France July 2014
This is an extract from a multi-country report to read the full report use the following link:
A trip that started out a lot more simplistic than it actually ended up but did have two purposes, the main one being to have a day doing the BLS “brownies” on the car trains at Kandersteg, with a bike, and the second one being to cover the weekend Summer diesel turns at Prague, which had been dropping 749’s vice 754’s every weekend since the timetable change. While I was bumming around Europe I decided that doing Luxembourg, Holland and Strasbourg in France all seemed like a good idea at the planning stages; in essence only one of those three went anywhere near as planned and to be honest Strasbourg was a complete disaster and I nearly got fined by the police in Holland for ducking under a level crossing barrier; that was going up!
The trip was in two parts, the first bit being solid cranking and the second bit being a relaxing week, with a bit of cranking, drifting from Zurich to Budapest via Prague & Bratislava with my girlfriend and a cracking week it was too; with weather that couldn’t have been better but was verging on too hot.
Booked direct through Norwegian Airlines
DY2497 1535 Budapest 2B – Gatwick – £78.80 each
Eurostar 9022 1131 St Pancras – Paris £73 booked online at Eurostar
Thello Train 221 1959 Paris – Milan (4 berth couchette) €77 booked online at Thello
Inter Rail Global Pass 15 Days – £369 booked through EU Rail
Reservations booked through Deutsche Bahn UK (all reservation only with Inter Rail Pass)
CNL40478 Basel – Koln €42.50 (4 berth couchette)
CNL40478 Basel – Arnhem €65 (3 berth sleeper)
CNL40419 Amsterdam – Basel €65 (3 berth sleeper)
CNL459 Zurich – Prague €180 (for two) (2 berth sleeper)
Switzerland BLS Car Train
0919 Iselle di Trasquera – Kandersteg CHF91 – booked through BLS online
Tuesday 15th July 2014
There were no problems on the ECML for my run up from Doncaster with 91121 on the 0600 Edinburgh – Kings Cross; until we got to just beyond FinsburyPark! The guard announced that there were line-side equipment issues that had resulted in a few platforms not being able to be used at Kings Cross. Thankfully our delay was only 10 minutes as I only had a plus 51 for my Eurostar from St Pancras.
From getting off the train at Kings Cross to standing waiting in the waiting hall took 9 minutes, there was no queuing anywhere and security was a breeze. My 1151 to Paris was boarded shortly after I sat down in the waiting hall! I was reserved in coach 17 for a quick getaway at Gare du Nord and the train was wedged.
Arrival into Gare du Nord was prompt and that’s where the fun for the afternoon began. I was in possession of a Zone 1-4 Mobilis ticket, purchased from one of the green ticket machines (left off the blocks and just beyond where the platforms end). I’d been a little undecided on what to do with the 5 hours I had in Paris but in the end decided to just go with the flow at Paris St Lazare and see what sprang out in the rush hour; hoping for plenty of 17000’s.
The excellent Paris by Metro app that I have directed me via RER Line D from Gare du Nord to Chatelet-Halle and then Metro Line 14 from Chatelet to St Lazare, the whole journey taking about 15 minutes, even with a 5 minute walk at Chatelet.
Having made my way up through the shopping centre to the platforms at St Lazare, I was just in time to be watching 17011 departing late with the 1516 to Ermont Eaubonne and then to have to make a split second decision on whether to do 17003 on the 1520 to Mantes la Jolie, which was right away and about to depart; I flagged it and as it happened it turned out to be the right decision.
The next two, 1531 & 1546, Ermont Eaubonne’s were nice shiny new EMU’s so I ended up on the 1542 Mantes la Jolie with 27348, right away Argenteuil. From there I never looked back and 17011 returning from Ermont Euabonne was the first of 7 consecutive 17000’s, unfortunately one of the three I’d already had! Having seen 17041 going into St Lazare on what I thought was an inbound from Ermont Eaubonne I was off at the island platformed station that is Colombes, where the set going the opposite way was just arriving so it was a safe move; and I wasn’t disappointed when I found 17041 on the rear.
At Argenteuil I’d decided to do the 1612 St Lazare – Mantes la Jolie forward to Val d’Argenteuil as a quick fill in, regardless of loco type, but was soon running under the subway to head back into St Lazare when 17013 ran in with the 1522 Mantes la Jolie – St Lazare. No sooner had I got up the steps though did the 1612 from St Lazare roll in with 17043 on the rear; decisions, decisions! I opted for 17013, merely as I was already stood at the side of it and already dripping with sweat courtesy of the afternoon heat; another run back through the subway would have likely finished me off for the afternoon!
The AC wasn’t working on 17013’s set, a newer double deck set, and the journey was utterly crap in that respect. The immediate breeze from the opening door at St Lazare was a very welcome relief. A quick glance across the stop-blocks revealed only one 17000, other than the one I’d just got off, which turned out to be 17056 on the 1639 St Lazare – Mantes la Jolie, which should have already departed. I managed to get on just before the doors were closed and put myself into a vestibule, of an already full train, that was wedged with SNCF grippers; at least 15 of them! It was one of those moments where you know you’re fully valid but you still feel a little edgy about getting your ticket out. Bizarrely though not one of them was interested in gripping and they all got off at Argenteuil, possibly to start barrier gripping?
There was still no rest for my legs as 17018 arrived with the 1648 Ermont Eaubonne – St Lazare; while I was trying to figure out what to do next. Strangely enough I’d been trying to figure out where 17018 had been heading when it passed through ecs just before 17013 had departed on my last visit to Argenteuil. I thought it might have been going to do one of the Cormeilles en Parisis rush hour starters but I was proven wrong. It had dropped into the Ermont Eaubonne circuit to create the extra set as the service went from 15 minute intervals to 10.
Back in St Lazare again I found 17003 on the 1719 Mantes la Jolie, via Poissy. I wasn’t going to smack the gift horse in the mouth when the second opportunity arose to get it in and the 20 minute fester it gave me at Houilles Carrieres sur Seine allowed time to cool down and relax a little instead of running around like a headless chicken in the heat! And what a bonus move it turned out to be as the oldest electric SNCF has to offer, 17002, rolled in with the 1710 from Mantes la Jolie back to St Lazare; which was number 7 of the 7 in a row and unfortunately the fun ended back in St Lazare.
With only 17002 on the blocks when I arrived, which returned to Mantes la Jolie via Poissy on the 1819, there were no others at all and I eventually did 27366 out to Argenteuil on the 1823 Pontoise; where 17043 presented itself as I’d hoped, on the 1743 returning from Mantes le Jolie to top off a cracking afternoon in Paris.
I was ready for food and having done Metro Line 14 direct from St Lazare to Gare de Lyon I found a subway just outside the station, which certainly cut down on the sandwich ching for the evening. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, 36015 had brought the stock in for my Thello overnight to Milan Centrale. I found 36007 already bolted to the business end and just as I was about to walk to my booked coach, in the middle of the train, I noticed a member of train crew looking out towards the wilderness as if looking for something; so I hung around. Sure enough he found what he was looking for as 36010 back on top of 36007. Thankfully the guy spoke a little English and was able to explain to me that 36010 was required in Dijon for maintenance and it would work the train to there and 36007 would work it forward; bonus!
All 3 of the 36000’s had Thello branding on the side and the stock was ex FS stock, some of which also had Thello branding. Inside the train was clean and each couchette compartment had free bottled water and working charging sockets. My compartment was a 6 berth compartment but there were only 4 people in it as we’d all booked for a 4 berth couchette. I was sharing with an old Italian gentleman, who spoke no English but French fluently, and an Australian couple, who of course spoke fluent English. I’d booked my ticket on-line on the Thello website a good 2 months prior to travel and it was just the trick as I was away for 16 days so the Mobilis ticket and Thello through ticket would bridge the first day and my 15 day global inter rail started the following day.
Our booked departure time of 1959 came and went and when I went to investigate I was told by one of the coach attendants that we would be departing at 2020 but wasn’t given a reason why. Sure enough we eventually departed at 2023, already 24 late and I only had 39 minutes in Milan to get from Centrale to Porta Garibaldi! Not a good start…….
During the grip the gripper was asked by the Australian couple what time we’d be into Milan and his response was at about 0700, which was 60 late. This wasn’t good news for me at all so I asked about getting off the train at Domodossola, which wasn’t a booked stop but the train would stop for passport checks and a loco change. This caused a bit of a consternation among the staff and the train manager was sent to see me, who explained that I wouldn’t be allowed to get off at Domodossola as there’s no agreement to do de-train passengers. When asked what was to stop me getting out o the open door once the train had stopped he just shrugged his shoulders. The big issue with that would now be the fact that the train crew take everyone’s passports for security checks by the Italian border security staff and I’d probably struggle to get it back, and run the risk of a running with the Italian order security so I settled for getting off in Milan; end of! The reason the train was late was explained at this time and it was all blamed on 36010, which was apparently running at a reduced speed due to its maintenance requirements; this was allegedly also the reason for the late start while fitters were looking at the loco! There was a back-up move in Milan which involved an ICN train from Milan Centrale to Bellinzona but this would result in me missing out on a 464 to Chiasso and an Re4/4 forward to Bellinzona.
I settled on my top berth, once the Australian couple had got all their baggage sorted on one of the middle berths. Quite how 6 people, and their luggage, would have fitted in the compartment was beyond me. The bedding is all fresh and in sealed plastic bags and you have to cover your pillow yourself. The quilts leave a little to be desired though and aren’t covered at all. I really struggled to sleep once the lights went out, even though I was safe in the knowledge that I was going to Milan and that we could actually make up any lost time during the two one hour stops we had for the loco changes at Vallorbe & Domodossola.
|91121||Doncaster||Kings Cross||0600 Edinburgh – Kings Cross||1E02|
|373103||St Pancras International||Paris Gare du Nord||1131 St Pancras – Paris Gare du Nord||9022||373103/104 in multi|
|20510||Paris Gare du Nord||Chatelet-Halle||1432 Goussainville – Melun||53472||EMU|
|Metro||Chatelet||St Lazare||Paris Metro Line 14||Metro|
|27348||Paris St Lazare||Argenteuil||1542 Paris St Lazare – Mantes la Jolie||136905||SNCF 27300|
|17011||Argenteuil||Colombes||1556 Ermonte Eaubonne – Paris St Lazare||137626||SNCF 17000|
|17041||Colombes||Argenteuil||1601 Paris St Lazare – Ermonte Eaubonne||137627||SNCF 17000|
|17013||Argenteuil||Paris St Lazare||1522 Mantes la Jolie – Paris St Lazare||136902||SNCF 17000|
|17056||Paris St Lazare||Argenteuil||1639 Paris St Lazare – Mantes la Jolie||136915||SNCF 17000|
|17018||Argenteuil||Paris St Lazare||1648 Ermonte Eaubonne – Paris St Lazare||137640||SNCF 17000|
|17003||Paris St Lazare||Houilles Carnieres sur Seine||1719 Paris St Lazare – Mantes la Jolie||130835||SNCF 17000|
|17002||Houilles Carnieres sur Seine||Paris St Lazare||1710 Mantes la Jolie – Paris St Lazare||130848||SNCF 17000|
|27366||Paris St Lazare||Argenteuil||1823 Paris St Lazare – Pontoise||136633||SNCF 27300|
|17043||Argenteuil||Paris St Lazare||1743 Mantes la Jolie – Paris St Lazare||136924||SNCF 17000|
|36010||Paris Gare de Lyon||Dijon Ville||1959 Paris Gare de Lyon – Venezia Santa Lucia||EN221||36007 dead in train to Dijon; 36010 for exam|
|36007||Dijon Ville||Vallorbe||1959 Paris Gare de Lyon – Venezia Santa Lucia||EN221||Thello 36000|
Having been into Switzerland, Luxembourg and Holland I later returned to France to have a day in Strasbourg:
Tuesday 22nd July 2014 (The French Revision!)
I had a decent night’s sleep, it appeared that the Chinese lads in my cabin didn’t. As there was an empty cabin further down the coach the coach attendant served or breakfast there; as he’d already folded the beds away.
DB 101124 was found at the front of the train, having taken over proceedings at Mannheim where the Amsterdam portion joins with CNL479 Hamburg Altona – Zurich and as we arrived into Basel, on time, SBB 460033 was waiting to back on and work CNL479 through to Zurich.
The plan for the day had originally been to head straight to Strasbourg in France but as SNCF had changed their timetables in early July, everything round Strasbourg had been decimated with a lot of trains that were booked for 67400’s just not running. Rather than subject myself to a load of units and suffer a very frustrating early morning I’d worked out that I could nip out to Liestal instead and cover three of the morning Re 4/4 commuter turns; this move turned out to be just as frustrating as it would have been going straight into France!
Luckily 460052 was sat in the adjacent platform with the 0659 Basel – Interlaken Ost, which saved a mad dash across the station and it delivered me to Liestal in no time. Adjacent to the station are both a Migros and a Coop, both of which provided some of my breakfast that morning and some very much needed shelter from the pouring rain; it hadn’t stopped virtually all day in Holland the previous day and it looked set to continue in Switzerland.
The first of the two Re 4/4 turns I could now cover soon arrived with 11212 pushing into Basel. Even though I didn’t need it could have done it to the next shack for an EMU back but just couldn’t be arsed; and was glad when I managed to photograph 3 freights com through Liestal instead. Two Re 4/4 / Re 6/6 combos and a pair of DB 185’s. Then, without any warning whatsoever 17058 0747 Sissach – Basel was announced as cancelled; this being the second of the two Re 4/4 turns heading into Basel. Luckily the next hauled train into Basel still made the 0821 Basel – Strasbourg, with a bit of a run involved as it was late, but as it was a dud Re460 I couldn’t help but think that it was going to be one of those days; and it was…….
Having already wasted the morning going to Liestal for nothing more than breakfast I was Strasbourg bound behind 26144 and as I didn’t need to be in Strasbourg to view anything before 1053, mainly because there wasn’t anything to view, I hopped off at Mulhouse for more breakfast and Selestat as well and arrived into Strasbourg on the 0921 ex Basel with 26145.
Strasbourg shed was full of 67400’s and 25600’s and there were plenty of sets scattered around the place; none of which had an engine attached. The first train I needed to view was the 1053 Roeschwoog but it wasn’t on the screens and didn’t get announced and at that point I had no clue why it hadn’t run. The 1108 Heguenau was a DMU so that was pretty much the morning finished off and all I’d managed to achieve was to have been bowled out by a caped train in Switzerland, followed by another in France with a few SNCF 26’s in between; and with nothing else better to do at that point I passed it by doing the only thing available; more 26’s!
As I’d never had any before it wasn’t quite that bad and the bonus of the first move was that 26151 had been removed from its set and replaced by 26153 for the 1121 Strasbourg – Basel. I managed to cover both the EC turns passing through Strasbourg in the early afternoon, unfortunately EC91 0733 Brussels – Basel produced 26158, which I’d had out of Luxembourg a few days previous, otherwise nothing started to repeat itself until the 1421 Basel – Strasbourg, by which time I was gearing up for the rush hour bash; which managed to degenerate into turmoil while I was waiting at Selestat for the 1421 Basel – Strasbourg…….
I’d been trying to figure out why there hadn’t been a set stabled at Selestat to work the 1639 Selestat – Strasbourg all day and eventually the penny dropped while I was casting my eye over the printed departure board at Selestat; the train that the set should finish up at Selestat off didn’t run from early July to late August and neither did a raft of other trains, including the 1053 Strasbourg – Roeschwoog, which I’d been confused by earlier that morning. The answer had actually been right in front of me all along in the timetables I’d printed; the trains with stars above them being caped during the Summer holidays basically! Schoolboy error now realised, only 2 hours before my planned late afternoon bash, I found myself frantically sifting through everything I had to figure out what did run and how it would cock up my bash plan.
Low and behold the first move I had planned, the 1655 Strasbourg – Selestat out for the 1636 Selestat – Strasbourg was down the pan as the 1655 out didn’t run at all so that was that buggered. Then to add further confusion to the mix I passed 25612, on my way into Strasbourg on the 1521 Basel – Strasbourg, working the 1625 Strasbourg – Selestat, which wasn’t a booked turn. All I could do was sit and ponder what the hell I was going to do as nothing seemed to be what it should be and when two 67400’s came off shed and attached to sets at the Metz end of the station I took what was available in front of me and made an executive decision to the 1651 Strasbourg – Saales to Molsheim, watch the 1701 Strasbourg – Barr go through and then do the 1736 Strasbourg – Selestat to Bischoffsheim for the return working of the Barr turn. Sure enough 67517 dropped into the station to form the 1651 Saales and on I got; with a bizarre feeling that my pretty mediocre day was going to take a turn for the worse at Molsheim; and it fucking did!
I had enough time to position myself at Molsheim to photograph 67512 departing, pushing the 1701 Strasbourg – Barr, I then settled on one of the statin benches for the 45 minute fester that followed to await a bloody DMU arriving with the 1736 Strasbourg – Selestat; that feeling I’d had, had obviously been correct and a further 30 minutes of festering then ensued while I waited for 67512 to return from Barr! By the time I arrived back into Strasbourg I’d managed the grand total of just 2 engines in the 2 hours I’d been in my rush hour bash! It was a bit of a joke really and also a little frustrating. Still the bash went on and I was determined to get something out of the afternoon, or even day for that matter, and wasn’t content with just doing 25588 to Selestat and the 1951 Strasbourg – Basel behind back to Basel and when I found 25679 at Selestat, as expected, with the 1936 Selestat – Strasbourg I decided to do it back towards Strasbourg for a unit back and risk the small plus onto the 1951 Strasbourg – Basel that came with said move. The complete and utter bonus of the move being that the unit back turned out to be 25612 and stock, which then shunted into the sidings to be the second set stabled overnight at Selestat; as per diagrams. Obviously I had no clue whether this was a booked move during the summer, or even if the 1625 Strasbourg – Selestat should have been hauled that day but it was a very welcome sight at Kogenheim when it rolled in let me tell you; and it actually made my attempt at an afternoon bash in Strasbourg almost respectable! Note to self; read the fucking timetables more thoroughly when going somewhere you haven’t been before!
With the bonus of new 26150 on the 1951 Strasbourg – Basel, back from Selestat, I contemplated the day I’d just had as I sat and relaxed on a rather empty train back towards Switzerland; knowing full well I had one more farce to deal with that night when I got to Luzern; said farce getting ever closer when I was Luzern bound on 460067, working IR2483 2117 Basel – Luzern.
My hotel for the night had been booked in walking distance from the station as I was arriving late and departing early. I’d chosen the Erlebnis Jailhotel, through Booking.com, for both its proximity to Luzern station and the cost for a single night. By the time I arrived at the place, soaking wet from the pouring rain, I’d actually been moved about to different hotels no less than 4 times! Firstly I’d had an e-mail the previous week from the hotel telling me they’d moved me to their sister hotel, which was about 3km out of town, due to an incident at the hotel resulting in not all rooms being available. My response to them told them exactly why I’d chosen their hotel and that their alternative wasn’t acceptable at all; sure enough I was moved back to the Elebnis Jailhotel and all was well. Then while in Amsterdam, two days prior to arriving, I had a call from the hotel telling me that they had to move me to their sister hotel due to there being a broken bed in one of the single rooms they had; of course I was soon explaining to the guy at the end of the phone that they’d already tried to do this to me and it wasn’t acceptable then; and still wasn’t. He then told me we had a problem, to which I told him that I didn’t have one at all, he did and he needed to sort me out a bed near to Luzern station. 20 minutes later I had an e-mail from the Erlebnis Jailhotel confirming that they’d booked me a room at the Falken Hotel, which I found on Google Maps and it actually looked better than the Jailhotel itself, and was nearer to Luzern station. Imagine the mouthful the person ringing got when they rang while I was at Molsheim on the day of my arrival into Luzern, to tell me that I wasn’t staying at the Falken anymore and was actually back at the Jailhotel; my reservation having been cancelled at the Falken!
Discussions with the guy at the front desk, while I was still dripping wet, tired and a little pissed off, revealed that the hotel management weren’t best pleased with him having booked me at an alternative location without having consulted them first. The result being was someone else being moved to their sister hotel out of town to create space for me. The reason for all the messing about in the first place was revealed as well; it was simple overbooking, so everything else I’d been told had been a complete lie! I wasn’t given a discount or anything for all the messing about I’d faced, although I was offered free breakfast; which of course I wouldn’t be around for but when I said he could give me the CHF15 it cost for breakfast my request was greeted with laughter; literally.
Despite all the messing about the room was ok and the place was just like a real jail, with proper jailhouse doors and the rooms were cell sized. There was no AC but the opening window sufficed, thanks to the rain cooling the temperature outside quite considerably. The main issue I had was the fact that the plug sockets were all the diamond shape ones, which sunk into the wall so I had to use my portable charger to charge everything that night. I was ready for bed hours before I’d arrived, let alone when I eventually got into it that night!
|101124||Mannheim||Basel||1903 21/07) Hamburg Altona – Zurich HB||CNL479||DB 101 (Amsterdam portion shunted 418-479)|
|460052||Basel||Liestal||0659 Basel – Interlaken Ost||IC959||SBB Re460|
|460103||Liestal||Basel||0708 Zurich HB – Basel||IR1810||SBB Re460|
|26144||Basel||Mulhouse||0821 Basel – Strasbourg||96214||SNCF 26000|
|26151||Mulhouse||Selestat||0851 Basel – Strasbourg||96216||SNCF 26000|
|26145||Selestat||Strasbourg||0921 Basel – Strasbourg||96218||SNCF 26000|
|26153||Strasbourg||Colmar||1151 Strasbourg – Basel||96219||SNCF 26000|
|26146||Colmar||Selestat||1221 Basel – Strasbourg||96224||SNCF 26000|
|26158||Selestat||Colmar||0733 Brussels Midi – Basel||EC91||SNCF 26000|
|26163||Colmar||Strasbourg||1316 Basel – Brussels Midi||EC90||SNCF 26000|
|26152||Strasbourg||Selestat||1451 Strasbourg – Basel||96223||SNCF 26000|
|26153||Selestat||Strasbourg||1421 Basel – Strasbourg||96226||SNCF 26000|
|26153||Strasbourg||Selestat||1551 Strasbourg – Basel||96225||SNCF 26000|
|26144||Selestat||Strasbourg||1521 Basel – Strasbourg||96228||SNCF 26000|
|67517||Strasbourg||Molsheim||1651 Strasbourg – Saales||831626||SNCF 67400|
|67512||Molsheim||Strasbourg||1801 Barr – Strasbourg||831753||SNCF 67400|
|25588||Strasbourg||Selestat||1855 Strasbourg – Selestat||831345||SNCF 25500|
|25679||Selestat||Kogenheim||1936 Selestat – Strasbourg||831346||SNCF 25500|
|25612||Kogenheim||Selestat||1925 Strasbourg – Selestat||831347||SNCF 25500|
|26150||Selestat||Basel||1951 Strasbourg – Basel||96239||SNCF 26000|
|460067||Basel||Luzern||2117 Basel – Luzern||IR2483||SBB Re460|
Gen for Tuesday 22nd July 2014
(Other than in the moves above)
11210 CNL458 1829 (P) Praha HN – Zurich HB (from Basel)
11212 17056 0718 Sissach – Basel
17058 0747 Sissach – Basel (Booked Re4/4) caped
460033 CNL479 1903 (P) Hamburg Altona – Zurich HB (from Basel)
Basel – Strasbourg circuit
26144, 145, 146, 148, 150, 151, 152, 153
26141 835022 1620 Strasbourg – Nancy
26143 830310 1649 Strasbourg – Metz Ville
26158 EC91 0733 Brussels Midi – Basel
26163 EC90 1316 Basel – Brussels Midi
25588 830118 1625 Strasbourg – Saverne, 831345 1855 Strasbourg – Selestat
25612 831327 1625 Strasbourg – Selestat, 831347 1925 Strasbourg – Selestat
25679 831329 1655 Strasbourg – Selestat, 831346 1936 Selestat – Strasbourg
67512 831748 1701 Strasbourg – Barr, 831753 1801 Barr – Strasbourg, 831634 1859 Strasbourg – Saales
67517 831626 1651 Strasbourg – Saales
DMU 831750 1736 Strasbourg – Selestat