|The view of Cherbourg from the Musee de la Liberation. The railway is prominent and the course of the former route to the Gare Maritime can easily be picked out. In the station BB26012 waits for the 12:54 to Paris St Lazare|
|BB15045 has arrived with at Cherbourg with a|
push-pull set from Paris. 23/07/2017
It was raining again as I arrived at the Hotel Ambassadeur with a room overlooking the old harbour. Cherbourg was surprisingly pleasant and I enjoyed a good meal before bed.
|The big surprise of the day- and once a common sight- BB17068 arrives at|
Paris St Lazare. I would take this train on the 16:57 towards Pontoise.
This was the first big test of my quickly hashed together itinerary. The only booked working for a CC72100 these days on a Sunday is the 18:12 to Culmont-Chalindrey. If it wasn't hauled there was no point trying to get into Germany through Belfort. 20 mins before the train was due to leave there was no sign of any stock, only the ominous presence of one of the Alsthom Coradia units which have now taken over almost all Line 4 workings. With no platform allocation I sought out the only loco hauled train in the station with BB15001 and BB15050 in platform 1. I came back to the coucourse to find the 18:12 allocated to platform 9. I hadn't seen any stock arrive and I could swear that was where the Coradia was... It wasn't going to happen was it. Just I was thinking what on earth plan B might be the broken nose of a BB15000 came into view next to the Coradia... could it be? Yes- it was! From somewhere some stock had arrived and the nasty Coradia was actually on platform 10. That was a relief- but left me just 10 mins to grab photos (in appalling light) some food, and try to use the station WiFi to book a room in Belfort! I managed the first two. Required CC72190 was the power that I would take through to Chaumont, the heart scraped into the dirt on the locomotive appropriately displaying the enthusiasts affection for these locos in their dying days.
|The new order, an Alstom Coradia unit at Vesoul.|
|A 'Carvelle' shows off the SNCF heritage scene at Mulhouse.|
|The weather has brightened up considerably by the time I chance from SNCF to DB at Wissembourg. DB 'Talent' Unit 643 007 will take me across the border and on to Neustadt. 24/07/2017.|
I was hoping I might see a few of the commuter push pull turns at Strasbourg and looked up some old diagrams. Nothing booked on the BB67400 front though there were a few turns with BB25000 that could have produced depending what work these locos had left. I was to be disappointed as no locos were seen between Selestat and Strasbourg and there was no sign of any push-pull activity at Strasbourg either. A couple of BB25000 were parked up by the workshop and a line of BB67400 were further back. No sign of any RRR sets at all that I could see. BB26150 was seen sporting 'Grand Est' another non-livery in my opinion but a new one on me (swap the couloured bits of 'Vermillion' for blue).
|Back behind locos after an interlude of multiple units. 146001|
is the power from Mannheim to Frakfurt Main 24/07/2017.
|'Thunderbunnies' at Frankfurt- 218836 and 218813 await their next rescue call.|
Frankfurt is always a hive of activity, though there has been a reduction of RE locos since I was last here. The plan was to have a quick spin on a 111 and/or 143. This didn't go well. Two sets of N-Wagons appeared with 111's that would have been suitable, but by the time I got to the front of the queue to get my FIP ticket from the DB ticket office they had already gone (allow a good 15 mins for a visit to a DB ticket office). I cut my losses, got a Bratwerst and continued on my next leg towards Koblenz.
|Plenty of RE loco hauled action still appears at Frankfurt.|
I was aware that locos had disappeared from local trains on the Rhein Valley and my train was some variation of Stadtler Flirt. I must say despite the lack of a loco the train was very comfortable and pleasant. There was even a guy pushing a food trolley around, presumably legitimately as he was wearing no trace of uniform of DB identification that I could see. The DB staff travelling on the train got a free coffee though so it must have been fine. I didn't see him serve anybody else!
|Shortly after arrival at Cologne 111 129 appears with an RE to|
Siegen from Aachen. 24/07/2017.
I was hoping to get off at Oberwesel to spend a few hours photographing in the Rhein Valley but a few mintues before our arrival we entered a tremendous thunderstorm to the extent that the other side of the river could hardly be seen. I stayed on to Boppard where the weather had cleared a little- this is a lovely area and I am sure to be back. Another Flirt on to Koblenz and while there were hauled RE options from here the lure of an OBB compartment proved too much as 101056 pulled in with a EuroCity. The sun was out now so I spent an hour or so on the station before heading off to my hotel in town, the Casa Visa (excellent if you like an orange bathroom) and then found a spot by the river for dinner. I had a night photo session planned at the station but the trains didn't play ball and I was told not to use my tripod during my first shot- clearly the biggest issue on a Monday night when there are drunks and screaming kids running around the station.
|A stunning view over Boppard with a northbound IC heading along the banks of the Rhine before it rained again. I shall be back!|
|Belgian 2829 appears through the gloom at Koln West with a freight. There is|
a good variety of activity here and the weather did improve slightly 25/07/2017
|IC, ICE and RE trains at Koln Hbf 25/07/2017.|
It was time for the final days travelling to begin now and finally a ride with a 111, traction to Aachen being 111129. A few more locos were seen at Aachen before I boarded my SNCB unit across the border to Welkenraedt. Back on a proper train from here with 1861 and 1805 taking me on to Brusseles Nord. I eventually had to change carriages as another small child was making a repeated unpleasant noise in the front one which I could only stand for so long! I was running ahead of schedule so had time here to pick up another loco into Brusselles Zuid/Midi- but with so many platforms finding what you want and making it on board proved difficult. What I wanted was a class 27 or 21 on the 'fresh air' coaches. I eventually settled for 2863 on an InterCity Direct.
|DB gives way to SNCB on my journey at Aachen where 111 118 waits to work back to Hamm.|
|1874 arrives at Welkenraedt with the train to Oostend which would convey me as far as Brussels. Despite their power many Belgian trains have multiple 'Vectron' locos in their consist- this one had another on the rear. 25/07/2017.|
|Belgian 'Goggles'? EMU 912 at Mechelen.|
|2722 rolls into Mechelen with a service to Brussels. 25/07/2017.|
Now all that remained was to board my Eurostar (3001/2) and finally head home after a crazy few days and completing over 1,300 miles. I upset the security people on the Eurostar platforms by standing at the front of the train to take some photos (I may not see another 'original' Eurostar here?)- I don't think the photos were a problem but apparently standing at the front sets off an 'alarm'. What should have been more of a concern was that the reservations on the set were all reversed with coach 18 where coach 1 should have been. This didn't help boarding and we left a few minutes late with plenty of people in the wrong seats. This wasn't a huge issue until Lille Europe where the correct incumbents of those seats then turned up. Leaving 15 minutes late from Lille made this the latest train I had been on all trip and missed us our slot through the tunnel securing an almost 20 minute late arrival in London. I find it amazing that the last Eurostar from Brussels to London is as early as 19:52 (21:03 arrival) though it does have the useful advantage of making sure I get home at a reasonable hour!
|A sight I might not see again? Original 'Three Capitals' Eurostar set 3002 prepares to depart Brussels Midi with the 19:52 to London St Pancras. 25/07/2017|