Netherlands and Germany 31.5.01 - 4.6.01 <  >

I was back again 10 days later, having had to return to the UK to earn some money, but wanting to take advantage of a single EuroDomino to cover both trips. Once you’re past the basic three days, extra EuroDomino days are very cheap. I had odd things to finish off all over the place including a cross border line from Nederland so a dirt cheap fare to Amsterdam made the whole thing comparatively (!) economical.

Thursday 31.5.01

H rose (without complaint, bless ‘er) at 0430 to get me to BHX, reached at 0550. An ancient 737 left on time and at Schiphol the bus decanted us into the terminal exactly on time at 0900. The rucksack was with me so the 0918 to Amsterdam Centraal was made with ease. 1005 EC to Interlaken was 9 late (‘technical problem’) but fortunately the engine change is at Emmerich so the connection to Wesel looks OK - so far.

Two out of course stops now (1039) so it’s beginning to look like a lost cause. In passing, it’s interesting to note the ICE set arriving at Amsterdam CS from Köln. Latest generation ICE, 8 car set with NS logos and no evidence of DB involvement.

Away from Utrecht 1058, 24 late on a 14 minute connection, then 31 late leaving Arnhem and finally about 33 late at Emmerich where Disgusted of Telford left this miserable conveyance to find (not surprisingly, it being 1155) that 1136 to Wesel was long gone. Nothing for it but to get the 1234 and hope for the –1 minute connection, otherwise it’s an hour in Wesel and another one in Bochholt. I took advantage of the small travel centre at Emmerich to get reservations for 3 ICEs on Saturday and the IR to Schiphol on Monday; also noted Kursbuch and CD on display but The Man claimed only large stations had the CD.

*** ICE (the fallback if the plane had been late) has just gone through 15 late, making my RB 5 late, so it looks like lots of quality pub time at Wesel and Bochholt. Let’s hope there’s a quality pub.

There was. Wesel is quite a substantial town and a short walk had me in an eminently suitable Paulaner establishment (out of the station, walk towards the big memorial arch you can see from the station, and the pub is just beside the arch on the left). At DM6 (about £2.25/pint) I thought the weissbier a bit pricey but certainly a very respectable pub. Food (not sampled) looked excellent. After a detour to the Geldautomat I returned to the station just after 1350 to find the Bochholt kart just coming over the horizon. Physical connections both sides of the station and it appears that P5 is used as a loop off the main line, so honour is satisfied.

628 499 meets up with a fleet of connecting buses at Bochholt on 31.5.01. Integrated transport really isn't rocket science, is it?

Quite a nice run out to Bochholt which is another substantial town where quality pubs might be available. However, despite evidence in the Kursbuch to the contrary there is a 1433 back to Wesel so that will be the next move in the hope of getting at least as far as Altenbeken an hour earlier. Definitely should have brought volume B of the Kursbuch (left it behind to save weight).

Nothing doing at Duisburg so I decided on an ICE to Hamm. It was 25 late however, so I settled on 1609 RE to Hamm via Oberhausen, Herne and Dortmund which at least gets me new track from Herne to Dortmund.

And so it did. On arrival at Dortmund I checked the yellow sheet on the off chance that something would get me to Soest via Unna before IR2555 which was the train on which I rejoined plan B. By some freak of chance there was indeed a 1709 to Unna, Soest and Paderborn which from the timings appeared to run Soest - Paderborn in front of IR2555. Caution duly thrown to the winds, I dived on to it (an electrically hauled RB, fairly wedged but not intolerable) and was rewarded by punctual arrival at Soest well in front of the IR. It leaves Dortmund westwards which threw me a bit, having forgotten the layout! An excellent bit of bonus track as I’ve tried and failed to fit it into numerous plans before. All platforms at Soest are bi-directional and accessible to/from both Hamm and Dortmund lines so no problem there.

On to Altenbeken in a wedged IR in a smoker. Harrumph. 8 minutes at Altenbeken so (given German beer dispensing times) insufficient time for a swift ‘alf in the Gaststätte on P1. Sufficient, though to grab a can of Paderborner Pilsener from the attached kiosk. This was cold(ish), wet and tasted vaguely of something which may at some point have been near malt, or hops, or both. 4.9% too, but didn’t compare with last night’s Archer’s Golden!

A 628 (smoker again, harrumph again) from Altenbeken, where it was persisting down but there’s a canopy, to Ottbergen where luckily it wasn’t, as there isn’t. Another 628 was poised to blast off to Northeim, hopefully providing the last track of the day (still en route as this is written).

Finished successfully, noting another ‘side by side’ arrangement at Northeim where the Ottbergen to Nordhausen lines fly over the Hannover to Göttingen lines to the south of Northeim, then descend to run parallel to them, to the east. Fortunately tomorrow’s first train is a Göttingen-Nordhausen leaving from P12 on the ‘branch’ (and arriving there too!). A quick 10 minutes on an IR got me to Göttingen where the Leine-Hotel & Boarding House turned out to be 15 minutes walk, but very smart and seemingly kept by an American.

Having booked in, food beckoned so back down town to Zum Schwarzen Bären as recommended by the Rough Guide. Very good it was too, and perfectly willing to provide me with a steak at 22.00 (both time and DM). A strange and wonderful dark beer was also sampled; something and nothing, sweetish and rather expensive. Should have had the Göttingen Pilsener which was also on offer. And so to bed, finally caught out (though not badly) by the rain which had been on and off since Paderborn.

Friday 1.6.01

Up early, if not bright, for 0630 breakfast. Oh all right, 0640 then. Very pleasant meal in an altogether satisfactory establishment. Off to the station in good time for 0745 to Nordhausen (628 again).

Slightly late away but nothing serious, and a most satisfactory mini-grice at Northeim where the connection leaves the main line at the south end of the yard and runs through the middle of the yard to get to the Nordhausen platforms. By now the rain was starting and the poor adhesion of the 628s was apparent. Only 5 late at Herzberg though and the Bad Lauterberg kart was still there. I carried on in the Nordhausen kart as far as Scharzfeld where it turned out that both used the same platform. I chose the right 4 minutes to be stranded there in the rain, as a 362 appeared with some wagons from the nearby (cement?) works and started some shunting, and another one with vans from Bad Lauterberg, delaying the passeneger train by several minutes.

Bad Lauterberg is in the western Harz and is very reminiscent of Stollberg. No surprises there, then! Except perhaps the factory which obviously generates significant freight traffic. Just time for a phot before setting off to end of track (pro tem) at Seesen. We caught up with the ‘second 362’ at Herzberg – it was a 294! The schedule is fairly leisurely and even with some hanging about we were only a minute or so late at Seesen. Having ‘done’ Seesen before there seemed little point in spending 1h 40m there waiting for the same train to come back from Braunschweig. ‘Next decent pub on the left’ seemed a good strategy; Salzgitter Bad looked the best bet on the map and was. S-Ringelheim looked pretty bleak but S-Bad, though obviously very badly damaged in wartime, still contains some nice old half timbered buildings. Having walked the length of the pedestrian area to the Markt, a pub just round the corner from the station seemed most appealing so I returned there for a König-Pilsener. It took almost 10 minutes to serve…

Very nice building, dated 1640 but an insensitive refurbishment didn’t live up to the outside. Yesterday’s modern pub in Wesel was much better. The beer was OK though. Return was with a party of primary school children who explored the acoustics of the subway. Those on the platform much confused by ageing English crank emerging from the subway pursued by sounds of screaming…

On to Nordhausen on two more 628s, changing at Herzberg and noting former border installations at Walkenried and Ellrich. Seems amazing now. There is a lengthy stretch of poor track between Ellrich and Nordhausen, seemingly allowed for in the timetable. Presumably bustitution will occur for a while.

The kart went into bay platform 1A at Nordhausen - slightly irritating as the REs don’t, though probably insignificant. Nordhausen has had a major upgrade to its facilities since H and I were there last year, with a buffet and a smart and expensive shop along Nimms lines but labelled ‘DB Service’. Still, it’s better than the odd little corner they used before. 1340 to Erfurt was a new low floor, high discomfort kart stopping at all stations and offering an invaluable opportunity to spend 1½ hours in near-painful conditions.

Arrival at Erfurt was on time, and gave me plenty of time to find another of the wretched things working the RE to Schweinfurt. This one was even ‘better’, being full and standing (though I did have what passes for a seat, fortunately), and with no air conditioning (like the Turbo Tractor but much less comfortable). Serious alarm some time after Gräfenroda when I realised I had been asleep and thought I’d passed Zella-Mehlis. Turned out I hadn’t though, so all was well. No chance of the junction at Z-M as the Süd-Thüringer Bahn kart, one of the almost as wretched, but more comfortable Adtranz railcars with the trapezoid windows, was waiting on the branch platform. It seemed to say it was on hire to DB Regio so I decided to stick with the EuroDomino.

One of STB's Adtranz karts at Fachhochschule, 1-6-01.

Couldn’t decide what to do about Schmalkalden in case the two services didn’t overlap, but decided to go through anyway as there had been one or two changes. On arrival at Schmalkalden I found that on weekdays, there was no overlap (weekends there is, possibly one doesn’t run). Great disappointment until I realised we had arrived early and there was still time to throw myself on to the kart going up to Fachhochschule and back to Wernshausen, and do the job properly. Back at Schmalkalden the other kart was still occupying P1 so this was a Good Move.

Wernshausen is in the ‘Y’ of the Schmalkalden and Meiningen lines, so nothing to be done there (and no through trains). Another STB kart to Eisenach where things were going to pot with the 1900 ICE 10 late, the 1904 IR 30 late and the 1909 SE presumably likely to be delayed by the ICE. No food either so it looks as if either the Crawinkel branch or my supper is a non starter.

Considered baling out at Fröttstadt but on the basis that a) if it ain’t broke don’t fix it b) it was a booked connection c) it was last train of the day and d) if I didn’t get to Crawinkel I could go to Friedrichroda instead, I stayed on. The SE got us to Gotha at 1942, the Ferkeltaxi was still there and it trundled off at 1944, a mere 6 late.

The end of the line (then) at Crawinkel on 1-6-01. It's since been reopened through to Gräfenroda, on the Erfurt-Meiningen line. The vehicle in the picture is the trailer; power unit was 772 140.

A most entertaining ride - I’d never realised how much better Ferkeltaxis were than the despicable Adtranz and Siemens things. It gets increasingly bucolic as it wanders around trying to find Crawinkel though surprisingly enough Ohrdruf has two sources of freight traffic - timber and a small gas depot. Track seems to be in reasonable order too, but why they go beyond Ohrdruf is a mystery. Maybe the F/taxis are cheaper than the buses. On the way back is became apparent that there is also a large rail connected distribution depot and a new siding which has been put in to serve an industrial estate as yet only partly developed. I wonder why that didn’t happen at Stafford Park. For instance.

There’s also a big oil depot between Georgenthal and Gotha. All in all quite a surprising branch and an interesting way to spend the evening on a ‘proper’ railway. The Waldbahn hotel was its usual friendly (ahem) self and I retired to the bar to try the surprisingly nice Gothaer Pils (missed last time). The barmaid started a production line but got left with a full glass when I staggered off to bed (supperless as predicted, didn’t fancy an almost empty restaurant) after the second 0.33l.

Saturday 2.6.01

And a good job too! Still very dozy when woken by the alarm at 0555 for a pre-breakfast excursion to Friedrichroda. Hotel staff viewed me suspiciously; it’s probably best that I don’t speak German as they’d never believe me anyway! All smiles when I get back no doubt.

A Ferkeltaxi and trailer pause at Friedrichroda on 2-6-01

Caught the 0623 to Fröttstadt though my system was ill prepared for being dragged out of bed and hurled along at 80mph in the usual ebullient SE style. The Ferkeltaxi was waiting, with a distinctly pre-unification crew, [I’ll refrain from further comment in a public forum!]. Nice branch, particularly from Waltershausen onwards (there is timber traffic there). After Waltershausen a blue and yellow object in the sky turned out to be a TWB tram – their line crosses over at a higher level and curves round to run parallel through the forest from Schnepfenthal to Reinhardsbrunn. At Friedrichroda there is a very elaborate platform awning, and track disappearing onwards [it used to go through to Georgenthal on the Gotha-Crawinkel-Gräfenroda line].

After a very slow amble back and a wait for time at Waltershausen we were still slightly early at Fröttstadt, in good time for a punctual SE to hurl me back to Gotha. After this excellent start to the day a rather middling breakfast was a bit of a letdown but at least I had time for a wash and brush up before the 0821 IR to Stralsund (0556 ex Frankfurt and almost empty) which bounced in a couple of minutes early.

Totally uneventful trip to Weimar, which has an attractive square outside the station and a long walk to the city centre. As it was raining I passed up the opportunity and settled for a visit to the non-English speaking travel centre where after a few minor linguistic difficulties a CD-ROM was produced amid smiles all round (not least from me). ‘Johann Sebastian Bach’ has been upgraded to an ICE [and rightly so. The man was a towering genius] but was still maintaining a Baroque pace and was 10 late, which situation prevailed all the way to Dresden. His coach numbers and seat reservations weren’t working either so I settled into a seat which would face forwards from Leipzig and waited to be ejected. I never was. Noted 99742 being coaled at Radebeul Ost (coaches are still in DR livery but labelled DB) and was very surprised to look out of the left hand window approaching DD-Neustadt and see 35 1097 running tender first alongside. It appeared to be preparing to work a crankex as there were numerous persons with cameras etc hanging around at Neustadt.

On to Pirna by S-Bahn; a Ferkeltaxi and trailer were waiting in P4 (separate alignment as noted before). Huge amounts of engineering on the main line (either quadrupling or major refurbishment) but the schedule must allow for it as arrival at Pirna was on time at 1256.

Most satisfactory grice of the Durrröhrsdorf to Neustadt (Sachs) line which is well up to the usual Sachsen standards of niceness to look at.Physical connection made at both ends with lines already done, which is particularly gratifying in view of the bustitution on my first visit in 1995-ish. Found out at Neustadt (no nearby pub to celebrate, alas) that the activity at DD-Neustadt is a centenary Bahnhofsfest. Hot foot back, then!

35 1097 being watered outside Dresden Neustadt, 2-6-01

Nice event, with some excellent 60s music as a bonus. The ‘35’ (a 2-6-2 similar to the 23) turned out to be giving cab rides for a mere DM2 for about ¼ mile, but with a queue past my 1620 departure (not to mention them taking it away to be watered, which at least allowed me to get a phot and dash back for the ICE).

‘August Bebel’ (co-founder of the SDP in 1869 apparently) was on time and had his seat reservations working. I still had to resist being turfed out of coach 21 seat 72 by an old gentleman convinced I had his seat. Having examined my ticket, we then examined his – 52! People milled about for ages, it being as usual ten minutes before they all settled down. As a non-German speaking foreigner I can’t see why they all find it so difficult [I did, later…] Rest of the journey was spoiled only by a child with an electronic game. Absolutely no sign of life on the narrow gauge at Oschatz - a bit worrying on a Saturday afternoon even at 1655 (I’d missed Radebeul Ost due to the milling hordes). Refuelled following on time arrival at Leipzig – ‘Hannah Hoech’ arrived on time and with reservations showing at 1802. I get to go backwards all the way to Bamberg but it’s dead track so not important. Got my payback for being unsympathetic at Dresden when I tried to turf two nice young ladies out of their seats (86 and 87, mine was 85!). It served me right.

The infuriating Camberg (Saale) – Großheringen curve was showing signs of very light though recent use; presumably the engineering has now finished prior to reopening next week. With the Dresden Airport branch open there’s enough excuse to go via Erfurt en route to or from Berlin next time (or if flying there, a trip out from Berlin).

The curve on to the Arnstadt line at Rudolstadt Schwarza (?) seems to be completely disused following the loss of its passenger services. Arrival at Bamberg was probably on time (difference between schedules) and a short walk got me to the National which is perfectly OK for DM91 and expensive if more!

Almost decided not to go for a beer - hideous mistake just averted. There being two GBG pubs round the corner, I decided to go for them. One (Spezial) doesn’t open Saturday night so I went to the other, Bräuereigaststätte Fässla. The Fässla (it means barrel, or firkin, or something similar) Lagerbier was superb. Darker than our lagers, very little fizz, served by gravity from a small firkin-ish (bit bigger, but smaller than a kil) cask, with a UK type tap on the upper end as a vent, the spile hole blocked and another tap further down. Altogether a top grade drinking shed, civilised but totally unpretentious. [The rather attractive waitress was getting the predictable treatment from a fairly noisy clientele, but I have never seen anybody so completely able to deal with it straight away without causing any offence at all. Impressive!]

Encouraged by this, I thought I should walk into town, so decided to head for Dominikanerstrasse. Numerous pubs of excellent appearance, and I suspect a lovely old town (2200+ so it was dark). Certainly there’s a bizarre town hall on the river bridge – baroque madness mostly, with a half timbered bit. Must be seen to be believed.

I ended up (after noting at least two guided tours pottering round at 2215 in the rain!) at (I think) the brewery tap for the Hecht Schlenterla Rauchbier, if I read the beermat correctly. Served in the same manner as Fässla, but dark and very smoky like kippers, ham, etc. A most odd experience. Both beers very cheap incidentally at around DM3.50/0.5l. And that’s tourist price. Conclusion: Bamberg joins Passau at the top of the revisit list! [And was duly revisited in 2004. Unaware as I was at the time of Franconian beers in general, rauchbier in particular and Bamberg’s nine breweries, this half an evening was a bit stunning. If I hadn’t changed my mind and gone to Fässla in the first place I might have gone through life without ever looking at Bamberg. An alarming thought, indeed.]

Sunday 3.6.01

I’d have liked to see the Altstadt in daylight to confirm the impression, but duty called and early rising didn’t seem like a good option! Breakfast (excellent ham) at 0745 therefore, for a leisurely departure at 0841 to Coburg behind a 111, leaving the 628 on the Ebern branch for another time. I’d been annoyed not to have time to do this, but glad now of an excuse to come back…

Nice run up to Bad Rodach, changing from 111 hauled RE to 628 at Coburg. Physical connection not done thereat, but all lines seem to be accessible to both branches. There’s a surprising amount of freight from rail connected factories all the way from Bamberg. Bad Rodach looks a pleasant place, seen from a 5 minute turn round, despite (or perhaps, economically, because of) a large rail served car components factory. The countryside is fairly flat and the branch seems to wind about more for something to do than for any good reason. I got a bit excited when the destination panel on the 628 said Bad St Peter-Ording, in case the kart ran south of Coburg. Then discovered B St P-O to be a North Sea port between Hamburg and Westerland so had to dismiss that idea. [Though had the kart been going there, it would indeed have had to go via Bamberg!]

The facilities at Sonneberg seem rather over the top for one (or even three as there are now) branch lines. The loco here on 3-6-01 is 143 088.

After a very cold half hour at Coburg the train left (from P3, so PP1,3,5 – about as bad as you can get!) for Sonneberg where the one line remaining from four is served by a large station and a large and opulent footbridge connecting it to the adjacent bus station. Both (ZOB and bridge) appear brand new, so why bother with the bridge. [Unbeknown to me, DB either were beavering away at the time, or were about to beaver away, at reopening the lines to Eisfeld and Neuhaus am Rennweg. But that’s another story.] The bustitute appeared more or less on time and went for an entertaining ramble to Eisfeld, with added truly dreadful radio – mostly 60s, 70s Eurovision song contest material.

At Eisfeld the Süd Thüringer Bahn’s Adtranz kart was waiting. There are some really fearsome gradients on the closed section to Sonneberg but it’s easier to Meiningen. Although the bus ride was grim, the morning in general was a very efficient use of Sunday time in terms of track done (Lichtenfels - Coburg - Bad Rodach, Coburg - Sonneberg, Eisfeld - Grimmenthal).

The ‘curve’ from the Schweinfurt line was observed coming in from the left at Untermassfeld station, 4.4 km from Meiningen. It’s two separate single lines into Meiningen however.

Arrival at Meiningen was at 1338 with departure 1515 to do the ‘curve’. This really looked like second prize on a Sunday. However I’d read my Rough Guide so trotted off across Englischer Garten (well it would be if they mowed it, or even grazed a few sheep) towards the town centre. Meiningen turned out to be a delight - nice undamaged market town well on its way back and with a lively market in the square beside a very handsome church. The usual rubbishy clothes, mobile phone bits etc., but also several motorised stalls whose owners seem to be guest comedians - notably Achim the meat and sausage man from Unna which is hardly round the corner from Meiningen. These provided great entertainment by hurling insults at each other and their customers, banging sausages on the side of the van, etc., etc. In the process they were selling a lot of sausages/bananas/fish which is what it was all about, of course. Also in attendance was a beer bar (trailer) from Meininger Privatbräuerei. Obviously I had to sample this (as well as the adjacent bratwurst stall) - price of DM6 for 0.4l seemed llike a tourist price until I realised that everyone paid it and there was DM2 on the glass. About £1.85/pint seemed perfectly reasonable; although typically eastern pils it seemed to be in the 5% range. Sure enough the second one cost DM2 and I got my other DM2 back at the end. By the time I staggered back across the Englischer Garten, fed and watered, it was 1505 so it had worked out very well.

I’d been concerned about the lack of polish on the Schweinfurt line but the kart (a 614) went the right way. There is a crossover on to the Grimmenthal to Schweinfurt line before Ritschenhausen but we joined it south of the station. At Bad Neustadt there is, at 1600 on a Whit Sunday, very little. Bar was shut, booking office shut, loos open fortunately. Only one road out so I set off (1½ hours to wait again) having checked that the bus ran. A hand written notice on the booking office advised me that as expected, SWTs aren’t valid. Having avoided a shower so short that by the time the chestnut tree started to drip, the rain had stopped, I staggered off towards the nearest visible church. After 15 minutes I reached another little market town, without any of the character of Meiningen. It did have a reasonably thriving café-bar in the square so I gave the local pils, Karmeliter a try. Quite reasonable (it’s in Bavaria I discovered, having had to look on the map, so less surprising). There’s a weissbier too, but time didn’t permit.

Back at the station, no sign of the 8260 bus to Gersfeld but an 8305 to Bischofsheim turned up at the appropriate time and place. Almost too late I asked the driver if he was going to Gersfeld and he said he was, so I dived in and parted with my DM7.50. Arrived at Gersfeld at 1812 for the 1817 to Fulda. A nice little station with an apparently open bar, perched on the hillside above the village. The line obviously continued eastwards at one time. A fairly well filled 628 awaited; I’d thought this was a privatised line but obviously not.

Perhaps it is though - ticket machines are all non-DB. Downhill all the way, both scenically and geographically, but nonetheless a successful end to the day’s track. Less so in Fulda, a dreadful concrete place. Station restaurant was closed so it was dear old McDonalds to the rescue again. Train was in early, fortunately, so there was somewhere warm to wait for the last few minutes. This is June 3 rd, isn’t it?

No such luck at Bebra where the incoming Göttingen train was 5 minutes late. Freezing inside (though rapidly got warmer) but not as packed as the previous one and I had a bay to myself. Exhausted tonight for some reason, I was delighted to see Göttingen appear on time and went straight to the Leine hotel and bed.

Monday 4.6.01

Reasonable night’s kip though woken a couple of times by rowdy locals. Breakfast is at 7 on public holidays so I was still able to get to the station in good time for 0808 to Uelzen (or in my case Nordstemmen). Very gloomy mood not dispelled by a cold, grey morning more like March than June. Slightly dispelled by a nice warm train though. I was also amused by the antics of a family of normals who joined at Northeim and seemed unable to grasp the concept of the windows being locked.

Changed at Nordstemmen - what a dump. Semi-derelict. Has platforms on the NW-S and NE-S sides of the triangle but the NE-NW side is far too far away for this. Luckily only 4 minutes to wait before a 628 arrived for Hildesheim. Another dump, though bigger and not derelict. I was able to purchase two copies of the monster new 9-part Kursbuch from an affable, if surprised, DB lady in the travel centre. Retired to the waiting room, then decided with about 8 minutes to go to buy a bottle of pop from the ‘drugstore’. I got in the ‘Mrs Jones’ queue behind some unpriced tinned mushrooms and nearly missed the train. Now that would have spoiled my day.

Not the most interesting ride as fas as Hameln, broken by a wait for connections at Elze. Hamel(i)n signal box has a large cutout Pied Piper on the wall, together with three rats. Didn’t see any real ones - perhaps it’s true… Line follows the Weser valley most of the way to Bad Oeynhausen Süd. Took the southern side of the flying junction Bad O-Löhne, which must make the north side significant! Took the south and east side throughout to Herford.

Herford was utterly miserable - cold, being rebuilt, no bar, no pub, no trains, no waiting room. Gave up and went for a coffee in the end, which shows just how bad things were. A great relief when the RB for Rheine turned up (I only just missed the previous one, probably wouldn’t have if the train from Hildesheim had been on time). This gave me a real fright - held for signals on the curve I’d gone to do, it then seemed to make quite leisurely progress. A quick tot up of the distance from Schweers & Wall suggested it had no hope of making Rheine on time, and might even be too late for my 34 minute connection.

I fretted about this most of the way to Osnabrück. New timetable suggested the IR stopped at Osnabrück but as I wasn’t 100% sure about this it seemed an unacceptable risk. Panic was setting in when I realised that I’d read the distance of the Münster line, not the Osnabrück one, and was 30km out. Shortly thereafter we arrived at Osnabrück and left there only 4 late. All well at Rheine therefore, a much more lively place with a buffet dispensing Rolincke Pils - adequate if unexciting. Now, about the timekeeping of the IR to Schiphol…

How right I was. Loco (I think) caught fire (I think; lots of drifting smoke anyway) near Hengelo. Evetually got into Hengelo and changed to a Dutch IC going to Schiphol. Hopefully will arrive by 1900…

Exceptionally irritating to see the German train let past at Deventer, where according to the advertised departure time it was just over 40 late. I feared for our arrival but elicited from the gripper that we were due in at 1840. Not too bad, I thought, for a 1945 departure. Not so - flight was at 1930 so 1808 scheduled arrival for the German train was pushing it a bit. However, we went via Amersfoort, Weesp, Duivendrecht and Amsterdam Zuid, arriving on time at 1840, quite possibly before the German train.

The BA lady took my slightly breathless 1850+ arrival as routine, so no problem there in the end. Checked in, phoned home, bought H some chocolates, walked down to the gate and straight on to the plane at 1912-ish only to get delayed by air traffic control, as usual. Writing this from somewhere over the M1 so arrival time not known yet…

Stopped at 1949, about 4 late. Second off, first through immigration due to PlutocratClassMan’s electronic thingy beeping (he was the only PCM today). A little delay for the baggage, then my rucksack came off first. Into Customs where HMC&E’s delightful Labrador was requested to sniff round my flight bag. Nothing found of course, but were all these events connected? I think we should be told. I suppose a majority of persons coming from Amsterdam with rucksacks get this treatment, and who can blame HMC&E.

Over at the station it was back to the Third World. 2007 & 2037 Virgin both cancelled. 2019 CT turned up and went to Birmingham, naturally carrying a lot of passengers wanting to go on to Wolverhampton, so of course NWT’s 2037 to Manchester was sent off as we trotted down the stairs. 2045 Aberystwyth was delayed waiting crew, 2025 late running expected 2049 for Wolves supposed to arrive at P7. Meanwhile 2101 VT to Manchester arrives at P7. 2045’s crew on its way, no, not on its way, here in 10 minutes, etc., etc. CT’s platform man finally blew a fuse, ‘they’re taking the p**s here’, quoth he. How right he was. 2101 is still here as I write - 2105. No, moving at last. Eventually arrived at Wolverhampton 2125 to be met by H.








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