Supplement to e-BLN 1252 BLN Pictorial 5 March 2016
The recent negotiations over UK membership of the EU and the announcement of the referendum date prompts your Sub-Editor once again to offer a
glimpse of some of the lines to be seen on the other side of the English Channel. The outcome of the referendum seems to be pure guesswork at this stage
and despite the immense amount of noise being generated from both sides of the debate, the likely consequences of 'Brexit', should that be the result, can
also only be speculation at this point. So we're not going to make any predictions or offer any advice on that matter, save to point out that a 'stay in' vote
probably won't change much for the UK enthusiast wanting to venture across the Channel, whereas a 'leave' vote could cause quite major changes - for
example in the value of the pound. Whether such changes would work to the advantage or disadvantage of the UK traveller ... if you know, please share it
with your fellow members! One piece of advice we can give to aspiring Eurotravellers, however, is to visit the web site of the Enthusiast's Guide to
Travelling the Railways of Europe (EGTRE). Many of the compilers of this site are BLS members and they are aided and abetted by a number of enthusiasts
in other European countries. We won't go into detail here, but if you're thinking of venturing across the Channel, bookmark this site if no other!
We start in northern France, partly because it's easy to access with or without a car, and partly because of the upcoming steam festival at the Chemin de
Fer de la Baie de Somme (CFBS). This interesting system, located in Picardy some 55 miles from Calais as the crow flies, comprises two quite lengthy metre
gauge lines centred on Noyelles-sur-Mer, itself once envisaged as the centre of a larger system with lines radiating east and south to Abbeville and north
into the Pas de Calais. The CFBS web site contains a good deal of information, some in English, on all aspects of the line - but note that the date given for
the steam festival on the English-language page is for the previous event! This year's festival is on 15, 16 and 17 April 2016. Your Sub-Ed has visited the
festival twice before and on both occasions has had to settle for accommodation in Abbeville or Amiens as the large number of visitors of many
nationalities quickly absorbs the limited facilities around Noyelles. The festival has its own web page, in English.
After a venture to the CFBS we move on to Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. It's an unfortunate fact that for the traction enthusiast, variety in
European trains is diminishing in the face of a tide of diesel and electric traction, both multiple units and locomotives, from a similarly diminishing number
of suppliers. The infrastructure side, however, presents a different picture, with openings and reopenings happening frequently in quite a number of
European countries - many of which are nothing to do with the well publicised high speed routes. Unfortunately for us, closures are still happening too, and
with this quickly evolving situation there's a lot to be said for getting started sooner rather than later. Nevertheless there is a thriving preservation scene in
quite a number of countries and some of the pictures illustrate that side of the infrastructure story.
On now to the pictures (blame your Sub-Ed for them except where otherwise attributed). The same approach has been used for this issue as for BLN
Pictorial 1251, where you click on the page number at the start of the caption to get to the picture, and click on the bottom left hand corner of the
picture to get back to the caption.
6 A map showing the original extent of the metre gauge CFBS system. The remaining lines are the two to the west of Noyelles-sur-Mer; the shorter of
them runs to the north of the River Somme to the small port of Le Crotoy, at the mouth of the river. The longer line goes across the river on a
causeway to reach the port of St. Valery-sur-Somme, where a short branch diverges at the east end of the station and runs across the nearby road
to the quayside, referred to by the railway as St. Valery Port. This appears once again not to be in regular use (current information on this point
would be welcome) but does have a scheduled service for the 2016 festival. From St. Valery the line continues to Cayeux-sur-Mer, a seaside resort
on the Channel coast just to the south of the Somme estuary. (By Claude Shoshany (sur fond de plan Chaix 1914) (Own work) [GFDL , CC-BY-SA-3.0
or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons).
7 CFBS 2-6-0T No 15 (Haine-St. Pierre 1920) awaits departure from St. Valery with a train for Cayeux on an extremely wet Saturday 26 April 2003. The
mixed gauge St. Valery Port branch goes off to the left behind the train.
8 Later the same day conditions had much improved, as CFBS No 2 waits to run round the train following arrival at Le Crotoy. This loco, another 2-6-0T
(Cail 1889) was purchased by Ferdinand de Lesseps, intended for work on the Panama Canal. It then worked in Puerto Rico following the failure of
the initial French attempt to build the canal, subsequently completed by the USA.
9 Brilliant weather for the 2013 festival found a Sprague Metro train at St. Valery Port on 28 April 2013. Note the mixed gauge on the right hand track,
which runs from Noyelles. This section was the first to be built and was originally standard gauge only, the metre gauge being added later. (By
Didier Duforest (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0] via Wikimedia Commons).
10 In East Flanders, Belgium, not far from the favourite UK weekenders' destination of Bruges (Brugge) is Stoomcentrum Maldegem, operator of a 10
km section of the former Gent-Eeklo-Brugge line. Gent-Eeklo has retained its passenger service as a dead end branch line; bus services are also
available to the northern terminus at Maldegem. On 31 May 2009 Polish 0-6-0T Tkh 5387 'General Maczek' stands at Maldegem (Wikimedia user
Smiley.toerist (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons). This 1959-built loco was in service at a cement works in Poland until
1994 and reached Maldegem in 2006 following a stay on the Northampton & Lamport Railway. To the right of the picture is a locomotive on the
60cm. gauge line which runs from Maldegem to Donk, a mile or so westwards towards Brugge.
11 In the south of Belgium Le Chemin de Fer du Bocq operates between Ciney on the Namur-Luxembourg main line and Purnode on a branch to Yvoir
on the Namur-Dinant line. This was OA in stages 1898-1907, CP 1960, CG 1983 and ROP Ciney-Spontin 1992. When this photo was taken on 4
September 1994 the line was only operating occasionally, and then only as far as Spontin with an even more occasional venture to Dorinne-Durnal
where single unit diesel 4605 is shown in the picture. Since 2007 regular services have run as far as Purnode and CFDB volunteers continue to push
west towards their target of reopening the whole line to Yvoir, with the first train to Evrehailles-Bauche, some 4.5 km from Yvoir, running on 12
12 NMBS/SNCB (the acronyms for Belgian Railways in Dutch/French respectively) and the Belgian government have invested a great deal more per
capita in high speed rail than is the case in the UK. Much of the high speed link between Brussels and Amsterdam is now complete, though without
its intended services due to the unsatisfactory performance of the Italian built trains originally intended to go into service in 2012. One success in
Belgium, however, has been the Diabolo project, designed to provide Brussels Airport with a fully fledged international rail link able to provide
access for high speed services to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne and other European destinations. The name came from the similarity in shape
between the line through the airport, with its triangular junctions at the northern and southern ends, and the top-like spinner used in the game of
Diabolo. The original airport station was the terminus of a short branch connecting at its southern end with the Brussels-Leuven main line. The
Diabolo project consisted of the remodelling of the junctions with the Leuven line, and extension of the line northwest beneath the airport runways
to meet a new line forming part of a high speed Brussels-Antwerp link. The new line (Line 25N) runs from Schaarbeek, just north of Brussels, to a
point just south of Mechelen where it rejoins the existing main line to Antwerp. The unusually wide central reservation of the A1 motorway
provided space for the majority of the new line. The map shows the airport link (Line 36C) and Line 25N. (Background map by OpenStreetMap
contributors [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons).
13 The start of the northward link built as part of the Diabolo project, seen from the end of the platforms at Brussels Airport station. (By Savh (Own
work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons).
14 Belgium's stations could probably best be described as a mixed bag. The three main stations in Brussels, for example, really don't do the city justice.
This page offers some examples...
15 Antwerpen Centraal has had quite a makeover, without entirely losing the impressive look of the original. Beneath the Barlowesque trainshed, two
additional levels have been provided; one providing additional terminal platforms and the lowest having through platforms for high speed services
between Brussels and Amsterdam. (Main hall picture by Michel Wal (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
16 The harbourside station at Vlissingen, the westernmost station in the Netherlands, was until 1939 the terminus of a ferry service from Harwich.
Known to English speakers as Flushing, the station and the port infrastructure were badly damaged during World War II. The station was rebuilt in
1950 but the ferry service never restarted. Although this photo was taken on 30 May 1993 the station still looks much the same, and is the terminus
of a long (74km/46m) branch from Roosendaal, the first Dutch station on the 'classic' Brussels-Amsterdam route.
17 Another single line route in the north of the Netherlands is the cross-border link from Groningen (Netherlands) to Leer (Germany). This increasingly
busy link was cut when MV 'Emsmoon' collided with the lifting span of the Friesenbrücke over the Ems River on the evening of Thursday 3 December
2015. The bridge was not lifted at the time and was effectively destroyed. Although it seems highly likely that the bridge will be rebuilt and this
valuable link reopened, the timescale may apparently run to years rather than months - in mid-January 2016 a representative of the German Ministry
of Transport was quoting up to five years for a repair, or up to nine for a replacement. Our photograph, taken in better times on 30 May 1995, shows
an NS service which had just arrived at Nieuweschans. At that time the small station was the terminus for Dutch trains from Groningen and German
trains from Leer. More recently, through services were run by Arriva based at Groningen; one of their trains was trapped on the German side by the
bridge accident and had to be returned via Bad Bentheim, involving a journey of some 4 hours.
18 Railtours like they used to be ... on 28 September 2002 Werkgroep 1501, a Dutch group preserving former LNER Co-Co electric 27001, subsequently
NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen/Dutch Railways) 1501, organised a tour to the ZLSM preserved line at Kerkrade in the south of the Netherlands. ZLSM
operates from its base at Simpelveld westwards to Schin op Geul, where it meets the Maastricht to Heerlen line, east to Kerkrade where it meets the
NS branch from Heerlen, and south-east to Vetschau, just over the German border a few miles from Aachen. Schin op Geul-Simpelveld-Vetschau was
part of the former Maastricht-Aachen line, OA 23 October 1853 and CA in May 1991, and Simpelveld-Kerkrade was a late addition to the Dutch
system, built in the mid-1920s. Back in 2002 ZLSM were not operating regularly to Vetschau and tour passengers changed trains at Simpelveld to a
three-coach former German 'ferkeltaxi' (literally, 'piglet taxi') DMU which made its way cautiously to the very end of track at Vetschau, shown in the
photo. Your Sub-Ed, who was on this tour, has an idea that a certain BLS member was involved in the arrangements...
19 Often said (incorrectly) to be unique, the Schwebebahn in Wuppertal is certainly unusual. This overhead monorail system runs above the Wupper
river, and then streets, for just over 8 miles between Oberbarmen and Vohwinkel, suburbs respectively east and west of the city centre of Wuppertal.
Far from being a tourist curiosity, it's an integral part of the public transport system, carrying some 25 million passengers a year. (By Mbdortmund
(Own work) [GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons)
20 In the early years of reunification there was a major cull of former Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) branch lines in the east of Germany, but recent years
have seen quite a number of reopenings, predominantly, but not exclusively in the former West Germany. These are normally done in a simple style,
with single platform stations, 'bus stop' shelters and single or two car diesel trains. As they are in most cases promoted by the local transport
association (Verkehrsverbund in German), integration with local bus services is standard. This particular image shows Brilon Stadt station which serves
a population of some 14,500 in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia; the bus turning area, with level access to the platform for passengers, can be
seen on the right of the picture. The single diesel unit is typical of those which can be found all over western Europe today; this particular one, 640
026, is one of the LINT family built by Alsthom for operators in (so far) Germany, Denmark, Netherlands and Canada.
21 Every street should have one ... Up to German unification in 1990, there remained a number of narrow gauge lines in East Germany, operated by the
state railway, DR. These too were very much part of their local transport systems, and were initially absorbed into the previously West German, now
just German national operator, Deutsche Bahn (DB). Today they are largely tourist lines run by private operators although some lines are partly
integrated into local transport tariff zones. The northernmost of these lines runs from Bad Doberan, near Rostock, to the Baltic coast resort of
Kuhlungsborn, and in doing so runs down one of the main streets of Bad Doberan. Thus it was that your Sub-Ed, having breakfast in a café on
Mollistrasse, was able to take this picture of 2-8-2T 99 2321 as it paused on its way to Kuhlungsborn on 5 July 2010.
Your Sub-Ed hopes that at least some of these images will have been of interest - and don't forget that BLS's European contingent are always on the
lookout for fixtures opportunities to appeal to those members who might want to make a start in Euroland, or even further afield. On the agenda at the
moment we have the Extremadura Explorer in Spain (7-9 May 2016, see BLN 1244, contact Geoff Blyth for details), and the Jordan Hejaz Railway
(provisionally 10-17 November 2016, see BLNs 1246 and 1250, contact Iain Scotchman for details).
Outline maps of the areas concerned (with thanks to Mike Ball and Martyn Brailsford for Spain, and Iain Scotchman for Jordan) are below; the zoom
facility in your reader should enable you to view them at a legible size.
Liège Guillemins, 27 April 2012
Liège Guillemins, 27 April 2012 Brussel Zuid (Brussels South), 5 March 2011
30 April 1993, before removal of the central tracks.
The middle and lower levels, 6 July 2010 The main hall, 6 April 2013 (Michel Wal (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons)