Germany 08.03.02-12.03.02 <  >

Back to Ostfriesland and Schleswig-Holstein, to do all those things which had been left undone three weeks before!

Friday 8.3.02

Massive quiz defeat last night (why is this phrase becoming so familiar?) and, er, sufficient Wye Valley HPA failed to dampen spirits. Off to Coventry by 156, VT loco-pushed and CT323 arriving on time. Late leaving work but just managed to make the 1709 to International. Bass in the Ab Dab fairly grim, G&T on the slightly late Embraer much less so. Arrived almost on time at DUS thanks to tail wind, then waited for ages for the bus to go while the inevitable prats with too much hand baggage collected it from the hold. Eventually caught the 2233 S-Bahn after being robbed of €8.25 by the ticket machine. Straight to bed on arrival at the CVJM/YMCA after a long day.

Saturday 9.3.02

Up brightish and early for what I fondly believed to be RE10005, 0559 Düsseldorf Hbf-Bielefeld. A reasonable belief, based on a cut and paste from the electronic timetable, but not so. It goes at 0549. Fortunately I’d given myself time for a cup of coffee and arrived on the platform at 0546, albeit without coffee.

An excellent result at Essen with an amiable English speaking DB man who helped me fill the form in to get my €8.25 back, and provided an SWT for tomorrow and an 8 day Domino (€260, quite a hefty increase). [It wasn’t quite such a good result, because I never got the €8.25 back in the end!] All of this occupied most of the connection time (and caused a long queue) so I had only 5 minutes before 0644 to Münster, which had appeared when I got to P9. The elusive P9 was duly done (see 16.2.02) and the otherwise very dull trudge to Münster was enlivened by 2-8-0 41360 with the ECS for a special at Wanne-Eickel. At Münster substantial amounts of breakfast were obtained, making the journey on to Emden a far more attractive prospect! The parish notices offered bustitutions between Emsdetten and Rheine but these turned out to be next weekend and in the hours of darkness.

It’s flat from Rheine northwards (and before Rheine, unfortunately). Major events included: crossing to the up line to gain the main platform at Lingen (Ems), crossing the river Ems just south of Lingen, the animal with the ghetto blaster getting off at Meppen, the sun coming out (ish), a power station just north of Meppen with a map of the world painted on its cooling tower, and so on.

The Werlte branch appeared very little used where it joined at Lathen. There’s a very nice little narrow gauge 0-4-0T plinthed here. You can catch a few glimpses of the elevated Transrapid test track to the east between Lathen and Dörpen but it’s far too far away to see any detail.

An immaculate 212 310 at Emden Hbf with the branch train for Emden Aussenhafen on 9-3-02.

Leer looked better than last time, with the sun out. On the approach to Emden it became apparent that the physical connection to the Aussenhafen branch probably wouldn’t get done, but this was far outweighed by delight when we arrived at Emden. The branch train was not only there in P6 [I’d been doubtful whether it would actually run] but was 212 310 and three coaches - first real train for quite a while. I went in the first bay of the first coach, despite it being a smoker. Nice little branch too with a modern station (and plenty of freight) at the harbour and a number of disused freight sidings en route.

Equally impressive, preserved 2-10-0 43 903 outside Emden Hbf

Several phots later the 212 was reattached and we trundled back up to Emden Hbf. P6 is in fact booked for daily use by a variety of trains on the main line so honour was satisfied after all. With nearly an hour to kill I pottered into town and found the ‘New Market’ which looked quite old, at least in origin, and had an acceptable street corner pub (if you like ones with a bar shaped to look like a ship’s bow). A glass of Veltins, also acceptable at €1.30, was taken by way of celebration.

110 447 nearly got me to the end of the line at Norddeich Mole, 9-3-02.

Onwards then to Norddeich Mole with 110347. I seem to remember some mad scheme for an overnight stop at Norddeich (or maybe Norden). Norddeich looks to be little more than a housing estate, Norddeich Mole is a terminal for the small ferries running to Juist and Norderney which lie at ‘Isle of Wight’ distances north. The platform ends of the two stations are 147 paces apart, which just shows how much there is to do… With no pub I was compelled to purchase a can of Warsteiner (the only alternative was Jever) from the kiosk. The ECS was taken away to allow the arrival/departure of an IR, Norddeich Mole being a single platform on plain single line.

The preserved line at Norden was showing signs of use (a little) and it’s worth noting that it joins the Norddeich line north of Norden so you’d have to do the junction if you were here again. Which of course you wouldn’t be, perish the thought…

Pretty much tedium all the way to Bremen, including a booked 12 minute stop at Leer and a booked 16 minute stop at Oldenburg. The train loos were all locked out which seemed a bit harsh on a 2¾ hour journey. On time arrival at Bremen allowed me time to nip across and book in at the Tulip Inn which is neat but not gaudy. Just expensive. Nice well trained reception lady said all the right things. Back at Bremen Hbf things went a bit awry. 1617 arrival from Nordenham was showing 10 late. It eventually arrived 15 late with a Thunderbird on the front followed by the driving trailer and sure enough, a dead blue and cream 141 at the rear. The station announcer had already primed us (‘not in service’ etc.) The 141 was left in the platform while the Thunderbird went off to the yard to run round. Meanwhile the yard pilot arrived to drag the failure away. This was interesting as they seem to have a shunter-driver job, plus a Hornby type ‘automatic’ coupling. Despite the failure having a normal coupling hook the pilot’s driver just hit the 141 fairly firmly, hopped down to see that all was well, then dragged it away. The thought of such an efficient procedure in the UK is far too much to handle.

Various pathing problems conspired to delay the Thunderbird’s return and we eventually left about 17 late to be further delayed by TSRs and a preceding IR, resulting in a 22 late departure from Delmenhorst and me starting to fret about daylight (booked 1749 at Nordenham). Eventual arrival was at 1807 in perfectly adequate daylight (125 th at f2.8, 400 ASA). The train was full going out and quite well patronised on the return. This being the case, and given the large amount of freight at Brake and Nordenham, the slow schedules are surprising. Presumably state of track, but you’d think there was enough revenue attached to justify some repair work. Daylight lasted until Elsfleth (dep 1843) and raises the possibility of getting to Padborg tomorrow night if it’s fine.

Back at Bremen a wash and brush up was taken with a view to sampling the Rough Guide entries in the Altstadt, one a brew pub. Spots of rain had appeared en route from the station and I stepped outside to find a full scale squall going on with the wind whipping sheets of rain through the streets and people running for cover, not least from flying rubbish. There being a Maredo next door it seemed a good place to take cover so I did, and had a nice steak and a not so nice Becks, there being no alternative beer.

I emerged to find the rain stopped so repaired to the Kleiner Ratskeller which is a superb cellar brewpub of the scrubbed table and benches variety, dispensing among other things a light, slightly cloudy beer called Schüttinger Hell. It wasn’t.

Sunday 10.3.02

[It’s perhapsworth noting thatduring the course of this weekend I received several phone calls regarding two unrelated events back in the UK which very much overshadowed my little excursion in Germany. Consequently my notes aren’t as detailed (or verbose) as usual.]

Awoke, after several interruptions from storms, to a beautiful morning which was enhanced by a very good breakfast (and a shower). Dashed off to the station for what I recalled as the 0727, to find it was the 0732, and 5 late to boot! Still, the other way round would have been much worse. Pausing to read the parish notices I noted bustitution Wildeshausen-Delmenhorst, which explained the engineer’s train seen at Delmenhorst yesterday. Now that would have been irritating!

Siemens Dispolok ES 64 U2 003 catches the morning light at Bremerhaven, 10-3-02.

The RB reached 7 late at one point, causing concern over connections at Bremerhaven, but got it all back and reached Bremerhaven, where there were 4 Dispoloks, on time. A 614 kart provided onward transport from Bremerhaven Hbf to Cuxhaven. It’s flat of course, but being somewhat lost in thought for reasons outside of railways, I didn’t notice much other than a fenced off private system, presumably military, along the way. We approached Cuxhaven on the southernmost line, arriving in P3 which has a kink at the bufferstop end which suggests a one-time runround facility. P1, whence Rabbit 218112 departed with the Hamburg train, looked as if it once continued past the station. Looking at the street map outside it may well have gone to the docks, which prompts a vague recollection of Cuxhaven being a transatlantic port at one time.

Cuxhaven, 10-3-02. 614 080, far left, had brought me from Bremerhaven and I continued with 218 112. The rear of its train is on the line which (presumably) curved round to the Nordseekai.

A brief look outside suggested Cuxhaven is a much better bet to stay than Wilhelmshaven, but I wasn’t in exploring mood so left it at that. The Rabbit left Cuxhaven on the other line, naturally. It looks very much as if the two routes (Bremerhaven and Hamburg) are worked as two single lines though there is a rusty crossover at the junction.

At Hamburg Hbf I was able to catch an S31 20 minutes earlier than planned, to get to Altona. This put me on the S1 to Wedel 20 minutes earlier and by the time I’d done a quick cross platform change at Wedel (the sets lay over for 20 minutes it seems) I was 40 minutes early. To little avail though, as there still wasn’t quite time to get to Poppenbüttel and back, nor to get a main line train out of Altona. I decided to do some curve/flyover bashing and set off on an S3 (-1 minute connection at Altona) to Langenfelde, thence to H-Hbf via Dammtor on an S21 and back to Elbgaustrasse on another one. Returning to Eidelstedt I found myself with half an hour to wait/freeze so I did another round trip to Elbgaustrasse.

The AKN kart to Neumünster started wedged and although it thinned out it did a brisk (if ungripped) trade all the way. The level of heating was erratic and I was glad to reach Neumünster after a rather cold and dreary journey. There was just 12 minutes to get colder still at Neumünster before a 110 turned up with the 1613 to Kiel.

All went swimmingly (while on the subject, there’s been a huge amount of standing water in the fields all the way from Hamburg; it must have been raining non-stop for a while) until just after Kiel Hbf. We ground to a halt about 1633 which caused the usual concern with my onward connection to Flensburg due at 1641. Eventual arrival was around 1637 giving me just time to hasten round to the Flensburg kart in P6. The rebuilding of Kiel Hbf seems to include remodelling the track layout and there was major track work going on as well as a couple of platforms out of action which presumably caused the delay. Certainly both incoming and outgoing trains used different platforms from those booked.

Nice run up the coast from Kiel - you even get to see the Baltic, briefly. The Kiel canal crossing is another ‘straight up and over’ which is shared with a road. The canal is in a cutting at this point so it’s not on the scale of Rendburg or Hochdonn. It’s actually quite pleasant countryside for a change and despite the beastly hard seats, not a bad ride.

Arrival at Flensburg was a revelation. The station is on … a hill. On the way down to the town there are a number of hotels apparently adequate and cheaper than Am Rathaus, there’s also a useful map at the station. Am Rathaus is also adequate, if uninspiring and not particularly cheap at €51. I shall make sure I have my ‘inkl.’ Breakfast.

The weather having improved during the day I decided to gamble all on the 1833 to Padborg (arr 1844). Despite this being a shocking 4 minutes late, to my delight the light held and as we slowed down for Padborg the sky was still light and you could see for a mile or so across the fields. Borderline border line or what? Having no Danish dosh it didn’t seem worth looking for a beer and as the 1913 southbound was booked in at 1853 which was only another 5 minutes, I settled down to wait. It was a minute or two late, or three, and arrived behind a smart Danish electric (3008). This triumph of brinkmanship has given me a couple of extra hours tomorrow and will hopefully avoid the 0610 from Dannenberg on Tuesday!

Returning to Flensburg I set off in search of the homebrew pub only to find that it had ceased to be (or moved) but the site was occupied by the Central Café which was a beerhall style establishment providing pfefferschnitzel (not too good) and Maisel’s Weiss (very good).

Monday 11.3.02

Glad to see the daylight (such as it was on a grey morning), I presented myself 5 minutes early at 0655 and was rewarded with ham, wurst, cheese etc and a boiled egg. I managed to sink all of this and leave the hotel at 0708 for an uphill trudge in the rain to the station. With just time to buy a bottle of water I made the 0723 IR with 3 minutes to spare, noting red and cream 103184 light engine on P3.

The ride to Elmshorn was completely uneventful other than the Rendsburg bridge which was well worth doing again! A packed RB from Elmshorn to Altona to do the north-south main line curve (basically it’s Altona south, Pinneberg north, H-Hbf east). After purchase of a Hamburg off-peak ticket, bargain at €4.25, back on the same RB to Pinneberg. On the way in we kept right over to the east of the layout, arriving after some delay in P12, possibly non-standard? Similar going north but arriving on the west of the layout then over a flyover north of Diebsleich to gain the east side and pass the yard (which contained a 103). The DB line runs parallel to the S-Bahn all the way to Pinneberg which makes the whole thing a bit academic, but I hadn’t done it northbound in daylight so not a complete waste. The RB was a couple of minutes late but I still made the 3 minute connection at Pinneberg (with a bit more haste than I would have liked). The S-Bahn was then delayed a couple of minutes waiting for a southbound RB…

Round to Altona on the S3, thus completing all four south to north sides (2 x S-Bahn, 2 x main line). Then back on an S31 to H-Hbf to do the second south to east S-Bahn side, and a quick change on to an S1 for the long trog out through reasonably prosperous suburbia to Poppenbüttel. The 6 car trains split at Ohlsdorf, a fact which wasn’t apparent at H-Hbf. [Well, not to me anyway.] Fortunately I was in the front car for the track, as one is.

Equally long trog back from Poppenbüttel and on through the tunnel to Altona where there was time to acquire a beer for Later Ron before joining 1215 IR to Hannover which I was intending to take through to Uelzen. Seeing no booked connection to Dannenberg I decided to bale out at Lüneburg to find out what was what. Dannenberg trains were fine but I did discover that you could do the connection into Lüneburg West on the RBs from HH-Harburg. There wasn’t time for a round trip but a little recasting of the evening should allow it to be done, albeit in the dark. There’s also a possibility for the 1035 tomorrow morning.

Continuing to Uelzen by RE (nasty double decker but it’s not far) it seemed only fair to visit the ‘station buff’, closed on previous visit (Jan 2001 I think). It’s well in keeping with the rest of this astonishing station, being called ‘Arte’ and best described as a bistro (again, I think). Pleasant enough, selling Berliner Kindl at a grossly overpriced €2.90 (about £1.95) for 40 cl (about 0.7 of a pint, so £2.80 a pint). I’ve been avoiding Berliner Kindl since about 1993 so thought it time for a second chance. Plan A was the right one.

Rabbit 218496 was an unexpected pleasure on the 1446 to Bremen as I’d assumed this would be a kart like the north-south service through Soltau. It seems to be a one-off; there were karts on both north-south and east-west services at Soltau, and another was passed at Brockhöfe. What a long trundle this is. Still it passed eventually and looked better on a nice sunny afternoon than the January fog in which I did the north-south line through Soltau. A long line of dead 215s was noted in a scrapyard (presumably) between Achim and Bremen.

The Bremen travel centre provided a sitzplatz for IC901 Bremen-Düsseldorf tomorrow as insurance, and I caught the 1714 IC to Hamburg. Although this was going to Altona, the inbound main line is on the same alignment as the S-Bahn outbound so I decided not to risk my supper.

Supper was duly taken at Gröninger. While I was glad to fulfil an ambition it has to be said that it wasn’t all that wonderful. Two Gröninger Pils helped, but not enough to impair judgement. I left everything to the last possible moment but (via U1, S31 to Harburg) managed 1946 RB from HH-Harburg to Lüneburg. Lüneburg West was quite a revelation - a good half mile of separate alignment, done pro tem by hanging out of the window. Better yet, 1035 tomorrow is also booked off West so it can be done in daylight with a change at Harburg for the Bremen line. Thank goodness for my doubts this morning.

Had a little rest on the way to Dannenberg, it being dark, so the journey didn’t take long! D-Ost is the station at the end of the universe without doubt. Still, due to DB and Multimap, 20 minutes got me to the hotel without problems. They’d never heard of me but we got it sorted in the end. And so to bed, very relieved that I’d eaten in Hamburg!

Tuesday 12.03.02

As far as I'm aware 628 546 was the other half of this unit at Dannenberg Ost on 12-3-02.

Having gained enough time to do all the Hamburg stuff yesterday I was able to revert to the original plan of catching the 0910. Breakfast looked a bit iffy and when the proprietor offered spiegelei mit schinken I voted for that. Wisely as it turned out - two fried eggs with embedded bacon bits, and it made an excellent start. Prop and Frau Prop went out of their way to be friendly, all in all a nice place. Beautiful old building too, with the small yard at the back glassed in to make part of the dining room.

I’d failed to note the bus times as I wasn’t expecting to be on the 0910 and Frau Prop was convinced a taxi was the only solution. As it was an overcast dry morning I settled for walking and quite enjoyed the 20 minute march. Heard the welcome sound of the kart’s hooter as I approached the station - despite all the checking there’s always an element of doubt with such a chronically sporadic service, and it is airport day! 6 passengers leaving Dannenberg, about the same as arrived at 2148 last night; there were enough cars at the station to suggest a certain amount of commuting to Hamburg or Lüneburg on the 0610. Probably 20ish (passengers) by Lüneburg after quite a pleasant run. Very wet in the flatlands near Dannenberg, just as in Schleswig-Holstein.

This is Lüneburg West, technically a separate station though adjoining Lüneburg 'proper'. Beyond the 628 the line continues to join the main line to Hamburg.

At last! Fizzy Gerolsteiner in a plastic bottle. Very thirsty after salty bacon and it’s far too early for beer at 1040. Lüneburg West to main line, with parallel overlap. Shame the kart couldn’t go in on the other line, but it’s an imperfect world. As we found out at the weekend. The junction is at km132.9 so there’s 1.3km of separate alignment, well worth doing. There also seems to be some separate alignment between northbound fast and slow at Stelle, so it was worthwhile doing the RB having done the fast on an ICE Hannover-Bremen some years back.

Sun was out on arrival at HH-Harburg – very pleasant just to sit outside for a few minutes to watch the world go by (it wouldn’t want to stop at Hamburg-Harburg, trust me). Making my way to P4 I found things in chaos (why does this happen on the way to the airport?) with an unannounced ICE standing in P6, the 1141 IR to Hannover getting later and later in P5, and the 1146 RB to Lüneburg getting later and later in P4. I couldn’t hear/understand the announcements but IC901 was late anyway and things had started to move before it arrived at 1105, 8 minutes late. This had reduced to 6 by Bremen. Finding my reserved seat to be a backward facing aisle I settled for a forward facing window, albeit with restricted view, in another vehicle. After Bremen a clear road allowed serious progress; the 122km were covered in 45 minutes and we were a minute early at Osnabrück (though half a minute late departing - tut, tut). Münster (1 late) to Dortmund (4 late) was via Lünen – not sure if this was required track but if so, it was possibly the fastest 100 metres I’ve ever filled in (see 19.2.02).

Still a bit late at Bochum but on time, or near as, at Essen, Duisburg and Düsseldorf where I decamped to Schumacher’s for a late lunch (piquant sauce indeed) and while away my spare hour and a bit on a beer or two. Obviously as I had plenty of time the IC was spot on, but let’s hope the S-Bahn doesn’t give a repeat performance of 19.2.02.

It didn’t. Safely checked in by 1730 then the long wait, occupied by serious inking in of gricing maps. Landed at BHX in sufficient time to get 2019 CT to Wolverhampton, hopefully for 2115 onwards to Telford.

Waiting at BNS on the 2019 I heard the 2037 Aberystwyth announced as P10. Hurtled across to this, to find it short of coolant. Man on platform: ‘I’ll go and find a watering can’. Man on train: ‘We’ll be delayed for a few minutes due to a technical fault with the engine’. Eventually got a path behind the local but in front of 2115 Wolves-Wellington so made it to Telford by 2140 and thence to the Cock Hotel for a pint of most excellent Salopian Heaven’s Gate.








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