Germany 29.9.05 - 5.10.05 <  >

Quite a varied itinerary this time, starting with some more Baden-Württemberg bashing accompanied by my long suffering wife. We were joined at Karlsruhe by a friend who’d flown into Frankfurt, for the free Plandampf. After the Plandampf we dispersed, with my wife returning home from Stuttgart. I went off to do some Bavarian bits, then rejoined my friend for a couple of days in the Czech Republic before dispersing again, friend returning home via Chemnitz and Frankfurt. I did some more Bavarian bits before flying home from Stuttgart. Simple, really.

Thursday 29.9.05

Mr Silent of A Certain Taxi Firm turned up on time at 1045 but drove very slowly so that we watched the 1058 Walsall leave while settling up. The net result was a major outburst of bad temper (and subsequent reprimand from Herself) when CT, true to form, cancelled 1113 Birmingham.

So off, eventually, on a slightly late ATW 158 at 1144 to Wolverhampton, arriving at 1206. With a Pendo due to go at 1206 stopping at Sandwell & Dudley, pointless delay seemed inevitable! But no, reason prevailed, ATW got the road and we ‘puck up’ the Bendyleano at New Street, arriving at Birmingham Irrational in good time for our check in. [So bad is the Shrewsbury line service that it’s automatic procedure to leave at least one train earlier than you need to, to be sure of getting there somewhere near time. I’d done that, but was still very irritated by CT’s cancellation.] BA took us to Stuttgart in a nearly empty RJ100 and arrived (I think) on time. At any rate we made the 1718 S-Bahn to Stadtmitte, thence a combination of foot and U-Bahn to the hotel (Am Wilhelmsplatz, OK if a bit pricey at €72).

The excuse for this picture is that you needed the PSUL tram route no 11 to get there! It’s the Dinckelacker beer tent at the Cannstatter Volksfest. This was early in the evening, with only a few people dancing on the benches and tables… At a very, very rough estimate this tent would seat upwards of 4000. There were 3 more (Schwaben Bräu, Stuttgarter Hofbräu and Fürstenberg). With 1 litre glasses the rule, this is industrial scale drinking!

Onwards via U11 from Rathaus to Cannstadt-Wasen (‘rare’, or at least PSUL tram route only used for special events there or at the Gottlieb Daimler Stadion). The Cannstatter Volksfest is a huge funfair and beerfest with at least four major beer tents (Fürstenberg, Schwäben Bräu, Dinckelacker and S-Hofbräu). We partook of a litre (nothing less available, and very expensive at €7.20, as was the food) of the Hofbräu festival special which, frankly, was pretty ordinary. The beer tent was fairly amazing for a newcomer – capacity at least 4000, band winding the crowd up very well, dancing on seats and tables, and seriously noisy! I think you’d really need to be German to get into the swing of it. Worth seeing though.

Back on the U11 to the much quieter (and cheaper) Mathäser, a Löwenbräu house recommended by Ron Pattinson’s website. A fairly plain pub, but friendly and with superb food. Worth it for the food alone, and a pleasant enough pub although the Löwenbräu Oktoberfestbier left me a bit underwhelmed.

Friday 30.9.05

Back on the rails the next day (we only had a litre between us, honest) we griced Stuttgart’s Zahnradbahn from Marienplatz to Degerloch. This excellent rack line connects at both ends with the rest of the U-Bahn system and is a modern and integral part of the city’s public transport. It wouldn’t happen in the UK… As is obvious in the photograph, each tram has a wagon attached for carrying bikes.

A reasonably leisurely start awaiting BW-Ticket time at 0900. The planned 1059 IRE to Karlsruhe gave us time to get out to Marienplatz for the rack line to Degerloch. Very entertaining line, with a wagon for bkes attached to each tram, and a wonderful view over the city centre. Altogether worthwhile. U6 back to S-Hbf with plenty of time before the train. This was ex-IR stock in IC livery, top and tailed by a pair of 112s. At the time of writing, west of Pforzheim, it has insisted on running 3 minutes late throughout.

And stayed that way, but there was still enough time at Karlsruhe to nip across to the hotel (Am Tiergarten, right opposite), make sure our reservations were in place (they were) and drop off the bags. Onward then on a 42x to Heidelberg via Bruchsal. At Heidelberg the ‘Bavaria’ bar at the front of the station building provided Andecher Klosterbier, much nicer than yer average with a bit of body to it. Not only that but hot pork sarnies into the bargain! Very satisfactory.

This was the prelude to a pretty boring hour and a half trundling round the OEG loop to Mannheim via Weinheim. Mostly flat, mostly roadside. The bit through the streets of Heidelberg is unprepossessing to say the least. All in all fairly tedious.

Then another 425 (or clone) to Mannheim Waldhof via Ma-Käfertal. Unfortunately this ends up in P4 or 5 (5 in our case) parallel to, but before the junction with, the main line, which was a pity. Still, nothing’s perfect. The morning train runs through from further north. [But doesn’t any more – Sep 2006].

Back to Mannheim via the normal route for another ¾ hour on the OEG back to Heidelberg. This was slightly better, looping clockwise through Mannheim to gain the bank of the Neckarkanal which it follows for quite a way before going through the streets in Seckenheim and on to Heidelberg, thus completing the loop as far as I was concerned. The 1811 RE to Bretten was … a 435. Harrumph.

Arrived Bretten more or less right time. We trooped off to Michaeli Bräu, managed both to think it was closed and not to identify it as the required pub! Eulenspiegel in the main square obliged again (see previous visit on 23.5.03) with a very nice – and cheap – schnitzel and a Paulaner weizenbier. We spotted Michaeli Bräu on the way back, open and exactly where the map said it was. Ah well. Made the 2000 to Ka-Hbf which was useful, allowing us time to get back to the hotel to give PR his room key.

Saturday 1.10.05

We stayed overnight in Karslruhe in preparation for the plandampf the following day. The first haulage of the day was Pacific 03 1010, seen here after removal from its train at Neustadt (Weinstrasse) Hbf.

With breakfast at 0800 the 0804 steam departure required a visit to the station bäckerei – but on arrival downstairs at 0730 breakfast was nearly ready and we were able to take advantage. Bonus! Off to the station for a ride to Schifferstadt (reverse) and Neustadt (Weinstrasse) with 03 010. A very vigorous run up the main line to Graben-Neudorf – seemingly the loco crew were enjoying themselves, as were the passengers. Rather more pedestrian on the branch to Germersheim and thence on to Speyer and Schifferstadt where the rain had eased enough for a phot of sorts. Tender first at a leisurely pace to Neustadt.

Rumour had it that the turntable at Neustadt had failed, trapping two of the locos temporarily; whether that’s true I can’t say with certainty but for whatever reason 218 479 was deputising for one of the Pacifics on its train of Silberlings, seen here at Neustadt. The punters don’t look too disappointed!

At Neustadt various things were apparent. 01 517 had failed and was being replaced by a Rabbit. Nothing wrong with that for me, but maybe some were disappointed. The Kuckucksbahn wasn’t working (as expected) but hopes had been temporarily raised by an ECS movememnt of the K-bahn stock withing the DGEG depot! And last but not least, things were getting busy. 52 4867 left for Wissembourg with 3 coaches heaving – due to dedication beyond the call of duty on the part of ‘H’ Company of Spencer’s Foot, H, PR and I had seats!

The sausage and beer facilities at Winden ( what a change from last time, alas for this occasion only) were clocked on the way to Wissembourg, so on arrival thereat we dashed across to Hotel de la Gare for a glass of revolting ‘beer’ from each of two countries which shall remain nameless in the cause of international harmony, but left the food for Later Ron.

Back at Winden the temporary facilities (bratwurst, insanely expensive Bärenbräu pils, and Portaloo) were much appreciated. Bärenbräu was founded 1996, location unknown at the time of writing, but clearly competent!

As far as I was concerned the ‘new haulage’ 23 042, here at Winden, was a very fair stand-in for Speyerbach. The only 23 I’d seen previously was an Airfix kit…

Due to my late dash for the Portaloo I was separated from PR & H en route to Bad Bergzabern behind 23 042 – new haulage! Alas, they had the grip and I had the ticket… no bones broken though and we reconvened in the station buff at BB for a couple of Paulaner Pils.

Back to Winden with 23 042 at the rear and 50 2740 at the front, thence 012 100 to Wörth Hbf where we changed, to do the newly extended S5 to Wörth Bädepark for my benefit. Having run fairly tamely 012 100 made a very spirited departure from Wörth which was at least interesting to watch/listen to!

Wörth Bädepark turned out to be adjacent to the Landau line (running parallel for a short distance). Immediately west of Wörth Rathaus it uses a short tunnel to dive under the road. At Bädepark (a.k.a., confusingly, as Wörth Dorschberg) there is a depot just beyond the island platform, however this is slightly to the side and wouldn’t prevent further extension. 20 minutes at Wörth Bädepark in the pouring rain is easily 19 minutes too long – but that’s life.

On the return to Karlsruhe, dinner was taken at the Badisch Brauhaus (food not bad, beer avearage, service appalling so all in all not one to rush back to). H and I also sampled the Goldener Kreuz nearby (Hoepfer brewery tap), whose beer I preferred.

Sunday 2.10.05

Brewer’s Revenge was shrugged aside to allow completely useless photography of 012 100 on the 0804 to Neustadt before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Eventual departure was with 01 118 on 1002 to Winden, which was heaving again. After a couple of phots we moved on to Landau by 628 and made our way to the Landau Brauhaus in Industriestrasse. An excellent establishment with a very nice light unfiltered pils, but once again terrible service (understaffed, overworked – a management problem, no fault of the staff). Reinforcements eventually arrived, which improved things a bit. Back at the station fuel was taken on before joining 012 100 for a short run to Winden, which was even more heaving! Phots were taken here and Bärenbräu resampled, before continuing on a 628 to Kandel. H went off to the market there while PR and I got wet photting two more Pacifics, then we returned to Karlsruhe with another 628.

The evening venue was Kuhler Krug, which was still difficult to find (two trams and a longish walk) but at least we found it. For future reference, tram 5 from Marktplatz to Rheinhafen (?) stops across the road and runs at 20 minute intervals until quite late on Sunday evening… Needless to say we came back on the no. 5. The 55 bus also runs direct from K-Hbf to KK but finishes early on Sundays (1847). The food and beer at KK (steak and unfiltered pils, they also do dunkel, weiss and seasonals) were excellent although it’s a barn of a place without a great deal of atmosphere.

Monday 3.10.05

181 212 spent its weekend at Karlsruhe Hbf and attracted its fair share of attention from photographers. This gloomy shot gives a pretty fair impression of the weather throughout the plandampf, albeit it was taken very early in the morning.

Minor hiatus last night with the hotel bill, but all settled amicably and we arrived at 0725 to enquire about early breakfast (starts 0800) to find that it was all ready and a table for three specially laid for us (although we hadn’t asked for either). Full marks.

Pacific 01 118 has such a clean exhaust that you can’t tell that it’s about to make quite a spirited departure from Kandel with a train to Karlsruhe.

Off on the 0804 kesselzug (01 118) to Speyer and the Technical Museum. Truly astonishing with a Boeing 747 high in the air on a steel tower, numerous (slightly in some cases) smaller aircraft likewise, a U-boat (U-9 for the spotters) also elevated about 3 metres, an assortment of locos mostly German but including a Chinese QJ, and an astonishing assortment of cars and other machinery. Expensive at €11 but then again, I’ve seen nothing remotely like it.

Back to Karlsruhe on a 612. Alspirbacher pils was taken in the buffet, then PR departed ona n IC to Nürnberg, and H and I to Stuttgart on an IRE (another wretched 425 – is there no escape) via Pforzheim, Bietigheim-Bissingen, and Ludwigsburg. With almost an hour to spare we took lunch at the Sanwald (ex-)brewery tap in Silberburgstrasse, just across the road from Feuersee S-Bahn. Excellent, both the schnitzel (Oma’s Schnitzel) and the Sanvald Hefeweizen, and altogether an excellent stop en route to the airport.

With H safely escorted to departures for the 1750 flight to BHX I returned on the 1708 to S-Hbf where there was just time to grab a ticket Neu-Ulm to Leipheim and a can of Hasserode to ward off evil spirits. The onward connection was 1802 to Lindau, a pretty well patronised double deck set. Exactly on time arrival at Ulm Hbf, courtesy of propelling 111 219, made the 1912 to Leipheim and Augsburg easy. 111 040 was the propulsion. Hotel Zur Post is easily 50 metres from the station – well, maybe not quite that far – so even with the train 8 minutes or so late waiting errant ICEs I was in my room by 1940. H has reported in from BHX and looks like getting 1858 Irrational-Wolves which is an hour earlier than could reasonably be expected. All in all a satisfactory end to the day.

Tuesday 4.10.05

She did get the 1858 – although then delayed by a points failure at Wolves in the traditional manner. The hotel was pleasant enough apart from a few children running about, and a decent size pillow (unlike at Am Tiergarten) enabled me to get a decent night’s sleep (ditto – no zoo nearby either).

A thoroughly miserable day had dawned and I set off the 50m back to the station in the drizzle (forecast to continue tomorrow, hotel receptionist said it rains all the time…). The ticket machine sold me a €1.30 single to Günzburg as I was too early for my Bayernticket – serious rebuilding is going on at Günzburg and the concrete in the subway was still wet, though devoid of cats’ paw prints, unlike our drive.

111 004 provided on an RB with bogie bike van to Donauwörth for the first track since Thursday. 52 8087 was noted in preservation at Neuoffingen. This is the junction between Donauwörth and Augsburg lines, several km east of Günzburg. Quite why I spent so much time pondering whether I’d get the physical connection at Günzburg instead of looking at the map, I don’t know.

Pleasingly, the train is booked to continue to Regensburg under a different train number, so crossed over to P4 on the north side of Donauwörth station. The Harburg and Aalen train left from P6 so the physical connection is assured! 110 205 provided the haulage.

Back in the real world the following day, I set off to Harburg (Schwab.) to fill in a gap caused by bustitution on a previous visit. I doubt that many people bother to phot this picturesque station, situated as it is amid the tranquil surroundings of the Märker Portland Cement works – so here it is. Harburg (Schwab), take a bow!

I didn’t quite grasp when dashing for the bus last time, how big the Märker Portland Cement works ar Harburg is. With 20 minutes to admire it this time, I did… The village is a mile away so the delights of the cement works had to do, until 110 482 arrived to push me back to Donauwörth. Arrival here was on P6 and departure to Günzburg (111 020 shoving, on another split working from Regensburg) from P7.

The miserable weather still prevailed (it did so all day) but you can pick out 294 788 amid the gloom at Günzburg. The picture is looking west towards Ulm, and the 642 is waiting to go to Mindelheim.

After a really tedious journey over the flatlands to Donauwörth, the same thing in the other direction was just the job. Not. Still, due to Max The Mole digging the line up next Sunday, I had to do Günzburg – Augsburg today, and that was that. At least I was able to get my ticket Furth-I-Wald – Domazlice for tomorrow, courtesy of an English speaking booking clerk at Günzburg.

The RE to Augsburg was 11 late which caused some concern until I checked the connection at Augsburg which is (was) 23 minutes. At the time of writing (Burgau) the driver seems content with 11 late, but the remaining 12 should suffice.

They did, easily. The RE was still 11 late when it arrived at Augsburg. The Bad Wörishofen train consisted of 2 x 642, the front one of which was detached at Buchloe. Of the ‘scenery’ there’s not much to say, other than flat. At Türkheim, the junction for Bad W. is just west of the station with the three through lines converging between the station and the junction. No problem with the connection therefore, even if you change at Türkheim. There is a west facing bay platform (1A) on the north (really) side which is used by 3 or 4 B.W. trains a day. The branch itself is predictably dull until it gets into the town at Bad Wörishofen where it makes its way between the buildings to the terminus, which is just a single platform. Arriving 3 minutes late on a 4 minute turnround, a visit to the Bahnhofsgaststätte didn’t seem to be a good idea.

Still amid the encircling gloom, 642 596 stands at Bad Wörishofen having worked through from Augsburg.

Türkheim, where I waited 20 minutes ir so on the way back, had a kiosk (shut) and a burger stall (shut) attached to the pub (shut) across the road.

Onwards in a 612 bound for München Hbf, as far as Geltendorf. En route there is some (very slightly) uneven ground, as well as some trees.

Geltendorf had a pub (shut) across the road, but also a burger bar (open) and a Spar shop (open). The line up to Mering was a surprise – very rural and quite picturesque. Add the relative comfort of a 628 and it really wasn’t too bad. The train waits for 15-20 minutes at Mering so I opted to bale out and catch the 1619 RE (111 219 hauling) though I’ll have to come back on the kart to get the physical connection, there being nothing south-east bound from PP 4 and 5.

Finally gave in at the Augsburg stop – a bottle of Sprite and a can of Stuttgarter Hofbräu, the latter serving to confirm my view that it’s better, even in a can, than the festival special (see 29.9.05). I was also able to obtain tomorrow’s Bayernticket at Augsburg, to save having to remember in the morning.

Back to Mering on the kart this time to make sure of the connection, and thence to Schongau. There is a lengthy stretch between Schondorf (as opposed to –gau) and Diessen where the line runs beside a large lake (Ammersee, Herrsching is across the lake). Unfortunatley a band of trees lines the lake most of the way but when you can see the other side – there are some low hill-type features! Amazing. There never was a journey with so many built-in delays in the timings – 18 minutes at Mering, 6 at Walleshausen, 8 at Schondorf, 5 at Diessen and 19 at Weilheim. There’s no apparent reason for the Diessen one either though it did appear that it might have been the driver’s PNB!

Despite all the delays, and the cloudy conditions, the light just lasted to Weilheim where the kart duly worked into P5 as booked (although not advertised everywhere as such, it works through to Schongau). It had gone unacceptably dark by the time we left Weilheim but a daylight trip into P5 is on the cards for tomorrow so all is well.

Schongau proved to be (I think – check in daylight!) highly picturesque, perched on a hill above the river Lech. Certainly a killing walk with a heavy rucksack up to the Hotel Alte Post which is in the main square, next to the church. Right next to the church… Retired round the corner for supper. Having decided the first place I found looked a bit pretentious, it started to rain so I went back there. It was. Modern, with tiled floor, pine furniture and ‘scrubbed’ tables. It didn’t quite work. Food (kebab) and beer (Franziskaner) were excellent, and just scraped in under a tenner.

Wednesday 5.10.05

I stayed the night at Schongau, currently the terminus of a passenger service from Augsburg via Geltendorf and Weilheim, but once on a through line from Weilheim to Kaufbeuren and Kaufering. It’s a picturesque walled (mostly) market town which sits above a bend in the river Lech – surprisingly the Rough Guide has no mention of it and I haven’t any details of this curious ‘lean-to’ chuch built into the town wall.

Schongau didn’t disappoint in the morning – even managed a watery sun. Walled 7/8 of the way round with only Lechtor (nearest to the river Lech) missing. Vandals. It’s where the main road goes in. Maxtor, Frauentor and one more I can’t remember the name of all in good shape and there is a wooden roofed walkway some of the way round, which was looked off. An interesting ‘lean-to’ church against the wall as well as a couple of conventional ones, one outside my bedroom window. The landlady implied it was ‘switched off’ until 0600 – but the alarm woke me, at 0630! A large paper mill just across the river must suit Schongau economically – get a job there and you’d be made… It’s rail served, with a very shiny spur and a diesel lok within.

A very pleasant ride back to Weilheim – dark last night so this was track. Largely rural and complete with hills – also quite a few cattle but, as ever, no sheep. An overgrown branch was noted heading north east near (I think) Peiting Ost.

The 0948 from Weilheim was formed from the appalling 425s. Should have been a football special as it was in 4-4-2 formation… A fairly routine outer suburban run to München-Pasing, noting in passing (!) that north of Mühlthal the S-Bahn lines are separate. So (hint) use the S-Bahn when going to Kochel!

The next day was a München suburban day. I paused long enough for a phot (but not for a beer unfortunately, despite the convenient station gaststätte) at Herrsching where the semaphore signal, a relic as far as I could see, contrasts with 423 771, a modern plastic contraption with agonisingly uncomfortable seats…

Pasing had various things to see in the 19 minute wait for the S5 - a German electric with a train of Trenitalia stock, a 185 on freight, a Siemens Dispolok on an Alex service and ICEs of various marks. The S5 was a minute or two late but no problem. We were on time anyway by the corssing point at Seefeld-Hechendorf, one station before Herrsching (the line is single beyond Wessling). The single track part of the branch gets what scenery there is – Herrsching station is near to Ammersee and serves what looks at a very quick glance a pleasant enough lakeside town. It has two platforms – P2 is much the longer and fortunately was the one used! It looks as if the line may have gone a little further at one time, perhaps to the lake side. The station buff looked quite enticing, but not in 10 minutes with phots as well.

Back, so slowly I was surprised we were on time, to München-Laim (one station east of Pasing) where I changed to an S2 for another enthralling 425 ride through the suburbs to Dachau. The station here is in the middle of a major rebuild and is in the usual shambles. My Altomünster train was from P4, towards the east of the station, and had to troop right across the S-Bahn lines to get to the branch, so the physical connection is already done (plan was, and is, to go back on a through train to M-Hbf to make sure of the connection). Immediately the line is away from Dachau and its paper mill (again with its own lok) it becomes rural, running through some gently rolling countryside.

The other branch of the day was the picturesque one to Altomünster, some of whose trains (all 628s as far as I could see), work through to and from München Hbf. This one, with 628 626 leading, took me back to München though I’d joined it at Dachau having caught an electric from Laim.

Hordes of children for the last stretch from Markt Indersdorf; most of my 9 minutes at Altomünster was spent waiting for a clear phot! There are two platformd and this time I got the slightly shorter one.

And so back to München Hbf, via lots of crossovers between Dachau and M-Laim. This took a lot of time but seems to be allowed for in the schedule as we arrived at M-Hbf on time. P26 (for Plzeň, later) turns out to be right by the S-Bahn entrance, which is handy.

On to Sauerbach by an S5, reversing at M-Ost) and back to Deisenhofen on another, which I nearly missed because I stupidly couldn’t find the subway and the first S5 was late. Changed there [Deisenhofen] for S20 to Pasing direct (via Siemenswerke not via Ost/Hbf). This uses the former freight-only line from M-Mittersendling taking the single track curve up to the south of the M-Hbf – M-Pasing line. It continues on the southernmost track all the way to Pasing.

Back to Hbf on an S8, to join 1644 RE to Praha hl.n. CD stock, buffet and first class then DB stock leading, including a compo. The DB portion is removed at Regensburg I gather. Haulage is a Rabbit (haven’t seen it, can’t hear it!). Paulaner Oktoberfestbier much enjoyed en route to Freising, where there is a most impressive cathedral/monastery on a most surprising hill.

The train did indeed split at Regensburg, with another 218 forward to Schwandorf. The refurbished Czech stock was extremely smart and other than no air-con, as good as anybody’s. Reversal at Schwandorf gave us another loco (23x) to Furth where a pair of Goggles was substituted for the final run to Domazlice, where PR materialised and joined me for a Krušovice in the buffet car, and Plzeň.

Thursday 6.10.05

The weather had cleared the previous day after several days’ gloom and we had unbroken sunshine in the Czech Republic. Here 754 020 catches the morning sun as it arrives at Plzen hl.n.

Very satisfactory hotel (Slovan) booked by email with no problems attached [provided you don’t mind a few short waits, presumably until there’s an English speaker available, it’s usually straightforward to book direct with Czech hotels even in smaller towns. I admire them enormously for this, and wonder what the reaction would be if, say, a hotel in Shrewsbury or Bridgnorth received an email in Czech…]. 4 minutes walk to the cathedral whence no 1 tram (2 would have, as well) took us via an interesting single line engineering diversion across the river to the main station. 0905 Plzeň – Praha hl.n. obliged me by stopping at the west end of P1, ensuring (with last night’s completion at Domazlice) contiguous track from Furth im Wald to Praha.

On arrival at Praha we trooped round to Masarykovo to find a wheelie bin with – shock, horror – cloth seats waiting to go to Kladno. We contained our excitement, boarded the train and went through to Kladno m ě sto to ensure contiguous track. K- m ě sto is a platform on single line so care had to be taken to get on behind where you got off, but otherwise no problem. We went in search of a pub, which was a long saga, but eventually found U Admirala (HQ of the Czech Navy) which would have been 5 minutes walk had we known where it was! A very pleasant establishment, open 11-11 and selling Gambrinus, Pilsner Urquell and Krušovice on draught.

On, taking care to get in the rear vehicle, to Kralupy nad Vltavou in a 810/trailer/810 combo. The rear 810 had cloth seats again, definitely a radical improvement. A huge industrial complex (power station plus who knows what) on the outskirts of Kladno provides freight traffic. On a cloudless late summer day this line is a pleasure to travel. It contrasted dramatically with the next drinking shed we visited, purveyor of Krušovice but holder of the Most Utterly Revolting Burger of the Year title since, easily, 1720. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

After this it was a pleasure to pile into a 451 [no, my brain must have been affected by the burger. It is never, ever a pleasure to get into a 451] to get to Vraňany for the Lužec nad Vltavou branch. Sadly it was 10 late. Still, the connection at Vraňany was held, to my great relief, and I’m writing this on the way back from Lužec after one of my faster phot stops! There’s a large (semi?) derelict concrete pipe works at Lužec but who knows what else. I didn’t have time to find out.

Later in the day a much delayed Os12304, 1450 Roudnice nad Labem-Zlonice, arrived at Straškov with 742 059 hauling a failed 809 or 810 railbus. It’s passing 809 495, in which I’d arrived earlier from Lužec nad Vltavou.

Got to Straškov on time (straight across the layout at Vraňany by virtue of being on a through train) but it all went pear shaped thereat due to late running. I watched 1515 Zlonice go, half an hour late, because it said Roudnice on the side and I took it at its word! 1545 ex Zlonice is 35 late according to PR [who was on it at the time] so I’m sitting in a very hot 810 at Straškov waiting for something to happen…

Eventually it did. The errant train turned up, with PR who baled out to go to Libochovice. I stuck with the Zlonice 810 which by dint of a smart turnround in P1 at Zlonice (narrow gauge 0-4-0ST and standard gauge 0-6-0T noted) and sharp running, was down to 6 late by Černuc on the way back. We’re booked to stand for 10 minutes at Straškov, so it all depends on the others!

Which seemed to be more or less sorted. Left PR (again) to go to Libochovice while I carried on to Roudnice nad Labem, arriving on time and, better yet, on the up fast, thus getting the connection! A cheery station lady directed me to the EMU for Lovosice, due away at 1818. This was a bit late at Lovosice but 1842 to Litoměřice was still there and deposited me at L-horni nadraži pretty well on time. Hotel (Salva Guarda) was easy enough to find, and 10 minutes walk (less from L-m ě sto I guess). Very pleasant if full of little tricks like ‘price shown includes 3% discount for cash’ and ‘breakfast extra’. Dinner was taken in the hotel, OK if you like empty restaurants and your order wrong.

Friday 7.10.05

The next morning (7th October) we encountered another failure, this time 162 054 which is skulking behind 122 024 which had hauled it (and R775, and us) from Lovosice to Praha Masarykovo where the picture was taken. The 122 is, I believe, fairly ancient, and certainly didn’t have sufficient speed to keep to the timings. Fortunately we had time to spare so it didn’t cause any problem and added a bit of interesting haulage.

The night was punctuated by mozzie bites which served me right for leaving the window open to cool the room down. Couldn’t find the little beggar to kill it, either. Breakfast OK if unambitious and we set off on 0802 to Lovosice which still looks grim even on another lovely morning. 0835 R775 Děčin – Praha Mas turned up late hauled by 122 024 with 162 054 dead behind. Presumably the 122 has freight gearing as we lost time all the way. Also noted a failed EMU with a 742 Thunderbird just north of Libčice nad Vltavou, causing us to run wrong line Kralupy to Libčice.

At Praha hl.n. we found an 810 + trailer waiting to go to Dobřiš. It left Praha hl.n. quite full and became more so, particularly at Branik (where the brewery is just beside the station). Although down to perhaps 20-25% by Dobřiš there is no particular traffic source/destination and it’s hard to see why the line should be threatened. Scenerywise it’s quite impressive with a tremendous climb to the summit at 500m. Dobřiš on the other hand was unprepossessing – but the pub at the end of the station drive obliged with a new beer (either Platan from Protivin or vice versa!) and a very nice lunch.

Back to Praha on the same 810, to the amusement of the grippeuse. What an excellent line. We retired to a hovel near Praha Masarykovo for a Krušovice before taking 1556 R train (an 82x with no first class) to Kralupy to do the connection, which of course it did, being a Zlonice/Louny/Chomutov train. There was better to come though, as my onward connection to Neratovice was billed as P4 (the Zlonice line) instead of the bay on the east side. This meant it went across the whole layout, guaranteeing every physical connection known to man! It was 14 late for an 8 minute connection, but this is CD after all.

Arrival at Neratovice was met by a red signal on the approach and the truly alarming sight of an 824 powering off what turned out to be the goods lines straight towards us. It stopped and reversed into the station – turned out there is a bridge out at the east end with only the goods line left. Hence this was the only way the 824 could get through to Praha.

Once that manoeuvre was complete we ran into Neratovice station, arriving to find the 8 minute connection just running in, 10 minutes or so late. It left immediately, reversing just short of the missing bridge to gain the Čelákovice line.

At Brandys nad Labem I found an open station ‘buffet’ (a very small bar tucked round the side) so availed myself of a Staropramen. Very nice it was too. By the time I returned to the platform ‘my’ 810 from Neratovice had been labelled ‘Mochov’ and was being attached to 809 342 which had arrived from Čelákovice. The pair set off on time as 1756 to Čelákovice and Mochov.

At Čelákovice we ran into one of the main line platforms and the Mochov unit was removed (without me unfortunately) and moved to the branch platform. It all boils down to the same thing though. Sadly we were about 15 late departing so light was rapidly disappearing – but you could still see across the next field (what size field did you have in mind, sir) and the photos will just prove that the camera can lie! This was all because of a very late running Praha – Nymburk stopper. We collected one passenger off it, and he wanted to go to Brandys, not Mochov! Well, that’s gricing… The trip back at 1911 will be in the dark – just hope my onward connection to Lysa isn’t as late.

It was, in fact; 12 late for a 13 minute connection, with no particularly good reason why it should be held. Thinking I could go an hour later if need be, I checked the timetable only to find this was the last train of the day north of Všetaty and even that could only be reached at 2215! There was no train in sight when we reached Lysa 13 late, however, and enquiries revealed that R718 was reported 20 late. Phew. It turned up 15 late, regained a bit at Všetaty and at the time of trying to write it’s 10 late… …but was down to –5 by Litoměřice m ě sto. Off to the world’s second noisiest pub for a Gambo, and so to bed via a major but successful struggle to pay our bills.

Saturday 8.10.05

Yet another failure the next morning (Saturday 8th) when 141 018 hauled us on Sp1610, with 163 001 dead in tow, from Litomerice Mesto to Ústí nad Labem-Strekov where the picture was taken. We were bowled here by a timetable change involving cancellation of a Saturday train on line 073, but managed to retrieve the situation with a quick bus trip to Ústí nad Labem hl.n. for a main line connection to Decín.

Set the alarm for PM not AM [not for the first time!] but still made it downstairs for 0650 with staff apparently aware that rooms 1 and 3 were departing early. Breakfast, if you can call it that, at L-m ě sto station buff, quite a smart example of the breed. The Sp to Usti nad Labem turned up early with 163 001 dead inside and 141 018 hauling. Off to Usti nad Labem Střekov only to find no train to Děčín on line 073 and nothing to Usti nad Labem hl.n. for a while. We leapt outside to find no taxis so set off walking, soon finding a bus stop with a viable bus move to the town centre. A bus duly appeared and we made it to the station for the 0814 via the main line to Děčín hl.n.

Bowled again at Děčín when it was confirmed that 0910 to Oldřichov via line 132 didn’t continue to Bilina any more. Still, 132 was done very satisfactorily in a crowded 810. A very attractive line too, with a long climb up the valley out of Děčín and an equally long descent into the industrial grot around Oldřichov. Oldřichov station seems like a grandiose monument to something that went horribly wrong. Semi derelict and insanely large in relation to its minimal traffic. We managed to find a pub, eventually, which sold Breznova (?) and Zlatopramen. It was beside the railway about 15 minutes walk westwards.

There is still (October 2005) diesel haulage over the ‘under electrification’ section between Kadan and Karlovy Vary, and Grumpy 749 170 is seen here at Kadan taking over R692 Decín-Cheb on which I travelled from Bilína to Cheb.

Onwards to Bilina loco hauled, to find the buff dispensing Staropramen in less fly-blown surroundings than usual. All was lost trackwise by now [or so I thought when I wrote this note!] as I had to go forward to Cheb on R692 in order to get to München tonight. PR decamped at Chomutov, providing some photo opps for future ‘Grumpy’ booklets! I stayed with R692, collecting Grumpy haulage behind 749 170 from Kadan to Karlovy Vary.

A long and very slow stretch of ‘wrong line’ working between Stráž nad Ohří and Ostrov nad Ohří ended up with a signal stop outside Ostrov and a surprise as R671 with 749 102 (loud I think) powered out towards us. It continued ‘wrong line’ so the whole thing remains a mystery. At Karlovy Vary hl.n. after another ‘wrong line’ stretch, 242 239 (seemingly off the back of a local from Cheb) replaced the Grumpy.

Another one for the trackbashers. 242 239 provided onward haulage from Karlovy Vary, running into Chodov as normal but then reversing back to the junction and proceeding (wrong line) down the avoiding line. This manoeuvre pleased me enough to take this otherwise pointless phot to record the event!

Wrong road again to Chodov, into station as expected. Station redcap comes out waving paper at the driver and … we reverse out. Down the avoider to my total delight, absolutely made the day!

Euphoria short lived as we gorund to a halt, seemingly mid section, just out of Kynšperk nad Ohří. Much verbiage guard<->driver; guard returned to advise of OHLE failure, various delays amounting to 20 minutes and no problem with connection to Marktredwitz. Being used to UK procedures I didn’t believe him, but we were on the move in a few minutes, crossing to the eastbound line to pass the OHLE repair train on the westbound. Straight to Cheb then, arriving 16 late with well over an hour left to my 1709 last hope.

I decided to heed the gypsy’s warning, nipped into the buff for a Regent and a piece of sticky cake, and got the 1623 Vogtlandbahn to Marktredwitz rather than the planned 1709. Once at M/witz it’s a through train to München which at least leaves DB with some requirement to get me there eventually. Given the ups and downs of the last few days I won’t hold my breath…

Passengers on the V-bahn kart were mostly German, some equipped with industrial scale shopping bags. Presumably Saturday shopping in the Czech Republic is beneficial to all concerned! Nothing much happening in Marktredwitz, but I decided against an earlier train to Regensburg on the principle that if the plan ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Marktredwitz, 218 203 is seen arriving at Marktredwitz with RE4007 on which I returned to München Hbf.

1752 RE turned up from Leipzig a couple of minutes late, 218 203 hauling. Alas I couldn’t find a seat within earshot though I enjoyed slamming doors loudly where animals were sprawled across several seats ‘sleeping’. I hope they were. I did find accommodation without obnoxious company in the last coach, so no problem.

Single line working between Freising and Neufahrn (the one nearer München not the one nearer Regensburg) did for the timekeeping despite valiant efforts from the 113’s driver. Eventual arrival was 20 minutes late. The Hotel Dolomit is in a rather rowdy area but it’s only a couple of minutes walk and it sufficed. Pubbing plans were abandoned (too late, too tired, too noisy, too far!) and I settled for a quick snack and bed.

Sunday 9.10.05

A poor night’s sleep though no fault of the hotel. Arrived at München Hbf armed with coffee and mayo-free breakfast, at 0640 for the 0652 to Erding. Still dark as the inevitable 425 made its way towards Erding but it was light before the junction at Markt Schwaben. On arrival at Erding I went (unsuccessfully) in search of orange juice and on the way back contrived to get overtaken by my rucksack (due to my persistent bad habit of leaving the waist strap undone) and fall down some steps. Inevitably a local dog had left a present at the bottom… but the Fates smiled for once (amused, no doubt) and I managed to miss it. It’s amazing how quickly you can react sometimes. I even managed not to hurt myself other than jarring my arm which already hurt from heaving heavy rucksack on to high luggage racks.

This very indifferent photo is of a 42-something at Erding – I can only plead that it was very early, misty, and I’d just fallen down a (short, luckily) flight of steps!

Meanwhile, the branch ends in stabling sidings just beyond the two platform station. The branch is single line with a flat junction at Markt Schwaben. The whole area is seriously flat although the last few stations are a few feet above the general level. Erding looks like the sort of place for prosperous Müncheners who are frightened of hills, and early on a Sunday morning only a few gleaming SUVs disturbed the peace, bravely battling through several dead leaves on the otherwise dry roads.

Back in the daylight as far as Rosenheimer Platz, changing there to and S7 (delayed by preceding S-Bahn to Tutzing) for Wolfratshausen. This was dedicated to being 2 minutes late and remainded so all the way. It’s a bit dreary at first but for the last few stations it’s quite rural and although still in the Isar valley the ground’s beginning to rise a bit as you head for the Alps. Fortunately I realised at W/hausen that the incoming train lays over for 27 minutes and not 7, and managed to get on the right one to come back! Sidings beyond a 2-platform station again, and it looks as if the line may have gone further. [It did, to Kochel with a branch to Geretsried.]

The final track of the trip was the S-Bahn branch to Wolfratshausen, where 423s 123 and 628 finally provided me with a sunlit shot.

Now heading for Stuttgart and my flight home, I was very concerned about timekeeping with short connections at Treuchtlingen and Ansbach planned. The S7 was on time to the second at München Hbf but on arriving ‘upstairs’ I found 1040 Ingolstadt and Nürnberg showing 5 late, which didn’t inspire confidence. I had an alternative plan to bale out at Ingolstadt and come back via Donauwörth. The RE left around 5 late and ran so horrendously slowly to a point just beyond Dachau that it seemed something was wrong with it. However it came to life then, and by Ingolstadt was back to 3 late (had been 10 at Peterhausen).

I decided to bale at Ingolstadt anyway, preferring the 16 minute connection at Donauwörth. 1202 Ingolstadt – Donauwörth RB (ex Regensburg) was on time throughout, and 1302 SSuO RE Donauwörth – Stuttgart left on time, albeit we’re not there yet! Purchased a bottle of Augustiner at Donauwörth – its label ‘Lagerbier Hell’ described it accurately, and I should have heeded the warning. On the other hand, getting the through train from Donauwörth to Ulm and Stuttgart had the unexpected benefit of getting the physical connection west of Günzburg since all D/wörth trains use the northern pair of platforms and Augsburg ones the southern. Looped at Nersingen to let an IC go by. Well, I suppose it’s probably track. It was very close behind – we seemed only to be staionary for a few seconds before it passed. And after, for that matter.

All of this left us 8 minutes late leaving Ulm – surprisingly little really though as noted previously, we’re not there yet… Glorious sunshine at Amstetten where the metre gauge to Oppingen was working today, with kettle simmering nicely at Amstetten. In between the Gerstetten line, the metre gauge to Oppingen and the metre gauge to Ochsenhausen south of Ulm, a weekend visit seems a good plan. Would probably have to be a public holiday to find all three working. 7 late at Göppingen, and the sun’s still shining. Still, Max Maulwurf may have something up his little furry sleeve.

From there it was back to Stuttgart and the airport for a flight back to Birmingham on one of BA’s 146s……pausing only to phot this graffiti’d ICE at Stuttgart Hbf. I can’t recall having seen one in this state before, though it’s very prevalent on DB generally and you can only admire the efforts they go to to keep the trains, and particularly the ICs and ICEs, in a reasonable state.

But he didn’t – just 4 late into Stuttgart Hbf, so time for the last minute shopping before the 1555 (in fact possibly the one before, running late) to Stuttgart Flughafen.

The sun shone, the flight was early and from a booked 1845 arrival I caught the 1848 (only 2 minutes late, a CT Desiro) to New Street. Let’s see what happens next…

I hang about at BNS waiting for a late running Aber service, is what. Still, no harm done.








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