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Published by membersonly, 2018-04-23 00:39:48


18th June 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



The IBSE ‘Sonderfahrt in Nürnberg und Umbegung’ railtour pauses by the beautifully
preserved water tower in the centre of the Nürnberg Rangierbahnhof. Constructed with
an unusual octagonal floor plan, a sign over the door indicates it was built in 1911.
Initially the water tower was not connected to the mains supply, but had its own deep
well and pumps.

[243] Bosnia – Talgo launch to reopen cross border line
Bosnia-Herzegovina Federal Railways (ZFBH) has announced that its fleet of Talgo trains will finally enter
service in July on routes from Sarajevo to Zagreb, Banja Luka and Ploče. If trains do indeed go to Ploče,
then it will see the re-introduction of services to the Čapljina to Ploče cross border line, closed to
passenger trains for several years. The Talgo sets comprise five day trains and four overnight sets and were
delivered in 2010. ZFBH claim their introduction has been delayed by the poor condition of infrastructure
in Bosnia.

[244] France – Oloron to Bedous handed over
The contractors rebuilding the Oloron - Bedous section of the former Pau - Canfranc cross-border route
handed the completed section over to SNCF Reseau during the middle of May. Track testing and
measurement took place on 20 and 25 May. Staff training will take place from 6-23 June with the first
commercial service the 07:30 Pau - Bedous scheduled for Sunday 26 June. Item courtesy of the SNCF

[245] France – No more trains to Challerange?
Le Chemin de Fer Touristique du Sud des Ardennes (CFTSA), as participants in last year’s Sud Ardenne
Explorer will know, operate tourist trains between Amagne Lucquy, Attigny and Vouziers. In previous years
trains have run the full length of the line to Challerange on 15 August. This year they are deeply
pessimistic: they may well not reach Challerange this year, and may well not be able to operate at all (at
least over this line, their second location) thereafter.
Timetable at:

[246] France - Perpigan to Figueres LGV future still unclear
TP Ferro, the Franco-Spanish consortium that built and hold the concession to operate the Perpignan -
Figueres LGV through the Perthus Tunnel, has gone into administration with debts of €400 million. The line
cost €1.1 billion to build with the EU and Spanish and French governments contributing €540 million.
Neither the French or Spanish governments have offered any assistance and the company (of which 50% is
owned by Real Madrid FC President Florentino Perez) is reported to now have debts of €485 million. Traffic
levels and track access charges are at only 50% of the level expected and the company has already
received €132 million in compensation for delays to the commencement of rail services. Unless one of the
governments intervenes the company will be declared bankrupt on 30 June. If the company is liquidated
then the concession to operate the route will cease and the line will pass to the French and Spanish
governments. There had been some hope that the position would be resolved after the Spanish general
election in December 2015 but there was no overall majority and an effective coalition has not been
formed. A fresh general election has now been called for the 26 June leaving just four days to find a
solution. Item courtesy of the SNCF Society.

[247] Germany – Visit to the Brückenberg Kohlenbahn in Zwickau
Because many German heritage railways tend to have very restricted running dates, usually a few
weekends in the May to September period, putting together a schedule to do more than one, especially in
April is challenging. Luckily the Erzgebirgbahn was running steam trains on the chosen weekend between
Schwarzenberg and Annaberg-Buchholz, so this line could be travelled in the morning before returning to
Zwickau where the Brückenberg Kohlenbahn were running Schienentrabi specials on their former
industrial line from Werkstelle W3 to Pohlau. Changing at Zwickau Hbf onto a Vogtlandbahn train to
Zwickau Zentrum permits a view of the heavily overgrown junction for the line and the stop sign by
Werkstelle (signal box) W3 as you pass by. Zwickau Zentrum is shared with trams though the trains run
into a dedicated dead end line. It was a ten minute walk (in light rain) across the river bridge and along
Reinsdorfer Strasse to the level crossing where a stall under canvas had been set up and the Schienentrabi

with open ‘coach’ was standing. Since this is the mid-section of the line, two tickets are needed. One to
W3, the other to Pohlau. €8 in total. First the bridge over the river is crossed, and the line passes through
park and woodland to Werkstelle W3. The Schienentrabi only seats three, one being the driver! At W3 the
Schienentrabi is turned. It has integral jacks which can be lowered onto the track to raise it, manually turn
through 180 degrees, and lower again. All by one person in a couple of minutes.

On arrival at Werkstelle W3 the Schienentrabi is turned through 180 degrees and the ‘carriage’ coupled
back on. Persistent light rain meant this process was performed with some haste. There is a gap between
the hood and the windscreen, so passengers get wet even when inside.

Back to the level crossing, where traffic (such as it is) is stopped before proceeding to Pohlau. A mini-
digger, large heap of stone and some recent reinforcing of the river bank were present beyond the
crossing. ‘Haltstelle’, said the driver. So they’re building a platform. It is 2.2km through woodland to the
extensive sidings at Pohlau where the line ends. Two diesel shunters are apparently recent acquisitions.
The Schienentrabi was turned again (still raining) and returned to the level crossing where two more hardy
souls were waiting for a trip to W3. More Schienentrabi rides are planned for 16/17 July. More
information at The line was used for coal and coke transport and never had a
passenger service. The coking plant closed in 1992 and the final user was a power plant which closed in
1998. The line was closed on 31 December 1998, but not lifted. A preservation society was formed in 2006
and the first public rides given in 2010.
[248] Germany - Rings, Hafens and the US Army
Dedicated BLNI readers will know that German Railway Society IBSE are the German equivalent of the BLS,
and indeed the two groups have many common members. The IBSE tour ‘Sonderfahrt in Nürnberg und
Umbegung’ on 28 and 29 May would have been one for the BLS to be proud of. The passenger station at
Nürnberg is bypassed by an east to west freight ring of great complexity and interest and the tour
concentrated on doing almost all curves, through routes and many sidings, but with excursions away from

Nürnberg to visit no less than four hafen (literally haven, but here in the sense of inland port) branches on
the Main-Donau Kanal as well as reaching the gate of a US Army base on another branch. All said and
done, it was pretty definitive, though the days were quite long. One major headache was that a ‘kongress’
in Nürnberg had dramatically elevated hotel prices, particularly on the Friday night. Accordingly, to allow
participants to travel to Nürnberg from further afield, the Saturday tour started at 09:32, the downside of
this sociably timed start being that the tour would not end until nearly 21:00, if it was on time – which it
The starting point was Nürnberg Nordostbahnhof, which is a minimalist station in the north of Nürnberg
serving the Gräfenberg branch and isolated from the rest of the DB passenger system. Empty stock
movements are by the northwestern part of the former freight ring to Fürth. The north eastern part of the
Ringbahn was closed and lifted some time ago, but a stub remains just east of Nordost station, and this is
used for wagon storage. The special picked up at Nordost ahead of schedule and immediately proceeded
to cross onto this stub, just clearing the points before waiting for other trains to pass, clear the line and
allow a final pickup at the booked departure time. One Czech participant, having failed to realise this was
happening, ran along the track after the train to get his thirty metres of new track!
The north west part of the Ringbahn, some 7.7 km to the junction with the Nürnberg – Fürth line, was duly
negotiated and the train picked up in Fürth. The elderly two car Schienenbus now had 60 passengers,
including 9 Brits, all but 2 of whom were BLS members. The only disappointment of the weekend soon
made itself clear. Digging had severed the tracks from the west end of the long low level line to the DB loco
depot so the tour obviously wouldn’t be doing that tomorrow. The tour now proceeded onto the southern
freight ring for several hours of siding/short branch gricing in the huge yard complex. Several reversing
points such as Nürnberg Rbf Einfahrbahnhof soon became old friends.
This part of the ring had a passenger service until 1992 and remains of station buildings and platforms are
still present. Nürnberg Rbf bahnhof is by the big signal box close by the depot, and the bay platform and
through platform were both visited at different times to allow a toilet break and opportunity to buy cheap
drinks from the messroom drinks machine.

The IBSE Schienenbus stands at the platform close to the massive signalbox which controls
Nürnberg Rbf. Tour participants are gathered around the door of the messroom used by the
shunters, whose locomotives are stabled opposite. The track on the right is a bay, while the
Schienenbus stands on a through road.

Of greater interest due to its history is Nürnberg Langwasser station. Originally called Nürnberg Märzfeld it
was built in 1938 on a grand scale to accommodate the arrival and departure of the masses for the Nazis
Nurnberg rallies. During WW2 the station was also used for transport of Jews to labour camps and was
intended to be part of Hitler’s grandiose three metre gauge railway network. It was renamed in 1957 and
saw use for passenger services until 1992. Today the platforms (7 according to Wikipedia) are covered in
grass, and the broad steps leading down into the subways cracked and crumbling. A combination of
detailed track plans and GPS was necessary to identify the location of the train in the very confusing
complex of lines. It was fascinating to go by the roundhouse of the loco depot and find it occupied by many
class 232/233 diesels built in the Soviet Union and still going strong today. Locomotive movements on the
ring were very frequent - it is a very busy railway and the sighting of an OBB locomotive hinted at its
international importance. Two observations may be of interest. The first was the sighting of the Adler
replica steam locomotive and its three cramped little carriages passing by on its first excursion over the
Ringbahn since 2014. More at:
16.html, but don’t expect an IBSE quality tour! The next dates are 2 and 3 July 2016 but these are fully
booked. The second was the amazing sight of a cricket match being played in a sports field adjacent to the
line, something the writer has never seen, or indeed expected to see, in Germany, especially the part that
was under U.S. administration. The Main Donau Kanal is a great inland trade route running roughly north
to south past Nürnberg, and there are several hafen lines allowing goods to be transferred to or from rail
to barge. In fact goods is not really the right terminology as a major traffic is household waste! Day one
saw two such branches visited to the north of Nürnberg. An interesting feature of the line between Fürth
and Bamberg is the presence of a partly constructed line in parallel with the existing line. Construction
stopped when DB and local government disagreed on the route of one section. That was several years ago
and apparently the case is still in court. The first hafen branch was accessed by a reversal after 2.4km at
Frauenaurach, which is the sole remaining part of the former Erlangen to Herzogenaurach branch. After a
similar distance Erlangen hafen is reached and another branch, just before the hafen, goes to Erlangen
Müllumladestation, a processing site for household waste. The second hafen had a much more extensive
network of lines. This was Bamberg hafen which has four significant branches. One dock contained a ship
clearly being used for a social event as the top deck was occupied by a couple of hundred young people
clutching drinks. Some of the young ladies hearts must have sunk when a train occupied by sixty not-so-
young men approached, but they waved enthusiastically (possibly with sighs of relief) when the train
passed by a second time after visiting the end of the dock. It was getting quite late by now and one
member who had not yet checked into his Nürnberg hotel was fretting and heard to complain, ‘oh no!
We’re not doing ANOTHER branch!’ Arrival back at Nürnberg Nordost was due to be about 21:00 but the
train was running late, so several people (including the anxious member) left the train at Fürth and caught
the U-bahn back to Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof.
On day two the train again started from Nürnberg Nordost, but most people elected to join at the
Hauptbahnhof pickup as no new track would be missed in doing so and a leisurely breakfast could be
enjoyed. The Sunday programme covered all remaining curves on and off the Ringbahn as well as more
through lines, but at one point, as the tour was running early, it was announced that a ‘surprise’ line would
be travelled as far as possible. This turned out to be line 5952 which crosses the Nurnberg – Treuchtlingen
line then runs parallel to it, but at a higher level passing Nürnberg Sandreuth S-bahn station to reach the
gate of a household waste incinerator. Very satisfactory! The tour also visited two more hafen branches.
The 2.5km branch to Hafen Fürth was quite straightforward, but the visit to Nürnberg hafen was a much
more consequential affair.

Hafen Fürth is a simple two line terminus, tracks ending at buffer stops beyond which is the Main Donau Kanal. Several
fishermen, one of whom is visible just beyond the train, had their Sunday morning solitude disturbed by the arrival of the
special train. The hill in the background is artificial, and partially covered by solar panels.

Nürnberg hafen covers 337 hectares, with the site connected by rail off the Nürnberg to Treuchtlingen line
south of the Ringbahn. The site is trimodal with rail, road and canal interchange. There is an enormous
amount of traffic generated and associated industries on site employ thousands of people. There are 50km
of track, of which 10.7km is electrified.

The tour was to do a loop through the site and one of the branches to a quayside. No alighting, so no
photostops! This announcement was greeted with cheers by the British contingent, now swollen to 10. All
went exactly as planned, the train passing under several cranes to reach within 50 metres of the end of the
quay on the west side of Becken 1. Part of the literature handed out included early details of an event

called Hafen Live Erleben to be held on 18 September 2016 between 10:00-18:00. There will be trips
around the hafen by ship, double decker bus and, more interestingly, a historic steam engine. For more
details check The highlight of the tour had taken over a year to
organise, and special permission finally arrived from Washington D.C. of all places! This was a visit to the
railway line into the US Army base at Ansbach Katterbach south of Wickelsgreuth.

The Schienenbus poses by the sign which proclaims that from here-on this is a US military base railway siding

Journey’s end – almost! The IBSE Special train reached the turntable in Nürnberg Werk, sited in the non-
operational part of the large depot which is away to the left. All that remains is to return to Nürnberg
Hauptbahnhof – almost inevitably by a different route!

The branch passed through dense forest, before emerging into open fields to reach the gate of the base, a
distance of about 4km. The tour was booked to arrive back at Nürnberg Hbf at 18:21, and was reasonably
close to time which was important with many people having onward connections. It was announced that
those who wished could get off, but if you wanted you could stay on the train as it continued to the DB
Nürnberg Werk (depot) and back. This is on a separate, low level, line and was traversed past the depot
and ONTO the old turntable in the roundhouse area.
Even this was not the end of new track, as on the return journey the train dived under the Furth- Nürnberg
line and joined passenger lines within sight of Nürnberg Hbf. An excellent tour, and all that remained was
to find a suitable establishment in Nürnberg for a meal and several celebratory beers.

[249] Lithuania/Poland - Białystok to Kaunas service commences
There has been agreement to start through weekend trains between Białystok and Kaunas on Friday 17
June. Trains will depart from Bialystok at 07:43 and 15:19 (also runs Fridays) and from Kaunas at 09:00
(also runs Mondays) and 16:55 with a journey time of about 5 hours!
See for details in Polish with links to timetable and fares.
Table 537 has reappeared to show these trains but they are only advertised as far as Mockava.

[250] Luxembourg - New line between Luxembourg and Bettembourg approved
The government approved plans for the construction of a new line between the capital and Bettembourg
on 26 February, authorising the route and compensation measures for those affected by the project. The
€292m scheme involves the construction of a 7 km double-track electrified alignment, which would leave
the existing line at Howald and then run parallel to the A3 motorway, rejoining the existing route near
Bettembourg. The new line would be suitable for passenger trains operating at up to 160 km/h, and would
increase capacity between the capital and the French border. There would be no intermediate stations.

[251] Poland - Route of new tram line agreed
The municipal government in the Polish city of Katowice has identified the final alignment for a 5km tram
line linking the south western district of Brynow with Kostuchna in the south. Residents along the
proposed route, particularly those living in Ochojec, had fought the project for several years because they
feared it would cut the district off from adjacent woodland. A solution has now been found following
consultation between the municipal government, local residents, and other stakeholders. Apparently the
project documentation will draw up by 2021 and construction will be completed by 2030. The line will
improve links between Kostuchna and other parts of the city, with a journey time of 20-24 minutes
between the two termini.

[252] Portugal - Sintra Tramway
The tramway from Sintra to Praia das Maçãs is a remarkable survival. It does not seem to be promoted
very hard as a tourist attraction. It was not very easy to find a reliable timetable on the Internet; in the
event (on Sunday 1 May) it turned out to be the winter timetable with departures from Sintra at 10:20,
14:00 and 16:00. On a day when the town was very crowded with visitors, just enough turned out to fill
most of the 24 seats in the single car on the 16:00 departure. There was little or no signposting to the
single-track terminus which has no shelter and minimal seating; however, on the street corner there is the
Casa do Eléctrico de Sintra which sells tickets (EUR 3 single) and a small selection of souvenir goods. It
seems inconceivable that the operation can cover its costs.
It is an exciting trip, nearly all downhill, with squealing noises on the sharp curves. The ride is none too
smooth although the supports for the overhead electric wire seem to have been completely renewed and
look rather out of keeping with the historic vehicle. The route is mainly along the roadside (and crosses the
road at a couple of places). The depot is at Ribeira, not far from Sintra, approached by a steep uphill

branch from the main line; from the outside it also looked quite modern. The terminus at Praia das Maçãs
has two tracks, a crossover and a small building by the buffer stops (not in use, probably a former ticket
office or staff hut) labelled “Companha Sintra Atlantico Praia das Maçãs”. It is a lively resort with a small
beach, popular with surfers. Bus 441 more or less follows the tram route, with a diversion to the much
larger beach at Praia Grande, but after passing the Sintra tram terminus goes on to the rail/bus
interchange at Portela de Sintra, not Sintra’s main railway station.

Praia terminus Interior of tram

[253] Spain - A Spanish track grice (Part 1)
Alcázar de San Juan: during an enforced wait here a plinthed steam locomotive was noted on the east side
of the line opposite the station. An initial exploration via the subway appeared blocked with "Entrada
Prohibida" signs, so a much longer walk around the town and through a road tunnel ensued. Our member
was rewarded with not only the large plinthed 2-6-0 steam loco 240-2244, but an entire railway museum –
the Museo Nacional Ferroviario Alcázar de San Juan. However the site was slightly smaller than its title,
and appeared to open from 12:00-14:00 Saturdays Only! Wandering the small fence line a wide variety of
exhibits are quite clearly visible ranging from a small steam loco, diesel shunter 301-020 and a display of
electrification equipment. Even if you cannot visit during the rare hours that it is open, it is easy to see
everything outside, and as it turned out the site could be accessed through the subway despite the
signage, the walk back into the station taking about 30 seconds!
With the wait over, a train was taken from Alcázar de San Juan to Ciudad Real. As Ciudad Real station is
approached the line splits over viaducts, with passenger services using the north facing curve to access the
Iberian gauge platforms and reverse for Puertolano, whilst a south facing curve without passenger services
veers off south directly onto the Puertolano line, thereby avoiding the station. The Puertollano line runs
parallel with the AVE line, initially on the east side, then after flying over on a bridge, on the west side.

The Museo Nacional Ferroviario Alcázar de San Juan

[254] Switzerland – Two stations to reopen on Gotthard line
As of the timetable change on 11 December 2016 these two stations on the old Gotthard line (timetable
600) have an hourly service in each direction: Ambri-Piotta km 93.04 and Lavorgo km 112.60. Both closed
after traffic on 28 May 1994 with limited calls from 12 December2010.


[255] Algeria – Line reopens after 20 years
The line from Mohammadia to Mostagnem has reopened to passenger traffic from 01 May 2016 after
being closed since 26 December 1996. A successful test run was undertaken in November 2015. The
stations are Mohammadia, Sidi Benzerga, Sidi Abdelmoumene (Mascara), Fornaka, Ain Nouissy, Hassi
Mameche, Mazaghran and Mostaganem. The station at Mostagnem is being reconstructed, but is currently
only about 30% complete. The line is 45 km long, and the journey time is 50 minutes. There are three
round trips per day, arranged to connect with Alger – Oran services at Mohammadia.
A fourth round trip in the evening has been requested for the summer period, for seasonal tourist traffic.
The map published on the SNTF website doesn’t appear to show this line at all, nor does Mostagnem
feature on the SNTF online journey planner. On 6 May the service was halted for two days after the early
morning train from Mostaganem collided with a car on a level-crossing near Fornaka, all three in the car (3
farmers from the region) died. No-one was hurt on the train. There has since been considerable criticism in
the region against SNTF for not having invested in level-crossings. The scene of the accident had barriers
until 1996, but, like all crossings on the line, is now completely unprotected.

[256] Canada – Valley line has groundbreaking ceremony
A groundbreaking ceremony for Edmonton, Alberta's Valley Line light rail project took place on 22 April.
The first phase is due to open in late 2020 and will link 102 Street in central Edmonton with Mill Woods to

the south, a distance of 8.1 miles. Stage 2 will extend the line west from the city centre to Lewis Farms,
adding another 9 miles and 16 stops. However, this is a longer term goal. Edmonton Light Rail Transit
currently operate two lines, the Metro and Capital Lines, totalling 15.1 miles with 18 stations. The network
is standard gauge and is powered with 600V DC overhead electric.
[257] Turkey (Asiatic) - New cut-off under construction
A new 17 km east-west cut-off is under construction between Bahce (Osmaniye province) and Nurdag
(Gaziantep province) in southern Turkey. This will avoid the railway junction of Fevzipaşa and includes the
longest tunnel in Turkey - 10 km. It will reduce the gradient from 27‰ (1 in 37) to 15‰ (1 in 67) and
increase the sharpest curve from 500 m to 1500 m. This will increase train speeds on one of the busiest
lines in the country from 40 km/h to 120 km/h and remove the need for banking locomotives.
Boring has now started and is expected to be complete in 2019; trains may start in 2023. Fevzipaşa will
lose its importance and indeed might well close altogether as its only use would be for trains to Syria if
peace is restored, the border is opened and the Syrian railways rebuilt - a lot of 'if's!! There is at present
one local train a day to/from Islahiye, the last town before the Syrian border.

[258] USA - Michigan authority eyes commuter-rail service between Detroit, Ann Arbor
The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) late last week approved a plan to implement a
38-mile commuter-rail service between Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan. If the RTA's request for funding is
granted, services could begin around 2022. The service would use existing Amtrak lines and would connect
to Detroit's QLINE streetcar line, which is still under construction.

[259] USA – Seattle rail link under construction
Construction of the East Link light rail line between Seattle and Redmond started on 22 April. The 14 mile
line is a branch off the existing 'Red' line and will run from a junction at International District/Chinatown to
Redmond, via Mercer Island, Bellvue and Overlake. It will be known as the 'Blue Line'. The line will cross
Lake Washington on a floating bridge and there will be a tunnel under Bellvue city centre. It is due to open
in 2023. Funding is from a number of public and private organisations, including Microsoft.



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

France - Museum lines, draisine lines and freight lines in Southern France – September 2016
Gisbert Siede and Frank Rattel are organising a tour, similar to their successful tour of Normandy last year,
visiting virtually all museum and draisine lines in south west France over the period 17-24 September. A
package is being put together for coach transport and hotels. Two visits (including a freight line tour in
south east France) are as yet unconfirmed and for the latter an alternative may be offered. Full details will
appear in BLNI when available, but to get more information direct, including a booking form in English,
email Gisbert Siede at [email protected] expressing interest. A strong British contingent is expected.

IBSE Liste Germany 2016

Note: Entries marked with a "+" were updated within the last four weeks.

19. 06. + DVG Shuttles (Dessau Hbf -) Oranienbaum(Anh) - Ferropolis [also 11.IX, 1-3.X]

19. 06. + EMBB (Leipzig-Plagwitz -) Burgkemnitz - Ferropolis and return

19. 06. OSEF (Dresden-Neustadt -) Kamenz(Sachs) - Hosena and return [also 21.VII]

19. 06. + Osningbahn Bielefeld Hbf - Güterloh Nord - Bad Laer and return [also 25.IX]

25/26. 06. IG Nossen Döbeln - Nossen - Freiberg(Sachs) and return

26. 06. + Steigerwaldbahn Bamberg - Schlüsselfeld and return

02/03. 07. + DB Museum Adler-Rundfahrten um Nürnberg [also 23/24.VII]

09/10. 07. + Mercia 9.VII: (Mönchengladbach Hbf -) Grevenbroich - Köln-Ehrenf. Westkopf - Köln West - Köln Süd -
Köln Kalk - Opladen - Düsseldorf Eller - Düsseldorf-Rath - Düsseldorf-Gerresheim - Gruiten -
Wuppertal-Vohwinkel - Wuppertal Hbf - Wuppertal-Oberbarmen - Hagen Hbf - Hagen Gbf -
Wengern Ost - Dortmund-Lütgendortmund Gbf - Dortmund Signal-Iduna-Park - Holzwickede - Unna
- Bönen Autobahn - Hamm Rbf - Münster Hbf - Rheine - Bad Bentheim - Coevorden (ggf. AB
Nordhorn/Osterwald/Emsland Stärke) - Bad Bentheim - Rheine - Münster - Haltern - Reckinghausen
Hbf - Blumenthal - Bottrop Hbf Gbf - Oberhausen West - Duisburg Hbf - Rheinhausen - Krefeld Hbf
- Viersen (- Mönchengladbach Hbf) 10.VII: (Mönchengladbach Hbf -) Krefeld Hbf - Weiβenburg -
Neuss Gbf - Grevenbroich - Bedburg - Düren - Langerwehe - Eschweiler - Stolberg - Stolberg
Altstadt - Stolberg zur Mühlen - Stolberg - Aachen Hbf - Aachen West - Herzogenrath - Alsdorf
Annapark - Herzogenrath - Aachen Hbf - Herzogenrath - Geilenkirchen (- Mönchengladbach Hbf)

15-17. 07. Press Shuttles Greifswald - Ladebow
30. 07. OSEF Löbau(Sachs) - Ebersbach(Sachs) - Rumburk, Děčín-Prostřední Žleb- Děčín východ [DE/CZ]

14. 08. TG Ferkeltaxi (Chemnitz Hbf -) Olbernhau-Grünthal - Neuhausen(Erzgeb) and return

21. 08. IG Unstrutbahn (Naumburg(Saale)Hbf - Erfurt Hbf -) Artern - Donndorf(Unstrut) and return

21. 08. IG Nossen Freiberg(Sachs) - Nossen and return [also 30.X]

27. 08. DGEG Meppen - Essen(Old), Lathen - Sögel

28. 08. + ET Shuttles Osnabrück - Mettingen

10/11. 09. + MEBF Shuttles Hafen Magdeburg

11. 09. OSEF Kamenz(Sachs) - Hosena, Abzw Altdöbern Süd - Abzw Lindthal, Großräschen Süd

17. 09. IG Nossen Nossen - Döbeln [also 4.XII]

17. 09. ET (Münster(Westf) - Osnabrück Hbf -) Stahlwerkskurve - Westerkappeln

17/18. 09. LDC Shuttles Cottbus - Bh Cottbus

24. 09. DGEG Thülen, Arnsberg Süd

25. 09. NVS Übg Jena-Göschwitz [also 22.X]

30. 9. -04. 10. DB Regio Diversions between Kassel Hbf and Fuldatal-Ihringshausen via Kassel Rbf

30. 09. -03. 10. DGEG Special train on lines in Mecklenburg IN PLANNING

01. 10. OSEF Falkenberg(Elster) unt Bf - ob Bf, Leipzig-Mockau - Messe, Döbeln - Meißen T.(?)

03. 10. BEM Schongau - Landsberg(Lech)

03. 10. IG Unstrutbahn (Rottenbach - Erfurt Hbf -) Artern - Lalsoa(Unstrut) and return
(Gera Hbf -) Erfurt Gbf - Erfurt Nord (- Nordhausen) and return
09. 10. NVS Sonderfahrt in/um Aachen IN PLANNING
(Löbau(Sachs) -) KW Boxberg
09. 10. DGEG (Münster(Westf) -) Hasbergen - Georgsmarienhütte
(Dortmund -) Göttingen Industriebahn (- Seesen -) Einbeck Mitte - Dortmund) IN PLANNING
10. 10. OSEF Mannheim Industriehafen
´´Mit dem Schienenbus durch Norddeutschland´´
14. 10. ET Trierer Weststrecke, Merzig Ost IN PLANUNG

22. 10. DGEG Gelsenkirchen-Horst Nord, Essen-Vogelheim, Spellen
Übg Pirna
29. 10. + HE Mannheim Sundern(Sauerl) - Neheim-Hüsten (- Marburg(Lahn)) and return

31. 10.- 04. 11. DGEG Pockau-Lengefeld - Marienberg(Sachs), Olbernhau-Grünthal - Neuhausen(Erzgeb)
Nossen - Meißen Triebischtal
05. 11. DGEG Seitzsteg - Augsburg Ring - Seitzsteg - Augsburg Messe - Seitzsteg
Dresden-Neustadt - Dresden-Friedrichstadt
19. 11. DGEG

27. 11. OSEF

03. 12. VCD

04. 12. IG Nossen

10. 12. IG Nossen

10. 12. + BSM

31. 12. OSEF

Europe 2016

19. 06. TurKol Kołobrzeg - Kołobrzeg Port, VBK Szczecin Dąbie PL
24. 06. + TPWP PL
25. 06. Białośliwie - Łobżenica PL
25-27. 06. TurKol PL
25. 06. TWKP (Poznań Gł.-) Gniezno - Nakło (- Białośliwie) and return PL
26. 06. Special train to Białośliwie PL
02. 07. TurKol IT
02. 07. (Kielce -) Kostomłoty - Kielce Czarnków - Piekoszów - podg. Szczukowskie - Sitkówka Nowiny - FR
02/03. 07. Włoszakowice - Staszów - Połaniec - Staszów - Chmielów k. T. - Sandomierz - Ostrowiec Św. - FI
06. 07. Starchowice - Skarżysko Kościelne - Szydłowiec - Skarżysko Kamienna (- Kielce) PL
09. 07. AT
31. 07. (Wolsztyn -) Międzyrzecz - Sulęcin and return IT
06-14. 08. SK
07. 08. + RdP Gallipoli - Gallipoli Porto [also 13,20,27.VII, 3,10,17,24,31.VIII] IT
13. 08. PL
13. 08. AJECTA (Longueville -) Gouaix - Montereau (- Moret-sur-Loing) and return PL
13. 08. IT
13/14. 08. steamrail Nurmes - Kontiomäki and return CZ
28. 08. TurKol (Poznań Gł.) Wągrowiec - Rogoźno Wlkp.- Czarnków and return AT
29. 08. PL
03-11. 09. + FdBB Shuttles Mixnitz Lb - RHI Breitenau [also 17.IX] SE
10. 09. PL
10. 09. Molise Isernia - Sulmona and return PL
18. 09. KŽC ``Holiday with the Railcar 2016`` [CZ/SK/PL/UA] IT
18-24. 09. FR
23/24. 09. + Molise Sulmona - Castel di Sangro and return [also 20.VIII, 9.X, 6.XI, 26.XII] RS
TurKol Międzyrzecz - Międzychód Letnisko Międzychód- Łowyń)
02. 10. IT
08. 10. TurKol Wierzbno - Skwierzyna SK
09. 10. PL
10-18. 10. Molise Sulmona - Roccaraso and return [also 27.VIII, 10/11.XII] GR
22. 10. + kolmix Kojetín - Tovačov [also 22/23.X] HU
22. 10. PL
22. 10. Landesbahn (Wien Praterstern -) Zellerndorf - Laa a. d. Thaya - Mistelbach - Mistelbach Lb and return NL
28-30. 10. CZ
04. 12. TurKol Jankowa Żag. - Żagań AT

PTG Special train in South West Sweden
TurKol Żagań - Lubsko and return
TurKol (Wolsztynn -) Leszno - Głogów and return

Molise Isernia - Campo di Giove and return

Siede Museum lines, Draisine lines and freight lines in Southern France
Vreoci - TENT A, Rakovica - Rasp K1 - Jajince - Rasp K - Rasp B - Ranžirna A - Ranžirna B -
Ostružnica - Surčin - Batajnica

FTI (Milano -) Novara - Varallo Sesia and return
KHKV (Košice-) Medzilaborce - Łupków and return [SK/PL]
Międzyrzecz - Międzychód

PTG Patra - Katakolo - Kiparissia - Kalamata

+ ÉSZAKERDŐ (Miskolc -) Papírgyár - Mahóca and return

TurKol Rund um Poznań [also 26.XI, 10.XII]

Mercia Hafen Amsterdam
KŽC Special train CZ/SK

Landesbahn (Wien Praterstern -) Paasdorf - Mistelbach Lb and return

June 2016 BLNI Extra No. 14 – India

[B40] India – Bangalore metro central section enters service
The central section of the Namma Metro Purple Line in Bangalore was inaugurated on 29 April,
ahead of the start of revenue services the following day. With the completion of its first phase, the
standard gauge route now has 17 stations. The 5.1 km central section links MG Road in the east with
Magadi Road in the west. There are four underground stations and an at-grade station at Majestic,
where interchange is provided with the north-south Green Line. Construction started in 2006 but
was delayed because of difficult geological conditions. The central section links the 6.7 km eastern
section, which opened between Byappanahalli and MG Road in October 2011, and the 6.8 km
western section, which was inaugurated in November 2015 between Mysore Road and Magadi
Road. Services are operated with a fleet which draw power at 750V DC through a third rail.
Phase 2 of the metro will add 72 km to the network, and includes two new lines, as well as
extensions at both ends of the Purple Line. A 6.5 km extension west from Mysore Road to Kengeri
would add five stations, and a western extension from Baiyyappanahalli to Whitefield would add 13
stations on a 15.5 km alignment. It is envisaged that Phase 2 will be commissioned by 2020, after
work on the remaining sections of Phase 1 is completed this year, including a 10 km southern
extension of the Green Line.
[B41] India – Comprehensive visit to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Two UK and some International BLS Members were part of a Darjeeling Tours group of 20 on a
month long visit to India. This followed one of our German members requesting a tour that visited
several NG lines and major tourist attractions as the line to Darjeeling is fully open for the first time
in over five years after lengthy repair of a nearly 1km long landslip. All nine NG lines on the itinerary,
including the three UNESCO listed NG Hill Railways to Shimla, Ootacamund and Matheran were
successfully covered involving lengthy rail travel plus four internal flights! The advice if you are
thinking of doing a number of Hill Railways on the same visit is to do so as part of an organised tour
involving local facilitators as actually travelling on some is far from straightforward.

B779 shunting & NDM6 601 arriving on a timetabled service at Darjeeling

Darjeeling: The end to end scheduled service on this 88km 2ft gauge line is usually just one daily
train in each direction, all diesel operated and pulling just two or three coaches but this has recently
reduced to run on only three days a week due to their fourth diesel engine being long term out of
service. As at March 2016 one train works north M/W/FO and south the following day. A second
diesel is used on the Kurseong - Darjeeling “school” (but runs daily) train and the third is notionally
the spare but was seen in daily use sharing duties with five steam engines on the tourist “Joy” trains
that run 5 or 6 times a day between Darjeeling and the highest point on the line at Ghum,
unfortunately constantly shrouded in mist on the two days of the visit. Darjeeling Tours has very
good relations with the railway and local contacts/hotels and so was able to run steam charters on
four separate days with chasing photographers buses/taxis, and covered the whole line with steam.
The railway even cancelled a timetabled tourist train south from Kurseong to Mahanadi to provide
the coaches for an extra request at just three days’ notice, whereas another British group arrived
expecting steam charters but found every single one had been cancelled!
The current track situation is that the NG has its own vastly oversized separate island platform at
New Jalpaiguri, then after 1.6km there is a flat crossing of the BG passenger line to run parallel with
it on its east side. After Siliguri Town station (which has an overall roof) it runs right through the
middle of a market, although with enough room that the stalls do not have to be moved unlike at
the famous Maeklong market in Thailand, and then approaches Siliguri Jn station with tracks inside
the broad gauge over a lengthy river bridge. The NG depot/carriage sidings for the south end of the
line are here at the end of a branch of about 0.2km length from the north end of the station, and
this was covered as the starting point of the Day 2 charter.

B795 at Kurseong station

NDM6 601 on northbound New Jalpaiguri - Darjeeling in Kurseong main street

About 1km north of Siliguri Jn the NG again flat crosses the BG passenger line, but then strikes off
northwest, initially like a roadside tramway until starting the serious climbing on entering a forest
immediately after Sukna station. The line elevation is just 480 ft at its start but 7,408 ft at Ghum
before dropping to 6,812ft at Darjeeling and rises with constant meandering, numerous hill hugging
horseshoe curves, three spirals and five “Z” reversals but very few tunnels. Each 0-4-0 steam loco
has a crew of five which is two sanders hanging onto the front of the rigid axle engines which jerk
their way around all corners, a coal breaker/pusher (who sits on top as the coal is stacked around
the water tanks), plus the driver and the fireman! Trackwise what may be less well known is that the
largest intermediate station at Kurseong is a terminal station on a short dead end line, so
departures to, and arrivals from Darjeeling reverse out and in respectively. The station throat and
junction is right in the middle of a four way road meeting with the amusing sight of the traffic
policeman’s hut being on wheels and pushed out of the way for each rail movement.

The line northwards from Sukna is spectacular with serious climbs, and the track in or constantly
criss-crossing narrow roads and/or right through villages, one having developed around one of the
spirals! Even so the departure immediately north from Kurseong tops all this as the track is on a
raised area on the right hand side of a narrow twisting main shopping street of multi-storey
buildings, with some shops so close you could be served whilst sitting in your train seat!

Other track highlights were the day 3 charter commencing from inside the shed at Tindaria carriage
sidings, and the southbound Kurseong “school” train being passed out of course by reversing the
charter into sidings behind Sonada station, which from the track looked to have seen limited use in

recent times. It was not possible to traverse the loop around the outside of Tindaria Works as part
of the line, plus part of the works and all of the road below, had disappeared with another landslip a
few years ago, plus It was also not appreciated that the line used to continue a further kilometre
beyond the current Darjeeling station on a freight only section serving the town market. This had
fallen into disuse some decades ago, and track now ends after 200 metres with no obvious traces
elsewhere. Despite the relatively low level of services, a visit to Darjeeling station from 08:00 on a
Saturday morning resulted in non-stop activity for over an hour with five steam locos and rakes of
carriages being prepared for service, plus two arrivals, all fighting through constant road and
pedestrian traffic as the loco shed and southbound departure track are on one side of the main road
into the town, and the station is on the other! A fascinating five days!
Siliguri Jn to Bagdogra
The 75km long secondary loop line from Siliguri Jn to back on the main line south at Aluabari Road
was only fully converted to broad gauge in 2009, and apparently due to lobbying by the Darjeeling
Society, this 9km section was laid with metre gauge tracks inside the 5' 6" broad gauge rails with the
ambitious intention of allowing a metre gauge steam engine that is still plinthed at New Jalpaiguri to
be restored and operated on it. Indian Railways even refurbished a metre gauge railbus to work a 2
pair shuttle service on this section from summer 2010, but this ended from 1 January 2016 due to
poor patronage according to the February edition of the Darjeeling Mail (the DHR Society
magazine), leaving only the BG passenger service on this line.

Metre gauge railbus YR 8 10000 and BG WDM3a 16463 and 16598 at Siliguri Jn

Even so, Darjeeling Tours managed to arrange a NG charter using IR railbus YR8 10000 on Monday
14 March which was thought to be the last ever use of the NG rails. Local press and TV stations were
present. However local management stated that the railbus and NG track remain available, so
maybe another reason to visit the area with Darjeeling Tours! The speed on as smooth track as you
would expect for just 7 years old never exceeded 25km/h and each gauge was fully and separately
colour light signalled, as after leaving the separate island platform at Siliguri Jn., there is a flat
crossing with the access to the BG Depot, a separate NG only loop at the intermediate station at
Matigara and a NG bay on the north side at Bagdogra.
[B42] India – The Toy Train to Shimla
After a 2½ hr flight from Bagdogra to Delhi plus a 4 hour broad gauge train journey the next morning
to Kalka, the group were in position for the next Hill Railway to Shimla on Tuesday 15th March.
Shimla was the Hill Station where the Viceroy and all his supporting administrators decamped each
summer and for the purist this was the perfect NG line as it was fully semaphore signalled at all
passing points, with that for arrivals at Kalka a splendid four on one post example. This 96km long
2ft 6” NG line starts from 2,152 ft and climbs to 6,811 ft, this time with numerous tunnels (just over
one hundred) from bays at the north end of Kalka station, with carriage sidings and redundant
exchange sidings alongside. Although most diesels used are modern double ended, there are three
1927 built single-ended“crocodile” motion railcars, so as a consequence the tight loop around the
back of the engine shed was shiny, plus there are separate workshops at the end of a short branch
accessed by a backshunt about 0.5km from the station which is where the two railbuses chartered
by the party appeared from.

The gantry at Kalka with narrow gauge diesel 187

The service pattern for this line with 19 intermediate stations is somewhat unusual. Its four pairs a
day have northbound departures between 04:00 and 12:10 with southbound from Shimla at 10:35
to 18:15, and one of these pairs is an “Express” with just one intermediate stop but even this takes
4h 45m! A superb line with some, but not all 6 coach trains, plus all the signals. An unusual feature
is at Shimla station as it is one sided being right on the edge of a hill, so it has just one long platform
split into two with a scissors crossover in the middle. The chartered single car railbuses stopped
(unsurprisingly) at P1 to reverse into the carriage siding to use the turntable there, but other loco
hauled arrivals were seen to bypass P1 to reach P2 which is tucked away around a corner and about
0.2km further on! As with Darjeeling, the line used to go about 1km further to a station that would
actually be more convenient to the commercial centre of the town, plus it is directly underneath the
town bus station, but even though all rails to it remain in situ, the tracks are not used apart from as
a footpath with the station itself a small railway museum.

Barog station

Pointwork, signal and rear coach of arrival into P2 at Shimla

[B43] India - The Kangra Valley Railway
Next, after two days of strenuous Minibus travel of just over 200km on poor quality and sinuous
Himalayan foothill roads, was a visit to the 164km long 2’6” but “normal” passenger service line
from Joginder Nagar to Pathankot Jn, with service levels at the eastern extremity of just 2 pairs a
day. Even worse the Tour Organisers had received word that the friendly hours pair on this sparsely
served part on which the Group were booked to travel had recently been withdrawn, so it was a
concern when red flags were seen between the rails at Ahju station (elevation 4,230ft) on this
section. But after the Tour Leader called in at Baijnath Paprola station, the good news was that
although the midday pair had indeed been withdrawn on 27 January 2016, the remaining pair was
definitely still running. However as the outbound service arrives at Joginder Nagar at 19:45 in the
dark, with the group staying in Baijnath it needed those keen to do the whole line to be up at 05:30
for one of the minibuses to take them to Joginder Nagar for the 07:20 departure on Saturday 19
This early morning jaunt coincided with the one period of prolonged rain of the whole trip, and the
keen line collectors of the Group were the bulk of the passengers setting off on the diesel hauled 4
coach train through lush green countryside which could have been anywhere in Western Europe if it
wasn’t for the snow-capped mountains towering over 16,000 feet to the north. The 23km journey to
Baijnath Paprola took 1½ hours and then it was back to the Hotel for a late breakfast to be followed
by what turned out to be a totally unexpected highlight of the trip. It was known that the major
reason for building the NG line as late as 1929 was to assist with access to build and operate a
Hydro Electricity plant at Shanan, about 2km beyond Joginder Nagar, and NG tracks were seen
heading off into the distance from that station in the morning. A visit had been arranged to the
Power House at Shanan which was rumoured to have an operational cable railway, supported by

crossing some shiny rails the previous day. A fascinating visit ensued with much British machinery
from the 1930’s still beavering away and the branch rails ending inside the Turbine Hall! The tour
guide confirmed that the branch to Joginder Nagar was owned by the Power Station Company and
had not been used, he thought, since the 1980’s. However the major surprise was not that the
Company had a derelict 1927 Dick Kerr of Preston overhead powered locomotive build No 709, and
a cable railway, but that it had six cableways totalling 10.65km! Starting from outside the rear of the
turbine hall, the first climbed 1,260 metres in a track length of 1.45km with the other five climbing
even higher or running sideways to connect with other cableways. All remained in daily use to help
with maintenance of downpipes or reservoirs etc. but the Group was only allowed to ride the first
one taking 33 minutes each way and no higher as Bears frequented the Mountainside….
Fortunately the weather had by now cleared to allow stunning views from “Adit Junction”.
On the next day you could either chase and photograph the more frequent services to the west of
Baijnaith or visit the Dalai Lama Residence and home of the Tibetan Government in Exile at
Dharamsala, so onwards train travel resumed to Pathankot Jn at coincidentally 07:20 on Monday
21st March. All trains on this line are diesel hauled and are 7 coaches to/from Baijnaith Paprola, 6
pairs a day plus one short working. The train soon became busy with standing passengers becoming
the norm as it passed through a number of sizeable towns on route whilst following various river
valleys. In parts it was very scenic through gorges and over very high and lengthy flood plain bridges,
plus a diversion of nearly 20km had been built some time ago where a dam (not seen) would no
doubt flood a wide valley in the monsoon season, but in March little water was to be seen. As for
track, apart from the OOU line beyond Joginder Nagar, there is a triangle leading to/from the
fuelling point at Baijnaith Paprola and the shed at Pathankot Jn is about 0.5km beyond the
passenger service platforms. Like Shimla the line is fully semaphore signalled, with many placed high
up on top of cuttings some distance away from the running line to assist with visibility around
corners etc. The end to end single journey is scheduled to take 9¾ hours with just one 35 minute
break en route, and the fare chart showed a complete line single would be 30 Rupees, less than
£3.00. The whole route is apparently on Indian Railways list for conversion to Broad gauge plus
extending via the Sikh holy city of Mandi to Bilaspur, which is the way the group had travelled by
road from Shimla, but this would be a seriously long term and very expensive project, even for
conversion of the existing part!

[B44] India – Narrow gauge railways south of Delhi
From Pathankot Jn it was just a 2½ hr train ride to Amritsar for the Golden Temple the next day. The
day following was a positioning move to Delhi but three of the party including your correspondent
opted for an earlier start than the Group which would avoid duplicating a 194 km section of the
Delhi – Kalka journey of the previous week. This meant taking pot luck with no reservations on a 5½
hr journey to Saharanpur as there was no remaining 1st class availability for IndRail Pass holders. All
went well initially in AC 2nd class but in due course two of the seats were claimed so even though it
was the usual 24 coach express, your correspondent ended up perched in an empty electrical
cupboard in the carriage entrance for a couple of hours with no AC but a cooling breeze and a clear
view out of the open door while the train dashed along an electrified double track main line. Despite
many long distance trains running late during the month, this comfortably made the 55 minute
connection onto the alternative secondary route to Delhi (and with seats!) on a packed 2 x 6 car
DMU. This scheduled 5½ hr journey was the first real experience of local Indian Railways and the
three white faces attracted much friendly curiosity as to why they were there, all helping to pass the
time as it reached the Delhi suburbs an hour and half late primarily due to delays at passing points,
but also just 25 minutes down due to hitting and wrecking a tractors trailer on an ungated crossing.
Approaching Delhi at dusk children started water bombing the train through its glass free but barred
windows as the next day, Thursday 24th , was the Hindu Holi Festival. Even though another

sweltering day, this was not as refreshing as it might have been as the water was mixed with
coloured dye, and ……. dung. Holi day itself was free in Delhi by accident rather than design so as
well as more water bombing plus visiting tourist sites, your scribe retrieved the missed track from
the day before as being late they had bailed at the first interchange with the Delhi Metro,
Shahdadra Jn, to get to the Group Hotel quicker.
Friday 25th was then a 2h 40m main line journey to Agra for the Red Fort which was open, and the
Taj Mahal which was not, so just an external view from the park on the other side of the river on
that day but following Group requests, a proper visit was squeezed in from dawn on Saturday 26
before the next unmissable gricing on the 2’ 6” gauge NG passenger lines from Dholpur Jn, 52km
further south. This has a common section of 41km to Mohari Jn and then splits into two branches,
18km to Tantpur and 31km to Sirmuttra, with just one pair a day to the former and two to the
latter. Note this does not mean three pairs on the common section as the daily departure from
Tantpur is to Sirmuttra via a reversal at Bari, one stop west of Mohari Jn. This meant all services can
be worked by just one loco and coaches although the shed notice at Dholpur stated they had five
engines allocated. Rather strange as the Group saw six! Practically every train travelled on in India
was full, but despite (or because of?) the poor service levels, today’s trains were seriously
overcrowded, with riders on the roof from the start to the end and every inch of space taken inside
or by hanging on outside of the six coach train. Leaving Dholpur Jn at 10:40, Tantpur was reached at
13:05 – 13:30, Bari 14:30 – 14:45 to reach Sirmuttra at 16:25, so 5h 25m for 125 km. The Group
option was only to travel to Tantpur, with a coach back from Bari, but it was possible to do both
branches by means of a pre-arranged minibus hired at extra cost from Sirmuttra to that nights
Hotel. This was in Gwalior, the precursor to a mind boggling, plus back and backside numbing next
day on another passenger NG, this time the 2ft gauge and exactly 200 km long branch from Gwalior
to Sheopur Kalan which with very limited breaks is timetabled to take 11h 55m!…..

Salbalgarbh arrival

Even with a 06:30 departure on a Sunday heading away from the large city and main line junction at
Gwalior, it was packed with roof riders again which continued almost the whole way. This smaller
gauge meant smaller coaches but they were still standard four seat bays and a central access.
However as the top of the windows were too low and leg room insufficient for anyone of an average
western height, plus wooden seats, this meant that some of the novelty wore off after just a few
hours. Large parts of the journey on both the Dholpur Jn and Gwaliorbranch systems were through
uninhabited near desert terrain with vast areas of poor quality soil and exposed sandstone, with
many parts near villages being quarried, and on the Sheopur Kalan line it was pleasing to note a rake
of freight wagons filled with stone at Bamour Gaon, one of the 28 stations on the line. There were
no unusual operating features nor working signals away from Dholpur on that system, but at
Gwalior, as other NG lines radiating from there have either been converted or closed, the carriage
sidings are on an old line immediately south from the current station and the loco depot is accessed
off a closed line heading north, whereas the current passenger line heads west. This line also has
two combined road/rail bridges and triangles are still in use alongside the stations at Salbalgargh
and Sheopur Kalan to turn the engines if required. The frequency on this line is three pairs to
Salbalgargh and two to Sheopur Kalan but again with a quirk as only one train a day each way covers
the complete line.


No doubt due to its length it wasn’t just crews that changed at Salbalgargh but the locomotives as
well, thankfully not the carriages as keeping hold of your seat was a priority, especially if you
literally squeezed off and on again for a leg stretch or PNB as the carriages had no toilets! Again the
Group option was roughly half of this line to Salbalgargh and return by bus, so those wanting to go
to Sheopur Kalan were met there by pre-arranged taxis and taken to a different town as opposed to

back to Gwalior. This was Sawai Madhopur whose claim to fame for its sizeable tourist industry is a
nearby National Park with wild Tigers. Even the Indian Railway station here has huge murals
depicting this point. So a different sort of track was searched for at dawn on the 28th on a Tiger
Safari, but no surprise to say only paw prints were seen as opposed to the real thing.
[B45] India – The Delhi Railway Museum
Onwards to Delhi for another forced rejigging of the itinerary after the NRM was shut on the
planned day due to Holi which meant it was slotted in before the 2h 55m flight south to Coimbatore
on the 29th instead. The arrangement to steam the quirky Patiala Monorail locomotive was
successfully transferred as well, along with access half an hour before the official opening time so all
looked well when it was steaming away nicely on arrival. But it was not to be, as despite summoning
off site expert help the engine could not engage forward gear so no ride was possible.

The Patalia steam monorail

From the weeds growing on part of the short circle of track this was unfortunate as its steaming is
obviously a rare event, so those desperate for a train ride this day made do with the I km NG line
circuit around the site or a much smaller gauge Gardenbahn!
[B46] India - The Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The next UNESCO NG line was the 46km long metre gauge line from Mettpalaiyam Jn at 1,069 ft to
Udagamandalam, (better known as Ootacamund or Ooty) at 7,228 ft, another Raj era hillside
retreat. The lower 28km is still 100% steam worked: not difficult you might say with only one pair of
trains a day to cover, but the railway has somehow received four new (built 2011-14) oil fired steam

engines to the same design as previous steam versions. The line is the only rack railway in India and
climbs using the Abt system on a maximum gradient of 1:12. Even visiting in late March almost all
travellers on the full 4 coach train were tourists, so it is a puzzle why the service level is so low all
year. At present it is an absolute must to have a reservation or risk not being able to travel on the
07:10 departure uphill which with water stops/loco change etc takes just under 5 hours to reach
Ooty. Like Kurseong on the Darjeeling line, an intermediate calling point at Coonoor (where steam
changes to diesel) was unexpectedly a dead end station with trains to and from Ooty having to
reverse a short distance out or in respectively.

Hillgrove station

The line is fully semaphore signalled so is very photogenic with the climbing, twisting and traction.
Three additional pairs run on the non-rack section from Coonoor to Ooty, but again travel is not
straightforward, as unless pre-booked the remaining tickets are only sold 45 minutes before
departure, and even if you have one, at Ooty at least, there is an officious queuing system before
boarding. This was not the end of train travel for the day as after visiting a Tea plantation a number
of the group headed off searching for a guide book listed lakeside pleasure railway. This was located
and found to be a very short line along part of the north side of Ooty’s artificial lake about a mile
from the main railway station. Here a train with unusually designed covered coaches shuttled 0.4km
using what Wiki claims to be a park railway version of an industrial locomotive design, a Ventry 0-4-
0 diesel of type NMD505 No. 0759, built in 1983.

Ooty Lake train

Curiosity satisfied it was back to the Hotel to celebrate your correspondents 60th birthday….

[B47] India – The Matheran Hill Railway
Seven NG’s down, one to go, so a flight to Mumbai for the swansong to Matheran where the night
before started badly with a 2 hour coach journey to the hotel in the far south of this City’s peninsula
coinciding with 45,000 fans travelling to India’s T20 Cricket semi-final. This was in Mumbai’s
Wankhede Stadium so the traffic jams were even worse than usual apparently, but despite
perceptions the country did not grind to a halt to watch it. It was business as usual in the nearby
shops, restaurants etc …. So on Friday 1st April an Express was taken from the world famous CST
station (formerly Victoria Terminus. Ed.) for 1h 25m to Neral for a 40 minute connection onto the
21km long 2ft gauge line to Matheran. Ticketing is again an issue here as it is impossible to reserve
in advance as they only go on sale on the day. A scout was sent ahead and even though you are only
allowed to buy a maximum of four singles [!] successfully obtained enough for all of the Group. The
line itself is in some aspects the most spectacular of all Indian Hill Railways as the track is right on
the edge of serious drops in many places with no forests blocking long distance views back down
the valley to Neral, plus numerous double back bends whilst climbing to 2,625 ft. It also crosses
numerous (dry in March) streams that would cascade down the hillsides adjacent to the rails during
the Monsoon so it should be noted that services are suspended for part of each Summer due to the
risk of landslides. Matheran IMHO was an uninspiring tourist trap with its claim to fame being that
road traffic was banned. Thoughts beforehand of historic buildings and paved streets were well off
the mark. It was primarily one long street of shops selling tourist tat, food and soft drinks, plus
needing to avoid piles of horse and donkey manure as these animals are the only local transport
options. You even had to pay 50 rupees “Capitation Tax” to be allowed to leave the station so

fortunately there was some railway action as, like the Darjeeling line, there is a separate tourist
shuttle at the top end. Current service levels are four pairs a day to/from Neral as two have recently
been cancelled, plus seven top and tailed diesel shuttles from Matheran to Aman Lodge where the
road ends.

Arrival on the loop at Matheran

The line has a number of track features, with an in-use triangle alongside Neral station but a very
tight turning loop beyond Matheran station which was partially used anti-clockwise by some arriving
trains but in total only by light locos or coaches shunted by manpower. Also, like at Shimla, it only
has one platform split into two, this time separated by a trailing crossover from a loop bypassing
Platform 1. The Groups 10:40 from Neral was over an hour late reaching Matheran due to the loco
overheating and having to wait for two shuttles to clear the top section. (Even so this was rather
more fortunate than your International Editor whose train loco derailed on the edge of a precipice
about halfway up, so he had to walk back down the tracks and hitch hike back to Neral). The train
used the loop track into P2 on arrival, with the stock reversing to leave from P1 once the local Rep
had used all his powers of persuasion to book 22 seats to go back down the Hill on the 15:15. This
allowed quite enough time at the top.
Travelling back into Mumbai on a local service and arriving at just after 19:00, the group were
warned about the aggressive boarding tactics at Mumbai CST, and some savvy locals commuting
home from inner suburban stations were travelling IN to the Terminus to stay on the train so they
could travel home with a seat. So on the slow approach into this dead end station, anyone standing
by the open doors risked serious injury as many jumped on regardless of anyone blocking their way.
When it came to a stop it was pandemonium. The tactic employed by locals who want to get off

against a tide of people (which the Group followed) was to form a single file in the gangway by the
bays, and then force your way out against the hoards trying to get on. The bizarre thing about
Mumbai commuting was that in the morning at CST all trains seen up until about 8:30am were
relatively quiet, then all of a sudden they were overflowing. So most commuters would seem to
work 9 - 5 or later. Your scribe is no early riser but if it was him commuting then going early seems a


The month long trip lived up to all its pre-claims, never dragged and ran almost to plan with no track
missed (except the Patiala Monorail at the Museum) nor tourist site omissions, although some of
the latter were not done on the planned day. India as a country is thoroughly recommended to all.
Put to one side what you know surrounding slums, poverty and begging, obviously it is there and
visible, but it does not overshadow the overall experience as the country as a whole is unbelievably
friendly. Be prepared for all trains to be ridiculously busy however infrequent the service or their
gauge, and almost all are very slow. Apart from main line expresses, ticket checks were non-existent
and in many cases simply impossible, so go for it if you can although trying to complete all
63,000km would be absolutely mind-numbing and so time consuming as to be nearly impossible.

[B48] India - notes from the Sub-continent

Drought is affecting Maharashtra , specifically Marathwada region centred on Aurangabad and
Indian Railways is running water trains. The first water train, christened 'Jaldoot', left Miraj in
western Maharashtra on 11 April and reached Latur on 12 April, covering the distance of around
342 kilometres. After nine trips by a 10-wagon water train, a 50-wagon water train was later
pressed into service.

Electrification of the Mangalore to Shoranur railway along the SW coast of India took another step
forward with formal inspection of the newly electrified section between Kallayi and Cheruvattur. It
should now in be in service.

A new 'semi-luxury heritage circuit tourist train' has been launched by IRCTC, a subsidiary of Indian
Railways. Departing Safdarjung station (on the Delhi suburban railway), the five-day-four night
package will take passengers to Varanasi, Khajuraho and Agra, before returning to Delhi. The three
very popular sites are difficult to link by scheduled services.

Trains loaded with girders have started running to the Bogibeel bridge under construction over the
river Brahmaputra. The design of the 4940 metre-long bridge has 42 pillars with 125 metres spans
and a superstructure of composite welded steel truss and reinforced concrete. It is designed to carry
a double line broad gauge railway and a 3-lane road on the lower and upper decks. Upon
completion it will be the longest bridge over the Brahmaputra and the longest combined rail and
road bridge in India. There will be 74 kms of new railway and 6 new stations including New
Dibrugarh. Connecting Assam's Dibrugarh and Dhemaji districts, this is an important project of the
Northeast Frontier Railway as it will help transport to both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh as well as
enabling rapid troop movements to the Chinese frontier. The project is targeted for commissioning
by June 2017

The Kashmir Railway starts from Jammu and will travel for 345 km to Baramulla on the north
western edge of the Kashmir Valley. The General Manager, Northern Railways announced recently
that work on the Banihal to Katra section is ongoing and they are hopeful of completing it by 2020.
The 110 km section is the most difficult part of the line and about 85 per cent of the track is in 25
tunnels. The prediction is considered optimistic by commentators as only 35% of the tunnels are

complete and there are claims that on-ground construction progress indicates 2023-2024
completion at the earliest. The section will also have the world's longest and highest railway bridge,
359 metres high with a span of 467 metres. The bridge is expected to be completed by 2017.

The process of laying a 15.054 km long railway to connect Agartala with Akhaura in Bangladesh will
be completed by 2017. Five km will be on Indian side and the remainder in Bangladesh. On the
Indian side 3.7km will be on ‘flyover’ to save cultivable land. New Delhi is keen to establish the rail
link as it would connect West Bengal and Tripura through Bangladesh. The 1,700 km distance
between Agartala and Kolkata through the ‘chicken neck’ near Siliguri would be reduced to 350 km
if passengers from here could move through Bangladesh.

Indian Railways will implement the Sabari Rail Project in Kerala to connect south India's major
pilgrim centre of Sabarimala to the national railway network, but timescales are slipping as available
finance goes into doubling certain key sections of track between Piravom Road and Kuruppanthara,
Chingavanam and Chengannur and Harippad to Ambalappuzha.

Indian Railways are hiring monkey catchers to remove Langur monkeys from four major stations in
the Agra division. As well as harassing passengers, the monkeys frequently get electrocuted causing
power problems. Monkeys at Mathura Junction, Agra Fort, Raja Ki Mandi and Agra Cantonment
railway stations will be moved to a new monkey sanctuary on the banks of Yamuna river at Farah in
Mathura district.

The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), which is building rail infrastructure in the region, has targeted
to connect all its eight state capitals by 2020. Mizoram capital Aizawl and Manipur capital Imphal
will be connected to the railway network by 2018 and 2019 respectively. The capitals of the
remaining states will be linked by 2020 and the works are on target to achieve this. Tripura's capital
Agartala is already connected to the railway network, even though the line between Assam's Silchar
and Agartala is metre gauge. The line will be converted from metre gauge to BG by March 2017.
The new Lumding-Silchar BG track opened for passenger traffic in November 2015

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