Tuesday 29th July
London- Hamburg (via Hannover)
Flew to Hannover with BA 07:50 from Heathrow and then made my way straight to Dedensen Gummer by way of S-Bahn in the hope of catching some of the older DB electric fleet. The weather was sunny upon landing in Hannover- but by the time I made it out of the airport the cloud had arrived- and stayed for my entire time here. Either way Dedensen Gummer did what was asked of it (particularly for the second of my two hours). During my time here I saw over 35 different locomotives with freight classes including the now elderly 139, 140, 151 and 155 (along with a plethora of more modern locomotives- many Traxx variants and even some brand new Siemens Vectron locos). Loco hauled passengers included classes 101, 111, 120 and 146.
I next took the S bahn to Wunstorf before boarding 146 125 from Wunstorf-Verden as I began my ride to Hamburg.
Here was my first disaster of the trip when it turned out that contrary to what DB journey planner told me the night before the route from Verden to Rottenburg was a bus- and I had just missed it.
While waiting I saw several more freights, the highlight being a class 155 in the older colour scheme with a large white front panel.
A new plan was hashed to take me to Hannover via Bremen, from where I would pick up 146 532 on the Metronom service to Hamburg Hbf.
It was a warm evening and I was eager to dump my bag. After finding and checking into my overnight accommodation I headed back to the Hbf for some photos (now the sun had come out), before heading to Altona for some NOB (Nord Ostsee Bahn) action.
Yellow 111 059 was stabled with a test train and Dispolok ER20 - 010 and HKX ES64 U2 036 were also seen on NOB stock.
I then spent a pleasant few hours watching the overnights arrive and depart as well as witnessing the motorail operation in full swing with cars being driven onto the trains across the station concourse. Quite an interesting operation!
Finally cooled off with a quick spin on the 143's out out to Prisdorf on Itzehoe services. I wasn't expecting to see Silberling coaches out here so this was a nice surprise and with the window wide open the heat felt almost pleasant. All other services around Hamburg appeared to employ Dostos- mostly in the hands of 112's.
Wednesday 30th July
It was an early start to try to pack as much in as I possibly could once again. I was at Hamburg Hbf a little later than planned (it started raining before I left the hotel!) to take a Cuxhaven service with 246 004 (It was time for a bit of diesel action) down to Hamburg Harburg- I only had a little over an hour here but hoped that would be sufficient to get a taste of this hive of freight activity.
Sadly- I was disappointed. Within the first half hour I had seen precisely zero freights! The second half hour was a little better and by the time I left I had seen a handful of trains- all heading into the docks. I may have missed one or two (at the most) running through the other side of the station. Clearly I was unlucky- and of course the sun didn't bother to make an appearance.
With broken cloud clearly the order of the day I decided to head out to Sylt in the hope that the sea air might have eased the cloud a bit. I took 218 372 & 218 359 on the one afternoon train which becomes an RE after Niebull. This train is also one of a number of IC's to Westerland which detaches a portion for Dabull Mole at Niebull. This is shunted across the road to the NEG station to continue its journey.
I left my train at Morsum then commenced the good 40 minute walk to the Hinderburgdam for some photography. There are plenty of angles one can take here without trespassing onto the dam itself.
Unfortunately the sun really had something against me- for the next 2-3 hours the sun shone beautifully every time a train went in the wrong direction- and hid behind even the tiniest cloud for each one coming towards me. Without exception. To say I was getting irritated would be an understatement. Eventually however persistence paid off and I did get a few decent sunny shots- though I had had to move to the other side of the railway by this point to follow the sun.
The Sylt Shuttle runs only hourly on weekdays (even during the busy peak season) rather than the 30 minute frequency which is possible at weekends.
CFL 1510 was seen with a freight heading back from Sylt to Niebull.
Once I was finally content it was on to Kietum for another couple of shots before taking the train back to Niebull for dinner. Managed to get a ride behind Big Mak 07 with the fresh air stock in front of the loco- those big engines are definitely rateable!
Having managed to pay my dinner bill quickly I then heard the level crossing lowering down the road. Some quick footwork netted me a second, and final Ludmilla for the day with a nice evening shot showing the contrast between these Soviet designed locos and the West German 218's.
While I do like the Ludmilla's I have to concede that the shape of the 'Rabbits' is certainly more attractive!
While I do like the Ludmilla's I have to concede that the shape of the 'Rabbits' is certainly more attractive!
Thursday 31st July
Another early start, this time for some serious Ludmilla chasing. Again broken cloud and I was hoping luck would be a little more on my side. I walked the half hour into Niebull for the early morning freight. Which naturally didn't show. On the way back a five minute downpour saw me dripping wet on arrival for breakfast (despite having hidden in a bush). I had a go at a shot from the level crossing near my accommodation before heading into town. The view has been somewhat ruined by solar panels since Googles planes last visited- no sun for the first southbound IC of the day.
After breakfast I headed south to a spot near Langerhorn. I was reassured to find six German photters already in the field... I had clearly come to the right place. Unfortunately the clouds didn't play ball again. A few 'into the sun' shots produced good light, but the clouds foiled all of the southbound trains. A particular highlight was the two morning freights, which passed within about a minute of each other where we were standing. Both shots ruined by the same cloud... a minute either way and it would have been great!
Next stop was Bredstedt where I had spotted a nice shot over a wheat field when passing the following day. Having found the spot I realised it was just my luck to find that it had been harvested overnight!!! Cheers! Either way- the view was still good and the sun was kind enough to let me have a good shot of the IC. Of course it didn't last for the Ludmilla.
It was now time to head back to Niebull, and onto the bus to Tonder- without a sunny shot of a Ludmilla in Germany- despite really pretty decent levels of sunshine. I guess these things happen.
On arrival at Tonder the Arriva unit for Esbjerg was sitting in the platform, moments later 232 472 passed with a southbound freight. Not full sun... but better than Germany had given me. I then continued up to Bramming (where the main line from Esbjerg to Frederica/Kolding joins. Having seen only a few southbound Ludmillas all morning it was frustrating to observe them running every hour crossing the train I was on- and in decent light!
Enthusiasts out in force at Bramming who confirmed that we were due an MZ in both directions imminently. First was eastbound 1449 with a surprise CFL MY dead behind it! Apparently DB (Denmark) were that short of MZ's! The sound was fantastic- but the photo terrible- straight into the light and 1449 was covered in graffiti. Less than 5 minutes later however MZ 1456 appeared with a westbound train- perfectly lit. This was a major relief having suffered such poor luck in Germany.
232 388 was shortly behind with another 'into the sun' eastbound to Germany. There was a temptation to head back down the line towards Ribe for this, but I'm sure the sun would have failed on me as usual. Anyway, it was time to actually get myself to Esbjerg. 232 259 was waiting to leave on my arrival, but I was hot and decided it was better to check in to my hotel than head up to the road bridge with all my luggage. Probably a poor decision in hindsight.
I headed back to the station before dinner for some nicely lit shots of MZ 1453 as well as some IC3 and IC4 (yes... really- and working!) trainsets.
After a delicious meal (with appallingly slow and poor desert) I headed back to the station for some night photography. Excellent move. I hadn't left until gone midnight after being kept entertained by 1452, 1453, 1457, 232 469 and 233 662. What a privileged to be out here on a warm summers evening watching the big diesels at work.
Friday 1st August
There was a bit of time this morning for photographing a few final diverts before heading to Copenhagen for my flight home (via some ME's). I was surprised to see 232 384 sitting on a train when I arrived- there was nothing booked at that time. I took a few snaps from the bridge and decided it was not leaving any time soon (no crew on-board). Of course it left in full sun while I was buying my ticket- even a nice bit of clag- somebody else showed me their photo later in the day! Never mind...
Back to Bramming as that seemed to be the best place for the action. A shot of 1453 was quickly taken in lovely light. Of course the Ludmilla that followed, 232 586 it was cursed by another cloud. So that's still 100% cloudy Ludmilla shots.
1453 then returned with a train from Frederica, and then it was time for my last Ludmilla of the trip. Amazingly... the sun shone- so I do at least have one decent shot- of 232 908.
The final leg of the trip was to take me to Copenhagen which was achieved on an IC3 set to Roskilde (very comfortable train, and pretty busy. It seems reservations are not compulsory, though some sources say they are. I certainly had no trouble without one- but was lucky not to be kicked out of my seat as many other passengers were). MY 1134 was stabled outside the station at Roskilde with what looked like a weedkilling train.
Then in the next few minutes a barrage of ME's turned up... the constant arrival of diesel hauled trains was amazing! Of course it then dried up for the next half hour, but even so- it was great to see an intensive diesel hauled operation. EG 3103 passed with a much longer freight than I had got used to in recent days, before I boarded a rather shabby 1505 into Copenhagen H. The new DSB livery on these locos is absolutely dire- even the locos seem to think so as many of them are trying to shed it as quickly as possible!
I took a few photos at Copenhagen before conducting my hour or so walking tour of the city with a heavy bag. With this concluded (and it looks a jolly pleasant city) there was just time to photograph one of the Swedish trainsets which run to Malmo and have a quick spin to Osterport on ME 1526 (gratified) before taking a train to the Airport and then home via EasyJet's 20:50 Copenhagen-Gatwick
This was always going to be a mad rush of a trip. To cover quite as much as I did in four days was quite an achievement really- and no *major* disasters.
If the sun could have played ball a little more that would have been really great- At least I got good shots of the MZ's if not the Ludmillas.
I don't usually choose to do trips on my own so it was nice to catch up with some other European enthusiasts on my travels- as usual Europeans speaking excellent English. (I can't help think that in the UK those fluent in four languages would probably have found a better job than working in the Seven Eleven).
The railway north of Hamburg to Sylt/Esbjerg is a delight, particularly where older semaphore signals remain. The route is well worth visiting before the DB 245's (Multi-engine Traxx locos, now on order) turn up to 'relieve' the 218's on Sylt shuttles. The Mak Diesels on the NOB trains are also well worth a go and also set to disappear in the not too distant future!
Without the freight diverts this area is well worth a visit- but word on the street is that the diverts will be back next summer. If you get the chance it's well worth the effort. I'm not a betting man, but would not be at all surprised to find myself in the area again next year- maybe the sun might be kinder!?
Finally a huge thank you as always to the diagram compilers, all those whop post to the ERG yahoo group and those who provided times for the freight diverts- without their work trips like this would be almost impossible!