I've long been wanting to get into pole aerial photography and recently got around to buying the necessary equipment. Today it was nice and cold outside with patches of sunshine so this was a good opportunity to put my new toys to work.
Here we see one of the Antwerp-Gremberg junk freights (masquerading as a steel train) passing idled Block 16 in Montzen. The camera was mounted on a 18 foot pole extended to about 12 feet and remote-controlled from a laptop. I think this technique will open up a lot of new shots in the future.
2805 with the 44543 (Antwerpen-Noord - Gremberg/D) in Montzen passing Block 16.
This particular stretch of railroad is interesting in that it is on the German side of the border, has German Ks-type signals and quite obviously German catenary, but is powered by Belgian-standard 3kV DC and has dual safety systems, German PZB and Belgian Memor.
The current assumption is that the AM08s will replace the old EMUs starting a year from now, running Spa - Verviers - Welkenraedt - Aachen.
AM08 08529 + 08530 as 16510 (Aachen Hbf - Liege-Guillemins/B) in Bildchen.
Infrabel cannot be commended enough for the vigor with which they control lineside vegetation. A month ago all that was visible from this location was a green wall obscuring the railroad. Today the only green thing was Crossrail's PB15 leading this trailer train out of the Gulp Tunnel.
Crossrail PB15 with Lkw Walter-intermodal in Hindel.
A quick stroll down to the train station during lunch break netted this shot of the coke empties yet again, storming upgrade from Herzogenrath towards Kohlscheid. In the old days this was a helper district, but today the shed singlehandedly makes short work of the empty train.
This is peak color hereabouts, and any amount of wind in the coming days will clear the leaves off the trees immediately.
Captrain 6601 on the coke empties 47502 (Bottrop-Sued - Seraing/B) reaches Kohlscheid.
Back in the days when the ramp between Herzogenrath and here was a helper district and there were active coal mines in the area these sidings saw a lot of activity. Nowadays this scene actually warrants a photograph. Without good use for them it is anybody's guess as to how much time these four streaks of rust have left.
Captrain 6601 on the coke empties 47502 (Bottrop-Sued - Seraing/B) meets a turning RB33 in Kohlscheid.
Meanwhile B-Logistics is hitting rock bottom financially. To stay afloat a total of 25 class 77s has been declared surplus and put up for sale. Expectations are for around 60 mill. Euros for the lot. 7785 and 7786 have already moved to Celle/Germany for renewing their certifications for Germany. Watch for some of the Vosslohs to show up for new jobs within the next months.
2837 leads the 44532 (Gremberg/D - Antwerpen-Noord) through Remersdaal.
The trackage on the right belongs to the ZLSM museum railway. It was formerly a heavy-traffic coal line to the town of Simpelveld and on to mines at Kerkrade and Haanrade. The trash transload sits on an old mine property at the latter place.
Veolia Gtw in Schin op Geul.
On this sweltering day we find some action at Sittard in the Netherlands. Husa 1621 has brought the limestone empties south from Veendam hauling the black 66 along with it -- not sure who's idea of efficiency that is. The juice rack has cut away from its train and the class 66 will now take over for the remainder of the journey.
Captrain's 6605 is in charge of the coal train out of the little port of Born to Luxembourg. This flow has been operating very steadily the past months after being on again - off again in prior years.
Both trains are ready to head south as soon as the window trains have cleared a path for them.
Captrain 6605 with the coal train 48871 (Born - Vise/B - Bettembourg-Marchandises/L), MRCE 653-05 with the limestone empties 49667 (Veendam - Hermalle s-Huy/B) and Husa 1621 in Sittard.
Here we see him again then, continuing the northward documentary of his trip through the basin de Liege. This is the famous occupation bridge at Argenteau, probably the best-known railfanning spot on the L40. It has light on its north side on summer mornings, showing off its unspired architecture, graffiti, and sorry state of repair to great "advantage"...
The left span went across what used to be the old mainline alignment before the 1960s channeling of the Meuse and subsequent construction of the motorway, during which the railroad was also straightened and in places relocated.
Railtraxx MRCE 653-05 with the limestone loads 48640 (Hermalle s/Huy - Veendam/NL) in Argenteau.
Infrabel wasn't entertaining any optimism about the condition of the engines and sent a grand total of three cranes along just in case.
Here the two 77s and their remarkable train are seen crossing the Remersdaal viaduct minutes after leaving Montzen with a considerable delay.
7743+7765 with the 95439 (Montzen - Kinkempois) on the Viaduc de Remersdaal.
The moves run at night except on Sunday afternoons. I swung by Block 16 today lured by the beautiful sunshine but as I left the house approaching thunder was already audible. With literally seconds to spare before the downpour the entourage passed B.16 and swung onto the L39 towards Welkenraedt.
1870+1876 as 24473 (Kinkempois - Welkenraedt) in Montzen passing Block 16.
Currently a Mo-Fr flow to Bettembourg/L is being run in conjunction with CFL (Chemins de Fer Luxembourgois). A Captrain 66 shuttles the traffic between Born and Vise-Bas where CFL takes over for the nocturnal part of the trip via Gouvy.
In this view 3017 and 3018 have tied onto the loads after dropping the empties under Vise's floodlights and are ready to pull south.
CFL 3017 + 3018 on the 48871 (Born/NL - Bettembourg-Marchandises/L) in Vise-Bas.
52400 is one of the "intervoorming" trains (trains between classification yards). Nocturnal Su-Fr it is scheduled for a daytime run on Saturdays. Today 2015 had a rather short consist in tow south of Vise in a very lucky patch of sun on an otherwise cold and rainy day.
2015 leading the 52400 (Antwerpen-Noord - Kinkempois) through Argenteau.
Winter has given way to spring with daytime high temperatures around 20 degrees C and still frosty nights. The trees have not yet woken up but surely this is only a matter of days.
Railtraxx MRCE 653-05 with the loaded limestone train 48640 (Hermalle s/Huy - Veendam/NL) in Engis.
The Genk-Chatelet steel shuttles are a good example. Previously assured by class 23s and 26s these assigments were held down by 77s for a while and are now regulars for 13s.
The pair of 1305 and 1337 have been together for a while and strike a fine pose as they curve underneath the famous bridge at Argenteau with a short train of slabs in tow. This view has only recently been opened up by Infrabel's massive brush annihilation in the area. Over the years tens of thousands of pictures have been taken from the bridge (see 5 pictures down for an example) but rarely has the bridge itself been shown. I now consider this oversight corrected. ;-)
1337+1305 lead the steel train 33741 (Genk-Goederen - Chatelet-Formation) through Argenteau.
In this view one of the new class 18 electrics has an IC-O in tow. These trains have been cut short to Vise following a number of incidents were non-Dutch speaking engineers were harassed by the Dutch police in Maastricht.
1806 leads an IC-O Vise - Ostende through Cheratte.
Apparently starting in March this route will be used for nightly light class 18 engine shuttles back and forth to the maintenance base at Kinkempois. The dormant L39 is chosen over the more direct L37 to keep the former's rails reasonably rust free for the track circuits to continue working. In years past, special light engine runs had been scheduled for that purpose.
Here's Break 434 rounding the big curve just east of Montzen yard. Trees growing on the embankment have recently been felled creating this new angle. The signal J-Q 44 is the home signal for Montzen on the L39.
AM80 Break 434 as train 14942 (Kinkempois - Welkenraedt) between Montzen and Birken.
Here one of the units departs Meerssen for the final leg of the journey into Maastricht. The spire of the 14th century cathedral can be seen above the station building's white gable.
This is the second week of continuous sub-zero temperatures with lots of sunshine thanks to a stable high-pressure system.
Veolia Stadler Gtw 2/6 to Maastricht in Meerssen.
This is Railtraxx's first scheduled service. The engine has been transferred from former lessee Rurtalbahn/Trainsport as it is certified for operation in both countries, which Railtraxx's other class 66 - PB20 - isn't. As part of the swap it has received white ends, lost the RTB/TSP decals on the flanks, and has had stickers applied proclaiming "Maintained by Electro-Motive" (this is how it looked previously). The rolling stock is also very different from the cars used by DBS-NL last year.
Railtraxx MRCE 653-05 with limestone empties 49667 Veendam/NL - Hermalle s/Huy in Argenteau.
To top it off, I have never seen a dirty Captrain unit - they take remarkably good care of the icon of their corporate image. One only wishes the government railways would take note.
Here's 6603 with 25 cars braking towards an adverse signal just as it crests the grade coming up from Herzogenrath.
Captrain 6603 on the coke empties 26410 (Bottrop - Seraing/B) in Kohlscheid.
Additional power is provided by company Locon as can be seen here in the form of venerable ex-East German V100 #220. That's the engineer on the ground doing his own switching and running the engine via a beltpack onto the main before lining the siding switches back to normal.
Happy New Year 2012 everybody!
Locon 220 operating for Husa is on the trash train 50094 (Haanrade - Wijster) ready to depart Haanrade.
The trains run through with Captrain's attractively painted 66s all the way and are conveniently scheduled for a quick after-lunch outing. Today 6605 had the honor and was swinging through the wide curve south of Kohlscheid station trailing a neat heat plume.
Captrain 6605 with the coke empties 26410 (Bottrop - Seraing/B) south of Kohlscheid.
The class 26 electrics are being altogether sidelined, and a number of class 20s and 23s are being retired from freight service. With B-Cargo facing empty pockets, up to 60 class 13 engines are being moved over from SNCB. They are the only passenger motive power not encumbered by government subsidies (and thus off limits to a free-market freight carrier).
At the same time B-Cargo has lost all traffic into the Bierset intermodal terminal to Crossrail. Starting in January 2012 DB Schenker Netherlands will not operate the limestone trains out of Hermalle s/Huy anymore, to be taken over by Railtraxx for the Belgian leg and Husa in Holland. Thus ends the use of the DBS-NL class 6400 MaK diesels, at least here in the east.
In this view of one of the last trains only a few kilometers before the Dutch border, DBS-NL has sent a couple of fresh repaints instead of the usual pink faded eyesores. Going out in style...
2x DBS-NL 6400 bring the limestone loads 48640 (Hermalle s/Huy - Veendam/NL) into Vise Bas.
In a chance encounter in Montzen DE 6310 was preparing to get under way as 2808 brought an eastbound train of empty autoracks past Tower 15. I was hiding behind Crossrail's supplies container for this shot to get out of the 9 Beaufort wind and driving rain.
The boxy structure on the diesel's roof is the air conditioning unit that was retrofitted due to crew complaints about the hot cabs. There's one at each end. It would exceed the British clearance plates but fits into the continental ones.
Crossrail DE 6310 "Griet" and 2808 with empty autoracks in Montzen.
One of the strongholds of the old Belgian 3kV electrics, the steel train from Genk to Chatelet has recently passed into the hands of class 77s. Two of them lead the slabs up the eastern shore underneath the lime bluffs in this scene shot from across the water. Being a river-cum-channel in an industrial surrounding the water quality leaves a little to be desired, as evidenced by the oily slime at lower left. Nevertheless the area is teeming with geese, ducks, cormorants, and herons.
Two 77s lead the steel train 34741 (Genk-Goederen - Chatelet-Formation/F) south of Vise.
The former has a green Ascendos class 66 as their sole power while the latter runs a couple of G2000s bedecked in the beautiful G&W paint scheme. Here one of them is leading a Hungary-bound empty grain train east today amidst some very late fall color.
Rail Feeding 1101 leads the 47511 (Sas van Gent/NL - Aachen West/D) through Remersdaal.
Apparently this is due to some of the truck trailers being slightly oversize for some of the tunnels on this route. Trains carrying that specific type of trailer are encumbered with a 5 km/h speed limit through the tunnels in question.
We've not had any snow yet though night frost has set in. The days have been nothing but lovely sunshine for most of the past two weeks.
2823 with the glas train 41562 (Dresden-Friedrichstadt/D - Charleroi-Dry Port) at the Rue d'Aix in Moresnet.
This, Schulensmeer, was the last stop before sundown. It is a quite interesting location on the L35 with a lot of traffic bound for Antwerp and window trains thrown in for good measure. Multiple drainage ditches and rivers create an impression of Holland.
The train on the other hand is very Belgian. It consists of two 5-car type M5 double deck push/pull trainsets each with their own class 27 locomotive coupled into one long train. On the westward journey from Tongeren they will be split at Brugge, with one half each going to Knokke and Blankenberge. Eastbounds reverse the process. The engines and cab control cars have been equipped with automatic couplers on one end only for this purpose.
"Camel-IC" Knokke/Blankenberge-Tongeren near Schulen.
On Wednesday Captrain ran the compressed gas shuttle to Lutterade again for what seems like the first time in months. This is the only freight on the line between Heerlen and Sittard so I set out for a shot as soon as I received information about it from a friend. Running mostly westerly until swinging north by northwest into Sittard, light tends to be difficult for westbound trains around noon. Of course there really can't be any complaints on such a beautiful day.
Here then is CB1001 with a good-sized train approaching the grade crossing at Overbroek near Sittard.
As a postscript it turns out this was the last Captrain-operated shuttle. Only three days later, on 1st of October, Rurtalbahn Benelux BV took over this traffic. What a lucky coincidence.
Captrain CB 1001 leads the compressed gas tank car train 47712 (Dormagen - Lutterade) through Overbroek.
The "Solvent Belge" is a lucky example of a great industrial complex that so far has escaped demolition and redevelopment into yet another shopping mall. For those interested in the engineering past, this is truly a million dollar view.
AM80 422 Welkenraedt-Liege in Verviers-Stembert.
As expected their first assignments include the IC-A trains and the class 13s are vanishing fast. By the end of the year they will be all gone, likely moving into freight service.
Here's one of the new units leading an IC-A through what will be the Dolhain stop once the new tunnel bypassing the old station is completed.
1803 leads an Ostende-bound IC-A through the new Dolhain-Gilleppe (ex-Vicinal) stop.
This was all the motivation I needed to leave the house and enjoy the beautiful late-summer sunshine for an hour. With the number of red class 66s increasing all the time (there were three on hand today) it was nice to catch one of the gray units.
DLC DE 6606 brings a LKW Walter intermodal train past Montzen's old Block 16.
Returning to the subject matter at hand, I had noticed that one of Crossrail's JT42CWR-Ms (the ones with 5 body doors and cab a/c units) had received the new red paint job when it passed the house yesterday. The same unit was back today with the eastbound P&O train so I set out after it to capture the westbound which is invariably hauled back by the same engine.
Here then is squeaky clean DE6314 "Hanna" dropping downgrade from Trois Bornes Tunnel towards Montzen and ultimately Muizen.
Crossrail DE6314 leads the P&O train 40170 (Brindisi/I - Muizen-Goederen) at the Rue d'Aix in Moresnet.