EXACTLY 25 years ago today, on Wednesday, 10 May 1995, I went on one of my most memorable ever continental railway journeys, when I broke off from a family holiday near Lisbon to spend an unforgettable 36 hours travelling to the Douro Valley and then sampling two of the remarkable metre-gauge lines leading up tributary river valleys north of the Douro.
Those trips up the Tua Line to Mirandela and later up the Corgo Line from Régua to Vila Real convinced me that these were some of the most scenic rail journeys in Europe, so it came as a real shock to learn years later that the Portuguese Government had allowed these lines, along with the Tâmega Line from Livração to Amarante, to close (in 2008/9). Continue reading “Lost metre-gauge in the Douro Valley”
After autumn visits to two of Germany’s wonderful narrow gauge railways on the Baltic Coast, my first overseas trip of the New Year took me to the opposite end of eastern Germany and by 750mm gauge steam to the country’s highest town.
This is the ski resort of Oberwiesenthal, which stands close to the border with the Czech Republic in the Erzgebirge mountain range and is reached by rail on the charming Fichtelbergbahn, a 17.4 km (10.9 mile) line that connects with the standard gauge DB network at Cranzahl.
The railway takes its name from the Fichtel Mountain, which is close to the ski resort, and opened to traffic in 1897; although its current identity was only adopted on its privatisation just over a decade ago. Continue reading “Germany’s steam-hauled ski train”
On my first ever visit to Poland 30 years ago (October 1989) I paid a visit to the country’s last steam-worked narrow gauge railway, a charmingly rural line that ran 14 kms westwards from a town called Sroda to the south of Poznan.
In those far off days there were six round trips a day, conveying a mixture of workers, shoppers and schoolchildren in a pair of ancient wooden coaches each heated by a coal-fired boiler mounted beneath the coach floor. A single fare to the terminus at Zaniemysl (pictured above) cost the princely sum of 170 [old] Zloties (less than 2p). Continue reading “Steaming to Sroda”
Daily steam working will now continue from Wolsztyn in western Poland into 2020, at least until the famous May Day Parade event, and there is even the prospect of extended weekday operations from the world-famous depot.
Plans to refurbish a water column on platform one, as part of the station re-building, would allow steam services to run from Leszno and through Wolsztyn all the way to Zbaszynek on the Berlin-Warsaw main line. Continue reading “A new direction for Wolsztyn steam”
Last month’s return to the wonderful Harz metre-gauge network prompted me to pay a long-overdue first time visit to two more of the steam-worked narrow gauge railways in eastern Germany, both on the country’s attractive Baltic coast.
This charming duo is the 24km (14.5-mile) 750mm gauge Rügensche Bäderbahn (RBB) or Rasender Roland (“Raging Roland”), running along the south side of Rügen Island from Putbusto Göhren, and the 15.4km (9.6-mile) 900mm gauge Mecklenburgische Bäderbahn or Molllibahn (Molli), linking the town of Bad Doberan with the Baltic coast at Kühlungsborn West. Continue reading “Baltic beauties”
Imagine an attractive and rural corner of Central Europe where you can travel on your own steam-hauled narrow gauge train just as the sun is rising, and then spend all day riding a vast narrow gauge network for around £13 a day.
What may sound like a dream is actually a reality on the delightful Harz metre-gauge system in eastern Germany, where for two consecutive days last week I was the only passenger aboard the 07.34 Gernrode to Alexisbad service. Continue reading “Harz delights”
There 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”
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”
In 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”
Paying 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”