I had a free Saturday on my hands and a few interesting trains in the forecast so I set out for some foam. Hadn't been to Flandria for a while so a visit to the neat Schulensmeer spot seemed like a good thing to do.
In the event I did catch Crossrail with a tank car train to Hasselt which is something out of the ordinary for a railroad that otherwise hauls a lot of intermodal freight. It is seen here just north of Schulen station.
Crossrail DE 6309 with the 60248 (Antwerpen-Berendrecht - Hasselt) in Schulensmeer.
This is a bit of a rushed "oh-woops-here-comes-a-train" panic shot but I actually like the tone-in-tone green of it. The terrain around the west portal of the Tunnel des Fourons is something like a rain forest, kept constantly moist by several creeks running down into the trench and the cold air out of the dual bores.
The L.24 climbs eastbound at around 1% almost all the way from Berneau to Hindel, and the 66 is in Run 8 with one of the heavier trains on the line. The 55s definitely put on a better show until 2008 but in today's electric world this is the best we get.
RTB/TSP V266 on the lead ore loads 48511 (Antwerp-Groenland - Stolberg/D) at the Tunnel des Fourons.
I had for a long time wanted to take a photograph featuring the old disused Üf signal box in Übach-Palenberg. For various reasons it was always inconvenient - the sun wrong, no interesting traffic, or any other of a number of random excuses. With this week's diversion of freight traffic onto the KBS485 and a full day of sunshine in the forecast I used my lunch break for the purpose. Barely minutes after arriving 2839 came into view in the distance with one of the chemical tank car trains that BASF runs. There was a bit of a tense moment when the equally diverted ICE approached from behind but in the end no harm was done.
A mere shade of its former self Übach-Palenberg used to be an important spot on the railroad. It featured a small yard and the junction of one of the many coal branches in the area, this one serving the big Carolus Magnus mine. Helpers were tied onto southbound coal trains here and banked them up the steep incline between Herzogenrath and Kohlscheid, 11 kilometers distant. As usual the mine is now a shopping center, the station has been reduced to nothing but the mainline tracks, the coal comes in from Brazil and South Africa, and all the jobs in the industry are gone.2839 on the 47562 (Ludwigshafen - Antwerp-BASF/B) in Übach-Palenberg.
The KBS480 between Aachen and Cologne is out of service as a through route this week due to bridge work going on in Düren. As usual that means eastward freight traffic takes the northerly route via the KBS485 to Mönchengladbach, turning east towards Neuss, and then heads south to Cologne. Westbounds do the same in reverse.
The upshot for us local foamers is a good flow of freight on the 485; a welcome possibility to shoot something more than the usual window trains. With this in mind I climbed atop the sound barrier south of Kohlscheid after work to partake in the pre-easterly festivities. The light was hit and miss but I lucked out with this "stealth" DB Schenker Traxx and her charge of steel carriers. I quite like the utilitarian look, devoid of any fancy graphics and other niceties.185 318 on a steel train in Kohlscheid.
I found myself back on the platform in Aachen Hbf just a week after the last time. The overcast sky lent a hand in capturing one of the Liege-Aachen regional trains as it came trundling down the hill into the station. It's a nice spring Friday evening and pedestrians are heading home from work or shopping across the occupation bridge.
Gone are the days of heavy freight and passenger trains being banked up this incline (which had a stationary steam engine for this purpose when it was opened in the 1840s). These days Thalys and ICE trainsets are the only other trains using this line.
The little AMs are set to be replaced with new Siemens Desiros in December this year, then running between Aachen and Spa. This will require Aachen-Liege passengers to change trains in either Welkenraedt or Verviers Central. We'll see how many are willing to do that. The number of passengers to Spa is probably going to be in the single digits...
AM70 653 and 646 as RE29 in Aachen Hbf.
Got back trackside for the first time in 7 weeks today. I'd almost forgotten how to shoot trains notwithstanding the fact that I took over 8000 photos while on vacation. But wildlife and rail photography are two different pairs of shoes.
So what do we have here then? A sweet train in sweet light if you ask me. Crossrail's oddly-painted "raspberry" 185s have been a fixture on the Italian box shuttles for several years now. The solid P&O and Unit45 consist will be turned over to one of their class 66s in Aachen West, just a few kilometers on.
Looks like spring is coming early this year, with 20+ degrees and sunshine forecast for the weekend. Time to stock up for a BBQ!
Crossrail 185 597 brings the P&O train 40170 (Segrate - Zeebrugge Voorhaven-West) into Aachen Hbf.
I had to be in Liege today and figured I might be able to spend some time trackside before my appointment. The storm rain and cold made me seek out a location where I could just sit in the truck waiting for traffic. The location of the old freight shed in Engis fits that bill nicely.
In the event I didn't see much but this duo of HLE18s being pulled by 2754 was a nice catch. The HLE27 is one of the automatic coupler-equipped units normally used on the "camel trains". There's a regular screw-type coupler on the other end.
2754 with 1841 und 1889 in Engis.
Spent a lovely sunny winter morning trackside in Eschweiler today. This place is both a curse and a blessing. A blessing because on the average weekday there is a lot of traffic and even some variety as most of the Belgian trains funnel through here wading through the normal flow of window trains. A curse because there are really only three angles to shoot so you end up with a flash card full of pictures that essentially all look the same.
Sadly all traffic other than oddball track equipment or construction trains through here are electric powered these days. The only one without one of the coma-inducing Traxxes on the point was this chemical tanker hauled by a Siemens class 152.
152 075 leads the 47563 (Antwerp BASF/B - BASF Ludwigshafen) through Eschweiler.
The weather was a bit rubbish on the 25th but since it wasn't raining I figured I might as well scratch a shot off the "no light" list.
This is the stately viaduct that spans the valley of the river Vesdre just south of Dolhain. Built in the tradition of the English railways of the era no costs were spared to create what today would be called a "super railway". The L.37 features an endless succession of bridges and tunnels constructed of a mix of granite and brickwork unique to this line.
An unmodernized AM80 Break passes what's left of the "Lavoir et Carbonisage de Dolhain", about to duck into the new tunnel that bypasses the Dolhain-Gileppe stop since 2012.
AM80 Break 303 on the viaduct in Dolhain-Gileppe.
Crossrail's PET unit train between Poland and Antwerp has been a staple of the company ever since the DLC days. Running as an extra it alternates between a route through the Netherlands and one via the L.24 depending on driver availability. I caught wind of today's train taking the southern path and set out to see him even though the weather left a lot to be desired.
After stopping for fuel in Montzen he had to continue his westward trek via the yard lead to Hindel as the "short lead" at Block 14 was blocked by Maintenance-in-the-Way. This was all the incentive I needed to slosh my way through the soggy pasture up to the Tunnel de la Galoppe. With the impending closure of the two remaining signal boxes at Montzen I guess this kind of move won't be happening very often anymore. What's more the vegetation up there is starting to grow back with a vengeance and come spring I doubt shots like this will continue to be possible. So crappy weather or not, there was a decent train and I wanted the shot. Here it is.
Crossrail DE6311 "Hana" with the 48536 (Buna-Werke/D - BP Chembel) in Hindel.
I was alerted to a Railtraxx intermodal approaching Aachen westbound and went out to catch him at the Rue d'Aix. The weather was fine if cold so bagging a few bonus Traxxes seemed like the thing to do.
2843 is the final (hopefully) E-186 delivered to B-Logistics. She has just entered the only spot with sun on this section of the line with the coal empties from Mannheim/D in tow. Normally strong tele shots and catenary don't go well together but the harsh light and abstract geometry make this at least somewhat worthwhile.
I did get the Railtraxx eventually but not before the sun had decided to call it quits.
2843 with the Mannheim/D coal empties in Moresnet at the Rue d'Aix.
Nothing special today, just a view of normal traffic combined with the best wishes for a healthy and happy 2014.
We're still waiting for winter to actually start, with +14C temperature and partly cloudy skies. There have been days in July that were colder than this...2839 with the 47563 (Antwerpen-BASF - Ludwigshafen-BASF/D) on the Viaduc de Moresnet.
29-Dec-2014I ended up at Montzen's B.14 where a little surprise was in store - a total of 5 trains, all Crossrail, had been parked in the place that usually sits completely deserted most of the time. While I'm sure this is due only to the post-holiday traffic disruptions it still was a nice surprise harking back to the busy days of the early 2000s. In addition to the three 66s in this view an additonal set of three units was parked in the engine pocket next to the old hump. Quite a full house! Bit of a shame the DE 6311 was parked behind the pole like this, but what the heck... 5 Crossrail trains in Montzen.
20-Dec-2013The very low sun a day before winter solstice turned many of my favorite spots into veritable black holes but Goffontaine was nicely lit. With the new double decker trains being topped and tailed finally one can shoot an eastbound at the Tunnel de Halinsart. The I11 consists always have the engine on the west end and a cab control car on the east. Happy Winter Solstice everybody! 1856 with the IC 509 (09:45 Oostende – Eupen 12:45) in Goffontaine.
18-Dec-2013A quick trek to Welkenraedt netted this scene with an AM70 tucked away for the night in one of the old freight yard tracks that are now being used for passenger stock. As is so often the case the catenary actually does add an element of interest to the dark scene. The small posts are yard power plugs to provide juice for train heating.
AM70 647 in Welkenraedt.
15-Dec-2013Interestingly enough the trainsets of either 8 or 10 cars are sandwiched between two HLE18s, providing ample power for the 200 km/h running on the LGV west of Liege. The reason for this is that the cab control cars failed the necessary certification. I set out for Welkenraedt to get away from the pre-Christmas madness and to capture one of these trains. 1822 leading and 1922 shoving made short work of their 8 cars as they pass the ancient Hotel Herren on what used to be the Prussian side of the Rue Mitoyenne. 1822 + 1922 accelerate the IC 509 (09:45 Oostende - Eupen 12:45) eastbound out of Welkenraedt.
22-Nov-2013Today's subject was the once-weekly Intercity hauled by a 25+ year-old class 120. Introduced in the 1980s this was the first production three-phase AC drive electric engine class. The original ICE power units were direct decendants in a different shell. 120 110 had already been sidelined along with other worn-out members of the class but was brought back to pinch-hit for the reliability disaster that the ICE3s are. The rest of the train seems to have equally fallen out of a time machine. Note vintage non-air conditioned cars with windows that actually open in the consist. They may not be flashy but they sure work a whole lot better than the unreliable jewelboxes DB have burdened themselves with. And really the only thing that matters on this day is a decent powerful heater. 120 110 with the IC 1918 (Aachen Hbf - Berlin Hbf) in Kohlscheid.
26-Oct-2013Here then we see a location I have not been to since Infrabel put up the dreaded wires in 2008 - Nouvelaar. It's not much of a shot anymore but what the railroad lacks since the Traxxes came today nature made up for with sheer beauty. There wasn't much traffic but the horses kept me company. They don't see many railfans here anymore, a far cry from years past when the bridge was packed with foamers taking aim at the parade of HLD55s and German 225s screaming up the hill from both sides. Maybe they miss the odd apple they received. 2810 on the 40242 (Gallarate/I - Antwerpen-Oorderen) in Nouvelaar.
This spot on the L37 is called Dolhain-Vicinal and was reactivated when Dolhain-Gileppe was bypassed by a tunnel last year. In a previous life it had been one of the places where the extensive Belgian interurban network (the Societe de Chemin de Fer Vicinaux - SNCV) interchanged with the "steam road" (Chemins de Fer de l'Etat, eventually part of SNCB). The station structure remains on the private property of a quarry, otherwise it would probably have been torn down decades ago.
AM70 654+636 as L5487 (Welkenraedt - Spa-Geronstere) in Dolhain-Vicinal.
The occasion today was the transfer of another AM08 Desiro from Siemens' Wildenrath test center to Belgium. It is the final one of the new EMUs to be assigned to Atelier Traction Stockem. The next units will go to Charleroi.
Siemens PCW7 with AM08 08555 en route to Stockem/B in Kohlscheid.
Rather than pack up and go home I went over to Stolberg to shoot eastbounds against what little light was there. Just as Rurtalbahn's little V104 was dragging the lead ore loads into town a sucker hole opened up and bathed the scene in a golden cast.
That's one of OHE's Siemens Eurorunners on the left waiting for a load of logs to come down from the hills.
Rurtalbahn V104 with the 48511 (Antwerpen/B - Stolberg) approaches Stolberg.
Anyone who shoots freight trains knows things don't always work as planned. Having been trackside for 8 hours this was one of the very few decent pictures to show for it. Definitely not one of the most productive days...
Crossrail PB13 with the Novara-Shuttle 41667 (Geleen-Lutterade/NL - Novara/I) changing directions in Sittard.
The station at Flemingsberg affords a nice long lens-view of southbounds as they approach the station on the fast (outer) track. Here a X2000 races into the late afternoon sunshine.
More photos have been added to the Sweden gallery.
SJ X2000 in Flemingsberg.
PE tower on the right received some fresh paint and had graffiti removed in 2013 making it look smarter than it has in recent years. The slab train in the distance holds at the signal to allow the little AM to pass on its journey from Maastricht in the Netherlands to Liege-Guillemins after completing its station stop.
PE tower in Vise-Bas.
Today's trip to the Meuse valley was a bit short on freight activity anyway so here's a view of 659 passing in front of the Tours de Droixhe with evident burn holes in them. One wonders what will remain intact for longer - the EMU or the abandoned remaining 3 (of 5) public housing sins of the "le Corbusier" era.
AM70 659 in Bressoux.
Besides being a very long train at around 400 meters the Velaro is also looking stunning in the Eurostar paint scheme. Completing the authentic British attire of the entourage is the pair of UK-profile Railadventure adapter cars, one at each end.
Crossrail PB13 brings the Velaro E320 Eurostar 4002 through Hindel as train 47518 (Aachen-West 16:40 - Bruxelles-Forest 20:00).
6-Jun-2013The cut at Hindel is starting to get green again after Infrabel's little gardening blitz. The engine is just at the point where the old L38 crossed over the L24 until it was abandoned in the 1960s. 2809 on the coal empties 48562 (Mannheim-Rheinau/D - Antwerpen-Zandvliet) in Hindel.
Eventually there was an even 2 east- and 2 westbounds. At least the first of the two westbounds had a hint of sunlight on it so this is the one seen here. Bit disappointing after 5 days of straight sunshine and no time for foam, but what are you really gonna do...
This, incidentally, is the opposite view to the picture from 8-Dec-2012, taken from almost atop the tunnel portal.
2824 with the limestone empties 48566 (Oberhausen/D - Hermalle s/Huy) in Hindel.
There's a bit more in this shot than meets the eye. It was taken from about 3 meters up using the pole, enabling the camera to look over the fence otherwise obscuring the undercarriages. The added height also shows the S-curve in the tracks to good advantage. Of course it's all in the timing - a bus or truck appearing at the wrong moment would have ruined the view.
Setting up the pole right next to a busy through street did give me rather more of the motorists' attention than I would have liked but I did want that shot!
1915 with IC-O in Cheratte Bas.
Speaking of freezing, spring just doesn't seem to happen this year. Just look at the vegetation in this picture! There's a frost every night and not the slightest hint of fresh green on any plants yet. Other than the ill-fated warm spell in early March we've had nothing but cold and darkness over the past 4 months...
103 222 with the measurement train 94030 (KKB 8:02 - 14:52 HSDL) in Kohlscheid.
If there's any one word to describe the 5th of March and following days, that's it. It started with beautiful sunshine and a record high of 18C/65F. I had high hopes for catching the trash train in nice light and set up at this motorway overpass parallel to the railroad between Heerlen and Voerendaal. In the event the train didn't run and all I got for an afternoon of waiting was frame after frame of these Stadler EMUs which make even a Plan V look interesting.
What I also got was the mother of all colds which floored me for the next 5 days straight. After a total of 100 hours of sleep and an array of flu medicine I am at least back to taking a passing interest in the world around me. And of course it's snowing again, winter sneaked back in for a few days. Durn! Well, at least this sick leave gives me time to flush this stinker out. Onwards and upwards, it can only get better (one hopes, and it had better be in the very short term!)
Veolia Stadler Gtw 2/6 crossing the A76 near Voerendaal station.
The weatherman promises warmer temperatures and even some sunny skies for next week so hopefully this long and dark winter is drawing to a close now. Apparently we've received the least amount of daylight since measurements began in 1951.
Captrain 6601 brings the aluminum train 48515 (Kinkempois/B - Nievenheim) through Kohlscheid.
There had been rumblings of a reroute of a once-weekly flow of aluminum slabs from Dunkerque to Nievenheim, and they started running last week. SNCF-Fret used to exchange them to HGK in Cologne for the remainder of the trip. Now they hand them to Captrain in Kinkempois who takes them over the L24 to Aachen-West and then up the 485 to their destination in the Düsseldorf area.
This then is the second train, caught in abysmal light (hence the b&w treatment) and a freezing northeasterly wind during my lunch break.
Captrain 6601 brings the aluminum train 48515 (Kinkempois/B - Nievenheim) through Kohlscheid.
The two leftmost tracks are the L24 climbing uphill towards Montzen/B, then there's an engine pocket, the two main tracks towards Aachen Hbf, and on the far right the "hill track" which is a shortcut for trains coming into town on the KBS485 from the north and rejoins the L24 westbound main just around the curve.
Unlikely to win any prizes this shot just shows a bit of the varied infrastructure around town that will be 100 years old next year (construction having begun at the outset of World War I). The church spire in the distance is St. Jakob, itself only finished 25 years previous.
Euregiobahn approaching Aachen West.
If you've followed my stuff here you'll know that I rarely consider a picture satisfying unless it has a sense of location and shows something more than just a train. The former is hard to miss in this one, and on today's railroads with their ever vanishing infrastructure signals are an obvious prop. This one shows there are at least two clear blocks ahead and a speed limit of 80 km/h for the diverging route at "Bifurcation Hammerbrücke" towards Welkenraedt, the little AM's next stop.
AM66 595 departing Hergenrath for Welkenraedt.
Postscript: 595 was retired less than two months later, in March 2013, and being used as a parts donor for other AMs in Kinkempois.
Such as this fellow who runs Locon's trash train. Using a beltpack remote control he walked the train out of the transload (the engine is pushing on the rear). In this view he's opened the grade crossing control box and is activating the gates to back the train across.
Volkerrail 203-2 operating for Locon with the trash train 50094 (Haanrade - Wijster) in Haanrade.
The Desiros will be the nails in the coffins of most if not all AM6xs and a good number of the AM80 Breaks within the next year, so better start getting your pictures now!
Siemens PCW 7 with AM08 08536 and 08533 as train 16510 (Wildenrath - Stockem/B) in Kohlscheid.
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.