Germany 20.5.00 - 22.5.00 <  >

My Eurodomino from the last trip still had a day left, and there was a very cheap flight offer from Buzz/Daily Express. Well, you have to, don’t you? I decided on a short trip back to Germany to do some potential closures - and maybe nail Niederwiesa once and for all!

Unfortunately my photos from this trip have gone walkabout - if ever they come to light I'll add them to this page.

Saturday 20.5.00

Last outing of the closure season, slightly cheered by news from a friend that Hartenrod may survive for another year [fortunately, it did, as there wasn’t time on this trip to get that far west]. A hideously early (0230) departure from Telford saw me at Birchanger by 0500 and after a wash and brush up, Stansted about 0515. Breakfast was taken at the ‘Food Court’ – ample, but cold and not recommendable. Given the time and cost of getting to STN and parking, BHX or MAN must be a better bet. [How many more times before this message sinks in? Who knows.]

The 0655 Berlin is the last of Buzz’s rush hour and unsurprisingly went 15 minutes late (and surprisingly in view of the very cheap Daily Express offer, half empty). The 146 pulled up at the stand at 0955, and X9 bus was arriving outside as I did, and I reached Berlin Zoo at 1020. An abortive sortie to a model shop at 24 Nürnbergstrasse in search of replica shed plates followed on from the purchase of a Wochenendeticket and a check on the X9 times for Monday (xx00 and every 10).

After a quick replan 1109 Elsterwerda looked a good bet, connecting into 1315 Elsterwerda - Dresden and thence 1440 to Chemnitz with possible Hainichen option at Niederwiesa. The 3 minute connection at Elsterwerda was a slight worry as we were slightly late and the connection was just coming down the bank from E-Biehla as we arrived. Modern double deck trash, slightly wider in the shoulder but with ro’ck ‘ard seats. We were blessed with a Jew’s harp player and three Japanese students taking pictures of each other. You can’t say German trains are dull.

99752 was noted on the ‘standard’ kesselzug at Radebeul Ost and there was a glimpse of a green Mallet on the Traditionzug heading in from Weiss Ross towards Radebeul. 234180 was pushing RB17221 from Dresden Mitte. A major discovery was made at Dresden Hbf - mayo and salad free ham and cheese rolls at the kiosk adjacent to PP13,14 etc!

Slightly curious goings on at Freital. We ran slowly for quite a long distance on the northernmost track, avoiding the platforms at Freital-Hainsberg West. Is this just the ‘fast’ (!) line or a goods line? [It’s a freight line. I didn’t have Schweers u. Wall then!] Also noted was mixed gauge track all the way from F-Potschappel, plus an n.g. depot on the south side of the line. And also, before all of this, a fine array of kettles (all tank, or smaller tender locos as far as could be seen, and not a single 50 or 52) at Dresden Altstadt.

Comprehensive engineering work is still going on at Flöha with a long stretch of single line working. At Niederwiesa the 1611 was sitting in P1 - I couldn’t bring myself to ignore it so dived out to make sure that at least I got the rest of the branch! 1936 SO to Chemnitz is also booked off P1 so we’ll see what happens next. 202 811 plus one coach was the formation.

Having - at last - successfully done the north curve I decided to bale out at Frankenberg to investigate the bus back to Chemnitz. Should have known - it goes at the same time as the train, near enough. I went to look for a pub; Frankenberg is mostly harmless, but mostly shut. As this is a ‘May Fair’ day I wonder what it’s like usually. There is in fact a pub just outside the station but by the time I found it, it was too late for a beer. [One of my few genuine abilities is to walk a ‘round trip’ from a station looking for a pub, invariably starting in the wrong direction so that I encounter the nearby pub only on my return from a fruitless mission!] As usual, while I was walking through the town someone stopped me to ask the way (and again, later at Niederwiesa!).

Returning to Chemnitz it was gamble time. Did I go to the hotel (already booked and probably empty anyway) for a breather and return to pick up the 1904 ex Hainichen at Niederwiesa, or did I go straight back on 1801 Dresden, up the branch yet again, and come back on the 1904. Barring failures, the gamble was that at Niederwiesa the 1904 wouldn’t stop more than a coach length nearer Chemnitz than the 1816 had started (I had annoyed the guard by sitting right at the back of the 1816, just in case).

Laziness won – I went to the hotel, had a shower and returned to the station for 1901 to Dresden (noting 234538 on IR2269 to Dresden). At Niederwiesa there seemed to be time for the beer I still hadn’t had, and I found the Gaststätte Brauhof just across the road. Very pleasant staff, Kapuziner for DM3.90 and a single room for DM65 including breakfast. Damn! The 1936 (1904 ex Hainichen) to Chemnitz stopped slightly nearer to Hainichen than the 1816 had started, so the gamble paid off handsomely. I still sat right in the back for the sake of appearances. [And so ended The Niederwiesa Problem after 6 months.]

Back at Chemnitz the Schnitzelparadies beckoned.The pfefferschnitzel was absolutely rabid, dispensing 3rd degree burns. Another Kapuziner helped! Moving on seemed a good idea, but Chemnitz was dead and then some. More hops in a dead rabbit, etc. Goodness knows what German city dwellers do on a Saturday night, but going for a beer in town is not a feature. As a result, an early night was had.

Sunday 21.5.00

Breakfast at 0700 fitted well with 0743 to Leipzig for which I arrived at 0739 having asked if the new Kursbuch was available and received a (friendly) shrug. It seems DB is no better than Railtrack. 219177 has just burst into life (07:42:55) but a connection has just arrived at the next platform so a minute or two delay is possible.

And occurred, compounded by a TSR on the viaduct over the river Chemnitz. A 202 with a single coach was passed between Burgstädt and Narsdorf (I think at Göritzhain). Presumably this was RB27285, 0728 from Rochlitz. The xx43s from Chemnitz sit for 14 minutes at Narsdorf, during which time 219168 passed southbound with RE17123, 0738 Leipzig - Chemnitz. 219149 passed at Borna with RE17143, 0825 from Leipzig, and once on the main line an unidentified 23x on an IR service. 234552 was on RE17067, 0951 Leipzig Hbf - Dresden.

After encountering Borussia Dortmund fans in Berlin yesterday (they use a very odd ‘salute’ presumably modified just sufficiently to be legal) today’s pleasure was ‘HFC Chemie’ who were heading mob handed towards PP9 and 10 at Halle Hbf. P10 had the 1043 to Magdeburg - to my boundless relief they went for 1040 Goslar on P9! Curious that their chant went to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. The female conductor on the 1040 looked as if she would be able to cope quite successfully with HFC Chemie. It would have been entertaining to see.

15 minutes sitting in the sunshine at Schönebeck made a pleasant break before setting off on a 628 towards Belzig. This still has the same eccentric timetable with a 22 minute wait at Güterglück. It filled two gaps – the curve from the Magdeburg-Halle line to the Güsten-Belzig line near Barby, and the stretch from Güterglück station to the junction with the Güterglück Kurve (which is in fact quite a long way).

I decamped at Wiesenburg (Mark) to catch 1321 to Dessau which arrived wedged with students. You aren’t allowed on the platform at Wiesenburg until the trains arrive, ‘for safety reasons’. That being so, there is a pub on the station which might have been useful had it been open!

The students all turned out to be going to Kassel, as was I (at least as far as Halle). The RE was preceded by a 232 and some 16 100-tonne wagons which went through in great haste, scattering one student’s lecture notes. I recovered them, to his great relief. Despite the scrum there were enough seats on the train and reasonable comfort prevailed to Halle, apart from a sudden stop for reasons unknown, just after Bitterfeld.

The S-Bahn to Halle Dölau proved quite interesting in a way. It goes its own way for a while to serve Halle Südstadt then rejoins the Röblingen am See line briefly to cross the river. It then goes through a forest of tower blocks at what is obviously not the better end of town, joining the line from Buna Werke on the way. Halle Neustadt is a hideous concrete cavern which didn’t look a nice place to wait half an hour. Nietleben, the next station, is far more pleasant. The last stretch through Heidebahnhof to Dölau, is picturesque and heavily wooded. Dölau is a single platform station in a residential area. Buffer stops beyond but I didn’t have time to check out if the line ever went further. [It did, to Gerbstedt and Hettstedt]. Having clocked the Heide Café at Nietleben on the way out I decided that I would stop there on the way back and risk the 6 minute connection at Neustadt. It turned out to be a pleasant establishment though the draught beer was Radeberger, hardly one of the world’s best.

No problem with the connection, and the 1649 Halle Neustadt – Großkorbetha turned up on time. This uses a separate platform at Silberhöhe, the junction being west thereof, before diverging at Rosengarten. The ‘curve’ is therefore quite long, and partly straight. It rejoins the main line at Halle Süd box, north of Ammendorf.

On arrival at Merseburg I checked the yellow sheets. Yes, there is a 1608 M-F via Buna Werke to Silberhöhe. How does ot get there? (No stops after Buna Werke). Unfortunately no, there is not an 1835 to Halle Neustadt on Sundays. It’s now M-F despite what the Kursbuch (and the web site I think – check on return home!) says. That being the case there was no further question of connections at Buna Werke so I settled for the Berglandbahn kart to Schafstädt. This is another line I wouldn’t bet money on. Currently only P2 at Buna Werke is in use, with trains booked to pass there doing so at Merseburg Elisabethhöhe.

Schafstädt is a fairly dull branch, very weedy and almost devoid of passengers. It looks as if the line once continued in the direction of Querfurt. Not a bad way to while away a summer evening once thwarted, though an earlier connection Halle - Lutherstadt-Wittenberg would have been useful.

The kart returned to Merseburg via the flyover line into P2. The layout appears to allow ‘most everything but higher numbered platforms look the best bet for the non-flyover connection on to the Buna Werke line. In particularl the 1608 to Halle Silberhöhe and the 1638(ish) to Neustadt look good value.

The 40 minute connection at Halle proved to be useful as the ‘Bistro’ in the subway was going strong and provided (another) schnitzel and a draught weissbier (Müller again, very nice too. See 22 & 23.3.00!). On exit, confrontation in the booking hall with a group of football supporters surrounded by police with dogs. Supporters chanting, dogs barking. Or was it the other way? I forget…

A final bonus to make up for Buna Werke to Neustadt - the new Elbe bridge at Lutherstadt-Wittenberg is open, with track lifted from the old one at least at the Lu-W end. Work is going on which could even suggest the embankment is being removed. Good thing I did it earlier in the year.

The Acron is like an Ibis but cheaper. Basic, brand new, exactly what’s required, no more, no less. Meanwhile Lu-W has changed immensely since 1992 though still short of phone boxes! The Goldener Adler has closed ‘since 1.2.99 on technical grounds’. However did it last that long? Everywhere else is beautifully ‘done up’ and most attractive, including the Black Bear where I went for a Paulaner after viewing Martin Luther’s door on the Schlosskirch.

Monday 22.5.00

0709 IC to Kiel was 4 late away - shock, horror - on time at Schönefeld, 2 late at Ostbahnhof and 5 late at Zoo. Then the problems started. Still no Kursbuch (‘this week’ she said. At L-W it was ‘today’). No X9 at 0840. No X9 at 0850. Eventually one came at 0900. Then gridlock, big time, at Ernst Reuter Platz. Eventual arrival at Tegel 0940, checkin closes 0935. Ah well. Everybody was on the same bus and they checked us in anyway, so I got back to Telford without any more difficulty.

 

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