Saturday, 2 December 2017

Barrington 47's



Opportunities to see class 47's on 'proper' freight trains in 2017 are few and far between- it is therefore no surprise that photographers have been out in force recently as GBRf have been using a pair of class 47's on spoil trains between Wembley and Barrington. The trains convey spoil from London which is deposited at the former Barrington Quarry site near Foxton where it is being used to restore the former chalk pits. Rail Operations Group have been contracted to supply traction to the train while there is reduced capacity in the GBRf fleet, however the heritage traction should only be a temporary measure. On 29th November 2017 47815 and 47848 pass Camden Road with the empty train, 6T02, heading back to Wembley. Class 56's have also appeared on recent workings to/from Barrington.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

What a drag- ECML diversions

1A45 the 17:45 Leeds - Kings Cross arrives into Peterbrough behind 67010 which has dragged the service from Newark Northgate via Lincoln and Spalding due to engineering works in the Grahtham area on the ECML. 18/11/2017

67003 backs on to 91131 to drag the 08:48 Kings Cross - Leeds
via Spalding and Lincoln to reach Newark Northgate.
The East Coast Inter City franchise has long established the value in running through trains during times of engineering works. While journey times can be significantly extended when the usual 'direct' ECML route is closed it is still far preferable to have passengers on one train rather than having to de-camp and change onto a rail replacement bus only to have to repeat this process at the other end of the journey. During November a series of works in the Grantham area have once again necessitated Virgin Trains East Coast to divert services away from the ECML between Peterbrough and Newark/Doncaster. Most services are in the hands of HST's which leave the main route at Peterbrough and travel by way of Spalding and Lincoln. Trains which serve Newark Northgate then diverge to the left while those continuing on the more direct route north continue through Gainsbrough Lea Road to re-join the ECML at Doncaster. The diversions cause the HST fleet to be worked particularly intensively and inevitably there are not quite enough sets to go around- VTEC therefore turns to the loco-hauled option with several trains each day booked for Intercity 225 sets (Class 91 with Mk4 coaches) which are then dragged by a DB Cargo class 67 over the non-electrified routes.

67022 prepares to drag 1E21 15:30 Edinburgh - Kings Cross away from
Doncaster. This longer divert would travel by way of Gainsbrough, Lincoln
and Spalding to re-join the ECML at Peterbrough. 18/11/2017
I sampled the diversions on Saturday 18th November where three class 67's were in use, 67003, 67010 and 67022. I travelled on 1D09 the 08:48 Kings Cross - Leeds (to Doncaster) which was dragged by 67003 between Peterbrough and Newark (via Lincoln) and returned on 1E21 the 15:30 Edinburgh - Kings Cross (from Doncaster) which was dragged over the longer route from Doncaster to Peterbrough (via Gainsbrough and Lincoln) by 67022. Journey times were extended both by the diversions and also the time allowed to attach and detach the loco at each end of the drag (around 15 minutes on each occasion)- however the willingness to provide a through service should be commended, and the chance to enjoy some fairly unusual loco haulage is also something for the enthusiast to savour. Aside from the VTEC diversions Hull Trains and Grand Central were also diverting their services via Lincoln using their usual class 180 DMU's.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Comment - Strike woes continue

Northern is one of the companies which has now joined the RMT conductors
strike. 142025 is seen near Brough with a Hull - York service in November
2016- a train currently operated with a driver and conductor.
Until I scrolled back through my archive to write this post I had not quite appreciated that it was as long ago as July 2016 the I wrote about the continuing strikes on Southern which had led to the implementation of an emergency timetable to cope with traincrew shortages. Since then the industrial dispute between the RMT, ASLEF, the train operators and ultimately the government has developed. Several other companies have joined the Southern employees in industrial action with Abellio Greater Anglia, Merseyrail, Northern and South Western Railway now all engaged in coordinated strikes through the RMT union. The reasons for the action have not changed- a threat to the safety critical position of train guards who currently operate train doors, an extension of DOO (Driver Only Operation) and a threat that the guarantee of a second member of staff on many trains may be eroded.

The latest company to be added to the ever expanding portfolio of RMT industrial action is First/MRT owned South Western Railway which took over the running of services from Waterloo from the Stagecoach South West Trains franchise in August. SWT was one of of the last operators to run all services, including inner suburban routes with a guard and many see it as unsurprising that SWR are considering changes. A new fleet of Bombadier 'Aventra' trains will enter service on the network from 2020 and SWR officials have stated that a decision has not yet been made on the method of operation of these trains. While there is no immediate threat to the role of the guard on SWR the company has failed to put in place an assurance that a second member of staff will be retained in all circumtances stating simply that any changes to current practices would be consulted in the usual way.

While the strike on SWR will bring disruption to passengers out of Waterloo this week there may finally be light at the end of the tunnel for the long suffering users of the Southern network with news that a deal has finally been accepted by ASLEF drivers bringing an end to their dispute. A generous pay deal will see Southern drivers accept an increase in DOO services with an assurance that a second member of staff, the 'On Board Supervisor' will always be provided on trains except in exceptional circumstances. Exceptional circumstances would appear to include late notice sickness - a position the RMT, representing the guards is still unhappy with and continues to dispute with Southern. It is however the drivers strike here which has been most disruptive and an end to which will be welcomed by passengers.

Another train operator involved in the current strikes is Abellio Greater
Anglia, which already runs 60% of services DOO. The operator expects to
run a full service using contingency guards.
Strikes undoubtedly have their place in the industry but the disturbance they cause must not be forgotten. Not only do passengers suffer but general morale within the workplace is stretched. Those staff who are still working, many of whom are not involved in the strike are placed under strain and an air of unease and tension can easily descend across the industry. The company which I work for has now been brought into the dispute and I am beginning to see first hand the intricacies that strikes bring to an industry from behind the scenes. The extra workload for staff, the tension from the public, the strain on relationships and the balance between obligation and duty. For example the many company managers who have no choice but to break the strike by forfilling their obligation as contingency guards while their friends and colleagues man picket lines.

My role is is not directly involved in the current strike, but how do I feel about operating the railway when my colleagues are striking? On one hand I hope that our contingency service provision runs well in the interests of our passengers and all who are working hard today to keep trains moving safely, reliably and without incident. But then there is the other side that maybe 'secretly' hopes that it will all go wrong. There could be incidents involving our contingency guards, service levels may fall below what we expect and passenger journeys may be disrupted beyond the provision set out in the emergency timetables - the impacts of the strike would be felt stronger and enhance the case which RMT guards are presenting.

One thing is certain - as I have said before, parties need to talk. As an industry we need to innovate, but we do not need to innovate purely for the sake of change. The number one priority of the rail industry must always be safety and in my view a second member of safety trained staff on board every train can only be positive in this respect. Are trains with DOO safe? Yes. Of course they are. Would they be safer with an additional member of staff who can assist passengers and is safety trained in the event of an emergency- undoubtedly. This week Londons Evening Standard newspaper totally missed the point when they their story 'On the day before rail strike over driver-only trains, RMT boss Mick Lynch travels to work... on driver-only train' featuring a picture of the RMT assistant general secretary travelling to work by train and chastising the leader for his hypocritical actions. The suggestion presumably is that it would be more acceptable for Mick Lynch to drive to work, take a helicopter or simply not travel at all rather than using the mode of transport for which his union has worked for many years to keep safe. Mick Lynch has rebuffed the comments stating that 'by holding a strike we're trying to increase safety standards on the railway. They [DOO trains] are less safe than a train with a guard'. There is no suggestion that DOO trains are not fit for use, or that it is a risk for passengers to use them. Rail remains the safest way to travel- but why not make sure it is the very safest it can be?

Now it is time to get back around the table again and find the solution to running our railway in the safest possible way with adequate staffing for the good of everyone and at a realistic cost. And let's hope that I'm not writing another of these comments in 12 months time...

All views expressed are my own and do not represent the views of my employer.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Astra IVA's on Bucharest M4




There is something quite magical about dilapidation. One of the best places to find this across the world can be subway systems. Even in modern prosperous cities there can be corners that seem to be forgotten about. The New York Subway is almost famous for it- beneath the metropolis you can still find gems such as Canal Street station which time, and repair seems to have forgotten.
On a recent trip to Romainia (September 2017) I discovered that the subway systems has some beautiful brutallist soviet station buildings, but in the large part very modern, clean and well looked after trains built in recent years by CAF and Bombadier- there was however one exception, Metro line 4 which time really seems to have forgotten and which soldiers on, for now, with native Astra built IVA stock constructed in Arad.



A total of 508 cars of IVA stock were built by Astra for the Bucharest metro between 1976 and 1992. Only a small number now remain in service on the short Line 4 from Gara de Nord to Straulesti and will be replaced when the signalling system is finally upgraded. Late in the evening there is certainly an eery and somewhat forgotten feel to this line. The trains are not regular, there are few people around and the stock is plastered from head to tail in graffiti. Next to marble clad columns and bright plastic chairs the IVA's slowly wind down their last few years in service almost totally ignored by the city above.


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

More 442's delieverED


Southern's 73202 had a special outing on 4th October when it made one of it's longest runs for a good number of years. The former Gatwick Express locomotive, more recently used in connection with the Southern / Gatwick Express class 442 fleet was utilised to move some of the final 'Wessex' units off the Southern patch to Bournemouth where they are currently being assessed for their return to traffic with South Western Railway. On Mondy 3rd 73202 moved some units between Selhurst and Brighton Lovers Walk Depot before transporting 2408 and 2402 through to Bournemouth (via Poole). This is through to have been the first appearance of the Southern liveried class 73 away from it's home patch since it was re-painted several years ago at St Leonards. With the final 442's leaving Southern the following week under their own power to Bournemouth it remains to see what future will bestow 73202.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Ireland in 2008

078 arrives into Dublin Heuston with one of the several daily trains to be powered by the 1977 built GM 071 class. 31/03/2008
The GM 201 'River' class were delivered in Orange/Black and
worked the majority of passenger trains. 31/03/2008
With an RPSI tour featuring IÈ Class 071's this coming weekend I thought it was about time I looked back on my trip to the Emerald Isle back in Easter 2008 where locomotives, and the classic Orange & Black livery very much ruled the Irish rails.
Days were numbered for traditional trains in Ireland with the first of the Rotem 22000 DMU's having recently entered service. Steam Heated 'Cravens' coaches had finished in 2006 and BR built Mk2's had worked their last train the morning we arrived in the country. The small GM's (classes 141 and 181) together with the single cab 121's had lost all passenger work, though small GM's could still be found working freight and on pilot duties at Dublin's Heuston station. Despite this almost all passenger services were still formed of loco's and stock at this time with the GM 201 class predominating and 071's making several daily appearances. None of the class 201 had been stored at this time and rolling stock was comfortable BR built Mk3's formed into traditional rakes with generator coaches as well as several smaller push/pull rakes which featured cab cars with a built in generator.
Today just a handful of loco-hauled trains remain, all hauled by the 210 'River' class on the Dublin - Cork main line (with Irish Mk4 stock) and on the Dublin - Belfast 'Enterprise' with De Dietrich stock.

'Small GM' 173 is one of two station pilots at Dublin Heuston. 31/04/2008
087 passes 077 at Limerick Junction. the 4 wheel cement 'bubbles' are now long withdrawn. 02/04/2008
River class 201 approaches Portarlington with an evening peak service from Dublin. 02/04/2008
In the then new IE livery, 085 approaches Thurles with the 13:25 Heuston - Limerick. 02/04/2008

Friday, 6 October 2017

MAV / CFR Trip Report 3-10 September 2017

CFR's 40 0887 passes PO H.Oirza on the outskirts of Bucharest with a freight. 09/09/2017

Sunday 3 September

With very little sleep (having finished night shifts) I made my way to Luton for my late afternoon flight to Budapest. There was never going to be time to do much with the day but I could at least get a ride into the city from Feirhegy (Airport station). Or so I thought at least. I missed a bus in the scramble to get a ticket at the airport but didn't have to wait too much longer for the local bus to from the airport to the station. The machine wouldn't take my Forints (left from a previous trip) so it ended up being a card transaction. The timetable at Feirhegy revealed that I should have just missed a train and unfortunately it looked like it would be a 25 min wait for something hauled into the city. Long before the 25 minutes was up it became apparent that all was not well. It turns out the announcement in Hungarian was a message of doom and another passenger finally tipped me off that there was a problem with the trains and 'maybe' there would be none until 21:00, I waited a little longer just to see, but with no sign of a train eventually gave up and headed back to the bus.

MAV-Start 432 450 approaches Kobanya Kispest. 04/09/2017
Here I encountered my next issue, buying on board as I now had no ticket I handed over my money to be told 'Old Forint!' by the driver. I tried another note... 'Old Forint'. This wasn't going well! Totally perplexed I gestured I had no other money and after a shrug from the driver took a seat. Some passengers explained to me that the money had recently changed and clearly since my last trip the paper Forints were no longer legal tender. I could exchange them in a bank but that wouldn't help me get to the city. At Kobanya-Kispest I could at least use a card machine and get a ticket from there. No need- some great Hungarian hospitality persisted and a gentleman from the bus insisted on giving me a ticket for the metro. I checked into my hotel and went off in search of food. I found a lovely place that served some sort of pancake type thing- with Deer meat! It did the job and I was back at the hotel in reasonable time, by this point being quite tired and well ready to hit my bed!

Monday 4 September

Heritage liveried M41 2143 with a late running service from Budapest Nuygati which would terminate at Kispest 04/09/2017
My one day in Budapest started with a trip to the bank to exchange my 'Old Forint's', which it had turned out had only expired around a month earlier. The railway target of the day was the Lajosmizse M41 turns from Budapest Nuygati which I had failed to cover on previous trips. These run hourly for most of the day with a couple of gaps which appear to be filled by Desiros. With a plan in hand I had time to explore the beautiful soviet architecture on Metro line 3 (plenty of material for a later post!). By the time the sun had come out there was a little time to spend with my camera at Kobanya-Kispest during which time I was rewarded with 3 freights, and a surprise, the Venice Simplon Orient Express (in totally the wrong place and direction for a photo). I also bumped into heritage M41 2143- noting it's diagram so that I could finally catch up with it later in the day. 

Czeck 242 451 with OBB 1116 018 in hot pursuit in
a busy moment at Kobanya Kispest 04/09/2017 
418 149 was my first train down the branch towards Lajosmizse. It is great to see a line worked almost entirely by reasonable diesel locos with opening windows and not even a push-pull trailer in sight. On a negative note however the line speed is very slow meaning the journey is somewhat of a stagger. Several more moves ensued before heading up into Nyugati having failed to make it the previous night. I found myself a nice V31 to take me on to Kobanya-Kispest however all was once again not well. Departure time came and went and our train did not move. Shortly before I gave up together and got on the M41 behind (which I would drop back onto) we got on the move and crawled out of Nyugati. If I wanted a spirited run this was clearly not going to be it. We soon came to a halt at a signal displaying no aspect and I noticed the M41 following very closely behind our train, and then noticed the rear of the previous train a short distance down the track in front of us. Clearly there had been some sort of major signalling failure which was throwing the service into tatters. The journey to Kobanya - Kispest was delayed around 50 minutes with the train crawling between stops at little more than walking pace. I'm pretty sure the method of working that had been adopted was 'line of sight' in places and I also came across at least one ground signaller. The good news was that I knew my M41 would still be behind me, the bad was that the schedule had been thrown out of the window. I stuck with my plan and positioned myself for a photo of M41 2143 working the 15:18 Budapest - Lajosmize. Almost an hour after the train should have turned up I finally resorted to loading the MAV Mapper up on my phone. No sign of the train I wanted, but I could at least see that the following one was sitting waiting to leave Kobanya Kispest. The sun had gone round a little more than I would have liked but it was at least a shot. A final look at the Mapper before I left revealed that M41 2143 was finally on the move and this turned up about 5 minutes later. Knowing there were single lines ahead I ran on to Kispest station to see if I could catch the train again. I could, as it turns out that M41 2143 was being terminated and passengers transferred to the train which had run in front of it (the one booked an hour behind it). All in all a total farce but I got some good photos!

M41 2143 at Kispest after terminating due to signalling problems.
I was grateful there was a nearby tram line as a back up to get back into Budapest but finally M41 418 149 turned up for the run back into Budapest- clearly trains were still leaving from Lajosmize on time. On arrival at Kobanya Kispest the conductor came round the train and turfed everyone off- the reason was soon apparent, we had gone into one of the terminal platforms. For the second time in two days I would not be going in to Budapest Nyugati! With the train service comprehensively broken again it was left to Metro line 3 to take me into the city centre for a relaxing visit to the Rudas Baths and a very pleasant dinner.

After picking up my bag it was time to head over to Budapest Keleti for the 22:50 to Bucharest. The refurbishment of the station is now mostly complete and it is certainly a fitting gateway to an international journey. On less of a positive I had no idea whether my train had a restaurant car and had missed the SPAR over the road to spend my last few 'New Forints' on emergency supplies. Fortunately the 24 hour alcohol shop came to the rescue as it did also sell water. 
After watching the Belgrade sleeper depart, the Bucharest train arrived from Vienna with 470 003, after a quick check of our forwarding loco, Romainian 47 7689 it was time to take my position in my 4 bed compartment for the night. Unfortunately this was already occupied with 3 passengers and was a top bunk. After enjoying the fresh area at a corridor window until the outskirts of Budapest it was time to sleep and it didn't take long after a busy day.
MAV 470 008 arrives into Budapest Keliti with the Vienna - Bucharest sleeper.
All credit to SNCF ear plugs- I'm a light sleeper at the best of times and it was a new experience having to be woken up by security staff at the border. Passport formalities were not big issue either on the Hungarian or Romainian side. For a moment I did think I might get a stamp as the Dutch guy in the other top bunk did- maybe if I had asked...? Before turning back to bed I quickly fired up my phone to check our location and the time. It was around 02:00 and we were not far from the wonderfully named Locoshaza on the border. By my reckoning we had travelled about 1/3 of the distance to Bucharest in not much more than 3 hours. Our arrival time was after 14:00... clearly Romainia was going to be a stagger!

Tuesday 5 September
'GM' 64 1179 pauses at Sibiu where it will be removed from the Vienna - Bucharest train. 05/09/2017

Lunch on board the International train
from Budapest in the restaurant car.
I woke at around 08:00 and there was no rush to get out of bed. The weather seemed fairly dull and I couldn't really see much out of the window anyway from my top bunk. The Dutch guy had left already and the two older Romainian ladies were still inhabiting the lower bunks occasionally scowling. When I did eventually rise from the compartment and made my way to a window I was rather surprised to discover we had a diesel at the helm of our train (clearly I had done a lot of desk research back home!) and were on what looked very much like a non-electrified secondary line. Having started with a Romainian electric in Hungary I had incorrectly assumed that the loco would take us right through to Bucharest. Upon arrival at Sibiu I was able to confirm the identity of our loco as 64 0976. There was time for some photos while an engine swap took place, 64 1179 now taking charge forward to Brasov. The line forward form Sibiu is scenic and very very very slow! Vast amounts of lineside vegetation cover pretty much everything including much of the running line. At times it would have been little slower to walk, the GM provided entertainment though and I found myself an empty compartment further up the train (the two Romainian ladies in mine had between them managed to occupy the entirety of the lower bunks in seated formation with themselves, their bags and associated paraphernalia). I had no real desire to help them cover the floor with monkey nut shells and the seats in the day coaches were more comfortable anyway. 
A RegioTrans ex-SNCF Carvelle 67-0669 waits between duties at Brasov.
At Brasov I got my first glimpse of ex-French stock with BB25517 on a Regiotrans service to Bucharest as well as a 'Carvelle' in the yard. It was now well overdue time for lunch and although I did have my emergency supplies as it turned out we did have a restaurant car on the train and it would have been rude not to try it. A fellow passenger had warned me that the offering was 'abysmal' and that they 'didn't even have any sandwhiches'- clearly he hadn't asked for proper food. I did and the offering appeared to be 'grilled chicken' which I ordered and must say was pretty good. I understand the restaurant car on this train may be withdrawn from the December timetable, maybe not a surprise considering it's minimal usage.
62 1202 shunts at Bucharest Gara de Nord. 05/09/2017
The landscape had flattened by the time the train reached Budapest where we crawled into Gara de Nord 1 minute late (not at all bad considering the distance). I checked into the Ibis, resolved a little issue that my companion for the trip James Hawkes and I had been booked a double rather than twin room, and then headed back to the station to meet James who had flown in from London before we went off in search of our first Sulzer on the 16:40 to Slobozia Veche. Bucharesti Gara de Nord is a fairly pleasant station, more so than I was expecting and we received no hassle while spending a few hours watching and photographing the trains.

We had made notes of the RegioTrans arrival times with more ex-SNCF BB25500's (4 diagrams a day are booked between Brasov and Bucharest) and also enjoyed a few diesels before calling it a day. It had clouded over and with an excellent forecast for the week ahead it seemed a good opportunity to have a look around the city before it got dark -seeing the city before dark- most unusual for these trips!


Wendesday 6 September
82 0443 passes Chitila with (possibly a late running) R9112 12:00 Târgovişte - Bucureşti Nord. 06/09/2017

RegioTrans BB25576 arrives into Bucharest with the 07:00 from Brasov.
The morning was spent picking up where we had finished the night before, watching the morning rush at Gara de Nord. Light is good for the RegioTrans arrivals and there were a couple of Sulzers to watch out for with 60 0748 arriving into the annex station from Slobzoia Veche at 09:38. 
CFR's 60 1200 shares the yard at Chitilla with GFR's ex-SNCF BB25208 and BB25222 'Frenchies'. 06/09/2017

40 2302 the last example of its subclass at Bucharest Gara de Nord.
The rush over with we headed on to Chitila in the suburbs of Bucharest in search of some freight. On arrival we were greeted by one of our big targets for this country- a pair of ex-SNCF Fret BB25200's! Unfortunately they were on a train positioned in the worst possible location for the sun- but good to see. To make things even better there were another pair in the yard along with a Romainian class 60 Sulzer.  A pleasant morning was spent here watching the proceedings and searching for the optimum location for our photos. As usually happens after a few hours I began to get the itch to move and leaving James behind made my plan to head back into Bucharest and get a few moves in- this plan soon changed when 62 1196 pulled into Chitila while I was waiting on the platform with the 15:03 Bucharest - Targoviste. 

A very fresh looking 81 0422 shuts at Bucharest.
I took this up to Bildana for a GM back as far as the shack at Carparti H in the city. I had a bit of a run in with the guard on this one who really really did not like my FIP coupons. He was actually quite aggressive and kept pointing to things and shouting- The covering letter explaining the 2nd day validity did nothing to appease him and eventually he disappeared muttering something about going to the info booth at Bucharesti Nord. Carparti H turned out not to be just a rateable shack but also an excellent photo spot. It wasn't long to wait until 62 1051 appeared with my next move back to Chitila on the 16:40 to Slobozia Veche. 

62 1196 pauses at Bildana with R9013 the 15:03 Bucharest - Tirgoviste. 
The thrash wasn't amazing given the terribly low line speed, however the loco did put a bit of welly in once I had got off! Reunited with James we headed back to Carparti H for the evening RegioTrans departure and to take in the last of the days light. Our passage back to Gara de Nord was by tram after the train we were waiting for never materialised. We couldn't work out how or where to buy a ticket for the tram but the driver didn't seem too concerned- having been fined in Sofia I am always very nervous about tram tickets these days!


Thursday 7 September
40 0850 passes eastbound from Medgidia as it heads towards Constanta. 07/09/2017

Constantin Grup 40 1083 heads east at Medgidia.
Today's target was the line towards Constanta which we hoped would be busy. The day got off to a poor start when we arrived at Bucharest Gara de Nord to find the arrivals and departures screen riddled with delays- most of them reaching into three figures. We had obtained a reservation for our train to Medgidia the night before from the surprisingly helpful and efficient reservation hatch (rather than the main ticket office) at Bucharest. Our train was only showing around 45 minutes late, but having worked out that the inbound stock was closer to 140 late we weren't holding our breath. I would love to know what had caused the issues which seemed to be affecting pretty much every train into Bucharest- I even resorted to trying to translate the CFR website to find out what the problem was but to no avail.

CFR 47 4011 heads east from Medgidia with a cereal train.
After a little while a delayed train to Constanta appeared and while it wasn't the train we had reserved we figured it was fair game to get on given that we were already over an hour behind our planned departure time. We didn't have any issue with our reservations and were surpised to find that the Bucharest - Constanta line actually has a very reasonable linespeed! Upon arrival at Medgidia we quickly discovered that the photospot we were looking for really wasn't anywhere near the station. We did find it however, being passed by quite a number of interesting trains on the 40 minute walk.
Ex-SNCF BB25109 is one of the highlights of the day pictured heading towards Medgidia. 07/09/2017

DB's 47 0783 heads towards Constanta with a class 651 'Ludmilla' at the rear.
At this point the railway follows the Danube - Black Sea canal.
Of course once in position the freight seemed to dry up- it was short lived however and before long our reward arrived in the form of a very nicely lit train of boxwagons behind GFR's ex-SNCF BB25109. Across the river from the main Bucharest - Constanta line is a large cement works which sees several diesel hauled trains which come across a bridge perpendicular to the main line before then taking chords back to either Medgidia or towards Constanta. The afternoon proved to be busy and plenty of rewarding shots were achieved. Later in the afternoon it became time to move on after a lineside fire started to smoke out our location- back home I'm sure all trains would have been brought to a stand, but fortunately not over here. We had noticed a few trains stopping at a station a little further down towards Medgidia which turned out to be Castello- plenty of opportunity for photos here but our time was cut short by needing to get back to Bucharest- if we missed the local trian it would be a very long walk- fortunately it turned up on time!

60 1212 heads into the cement works at Medgidia having crossed the
Danube - Black Sea canal.
We changed at Medgidia and due to our connection being later did have time to purchase a reservation. What a faff that turned out to be! I'll conceed that the booking lady was trying to be helpful when presented with two foreigners who had odd tickets she had never seen before and who didn't have a word of common language. It took some while to persuade the lady that we wanted to travel on a train that should have already left (it appears she did not realise it was delayed?)- once we eventually got our Res we were ushered quickly out of the booking hall in the direction of the platform and told to hurry. There was still time to buy an ice cream from the stall on the platform and photograph the class 60 that had turned up before our train rolled in. The train was busy but we found seats in a compartment and James disappeared to the restaurant car to return with a well needed beer.

Friday 8 September
40 0572 brings up the rear of a long CFR coal train lead by 40 608 at Halta Porta Alba. 08/09/2017

63 1143 waits to depart Constanta with a through train to Mangalia.
Having had such a good session on the Constanta line the previous day we choose to do the obvious thing and head back again! This time we took the train through to Constanta as there are several diesel workings which can produce both class 60's and the small (and ancient) 'Malaxa' DMU's. If we were going for these we were wasting our time (as we realised on the way down) as during the summer a number of the GM diesels migrate to Constanta in order to provide through trains to Mangalia.
47 0451 approaches the station at Medgidia.
Slightly annoyingly we sighted our only non-Fret liveried BB25200 on the way through Medgidia non-stop, one of the remaining 'Concrete' examples- of course by the time we were back it had gone! Our train indeed received 65 1143 to run through leaving a 60 dormant in the station and no sign of any Malaxa's. Constanta proved to be rather less busy that we were hoping so we soon made our way back to Medgidia on the first available train. I tried to check with the train guard that it was the train we wanted but he unhelpfully refused to tell me until I showed him a ticket, a little faff later and it was confirmed that it was.
Bogie 'Malaxa' 78 0785 works the 16:22 from Medgidia to Tulcea Oras. These ancient DMU's date from 1939! 08/09/2017

Astra Transcarpartic run a colourful daily train between Arad,
Bucharest and Constanta. The 11:00 Bucharest - Constanta is
seen approaching Medgidia behind 40 0316. 08/09/2017
I visited a couple of other locations to the west of the station today, this also gave us the opportunity to view the afternoon Malaxa turn to Tulcea Oras which produced one of the larger bogie Malaxa 1000 railcars. Once the afternoon local trains started running I explored a few more shacks on the line near Medgidia before we once again took the same train as yesterday back to Bucharest. This time we didn't have a lot of time to get a reservation, and based on the previous day's experience we decided not to bother- this wasn't an issue and to be fair the train was wedged, we joined many passengers who were already standing for the 3+ hour run back to the capital. Not far from Medgidia our 'Concrete' SNCF friend was sighted again- it clearly hadn't got very far in the space of 8 hours or so. Freight trains, even where plentiful, seem to be particularly slow in Romainia being looped at almost every opportunity- usually not for any apparent reason. 

63 0847 waiting for departure - possibly the 23:15 Bucharest - Piatra service.
Unfortunately the restaurant car of our train had no beer today and we were certainly grateful for refreshment when we arrived back in Bucharest. After dinner at our hotel (it was late) where we accidentally bumped into a couple of British rail enthusiasts (lovely to meet you Chris and Mike) I headed back to the station for some night photography- I figured I might as well get some use out of my tripod having brought it all this way!

Saturday 9 September
'Malaxa' DMU 77 0907 arrives into Rosiario with the 16:32 Rosiario Nord - Tumu Magureli. 09/09/2017

BB25517 works the 11:40 Bucharest - Brasov for RegioTrans.
This was always set to be our 'mop up' day. There were still a few things we wanted to achieve, I wanted to cover a few more runs with the Sulzers as well as a BB25500 and we also both wanted to see the smaller Malaxa railcars in action. A plan was made to cover some of the early diesel turns starting with the 07:37 to Urziceni before heading up to Rosario on the Craovia line in the afternoon. There are a few more Sulzer turns here and also a few Malaxa's, although significantly less than on a weekday.
The run out of Bucharest behind 60 1038 was good fun and we took this to Cacaulati where we bailed onto 62 1051 heading back into Bucharest on the 06:05 from Slobozia Veche, this providing a nice out and back Sulzer run of about an hour in each direction. 

45 0364 stands at Rosiario Nord having worked the 13:50 from Bucharest.
Back in Bucharest there was a little time to kill before the 11:40 Regiotrans to Brasov with ex-SNCF BB25517 so I took the metro into the city for a bit more sightseeing. Back at the station the 'Frenchie' was taken to PO Darza for a +5 back into Chitila and Bucharest. On the way I had passed 472 002 'Mricea Eliade' (former British 92001) which was stabled at Buftea, the first of these locos either of us had seen all week. The station turned out to be a complete shack and I will confess that I did get a bit worried when my train didn't turn up at the expected time. Turn up however it did, around 25 minutes late (I had started to worry a lot less when some locals turned up on the platform. I'm sure they wouldn't have been there for the following train some 4 hours later).

472 002 'Mricea Eliade' is stabled at Buftea waiting it's next
duty. The loco will be better known to British enthusiasts as
92001 which has been exported by DB Schenker to Romainia.
There was a nice connection at Chitila picking up a GM into Bucharest. I didn't have time to get both a Res and lunch before my required train towards Craovia for Rosario Nord- you can guess which option won! I have to say the journey was fairly uncomfortable on a load 2 train of some of the tattier stock running out in Romainia. The corridor was full so I stood by a window. This would have been fine had somebody else in the corridor not insisted that all the windows were closed! I cannot for the life of me work out why as it was sweltering! Another 92 was passed at a logistics park just beyond Chiajna at the tail end of an Intermodal train in a non-electrified siding. Clearly not going anywhere particularly soon.
Finally reunited with James having left him on the Sulzer from Slobozia Veche some hours earlier we camped out waiting some Malaxa action. One appeared as booked for the 16:32 to Tumu Magureli- These DMU's are very ancient originally dating from 1935 and re-built in 1987- I had considered taking a ride but while the DMU's are photogenic on the outside the interior was certainly nothing special. Instead I spent the some time hanging around 60 0938 which was forming the 16:30 to Alexandria. Despite my best efforts I failed to get a cab ride from Rosario Nord to Rosario (I'm sure the secondman would have been fine with it but the driver was less keen!) so had to ride on the one coach instead. 
60 0938 prepares to haul its single coach with the 16:30 to Alexandria.
On arrival at Rosairo I had time to photograph the Malaxa which followed behind before walking back to Rosario Nord, a walk of about 20 minutes plus ice cream stop. If I had more time there would have been a nice move to take the Sulzer through to Alexandria for another back, but instead we decided to head back to Bucharest at a sensible time- after all it was going to be our 'night out'.
The last activity (and last train of Romainia as it turned out) before heading 'out' was a ride on the graffiti ridden Astra IVA train sets which now exclusively work Metro line 4 in the last days of their lives. This was the only time we had really had any hassle in this country taking photos- they definitely don't like it underground.

Conclusions
40 0848 passes Chitilla at speed with an express bound for Bucharest. 06/09/2017.
47 7871 with what must be one of the best liveries I have seen passes Chitilla.
All in all an excellent trip with Romainia turning out to be a much more pleasant and busier country than I had expected. Budapest as ever was good fun- a lovely city and good trains to boot. Train services in Romiania away from the Constanta line tended to be a bit of a stagger and even I was impressed that between the two countries the train service had gone so badly wrong on 3 occasions (a transferable skill from my desk at work it would seem!). Trains in Romainia were generally to a good standard- I didn't encounter any trains which didn't have fully working toilets and many trains are comfortable with air conditioning. Some of the more premiere coaches are amusingly painted in a livery that looks very very much line an Austrian 'RailJet' - right down to the font used on the side. Ticketing was FIP coupons which thoroughly confused almost all of the grippers. I think I may have been lucky that only one gripper wasted a box by filling in the date having not understood the 48 hour validity (despite being shown the covering letter!). James got on a lot better with his Interrail, though we both found that if we had a reservation (and we didn't always) that the gripper lost all interest in the ticket itself.
We encountered very few issues with photography, the only real issue being at Bucharest when to be fair we were probably somewhere where we shouldn't have been. We didn't attempt to visit any depots having been warned against it before leaving home!
470 738 is seen heading west from Medgidia. 08/09/2017.
The SNCF locos were far easier to photograph than I had anticipated. It seems that the GFR BB25200's may even be being painted into 'Fret' colours as almost all the examples we saw wore this livery and generally looked quite smart. Several of the push-pull RIO sets used by RegioTrans have also been refurbished to a high standard and all of the BB25500's we saw were now devoid of the French liveries (though it is believed that a solitary Fret example is still running around). 
As with anywhere it is great to see proper diesel loco and stock workings and there are certainly plenty to chase around Romainia even if a lot of them are quite few and far between. The Sulzers are lovely locos but one shouldn't expect much thrash out of them on trains which are often very lightly loaded and certainly don't go all that fast. It was nice also to bump into so many other British enthusiasts- five in total across our time in Bucharest. David (at Bucharest on the first day) Chris and Mike (in the IBIS) and Gruntle and Mike (at Bucharest on the last day)- I hope you all had successful trips.
Unfortunately a good week ended rather disastrously with a the flight home being a complete farce- but that, as they say, is another story! 
41 0122 has arrived into Bucharest with a set of stock as a passenger waits for his train. 08/09/2017