Germany 26.5.12-29.5.12 <  >

If you’ve read the report of my October 2011 trip you won’t be surprised to learn of a niggling frustration at the failure (by HzL’s diesel unit) to cover the Hechingen-Eyach section. Add to that the preservation operations at Welzheim,Gerstetten and Kandern, not to mention a lot of brewpubs, and there was plenty of material for another long weekend in Baden-Württemberg. Cunning fellow that I am, I arranged this for a public holiday so that I got a kind of ‘two for the price of one’ effect of Sunday plus public holiday for the branch lines, and with HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee causing the normal UK Spring Bank Holiday to move from its usual timing, I was even able to get sensible travel arrangements.

Saturday 26.5.12

Another German venture with a stupid o’clock start dictated by the 08:00 ex Birmingham Irrational being the only available advance ticket. It was made worse by my lack of faith in the operator of the first two connecting services from TFC. Still, for £6.95 single BHI-Slough I really can’t complain.

05:44 ex TFC was on time (nay even a few seconds early), clean and tidy and appeared to have working air con. All rather unsettling. It has a long wait at New Street and a slow timing thereafter, so couldn’t really help being early into P1 at BHI. I pottered over to the airport for something to do but was back in ample time to see 06:51 ex TFC arrive early. If 158s could wear a smug grin I’m sure that one would have.

Bendyleano to Euston, rather rough riding. As usual my advance ticket got me a windowless seat but it’s an aisle one and ‘window’ is a no-show so relatively comfortable. On time into Euston and a surprisingly interesting ride on buses 10 and 14 down to South Ken for the Science Museum. A very brief visit there so it’s not fair to be too critical but it didn’t seem as interesting as in days of yore. On to Paddington by the Circle Line; inevitable the Oxford parliamentary was on P14, one of the old Met side suburban platforms, thus giving my dodgy knee plenty of opportunity to complain, which it took.

Out to Slough without incident and thence to the nearby ‘Spoon’s for Holden’s Special and Rebellion Blonde, both in good if not outstanding shape. Final UK move was the 77 bus to Heathrow T5 where Pret à Manger provided a mayo free lunch. Despite rigorous removal of absolutely every metal object into my rucksack I still set the security alarms off – I’ll never know what it was since the security bod couldn’t find anything either.

A chance spot (through glass at Heathrow) of BA's 'Firefly' A319 Airbus used to carry the 2012 Olympic flame.

15:45 booked departure; we eventually took off at 16:30 but arrived at STR almost on time around 18:40. Long delay at immigration unusually, and I didn’t hit the station until 19:10 thus easily missing 18:52 to Filderstadt which had seemed an outside possibility. So it’s the 19:22 which has just been announced as 5 late. Joy is unconfined.

It was about 3 in the end. Only a few minutes’ walk to Scwhanen Bräu at Filderstadt where an excellent weizen was on offer at €3.39/0.5l, not quite so scary now the pound is at €1.20+ ! Swift half litre was had then back to the station just in time for the originally planned 20:04 to S-Hbf, and thence to the Hotel Pflieger, a friendly establishment 5 minutes’ walk fro S-Hbf and bless ‘em, with early breakfast even on Sundays and bank holidays!

Sunday 27.5.12

Thin cloud this morning which might just get the temperature of my room down from 27° [it didn’t!]. Standard breakfast very welcome, always a good start to the day. A very welcome night’s sleep too after a week of early starts, despite the heat.

IRE 3235 to Hechingen was a tilting kart, fairly full from Stuttgart and wedged from Tübingen. Exceptionally rough ride on straight track (noted before with these I think) with a continual fore-and-aft bucking. Left hand tilt seemed to work OK, right hand leaned over then didn’t seem to know quite how far and compromised by swaying around an average of its own making. Very uncomfortable – I found it so, anyway, and was feeling fairly sick and glad to leave it at Hechingen. I had an hour to wait, so was disappointed to find the pub shut (opens at 10:30 it seems) as I’d hoped at least for a cup of coffee.

HzL's VT361 on the sole Gammertingen-Eyach working arrives at Hechingen Landesbahn on 27-5-12
The morning HzL cavalcade from Tübingen arrives at Hechingen on 27-5-12, Aulendorf portion leading.

Having noted that the kart from Gammertingen was booked to arrive at 09:45 I nipped down to the level crossing for a phot and was relieved when a modern single unit (VT361) appeared instead of the preserved MAN machine which let me down last October. It was on time so I was able to get back up to the DB station to phot the 09:52 ‘cavalcade’ of 5 units (Aulendorf x 2, Schönberg, Kleinengstingen x 2) of which the last two are dropped at Hechingen to head off towards Gammertingen. Fortunately I had last year’s Landesbahn phot with me so was able to establish overlap (and contiguous track) beyond any doubt. Nerdy? Guilty as charged, m’lud.

The HzL unit at Eyach on 27-5-12. The DB station is out of shot to the right.

At Eyach the HzL platform is separate with the station approach road between it and the main line so no ‘physcon 1’. The HzL train was a couple of minutes early so the 4 minute connection for Horb (a DB SULFA) made easily. [As indeed would the equally short one the other way. The fallback plan for today was the steam working from Bad Herrenalb to Ettlingen Stadt and a couple of brewpubs – but when push comes to shove the track wins, so it was off for the long plod to Kandern and back]. A 10 minute break at Horb then I was away south to Tuttlingen on pushed Dostos.

4 late into Tuttlingen but the (4 minute) connection made, the warning of ‘high occupancy to be expected’ in the timetable being a false alarm. I found a forward facing aircraft seat on the shady side of the tilting kart, which suits me just fine. The air con works on this one too.

Kandertalbahn's 2-8-2T 378.78 at Haltingen about to work 17:00 to Kandern on 27-5-12

Late at Neustadt but not enough to be a drama with a 5 minute connection (which would probably be held anyway) to Freiburg. Dostos pulled by a 143, it left one minute late. Near enough on time at Freiburg allowing time for a fruitless walk to the Freiburg Bierhaus (closed Sun – should have checked), a hasty McD’s, and a Paulaner and a Magnum Gold from the shop. Last stage of the southward trudge was the 15:15 RE to Basel, Dostos again, which dropped me at Haltingen to await the 16:40 arrival from, and 17:00 departure to Kaltern. Sadly I didn’t get the little well tank but the big 2-8-2T made a very capable replacement. The buffet sold Rothaus Tannen Zäpfle at a modest €2 for a 33cl bottle. And the four wheelers were seriously rough riding. So to Kandern, a very nice little country terminus where it would have been very easy to miss the bus while watching the shunting! I did my best to do just that but luckily checked the bus time before it was too late.

378.78 backs the empty stock out of Kandern on 27-5-12.

The bus turned up 2 minutes late and was then delayed a further 4 minutes by old biddies arguing about their tickets. This wouldn’t have mattered except that I had a 10 minute connection and a 4 minute walk, supposedly, at Haltingen. Time was regained to Rümmingen but then a young bloke got on and started arguing about his ticket ... The driver made him pay but it all took time. We eventually got to Haltingen 4 late and the 4-minute walk took 3 so I made the train by 3 minutes. It was right on time, too. I’m too old for these ‘man of steel’ moves. [With hindsight this was all madness. Even with the connections making I wasn’t going to get back to Stuttgart until 23:25. Still, fortune favours the idiot and it all worked.]

The journey back to Stuttgart was just tedious and demonstrated what a really good move last year’s purchase of an e-book reader was! 10 minutes or so waiting at Offenburg waiting for the Singen-Karlsruhe RE and 20 at Karlsruhe for the 22:08 Stuttgart. All were push-pull Dosto sets with all the seats that brings. Arrived at S-Hbf at 23:25, on time thankfully. Pretty good for a 15 hour day. After collecting tomorrow’s ticket, back to the hotel noting Cardboard City en route.

Monday 28.5.12

Cloudless sky but the hotel lady assured me [wrongly] that it was going to get cooler. Sound breakfast taken, though there should be at least one meal break today, public holiday permitting.

En route to the station, Cardboard City has been vacated by the residents but all their gear is still there along with the access barriers at the entrances. One can only assume that the authorities turn a blind eye. It looks like the useful Internet caff downstairs has disappeared so the hunt is on for check-in facilities for tomorrow’s flight. There’s a Yorma’s with Internet, don’t know if you can print. [Quite wrong – it was my memory that had disappeared. The useful Internet caff is still there, complete with polite and helpful staff. It was just a few metres further away from the stairs to the station than I had remembered.]

Clockwork S2 to Schorndorf where controlled mayhem was well established. The Waldbahn train was in, 212 on the rear and a chimney first tank loco, identity not yet known, on the front. [‘twas 2-6-2T 64 419]. The decision therefore was to go for 09:30 uphill and come back from Welzheim on the bus. Fortunately despite all coaches being labelled reserved one coach (the rearmost unfortunately) was for non-reserved pax but you had to buy a ticket first. Eventually I found the ticket sellers, quite a way from where I’d been told...

Very satisfactory from a track viewpoint – no overlap problems as it’s standard passeneger as far as Oberndorf. You get almost to the buffers at Welzheim, just th loco run round short. However if I’d been paying for the haulage not the track I’d have felt seriously short changed. On the way up the 212 was powering all the way from Oberndorf to Welzheim [and away from each intermediate stop]. To my surprise at Welzheim, the 64 was taken off and watered and then put back on the same end. So your premium price steam ‘haulage’ ticket gets you diesel banking most of the way up and picturesque puffing from a kettle on the rear on the way down. Little short of false pretences, despite the steep gradients. On the other hand the scenery above Oberndorf is superb. Verdict : go on a diesel day, it’s cheaper!

Schwäbische Waldbahn's 2-6-2T 64 419 at the rear of the 11:30 departure from Welzheim after being watered on 28-5-12.

Meanwhile, there’s a pub opposite the station at Welzheim. Well, it would be rude not to. Bottled Paulaner (it was a Stuttgarter house and I’d rather hoped for something less 'national') at a modest £2 at today’s rates. It also provided useful facilities in advance of the 40 minute bus ride to Schorndorf!

Very pleasant ride in a comfortable, spacious, air con bus to Schorndorf. Arriva no. 11 it ain’t. Well, it sort of was – it was a DB service! [Arriva operates (not very well) the local no. 11 bus service where I live, and has some shocking old buses. Even the new ones are cramped, horribly uncomfortable and fresh air ventilated. Outside of Germany, Arriva is owned by DB]. After checking trains to Bad Cannstatt I walked along to Kesselhaus in Arnoldstrasse where beer (unfiltered pils by way of a change) and schnitzel were excellent and good English was spoken. All for a tenner too, quite like old times!

The immaculate exterior of UEF's triebwagen is evident as it waits to leave Amstetten for Gerstetten on 28-5-12.

Decided to go for 13:18 S-Bahn to make sure of the leap at Bad Cannstatt – imagine the annoyance when 13:14 RE turned up and I hobbled across to find the doors locked. That wasn’t the really annoying bit though – the really annoying bit was it having a door failure and the guard running up and down testing every door, during which several people got on! He and the driver fixed it eventually but by then I was back on the S2 watching the fun (and being delayed).

The terminus at Gerstetten, no longer in DB ownership, is equally immaculate. 28-5-12.

Didn’t matter anyway as I’d got the earlier train, and I still had 40 minutes at Bad Cannstatt. With a pub on the station forecourt – well, it would have been rude. Sanwald weizen too, not bad at all. Down to Amstetten on the RE, to find possibly the most immaculate restoration I’ve seen, on UEF’s triebwagen.Fantastic. Very friendly crew with lots to tell me, subject to the usual linguistic problems. Oh, and they sell Goldochsen. Well, it’d be rude...

UEF's 98 812 under repair at Gerstetten on 28-5-12.

Back to Esslingen on more Dostos with a view to visiting Zum Schwanen, but it was not to be. After mastering the bus stops and getting a 105 to Neckar Forum I did a big circle round the pub before eventually finding it. Shut. The sign outside proudly proclaimed it was open 17:00-01:00 on feiertagen, but evidently not this one. Hot, tired and defeated temporarily, I returned to Stuttgart and the hotel via a fuel stop and a visit to the now located Internet caff at S-Hbf to check in for tomorrow’s flight.

Tuesday 29.5.12

143 109 with an RE for Tübingen waits at Plochingen on 29-5-12.

Another sunny morning – forecast says warmer than yesterday. 23 my foot! Bacon, egg and chocolate swiss roll for breakfast as well as the usual stuff. Excellent... Off to the station for purchase of VVS tageskarte, got the 09:05 S2 Schorndorf as far as Bad Cannstatt so that I could cool down a bit [underground platforms 101 and 102 at Stuttgart Hbf were sweltering] then 09:14 S1 to Plochingen for the same reason.Finally the planned 09:25 (ex S-Hbf) to Kirchheim where a very jolly bus driver took me into town. Pub was found easily, opening hours Tue-Fri 11:30, closed Mon. Alarm bells rang as it was a public holiday yesterday would today be Monday? Didn’t fancy waiting an hour to find out so I scooted back to the station on the next bus and went to Nürtingen via Wendlingen, where the Tübingen kart (two SULFAs) had to wait about 8 minutes for a late running train to pass. Luckily the bus to Mühlstrasse didn’t go until 11:30 (mostly they go at xx:23) so I still caught it with just enough to find out there was a 12:23 bus back to Kirchheim. So off to Schlachthof, a fine conversion of an industrial building into a big two room beerhall with brewery. Very smart though the pils didn’t quite live up to it.
The buses seemed to have their own agenda but by sheer luck the next one to turn up at Mühlstrasse turned into the 166 to Kirchheim when it arrived at Nürtingen ZOB. Accordingly I dived back in when I realised, and baled out in the middle of town at Kirchheim. To no avail – my fears were well founded and the brewpub was still shut. So it was back to the station on the next available bus, for the S1 at 13:21 to Stuttgart Hbf, theoretically connecting with 14:23 to Ludwigsburg.

And it did. And the 425 bus was waiting outside at L-burg for a short (but long on foot on a hot day with a dodgy knee) trip to Arsenalplatz, and I was at Rossknecht in a trice. What a very fine pub – modern but in traditional style and it all seems to sit together very comfortably. The weizen was seriously good – the 6.8% Maibock was also on,. On the prompting by text of a friend in the UK (It’d be rude not to’) I had a modest sample. It reminded me quite strongly of Batham’s XXX – no more need be said!

A WEG railcar stands in the bay at Feuerbach on 29-5-12 before working WEG R61 to Hemmingen on the Weissach branch.

There followed some stupidity (I blame the Maibock) as I made my way back to the bus stop and the station then leapt on to an RB assuming that it would stop at Zuffenhausen but not checking that it did. So, via S-Hbf tief (still stifling) and Feuerbach (not too bad, and got a phot of the Weissach kart in the bay) to Leonberg, and the Sacher brewpub in the former goods shed.

A bit of a surprise at Sacher as their menu is adorned with an official-looking drawing of a Collett 22XX 0-6-0. There must be a story to this but the waiter and I were linguistically non convergent (how’s that for PC-speak) so I’ll probably never know. Nevertheless the weizen was again excellent and the lurking Maibock was left untouched in the interests of getting safely back to England. If I hadn’t just been to Rossknecht I’d have been ... er... chuffed with the pub but in fairness with the very high roof it doesn’t have quite the same atmosphere to it.

Final moves were (very hastily) 17:17 to Zuffenhausen, an S3 therefrom to Vaihingen for a wait in comparatively fresh air, and finally the planned 18:30 ex Vaihingen to the airport. So ends a very satisfactory bash – just apart from the small matter of getting home.

Flybe were on top form fortunately – getting us to BHX significantly early, to the point that by the time of the booked 21:35 arrival I was on the way to New Street on the 21:29 LM Desiro [so why had they found it necessary to retime the flight 25 minutes later in the first place, one wonders]. On to Wolverhampton on a Bendyleano, pausing at ‘Spoon’s there for an Ay It, and finally out to Telford on the 22:43 LM stopper, significantly earlier than I’d expected after Flybe had retimed the flight some weeks earlier.

A very good mini-bash which barring non-availability of a couple of brew pubs went to plan perfectly. All the planned track got done, which is always the main objective, and I had the rare luxury of a hotel breakfast three days running (and a lighter rucksack for two of them!).Germany keeps springing surprises though, and the latest one is the molework diversion over the normally non-passenger section of the Berlin Aussenring. So I think I know where the next trip will be...

 

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