Metre gauge magic in Provence

 

IMG_5488There is something rather special about a trip on France’s longest narrow gauge railway, particularly when it means the chance of a front seat view from a 1970s railcar, as it snakes along the banks of the picturesque River Var.

But such delights may be about to end, as the Chemins de Fer de Provence (CP) should soon finally take delivery of the six ex-Mallorca Railways two-car diesel units that were supposed to have entered service here three years ago. Continue reading “Metre gauge magic in Provence”

Testing time in Wuppertal

IMG_4452

Intensive test running has begun on the Wuppertal suspension monorail ahead of its planned re-opening to passengers in August, ten months after damage to its track led to the suspension of services in mid-November.

During a visit to the town on 23 May, empty trains were running along the unique and world-famous 13.3km (8.3 mile) route at 3-4 minute intervals, with services being indicated outside stations, but the stations themselves remaining locked. Continue reading “Testing time in Wuppertal”

All change at Wolsztyn

 

IMG_1273In what could well be the final year of daily scheduled steam operation, a major change to the workings from Wolsztyn depot in western Poland is taking place immediately after its famous May Day “Parade” event, which occurs this year on Saturday, 4 May.

The start of a much-needed rebuild of the line from Wolsztyn to Leszno means that from 5 May until early September weekday steam operation will be switched to the shorter Wolsztyn – Zbaszynek route, meaning the return of daily steam operation to a short section of the Berlin-Warsaw main line. Continue reading “All change at Wolsztyn”

Two days in Provence

IMG_0043Paying a long overdue return to the remarkable Chemins de Fer de Provence (CP) metre-gauge line from Nice to Digne-les-Bains, almost exactly 30 years after my first visit, it was interesting to see how much has changed, but also what has not.

My original trip in late September 1988 had taken me on a famous named train called the Alpazur from the splendid Gare du Sud in Nice to Digne, where a SNCF railcar waited with the onward portion of the Alpazur to Grenoble. Continue reading “Two days in Provence”

Time running out for daily Wolsztyn steam services

IMG_9196Europe’s last scheduled main line steam services look set to end in little more than a year’s time, with the timetable change on Saturday, 7 December 2019, when a three year agreement to maintain steam working from Wolsztyn in western Poland is due to expire.

With a number of the depot’s remaining steam loco drivers approaching retirement and unwillingness on the part of the Polish authorities to invest in sustaining the world famous museum depot, it seems increasingly certain that 2019 will mark the end of regular steam operations. Continue reading “Time running out for daily Wolsztyn steam services”

Salzburg’s scenic suburban railway

IMG_9706
Serving rural northern suburbs of Salzburg is the charming Salzburger Lokalbahn (SLB), an electrified 37 km (23 mile) largely single track system that runs from the subterranean platforms 11 and 12 of the city’s Hauptbahnhof (main station).

IMG_9727Services are run in two sections, with the main S1 route operating the 25.6 kms (16 miles) from Hauptbahnhof to Lamprechtshausen, while a shuttle service (S11) connects with these services at Burmoos, two stops before Lamprechtshausen, and runs through very rural terrain to the northernmost terminus at Ostermiething.

The original Lamprechtshausen line opened in 1896, and had been fully electrified by 1950. Services were moved to new station platforms below Salzburg Hauptbanhof in 1996 and there are plans for a southern extension of the line. Continue reading “Salzburg’s scenic suburban railway”

Slovenian steam spectacular

IMG_9984
For rugged scenery and a remarkable number of tunnels and bridges, few routes in Europe can compare with the magnificent 89km (56 mile) Bohinj Railway in western Slovenia, which stretches from the town of Jesenice, near the Austrian border and 64kms (40 miles) north-west of Ljubljana, to Nova Gorica on the border with Italy.

The Bohinj Railway forms part of what is known as the Transalpina route, a link between Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea at Trieste that was authorised by the Parliament in Vienna in 1901 and was built between 1902 and 1906. Its most impressive feature is the 6327m (4.2 mile) long Bohinj tunnel, opened by the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand, in 1906. Continue reading “Slovenian steam spectacular”

Steam-hauled to Hel and back

IMG_8556Poland has been totally transformed over the past three decades since the drab and sinister days of communist rule were overthrown by Lech Walesa and his brave shipyard workers, and nowhere is that change more evident than on PKP, the national railway network.

Pictured above is Pt47-65 arriving at Chełmża on 13 April 2018 during the first day of its trip to Hel and back.

Having been the last European country to retain steam traction, 1988 marked withdrawal of the last true main line class, the Pt47, with steam then rapidly disappearing over the next three years and eliminated entirely by 1992, except at the remarkable museum depot in Wolsztyn. Continue reading “Steam-hauled to Hel and back”

Velingrad re-visited

IMG_6479
Hopes (fulfilled!) for some winter sunshine, and the offer of bargain-priced flights with recently-troubled Ryanair, were all that it took to persuade me back to Bulgaria this week, for another chance to travel on the remarkable 125 km-long (78-mile) narrow gauge railway that winds its way from Septemvri – a town on the main line linking capital Sofia and second city Plovdiv – all the way up to the noted ski resort of Bansko and a terminus at nearby Dobrinishte.

IMG_6490My round trip once again took me from Stansted to Plovdiv, for a night in the splendid Alliance Hotel, a five-minute stroll from the railway station, before a 30-minute trip the following day to Septemvri. From here there are four round trips a day on the narrow gauge line, the earliest of which leaves at the unearthly hour of 02.05, with the most civilised departure being my chosen service, the Mesta, at 13.10 (all services on this route are named). Continue reading “Velingrad re-visited”

Steam-hauled return to Leszno

IMG_4962More that three years after its March 2014 suspension, (see my earlier post “Last steam to Leszno”) scheduled standard gauge steam returned to Europe in May 2017, when two return weekday services from Wolsztyn to Leszno in Western Poland returned to steam haulage.

IMG_4866This followed the agonisingly slow setting up of a trust to own and manage the famous steam depot at Wolsztyn, the return to traffic of two locomotives and the sourcing of suitable coaches to operate the service, which should also see two Saturday round trips between Wolsztyn and Poznan, once track renewal work has been completed later this year. Continue reading “Steam-hauled return to Leszno”