around
the loop. A wooden building on the platform has been painted to look like a tram, and was in use by
tram staff, possibly cleaners or drivers having a break. The building and grounds to the south of the
station were built as a prison, and continue to fulfil that purpose today, but in WW2 the prison,
together with the penitentiary Plötzensee, formed the penal institution Brandenburg-Görden where
many prisoners were executed. If that were not depressing enough, the return to the Hauptbahnhof
confirmed temporary closure of the city centre route via Hauptstrasse (from 3 April for 8-9 weeks), so
this and associated curves would have to wait for another day. One member did, however, manage
another TSUL working - from Hohenstücken Betriebshof at 11:44 to Anton Saefkow Allee. All the TSUL
workings appear on the public timetables which can be downloaded as PDFs from the VBBr website, as
well as on the departure sheets at each stop.
 Germany/Netherlands – Electrification project commences
The electrification project for the 6.5km cross-border line between Landgraaf, Netherlands, and
Herzogenrath, Germany, was officially launched on 17 April. The line will be electrified at 1500V dc on
the Dutch side and 15 kV ac on the German section, with trains switching between the two systems at
the border. At present DB Regio operates an hourly fixed-pattern service between Heerlen
(Netherlands) and Herzogenrath under the Euregiobahn brand. The two-car Bombardier Talent DMUs
currently used for these services will be superseded by new multi-system Stadler Flirt 3 EMUs, which
will operate between Aachen Main Station and Maastricht via Heerlen. Electric operation is due to
start on 9 December and there are plans to extend these services from Maastricht to Liège in Belgium
in the longer-term.
 Germany – Early reopening and closure information for 2018 timetable
Finance has apparently been found and from the timetable change in December 2018 passenger traffic
will resume from Hoyerswerda to Görlitz via Niesky.
Current plans on KBS 560 (Großheringen - Jena – Saalfeld) are for connecting curve from Großheringen
station to Abzw Großheringen Ghs (Großheringen Süd) to lose its passenger traffic from December
 Germany - Dresdner Bahn progress
BLNI 1290.389 reported that work was to start soon on reinstating the main-line tracks parallel to the
S-Bahn on the Dresdner Bahn from Berlin Südkreuz to Blankenfelde, which were closed in 1952. Work
commenced in the first months of 2018 with clearance of vegetation and some allotments. At the
moment S2 services using the line have a largely unobstructed view, but this will change dramatically
from 2019, when tall soundproofing barriers will be constructed for much of the distance. A visit in
2018 is recommended. Incidentally, the only freight customer on the line today is the Mariendorf
depot, which is served from the Berlin-Marienfelde station.
 Greece - Peloponnese news
On the Peloponnese peninsula the most extensive of the few remaining sections of the Peloponnese
narrow gauge system is the Patra suburban railway running from Agios Vasileios in the north to Agios
Andreas in the south.
From 15 May the section between Rio and Agios Vasileios should have closed to allow engineering
works for the construction of part of the Kiato – Patra standard gauge railway. This currently runs from
Athens to Kiato, with the section from Kiato to Patra slowly under construction as finance permits.
From 1 July Rio station is to be moved 200 metres south towards Patra, but at present there are no
reports that the section of line from Rio to the next station south, Kastellocampos, is to be closed.
There was a report a month ago that locomotives were about to be shipped to Patra to operate
a service extended 30 km from Agios Andreas to Kato Achaia, but there has been no news since.
 Italy – Bologna to Prato line to be modernised
Opened as a fast line between Bologna and Firenze in 1934, its high speed passenger duties were
taken over by the new high speed line between the two cities in 2009 and since then it has become a
major freight artery. Work should start in October, primarily to further enhance the 80km route’s
freight capabilities, but also to refurbish intermediate stations with platforms being raised to 550mm.
The loading gauge will be increased to allow rolling motorway trains and high cube intermodal traffic
to pass and 750 metre long freights will be catered for. Extensive work will be required on 40 km of
tunnels which will need to be enlarged, the track bed lowered and OLE modified. The upgrading work
is to be undertaken in phases from north to south starting with the 24 km section between Pianoro
and San Benedetto Sambro-Castiglione Pepoli. The line will remain open for passenger trains with
single line working. The work is expected to be completed by mid-2022.
 Lithuania - Branch of Rail Baltica to Kaunas?
The present Rail Baltica project passes through Kaunas, the second city of Lithuania, but there is no
standard gauge connection to the capital Vilnius. Not surprisingly the Lithuanians would like to see one
built. Since European funding will be required a feasibility study considering nine possible routes has
been prepared and submitted. In the meantime, Lithuanian Railways has also signed an agreement
with Poland’s largest rail freight operator PKP Cargo in order to streamline the handling of freight at
border crossings between the two countries. The two companies will look at the possibility of using
the Mockava and Kaunas intermodal terminals in Lithuania for handling containers travelling from
China to Poland, as well as the digitalisation of shipping documents and the use of the CIM
consignment notes for cargo destined for the EU.
 Poland – Line re-opens for wood products plant
BLNI 1228.091 reported that 11 km of the Jełowa – Murów section of the Opole – Namysłów line was
to reopen for wood traffic, and the rehabilitation has now been completed. The line is needed for
expansion of the Stora Enso Wood Products’ plant at Murów with up to 50 freight trains per month
being catered for in sidings which are being built by the wood products company.
 Serbia – Line 12 service to be extended to Loznica
Ruma is the main line junction for line 12, which extends south to Šabac and has a passenger service.
Services used to continue further south (after reversal) to Loznica, Brasina and Zvornik Grad. This
section is currently freight only. Renovation of the Šabac - Loznica - Brasina line began on 28 March
2018, and should be completed by the end of August. The works include the overhaul of 24 km of
railway in the sections Petlovac - Lešnica and Loznica - Gornja Koviljača. Once completed passenger
trains will be able to travel at 80km/h and freight trains at 60 km/h. Ruma to Šabac services will be
extended to Loznica from 1 September after a break of 13 years.
Loznica is the long-planned end of the new railway from Valjevo, on the Beograd to Bar line. The
Director of Infrastruktura železnice Srbije recently said that this railway line is needed and that
reconstruction will certainly continue but that funding of €210M is still needed and if found
construction could start in 2019.
 Serbia – New bridge at Novi Sad in use and curve regains passenger use
The first test train over the new bridge at Novi Sad ran on 20 March. On 5 April the last train ran over
the old bridge and there was a complete possession until the first service train ran over the new bridge
at 12:00 on 7 April 2018. On 16 March RŽD Internešnl started 48 months of work to renovate the Stara
Pazova - Novi Sad section. This includes the section between Stara Pazova and Inđija, for which an
alternative route is available by use of the currently freight only curve from Inđija to Golubinci where
trains reverse and travel on the Šid to Beograd line to Stara Pazova and on to Beograd. International
trains between Budapest and Beograd use this route from 24 April until further notice extending
journey times by 20 minutes.
 Slovakia – Spišské Vlachy to Spišské Podhradie to open again for the summer
The 9km branch line from Spišské Vlachy to Spišské Podhradie will reopen for tourist trains from 25
May to 2 September. The view from Spišské Podhradie is dominated by Spišský hrad (Spis Castle), a
UNESCO world heritage site. Timetable at https://www.tatryspispieniny.sk/sk/navrat-hanicky-pod-
 Sweden – Roslagsbanan deviation under construction
The Roslagsbanan is a commuter railway serving the north of Stockholm from its terminus at
Stockholms östra, not far from the main Stockholm station. As part of a project to increase capacity a
project is in progress to double track some sections. This involves construction of a 1.2 km deviation
between Hägernäs and Rydbo, and a member traveling the line at the end of April reports that the
formation is largely in place with overhead line post foundations but no track or OHLE yet. A new
station is under construction about half way along the new route. To facilitate the works there will be
lengthy bus replacement services for much of 2018. The Roslagsbanan website is silent as to when the
works will be finished, simply saying that they will continue through 2018.
The new deviation under construction
REST OF THE WORLD
 Angola – Namibe to Lubango service resumes on the Moçâmedes railway
The Moçâmedes railway has resumed operation between the coastal town of Namibe (formerly
Moçâmedes) and Lubango after a gap of six years due to work on the railway linking the provinces of
Huila and Namibe. Mixed trains will operate, the first one carrying 300 passengers and 85 tons of
goods. The trains will run the 270 km route twice weekly. Some local trains operate on parts of the line
on weekdays and carry an average of 1500 people. Gricers might like to wait until passenger services
resume for the full length of the line from Namibe to Cuando Cubango, a distance of 905 km.
 Canada – Churchill line to be purchased and repaired
A partnership between First Nations in Manitoba and a company called iChurchill has been formed to
acquire the line to Churchill from OmniTRAX. Their press release states that they have entered into a
purchase agreement for the line and hope to close it by mid-June. Once complete they will request
bids this summer to repair the line and hope to have it back in service by autumn.
 India - The Great Wall(s) of India
A major problem for Indian Railways is people and livestock wandering onto the tracks and there are
many accidents each year. Drivers are understandably reluctant to travel at the maximum line speed
of 130 km/h on many sections and journey times are extended as a consequence. There are plans to
develop a high speed route between Delhi and Mumbai with speeds of 160 km/h and now the Railway
Board has given approval for construction of 500km of 8-10 feet high wall on the 1384 km route. The
walls will mainly be in urban areas. A similar scheme is planned between Delhi and Kolkata.
 India – Metre gauge lines to survive for heritage purposes
Five sections of metre gauge line will be preserved as heritage railways. They are the 42.27 km
Visavadar-Talala line in Gujarat, the 16 km Mhow-Patalpani-Kalakand line in Madhya Pradesh, the 162
km Mavli Junction-Marwar Junction line in Rajasthan, the 171 km Nanpara-Mailani line in Uttar
Pradesh and the 47 km Mahur-Harangjao metre-gauge line in Assam. The first four are in operation,
but the line is Assam is not. Out of these lines, the Mhow – Kalakand line passes through the
breathtaking hills and valleys of the Vindhyachal range, letting tourists visit the Patalpani waterfall.
This line would be solely used for tourism purposes. The Nanpara-Mailani line in Uttar Pradesh passes
through the Dudhwa tiger reserve, the Visavadar-Talala line in Gujarat passes through the Gir forest
and Mavli – Marwar line in Rajasthan encompasses parts of the Todgarh Raoli biodiversity sanctuary.
Assam’s Mahur-Harangjao line traverses the hills in the state’s Dima Hasao district and is famous for
some of the tunnels along the route.
 Malaysia – The Georgetown funicular
Our member and his wife were taken by their tour coach the few miles to the lower station of the
Penang Hill Railway Funicular. Owned by Penang Hill Corporation, this was extensively renovated in
2001 and now has no intermediate stops. Until a few years ago it was in two sections, each with
intermediate stations and took around 30 minutes to ascend or descend. The whole journey now
takes only several minutes and runs at up to 10 m/s with speedy passing on the midway loop. The line
ascends 691m with a track length of 1,996m, the slope varying between 18.8% and 52.9%. A sign on
the summit revealed that the two coaches were built by CWA (and weigh 14,500 kg empty), the 38mm
diameter haulage cable was supplied by FATZER and the drive by SISAG with the main drive motor
being 710kW. They ascended in the left hand car and annoyingly later came down in the same
one. One of the old cars is now perched at what was the upper station of the lower section and
another on the upper passing loop. Cars take 100 passengers each (7,500kg payload) and to speed
things up for overseas and other affluent visitors fast track boarding (i.e. first onto next car) is available
at 80 RGT (60 RGT if over 60) compared with 30 RGT for the less wealthy willing to endure lengthy
queues. At the top it was a short walk to the Belle Vue hotel for afternoon tea followed by time to
survey the wildlife, the rest of the old colonial buildings and to admire the view down to sea level.
Ticketing was credit size cards (clearly marked fast track for the security people) which were read on
entry both ascending and returning, but sadly swallowed by the machine (30 RGT fine if you lose it)
when returning to the base station.
 Mauritius - Light rail in paradise
A turnkey contract has been awarded to supply rolling stock and signalling systems for the Mauritius
Metro Express, a 26km light rail line linking the island’s capital Port Louis with the town of Curepipe.
The first 13km section of the route from Port Louis to Rose Hill is scheduled to open in 2019, with the
remainder of the line to Curepipe due for commissioning in 2021.
 South Korea – The Seoul metro
Seoul’s metro system carries 7m passengers a day across 1,000 miles of track. The system is as much a
regional commuter railway as an urban subway system. Without technically leaving the network, one
can travel from Asan over 50 miles to the south of central Seoul, all the way up to the North Korean
border 20 miles north of the city.
Fares are incredibly low for a developed country. A basic fare of 1,250 won (about £1) will allow you
to travel 10km; it’s only an extra 100 won (about 7p) to travel every additional 5km on most lines. The
trains are reasonably quick: maximum speeds of 62mph and average operating speeds of around
20mph make them comparable to London Underground, but the trains are much more spacious, air
conditioned and have wi-fi access. Every station also has protective fences between platform and
track, to prevent suicides and accidents.
The service has a complex system of ownership and operation. The Seoul Metro Company (owned by
Seoul City council) operates lines 5-8 on its own, but lines 1-4 are operated jointly with Korail, the
state-owned national rail company. Meanwhile, Line 9 is operated jointly between Trans-Dev (a
French company which operates many buses in northern England) and RATP (The Parisian version of
TfL). Then there’s Neotrans, owned by the Korean conglomerate Doosan, which owns and operates
the driverless Sinbundang line. The Incheon city government, which borders Seoul to the west, owns
and operates Incheon Line 1 and Line 2. The Airport Express was originally built and owned by a
corporation jointly owned by 11 large Korean firms, but is now mostly owned by Korail. The Uijeongbu
light railway is currently being taken over by the Uijeongbu city council (that one’s north of Seoul)
after the operating company went bankrupt. And the Everline people mover is operated by a joint
venture owned by Bombardier and a variety of Korean companies.
The rest of the lines are operated by the national rail operator Korail. The fare structure is either
identical or very similar for all of these lines. All buses and trains in the region are accessible with a T-
money card, similar to London’s Oyster card. Fares are collected centrally and then distributed back to
operators based on levels of usage.
The system is far from perfect. Seoul’s network is highly radial. It’s incredibly cheap and easy to travel
from outer lying areas to the centre, and around the centre itself. But travelling from one of Seoul’s
satellite cities to another by public transport is often difficult. A journey from central Goyang
(population: 1m) to central Incheon (population: 3m) is around 30 minutes by car. By public transport,
it takes around 2 hours. There is no real equivalent of the London Overground and there is also a lack
of fast commuter services. The four-track Seoul Line 1 offers express services to Incheon and
Cheonan, and some commuter towns south of the city are covered by intercity services. But most
large cities of hundreds of thousands of people within commuting distance (places comparable to
Reading or Milton Keynes) are reliant on the subway network, and do not have a fast rail link that
takes commuters directly to the city centre. This is changing however with the construction of a
system modelled on the Paris RER and London’s Crossrail. The GTX will operate at maximum speed of
110 mph. The first line (of three planned) is scheduled to open in 2023, and will extend from the new
town of Ilsan on the North Korean border to the new town of Dongtan about 25km south of the city
The system will stop much less regularly than Crossrail or the RER resulting in drastic cuts in journey
times. For example, the time from llsan to Gangnam (of Gangnam Style fame) will be cut from around
1hr30 to just 17 minutes. When the three-line network is complete most of the major cities in the
region will have a direct fast link to Seoul Station, the focal point of the GTX as well as the national rail
network. A very good public transport network is going to get even better.
Though detail is lacking, the map does show how extensive the Seoul metro system is.
 Turkey (mainly Asiatic) – Recent developments in Turkey
President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım attended a ceremony on 12 April to mark the
reopening of the Başkentray suburban line in Ankara following its upgrade - presumably meaning
public service started on Friday 13 April. All services on the 'classic' line through Ankara, between
Irmak (60 km east of Ankara) and Eskişehir (263 km west), ceased from 11 July 2016 for this project.
Only the high speed services to/from the west were unaffected. All trains east of Ankara had to be
accessed by bus. Can one imagine any other country closing the main line through its capital city for
over 18 months?
There are now five tracks between Sincan (25 km west of Ankara) and Behiçbey (9 km west): two for
Başkentray trains, two for high speed services and one for conventional long-distance trains. This
increases to six tracks between Behiçbey and Ankara. Between Ankara and Kayas (12 km east) there
are four: two suburban tracks, one track for high speed services and one for conventional long-
distance services. However, the closure of the line through Ankara pales into insignificance in
comparison with what Istanbul has suffered. Were it not half in Asia, Istanbul would be easily the
largest city in Europe.
Through main line services to the east ceased in Feb 2012 and Haydarpasa terminus closed completely
in Jun 2013. On the European side, Sirkeci terminus closed in March 2013. Services to the east (high
speed trains) now start and end at Pendik (25 km from Haydarpasa), with virtually no public transport
connection into the city. The Sofia 'express' and a couple of local services start and end at Halkali (28
km from Sirkeci). However, the first phase of the Bosphorus crossing (Marmaray project), connecting
the Europe and Asia, was ceremonially opened on 29 October 2013, albeit an isolated line.
There may at last be light at the end of the tunnel. High speed trains to the east will start running from
Haydarpasa terminus when Marmaray works are complete, possibly in the last quarter of this year.
Some will apparently run from Halkali on the European side, using the Marmaray line under the
Bosphorus. This would be a major improvement, enabling for the first time ever train travel between
Europe and Asia without having to bridge the gap with some other mode of transport - ferries in the
past. European trains (such as are left!) will run from Sirkeci (i.e. the terminus will reopen - there had
been talk of converting the line to a tram route) and perhaps even the Orient Express. It is not yet
known if any suburban services will use Sirkeci.
TCDD has suffered a severe drop in traffic in the last few years, which is not surprising when Turkey's
largest city has been virtually cut off from the network for over 5 years. Also, many long distance
overnight trains have disappeared. Extension of high speed services into Istanbul proper should boost
traffic, but it may take some time for the travelling public to change their habits and use trains again.
 USA – Brightline begins Miami service
Brightline began operating non-revenue services between Fort Lauderdale and Miami in April and
extended passenger trains from Palm Beach West and Fort Lauderdale to Miami on 19 May. The new
Miami terminal is Miami Central, an 11-acre intermodal development in downtown Miami. There will
be eight northbound and eight southbound trips each day. Miami Central will connect to Miami-Dade
County's Metrorail system and, in 2019, to the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority's Tri-
Later this year, Brightline plans to start construction on its second phase of service, which will operate
from West Palm Beach to Orlando International Airport.
 USA – Salinas rail extension kicks off
The Salinas Rail Extension will extend passenger rail service 68 miles from Gilroy in Santa Clara County
south to Salinas in Monterey County, with connections to San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018 with services expected to start in 2020. The project includes
improvements to the Salinas Station; a two-train layover facility in Salinas; improvements to the
Union-Pacific-owned Coast Main Line track between Gilroy and Salinas; track improvements in Gilroy
to allow for run-through service, and minor improvements to the Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Jose
Tamien stations (located in Santa Clara County). Future phases will include a new station in
Pajaro/Watsonville, expansion of the Salinas layover facility, and a new station in Castroville. The
service will start with two round trips, expanding to up to six round trips as demand warrants. For
track bashers, this is the route of the Coast Starlight, so no new track is on offer.