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20th January 2018

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Published by membersonly, 2018-03-16 04:44:36

1297i

20th January 2018

INTERNATIONAL SUPPLEMENT TO BLN 1297 20 JANUARY 2018

BRANCH LINE NEWS

INTERNATIONAL

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

________________________________________________________

Your International Editor is presently off on his winter travels and will not return until March, so any
contributions sent by post before then should be sent to the Deputy International Editor in Matlock.

October sees the annual four day Chhath festival and many people travel home to celebrate. Indian Railways run extra trains
and strengthen existing ones, but even so demand sometimes exceeds supply, as the picture shows. There may be a familiar
feeling for members who are Southern Region commuters….

EUROPE

[024] Belgium/France – Belgians commit to reopening
BLNI 1281.185 reported the possible reopening of Valenciennes – Quiévrain - [Mons] and concluded
with the sentence “However Infrabel, which manages the infrastructure of the Belgian rail network,
has yet to commit the €2.3M required on their side.” This appears to have been resolved, and the
Infrabel investment program now includes work on reopening from Quiévrain to the French border.

[025] Bosnia – Railway line to be modernised, and a tantalising media report
The Republika Srpska railway company ŽRS has awarded a Chinese company a contract for the
modernisation of the 104 km route from Banja Luka to Novi Grad and the border with Croatia at
Dobrljin. This includes raising the maximum speed from 70 km/h to 120 km/h and upgrading around
90 level crossings on the route. The line is electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz and carries 60% of ŽRS freight
traffic. Local media recently reported that Chinese companies were interested in building a 50 km line
between Vareš and Banovići.

[026] Denmark – Aarhus light rail finally opens
Passenger services on the first section were due to begin on 23 September, but were postponed with
only a few hours notice when the Transport Authority refused to sign off the safety case approving
Keolis as operator and Aarhus Letbane as infrastructure owner. With paperwork in order on 20
December, the line was officially opened on 21 December 2017, passenger services starting at 10:15
on the 12km first phase from Aarhus Central Station to Skejby University Hospital. 2018 will see the
line extended onto the main line network, initially to Odder in the south and later to Grenaa in the
north, a total of 110 km. More extensions are planned, and detailed design work has started for an
extension of the present line from Lisbjerg school to Hinnerup, a two-station station branch to serve
the Aarhus Ø development in the harbour area, and a branch line from just south of the Aarhus
Central Station to Brabrand via the northwest of the city.

[027] France – Nĩmes - Montpellier bypass ("CNM") opened in December 2017
The Contournement Nîmes - Montpellier ("CNM") is a new double track electrified line that runs from
the LGV Méditerranée near Avignon, passing south of Nîmes and Montpellier to join the main line to
Sète and Perpignan. It is 60 km long plus 20 km of connecting lines. The by-pass will be accessible to all
types of train, TGV, IC, TER and freight. The speed limits are 120 kph for freight and 220 kph for TGV's
(the CNM has been designed for 300 kph for which a different signalling system (ERTMS 2) will be
required). It opened on 10 December to freight and passenger traffic.
The purpose of this by-pass is to relieve congestion on the historical main line between Nîmes and
Montpellier. CNM was built by a public/private consortium called OC'Via which will also be responsible
for maintenance for 25 years. Construction started at the end of 2013 and the total budget was 2.25
billion euros, including the two new stations. The original plans provided for a rail connection from the
CNM east of Montpellier to enter the city centre St Roch station. But this configuration was cancelled
and replaced by a new TGV station on the CNM situated close to Montpellier airport.
The TGV Montpellier-Sud-de-France station has been completed and was handed over to the operator
on 10 December 2017. It has been designed to receive a branch of the urban tramway but at present
the tram terminus is situated at Odyseum, 1.5 km away from the new TGV station. The planned
extension of the tram line to the TGV station will only be completed in 2020.
There is also to be a TGV station on the CNM near Nîmes ("Nîmes-Manduel-Redessan"). Construction
work only began in September 2017 and the station will open in 2020. SNCF has announced that the
first TGV's to stop at Montpellier-Sud-de-France will operate from 8 July 2018. There will be 4 TGV's a
day initially. SNCF has not disclosed its detailed plans for future services on the new by-pass. The CNM
is the last of four high speed railways approved for construction by President Sarkozy in 2008.
Currently there are no more TGV lines under construction in France. Plans for new TGV lines are
suspended. Courtesy of the French Railway Society

[027] Germany/Netherlands - Leer to Weener to reopen in 2024
The most northerly cross-border route between Germany and the Netherlands closed after the
Friesenbrücke bridge over the river Ems was struck by a ship. Funds have now been secured to
reconstruct the bridge and through trains should return in autumn 2024.

[028] Germany – Bridge replaced in Hamburg docks
The Rethebrücke of the Hamburg port railway between Hamburg Süd and Hamburg Hohe Schaar has
been taken out of operation and the tracks are being removed. A new bridge has been built to replace
it.
[029] Italy – Bretella Venezia opens in Bologna
12 years after work started, a new 5.557 kilometre long link has opened which allows high speed trains
from the new underground station at Bologna Centrale to reach the Padova/Venezia line, and vice
versa. It completes the reorganisation of Bologna station, completely separating high speed services
from regional and local services. The Bretella Venezia opened on Sunday 10 December 2017.
Coming from the north there is a new junction, Bivio Navile (Bivio = Junction), at km 5.469 and shortly
after this the new double track line goes over the A14 motorway by a 75 metre metal lattice bridge.
Next it goes under the Linea di Cintura (the freight bypass ring) to which it has an east to south
connection. The route now follows a former railway abandoned in 1993 to the former Bivio Agucchi
from where it joins the high speed line from Milano to Bologna at new Bivio Venezia, located at km
1.991. East and westbound trains have separate tunnels and the line speed is up to 100km/h.

[030] Netherlands - Roodeschool
The old Roodeschool station on Stationsstraat (the most northerly passenger station in the
Netherlands) closed to passengers on 5 January 2018, the last train running on the afternoon of
Thursday 4 January. The new station further west on Hooilandseweg, on the Eemshaven line, opened
to passengers on Monday 8 January.
Passenger services to Eemshaven should start in April.

[031] Norway - Massive deviation under construction on south coast
An engineering project is currently in progress to straighten the line between Larvik and Porsgrunn
with 22 km of new railway, 15 km of which will run in 7 tunnels. The present 35km route runs well to
the north and is, by Norwegian standards, quite slow due to many sharp curves. When complete in
September 2018 journey time will be reduced from 34 to 12 minutes. Only the Porsgrunn to Eidanger
section of the old line will continue to be used.

[032] Poland – Elbląg tram new routes and lines
A new link from 12 Lutego to Grota Roweckiego opened on 10 November 2017 and allows trams from
the station to reach the northern suburbs around Ogólna quicker by avoiding city centre stops. In
addition some service patterns have been changed so that the triangular junction at the south end at
Grota Roweckiego where the new line splits away from previous route 3 has use on all three sides, and
the Saperów branch has a direct link to the city centre providing a new opportunity over the north to
west curve to/from stop 1-go Maja-Sąd. Note that the previous route 4 & 5 EGTRE listed TSUL
workings via the curve at Robotnicza-Alstom to the Depot at Browarna have disappeared with their
rerouting via the new link line leaving just the one daily working at 22.56 SSuX 22:57 SO on route 2.
Map at http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/pl/elblg/elblag.htm

[033] Romania – Service lost again
Having been reinstated at the beginning of the 2016-2017 timetable, the service from Slobozia Veche
to Țăndărei was suspended again from the start of the 2017-2018 timetable, despite appearing in the
printed timetable.

[034] Russia (European) – Ukraine bypass line opened
BLNI 1284.261 reported a likely August 2017 opening date for the new section of railway between
Voronezh and Rostov-on-Don which would allow Russian trains bound for southern Russia not to pass
through the Ukraine. In fact the line actually entered use for freight on 20 September 2017 and
passenger trains on 15 November 2017 (not 10 December as officially announced in the RŽD press
release). Apparently the last use by passenger trains of the old line was on 12 December 2017 by train
097 Tynda - Kislovodsk stopping at 12:51 in Čertkovo.
However services still run in Russia to the border on both the north and south sides – effectively two
branches have replaced the former through route. It seems RŽD leased the section in the Ukraine, so
now they plan to lift the tracks between Gartmaševka and Čertkovo. On the southern side two daily
train pairs still operate to Rostov, which run twice, briefly, through Ukrainian territory for 2.6 and 3.6
km respectively. However, it is reported that a new route, slightly further east of the border line, is
under construction, and once commissioned trains will only run through Russian territory.

[035] Serbia – Developments in Beograd
A railway line runs from Topčider putnička past the throat of Beograd station through Sava Obala to
Beograd Dunav station and on to Pančevački Most where it joins the line north to Vršac and Timișoara
(Romania). The line follows the banks of first the Sava river, then the Dunav (Danube), passing the
Kalemegdan fortress en-route. The international train from Beograd to Timișoara Nord used to travel
this way (there being no direct route from Beograd station to the Vršac line), the locomotive propelling
out of Beograd station to the station throat where it reversed, but this service ended several years
ago. This was by far the finest railway route in Beograd, but the demands for urban development of
the bankside mean that part of the line will close, and be lifted, by 30 June 2018. The southern
section from Topčider putnička to Sava Obala is already closed and there are proposals to close
Beograd Dunav to Pančevački Most and start trains from Beograd Centar instead.
But there is serious concern about routing tank trains with inflammable chemicals away from the
Sava/Dunav line and through the Beograd tunnels, so these trains are to be diverted away from
Beograd completely. The long term solution is the construction of a new combined road-rail bridge
over the Dunav near Vinča, but the short term solution is to renovate the Novi Sad to Orlovat Stajalište
railway, and this work started at the end of October 2017. Parts have a line speed of 20km/h. The work
should be complete by 30 June 2018. It would be nice if they would run passenger trains as well……

Map courtesy of Europeanrailwayatlas.com

[036] Switzerland - Linth-Limmern funicular available to public
Funicular enthusiasts will want to visit the new Linth-Limmern pumped storage power plant in
Tierfehd in the Canton of Glarus where a completely underground funicular built in 2013 travels for

3775 metres and has a vertical lift of 881 metres. Some information and a video of the journey at
http://standseilbahnen.ch/linthal-tierfehd-limmern.html
Built by Garaventa, it is the world's strongest funicular, capable of carrying up to 215 tonnes. Guided
tours of the new machine cavern allow access, and from January 2018 the public can also use the
funicular. Details and registration at:
www.axpo.com/axpo/ch/de/landing-pages/psw-limmern/besucherfuehrungen.html.

[037] Switzerland/France – Cross border tram line opens
60 years ago the tram from Basel (Switzerland) to St. Louis (France) ceased operation, but 9 December
2017 saw trams start again on the 3.1km line after a two year construction period. Only 500 metres
are in Switzerland, the rest, comprising 4 stops, is in France, terminating by St. Louis railway station.
Every second tram on line 3 now goes to St. Louis, giving a 15 minute interval service. This may well be
needed as an estimated 30,000 people commute from France into Basel every day, and many are
expected to switch to the tram using the new park and ride at St. Louis station which opens in spring
2018. The new line is not the only international link. Tram Line 10 to Rodersdorf is routed via the
French village of Leymen as “privileged transit traffic.” Line 8 was extended across the German border
to Weil am Rhein station in 2014.

[038] Switzerland/Italy - Mendrisio to Varese cross-border services begin
Regional train operator TILO began revenue passenger services on the 17.7 km cross-border line
between Mendrisio in Switzerland and Varese in Italy on 7 January 2018. The line is used by TILO
services S40 from Como to Varese and S50 from Bellinzona to Varese, each running hourly. From 10
June service S40 will be extended to Milano Malpensa airport every two hours.
The Mendrisio – Varese link was developed following the signing of an initial agreement by Ticino
canton and the Lombardia region in 2000. Construction got underway in December 2008 on the Swiss
side and in July 2009 on Italian side. However the project was beset by disagreements between the
parties and problems with contractors on the Italian section.
The first 3.6 km from Mendrisio to Stabio was originally built in 1926 and was reopened as part of the
project in 2014. A new 6.4 km cross-border link has been built from Stabio to Arcisate at cost of
€260m, connecting with the 7.7 km Varese – Arcisate line which had been out of use since 2010. The
construction work included a tunnel between Induno and Varese, a bridge over the River Laveggio and
stations at Stabio, Gaggiolo, Induno-Olona and Arcisate. The grade-separated alignment is suitable for
100 km/h running, and the boundary between the Swiss 15 kV 16.7 Hz and Italian 3 kV DC
electrification systems is located several hundred metres inside Switzerland.

[039] Switzerland – World’s steepest funicular opens
The €44.6m Schwyz-Stoos funicular (Standseilbahn Schwyz-Stoos in German), entered public service
on Sunday 15 December. It runs from the valley station near Schwyz into the mountain village of Stoos,
population 100, about 30 miles (50km) south of Zürich. The funicular replaced an older one that had
operated since 1933. Since the angle of ascent changes a level-adjusting function will allow the space-
age-looking carriages, accessible to all users, to remain horizontal while speeding up the mountain at
up to 10 metres a second. The track is 1720 metres long and rises 743 metres at gradients as steep as
110% (47.7º). A traditional aerial gondola funicular was ruled out because it would have had to pass
through an active shooting range. The Gelmerbahn funicular at Bern was previously the world’s
steepest, with a maximum gradient of 106%. By comparison the East Cliff Lift funicular railway in
Hastings, built in 1902, is the steepest in England, with a gradient of 78%.

[040] Ukraine/Poland - Across borders by broad gauge and standard gauge trains (Part 2)
Onwards travel to connect in with the service to Chełm was not until 16:30 the following day, allowing
plenty of time to explore L’viv and its quirky tram network, but only after exchanging the voucher
provided by their Polish agent for the internal L’viv – Rivne Tickets. These were obtained reasonably
quickly considering the station was suffering a power cut on their arrival, as fortunately it was known
that such transactions are only processed at ticket office windows 8 and 9. The next task was
purchasing tram tickets. Pre-trip research established there was no day ticket, so a bundle of individual

tickets were required. The calculation needed to allow for a second ticket for sizeable luggage items,
so as the tram system has 11 routes on 9 branches with three lines across the city centre, the kiosk
seller’s face when asked for 20 tickets was a picture….. These were only 3UAH each, (around £1.75 in
total) and the enquiries quickly paid dividends as ticket inspectors boarded the first tram taken - so
smug satisfaction that these two tourists knew to validate a second ticket for their baggage……
Validation itself was with old style manual punches, opposite the doors, which make a pattern of holes
in the ticket which are assumed to be unique to that vehicle for the day. The flaws in this system for
the traveller being that no interchange is possible on one ticket, and for the operator if you rode to a
terminus and back on the same tram you could in theory use the same ticket! Even so, at such cheap
prices the decent thing was done and a second ticket validated for any return journey. The traffic in
L’viv is chaotic, causing gaps in services or bunching (waiting 30 minutes at one terminus for example).
Most city centre roads are still cobbled with rails higher than the road surface in many places, coupled
with poor track condition, meaning low speeds in many sections, but despite this all routes travelled
were busy. Tickets could also be purchased from the tram driver for no penalty. Our members
encountered a novel purchasing method, as twice on a packed tram they were tapped on the shoulder
and money (all notes, even for 1UAH!) was offered, their puzzled looks being met with hand gestures
that it should be passed on via others towards the front of the tram, with a ticket returning the same
way shortly afterwards!!! It was clear that the tram system requires significant investment but a start
has been made as new route 8 opened in November 2016 to a southern suburb of Vernadskogo
incorporating a lengthy central reservation section mainly using new as opposed to second hand
trams. This route continues on from where the 4 and 5 previously terminated at Mushaka, and the
track returning towards the city centre includes an unusual feature as the old turning circle has been
retained with the new track simply connecting into the old loop so most of it is done on a through
journey! Elsewhere the branch to Lychakivska in the south east of the city was closed for major works,
and since a previous visit in 2004, the northern cross city route now has to follow a one-way system
around St Anna’s Church at the junction of routes 6 and 7, so the east and westbound tracks split to
run either side with associated triangular junctions. A thoroughly enjoyable tram bash.
A map of the system can be found at
http://lviv.travel/php_uploads/images/contentfileimages/ContentFileImages_99_lviv-tram-
schema1.jpg

REST OF THE WORLD

[041] Armenia – Services withdrawn from new timetable
Gyumri-Vanadzor has been withdrawn. Yerevan-Ararat and Almast – Hrazdan - Shorja have been
(temporarily) withdrawn. According to Ball’s “European Railway Atlas”, the last of these was summer
only.

[042] Azerbaijan/Iran – New border crossing
A new border crossing between Azerbaijan and Iran was formally opened on Christmas Day – highly
significant for two Muslim countries! This is only a short 10 km line, 8 km in Azerbaijan and 2 km in
Iran, linking Astara (Azerbaijan) with Astara (Iran). The line is dual gauge (1520/1435 mm), with an 82.5
m long bridge over the Astarachay River, which forms the border. It is not expected to carry
commercial traffic before February.
At present it is a dead end branch leading a to freight terminal in Astara (Iran). However, it forms
Phase 1 of the “North-South International Transport Corridor”, a project to link Mumbai to Moscow via
the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and thence by rail via Tehran, Astara and Baku. This requires the
construction of a new railway in Iran between Qazvin and Astara. It was claimed in May 2017 that the
163 km Qazvin - Rasht line was “95% complete” and would come into use by the end of the summer.
The latest news is that the remaining construction work was expected to be completed by the end of

2017. It includes Iran’s biggest rail bridge with a length of 1.43 km over the river Sefidroud in the city
of Manjil. 162 km of the 164 km Rasht - Astara (Iran) line is said to have been “completed”. However,
this is at odds with the news that Azerbaijan will provide Iran with a loan of $600 m to complete the
construction of the railway, an estimated cost of $1.1 bn. Work should start in the first half of 2018,
with completion planned for 2020. The agreement between the two railways envisages that Azerbaijan
will rent the line for 15 years and the terminals for 25 years. A container transfer station and possibly
also an SUW2000 gauge changer will be provided at the break of gauge at Astara (Azerbaijan).
There is an existing rail crossing at Julfa/Culfa/Jolfa (depending on how it is transliterated) between
Iran and the Autonomous Republic (‘muxtar respublika’) of Nakhchivan, an enclave which is included
within Azerbaijan. However, this is a now a dead end as the continuation beyond the northern border
of the enclave passes through Armenia, which has been at war with Azerbaijan since 1992.

[043] Canada – Toronto subway extension opens
A new $3.2 billion line opened on 17 December marking the largest expansion in the city’s system for
nearly 40 years. The 8.6km extension – also known as the Toronto-York Spadina Subway extension –
takes the subway into the district of York with six new stations. Operator Toronto Transit Commission
(TTC) celebrated the landmark by offering passengers free travel on the entire TTC network.

[044] Chile – Santiago Metro continues to expand
Santiago has the most extensive metro system in South America, and with two new lines nearing
completion and a third planned, the network of 103.5km is set to expand to eight lines totalling
174km.
Apart from a couple of extensions to lines 1 and 5, no new lines had been added since Line 4 opened in
2006, but on 2 November 2017 line 6 opened and will be followed by Line 3 in the second half of 2018.
Line 6 is 15km long with 10 stations and will radically improve the connectivity of the network as it
runs south from Los Leones on Line 1 via Ñuñoa, where it will interchange with the future Line 3, to
National Stadium, which has sufficient capacity to handle large crowds attending football matches and
other events. The line then heads west to Cerrillos and connects with Line 5 at Ñuble and Line 2 at
Franklin. Line 6 also provides an interchange with Chilean State Railways’ recently-inaugurated Nos
Express suburban service.
Line 3 will be 22km-long, have 18 stations and run from Los Libertadores in the northwest of Santiago
via the city centre to Fernando Castillo Velasco on the eastern side of the city.
The older metro lines are operated by rubber tyre trains running on concrete beams, but line 4, and
now line 6, run on conventional rails. Together with Line 3, Line 6 is fully automated, with platform-
screen doors and overhead electrification.

[045] India/Bangladesh – Bandhan Express commences operation
A new passenger cross-border train known as the ‘Bandhan Express’ has started operating between
Kolkata in India and Khulna in Bangladesh. The train will run every Thursday and the route is via
Petrapole and Benapole. This is the second train service to be provided between the two countries and
follows the introduction in April 2008 of the ‘Maitree Express’, which runs between Kolkata and Dhaka
Cantonment. The new train was flagged off using video conferencing by the Indian Prime Minister,
Bangladesh Prime Minister and West Bengal Chief Minister on 9 November 2017. At the same time
two new rail bridges in Bangladesh (the second Bhairab Bridge and the Titas Bridge, both on the
Chittagong to Dhaka trunk route) and the new International Rail Passenger Terminus at Kolkata station
were inaugurated. The latter was developed as part of a collaboration between the Ministry of
Railways and the Department of Immigration and Customs and is intended to streamline immigration
procedures and subsequently reduce overall journey times, including both the Maitree Express and the
Bandhan Express.

[046] Indonesia - Jakarta airport rail link inaugurated

The 36.4 km rail link to Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport began full commercial operation
on 2 January 2018.
A 12 km branch has been built to connect the airport station with the national rail network at Batu
Ceper, from where trains operate over existing tracks to reach the capital. A fleet of 10 trainsets is
being supplied by PT Inka and Bombardier, of which the first was delivered in August 2017.
At present Railink is operating an hourly service from 06.00 to 23.00, although a 15 min interval service
is envisaged in the future. Trains from SHIA call at Batu Ceper and Duri, where they reverse to reach
the new Sudirman Baru station at BNI City, which is the current temporary terminus. Connections with
the suburban network are provided at Duri for passengers to and from Kampung Bandang and Jakarta
Kota. End-to-end journey time is 55 min, and the flat fare is 70 000 rupiah.
Airport express services are due to be extended to Manggarai in 2019, following the completion of
reconstruction work at this key hub on the south side of the city. In the meantime, a feeder bus
connects the airport trains at Sudirman Baru with locations in the city centre, including the main inter-
city station at Gambir.
Three more airport rail links are be opened this year. Services to Padang’s Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin
II airport in western Sumatra and Palembang’s Minangkabau airport in southern Sumatra are expected
to begin running in May, while that to Surakarta’s Adi Sumarmo airport in central Java will follow in
November. Railink already operates the country’s first airport express service between Medan and
Kuala Namu airport in eastern Sumatra.

[047] Ivory Coast/Burkina Faso – Rehabilitation of Abidjan to Kaya railway starts
The rehabilitation works on the Abidjan - Ouagadougou - Kaya railway line between Côte d'Ivoire
(Ivory Coast) and Burkina Faso started on 4 December 2017. The French Bolloré Group, through its
Sitarail subsidiary specializing in rail transport, is responsible for financing the two phases of the eight-
year project. The 1,260-kilometre route was originally to be part of the West African railway project
"Blue Line" with the line continuing to Niamey (Niger) and also Parakou to Cotonou (Benin).
The modernisation program includes the complete renewal of 853 km of track, the repair of some 50
structures and 31 stations as well as the repair of several maintenance workshops. Two new passenger
trains and a new locomotive will be provided to the Société Internationale de Transport Africaine par
Rail (Sitarail). Upon completion, Sitarail will be able to transport 5 million tonnes per annum, including
2 million tonnes of goods and 3 million tonnes of minerals, as well as 800,000 passengers.

[048] South Korea – Winter Olympics line completed
South Korea hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics in February and some major railway infrastructure has
been built for the event. On 22 December the 120.7km Wonju - Gangneung section of the Gyeonggang
Line was opened. Construction on parts of the line started in 2013 and 2014 and 63% of the line runs
through tunnels, the longest of which is the 21.7km Daegwallyeong Tunnel
The new route connects with the first section of the Gyeonggang line, providing a new link from Seoul
to the east coast of the country. Journey times between Seoul and Gangneung will reduce from 6
hours to under 2 hours. A new extension to Incheon airport Terminal 2 is due to open on 12 January.

[049] St. Kitts and Nevis – A visit to the railway from a cruise ship
Our member and his wife disembarked from their Caribbean cruise (on Cunard's Queen Victoria) on
Tuesday 28 November at St Kitts and the obvious excursion from those on offer was to visit the St Kitts
railway, which is why his wife had pre-booked this before they even got on board. This was our
member’s only rail travel for some weeks! The St Kitts narrow gauge railway (762mm gauge) was built
between 1912 and 1926 to deliver sugar cane from the fields to Basseterre, the island capital and main
harbour. Nowadays it provides a fascinating way to see some of the island from the comfort of custom
built double decker sightseeing "railcars".

At Basseterre. Train from rear, showing the style of the five coaches

They boarded the train at Needsmust station and headed northwards along the striking north-east
coastline, en route crossing four tall viaducts and gently winding past villages and farms and some
remaining fields of sugar cane. The coaches have air-conditioned saloons downstairs, open-air
observations decks on the upper level, and each has a toilet and service bar, which serves
complimentary drinks. During the journey there was a colourful narrative history of the island. Almost
everyone was upstairs as it was a fine day.

Approaching a steel trestle bridge over a “ghut”- local word for a deep valley

The line used to encircle the island but the arrangements for tourist trains have been that the train
starts just outside the capital near the airport at Needsmust (where the depot is located) and goes up
the north east coast of the island and round the northern end for about 17 miles (or 18 miles – both

figures are quoted) to La Salle transfer station (which is a loop) - taking approximately 1¾ hours - and
the last segment (the other 13 miles) is undertaken by road vehicle (or vice versa). The second group
from the ship did the trip in reverse, i.e. road coach first and then train. Their train used all five of the
available coaches, with a generator car in front behind their diminutive locomotive, all in a matching
green and white livery. The coaches were numbered 1 to 5 from the front above the door to each
coach, but these may be temporary numbers for each trip. There was no obvious external numbering
for the locomotive, but both driver and guard independently told our member that it was number 1.
Others were parked outside their depot: LYd2 (also liveried to pull the passenger train) along with 4,
14, 15 and 21 in orange. Unfortunately, the slick nature of the operation - road coach arrives and stops
right outside your railway coach and you get on and soon after train leaves etc., leaves little
opportunity to get pictures.

Approaching La Salle which is on a loop. A second group of passengers wait to board for the return trip

The clockwise tour might be better for that as the passengers were all waiting outside at La Salle for
the arrival of the outward train. Our member managed to grab a quick picture of the locomotive
before jumping (last) onto the road coach.
The island museum in Basseterre (US$3, at the end of the cruise ship pier once the tacky duty-free
shopping malls have been negotiated), contains some pictures of the railway in its sugar days. Nearby
to the left is the bus station (soon to be modernised with overall roof) and to the right is the post
office and philatelic counter, and the limited other sights worth seeing are not far away. Some of the
history of the railway can be found at http://www.stkittsscenicrailway.com/
[050] Turkey/Iran – Train ferry to start running again in January
The first of two new train ferries will start operation in January 2018 across Lake Van, thereby
restoring rail services from Turkey to Iran. Although the first ferry has been ready for some time
(2015!), the rail connections and ramps to allow access to the ferry, which has ten times the capacity
of the old ferries, are only now being completed.


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