INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1233 23 MAY 2015
BRANCH LINE NEWS
This newsletter covers the World outside the British Isles from information
supplied by members.
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Compilers or of the Society.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS TEAM:-
International Editor (to whom all email and postal contributions should be sent):
Paul Griffin, 7 School Bell Mews, Church Lane, Stoneleigh, COVENTRY, CV8 3ZZ
Email: [email protected]
Deputy International Editor: Derek Woodward, 68 Church Street, Matlock, DERBY, DE4 3BY
Unserviceable class 2-8-2
"plinthed" on the bridge
over King Abdullah-1 St., at
the south end of Amman
 Croatia - The story of a proposed cut-off
BLNI 1222.406 dealt with unusual reversing arrangements at the junction station of Križevci on the main
line northeastwards from Zagreb ( HŽ line 20). This is where line 21 to Bjelovar and Kloštar diverges
eastward . Križevci is eventually expected to lose importance, but the likely date of this downgrading has
receded considerably. Line 21 was initially only a branch to Bjelovar, and linking through to Kloštar on the
Koprivnica – Osijek line some three decades ago created the potential for a shorter route from the capital
to Eastern Croatia. To make this even shorter, and eliminate the need for reversal at Križevci, a cut-off
from Gradec on line 20 to the vicinity of Sveti Ivan Žabno on line 21 was planned, some 10km, so saving
16km. In the HŽ modernisation plan of 2003 projects were listed in four bands by priority, and this cut-off
was one of the twelve in the top band intended to be implemented by 2007 ( and another was doubling
from Dugo Selo to Križevci to increase capacity on line 20). However, in a review to cut Government
spending in 2004 the whole plan was deferred, and no new completion target has yet been set. A recent
journey over line 21 confirmed that no work has yet been started on the cut-off.
 Czech Republic - Kolin beet railway reaches final destination
The ‘Klub pro obnovu Kolínské řepařské drážky’ is literally the club for the recovery of the Kolin beetroot
railway. The final extension to Bychory has been completed in time for the start of the 2015 season which
commenced at Easter. Trains on the 10.7km long line run on weekends and holidays until mid October. An
excellent plan of the line is clearly visible on the website at: http://zeleznicka.bloudil.cz. To reach the
station use buses from Kolin as per the below timetable, alighting at the intersection at Sendražice then
walk along the right side of the road for about 200 metres towards Ovčáry.
Line no. 10:- 8:35, 10:35, 12:35, 14:35, 16:35
Line no. 1:- 7:53, 8:53, 9:53, 10:53, 11:53, 12.53, 13.53, 14.53, 15.53 and 16:53
 France – Heritage trains start on Chemin de Fer Charente Limousine
About halfway between Limoges and Angoulême is the station of Roumazières-Loubert . From here the
former 17km branch to Confolens ran, originally going to Le Vigeant. Passenger traffic ceased 1940, goods
traffic ceasing soon after and the line was little used until 1985 when it was abandoned and quickly started
to be overgrown. In 1992 the association Chemin de Fer Charente Limousine was formed to restore the
line and since July 1999 a velo rail operation has used the restored tracks, but there has always been the
aspiration to run trains and a number of DMUs and locomotives have been acquired. Railcar X2800 was
due to make the first journey from Confolens to Roumazières-Loubert on Saturday 18 April. Despite
replacing 5,000 (out of 20,000) sleepers the maximum speed will be a leisurely 30km/h and the round trip
will take almost two hours, stopping at the intermediate stations of Ansac and Manot. Velo rail will
continue to be the main activity, but with 10 days of train running between May and October. The dates
now on the website – 7 dates full round trip. Other dates short trips from ends of line only.
 France - Beauvais to Le Tréport line being studied
SNCF Network (formerly RFF) alerted the Picardy Region and Upper Normandy in 2012 to the poor
condition of the track between Beauvais and Le Tréport. The Haute-Normandie region have budgeted
€M1.465 for studies to regenerate the line and maintain an 11 train pair service. A pro-active approach has
been adopted, so it may be considered that the line is not at risk? Time will tell.
 France - Tourist operation ‘ in a siding’
Train à Vapeur de Touraine (formerly operating between Richelieu and Chinon) has moved to Thouars,
modified their title to Train à vapeur Thouarsais, and started working with the Mayor’s office to start a
tourist operation over the freight line from Thouars towards Arçay and Loudun.
However the plans are in disarray due to funding cuts, and an announcement was made in April that
timescales for the project had been extended. In the parlance of the Mayor’s office ‘the project is in a
siding’. New URL for the railway:- http://www.train-vapeur-thouarsais.fr/
 France – Phase 2 of LGV Est nears completion
On 31 March the last rail was welded to mark the completion of construction work on Phase 2 of LGV Est,
the high speed line between Paris and Strasbourg. Work on Phase 2, covering the 106 km between
Baudrecourt and Vendenheim, had begun in 2010. Following further signalling work to enable control of
the new route from Pagny-sur-Moselle, commissioning trials and staff training, Phase 2 is due to enter
service on 3 April 2016.
 France – Lines needing refurbishment in Brittany
Three lines will require expensive refurbishment in the next few years, so the accountants will doubtless to
be trying to identify whether this can be justified. Any member visiting Brittany this year might like to
travel Dol - Dinan, Guingamp - Paimpol and Morlaix – Roscoff to avoid future worries.
 France - Picardie to get another heritage railway
Progress on Picardie’s fourth heritage railway has been good. The “ musée des tramways à vapeur et des
chemins de fer secondaires français”, otherwise known as MTVS, have been on site at Crèvecoeur-le-Grand
for 18 months and started laying the metre gauge line at a ceremony on 7 March. It will run for 12km from
Crèvecoeur-le-Grand to Saint-Omer-en-Chaussée. The first 2km is planned to open at a public event on 17
October and it is intended that regular services start in 2016.
 France – Toulouse Blagnac airport gets tram line
A new 2.4km branch from tram route T1 at Ancely opened on 11 April. There are two intermediate stops
at Nadot and Daurat. T2 services run to the southern terminus of the original tram route at Palais de
 France – Improvements announced
The BFC regional office of SNCF Réseau (ex RFF) announced, on 20 January 2015, that engineering work
has started between Besançon and Belfort (88km) to renew the track. The total budget is 230 million
euros. The work will be carried out during the night over a period of six months.
It was also reported that the Nevers - Chagny line will be electrified in 2020 at a cost of 220 million euros.
This section is currently an un-electrified "missing link" in the strategic Atlantic - Central Europe rail freight
route. Planning work will start in 2015.
 Germany – Potash mine proposed for reopening
One station north of Hildesheim, on the line to Lehrte, is Harsum from where a branch diverges west to
the closed potash mine of Siegfried-Giesen Kali und Salz AG. This mine is proposed for reopening and
planning applications are in progress, despite strong objection from local householders. Apart from being
disconnected at the Harsum end of the line, the branch is otherwise intact, so may reopen.
 Germany - Reprieve for Wipper Liese line
Trains continue to run on weekends and holidays between Klostermansfeld and Wippra after the ‘official’
closure date of 12 April ( see BLNI 1226.053), and are now funded by Mansfeld-Südharz until 31 May.
Beyond that nothing has been announced, but trains are likely to continue. DB fares are no longer valid.
 Germany - Korbach to Frankenberg reopening celebration planned
To celebrate the reopening of the Korbach to Frankenberg railway a railfest is planned from 11-13
September with a variety of diesel and steam hauled specials. No firm details yet, so check http://korbach-
 Hungary - Planning begins for Hungary's first tram-train line
Planning began on 18 March for Hungary's first tram-train project, which will link the tram network in the
city of Szeged and a planned light rail line in Hódmezővásárhely via Hungarian State Railways' (MÁV)
Szeged – Békéscsaba line. The project involves linking Szeged tram Line 2 to the main line network at
Szeged-Rókus station. Tram-trains will run on the MÁV line as far Hódmezővásárhely-Népkert, continuing
on a new light rail alignment through the town centre before rejoining the heavy rail line at the city's main
station. The alignment of the light rail line in Hódmezővásárhely has yet to be finalised. Detailed planning
and approval will take place next year and construction will begin in 2017 with the project due for
completion in 2018. MÁV is planning to electrify the Szeged – Békéscsaba – Gyula line by 2020 although
there are doubts over when this project will be completed, which means the Szeged tram-train may
initially operate with dual-mode vehicles. It is also possible that a second track will need to be constructed
between Szeged-Rókus and Hódmezővásárhely to accommodate the increase in traffic.
 Latvia- Not many trains to Gulbene
The long branch line from Pļąviņas to Gulbene now has regular trains only as far as Madona. For the
section from Madona to Gulbene trains only run on 23 May, 23 June, 5 and 19 September and 19
 Netherlands - Rotterdam station closed to all but smart card holders
Rotterdam’s main railway station, used by 100,000 people a day, has become the first big station in the
Netherlands to be closed to all but ticket holders as of Friday 1 May. Access will only be possible with a
public transport smart card (ov-chipkaart), though InterRails apparently now have a bar code that allows
access and egress. Last year, the NS closed off 24 stations to all but card-carrying passengers and it aims to
close more this year.
 Norway – Observations from a recent visit
The 60km of line between Eidsvoll and Hamar is one of Norway’s busiest sections of single track line and is
planned to be entirely double tracked with speeds of 200-250km/h by 2024. Approximately 30km of
double track is planned between Minnesund and Steinsrud for delivery by 2019. The southern section of
this, between Minnesund and Kleverud is 17 km long and progress was recently observed by a passing
member. The section starts north of the impressive bridge at Minnesund and initially to the east of the
existing single track. Both run along the eastern side of Lake Mjøsa, the largest lake in Europe. The
constricted space between Lake Mjøsa, built-up areas and European road 6 makes straightening for
250km/h operation too difficult, so trains will run at 200km/h. The new line runs north to Kleverud (a few
kms south of Espa), and approximately halfway between Minnesund and Espa ( near what looks like an
old un-named station) the new alignment switches from being east of the old single track to west of it i.e.
between the existing line and the lake. Not all the new track had been laid, though some was in use by
track machines. So opening can be expected by 2016 at the earliest.
Our member also saw plenty of publicity posters for the new Follo line between Oslo and Ski. This is
currently Norway's largest transport project and is a new 22 km double track line from Norway's capital to
the public transport centre of Ski. The project includes extensive works at Oslo Sentral Station and the
construction of a new station at Ski plus the necessary realignment of tracks for the existing Østfold Line
on the approach to Oslo Sentral Station and between the tunnel and the new Ski Station. It will include a
new 20 km long tunnel, Norway's longest railway tunnel to date and the longest rail tunnel in the Nordic
countries. Preparatory work started in 2013 and will be completed summer 2015 with the main
construction phase commencing in 2015 and scheduled for completion by the end of 2021.
 Poland - Szczecin branch to reopen for freight
The former branch line to Szczecin Grabowo was recently lifted after a long period out of use, but a new
industrial park "Szczeciński Park Przemysłowy" with an industry requiring rail connection has led PKP PLK
to start rebuilding the formation and relaying the track, the first part being due to open in mid-2016.
 Poland – No more connecting trains to the Nowy Dwór narrow gauge?
In recent years Arriva have run a summer weekend only train from Malbork along the freight branch from
Szymankowo to Nowy Dwór Gdański to connect with heritage services on the Nowy Dwór narrow gauge
railway. There was no service in 2014, but one was planned for this year. Unfortunately an inspection on
17 March discovered a few hundred metres of track stolen near Tralewo so the future of the entire line is
now in doubt.
 Poland - Never say die until its dead
South of Jarocin on the line to Ostrów Wielkopolski, the station at Pleszew is actually several kilometres
west of the town it serves. Both main line station and town (Miasto) were served by the narrow gauge
railway from Krotoszyn to Broniszewice, so passengers could alight and walk the short distance to the
narrow gauge station (Pleszew Wąskotorowy, km 35.14) and take a service to Pleszew Miasto (km38.62)
even after the rest of the line closed, although services stopped for periods before what appeared to be
the end of scheduled passenger rail services on Polish narrow gauge lines, reported by BLNI1184.185 as
occurring from 9 December 2013. News now, however, that this was not the case as the passenger service
appears to be restored from 4 May with a number of trains throughout the day. The timetable is at:-
http://www.shortlines.pl/travel.html. Interestingly a member says the line is actually dual gauge, though
whether useable as such is not clear.
 Poland - Old station at Kraków closes
The old station at Kraków Główny was constructed between 1844 and 1847 and was initially the
terminus of the Kraków – Upper Silesia Railway. Trains entered the trainshed via a brick archway at the
northern end of the station, which was almost doubled in size in 1871. The station opened on 13 October
1847, with the first train leaving for Mysłowice (the point where the Austrian, German and Russian
Empires adjoined during military partitions of Poland). The railway line was extended eastwards in 1856
and the increased traffic resulted in the station's modernisation and enlargement in several stages
between 1869 and 1894. The next substantial expansion took place in the 1930s in the reborn Polish
Republic. At that time the northern brick wall and trainshed were demolished, the latter replaced by
individual platform roofs.
Those who used the old station will recall that the constricted
area available for platforms meant that new ones were
constructed further west, so after buying tickets a walk of over a
100 metres was necessary to reach the platforms. In recent years
major schemes have been completed to address this problem and
enhance transport interchange. To the south a new urban
shopping centre Galeria Krakowska (Kraków Gallery) opened in
September 2006 and the platforms underwent a multimillion
Polish złoty refurbishment to improve passengers' experience.
Adjacent to the station a new bus station has opened and an
express tram line under the station opened in December 2008.
A new underground ticket hall opened in February 2014, with
waiting rooms, travel centres and other amenities. This is located
to the north of the earlier platform underpass, and connected to
the platforms by escalators. It also provides two new direct
exits/entrances to the station complex, one from the lower level
of Galeria Krakowska and another from the Regional Bus Station
located to the east of the railway station. The old station
continued in use for another year, finally closing on 3 March 2015
according to signs posted on the doors.
 Poland – Travelling the new deviation on the Kraków-Zakopane line
The same member who undertook the ‘nocturnal grice’ in BLNI 1231.151 ended up in Kraków the next
day and was able to catch a late train down to Sucha Beskidzka and back, thereby travelling the new
deviation reported in BLNI 1122.415. The railway between Stryszów and Sucha Beskidzka was part of the
Galician Transversal Railway opened in 1884 in the province of Galicia (not the Spanish province) which
was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was a state-owned enterprise which ran west to east from
Čadca (present day Slovakia) through Żywiec, Nowy Sącz and Zagórz to Husiatyn (present day Ukraine).
The purpose of the construction was to connect already existing lines and thus create a continuous east-
west route. The military aspect was crucial, as the 800km Transversal Railway ran parallel to the main
Galician route from Kraków to Lvóv, and Austrian planners were predicting a future war with the Russian
Empire. The second phase of the construction of the Świnna Poręba reservoir involved raising the water
level, which would have flooded much of the existing tracks between Stryszów and Sucha Beskidzka. An
8.6km deviation was therefore constructed as shown on the map. Construction started in 2012 and the
affected section of the Zakopane line was closed from March to June and September to December 2014,
though traffic was ( apparently) restored briefly in holiday periods. The line was officially opened on 12
December 2014. South of Stryszów the new line diverges left off the old line, but it is difficult to see where
exactly due to soundproofing barriers. It stays close to the old line but on an embankment then crosses a
bridge over a tributary of the Skawa river by a four span 234 metre long bridge, 27 metres high. The two
lines continue to run side by side until the river Skawa is reached. The old line crosses the river and goes to
the station at Skawce, now
closed as it will be flooded.
The new line stays on the
east side of the river curving
around on an embankment
which will clearly form the
boundary of the reservoir in
the future. In a few years the
view here will be very
different. The old line is now
300 metres away on the
other side of the valley.
Ahead the river Skawa loops
eastwards and is crossed by
the second major bridge on
the deviation. This has seven
spans, is 400 metres long
and 24 metres high. Line
speed is 90km/h, which is
30km/h faster than the old
line. Old line and new line
soon converge again and
Zembrzyce station is quickly
reached. The new station is
slightly away from the old station and fronts onto the main road running through the valley with a bus stop
opposite. Three people left the train here. The station was the site of the ribbon-cutting ceremony when
the inaugural train called there on the day of opening. Before long the route of the old and new lines meet,
though as with the northern end of the deviation, it is difficult to tell exactly where this was. On the
outskirts of Sucha Beskidzka there was no sign of where the new avoiding line will diverge. This is
apparently approved and being designed. Construction was originally planned to start in the first half of
2015, but this has slipped and June 2016 is the new target.
The seven span bridge over the River Skawa is 400 metres long and is shown here under construction
 Romania – Six possible tourist lines in Master Plan
The draft Transport Master Plan dated February 2015 identifies no less than six possible heritage railways
which will now be passed on to the EU Commission for funding assessment. They are: Sibiu – Agnita,
Oravita – Anina, Turda – Abrud, Târgu Mureş – Sovata, Luduş – Mâgheruş, and Caransebeş – Hateg. The
final site is rather surprising as the rack railway from Caransebeş has been closed for about 35 years and is
totally derelict. 26 and 27 September will see a steam event on the 7km of track between Cornâţel and
Hosman in Sibiu.
 Slovakia - Waldbahn Vychylovka opens again
Slovak television has reported that railcar traffic has been approved on the Kubátkovia - Chmúra -
Sedlo Beskyd – Tanečník line after many years of restoration work. This is the middle section of a much
larger former 760mm gauge forestry railway near the Polish border. The operating season commenced on
1 May with 2-3 journeys per day, each taking about two hours. Note however that the website has not
been updated for some time.
 Slovenia – A limited overlap opportunity
Celje, largest city on the country’s busiest inter-city line between Ljubljana and Maribor, is the junction for
the branch to the industrial town of Velenje which has a weekday service of a dozen trains each way per
day. With one exception, branch trains run to and from platform 1 at Celje, where main-line services use
tracks 2-5 through two island platforms. The exception is the 07:35 departure to Velenje because it is a
through train from Sevnica ( though not shown as such in the branch timetable), so operates through
platform 3. It also uses the avoiding curve at Zidani Most, and carries quite a few students who travel
through to Celje Lava, first station on the branch and close to several schools and colleges.
 Spain - Huesca AVE standard gauge HSL and update on Iberian gauge upgrading
Even for a country profligate in infrastructure provision the branch to Huesca really stands out! This
essentially separate line runs beside the broad gauge lines out of Zaragoza in the "new" tunnel shared
with C1 lines towards Miraflores before running largely parallel with the adjacent Iberian gauge line to
Huesca, as far as Tardienta where it settles into an interlaced relationship with the Iberian gauge line until
before Huesca station where it then forms two out of the four platform roads. Along the way there are
three standard gauge loops (all rusty) and even a flat broad gauge crossing across both standard gauge
tracks at Tardienta to a clearly disused freight siding, all of which must have all cost a fortune to install and
signal. The HSL has one train each way on weekdays and two at weekends, and one can only think to
obtain this luxurious provision the "Presidente de la Junta Huesca" (or similar title) must have given the
Spanish minister of Transport a damn fine lunch!! By the way, the service sampled probably had about 30
passengers on board. On the Iberian gauge, ADIF has awarded the first contract for upgrading part (a mere
8 km!) of the Huesca to Canfranc line - right at the Huesca end, though.
 Turkey (European) - Mini-Metro opens
Istanbul metro’s Line M6 was opened at 17:00 on 19 April. The 3.3 km line runs east from Levent station
on Line M2 to Boğaziçi Üniversitesi/Rumeli Hisarüstü with two intermediate stations. Line M6 is officially
referred to as the M6 Levent - Hisarüstü Line, and also known as the Mini-Metro or the Levent-Hisarüstü
Shuttle. The latest opening forms part of a plan to expand the Istanbul metro and tram network to 430 km
REST OF THE WORLD
 Jordan - Railways in Jordan in 2015 (Part 1)
Surprisingly, in 2015, two separate railways exist in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, both operational
and descendants of the Ottoman Empire’s attempt to link Damascus with Mecca in the early years of the
20th Century. This was the famous Hedjaz Railway, built by the Turks southwards from Damascus to the
unusual gauge of 1050mm to Amman in 1902, reaching Medina in stages by 1908, the ultimate goal of
reaching Mecca being extinguished by the start of the First World War in 1914. The line served its main
purpose of conveying pilgrims to Mecca for less than ten years before it became a target of the 1917 Arab
Revolt against the Ottoman Turks when camel-borne forces led by Capt. T.E. Lawrence destroyed
significant sections of the track-bed south of Wadi Rum, before aiding the British Expeditionary Force
defeat of the Turks at Aqaba. The line was rebuilt and re-opened in 1921-23 but scheduled services lasted
only until 1924, after which the line south of Amman and the long-closed branch to Naqib Ashtar had only
military use, south of Ma’an in Jordan and across the border into Saudi Arabia the line appears to have
After the formation of the Jordanian state, the section of line within the country became Government-
owned in 1948, recently becoming Jordan Royal Hashemite Railways (JRHR). Various proposals to reinstate
the line south to Medina were made in the 1950s and 1960s, reconstruction work finally beginning in
1966. However, work ceased in 1971, possibly connected with the discovery of large potash deposits
beneath the desert north east of Ma’an and in 1972 a concession was awarded to build a new line
connecting proposed mines to the port of Aqaba. A large mine was developed at El-Hasa and connected to
the JRHR and the previously rebuilt line southwards through Ma’an was upgraded to carry heavy freight
traffic. At Ma’an a deviation was built to avoid the town centre station with its level crossings and junction
for the closed Naqib Ashtar branch. South of Ma’an the former Hedjaz Railway route was rebuilt as far as
Batn el-Ghul, with a completely new line being built south-westwards to Aqaba, ironically running across
the entrance to Wadi Rum where a station was built. The line terminated in the port area south of Aqaba
with potash storage and transhipment facilities constructed for the export of this key ingredient of
agricultural fertiliser. The line opened in October 1975 and was operated by the Aqaba Railway
Corporation, later in 1979 JRHR was split into the Jordan-Hedjaz Railway, based in Amman, and the Aqaba
Railway Corporation, the latter being franchised to US freight railroad operator Wisconsin Central in
 New Zealand – Blenheim Riverside railway extension opens
The Blenheim Riverside Railway is a 610 mm narrow gauge heritage railway in Blenheim, New Zealand.
The railway was founded in 1985 and follows the Taylor River from Brayshaw Park in the southwest of
Blenheim to Beaver Station, next to where the River Queen boat docks.
A 800 metre extension from Brayshaw Park to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre at Omaka Airfield,
crossing the Taylor River by a bridge, has been under construction and was formally opened on Saturday
21 March in time for 2015 Omaka Airshow. Public services commenced the following day.
 USA – Texas Eagle (BLN1225.046)
Notwithstanding that DART has agreed that Amtrak’s Texas Eagle can be diverted via Trinity Railway
Express (TRE), it seems that TRE itself, of which the Fort Worth Transportation Authority is joint owner, still
has not approved the diversion. A correspondent has been in touch with a very reliable contact who has
been told by an undisclosed source that the train may never be diverted. It seems that TRE thinks that its
railway is full. A quick glance at its timetable suggests that the definition of “full” has a somewhat different
connotation in Texas compared with the UK. The line, apparently, hosts one return BNSF freight train a
day. It does seem to be in almost everyone’s interest to divert the Amtrak train. Currently, the daily service
in each direction has to cross various parts of the junction complex three times and includes a back-up
move. Diversion would eliminate two of the crossing moves and the back-up and reduce the journey time
by several minutes. To clarify the diagram below ( e-BLN only as colour coded), TRE runs via Irving and
Amtrak runs via the Temple and Arlington routes. Ironically, on occasions when UP is particularly
congested, the Texas Eagle has actually run via TRE.
After leaving Fort Worth ITC, the railway runs through the middle of an apartment block
 USA - New Miami airport station opened
The former airport station in Miami was closed in 2011 for the construction of the Miami Intermodal
Center (MIC), a $2bn transportation hub intended to bring all major transportation services at the airport
under one roof. As part of this project Tri-Rail’s new Miami Airport Station (MIA) opened in April for
revenue service, offering immediate connectivity to the airport through a short ride on the MIA Mover. As
part of this development, Tri-Rail's schedule will be slightly adjusted to include the additional stop, which
will return to being the southernmost station on the 72-mile rail corridor which runs to Mangonia Park in
the north. The route also includes a stop at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International, the other major
airport in the region.