Over four months have passed without a single railroad-related picture. Vacation, nasty winter weather, and business travel had gotten in the way. A kind soul has unearthed the freight schedules for the region and armed with that information I trecked out to the Tunnel de la Galoppe again for a look-see.
Infrabel has cleared away the bushes from the right-of-way in their usual very comprehensive way, thus opening up enough space to move back along the line for a shot towards the tunnel portal showing the new signals.
Railtraxx's 1266 118 was doing the honors on the Linz shuttle this fine later winter day.
Railtraxx 1266 118 on the 42565 (Antwerpen-Noord - Passau/D) in Hindel.
Here we see one of the DB Cargo units approaching the Tunnel de la Galoppe westbound with a solid load of vehicles. On the right is what remains of the old Montzen yard lead - the rails have been pulled, the worthless old concrete ties are still there.
E 186 340 in Hindel.
Apparently the place will be rebuilt starting in 2018 to make it wheelchair-accessible. This will quite likely spell the end of the little building, so it was good timing for a farewell picture.
152 085 on the 47544 (Osnabrueck - Muizen-Goederen/D) in Lindern.
Coming back to the bunnies, there certainly were enough on hand on the 17th of June when I captured 6508 and 6504 waiting with their southbound empties. The man on the ground has just completed the brake test and is chatting with the engineer. It's a nice - if overcast - Saturday. So maybe they are discussing plans for a barbeque, no doubt to include a Jupiler beer or two from the brewery just visible in the distance.
DBS-NL 6504+6508 on the limestone empties 60409 (Bressoux - Jemelle) in Bressoux.
Sometimes, and such was the case on this occasion, the train is being run with 2 or 3 class 77s. Having awaited them in Hindel I was treated to the increasingly rare sight of a train crossing over and then turning off into the yard at Montzen, presumably for a crew change.
7786+7866 with the limestone loads 47517 (Hermalle s/Huy - Oberhausen/D) in Hindel.
Save for the shuttles between Hermalle s/Huy and Bressoux the Dutch DB Schenker arm has taken over the former Railtraxx-hauled trains. Their underutilized fleet of 6400/6500-series MaK diesel-electrics are the usual power for these flows.
While usually used in pairs, on this fine day 6508 single-handedly rushed her string of empty cylindrical hoppers through Cheratte-Bas and on to Bressoux. The yard there has become the operating hub for limestone trains while Kinkempois is still being rebuilt and downsized.
6508 with the limestone empties 47615 (Veendam/NL - Bressoux) in Cheratte-Bas.
This line, running to Linnich, is set to receive new Lint 54 DMUs in the next weeks. The passengers riding well-filled trains to work at SIG combibloc, the largest employer in the area, will be happy to sample the posh accomodations in the new equipment, such as a/c and toilets.
Here we see two of the most colorful RS1s, the lead unit being in a special scheme designed by Otmar Alt and fitted with a party/food service compartment. They are seen returning from the terminus at Linnich towards Düren past SIG's expansive works.
Rurtalbahn RS1s in Linnich.
Railtraxx is keeping themselves busy ferrying limestone cars between Hermalle s/Huy and Bressoux. The yard there is enjoying something of a renaissance while Kinkempois has extensive trackwork going on and Vise seems to be kept clear for work trains in support of the rebuilding of the big Pont des Allemands this summer. Bressoux isn't in the best part of town, but reasonably accessible - quite unlike the sprawling Kinkempois complex.
In this view Railtraxx's G2000 is picking up Hermalle-bound empties off the front of the 47613 from Beverwijk/NL, which itself will be hauled to Jemelle by two of the 6500s barely visible in the background. The cylindrical hoppers are the 47616 to Veendam/NL, brought in on the trip up.
Railtraxx G2000 with the 60413 (Bressoux - Hermalle s/Huy) in Bressoux.
Expecting beautiful scenery I wasn't disappointed but what really surprised me was the sheer volume of BNSF overhead traffic on the line. Amazing what one can do with minimal infrastructure on a single track line when used intelligently and overseen by some top notch dispatching.
It was so good to see some real railroading again. Enjoy!
8113 on the U-FYNFTE024 dropping the midtrain helpers at Bozeman, MT.
There were a number of reasons like a new job with unfavorable working times, but mostly it's just plain boredom with the local scene and how it's developed. Nothing but Traxxes around. We used to think the Brits have it bad with a near monotony of 66s, but if there's anything worse it's an even higher percentage of these things. Not to mention that any diesel is better than an electric mixer on wheels.
Today's picture, then, shows Rurtalbahn's nail in the coffin of diesel traction. 186 248 today was running personnel familiarisation trips with a view to starting freight ops with the new timetable next week. Whether or not that will render one of their Sheds surplus remains to be seen...
RTB Cargo 186 428 on the Viaduc de Moresnet.
This, then, is another steel train though it is actually import steel from Bremen heading to the coil terminal in Renory. A good number of the DB Cargo NL 6400/6500s are sidelined for want of traffic but the "Vlaamse Reuzen" have been enjoying some solid assignments these past years.
DBS-NL 6503 with the steel train 47512 (Bremen/D - Renory) in Cheratte-Bas.
There isn't a lot of steel traffic out of Liege anymore now that most of the local industry has been shuttered. The weekdaily junk freights to Gremberg in Germany do continue to have a good deal of coil cars, however, as shown by this example running northbound (downriver) through Argenteau. The S-curve here might be worth some more exploring with a long lens from closer to track level on another overcast day.
2837 on the 44557 (Kinkempois - Gremberg/D) in Argenteau.
Not too much happened on the rail photo front since fall, mostly due to being away on vacation in the meantime. Shortly after returning from the hot South I went to the north of England with a friend.In case you think a December trip to be curious timing; well, we didn't meet a single soul who disagreed with that. Not the B&B landlady in Skinningrove, not the policemen in Sellafield checking us out, and certainly not our wives either!
In the event we had a lot better weather than anticipated and even though daylight hours were short we did manage to shoot a respectable amount of classic British railway scenes such as this one of absolutely stunning 37401 and her slam-door stock approaching Grange-over-Sands.
37401 "Mary Queen of Scots" Preston - Barrow-in-Furness in Grange-over-Sands.
Most of the shots today were taken with the pole again, a really worthwhile tool in as flat a location as this. Rather than the grungy rack on one of the Gremberg junk freights, this photo is intended to showcase the old-style signals; these four being the only ones left east of the Meuse river that I'm aware of.
2827 on the 44559 (Genk-Goederen - Gremberg/D) in Remersdaal.
I hiked up to Remersdaal to give the pole another try a year and a week after I was here last in the middle of an engineers' strike (see entry for 17-Oct-2014). There was at least some traffic today, and while I narrowly missed the PET train I did catch PB03 with a load of Lkw Walter trailers, plus some Traxxes of course.
Despite the lack of direct sunlight the nice colors this year really popped. There are a lot of birch and oak trees in this area so yellow is the predominant fall color.
With typical left-handed operation afternoon westbounds - being on the near track - are always a problem if you don't have some empty space as a foreground. I think the pole really works well in this location, raising the camera enough to get the running gear clear of the bridge railing. This is about a 16' elevation.
Crossrail PB03 with Lkw Walter intermodal in Remersdaal.
That's the western of the two humps to the right of the engine. The eastern was located next to B.15 in the middle of the yard, with both working the same bowl tracks. This arrangement of completely flat bowls with low and very short humps is typical of post-war modernized classification yards in Belgium.
The jumble of leftover track pieces on the left is what remains of the old Hindel yard lead. The track at the far left is the old avoiding track that skirted the entire yard at the south side all the way to B.16 on the east side. It's been out of service for at least 20 years.
2836 entering Montzen with a tank car train.
This is Railtraxx's entry to the party, their second regularly scheduled train across the L24. Running at least Tuesdays and Thursdays it conveys steel between the Austrian Voest-Alpine plant near Linz to Antwerp for export. Black-and-yellow shed 266 118 is the regular power for the job, their class 28 continuing on the Frankfurt shuttle 5 days per week. The sticker job isn't exactly inspiring but hey - I'm not complaining. It could be a Traxx.
Today and for the next few days both mains along the entire length of the yard are tied up by MOW as they replace several switches leading into the gas station. As a consequence all trains run through the yard, a very welcome burst of activity in the otherwise dead environs. The new engineer who relieved his colleague here throttles up and pulls out of one of the old eastbound bowl tracks towards the main.
The gorgeous sunshine of the past days gave way to absolutely abysmal light and 5C/41F January-like temperatures. This might turn into a long winter...
Railtraxx 266 118 on the Voest-Alpine steel train Linz/A - Antwerp in Montzen near B.14.
I figured a pole shot at Buschhausen would be doable. Had I bothered to properly check suncalc.net instead of eyeballing it from yesterday's photo spot I would have known that the light was somewhat unfavorable. On the other hand Infrabel very recently cleared the brush away, thus enabling a photo to show the roadbed of the old L24/1 which diverged here to great advantage. This line linked the L24 to the L37 south of the Busch Tunnel thus forming a direct path between Cologne and Belgium without the need to swap ends in Aachen West. The rails have been gone for over 30 years.
7785 + 7786 on the limestone empties Oberhausen/D - Hermalle sous-Huy in Buschhausen.
Unfortunately the 77s came back light engine which is why we see the only other westbound I got, narrowly having missed the Railtraxx-hauled Voest-Alpine Linz/A - Antwerp steel train previously. One would assume the Japanese Suzukis came past eastbound but apparently they are being built somewhere in eastern Europe these days.
2808 with Suzuki cars in Montzen.
Without reliable schedule info a friend and I set up at different points of the line, and for a change everything worked to plan. In this view at Kohlscheid the MaKs are right on the money lifting the empty rake up the incline from Herzogenrath.
7866 + 7867 on the limestone empties Oberhausen - Hermalle sous-Huy/B in Kohlscheid.
Signal trouble caused some serious problems for over an hour until the knot started to unravel and traffic began to flow again. In the event I got 3 southbound freights, curiously all hauled by class 145s, a rather unlikely occurence. Of course Traxxes are Traxxes but what are you really going to do... Here one of the Italian intermodals passes the shuttered signal box at the north end of Lindern, the smaller of two still extant in the area.
145 064 on an Italian Hupac train in Lindern.
The main on this side of the river sees most of the freight traffic and there was no shortage of trains - 10 inside one hour. The fact that fully 8 of them were being hauled by Traxx class 185s shows just how Bombardier has cornered the market at the moment.
Here we see one of only two non-DB Schenker trains this evening. Talk about quantity versus quality.
MRCE Dispolok 185 553 on a solid train of Falns in Bad Honnef.
In this view a diminutive Gmeinder D60C has just been repainted into RWE Power's new blue livery. MaK 1002 DE81 idles in front of sister unit DE83 which has been robbed of its trucks and sits on wooden bogies in front of one of the many shop bays.
This site would bring delight to any model railroader who would be able to display lots of locomotives in a very compact space.
RWE Power 485 (Gmeinder D 60 C) and HGK DE81 and DE83 (MaK DE1002) in front of the HGK shops in Brühl-Vochem.
Being an eastbound light is a bit of a problem. I figured the Rue d'Aix in Moresnet was my best bet. Alas, nature has almost completely reclaimed the west side of the tracks and the green PB17 does its best to blend in with the backdrop. The unusual slab racks bolted to the decks of flatcars are evident, making it unlikely for the train to be confused with anything else.
RTB/TSP PB17 (V267) on the copper slab empties 46679 (Olen - Hegyeshalom) in Moresnet at the Rue d'Aix.
One of the train series that so far had failed to grab my attention are the transfer runs between the major yards that build trains (voorming in Dutch, formations in French). These "intervoormings" transfer empty stock that has ended up in one yard but is needed in another. Since these trains never leave the system they are a good candidate for the use of captive engines like the 21s that B-Logistics is hiring from SNCB.
The only Kinkempois train that is readily shootable is the afternoon job to Antwerpen-Noord which runs north on the L.40 and then turns west onto the L.24 at Vise. In this view it has just passed the home signals at Glons where the L.34 coming up from Liege merges with the L.24. This location has recently been opened up via some aggressive brush removal which is well appreciated.
2145 on the Intervoorming 54201 (Kinkempois - Antwerpen-Noord) in Glons.
For some it may be a sign of OCD but I really hate the sight of any of the MaK/Vossloh road switchers running long hood-forward. This is the way they're supposed to run, and if they do I'm happy. This westernmost section of the L.24 is the least-photographed by me but there seem to be quite a few nice locations that I hope to be able to visit over the next months. Bonus points should DBS-NL's contract for these trains last.
DBS-NL 6506+6509 on the 48553 (Genk - Koeln-Kalk/D) in Boirs.
These things were first thought up in the late 1970s and came with - for the time - pretty modern styling. The obvious feature of course is the high mounted cab which permitted passengers, conductors, and on-board refreshment trolleys to pass between cars. In the 2005 rebuild program the troublesome and little-used door mechanisms (refreshments not being made available anymore) were taken out and replaced with a fiberglass plug. The trains come in 3 and 4 car sets with the latter having one additional power truck.
I quite like these oddballs. They remind me of a Zeppelin on rails. They're certainly not likely to be confused with anything else. Here's one in a very Dutch-Limburg location just north of Nieuwstadt a few km away from its next stop at Sittard where it'll swing east towards Heerlen. It was a summer-like 23 degrees C today and nature made a huge leap with green leaves and blooms sprouting everywhere.
ICM-1m 4036 running southbound as IC3500 to Heerlen between Susteren and Nieuwstadt.
For the record this location used to be called "Trois Ponts" in the old days (even though there are actually 4 bridges) but nowadays "Hindel" seems to be more generally used. As soon as the old absolute signals are replaced by the already standing but not activated intermediates there will be little reason to call this anything anymore.
2828 with the 44543 (Antwerpen-Noord - Gremberg/D) in Hindel.
With a couple of extra days off after returning from vacation I set out to shoot a couple of rerouted DBS-NL freights. The line across the border at Venlo is OOS for track work and DBS-NL has hired an ECR 77 (known to the rest of the world as a 66) to take their scrap and limestone traffic to Germany across the L24 (which the normal 6500s aren't allowed across).
In the event I saw nothing of them, presumably all three of the trains didn't run. Talk about bad luck. I did, however, happen into a veritable 62-fest with no fewer than 5 of the buggers being present in Vise's lower yard.There were also 3 tracks full of other Infrabel equipment with work ongoing both on the L40 north of here as well as on the big bridge across the Meuse river.
In this view three of the EMDs are heading south out of the yard. The third is adorned in the fancy new blue paint scheme that seems quite luxurious for lowly work train duty.
Infrabel 6242, 6261, 6246 in Vise-Bas.
Just back from 3 weeks of vacation in sunny Florida. There was some time set aside for foaming, watch for a new gallery to come online once I'm done sorting through the pictures. Meanwhile here's a view of a northbound intermodal hot with UPS trailers shooting past the Folkston, Ga train watching platform.
After almost two months of no foam I ventured out for a bit today. The objective was to catch a couple of freights that supposedly run on the L36 in Liege, a line that usually only rates one or two daily trains to and from the intermodal terminal at Bierset. The fact that all you get to see is a window train should clue you in that the mission was (again) a total bust.
That's how it goes sometimes. While freezing to the bone in the sunny but windy and thus really unpleasant weather I had plenty of time to contemplate how I hate winter. The days are short meaning that if one or two trains don't show up you go home empty handed in the dark. In our usual weather everything tends to be dull gray and murky. And in the rare event of sun, like today, the low angle produces nice results when it's favorable but screws everything up when it's not.
So 100 km of driving and 4 hours wasted for two pictures. This one shows one of the long ICs formed of I11 cars (with one oddball thrown in) being pushed by a class 18 across the flatlands west of Liege towards the city. In a couple of minutes it will begin the steep decent from Ans down to the Guillemins station, its next stop.IC passes Voroux eastbound.
I don't consider an excursion a total loss when I'm able to scout a couple of new locations, and this picture shows one of them. The stations of Statte and Huy are separated by less than 3 kilometers, a tunnel, and a large reverse curve with some serious superelevation. This "rubbernose" EMU leans into it as it passes underneath the houses along Avenue Reine Astrid. Basking in the pale November sunshine, the fantastically jumbled, haphazard architecture is the result of over 150 years of building, adding on, and rebuilding. With the railroad cutting off all access every brick and every shovel of earth has to pass through the house, no doubt adding to the enjoyment of home reconstruction and gardening in the small lots.Of some interest is the track diverging in the background. This is the L126 to Marchin, still used twice daily by a turn to the steel plant there.
AM96 476 between Statte and Huy.
Infrabel has removed all catenary from the old westbound bowl tracks and rebuilt the interlocking to allow trains to exit from the old eastbound yard directly onto the L.24 westbound. Come December this new connection will be remote controlled from Liege and B.14 closed for good. Tonight it stands sentinel under the yard lights as a wet November dusk sets in.
Block 14 at dusk.
Here we see the Dutch 65s southbound between Vise and Argenteau with their good-sized train. There's a block of coil cars on the tail that will get set out in Kinkempois where the train reverses direction and heads up the Ourthe valley for its destination at Jemelle, the last operating quarry in that region that still ships by rail.
6505 + 6513 bring the 49633 (Beverwijk/NL - Jemelle) southbound near Vise.
Doing the same things over and over again does get boring so here's an attempt at something different. The little AM has just passed the bifurcation (junction) Hammerbrücke just south of the stop at Hergenrath on its way to Welkenraedt. The tracks on the right are the very first meters of the LGV3 to Liege.
In a surprise move the frequency of trains between Welkenraedt and Aachen has recently been doubled to an hourly service. Roughly every other train continuing on to Spa-Geronstere. Cutover to the new AM08s was scheduled for the timetable change in December 2014 but has been pushed back into 2015. For now the automotrices doubles soldier on and thus have even gained new services. I wouldn't be surprised if the L37 became their eventual last retreat.
AM70 647 as IR5036 (Aachen/D - Welkenraedt) passes the bifurcation Hammerbrücke.
At least from ground level. It's a different story at 4m high where the camera can look over the small birch forest growing between the side-by-side mains and the tower. The grassy patch on the left shows where Infrabel ripped out the switching lead to the old customs shed earlier this year. All that remains is the severed stub track to the team track area.
Running like clockwork these past few weeks Captrain's attractive shed made another timely appearance on this dull day with the empties. It is seen here just after crossing over to the left hand track.
Captrain 6603 with the aluminium empties 48514 (Nievenheim/D - Kinkempois) in Montzen at the B.16.
I had long wanted to try the pole to give the somewhat bland shots obtainable in Montzen a new twist. Being on the north side of the tracks this overcast day seemed like a good opportunity to try it. This view of the 2901 crossing over to right hand running was taken from about 3m up and isn't immediately recognizable for how it was created. Only when comparing to almost the same scene shot from ground level such as here does the difference become obvious.
2901 with the aluminium train 46455 (Widnes/GB - Neuss/D) in Montzen.
Infrabel has kept busy rebuilding the interlockings at Rue de Cheval Blanc in Montzen and here in Hindel to cut them over to remote operation. Once that is accomplished blocks 14 and 15 will be decommissioned. The cutover is scheduled to happen before the end of 2014.
For Hindel this means the yard lead will be cut off and the interlocking changed to a simple set of permissive automatic block signals. The new westbound signals are already up and crossed out in this view taken off the L.38 overpass.
2805 with the 40291 (Antwerpen Combinant - Gallarate/I) in Hindel.