Benelux mini-trip report

Discussion in 'Trip Planning & Reports' started by eastwestdivide, 4 Jun 2015.

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  1. eastwestdivide

    eastwestdivide Established Member

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    Just a short report on a trip to Benelux a couple of weeks back.

    Part 1
    Thursday morning, the 0915 from a relaxed Ebbsfleet a little late... dep at 0925. Nearly stopped at Folkestone, into tunnel at 0949. Out at 1109. Lille: long stop, lots getting off, my connection was now a bit doubtful, but the helpful train manager said it would be OK, plat 11 and use special "connections" corridor. He even confirmed that there was a sandwich shop in that corridor. Arrival at Brussels 1215.
    I momentarily lost the Panos sandwich shop (it was right over low platform numbers side), but found it just in time for the 1233 IC97 (aka EC97) to Luxembourg (and onwards to Basel) -
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    at the front, Belgian loco 1353, then some Belgian coaches - some compartments, some opening-window opens (about 10 coaches, Belgian, at least at the front). Not very full initially, but picking up more at the other 4 Brussels stations.
    Dep at ... 1242. Rolling wooded country to Namur. Only rearmost coaches (6?) go all the way to Basel so there was a mass exodus of people when the guard came round. More and more forested, and very soporific at a smooth 75mph or so. Lot of improvement work taking place, including wrong-line running past machinery on the other track. Even with cranes/diggers working.
    Luxembourg arrival on time at 1550.

    Friday I was a tourist in Luxembourg City, but as it's a hilly city with lots of fortifications, there were a lot of good viewpoints of the various viaducts, and with a frequent train service, you never had to wait long to get a train on a viaduct (even if it's a toy train):
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    Double-deck EMU:
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    loco + double-deck coaches:
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    Luxembourg/Liège service:
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    One of the viaducts was being supplemented with new construction, at Pulvermuehle (see http://www.cfl.lu/espaces/infrastru...on-d’un-viaduc-de-dédoublement-au-pulvermühle) -
    [​IMG]

    Discovered that the local language, Lëtzebuergesch, at least when written, resembles German as spoken by the policeman out of 'Allo 'Allo (Good Moaning), with roughly the right consonants but seemingly all the vowels different.
    [​IMG]

    More to come shortly...
     

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  2. eastwestdivide

    eastwestdivide Established Member

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    Part 2

    Saturday from Luxembourg to Amsterdam. Got to Luxembourg station nice and early for the Liège train - just as well as it was a replacement bus, but only for 1 stop to Dommeldange in the city suburbs, same arrival time in Liège, so earlier departure from Lux at 0904, and missing out going over yesterday's viaducts. Actually got the 0844 bus (previous service). Train waiting at Dommeldange, 4 Belgian open coaches, like those on the Brussels-Lux train, with Lux loco 3018. Dep from Dommeldange at 0925 (=0918 Lux).
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    Slow and scenic, forest and river, short tunnels. Lots of single track, staff changeover at Gouvy (B). I think it was there that I saw a former steam tender as snowplough. Even slower on towards Liège, where arrival was on time around 1155.
    Quick coffee and on to the 1210 to Maastricht, listed as an "IC" train, but actually a 3-car Belgian EMU with plastic seats (358).
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    At Bressoux was a "class 66" Captrain PB05 6609. Quite industrial stretch of line, with fast running beside the wide river Maas and motorway, and a huge rail viaduct at Visé, which crossed our route. Over the invisible border at Eijsden (staff changeover), into Maastricht on time for food from the station hall (stained glass), and a double deck IC at 1258 to Amsterdam. Although smooth, these do suffer a bit of body roll as you go over junctions if you're on the top deck.
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    Also at Maastricht, a 17xx-series loco (1730) attached to some double-deck coaches. Not sure if this was in service, but there were a lot of those locos around NL seemingly stored out of use.
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    At Den Bosch / 's-Hertogenbosch, there were a lot of autoslaaptrein.nl car-carrier wagons for the car-sleeper service which apparently stopped in April (http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/...oslaap-trein-car-carrying-service-closes.html).
    Arrival on time at Amsterdam.
     

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    Last edited: 4 Jun 2015
  3. eastwestdivide

    eastwestdivide Established Member

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    Part 3

    A week later, it was time to leave Amsterdam, with a flexible route to Brussels. The guy at the piano in the station hall was playing Hit the Road Jack, and about 5 others were around piano singing harmonies. Excellent.
    Then a bonus freight train crept up on me:
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    There was engineering work to Schiphol, so the IC to Brussels were being diverted via Haarlem, while the Intercity Direct (ICD) services to Breda via the high speed line were all cancelled. The Thalys to Paris were being diverted too, but I'm not sure via where exactly.
    So, on board the 0952 IC as far as Antwerp.
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    Both the IC to Brussels and the ICD are formed of 6 coaches, hauled by Traxx locos, the ICD locos mostly yellow/blue NS livery, and the Brussels locos mostly in a green/grey/red livery. The coaches for both services were air-con, some in the red/pink Fyra livery, others in yellow/blue, which made for some shocking contrasts.
    [​IMG]

    Part 4 to follow, as I seem to have messed up the attachments here
     

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    Last edited: 5 Jun 2015
  4. eastwestdivide

    eastwestdivide Established Member

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    Part 4

    I travelled in a driving trailer not being used as such - many of the sets included one, but I never saw workings with the loco at the back.
    Despite the diversion, all on time by Rotterdam.
    At Dordrecht, there was the comically-named Arriva Spurt unit (with a very short electric centre car)
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    and a container train with loco ES 64 F4 213, which on looking it up is a Freightliner loco - at least Freightliner's European Rail Shuttle BV (ERS Railways) subsidiary. It was painted in a livery advertising the Rotterdam-Poznań freight service.
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    At Roosendaal, the border station, the Belgian cross-border "stoptrein" came in, suffering very badly from graffiti.
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    Arrived at Antwerp Central on time. Here's my train from Amsterdam, showing the driving trailer a bit more clearly, on the bottom level of the three at Antwerp
    [​IMG]
     

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  5. eastwestdivide

    eastwestdivide Established Member

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    Part 5

    Antwerp, what a station. I'll let the photos do the talking, and just mention the chips with curry ketchup in passing.
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    Then on the 1337 cross-country to Gent.
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    Food in Gent station cafe watching cycling on TV, then the 1541 slow train to Brussels via Merelbeke and Denderleeuw (which apparently doesn't mean dandelion). This was one of the newish 3-car EMUs, 08xxx series. Glimpsed an SNCF loco on a mixed freight coastbound at Melle.
    Then dinner at Brussels, and the Eurostar back to Ebbsfleet, spotting 3 armed soldiers/gendarmes on the opposite platform at Calais, presumably to deter would-be migrants.

    And that's about it - it wasn't a trip purely for trains, but I managed to fit a few interesting bits in regardless.
    And I'm not an expert on the various European rolling stock types, so I was relying a bit on looking things up on the web: all comments and corrections welcome.

    Tot ziens!
     

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  6. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    Ah yes SNCB's AM08 EMUs, what did you think of them? I liked them for the PIS on-board especially, not brilliant comfort wise but they are much cleaner and tidier, thus passenger-friendly, than the AM72s etc that came before them!

    I can't view the attachments via the app for this forum, sadly, so can't comment on those yet. Schipol station is an interesting one, as it has that reminder of both Birmingham New Street and Sunderland for the underground platforms, but the concourse is much better thankfully.

    It sure sounds like an excellent trip though!
     
  7. eastwestdivide

    eastwestdivide Established Member

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    Those newish SNCB AM08 EMUs - perfectly fine, smooth, good acceleration, comfy enough seats I thought (an hour's journey roughly). There were still a few of the older "one-eye" style around - see pic showing no 999 in Antwerp.

    And speaking of ugly units, the Dutch double-deckers are a bit chunky to look at from the front.

    I bypassed Schiphol station, so I can't comment. NL is full of interesting and slightly off-beat modern buildings though.
     
  8. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    The deckers in the Netherlands, those will be the VIRM units. They're quite a funky ride in my experience, although I can't remember the issue about body roll when I did them. The ICMm units are pretty nice to do a long journey on.

    Once I see the photos I will comment further, but aye the Netherlands is a good area to visit for both tourist-y things and for the enthusiast.
     
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