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 | Category: Rail trips in Europe
entry 1 Feb 2015, 14:00
Back in late August 2013 I spent a few days in Hamburg. Apart from visiting the Miniature Wonderland and sight seeing round Hamburg, I also spent a day in Lubeck. These are some photos of railway interest which I took.

Hamburg Hbf.
This is a large imposing affair. This is the view from the city centre side of the station:

Several road bridges cross the southern end of the station which give a good view of the roof and the station itself.

Inside the station is quite bright

And there are many retail opportunities for passengers and others who just happen to be passing through

I never seem to be able to travel anywhere and not see a coach with OBB markings!

My current list of locations for OBB stock apart from Austria, is Venice, Antwerp, Hamburg and Zurich.

Some of the trains; services seem to be dominated by this double deck stock.

A Taurus in an interesting livery

The approach to the station from the north runs alongside the Binnenalster lake in central Hamburg:

An early morning photo of the entrance to Lubeck station

The train shed

A two car diesel unit - out of service

I think this is a diesel powered unit. The destination is Kiel.

The power for the journey to Hamburg.

 | Category: Rail trips in Europe
entry 30 Aug 2014, 20:11
Slovenian Railway Action

We recently spent a week in Graz in the south eastern corner of Austria. For one of our day trips we paid a visit to Maribor which is just over the border in Slovenia. Having checked timetables and car parking charges we decided to park at Spielfeld Strass and take the train. Spielfeld Strass is just a few kilometers from the border and parking at the station is free.

We arrived at about 9:50 hoping to catch a train at 10:20. This is where we learned that we had misread the timetable ohmy.gif. Unlike all the other entries, the one for Spielfeld Strass has two columns; one for when the train arrives and one for when it departs. We had only looked at the arrivals column and seen plenty of trains arriving. We blithely assumed that they would continue on to Maribor. Big mistake. Most of the trains terminate and return to Graz sad.gif. The next train we could catch was the 11:20. As we had already bought our tickets and that day had the most favourable weather forecast for the coming week, we decided to wait.

On emerging onto the station platform we saw this bulk mineral train from Slovenia:

The train was composed of a mixture of wagons from AWT and Slovenian Railways.

While we waited a diesel powered shuttle train arrived from Graz.

This train was destined to become the next train to Bad Radkersburg, a town situated in the south eastern tip of Austria just across the border from Slovenia. The line is single track and not electrified, hence the diesel power. Most of the road crossings are guarded by lights only - no barriers. This appeared to be the case with many of the minor lines we crossed during our stay in Austria.

The line to Bad Radkersburg diverges to the right and crosses the small river in Spielfeld via this bridge:

Spielfeld Strass does not have a ticket office, you buy your tickets from a machine but as we were to find out later, it is certainly not un-manned! Our first encounter was with a chap who got us to understand after several attempts - we have very little German - that the train we were to catch was an hour late and would not arrive until 12:20 sad.gif.

In the meantime another service from Graz arrived. This was a push-pull unit with an interesting collection of coaches:

This coach livery is a positive encouragement to take your bike on the train to discover new places. Somewhat different to our experience in the UK I think.

The profile of this coach is quite different to the rest.

About 20 minutes before our delayed train was due, this three coach train arrived from Slovenia. It turned out to be packed to gills with passengers.

We got talking to a couple of English guys who told us the train had been held for an hour at Maribor. They had been expecting to stay on the train all the way to Vienna but everyone was told to get off on arrival at Spielfeld and transfer to a local service to Graz. Somehow this train appeared to accommodate them all but quite how packed they were, we did not find out.

All this time, the loco and driver of the bulk freight train had been waiting in his cab and making occasional visits to one of the rooms in the station building. Eventually a shunter emerged from this room, uncoupled the loco from the train and then directed him off in the direction of Graz. They returned a short time later as seen here.

It then took up a position just ahead of where the delayed inter city service would stop. The incoming loco was uncoupled and the Slovenian loco took over for the journey into Slovenia. Now I understood why there were arrival and departure times with quite a gap between them. There has to be time for the loco change over.

At this point, at least two inspector / supervisor types, two shunters and a train manager / conductor had all emerged from the office on the un-manned (for tickets) station. We also saw the station cleaner.

The inter city train arrived about an hour late and we boarded the OBB portion for the trip to Maribor. This took about 25 minutes and we had a pleasant time looking round Maribor.

On our return to Maribor station we found we had a bit of wait for our train back to Austria. There was quite a lot of activity to watch in the station. Many of the coaches and mulitple units had been "tagged", so I didn't photograph them. One of the few trains which had not been tagged was this:

It made quite a contrast with this diesel powered unit:

While we waited a shunting loco was putting together a five coach train. I thought that it might be for our return journey but it wasn't. Our return trip was on a pretty modern EMU which terminated at Spielfeld.

The railway highlight of the day was seeing the Wels-Maribor Rola service arrive smile.gif. No photos but there is a video. The first part shows the freight loco pulling away from its train. The second shows the lorry train.

All in all, an interesting day from a railway point of view.

For more information on Slovenian Railways, try this Wikipedia article
There is some rolling stock information in this Wikipedia article

 | Category: Rail trips in Europe
entry 30 Oct 2012, 22:03
To wrap the selection of railway photos taken during our summer vacation in the Austrian Tyrol, here are a few "random" photos which didn't fit geographically with previous entries

Unlike our last trip to Munich, this time we drove but we still visited the Hauptbahnhof, mostly to find the model railway shop named Gleis 11 which as it turns out is correctly named. We walked through the front entrance of the station where this visitor "Spirit of Budapest" from Austria was having its windscreen washed

This loco was paired with the driving trailer "Spirit of Switzerland"

The Gleiss 11 model railway store is just behind me in this photo. We didn't buy anything there but established that like almost all other model shops on the Continent, Roco was on sale for 10% off list price.

The rest of the trains at the station were various versions of ICE. The days of loco hauled passenger trains in Germany seem to be over.

A few days later we visited Salzberg. The station is some way from the old town and the outside is still something of a building site as it undergoes a face lift. There weren't many trains in but I did get this photo of what I assume is a privately run service from Westbahn.

It appears to be a new generation of double decker Inter City trains. I'm not sure that white is the best colour for the front. Maybe they need to borrow the cleaner from Munich? wink.gif

The last photos were taken from the castle at Kufstein on the border with Bavaria. It is located in a gap in the Alps where the river Inn flows north into Germany. The town had been fought over by the forces of the Tyrol and Bavaria for a long time. The castle though impressive has been captured on several occasions, most notably by a force of Bavarians climbing through a very small gatehouse window, thereby bypassing a long, easily defended, stone covered zig zag walkway.

The last change of "ownership" occurred when the Tyrol was returned to Austria as part of the "Congress of Vienna" which took place at the end of the Napoleanic wars in 1814, Napolean having gifted the Tyrol to Bavaria following his defeat of the Austrians a few years previously.

The castle's claim to fame today is as the home of the World's largest free standing organ - the heldenorgel. The organ is played at 12 noon every day and can be heard across the town.

The railway station at Kufstein is built across the river from the old town on the west bank.

This photo shows how the river Inn suddenly swings north to flow out of Austria into Germany.

The regional passenger train in the photo will also continue into Germany and travel on to Salzburg by what the timetable calls "The DB Corridor".

And that concludes the final set of railway photos from our summer vacation. I hope they have been of some interest.

 | Category: Rail trips in Europe
entry 6 Oct 2012, 09:58
Along with the Simplon in the west, the Gotthard in the centre, the Brenner Pass in the east of the Alps is one of the major transit routes between northern and southern Europe. Unlike the other two passes, there are no tunnels at the summit of the Brenner for either road or rail. Instead there is a small village, a freight staging yard, a rolling road terminal and a factory outlet shopping centre! The shopping centre is of a medium size and similar to outlet centres in the UK - http://www.dob-brennero.com/de/index.php. For railway enthusiasts on travelling on vacation with less enthusiastic partners it provides the perfect balance of shoe / bag shopping and freight train shopping. The adjacent multi storey car park provides a good viewing point.

Access to the Brenner Pass is straight forward from Innsbruck. Either take the motorway or do as we did and take the original road and view the motorway from below. It is an easy drive compared to the switchbacks found further west in Switzerland.

Rail activity is intensive and 30 minutes is enough to provide quite a show.

This signal box at the summit appears to have been abandoned

The view south into Italy

A rolling road train about to unload - the view is north into Austria

The train has been unloaded and reloaded. A second train has arrived and been unloaded. The video at the end of the blog shows the loading process

The loading area is very simple - a concrete apron and a couple of ramps.

Some motive power on standby

The border

A distant shot of a Taurus trying to pass itself off as a steam locomotive. We saw this loco on our cycling trip in the Inn valley but did not have a camera to hand at the time.

Italian motive power on the Italian side

An original building still in use

A video of the rolling road terminal - see if you can spot when the incoming train unloads smile.gif

 | Category: Rail trips in Europe
entry 21 Sep 2012, 22:14
The city of Innsbruck lies at the junction of the Inn valley and the valley which leads the Brenner pass. Although there is a junction off the Inn valley to the Brenner pass a few miles east of Innsbruck there is still a large marshalling yard in Innsbruck itself. The true extent of Innsbruck Hbf is best seen from one of the valley sides. The photo below was taken from the top of the ski jump tower which dominates the southern sky line of the city.

I don't normally upload photos at full size (5M bytes!) but I think this one deserves it
Attached Image

Now that's what I call a train set! Some orientation:

The view is looking north from the top of the Bergisel (sky jump).
The eastbound line leaves the north of the station crossing the river Inn before swinging east in the direction of Kufstein on the border with Germany.
The westbound line leaves the south west corner of the station turning sharp left in the photo to head through Innsbruck West before continuing up the Inn valley. The line will then swing north through the Arlberg before heading east again to reach Bregenz on Lake Constanz (Bodensee).
The southbound (Brenner pass) Line also exits in the south west corner of the photo but continues south.
The passenger section of the station is on the western side of the station with the main city centre about 10 minutes walk further west from there.
There is a loco and emu depot at the southern end of the station. There appears to be a half roundhouse just north of the road bridge. Unfortunately the footpath on that side of the bridge is blocked off so it cannot be seen on foot.

We didn't see any freight trains heading for the Brenner Pass by this route.

Innsbruck West station is a good size in its own right. Off duty passenger train sets are stabled here. In this photo you can just make out a Railjet set.

Whilst you cannot walk the northern side of the road bridge over the southern end of the station, there is a path on the other side which gives good views of the maintenance depot and neighbouring tracks. The Bergisel and ski jump can be seen in the background.

It's also a chance to see the "roof gardens" of electric locos such as this four pantograph equipped Taurus

Moving a few paces further west and we get this view of the line heading south up the Brenner Pass and the more frequently used west bound line curving away sharply to the right

And now we can see the side of the previously photographed Taurus.

Can you see the two maintenance guys in their nice clean blue boiler suits - hi vis is not required here it seems.

A westbound Talent EMU takes the tight curve to Innsbruck West. There is a junction off the line further up the valley which takes trains through the mountains to Garmish Partenkirchen in Germany and finally to Munich but not the Hbf.

At first sight, this is a "so what?" photo but if you look closer you will notice that the track in the centre of the photo is very new compared to the weed strewn track to the north. An interesting feature to model and save on paint?

Diesel shunters are more likely to be seen at the northern end of the station where they shunt wagons back and forth in the marshalling yard. This one seems to have strayed.

The following photos were taken on a previous trip to Innsbruck in July 2009

An early morning car transporter train arrives in Innsbruck from the east.

An early morning DB ICE service to Munich Hbf. This service was still running in 2012 but a bit too pricey compared with driving for two.

 | Category: Rail trips in Europe
entry 16 Aug 2012, 21:09
The Achensee is located a few miles north of Jenbach in the Inn valley in the Tyrol in western Austria. It shares many characteristics with other long slim Alpine lakes - pretty villages, footpaths and steamers for trips which make it a magnet for tourists, and where there are tourists there are often rack railways to take them to the top of some mountain or other. There the similarities end for the Achenseebahn brings tourists up from Jenbach in the Inn Valley to Seespitz on the lakeside where there is a pier for taking to the water.

The Achenseebahn operates the line with steam locomotives. The terminus at Jenbach is on the northern side of the OBB station, the opposite side to the Zillertalbahn which was the subject of the previous blog entry. It is also rather more expensive than a trip on the Zillertalbahn so we travelled to the Achensee by road. We parked near the village of Pertisau and walked back to Seespitz along the lakeside path. When we arrived loco number 4 "Hannah" was waiting to start her return trip back down the valley to Jenbach.

I have a fascination for steam powered rack engine, particularly the way the rack and wheels are driven as this short video shows.


 | Category: Rail trips in Europe
entry 2 Aug 2012, 20:26
The Zillertalbahn in the Austrian Tyrol links Jenbach in the Inn valley with the ski resort of Mayrhofen which is situated at the point where the flat valley floor ends. It is a diesel hauled narrow gauge line but during the summer one train a day is steam hauled. The fare is reasonable for the trip and takes just over an hour and a half. Some of that time is taken up by being overtaken by the regular diesel hauled service.

Jenback is about 30km east of Innsbruck and the railway is about two minutes from the Jenbach motorway junction. There is a long term car park for train passengers. The train departs at 10:30am so a holiday "lie in" is not a good idea.

The loco for our trip was No. 5 - a one hundred year old 0-6-2 tank engine

The diesels of the Zillertalbahn are not attractive to my eyes being very square with large flat surfaces.

but someone in the company has clearly managed to exploit these surfaces as advertising billboards...

The route out of Jenbach heads east alongside the mainline for a short distance. There are transfer sidings here for the standard gauge stake wagons which get loaded onto narrow gauge sleds to take wood to a sawmill in the Zillertal and return with finished timber. It then swings south over the Inn and soon heads into the Zillertal itself. The lush green vegetation betrays the amount of rain there has been.

The line heads fairly directly down the valley passing pretty villages and farms along the way

The station building at Zell-am-Ziller has been painted in a particularly bright colour

As the train heads south through Zell-am-Ziller station it passes a gym which has a large picture window looking west over the railway towards the mountains. Inside you can see a bank of tread mills facing out. Despite the wonderful walking country outside they are not empty... ohmy.gif

The village of Mayrhofen seems to be dominated by the tourist industry. There are many walking paths some of which can be completed in a couple of hours or so. This view of Mayrhofen was taken outside the Weisshaus which is about 80 minutes walk up forest tracks. The railway station is in the lower left of the picture.

We got back to the village in time for the return steam train back to Jenbach but were tempted to miss it by the lure of kaffee and kuchen in the large konditorei on the main street.

This short video gives a flavour of the trip. We travelled in an open wagon with a bench seat. It was a bit cold and everyone got at least one serious spec in an eye but the views were unimpeded by any glass.

It is possible to buy models of some of the Zillertalbahn's locos and rolling stock from Lilliput in HOe if your pockets are deep enough.


 | Category: Rail trips in Europe
entry 7 Jun 2012, 21:13
In late May 2012 we boarded a Eurostar in London bound for Brussels accompanied by our bikes for a leisurely (?) cycle tour of Flanders - Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges. We did not expect to see much railway "action" but that's not quite how it turned out.

The trip from St. Pancras to Brussels Midi / Bruxelles Zuid takes about two hours. The journey was smooth and despite the very limited view from my seat I could see that the only the very tops of the rails were free of rust as we glided along at 300 kph.

The Eurostar is not the only international visitor to Brussels. We saw many Thalys trains and TGVs. DB ICE services were also advertised but we saw none of those. There were plenty of non high speed international services and a wide variety of train types running local and internal intercity services - some looking rather antique and others shiny and new. One of the drawbacks of travelling by bike is that once you're on the road your camera - well the good one - is packed away and inaccessible for a quick shot.

On our first full day in Antwerp we decided to visit the zoo. The route from our B&B in the Berchem district took us down the eastern side of the railway into Antwerp Central. We were quite unprepared for our first sight of it -

Arriving on the street which ran along side the railway showed that this bridge was not a "one off".

And each arch has a different mosaic as well!

We crossed under the railway and headed west looking for the entrance to the zoo. I was particularly taken by this "rock" building.

Eventually, having walked three sides of a rectangle we were confronted with the main entrance to Antwerp Central Station

The entrance to the zoo is on the left.

As the station and the zoo share a boundary, there are some marvellous views of the station to be had from the zoo gardens.

We didn't venture into the station that day which was a mistake because the good weather didn't last. When we did return a week later to visit the print museum, we arrived by train from Brussels. As it was wet, our good cameras were left in the B&B which meant the task of capturing how the original station had been hollowed out to create a three level station was left to my rather inadequate phone camera - but you should get a flavour of it.

Our through train to Amsterdam arrived on platform 23 - that's 2 for level 2 not the 23rd platform. Note that the train is travelling on the left.

One escalator down - four to go

The view from street level down to platforms 23 and 24

Our return train to Brussels would depart from platform 24. It was composed entirely of OBB and Netherlands Railways carriages with an SNCB loco. I don't know where its ultimate destination was but it was pretty full.

This photo gives an impression of the grandeur of the original building

The port of Antwerp is the second busiest in Europe after Rotterdam and the 14th in the world. The port boasts that every dock has a rail connection which inevitably means that there must be railway crossings such as this twin lifting bridge

This bridge was opened and closed several times during our harbour trip.

The port of Antwerp is continually expanding to maintain its position as one of Europe's leading ports. This allows it to service some of the World's largest container ships such as this one - each of those little bricks is the narrow end of a 40' container.

Ships such as that one will take to the river via a very large lock nearby. Minnows such as this

have to go back to the older, smaller locks and negotiate that railway bridge

although perhaps it's not so small when seen alongside it.

Some containers get transferred to small river going barges such as this one

although the term "small" is relative since each of those containers is a 40 footer.

Our cycle route out of Antwerp took us to edge of the river side docks where we had to wait while a large diesel shunter moved a very long train of transfesa wagons across an ungated crossing to yet another marshalling yard. The trip from Antwerp to Ghent was longer and more arduous than we had expected, so after a pleasant day's sight seeing in Ghent including this tramway double slip...

... we took a train from Ghent to Bruges which became rather "interesting". Ghent station does not have any passenger operated lifts and the trains run above street level. This meant removing the panniers and carrying them up the steps and then negotiating the bicycles up the escalator.

The "fun" didn't stop there. We noticed with a rising level of concern that the inter city services appeared to be comprised of "ordinary" coaching stock with no obvious bicycle provision - a somewhat unexpected state of affairs for a country where every man and his dog appears to own a bike. As it happened, our train to Ghent was composed of double decker stock which was almost worse because of the steps but by collaring the guard we were shown into the single low set door leading to the bicycle / wheelchair space on the lower level of one of the coaches. The drama didn't end there. On arrival at Bruges we discovered that the door had no user operated opening device which meant one of us dashing out onto the platform to attract the guard's attention before we got carried on to Ostend ohmy.gif

So travelling by train with bicycles in Belgium is not as easy as you might expect but it's a lot cheaper than train travel in the UK, even if you do have to buy a ticket for the bike.

For our return journey, we got the 10:56 from Brussels, arriving in St. Pancras at 12:00. We cycled to Paddington using the London cycle network which keeps you off the busy routes such as the Marylebone Road. We only had to wait five minutes for our train to leave and were home at 14:15, just four hours 20 minutes after leaving Brussels - beat that with a plane?

 | Category: Rail trips in Europe
entry 7 Dec 2011, 20:47
One of our offspring was posted to Prague for a six month stint so it was inevitable that mother would blag a week's free accommodation during that period. A couple of days were set aside for a trip to Vienna. Prague main station is an impressive affair boasting many platforms and some interesting looking double decker commuter trains such as this one:-

The train to Vienna was made up of Czech railways coaches hauled by an OBB Taurus. The trip takes about four and a half hours which is not particularly fast but the line follows several river valleys on its way to Brno before crossing the border just beyond Brecslav. In the Czech Republic, the train travels on the right hand line and in Austria it's on the left. The service stops at several outlying stations in Vienna, with Wien Miedling being the one with the metro link into the centre.

After a couple of good days sight seeing a night at the Volksopera, a lot cheaper than the State opera, we returned in good time for our return trip of four and a half hours. During the thirty minutes or so of waiting, a wide variety of trains passed through. These are some of them.

The OBB seems to have a very large number of Siemens Taurus locos. This one is on a suburban shuttle service

where the shuttle has been named "Wiesel"

This non Taurus hauled train is heading for Maribor in Slovenia

And this service originated in Warsaw and consists of Polish railways coaches behind an OBB Taurus. The last coach in this train was also OBB stock.

The tail end of a departing Wiesel.

The station also hosts Railjet services. This one was bound for Budapest

And a video of three trains. The first and third capture the characteristic Taurus start up sound. The second was our train to Prague complete with Czech Railways coaches.

 | Category: Rail trips in Europe
entry 15 Nov 2011, 23:12
My new Nikon D5100 saves movies in a format (MOV) that the bundled Windows Movie maker doesn't like, so I finally splashed out on Adobe Premier Elements and this video is the result.


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