Vietnam, Cambodia & Thailand January 2020 (Pre & Post-Tet Holiday Rush)
Doing Vietnam during the annual Tet holiday has been an ambition for years but the logistics around it, and the threat of not being able to get tickets has put me off; until now. The fact that Tet is the only time of year when the Vinh based Indian built D13E get a chance to stretch their legs on passenger work is a big enough pull in its own right. Having a very good Vietnamese friend with contacts in DSVN, who was able to furnish me with the loco plans for the Tet service, the full Tet timetable and a matrix of the dates the trains ran on, was more than an excuse to get my arse into gear; and when my contact told me that tickets for Tet went on sale on 20th October 2019, for the 2020 season, I didn’t really have an excuse not to put a plan together.
Armed with the loco plans for the 2019 Tet season, and the train plan for the 2020 Tet season, I sat and worked out a plan that would allow me to spend time in northern Vietnam pre-Tet and southern Vietnam post-Tet, and spend Tet in Spain doing the PTG Alco-Holic 5 railtour.
I used the very handy Baolau.com website to book all the required train tickets in Vietnam, and was grateful that I got in right at the start of the booking process as some trains were sold out quite early on, and some never went on sale on the Baolau site at all!
The following trains were eventually planned to operate using Vinh D13E between Dong Hoi & Thanh Hoa, a run of 347km, with Vinh being almost halfway between the two points.
TN7 1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon
TN8 0950 Saigon – Thanh Hoa
TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon
TN10 2315 Saigon – Thanh Hoa
By the time I set off on my journey to Vietnam, I’d already received the good news that Vinh D13E were working as the DSVN paperwork suggested, and with the Saigon based D13E appearing on trains between Saigon & Dieu Tri my trip looked set to be a successful one. Only time would tell just how successful.
Being in the vicinity, I planned to use the opportunity to nip into Cambodia when I’d finished in Vietnam and attempt to get some of the newly delivered ex KTM YDM4’s in on Royal Railways passenger services. The fact that the Cambodian government had streamlined their public holidays for 2020 and deleted a load from the calendar didn’t bode well for my visit!
TG911 1150 Heathrow T2 – Bangkok
TG560 0745 Bangkok – Hanoi
SU0291 1105 Hanoi – Moscow Sheremetyevo Term D
SU2604 1930 Moscow Sheremetyevo Term D – Madrid T1
SU2501 1120 Madrid T1 – Moscow Sheremetyevo Term F
SU0292 1935 Moscow Sheremetyevo Term D – Ho Chi Minh City
Cambodia Angkor Air
K6-819 2110 Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh
WE583 1040 Phnom Penh – Bangkok (Flew 3 days earlier than planned after changing date)
TG916 1320 Bangkok – Heathrow T2
Vinh (Vietnam) – Vinh Plaza Hotel – a 15-minute walk from Vinh station. It’s a big place, with a swimming pool and more importantly a very, very loud venue for wedding receptions and the like; which was in full swing when I arrived and I could hear the karaoke loud and clear in my room on the 4th floor. The room itself was spacious and clean, had AC (which wasn’t needed), a decent TV with some English channels, plenty of free toiletries and tea/coffee making facilities, along with daily free bottled water; and breakfast was included in the room rate.
Hanoi (Vietnam) – Eternity Hotel – is a 5-minute walk from Hanoi station. There weren’t many people staying due to the holiday starting the following day and I was given a room on the 6th floor. It wasn’t a big room but had a very comfortable bed, a decent enough bathroom with piping hot water, free toiletries and good air-con and thankfully I was allowed to check in early, otherwise I’d have ended up not checking in at all!
Saigon (Vietnam) – Red Doorz Ga Saigon – is only a few minutes’ walk from the station and the young lad at reception was expecting me, and more importantly allowed me to check in early, which got my big bag dumped for the day. My room was a decent size but being on the front of the building it was quite noisy, and the windows weren’t sealed very well. The bathroom was behind pure glass, which is great if you’re in the room on your own but if you wanted a shit with others around you had to mess around putting blinds down! The water was hot and the air-con worked ok, until it started leaking water all over the floor; which resulted in a room change to the one on the floor above in the end, which turned out to be a slightly better room anyway! There were tiny ants knocking around in both rooms though…
Phnom Penh (Cambodia) – Crystal Blue Boutique Hotel – despite being dropped at the right location, I struggled to find the access to the Crystal Blue Boutique Hotel, which is through the New Season Indian restaurant, which it shares the building with! The receptionist was expecting me, and I’d told them I was going to arrive late anyway. My room was on the 4th floor, was quite small and wasn’t one of the rooms that overlooked the river and main road. The air-con worked well, and there was a decent TV a fridge and half-decent WiFi, when it stayed connected. The bathroom was another with a massive window between it and the bedroom but at least this one had curtains on the outside.
Bangkok (Thailand) – Krungkasem Srikrung Hotel – is right opposite Hua Lamphong station, out of the right-hand side of the station (after arrival), over the canal bridge and the entry doors are straight over the road; it’s a nothing walk at all! I was expected in reception and as expected they were prepared for dealing with the coronavirus, with hand sanitizer on the desks and a big sign telling people what to do if they began to suffer any of the symptoms. I stupidly asked for a room with a view of the station and realised my mistake straight away; as not only could I not actually see much of the station but there was a main road right below and with the room having a balcony with an ill-fitting door that was made of wood, and the road noise was horrendous. Other than that, the room was a decent size, clean, had excellent air-con and hot water, along with a fridge, TV and tea/coffee making facilities and complimentary bottled water, which was replenished daily. The buffet breakfast was good, and the hotel’s restaurant served a good selection of Thai staples.
Booked online at Baolau.com – who charge a fee for booking but when trains are full in Vietnam, they’re full and that’s that! It’s good for peace of mind and I can’t fault their service.
Friday 17th January 2020 (The start of a long journey east)
Having not done it for a while, going straight off a night shift to Heathrow airport for an 11h25m flight somehow didn’t really appeal much these days. Even more so when my flight was brought forward an hour and I had to leave work early to make sure I got to Heathrow with time to spare; especially with the crap weather the country was currently being battered by. When I left work at 4am the WCML had been closed all night between Preston & Carlisle due to the wires being down at Hest Bank and the GWML had been closed for a 3rd night running, this time at Badminton due to a bridge shedding its metal sheeting, which had brought the wires down. The previous two nights it had been closed at Hullavington due to flooding. I guess I should be grateful for small mercies and the fact that 1Y00 0440 York – Kings Cross has no issues throughout its 188.5 mile journey and it was 91104 to boot; which was pencilled in for withdrawal during my trip away, so it couldn’t have been a better loco for the journey!
The journey to Heathrow was a usual morning rush-hour jaunt, but harmless enough. Heathrow Terminal 2 is always a pleasure as its never that busy. Having checked in for my Thai Airways flight online, I had to visit a check in desk to pick up my Heathrow to Bangkok leg boarding card, yet the Bangkok to Hanoi leg was even available in the app! So, surprised I was when I was able to walk up to a self-check in kiosk, scan my passport and print my boarding card; yet randomly, only for the Heathrow to Bangkok leg; it was as though Thai Airways had a conspiracy around making people’s lives easy and giving them everything they needed for their whole journey! I understood why I needed to visit a check in counter when my name was called out at the departure gate, and to be fair, I was expecting it anyway. As the airline is responsible for making sure you have the correct paperwork to allow you to enter your destination country, they need to verify it before you board. BA do this at Terminal 5 by making people present their visas at a designated counter before their boarding card is authorised to pass through to security.
A 15-day visa-free entry is allowed into Vietnam for UK citizens and the only way of confirming your departure date is for the airline to see your airline, or train, departure paperwork. That done, the next announcement was to tell everyone the plane would be boarding late and as a result of the late boarding we missed our slot and were over an hour late off the tarmac at Heathrow. With only a 90-minute connection at Bangkok, I can’t say I was too impressed but at least the cabin staff confirmed there were plenty of people on board for the same connecting flight to Hanoi as me.
The plane was comfortable enough, although it seemed pretty dated for an A380. The phone charging facilities were useful, but the food served throughout the flight was terrible, with prawn pasta being the only option at one sitting; there wasn’t even a request from the cabin staff to see if you wanted it. I guess if you have an allergy to seafood you’ve already told the airline before said pasta is plonked in front of you.
Needless to say, I managed a fair bit of sleep, albeit very broken sleep, during the 11h25m we were in the air and the majority of the flight was, for me anyway, in the correct time zone to be asleep.
Moves for Friday 17th January 2020
|91104||Doncaster||Kings Cross||0440 York – Kings Cross||1Y00|
|HS-TUF||Heathrow Terminal 2||Bangkok||1150 Heathrow – Bangkok||TG911|
Saturday 18th January 2020 (Arriving into Vietnam at Hanoi then heading south…)
There was a fair bit of confusion on board when we approached Bangkok to land, where we touched down at 0641 vice 0615, and my connecting flight to Hanoi was due to depart at 0745. Some people on board were moved up to the front section, nearest the doors, which the cabin stewardess told me was only the people that the wire they receive from control tells them to have prepared for a speedy exit. With only three spare seats free at the front they were limited to who they could move anyway; so, as soon as the fasten-seatbelts sign went out I was up, grabbed my bag from the overhead locker and was barging my way towards the door; and I wasn’t the only one.
The plane doors were opened quite quickly, and I didn’t hang around after they did, unlike some ditherers. The result being, I got through the 10-minute queue for security a lot quicker than others, who had a departing flight before me! It was all a blur and I ended up rushing to my gate with all my gubbins stuffed into my bag, and my belt in my coat pocket. As Bangkok airport, a bit like their national carrier, doesn’t seem to want people’s end to end experience to be as smooth as possible, I had to ask some guy where my flight was departing from as there are no screens at all displaying all the flights departing from Bangkok airport, once through security. There are handy help points where you can type your flight number in and it will display your departure gate; which is great when you have time to fuck about finding your flight number, and you don’t get stressed with the dithering buffoons in front of you, who take all day trying to find theirs! Of course, once you know which set of gates you need to head to, its all fine and everything is displayed but as each set of gates is in a different direction, you need to be heading ton the right set; especially when your plane is scheduled to take off in 15 minutes!
My TG560 0745 Bangkok – Hanoi was already boarding when I got to the gate, but I managed to slalom my way through the crowd, so as to be towards the front of the queue on the airbridge onto the plane. My rushing was futile though as we were an hour late taking off due to missing our slot while waiting for connecting passengers, who should have got a fucking shift on!
Being late departing Bangkok didn’t help the stress levels when we landed in Hanoi at 1015, 40’ late. I was booked on TN3 1225 Hanoi – Saigon, leaving 2h10m from touchdown to departing Hanoi, 30km away. Luckily, I was towards the front of the plane and was able to scoot through to make sure I was ready to get off the moment the business class folk were allowed off. As is always the case when you’re in a rush, the plane parked at a stand that was about as far away from immigration as it could get, and I was knackered after my speed walk through the airport. Pleasingly, the queues for immigration were only a few deep and I managed to pick the correct queue for a change, which went down in no time and I was into Vietnam within 10 minutes of the plane doors opening.
The next hurdle to overcome was the traffic from Hanoi airport to the city and the data on my phone began to hinder my progress in booking a taxi through the very useful Grab app, when I kept dropping out. Thankfully the free airport WiFi solved that problem and with the grab app allowing you to pick a numbered pillar to be picked up from outside arrivals, I was easily located by my driver. The journey to Hanoi station took 40 minutes and I had 35 minutes to spare for my train when I got there. It was all a bit too close for comfort and I dread to think how my stress veins would have been doing had we landed 30 minutes later than we did…..
I used what little time I had to gather some snacks for the journey south to Thanh Hoa, where I hoped the sole reason for being in Vietnam at this busy period, during the run-up to Tet, would materialize. Firstly, I had a journey south to endure in an upper berth with a family and two small children down below. Thankfully, the children were as good as gold and slept almost as much as I did during my journey. Chinese built, Caterpillar powered, D19E-945 was the nag; and it did the job. As it was also on time at Thanh Hoa, I was able to do it to the next stop, Minh Khoi, for D19E-906 back to Thanh Hoa on SE12 0745 (P) Saigon – Hanoi.
When TN3 had departed Thanh Hoa going south, there’d not been a loco attached to the set in the adjacent platform, which would form my TN9 1750 Thanh Hoa – Saigon. When SE12 rolled into Thanh Hoa heading north, I’d been too preoccupied with getting off the train to notice the loco and was too far down the platform to be able to see it; even with my head squashed up against the cold window. I wasn’t allowed to walk round to the platform to spot it either and was ushered off the station with everyone else; despite presenting my ticket for TN9 to the station staff.
I was surprised at how cold it was in northern Vietnam and was glad I’d come prepared for Spain at this point as I never took my jumper off all day! The temperature was only reaching 18-19 degrees maximum during the day at the moment and I was thinking that I might even need my coat later in the evening.
The station building wasn’t too busy, where there were two ticket counters open and a desk for people to technically check-in at, which was more like a customer service desk so people knew when their train would be arriving. I waited, and waited near the access doors to the platform and at 1745, only 10 minutes before the departure of my train I had to get one of the station staff to let me onto the platform; who was then in hyper flap mode as I’d not got long to rush round the platform end foot crossing to get to my train. The situation wasn’t helped by the previous member of station staff I’d shown my ticket to, clearly not giving a toss about which train I was supposed to be on! The result being that I only just made my train and had to board at the rear without even seeing the loco at the front of the train prior to departure! The bonus being, I had virtually the whole train to myself, and certainly my own coach to myself, for the journey south; during which my plans changed for the night.
I got the impression that the return workings of many of the northbound trains were nothing but empty stock trains heading back south to bring more people north and in this particular case, TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon was a 14-coach, 43-hour, 1551km empty stock move! But in no way was I complaining, especially when my good friend Phan Hung sent me the Vinh Loco Shed allocations for the evening, which forced me to go through to Dong Hoi, instead of to a hotel in Vinh.
The gen for Vinh was rather confusing, and as Phan hadn’t seen it before either, even he had to do some asking to confirm what some of it meant. The result being that, if we were reading it correctly, TN9 would undergo a loco change at Vinh, with Vinh based DLW built D13E-725 replacing shed-mate D13E-722, and what’s more, D13E-721 would be added to the rear for the journey to Dong Hoi, to return with a freight the following morning. Accordingly, when multiple locos are attached to trains in Vietnam, they are generally done so with one on the front and one on the back for axle weight purposes. If both locos do end up on the front of the train, a spacer vehicle must be between the two locos; although I’m sure this rule must be waived during the rescuing of a failure?
As SE9 1425 Hanoi – Saigon was obviously late, our booked 33-minute stop for it to overtake TN9 at Quan Hanh, 11km north of Vinh, wasn’t required and TN9 was allowed to run straight through to Vinh; which gave the loco change a fighting chance of taking place before TN9 was due to depart at 2102; as the booked stop was only 7 minutes normally. As it happened, I’m pretty confident that DSVN would have detached D13E-722 and replaced it with D13E-725, as well as attaching D13E-721 to rear of TN9 in the booked 7 minutes anyway. I was nowhere near the front of the train before ‘722 was detached and away and ‘721 was on the rear before ‘725 had backed down. The whole process was very efficient and both locos were started back up after attachment, the brake test was carried out and the crews prepared for departure accordingly. I was flabbergasted…… Not only at the efficiency of the loco changes but the fact that I was watching Vinh D13E’s replace one another on a passenger train, which only happened at this one time of year due to the sheer number of passenger trains running for the Tet rush.
I was able to get the window open in the corridor of my personal coach and clarified that both front and rear locos were working, although to be fair I could only really hear the rear one was I was 11 coaches from the front but the typical Alco clag passing by was all the confirmation I needed. The good news at this stage, was that contrary to popular belief, the Vinh D13E were not silenced. Unlike their Saigon-based predecessors, which were built 20 years before them, the Vinh locos had higher hoods and were a completely different shape at the front to the earlier model, and also had an extra bit stretching along the long hood that gave the impression it could be for silencing equipment. Well, it wasn’t and that’s all that really matters. Quite what it is, I’m not sure and trying to figure it out didn’t prevent me from getting to sleep that night; in my compartment for one, that was in a coach for one! Even the hard seats at the front of the train were completely devoid of people at Vinh! As I drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t help but think that my mad dash from my desk at work the previous night, to Thanh Hoa had been well worth the effort…..
Gen for Saturday 18th January 2020
D13E-718 TN8 0950 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D13E-718/ D13E-720 T&T TN7 1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon (T&T from Vinh only)
D13E-722 TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D13E-722 TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon (to Vinh)
D13E-725/ D13E-721 T&T TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon (T&T from Vinh)
D19E-945 TN3 1225 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-906 SE12 0745 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-909 NA2 2110 Vinh – Hanoi
Moves for Saturday 18th January 2020
|HS-TBE||Bangkok||Hanoi||0745 Bangkok – Hanoi||TG560|
|D19E-945||Hanoi||Minh Khoi||1225 Hanoi – Saigon||TN3|
|D19E-906||Minh Khoi||Thanh Hoa||0745 (17/01) Saigon – Hanoi||SE12|
|D13E-722||Thanh Hoa||Vinh||1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon||TN9|
Photos for Saturday 18th January 2020
Sunday 19th January 2020 (Vinh D13E bash – Day 2)
Despite the alarm being set, for very early in the morning I might add, I was awake before it and ready for getting off when the time came at Dong Hoi. It was a shame I had to leave my personal train as a 3-hour fester in the cold now beckoned, and with it drizzling I was pretty much confined to the station confines for the whole period; which wasn’t really a bad thing.
Both D13E were removed from TN9 at Dong Hoi, in as efficient a fashion as they’d been added at Vinh. I didn’t see which D19E worked forward with TN9 and I’d forgot which one had arrived into Dong Hoi with TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa by the time I got around to making a note of it. Which happens all to often these days! Compared to its opposing working, TN10 was total carnage and rammed to the rafters; literally. I soon figured out why I’d not been able to book lower berths on a lot of trains during the Tet period, when I tried to figure out where I was supposed to be dossing. There was a load of additional seating labels outside every compartment, stuck over the usual 4-berth layout. What I failed to realise straight away was the fact that the stickers were for the lower berths only, which were turned into seats during the Tet rush, with three seats on each lower berth, and only the upper berth remained a sleeping berth. Thus, each compartment now had a capacity of 8 instead of 4, which explained the people dossed on the floor of one compo that I walked by. I guess that’s one way of increasing capacity, although I’m not so sure its fair on those booking four-berth sleepers and getting 6 people below them for their troubles. I wonder if something similar happens in the 6-berth sleeper compartments.
When I found my upper berth, and not the random seat on a lower berth I was originally horrified to find, I was grateful of the fact that I was able to get horizontal and the earplugs did away with the background noise of Vietnam waking up below me; for a while anyway. To be honest, with D13E-724 up front, I would have taken sit-up and beg class to get it in, so all was well with the morning, regardless of the seating arrangements. It wasn’t long into the morning before things started to go awry and after some additional festering time it was evident that the south to north trains were suffering a little with timekeeping; and not surprising with the amount of people travelling.
At Vinh there was time for a leg stretch when I figured out our train was engineless. We’d passed D19E-942 with SE13 0958 Vinh – Saigon and D19E-909 was initially at Vinh with SE35 1110 Vinh – Hanoi, before heading north in front of us. TN10 was then held at Vinh for D19E-910 and SE8 0600 (P) Saigon – Hanoi to overtake it and D19E-926 and SE7 0600 Hanoi – Saigon to come the other way. In the meantime, D13E-724 that was removed from TN10, replaced D13E-716 on a northbound freight that was in the adjacent yard and eventually D13E-720 dropped onto TN10 to work it north. D13E-716 was on the previous night’s Vinh plan to drop onto the rear of TN7 1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon at Vinh, I guess time would tell if it would or not; not that I’d be seeing it mind.
North of Vinh, TN10 was like a different train and I had a compartment to myself for the rest of the journey. I even managed to get a window open in the corridor to listen to the little Indian beast doing its thing at the head of the 14-coach train it was pulling. It did struggle to get away at times, especially in the drizzle as it got further north. Of course one of the coach attendants put pay to my enjoyment when the insisted the window be closed, which became a cue to utilize the hot water bowser to make coffee and pot noodles; pretty much as every one else did in the country when travelling by train. My coffee mug had been bought in Hanoi, outside Long Bien station in June the previous year during “The Long Journey Home” trip from Saigon to Conisbrough by train, so it was only fitting that it should have a return trip to whence came from, and I’d be at Long Bien before the week was out, paying homage to the shop it came from.
We crossed D13E-717 heading south with TN7 1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon and due to our late running my initial fester in Thanh Hoa was cut down to just over an hour, which I spent in the Highlands Coffee joint just up the road; where one can spot trains from inside, if sat in the right seat. When I rushed down the platform to get some photos at Thanh Hoa, before D13E-720 was detached and disappeared, I was accosted by a friendly member of station staff, who asked why I was so interested in the loco. I simply told her it was an Indian loco and they didn’t work passenger trains very often; to which she agreed and seemed satisfied with my answer. When I got into the booking office, she then sold me a ticket for the return working of TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon, which I’d not been able to book online at Baolau.com for some reason.
With a fill-in move available, it would have been rude not to partake and the simple out and back to Minh Khoi produced D19E-980 south on TN3 1225 Hanoi – Saigon for D19E-928 back north on SE12 0745 (P) Saigon – Hanoi and then I was allowed to board my personal train back south, and unlike the previous evening I was on board with plenty of time to spare, with D13E-720 doing its thing up front and after a quick photo at Vinh I ended up using Grab to get a taxi to the hotel as it was chucking it down! The driver of which was willing to wait for me to check in and take me back to the station as well.
The Vinh Plaza Hotel is about a 15-minute walk from Vinh station, which wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t raining. It’s a big place, with a swimming pool and more importantly a very, very loud venue for wedding receptions and the like; which was in full swing when I arrived and I could hear the karaoke loud and clear in my room on the 4th floor. The room itself was spacious and clean, had AC (which wasn’t needed), a decent TV with some English channels, plenty of free toiletries and tea/coffee making facilities, along with daily free bottled water; and breakfast was included in the room rate. I didn’t hang around though as I had an appointment with a train back at Vinh station, which wouldn’t wait for me.
Unlike the grab taxi’s in most cities, the taxi’s in Vinh had to be paid in cash, which took me a while to get my head around, especially when I had a receipt come through as soon as the journey had been completed! Still, I paid the man and I have to admit I was reluctant at first when he asked for money; brushing his requests aside as just another taxi scam, which is unfortunately a sign of the world we currently live in. All was well though and my late evening move soon commenced.
The evening plan from Vinh Loco Shed, which at this point was only a few hundred meters from me, had gone Vinh to Saigon, then around the world to Paris before being sent back to whence it had come from; and all in a matter of seconds thanks to today’s technology. What that plan said though, was that I was going to have a late night as D13E-719 was on the plan to work TN8 0950 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa to Vinh only, so when opportunity knocks, its only fair to answer…..
Before the main event, SE29 1530 Hanoi – Saigon and SE4 1925 (P) Saigon – Hanoi offered a quick first out and back to Yen Trung with Hanoi based D19E-922 out for Yen Vien based D19E-976 back. Then D19E-946, which had been blocked in by the Vinh station pilot earlier, little GE D9E-252, took me back to Yen Trung on SE15 2305 Vinh – Saigon, where sure enough and true to the allocation plan, D13E-716 turned up with TN8 and I was back in Vinh before 1am. TN8 is the only one of the four trains the Vinh D13E were working over Tet that actually had any standing time at Vinh, so looked the likely candidate for a loco change should it be required; although with the efficiency displayed the previous evening, ne would assume that Vinh could change the locos on any of the trains without causing delay. I didn’t realise until the following afternoon that D13E-716 had been replaced by D13E-725 at Vinh.
As the rain had stopped, I chose to walk back to the hotel, through the deserted Vinh streets. There was literally nobody about. Thankfully the racket had stopped at the hotel and I was able to get my head down, safe in the knowledge that I wasn’t going to be kept up by bad signing, if it could have actually been referred to as singing in the first place! With a leisurely start the following morning, the late finish wasn’t an issue, but the nice large double bed was a welcome change from a train berth, or even a plane seat for that matter.
Gen for Sunday 19th January 2020
D13E-717 TN8 0950 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D13E-717/ D13E-716 T&T TN7 1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon (T&T from Vinh only)
D13E-724 TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa (to Vinh)
D13E-720 TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa (from Vinh)
D13E-720 TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon
D9E-211 Dong Hoi pilot
D9E-252 Vinh station pilot
D9E-246 Truong Lam pilot
D20E-012 TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa (into Dong Hoi)
D19E-930 SE8 0600 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-942 SE13 0958 Vinh – Saigon
D19E-902 SE36 1230 Vinh – Hanoi
D19E-925 SE7 0600 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-907 SE5 0850 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-909 SE35 1118 Hanoi – Vinh
D19E-980 TN3 1225 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-928 SE12 0745 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-943 TN4 1225 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-909 NA2 2110 Vinh – Hanoi
D19E-922 SE29 1530 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-976 SE4 1925 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-946 SE15 2305 Vinh – Saigon
Moves for Sunday 19th January 2020
|D13E-724||Dong Hoi||Vinh||2315 (17/01) Saigon – Thanh Hoa||TN10|
|D19E-980||Thanh Hoa||Minh Khoi||1225 Hanoi – Saigon||TN3|
|D19E-928||Minh Khoi||Thanh Hoa||0745 (18/01) Saigon – Hanoi||SE12|
|D13E-720||Thanh Hoa||Vinh||1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon||TN9|
|D19E-922||Vinh||Yen Trung||1530 Hanoi – Saigon||SE29|
|D19E-976||Yen Trung||Vinh||1925 (18/01) Saigon – Hanoi||SE4|
|D19E-946||Vinh||Yen Trung||2305 Vinh – Saigon||SE15|
Photos for Sunday 19th January 2020
Monday 20th January 2020 (Vinh D13E bash – Day 3)
Breakfast at the Hotel Vinh Plaza only has a small 2-hour window from 0630 to 0830 and with the selection being typically Vietnamese I found myself scoffing down freshly fried eggs, despite asking for an omelette, and toast, which sufficed. Outside, it seemed colder than when I’d walked back to the hotel at 1am, and my jumper ended up staying on all day long. Vinh was at least awake when I walked to the station, down a main road dominated by metalwork shops and oily garages that were fixing and/or cleaning cars and mopeds. Things improved the closer I got to the station, with a few shops, all side by side, selling gift boxes for Tet, along with stocking cases and cases of both Saigon & Hanoi beer. A customary thing seemed to be the cutting of blossoming buses, some of which were even in large plant pots, and I’d seen many on board trains being ferried around the country. The Vietnamese way of transporting things knows no bounds either, as I even watched a 10ft tall one being ferried down the main road by a moped; which simply looked like a blossoming tree was growing out of it, with one person trying to keep the moped balanced while the other tried to keep the tree upright. The Highlands Coffee and bakery right across the road from the station entrance was rather handy, and both looked to be used as waiting areas for people travelling.
As with all Vietnamese stations the doors to the platforms were locked in the station building but the side gates were being opened to allow taxis onto the platform to position themselves ahead of the next arriving train coming to a stand. Competition seems to be rife in the taxi/moped business and at least a dozen people, driving cars or mopeds, had stopped alongside me while I was walking to the station to try and give me a ride; none of which were marked as taxis or grab bikes I might add. I was soon in the station confines and spotting little GE D9E-252, which was stabled in the sidings at the opposite end of the stock that would form SE35 1110 Vinh – Hanoi, which had D19E-905 at the Hanoi end of it. D19E-923 was in platform 1 with the stock for SE13 0958 Vinh – Saigon and it departed almost devoid of passengers, but with me on board. As we departed, I noticed the poor women sifting through the rubbish bags that had been deposited on the platform when D19E-910 had stopped with SE8 0600 (P) Saigon – Hanoi. It was a dirty job going through everyone else’s rubbish to sift out the varying degrees of plastic, that were all dribbling with the dregs of their food contents! They were all in neat piles and being bagged up when I rolled back into Vinh on TN10.
Not surprisingly, when TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa arrived into Yen Trung with D13E-717, as the Vinh loco plan from the previous night had predicted, it was rammed to the rafters and my upper berth in one of the 4-berth compartments had someone lounging around in it when I managed to get to it. I had to fight my way through the corridor to get to it in the first place as everyone, with their considerable amount of luggage, was gearing up to get off at Vinh. Where it took quite a while to detrain those alighting as DSVN only use a one door in each coach policy, which I have issues with when the trains are in motion as not only are they locked with a carriage key, the fold-up foot board at the bottom is locked in place to prevent the door being opened; so, in the event of an accident DSVN will be responsible for killing a lot more people than actually needed to die, simply because they can’t get out of the train. Best not to be thinking about what “could” happen eh?
Once my coach had emptied out at Vinh there were three completely empty compartments in my coach alone, one of which became my personal compartment through to Thanh Hoa and the friendly coach attendant didn’t have an issue with me having the corridor window down to listen to the little India beast doing its thing at the front of the train. It was a pleasant journey north, and I wasn’t bothered by anyone. Despite my initial fears of timekeeping being shocking due to the amount of trains DSVN were running leading up to Tet, I was suitably impressed and while there was a bit of late running, the timetable allowed for some recovery with trains booked to sit at crossing points for more than a few minutes. Other railways should take note of how DSVN seem to make saturating their system with passenger trains work.
Having passed D13E-725 at Minh Khoi with a late running TN7 1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon, TN10’s arrival into Thanh Hoa was spot on time, unlike the previous day and I made sure I was first off the train and ran to the front to get a photo of D13E-717 before it was hastily removed and sent to the shed. Had I been able to, I would have been off at Minh Khoi to do D13E-725 back south but without a ticket I had to watch the empty train leave instead. The friendly member of station staff who’d quizzed me about my antics the previous day at Thanh Hoa was on the platform, and she acknowledged me as though I was a regular when I walked by. Outside the station was initially chaos as the taxi drivers hustled for business and mopped up stragglers as they spilled through the exit gates; then it fell silent and there wasn’t a taxi to be seen. As it was raining, I decided on a quick coffee at the Highland Coffee shop where I abused the WiFi and warmth the place offered. It’s out of the station, turn left and its about 100m on the left, set back from the main road.
The first fill-in move hadn’t been available the previous day as TN10 had been late and missed SE35 1110 Hanoi – Vinh at Thanh Hoa, however I hadn’t missed it on this day Hanoi based D19E-905 was provided for the train, putting me into shed-mate D19E-901 at Minh Khoi with SE36 1230 Vinh – Hanoi; which had been sat at Vinh with the stock for the train when I’d departed on TN10. My second return trip to Minh Khoi also featured Hanoi based locos with D19E-902 on TN3 1225 Hanoi – Saigon and D13E-925 on SE12 0745 (P) Saigon – Hanoi.
Back at Thanh Hoa, I was waiting patiently in the station building, to be allowed onto the platform for my train, when my new friend came over and asked if I’d like to go onto the platform now, which was awfully nice of her and I managed to get a few crap photos of D13E-717 at the head of TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon, before the waning daylight disappeared. And for a third day in a row, I pretty much had the run of TN9 to myself, so this time I sat up front in the hard seats, second coach back from the loco, and braved the cold with all the windows open. I got the impression that the on-train staff thought I was a bit special with me having a 4-berth ticket and sitting in hard-seat, yet they were the ones with their washing hanging up in the buffet car and signing songs as we trundled through the darkness towards Vinh! Was getting the hang of this travelling during Tet business and basing yourself at Vinh seems to be a very strategic position during the festivities. Its just far enough north to miss out on the mad rush and has plenty of hotels in close proximity to the station. For the D13E moves, it’s the best location to be in as the stopping pattern is crap on TN7/8 & TN9/10.
After a cracking run back to Vinh, I reluctantly alighted after receiving the evening loco plan for Vinh, which showed D13E-718 to be working TN8 0950 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa, only as far as Vinh, where D13E-720 should replace it. I didn’t want to smack the gift horse in the mouth, and flag D13E-718, but I also wanted to do the mileage move and head to Dong Hoi and back overnight. Alas, flagging the mileage and getting D13E-718 in won the vote and while the lure of a hotel bed was tempting, I got online and figured out that I could go through to Thanh Hoa on TN8, which had plenty of availability according to Baolau.com. So, prior to do my ned-leaps to Yen Trung, I paid Vinh ticket office a visit and presented my pre-written list of trains to the lady behind the counter; and got everything I needed, which would tide me over until I got back on plan the following afternoon. Then it was SE29 1530 Hanoi – Saigon to Yen Trung for SE4 1925 (P) Saigon – Hanoi back with D19E-961 out for Yen Vien based D19E-979 back, then back to Yen Trung on SE15 2305 Vinh – Saigon with D19E-903, where sure enough and true to the Vinh allocation plan, again, D13E-718 turned up with TN8.
I was quite lucky that I ended up in a compartment that had nobody in the lower seats, so I was able to use the lower berth to sleep in, just as the person opposite was doing. I didn’t bother getting out of the train at Vinh during the loco change but felt the clunk of it and there was a lot of horn blowing so it definitely took place; so, correct move played me thinks!
Gen for Monday 20th January 2020
D13E-716 TN8 0950 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa (to Vinh)
D13E-725 TN8 0950 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa (from Vinh)
D13E-725 TN7 1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon
D13E-717 TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D13E-717 TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon
D9E-252 Vinh station pilot
D9E-246 Truong Lam pilot
D19E-910 SE8 0600 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-923 SE13 0958 Vinh – Saigon
D19E-926 SE7 0600 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-930 SE11 0800 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-904 SE5 0850 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-940 SE6 0845 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-905 SE35 1118 Hanoi – Vinh
D19E-901 SE36 1230 Vinh – Hanoi
D19E-902 TN3 1225 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-925 SE12 0745 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-905 NA2 2110 Vinh – Hanoi
D19E-961 SE29 1530 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-979 SE4 1925 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-903 SE15 2305 Vinh – Saigon
Moves for Monday 20th January 2020
|D13E-716||Yen Trung||Vinh||0950 (19/01) Saigon – Thanh Hoa||TN8|
|D19E-923||Vinh||Yen Trung||0958 Vinh – Saigon||SE13|
|D13E-717||Yen Trung||Thanh Hoa||2315 (18/01) Saigon – Thanh Hoa||TN10|
|D19E-905||Thanh Hoa||Minh Khoi||1118 Hanoi – Vinh||SE35|
|D19E-901||Minh Khoi||Thanh Hoa||1230 Vinh – Hanoi||SE36|
|D19E-902||Thanh Hoa||Minh Khoi||1225 Hanoi – Saigon||TN3|
|D19E-925||Minh Khoi||Thanh Hoa||0745 (19/01) Saigon – Hanoi||SE12|
|D13E-717||Thanh Hoa||Vinh||1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon||TN9|
|D19E-961||Vinh||Yen Trung||1530 Hanoi – Saigon||SE29|
|D19E-979||Yen Trung||Vinh||1925 (19/01) Saigon – Hanoi||SE4|
|D19E-903||Vinh||Yen Trung||2305 Vinh – Saigon||SE15|
Photos for Monday 20th January 2020
Tuesday 21st January 2020 (Vinh D13E bash – Day 4)
The coach attendant almost hammered the compartment door off its hinges when he came knocking to get everyone up for arrival into Thanh Hoa, a little later than he probably should have. As I was dithering and couldn’t get to the door for all the people in the corridor, I had to make do with watching D13E-720 disappear off into the darkness, by the time I got to the front of the train. I only had an hour to kill before my fill-in move north to Phu Ly and back but a sharp eye spotted a get out of jail free card, and when I queried if NA1 2245 (P) Hanoi – Vinh had gone, the response I got from the station staff was “ train is coming soon”; which prompted my feet to start working properly and drag my ass to the ticket window. Despite the look of despair on the woman’s face, I managed to write down, in almost legible writing, that I wanted a ticket to Vinh on NA1. The fact that I could only get a ticket in soft-seating was irrelevant, it was the fact I could get a ticket at all and the fact that the train was 2-hours late that was relevant; and I was soon heading back to Vinh in a reclined soft-seat, in a half empty coach, where I’d be back in time for not only breakfast at the hotel, but also a shower and a bit of a relax before kicking off the morning as I’d originally planned to do; before Vinh traction arranger had intervened and buggered up my plans. Hanoi based D19E-908 did the honours to Vinh and I never did find out why the train was so late, but it was a bonus for me, in the sociability stakes.
Hanoi based D19E-949 was sat waiting with SE13 0958 Vinh – Saigon, when I got back to the station, and it dropped me nicely into D13E-725 coming north with TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa; which was rammed to the rafters; again! As there were so many people in the aisles of the coach when I got on, I stood it out in the vestibule until Vinh and used the opportunity, while rafts of people vacated the train, to get a quick photo; before re-boarding and finding myself an empty compartment in my allocated coach, which was eventually invaded by a couple of youths. Who were thankfully no bother at all and just lounged in the berths they’d found.
In a stark contrast to the previous few days, the weather had at last warmed up and by the time TN10 arrived into Thanh Hoa the sun was out; which prompted my jumper to be buried in my bag and my shirt sleeves to be rolled up, and I got the first photo of a Vinh D13E in glorious sunshine when D13E-725 trundled off to the shed just north of the station. There was no time to shufty off for supplies and D19E-943 was soon whisking me back south on the first Yen Trung fill-in moves; working SE35 1110 Hanoi – Vinh. D19E-921 soon arrived with SE6 0845 (P) Saigon – Hanoi, after D19E-908 headed north with SE36 1230 Vinh – Hanoi.
With a bit of time to kill before the second fill-in move, with the weather being decent I took a quick walk down the road to the small Thanh Hoa loco shed. D18E-610 and little GE’s D9E-215 & D9E-234 were stabled outside and D13E-725 was being serviced inside the shed. I was caught a little by surprise when D19E-907 came trundling by with TN3 1225 Hanoi – Saigon and I thought I’d lost track of time and was going to miss it. Thankfully it was running a little early and I was able to scurry back to the station in time to board as they do like to close access to the platforms well before the train is even ready for departure! Hanoi based D19E-926 completed the solid Hanoi based D19E day when it dropped me back at Thanh Hoa with SE12 0745 (P) Saigon – Hanoi; just as D18E-609 was arriving into the yard with a freight.
The D18E was soon removed and D9E-234 came off the shed and began shunting the wagons about. Meanwhile two of the on-board crew of TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon accosted me and wanted to take photos with me before allowing me to go about my business. I used this to my advantage though and got them to allow me to sit in the front hard-seat coach, which was second from D13E-725 behind the buffet car, and then got them to tie one of the mesh blinds up so I could sit and look out into the darkness while listening to the little D13E up front. When the train departed Thanh Hoa, I ended up having to walk to coach number 8, where I was actually reserved, to find a working hot water dispenser, and could count on one hand how many passengers were on board. There were over twice as many staff as passengers and there were more coaches on the train than passengers; to the point that I was the only person, other than the buffet staff in the front coach, occupying the front 6 coaches! It was a nice relaxing journey south though and D13E-725 did the class proud, although it did seem to struggle with the load at times; which of course only produced more noise for my ears to take in and the staff left me to my own devices all the way to just north of Vinh, when they came back to make sure I was able to get out of the train; which I’d decided wasn’t really going to be necessary, after receiving the evening’s Vinh loco allocations.
I did indulge the staff though and alighted where I was told and as TN9 was spot on time I had time for a quick night shot before heading down the platform to my berth. By the time I got there, D13E-719 had already dropped onto the opposite end, and unfortunately my time was limited and the staff ushered me onto the train before I could leg it to the rear and get any further photos; and quite rightly so as we were on the move moments later! My upper berth was again in an empty compartment, despite a few people joining the train at Vinh, and I enjoyed the peace and tranquility to Dong Hoi, while I could!
Gen for Tuesday 21st January 2020
D13E-718 TN8 0950 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa (to Vinh)
D13E-720 TN8 0950 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa (from Vinh)
D13E-720 TN7 1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon
D13E-725 TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D13E-725/ D13E-719 T&T TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon (T&T from Vinh only)
D9E-252 Vinh station pilot
D9E-246 Truong Lam pilot
D9E-215 & D9E-234 Thanh Hoa pilots
D19E-908 NA1 2255 (P) Hanoi – Vinh
D19E-927 SE8 0600 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-949 SE13 0958 Vinh – Saigon
D19E-909 SE7 0600 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-950 SE11 0800 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-925 SE5 0850 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-943 SE35 1118 Hanoi – Vinh
D19E-908 SE36 1230 Vinh – Hanoi
D19E-921 SE6 0845 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-907 TN3 1225 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-926 SE12 0745 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
Moves for Tuesday 21st January 2020
|D13E-718||Yen Trung||Vinh||0950 (20/01) Saigon – Thanh Hoa||TN8|
|D19E-908||Thanh Hoa||Vinh||2245 (20/01) Hanoi – Saigon||NA1|
|D19E-949||Vinh||Yen Trung||0958 Vinh – Saigon||SE13|
|D13E-725||Yen Trung||Thanh Hoa||2315 (19/01) Saigon – Thanh Hoa||TN10|
|D19E-943||Thanh Hoa||Minh Khoi||1118 Hanoi – Vinh||SE35|
|D19E-921||Minh Khoi||Thanh Hoa||1230 Vinh – Hanoi||SE36|
|D19E-907||Thanh Hoa||Minh Khoi||1225 Hanoi – Saigon||TN3|
|D19E-926||Minh Khoi||Thanh Hoa||0745 (20/01) Saigon – Hanoi||SE12|
|D13E-725||Thanh Hoa||Dong Hoi||1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon||TN9|
Photos for Tuesday 21st January 2020
Wednesday 22nd January 2020 (Vinh D13E bash – Day 4)
Arrival into Dong Hoi was about 45-minutes late, which wasn’t so bad and cut the fester down for TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa going back north. It wasn’t a bad fester at stupid o’clock in the morning, but I was glad to be clambering back into a berth by 6am, even if the little kiddies down below were going to become a nuisance when they woke. Departure time came and went though, but with D13E-721 bolted to the front and D13E-716 bolted to the back of TN10 there was no reason to go investigating and even when curiosity did get the better of me I wasn’t allowed off the train as the staff seemed to think we’d be moving shortly. Well, that shortly was just over an hour later and I was asleep when the jolt of the train woke me on departure. Randomly, I’d noticed that almost every departure I’d witnessed had reversed slightly before the train had moved off in the right direction. The driver of TN10 being a bit rough with the reversing on this occasion, although having a loco on the back probably didn’t help; although it did seem to help with accelerating the train, but unfortunately not the timekeeping of it and we got hammered going north as a result of our late start from Dong Hoi. Someone later told me that they thought there’d been a problem with one of the coaches.
Of course, little kiddies that should have been off the train hours ago soon get restless, tempers start to fray and before you know it world war three is brewing in your compartment as a result; the little shits! The family feud was the least of my worries though. As we were so late, I wasn’t going to get back to Vinh before my hotel check out time and I stood in the corridor for most of the journey north, once I was up, to keep out of the way and to stew over the impending issue I may, or may not, have.
TN10 was over 2-hours late into Vinh, where we arrived just after 1300. In true Vinh fashion, the rear loco was off the train before I got anywhere near it and I was in too much of a rush to bugger about legging it to the front of the train; so took a taxi driver up on his offer for the first time during my stay in Vinh. Contrary to popular belief, not all taxi drivers are tosser and this one took me directly to the Hotel Vinh Plaza, on the meter, and I paid a similar amount to what I’d done when using Grab for the same journey.
The hotel was completely desolate when I arrived, but for the lowly receptionist. Google translate soon had her understanding why I was late checking out and the fact that there didn’t seem to be many staying at the hotel at that point probably helped. I didn’t rush too much and took the opportunity to get a quick shower; while I could. Then, having paid my bill, I wished the receptionist a happy Tet and walked back to the station to head north, to get south, while ultimately on my way north to Hanoi!
There seemed to be a few stragglers around who were making their last-minute journeys before the Tet festivities commenced the following day but none of the trains I saw in the afternoon were wedged solid and I had a compo to myself on SE12 0745 (P) Saigon – Hanoi to Cho Sy; with D19E-909 leading the way. I then had a very enjoyable journey back south with D13E-724 on a very empty TN7 1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon; during which I did spend quite a bit of the journey in the leading hard-seat coach, much to the amusement of the on-board staff.
In true Dong Hoi fashion, everyone was ushered straight off the station platforms and through the very busy waiting area, which, unlike any of my other visits, was rammed full of waiting people, with quite a lot of foreigners to boot. I walked straight through, brushing off the taxi driver’s advances as I did, and walked about 100m up the main road to a little restaurant I’d spied during one of my early morning festers, which had very good write-ups on Google. The place was called Sophie Homy and true to form the owner spoke fluent English and the menu was in English as well. I had a decent fried noodle with beef during my 4-hour fester and was allowed to sit drinking beer for as long as she stayed open. I gave it up when the mosquitoes started to bite and went to take up residence, in the now empty, station waiting area.
There was no Vinh loco plan for me to peruse of an evening, but there was a Thanh Hoa loco plan instead. It turns out that the person who had been taking the photos of the Vinh loco plan is a Vinh based driver, who used to be based in Saigon, who was obviously at work and in Thanh Hoa when the following day’s plan was produced. What other than the usual TN7-10 allocations, it showed that my TN32 was allocated to be D13E-722 and right in the bottom corner, almost tucked out of the way, it showed D13E-717 for NA7 2320 Hanoi – Vinh, D13E-720 for NA9 2340 Hanoi – Vinh and D13E-718 for NA5 1300 (following day) Hanoi – Vinh. And at this point, I was glad I’d taken a photo of the Tet Hanoi – Vinh – Hanoi local timetable that was posted at Vinh. The two-night trains were right away Hanoi to Cho Sy, 7-hours’ worth of non-stop thrash excitement, but NA5 the following day was a lot more sociable and had plenty of availability; so, it would have been rude not to hedge my bets!
D19E-946 with an hour late running SE24 1610 (P) Saigon – Hanoi was the only train I saw before mine arrived, thankfully only 15’ late. Little GE D9E-211 was stabled in the yard with some freight wagons and more importantly, D13E-722 had run through the station and positioned itself ready to re-engine TN32 1450 Da Nang – Hanoi when it arrived. Which it did so with Da Nang freight engine D20E-012 leading the way.
Most of the stock on TN32 was of Indian origin, which you can tell by the curved bodyside shape, and while the train was busy, it wasn’t as rammed as TN10 had been that morning. There were only 5 people in my compartment, including me, and once I’d got my crap sorted, earplugs in, and figured out how to turn out the lights, the compo door was closed, and locked and a bad night’s sleep ensued. Unfortunately, the air-con was on overdrive and soon got on my chest!
Gen for Wednesday 22nd January 2020
D13E-717 TN8 0950 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D13E-724 TN7 1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon
D13E-721/D13E-716 T&T TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa (T&T to Vinh only)
D13E-721 TN9 1755 Thanh Hoa – Saigon
D13E-722 TN32 1450 Da Nang – Hanoi (from Dong Hoi)
D9E-211 Dong Hoi pilot
D9E-252 Vinh station pilot
D20E-011 TN10 2315 (PP) Saigon – Thanh Hoa (into Dong Hoi)
D19E-909 SE12 0745 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-921 SE11 0800 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-925 SE10 1430 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-946 SE24 1610 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D20E-012 TN32 1450 Da Nang – Hanoi (to Dong Hoi)
Moves for Wednesday 22nd January 2020
|D13E-721||Dong Hoi||Vinh||2315 (20/01) Saigon – Thanh Hoa||TN10|
|D19E-909||Vinh||Cho Sy||0745 (21/01) Saigon – Hanoi||SE12|
|D13E-724||Cho Sy||Dong Hoi||1250 Thanh Hoa – Saigon||TN7|
|D13E-722||Dong Hoi||Hanoi||1450 Da Nang – Hanoi||TN32|
Photos for Wednesday 22nd January 2020
Thursday 23rd January 2020 (A Day in Hanoi covering the locals on the north lines)
Despite the crap night’s sleep, I was reluctant to surface from beneath the sheet that I was hiding under, until we came to an abrupt stand at Thanh Hoa, around an hour late. It was a brief stop but was one where quite a lot of the train alighted, which left me and the girl in the upper berth opposite with the compo to ourselves; so, we both clambered down and made use of the lower berths instead. When she got off at Ninh Binh, I became the sole occupant of the compartment for the 3-hour run into Hanoi; or so I thought. With clear skies and glorious sunshine as far as the eye could see, completely the opposite to how I’d left Hanoi a week earlier, it was shaping up to be a nice morning!
Bizarrely, at Phu Ly a family of four boarded my otherwise empty coach and found their allocated seats to be in my compartment. So, with every other compartment in the coach empty, where did they choose to sit? Yep, with the only person in the whole coach, filling the compo to the max with their immense amount of luggage as well! I was out in a shot and amid looks of confusion, found myself another compartment towards the front of the coach, which I did keep to myself for the remainder of the journey to Hanoi; mainly because nobody boarded en-route.
The previous night a conversation with Phan indicated that he believed, based on the Thanh Hoa loco plan he’d received, that D13E-722 would come off TN32 at Thanh Hoa and that the allocations for the D13E on the three southbound NA trains were only from Thanh Hoa. To be fair, and having looked over the plan again after he’d told me this revelation, I’d have been inclined to agree with him as all the other locos on the plan had crew allocated for an arrival time and a departure time; much the same as the Vinh plan had. The Thanh Hoa plan only had one set of crew allocated to TN32, NA7, NA9 & NA5, all of which were allocated to the departing time of their respective trains. I’d been a bit reluctant to open the window and stick my head out, fearing the worst and what disappointment doing so may bring. When I noticed clag going by the window though, I felt a bit better about the situation and braved the window opening; to be greeted by the 6-cylinder growl of D13E-722 still doing its thing up front. Thankfully, Phan and my worst fears had been wrong and the little D13E weaved its way into Hanoi; while much of the city’s occupants headed out of it and braved the mass exodus that was clogging up the Hanoi suburbs.
As the railway follows the main road into Hanoi, from a good 30km out, it was interesting watching the traffic through the open corridor window, which at times was brought to a standstill by the sheer volume trying to leave the city. The road into Hanoi, on the other hand, was almost devoid of traffic and it was almost like I was heading into an apocalyptic situation, blissfully unaware of why the masses were heading in the opposite direction. All along the main road were stalls selling Tet goodies, with fresh flower sellers dominating the show. Both moped and car drivers alike had no qualms about pulling up alongside a stall and doing their business while those behind them suffered the consequences, yet everyone seemed content; although none were as content as me, riding behind a D13E on a train approaching Hanoi! As if the D13E working passenger weren’t rare enough, with only 2 weeks of the year to get them in, a D13E working a passenger train into Hanoi is even rarer and there are probably only 4 days a year where it can be managed? TN32 is a train that only runs on one occasion during the Tet season and the NA additional trains only run southbound Hanoi – Vinh on a couple of nights immediately before Tet and northbound Vinh – Hanoi immediately after Tet. Having not seen the pre-Tet Hanoi loco plan I’m not sure if these trains should have been D13E or not, although TN32 was in the plan I’d seen and it was booked a D13E; which was why I’d booked on it in the first place. As D13E-722 had gone through to Hanoi on TN32, I was pretty confident that the allocation on the Thanh Hoa plan from the previous evening for NA5 would hold true and as TN32 rolled into Hanoi station I could see another D13E over the wall of the loco shed; which I hoped was D13E-718 to work NA5 later.
Thankfully, I beat the mega efficient DSVN shunting crew to it and managed to leg it to the front and get a photo before they detached D13E-722; which was soon running through the station towards the shed. Standing in an adjacent platform was D19E-907 which departed with SE35 1118 Hanoi – Vinh and over the far side of the station was CKD built D12E-644 with a set of stock and little GE D9E-241 with a load-3 set in the very back platform, which based on the following morning’s viewings I assumed worked QT1 1620 Hanoi – Quan Trieu.
Being the last out of the station premises, off TN32, I had to let myself out of one of the upstairs exits and I utilized the supermarket on the station before heading the short distance to the Eternity Hotel; where I’d stayed with Flossy during our “Long Journey Home” trip in May the previous year. The hotel was expecting me, and I was soon checked in. There weren’t many people staying due to the holiday starting the following day and I was given a room on the 6th floor. It wasn’t a big room but had a very comfortable bed, a decent enough bathroom with piping hot water, free toiletries and good air-con and thankfully I was allowed to check in early, otherwise I’d have ended up not checking in at all!
After a much-needed shower, cuppa and a bite to eat, I managed to lock myself out of my bathroom and couldn’t get back in. Thankfully, I’d decided to move the camera battery I’d originally started to charge in there, prior to getting a shower; I have previous with camera batteries! When I left the hotel that afternoon, I didn’t realise that when I said I’d see you later, that later would end up being the following day!
Based on the Thanh Hoa plan the previous evening I’d booked a hard seat ticket from Hanoi to Phu Ly on NA5, more so I could get onto the platform to view the train before departure and went to the station with a pre-written list of tickets that I’d require for a late afternoon bash on the local trains north of Hanoi, should a D13E not grace NA5 with its presence. When I clapped eyes on D13E-718 at the head of NA5 though I hastily bought a ticket through to Vinh, and braved hard-seat class at the front of the train when I managed to get a seat towards the very front of coach #1; which I’d come to realise was always at the south end of the train; on the Hanoi – Saigon route, at least.
Of the Vinh D13E, D13E-718 sounded the better of the bunch and the driver didn’t hang around getting the thing up to full power from a standing start. Driving them a little gingerly away from station stops might be a freight driver handling thing? Thankfully the driver on NA5 seemed to know how to handle a passenger train better than most D13E drivers had thus far and the run south to Thanh Hoa was very good as a result and while the hard seats were quite full, there was room to move and I was lucky to have space at the side of me for the majority of the journey.
Initially I had every intension of getting off NA5 at Thanh Hoa and doing SE12 straight back north for a 2135 arrival into Hanoi, however DSVN had other plans for me, that I was never going to resist. Thankfully, I found out that I had “other” plans before I’d actually made a solid plan to head back north and this time it was a Vinh loco plan that decided my evening; which showed that NA2 2110 Vinh – Hanoi should be D13E-725 leading with D13E-719 on the rear. Before letting my get out of jail move go begging back from Thanh Hoa, I made sure there was room on NA2 and was thankfully able to get an upper berth in a 4-berth compartment at such short notice.
With food a priority at Vinh, I used the Highlands Coffee place over the road from the station to grab a drink, as well as a landmark to get my KFC delivered to through the Grab Food App. I thought I was cutting it a bit fine getting back to the station for 2100 for a 2110 departure but DSVN seemed to be cutting it finer, with there being no loco on the train at all at that point. In true DSVN style though, when they turned up with 7 minutes to spare for departure time, NA2 was only 2 minutes late departing Vinh; and I was Hanoi-bound again, for the second time that day with a D13E! I was grateful of the fact that the air-con wasn’t doing overtime on NA2, and unlike NA5 the previous night, I didn’t have to hide under the bedding to keep the cold air from getting on my chest.
Gen for Thursday 23rd January 2020
D13E-717 NA7 2320 (P) Hanoi – Vinh
D13E-720 NA9 2340 (P) Hanoi – Vinh
D13E-718 NA5 1300 Hanoi – Vinh
D13E-719/725 T&T NA2 2110 Vinh – Hanoi
D19E-949 SE7 0600 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-901 SE5 0850 Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-907 SE35 1118 Hanoi – Vinh
D19E-922 SE8 0600 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
Moves for Thursday 23rd January 2020
|D13E-718||Hanoi||Vinh||1300 Hanoi – Vinh||NA5|
|D13E-719||Vinh||Hanoi||2110 Vinh – Hanoi||NA2|
Photos for Thursday 23rd January 2020
Friday 24th January 2020 (In transit from Hanoi to Madrid)
NA2 hadn’t bee that busy and by Hanoi I was the only person in my compo and thanks to my earplugs being rammed into my scull I’d not heard the coach attendant walking down the corridor making sure everyone was ready to get off on arrival at Hanoi; it was the abrupt stop in the station that woke me. Which was a bit of an arse and on this occasion DSVN had the last laugh when I chose the wrong of the train to go and photograph, only to then not make it to the opposite end in time either; damn the DSVN efficiency! The situation brought back a memory of running over the footbridge at Conisbrough for 31257 many moons ago, the result of that being that I missed ‘257, and then didn’t make it back over the footbridge in time to get back on the other 31 I’d just got off; then had to stand around like a treat for an hour!
This time there was no standing around as I had an appointment with a non-moving bed for a short period of time and the staff at the Eternity Hotel seemed a bit confused when I walked in just before 4am! They looked a little more confused when I walked back out again at 0530 having asked them to sort me a taxi out to the airport at 0830! It seemed that my body didn’t want the appointment I had with the non-moving bed and after an hour of laying awake there was only one thing to do: yep, trains! On the plus side, at least I’d been able to get back into my bathroom and didn’t manage to lock myself out of it again, so I was reunited with my toiletries at least!
As 24th January was the first day of the Tet holiday, I hadn’t been expecting the trains, or roads, to be busy and I wasn’t wrong on either account. Hanoi station building was almost devoid of people and the staff that I presented a pre-written list of trains to seemed grateful of the fact they had something to do; after all, it must be hard work being paid treble time to do absolutely nothing, which is what the Vietnamese government stipulates must happen over the Tet holiday period. So, I bet nobody really complains about having to work the holidays? Freightliner, take note!
When I got onto the station to view HP1 0600 Hanoi – Hai Phong, D12E-634 had just arrived with SP2 2055 (P) Lao Cai – Hanoi and I found D12E-648 at the head of HP1 and D12E-644 at the head of YB3 0610 Hanoi – Yen Bai; and when the former stopped at Long Bien unexpectedly, I was able to alight and leg it to the ticket office to get myself a ticket for the latter, before D12E-644 arrived. Then at Gia Lam, where I was going to use grab to get me back to Hanoi for DD5 0705 Hanoi – Dong Dang, the Tet bonus of the morning came when 2140 (P) Lao Cai – Hanoi hadn’t departed yet; so a visit to the ticket office ensued. Where, despite my simple request for a ticket to Hanoi, I couldn’t get the staff to understand what I wanted until SP4 actually rolled in and I could physically point to it! And that’s the advantage of a pre-written list of trains, although as I write this, I do wonder why I didn’t just get my pen out and write down what I wanted! Still, I got what I wanted and with D12E-627 being late with SP4 I thought I’d end up missing little GE D9E-216 on DD5 0705 Hanoi – Dong Dang, which I ran around for at Hanoi, only for it to depart late itself and as a result I had to get off at Long Bien for 0540 Quan Trieu – Hanoi. Which probably saved a bit of consternation at Gia Lam, had the station staff seen me arrive back so soon after departing, and then get straight onto another Hanoi bound train less than an hour after getting onto the late running SP4! Little GE D9E-241 finished the morning off, with yet another empty train and I was soon in the mindset for heading back west, albeit not to the UK!
Back at Hanoi, that was that and I was hotel bound for a quick bite before jumping in my pre-arranged taxi to Hanoi airport. The roads really were dead, all the way there and the journey only took 30-minutes. Airport security was also pretty quiet, and the distinct lack of locals gave away the fact that Vietnam had just started its biggest holiday of the year. Despite not being able to check in online for my Aeroflot flights to Moscow and then onward to Madrid, I had a boarding card within minutes of walking up to the desk; and my big bag was allowed on with me. Immigration and security weren’t busy, for obvious reasons and I was able to use the departure gate to get my seats changed when I realised I’d been given window seats on both flights. The fact the flight to Moscow was very lightly loaded made it a bit of a waste of time as people pretty much chose where they sat and most on the flight had a row to themselves.
The crew on board were worth looking at but none of them seemed capable of breaking so much as a smile, the miserable fuckers! The service replicated the cabin crew’s enthusiasm and there were only two trolley run-bys during the flight from Hanoi to Moscow and the only drink on offer the rest of the time, which had to be sought from the galley, was water; which wasn’t served with a smile. Some people should really reconsider their line of work, when working with the public, as even my water was served with a side-order of snarl! The empty flight and early arrival into Moscow were the only bonuses of the flight; but at least this one had on-board entertainment!
Landing in falling snow is a new experience to me and with Moscow Sheremetyevo airport white-over I was also a little concerned about whether I’d be able to get back off the ground again; and even make it to Madrid at all. All the runways were clear of snow though and the airport’s fleet of snowplows were doing a grand job of keeping it so, so much so that there wasn’t a single flight cancellation during my stay at Sheremetyevo. Granted, there were a few late departures, including my own flight, but nothing too serious, with the majority being between 30-45 minutes late off stand. All departing planes stopped en-route to the departing runway for de-icing and the whole departure process was very efficient; it was as though the Russian’s were used to dealing with snow!
My flight to Madrid was on-board a plane that didn’t have onboard entertainment and had departed around 40’ late from the stand. At Aeroflot don’t tell you, until you’ve boarded the plane is that they allow a connection to an on-board WiFi service that allows you to watch their on-board entertainment on your own device; but it must be downloaded from the play store before take-off; which essentially means it needs doing using the airport WiFi connection before even boarding; assuming you don’t have a Russian sim card. With the lack of entertainment, I spent the whole 5-hour journey checking my eyelids for holes!
Arrival into Madrid’s Terminal 1 was only 40’ late and I was on the metro before midnight not before a lengthy 10-minute walk through the terminals to the metro itself, which is near terminal 2 and nowhere near terminal 1 at all! Line 8 took me to Colombia and then Line 9 (northbound) to Plaza de Castilla; right outside which is the Hotel Exe Plaza, where we’d stayed for the previous PTG tour in January 2019. As they’d had a sale on at the time of booking I’d booked up well in advance and as I was the last of our group of five to arrive, I had to collect a card at reception before heading to bed. The staff were expecting me but as everyone checking in to the hotel has to have their details processed, it wasn’t as quick a check in as I’d have liked. Still, I was staying in a triple room, which had two separate sleeping areas and the two I was sharing with had kindly set the air-con to freezing in my single room, while they pushed up some Z’s in the adjacent twin room. So kind! The room itself was well equipped, with TV’s in both rooms, all the toiletries you could wish for and the aforementioned air-con. It was clean and comfortable, which is all that was needed. The fact I didn’t avail it for more than 6 hours is another thing…..
Gen for Friday 24th January 2020
D12E-634 SP2 2055 (P) Lao Cai – Hanoi
D12E-648 HP1 0600 Hanoi – Hai Phong
D12E-644 YB3 0610 Hanoi – Yen Bai
D12E-627 SP4 2140 (P) Lao Cai – Hanoi
D9E-216 DD5 0705 Hanoi – Dong Dang
D9E-241 QT2 0540 Quan Trieu – Hanoi
Moves for Friday 24th January 2020
|D12E-648||Hanoi||Long Bien||0600 Hanoi – Hai Phong||HP1|
|D12E-644||Long Bien||Gia Lam||0610 Hanoi – Yen Bien||YB3|
|D12E-627||Gia Lam||Hanoi||2140 (23/01) Lao Cai – Hanoi||SP4|
|D9E-216||Hanoi||Long Bien||0705 Hanoi – Dong Dang||DD5|
|D9E-241||Long Bien||Hanoi||0540 Quan Trieu – Hanoi||QT2|
|VQ-BUB||Hanoi||Moskva Sheremetyevo||1105 Hanoi – Moskva Sheremetyevo||SU291|
|VP-BKJ||Moskva Sheremetyevo||Madrid Barajas Terminal 1||1930 Moskva Sheremetyevo – Madrid Barajas||SU2604|
Wednesday 29th January 2020 (Heading back to Vietnam from Spain)
It was an early start, pre-7am, for my long journey back to Vietnam for the post-Tet bash in the south. I was accompanied on the metro towards the airport by Vic, who had an equally early flight back to the UK; who I bode farewell when I alighted at the airport Terminal 1,2,3 station. Despite having a 10-ride metro card there is still a fee to pay for using the airport stations, which are the only stations on the Madrid metro that you have to use your card t touch out at, to get through the barriers. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of machines that allow you to add the airport supplement to your card before going through the barriers to exit the system; so if you “forget” you won’t be chung any extra to exit once you’re there.
In true Spanish style there was no urgency to open up the Aeroflot check-in desks, which were eventually opened around 2h10m before departure; by which time the queues were out of the terminal doors! Luckily, I was towards the front, so didn’t have to wait long once they started the process. Unlike my outbound flights, I’d managed to be able to check in online for the first leg to Moscow but not the onward leg to Ho Chi Minh, despite my booking showing an allocated seat. This was the only reason I’d been stood in a queue for an hour and when I got to check in they told me they couldn’t change my window seat to an aisle seat on the Moscow – Ho Chi Minh leg; yet Hanoi had been able to change both my seats on the outward legs when asked!
Security and immigration were a lot simpler tasks than check-in had been and with Terminal 1 seemingly being the runt of the litter at Madrid, there wasn’t much to do but wait it out for the gate to be shown and then sit it out to wait for boarding to commence. It wasn’t a full flight but my row was fully occupied, thankfully by small people. The service on board was a bit better than on the way out and I took the opportunity, while I had mobile data, to download the app to allow me to access the on-board entertainment while in the sky. I didn’t use any of it while airborne but did make use of the in-flight map to keep a track on our progress; while using the flying time to type up the Spanish bash and work out the mileages for all.
Arrival into Moscow was 40 minutes early but the transit time to the stand took away some of my bonus time. There was snow on the ground, but it was a clearer day, and everything seemed to be operating normally, with temperatures being just below freezing outside. Due to poor signage and me heading downstairs, when I should have turned right, my rushing past everyone to get to my next flight didn’t pay off and I had to queue to get through a Russian passport control before going through a thankfully harmless security check. I then had a 20-minute hike through Sheremetyevo airport to get from one end of Terminal F to the other end of Terminal D, by which time my flight, which I only had a 1-hour connection for, was already half boarded. I used the fact that the priority queue desk was empty to ask if my window seat could be changed for an aisle seat; and you’d have thought I’d asked for a gold plated watch to be thrown in with the girls response, which was “what, now?”! No to-fucking-morrow you dim bitch! Which was what I was saying in my head when I politely said “yes, please”! My request was met though, and I found myself seated in the bulkhead seats that are usually reserved for children.
Despite having the whole row of four to myself, I was invaded by a couple of absolute treats, who clearly should be allowed out on their own, let alone on a plane, so I ended up moving to share a row of three with a lady, where they’d vacated from originally; and left them to their own stupid devices! We were off stand early and it was a pleasant flight, throughout. The staff seemed to be able to manage a smile and the food was better than the outward selection had been, and I even managed to make use of the entertainment system, and grab a bit of sleep along the way; before we arrived into Ho Chi Minh 45’ early! Which turned out to be a much-needed bonus 45 minutes of time for me.
Moves for Wednesday 29th January 2020
|VP-BAY||Madrid Barajas Terminal 1||Moskva Sheremetyevo||1120 Madrid – Moskva||SU2501|
|VP-BGD||Moskva Sheremetyevo||Ho Chi Minh City||1935 Moskva – Ho Chi Minh City||SU292|
Thursday 30th January 2020 (Saigon D13E bash – Day 1)
Being close to the front of the plane helped me get ahead of the game as I breezed through the airport towards immigration. What I wasn’t expecting when I got there was for the whole immigration hall to be rammed full of people and each queue to be 30+ deep and not moving along at all. My saving grace was the fact that a few more desks were eventually opened up and after stepping up three times to different queues, as people bustled for a place, I eventually ended up right at the front of one; only to be shot down in flames for not having done my homework! It turns out that the 15-day free visa offered to UK citizens can only be availed multiple times if you’ve spent more than 30 days out of Vietnam, which I obviously hadn’t!
The result of my lack of attention to detail found me being directed to the visa on arrival area, where I had to fill in a visa application form, which I did while waiting in line, then hand it over at the desk, along with my passport and boarding cards from my previous flight. I was quickly called back to the desk and asked to hand over the boarding cards from my previous arrival into Vietnam and because I’m anal about such things, I had them all handy in my little A5 trip folder; but I’m guessing most people would have binned them the moment they landed, or got to their hotel? Literally 5 minutes later I was called back to the desk again and asked to provide a passport photo, which I didn’t have and there is nowhere to get one at immigration. The result being, I paid €28 for the visa, which had already been processed and stuck in my passport and was then directed to a man with a camera, who I had to pay VND100,000 to take a photo of me; which he then passed on to the immigration guys. At which point I was allowed to enter Vietnam. The whole process only took 15 minutes from entering the queue!
With the majority of immigration desks now being open I wasn’t relishing the prospect of having to queue up again to get through and when the guy that had taken my photo tried to point me in the right direction I explained to him that I was in a rush, as I had a train to catch. His suggestion was to go to the empty “crew only” desk, put $5 inside my passport and ask the guy to allow me quick passage. I was skeptical at first and rather than assume a bribe would work, I presented my case to the guy at the desk, who took my passport and said he would help me. When he said it a second time, I asked for the passport back, shoved a VND100,000 note inside and handed it back. Moments later, I was processed into Vietnam and the error of my ways had resulted in my losing two full clean pages in my passport, which, with only 7 left before arriving and 6 years of passport validity, was a bit of an arse! Although with Brexit around the corner, there could be a silver lining to that one, who knows!
All I cared about at this point was being back in the game and having managed to get a bit of WiFi while rushing through the airport in Moscow, I was able to receive the Saigon loco plan for the following day, which at that point was for today. What it showed was that I had the potential to be the luckiest little fucker in Vietnam; with all three of my wanted D13E being on the plan! The flapometer had been off the scale when I’d been in the immigration hall and thankfully the 45-minute early arrival had mopped up the self-inflicted downtime. Now I was back in business, I was already on the grab app as I exited the airport and once I reach my designated pillar for pick-up, I hit “book” and was on my way to Di An station within 5 minutes; with plenty of time to spare and my sanity intact.
Sure enough, and true to the gen, D13E-704 arrived, a little later than booked, with SE25 1400 (P) Quang Ngai – Saigon and when it arrived into Saigon D13E-705 was already on the stock to work the opposing train, SE25 1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai. As I had 35 minutes to kill, I made a quick exit and rushed off to the hotel I’d got booked for the next 7 nights, RedDoorz Plus near Ga Saigon. It was only a few minutes’ walk from the station and the young lad at reception was expecting me, and more importantly allowed me to check in early, which got my big bag dumped for the day. My room was a decent size but being on the front of the building it was quite noisy, and the windows weren’t sealed very well. The bathroom was behind pure glass, which is great if you’re in the room on your own but if you wanted a shit with others around you had to mess around putting blinds down! The water was hot and the air-con worked ok, until it started leaking water all over the floor; which resulted in a room change to the one on the floor above in the end, which turned out to be a slightly better room anyway! There were tiny ants knocking around in both rooms though…
With no time to spare, I was soon back at Saigon station admiring D13E-705 on SE25, when the driver of D19E-937 on TN4 1225 Saigon – Hanoi insisted I join him in his cab for tea, and the obligatory photo-fest. I thought he was going to try and give me a cab ride in his rattling Chinese thing, which I’d have liked but not while a winning D13E was in the adjacent platform, but thankfully he allowed me back onto the platform before he departed. Waiting in the sidings as he did so was Saigon’s runt of the litter GE, D9E-248; which I’m reliably informed is permanently Saigon station pilot as it’s weaker than the rest of its classmates and literally can’t pull the skin off a rice pudding!
As D13E-705 paused at Di An with the very empty SE26 1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai, D13E-713 arrived from the north with a late running TN9 1755 (PP) Thanh Hoa – Saigon. As I’d not been expecting SE26 to be a D13E, I’d only booked some ned moves of an afternoon, before booking SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon as my first on-spec overnight. So, an afternoon of nedding in Chinese D19E ensued after I alighted from SE26 at Bien Hoa, with Saigon based D19E-911 taking me straight back to Saigon on SE23 2025 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon and then Yen Vien based D19E-978 did the honours back to Bien Hoa on SE10 1430 Saigon – Hanoi. It turned into a mixed bag when Da Nang based D19E-969/D19E-968 turned up top & tailing SE7 0600 (P) Hanoi – Saigon, which I did to Di An where I was going to book a grab car to take me back to Bien Hoa but my new powers of persuasion, by which I mean bribing, got me through the door of the waiting SE30 1520 Saigon – Hanoi, which wasn’t even booked to stop at Di An! Da Nang based D19E-966 did the honours and I paid the coach attendant the same amount that I’d have paid a grab car driver, and with a completely empty soft-seat coach at my disposal, it was money well spent!
With the “Phan Thiet” turn usually being solid D13E, I was surprised when the gen showed it to be not only one D19E but T&T D19E’s on the return journey as well! I was hoping this wasn’t going to be a theme for the post-Tet service as it was something I’d be relying on being a D13E as a back-up for all else failing. Still, on this occasion Saigon based D19E-931 led and D19E-964 trailed on SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon and as it was D19E and not a D13E I got off at Song Thanh to save on the taxi fare to Di An to do Saigon based D19E-953 back into Saigon on SE5 0850 (P) Hanoi – Saigon; where I had time to nip to the hotel for a quick shower and a bite to eat, which was KFC ordered through the grab food app.
Having explained to the hotel staff that I probably wouldn’t be back for a couple of days, I headed back to the station for the main event of the day, and sure enough the allocations held up with D13E-711 being off the end of the platform at the front of SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon and D13E-702 was just being attached to the rear, which was being sent to Dieu Tri to work back the following day with TN7 1250 (P) Thanh Hoa – Saigon with there being an imbalance of locos at Dieu Tri post-Tet when the full service commences. While I wasn’t that pleased about spinning my last Vietnamese D13E on the back of a train, beggars can’t be choosers and I was reveling in it when I found I had my compartment to myself on board what appeared to be an almost empty SQN2.
All the trains I’d seen heading north might as well have been empty stocks but all the trains arriving into Saigon had been rammed to the rafters with families returning to the big city after the Tet holiday. What’s more was the fact that tickets for trains going north were easy to come by but for trains coming south there was virtually no availability at all north of Bien Hoa, which made the fact I’d booked multiple trains when tickets had gone on sale all worth the while, even if I had spent a fortune on over-priced tickets, which in some cases were triple the price of the equivalent northbound journey, when coming south! And having looked at flights, I can see why DSVN has lost a lot of trade and slashed the number of trains for the 2020 Tet period, with flights from Nha Trang to Saigon being as much as 1/3 cheaper than the equivalent train journey, even in soft-seat class; and at 1 hour versus a minimum of 7h30m by train, it’s a no-brainer! There were even flights bookable on the day for less than the price a train ticket would have cost, when one was available!
Having been on the go since leaving Madrid, I was glad of the downtime, and the empty compo on board SQN2 and once we’d left Bien Hoa I locked the door, turned out the lights and had an early night, or very late one if I wanted to remain in Madrid’s time zone.
Gen for Thursday 30th January 2020
D13E-704 SE25 1400 (P) Quang Ngai – Saigon
D13E-705 SE26 1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai
D13E-713 TN9 1755 (PP) Thanh Hoa – Saigon
D13E-711/D13E-702 (T&T) SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon (to Dieu Tri)
D19E-937 TN4 1225 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-911 SE23 2025 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-978 SE10 1430 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-969/D19E-968 (T&T) SE7 0600 (P) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-966 SE30 1520 Saigon – Hanoi (paid attendant 30,000 from Di An)
D19E-932 SE24 1610 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-931/D19E-964 (T&T) SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon
D19E-953 SE5 0850 (P) Hanoi – Saigon
Moves for Thursday 30th January 2020
|D13E-704||Di An||Saigon||1400 (29/01) Quang Ngai – Saigon||SE25|
|D13E-705||Saigon||Bien Hoa||1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai||SE26|
|D19E-911||Bien Hoa||Saigon||2025 (28/01) Hanoi – Saigon||SE23|
|D19E-978||Saigon||Bien Hoa||1430 Saigon – Hanoi||SE10|
|D19E-969||Bien Hoa||Di An||0600 (29/01) Hanoi – Saigon||SE7|
|D19E-966||Di An||Bien Hoa||1520 Saigon – Hanoi||SE30|
|D19E-931||Bien Hoa||Song Than||1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon||SPT1|
|Grab Car||Song Than||Di An||VND 60,000, 15 minutes|
|D19E-953||Di An||Saigon||0850 (29/01) Hanoi – Saigon||SE5|
|D13E-711||Saigon||Dieu Tri||2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon||SQN2|
Photos for Thursday 30th January 2020
Friday 31st January 2020 (Saigon D13E bash – Day 2)
As is always the case with an early night, an early rise occurred the following morning; and as always, the hot water geyser on-board DSVN trains provided the first coffee of the morning, and some noodles for breakfast while SQN2 continued its journey north. I’d never been north of Nha Trang with a D13E, so to do it for the first time with two on the train was a bonus, even if we were running a little late. At Dieu Tri, D13E-702 was duly detached from the rear, leaving D13E-711 to go it alone down the branch to Quy Nhon (so I thought), where in true form the DSVN staff removed the loco from the train in an efficient style and by the time I’d walked the length of the train it was stabled up by the side of the set, shut down; and it wasn’t a D13E either! WTF! Investigations revealed that D12E-629 had worked SQN2 from Dieu Tri, and subsequent conversations with my good friend Phan revealed that it was the regular branch engine of late.
Having anything but D12E-629 on the Quy Nhon branch these days is quite rare, albeit not uncommon. It seems that D12E-629 is Da Nang’s runt, like D9E-248 at Saigon, and it’s been out-stabled at Dieu Tri for shunting for the last 6-7 years. Despite D13E regularly visiting Quy Nhon in the past it’s not a common site these days, since DSVN decreed that regardless of what traction works SQN2/SQN1 south of Dieu Tri, the loco will always be replaced for the run down the branch to Quy Nhon. This practice only used to be in place when SQN2/1 were worked by D19E, which are too heavy for the branch, so had to be swapped out. The loco working SQN2 to Dieu Tri is then used as the Dieu Tri shunt loco while D12E-629 goes to Quy Nhon and back, and it then re-engines SQN1 again for the run back south. While I was rushing off to get a taxi to take me straight back to Dieu Tri, with time being of the essence thanks to a bit of late running, I was left a bit shell-shocked at what I’d just witnessed. One other thing my conversation revealed was that the only other work the Da Nang D12E now had was working SE21/22 between Da Nang & Hue and return in pairs.
I’d already got a ticket on TN7 heading back south but hadn’t been able to get one for SQN1 1310 Quy Nhon – Saigon, even when they first went on sale, so I didn’t need to be missing TN7, otherwise I’d been looking for a flight back to Saigon, or a hotel in Quy Nhon for two days! Thankfully the taxi journey back to Dieu Tri didn’t take long and I had enough time to stock up with train food for the journey back south, before watching D13E-702 run through the station to re-engine TN7 1250 (P) Thanh Hoa – Saigon, which arrived into Dieu Tri with Saigon Based D19E-915.
Needless to say, the journey back south was on a much fuller train than I’d travelled north on, so much so that I don’t think there was an empty seat/berth throughout the train. The soft-seat and hard-seat classes looked rammed and I now know what the mini-chairs stacked in the vestibules are used for, which were scattered down the aisles with kids and adults alike sat on them, with some even being placed in the vestibule ends with people sat on them. Still, everyone had a ticket, otherwise they wouldn’t be on board, and I wouldn’t have fancied my chances at trying to bribe my way onto a train as wedged as TN7 was. What’s even more worrying about these wedged trains, as I’ve said before, is the fact that every exit door on the train is locked, and they’re only ever opened when trains stop at a booked station. In a country where level crossing accidents apparently average 1 per day, the consequences of a bad one isn’t something you really want on your mind while hammering through the Vietnamese countryside on a packed train….!
I’d already been privileged to see a few photos of what happens to Vietnamese trains when they hit obstructions on level crossings, with D19E-921 being such a culprit 30km south of Hanoi in 2010, which was during Tet! The heroics of the driver, who stayed in his cab with the emergency brake firmly applied in his hand probably saved the lives of most on board as had he not slowed the train enough, not only would the loco and front three coaches have ended up on their side, the train would have been going a lot faster and the consequences would have been more dire! The poor driver lost his arm as a result of the accident and they had to cut the whole chair out of D19E-921 to save his leg! Randomly, nobody died in the accident, which was purely down to the stupidity of a truck driver, who couldn’t be bothered to wait a few more seconds to cross the running lines. Little GE D9E-231 suffered a similar fate, in a similar situation, while working a Hanoi – Yen Bai service, which saw it end up on its side. Both locos were subsequently repaired and are still in traffic now.
Sometimes having an upper berth is handier than a lower one, as it was on this occasion as the family in my compo just couldn’t sit still and their kids were all over the place. After departure from Dieu Tri it seemed like a good time to get lost in some music and Armin Van Buren never lets me down when I want to be elsewhere! Despite the wedged factor, the buffet crew were constantly up and down with a trolley service, which I bet was fun when going through the seating coaches? The constant hot water kept me fed and watered throughout the journey though and the buffet was never empty judging by the flow of people to/from it. Post-Tet the DSVN staff do seem to deserve their empty run north as they have their work cut out on the run south with constantly being on the go. The opening of only one door per coach though, does hinder people getting off and with as much luggage as people carry, there is no wonder late running occurs after Tet. Its nothing that automatic sliding doors won’t cure though but that would stop people smoking in the vestibules….
As it turned out it was a good day to be away from Saigon as there wasn’t a single D13E heading north out of Saigon all day, with SPT2/1 Saigon – Phan Thiet – Saigon being D19E-931 again; do SQN2 had saved the day the previous night, as had my pre-Tet planning when buying up tickets for numerous trains, just in case. My additional spending had already paid off and a couple of hours south of Nha Trang, after darkness quickly fell, I was in receipt of both a Nha Trang & Saigon loco plan for the following day, which showed that things were looking up. With D13E-715 allocated the following morning’s SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet and D19E-931 buggering off on a freight, what’s more, D13E-702 was expected to be the following night’s TN10 2315 Saigon – Thanh Hoa and D13E-705 arriving into Saigon off SE25 1400 (P) Quang Ngai – Saigon was expected to work back out with SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon. The latter two would be confirmed on the following evening’s 1800 plan but DSVN’s advance notice of intent was very welcome in allowing me to make plans.
Having flapped about for a bit once I’d received the plans, I went to sleep in my upper berth a happy chappy, with an alarm set for 0210, for an 0220 arrival into Saigon; where surprisingly we only arrived 10’ late and I was in bed in the hotel 10 minutes after that; having had to hammer on the front door to wake the receptionist from his slumber.
Gen for Friday 31st January 2020
D13E-702 TN7 1250 (P) Thanh Hoa – Saigon (from Dieu Tri)
D13E-711 SQN1 1310 Quy Nhon – Saigon (from Dieu Tri)
D12E-629 SQN2 2000 (P) Saigon – Quy Nhon (from Dieu Tri), SQN1 1310 Quy Nhon – Saigon (to Dieu Tri)
D19E-915 TN7 1250 (P) Thanh Hoa – Saigon (to Dieu Tri)
D19E-917 SE8 0600 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-953 SE12 0745 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-970 SE6 0845 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-954 SE16 0920 Saigon – Vinh
D19E-916 TN8 0950 Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D19E-914 TN4 1225 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-964 SE26 1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai
Moves for Friday 31st January 2020
|D12E-629||Dieu Tri||Quy Nhon||2000 (30/01) Saigon – Quy Nhon||SQN2|
|Grab Car||Quy Nhon||Dieu Tri||VND 100,000, 20 minutes|
|D13E-702||Dieu Tri||Saigon||1250 (30/01) Thanh Hoa – Saigon||TN7|
Saturday 1st February 2020 (Saigon D13E bash – Day 3 – Brexit!)
Having only been in bed for just over 3 hours the 0550-alarm call was a bit of an intrusion into my sleep but a necessary one, nonetheless. A quick shower, change of clothes and bag-shuffle later and I was station bound again, having only left it 4 hours previous! Something had clearly just arrived as people and their baggage were spilling out of the station building and loading into or onto anything with wheels that would take them home. Slowly but surely, Saigon was filling back up with life and DSVN were doing their bit. With every train that arrived there were around 600-700 people spilling back into Saigon and with 21 arrivals per 24 hours, that’s around 13000-15000 people per day DSVN were repatriating with their capital city. With ticket prices at a yearly high for people returning to Saigon after Tet I dread to think how much money DSVN were making but it was nothing short of a bumper deal, which some railways in the world wouldn’t even make in a year!
It was nice to see the red outline of a D13E at the head of SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet, as I walked down the platform; and D13E-715 it was, as per plan. During Tet the Phan Thiet set is more of a scratch rake and doesn’t have any 4-berth or 6-berth sleepers on it but instead has double-deck soft seat coaches instead, along with two normal soft-seat coaches; which are at the front out of Saigon. The train was far from busy when it left Saigon and as D13E-715 ran through the Saigon suburbs Britain’s exit from the European Union was taking place and when the UK woke on this historical morning social media went in overdrive. My trip away from the UK for Brexit was purely coincidental, especially as there had previously been two false starts, and I was struggling to comprehend why people actually wanted to be out of the UK for Brexit….
It was a pleasant trip to Phan Thiet, during which I managed to catch up with a bit of bureaucracy and due to a knackered window in the front coach, which wouldn’t close properly, I was able to listen to some 6-cylinder Alco music throughout the journey, while pounding my laptop keyboard. It was a nice hot day by the time we reached Phan Thiet and the driver had stopped D13E-715 in a perfect position with the sun nicely on the front of the train.
After getting my photographs, I was among the last to leave the station and most of the waiting hoards had disappeared with a fare. One of the remaining moped drivers insisted on thrusting his ancient Nokia phone in my face as I walked across the car park to find somewhere to eat, and clearly didn’t get the fact that I was catching a train as when I discovered that the place I’d eaten at last time I’d been in Phan Thiet was closed, he came across with his moped and beckoned me onto it. Thankfully, there was another place to eat just over the way from the station area, where I found all the crew off SPT2 scoffing down some food. With no English spoken, Google Translate did what it should and translated, which resulted in a decent beef noodles being thrust in front of me 5 minutes later.
The station was never locked up the whole time I was there so people could wonder around to their heart’s content. SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon was announced over an hour before departure, and it was the only time it was announced. With SPT1 being the only departure from Phan Thiet, on a daily basis, people were going to know which train was theirs though and eventually the masses started to arrive. The van right behind the loco was being loaded with mopeds when I walked down and there wasn’t an empty seat in my coach, on departure from Phan Thiet.
Being at the back of the train made for a boring ride back to Saigon but it was a pleasantly quiet one. It reminded me of the 1320 Blackpool – Liverpool, back in the day, which used to be a bit of a sleeper service after a few beers in Blackpool. I’m not sure what this lot’s excuse was but the whole coach was dossed out shortly after we departed Binh Thuan. It’s quite ironic that the two train’s departure times are 1320, don’t you think?
By the time D13E-715 was bumbling through the Saigon suburbs on the final leg of its journey, both the Saigon & Nha Trang loco plans were through and they confirmed what the previous day’s plan had hinted about, with D13E-705 being allocated to SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon, now with D13E-701 on the rear to Dieu Tri, but with no return allocation, and D13E-702 allocated TN10 2315 Saigon – Thanh Hoa to Dieu Tri. D13E-715 was allocated to SPT2/SPT1 again the following day, so it looked like things were back to normal for the Phan Thiet turn, at least regarding the traction type, if not the stock type.
Back at Saigon if SE5 0850 (P) Hanoi – Saigon hadn’t been D19E-973 T&T with D19E-955, I wouldn’t have bothered getting a grab bike to take me straight back out to Di An to do them in, but as it was, I did and was thankful they were close to right time when they arrived into Saigon. This allowed me plenty of time to rush back to the hotel, do my thing while waiting for my food to be delivered through the grab app and then walk back to the station ready for another northbound overnight on what turned out to be an equally empty train as the SQN2 I’d done two night’s previous.
D13E-705 was already attached to the front of SQN2 and shut down ready for departure. The shunter was waiting at the rear of the train to attach the back loco, which didn’t arrive until 8 minutes before departure but in true DSVN style, after a lot of horn blowing and brake testing SQN2 rolled out of Saigon spot on time. The locos are always shut down during attaching and detaching, which makes just how quickly they get them off the trains even more impressive. During the brake testing there’s a lot of horn blowing, which indicates certain parts of the test are complete and I’m guessing for the shunter at the rear to drop the tap. All trains departing Saigon are also coupled to a shore supply for the train supply while in the station and the generator vans are only started when needed, usually shortly before a train’s departure. There were other people in my coach but not my compartment, and for a second northbound overnight journey I kept the compo to myself throughout.
Gen for Saturday 1st February 2020
D13E-715 SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet, SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon
D13E-707 SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet (on rear to Binh Thuan)
D13E-705 SE25 1400 (P) Quang Ngai – Saigon
D13E-705/D13E-701 (T&T) SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon
D13E-702 TN10 2315 Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D19E-966 SE1 2220 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon, SE22 1140 Saigon – Da Nang
D19E-968 SE21 0912 (P) Da Nang – Saigon, SE30 1520 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-913 SE29 1530 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon, SE26 1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai
D19E-919 SE15 2305 (PP) Vinh – Saigon, SE24 1610 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-934 SE19 2000 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-939 TN4 1225 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-944 SE10 1430 Saigon – Hanoi
Moves for Saturday 1st February 2020
|D13E-715||Saigon||Phan Thiet||0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet||SPT2|
|D13E-715||Phan Thiet||Saigon||1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon||SPT1|
|Grab Bike||Saigon||Di An||VND 94,000, 25 minutes|
|D19E-973||Bien Hoa||Di An||0600 (29/01) Hanoi – Saigon||SE7|
|D13E-705||Saigon||Quy Nhon||2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon||SQN2|
Photos for Saturday 1st February 2020
Sunday 2nd February 2020 (Saigon D13E bash – Day 4)
Unlike the previous time I’d visited Quy Nhon, two days ago, this time, having already pre-written part of the move in my book, I was delighted to find D13E-705 positioned where I’d found D12E-629 at Quy Nhon two days previous! This possibly making this visit to Quy Nhon one of those rare events when D12E-629 didn’t go down the branch? Of course, DSVN must not have wanted any photographic evidence of the event, which was why they managed to whip the loco off so quickly after SQN2 had arrived; therefore, said event never happened of course!
I walked down the road to a nearby Highlands Coffee to abuse the WiFi and relax during the 3-hour fester I now had. Having been in Vietnam for two weeks, give-or-take the few days I was in Spain for, I’d used Highlands Coffee quite a bit and their Caramel Phin Freeze’s were quite nice but I was struggling to get my head around the fact that the coffee in them was 1 inch by half a centimeter pieces of jelly that are stuck to the inside of the cup, and you end up sucking them through your straw. It’s all a bit weird, but tasty all the same.
Back at the station, D13E-705 was waiting for departure with SQN1 1310 Quy Nhon – Saigon, which was watered at Dieu Tri prior to the run back to Saigon. Shortly before SQN1 departed Dieu Tri, D13E-702 arrived with TN10 2315 Saigon – Thanh Hoa; which randomly didn’t return to Saigon with TN9 that night and stayed in Dieu Tri for freight work. D19E-933 worked TN9 back instead, which had worked north on SE14 2230 (P) Saigon – Hanoi.
As was to be expected, the southbound run to Saigon was anything but empty and as it was technically the last day of the holiday everything heading south had no room for maneuver at all. There was luggage stacked in the vestibules and I never did find out what they all carried the length and breadth of the country in sealed up polystyrene containers. Having seem one be dropped though; I was guessing that whatever was inside was perishable judging by the amount of water I watched spill out onto the floor!? Luckily it was swept straight out of the vestibule through the gap at the bottom of the coach door! Compartment floors were loaded with suitcases and boxes and the state of some of them after they’d been vacated was utterly disgusting; with empty pot noodle pots rattling around under the berths, some of which had been kicked over and their contents were everywhere, and a whole host of crap scattered around the floor that had been trampled on by the compartment’s occupants. There was even a raft of eggshell on the floor of one, which had a bin less than 10ft away from it, and I’m sure that there must have been a bag of some description to put rubbish in? That kind of thing, just freely dropping crap on a train floor, makes my blood boil, the dirty bastards! More than one Indian had been told to throw their nut shells out of the open window over the years…..
Having the lower berth on a wedged train isn’t always worth the hassle, so I was glad to swap my lower for the upper on the same side when asked by the elderly gentleman that was already sat on my lower berth when I joined. To be fair, it sounded like I was in the calmest compartment in the coach and was lucky enough not to have people entering and exiting all night; everyone in it when I joined went through to Saigon.
Just before arriving into Nha Trang the evening’s Nha Trang & Saigon plans appeared on my phone, almost immediately after one another. It was those that told me D13E-702 wasn’t returning to Saigon off TN10 but they did show that D13E-715 would be SPT2/1 again the following morning, having done it again today, and that D13E-705 was planned to return north on SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon again the following night; with the caveat on the plan showing it TBC on the following days plan. D13E-714 was also shown to do SE26 1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai the following afternoon, so still plenty of action and it seems that I’d put myself in Saigon after Tet on the right cycle for the D13E northbound departures. Which while it’s not an issue with being able to do SPT2/1 and pick your overnight north, the issue with being able to adjust your move during Tet is the fact that most southbound trains are completely sold out north of Bien Hoa and while you’d be able to get north at the last minute, getting back south was a big issue at the last minute, but there were plenty of flights from Quy Nhon or Nha Trang airports at reasonable prices though.
I wasn’t late out of bed with an early arrival into Saigon at 0403. Thankfully, neither was anyone else and the Vietnamese were a little like Indians in that respect and just lounged around sleeping in their berths the whole time they were on board.
Gen for Sunday 2nd February 2020
D13E-705 SQN1 1310 Quy Nhon – Saigon
D13E-702 did not return from Dieu Tri on TN9
D13E-715 SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet, SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon
D19E-938 SE8 0600 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-955 SE12 0745 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-954 SE6 0845 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-916 SE16 0920 Saigon – Vinh
D19E-917 TN8 0950 Saigon – Thanh Hoa
Moves for Sunday 2nd February 2020
|D13E-705||Quy Nhon||Saigon||1310 Quy Nhon – Saigon||SQN1|
Monday 3rd February 2020 (Saigon D13E bash – Day 5)
The 0500 arrival into Saigon was actually a blessing in disguise as getting more sleep on the train meant I was quite refreshed when the attendant came hammering on the compartment door at about 0430. While I went back to the hotel to freshen up, there was no point going back to bed and after a brief interlude I was back at the station picking up a few bits for breakfast before hopefully beginning a repeat of what I’d done two days previous with D13E-715 starting the day off on SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet.
Sure enough, D13E-715 was sat at the head of SPT2 and the coach attendant in coach 1 was the same one I’d travelled with two days previous and she recognized me as she ushered me through the door to my seat. There were only 7 people in the front coach all the way to Phan Thiet, yet the second coach was quite full. I had the bay at the front with the knackered window again so was able to hear the little D13E throughout the journey.
At Phan Thiet I found the train crew in the bar/restaurant right outside the station exit and released they were there because the one we’d all eaten at two days earlier had the shutters down. As there wasn’t much space left though, I hung around at the bus stop to wait for them to disperse before sitting down and devouring a good beef noodle. While no English was spoken the menu provided had English translations on it.
The amount of people arriving to travel, compared to two days previous, was noticeable and when I checked Baolau.com to see how well loaded the train was I found that the two single-deck soft seat coaches were full but the front double-deck coach was completely empty upstairs; so, I booked another ticket in coach 7 at a vastly cheaper price than tickets had been up to and including the previous day. The air-con in coach 1 had been bloody freezing on the way out too, so not freezing to death on the way back would be a bonus.
Having had a beer at dinner time, I spent the first part of the journey back to Saigon dozing, but I was awake when we crossed D13E-714 with SE26 1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai. What I hadn’t realised when we’d spent 25 minutes at Binh Thuan, after coming to a stand just outside the station as well, was that D13E-707 had been added to the rear and it wasn’t until a couple of hours later when we departed somewhere after a crossing stop, that I heard the horn of the rear loco when both locos blew to set off. What a pleasant surprise it was.
It was a bit of a rush at Saigon again, and I returned to the hotel, which I’d basically used as a storage room and a shower room since arriving, to abuse the home comforts again, charge everything I had and then set off back to the station in an attempt to meet the kind gentleman that had been providing me with the Saigon loco plan, via France! He was the driver of D19E-957 working SE4 1925 Saigon – Hanoi, which I managed to get onto the platforms in time for but when I got to the front of the train, with the loco being off the platform ends and both occupants of the cab eating their grub, I left them to it and walked around to the platform where SQN2 was already boarding at.
D13E-705 was already attached, although it was in a spot devoid of light. D19E-939, arriving light from shed to work SNT2 2030 Saigon – Nha Trang, provided that brief moment of opportunity when its headlight lit up the front of D13E-705; and then it was back into darkness again. At which point it was time to board. Having checked the availability for SQN2 earlier in the day the Baolau.cm system was only allowing bookings to be made in coaches 8 & 9 and I was in coach 11. Randomly coaches 8 & 9 were quite well frequented yet 10 was completely empty and 11 only had me in my compo and a noisy family in the next one; that was it!
Despite the racket from the next compo, I did manage to get bedded down by 2200. Unfortunately, the coach was a noisy old beast, so it made no odds really. The fact that the coach attendant came knocking at the door just after 2200, to randomly ask for my passport and then stare at my photo page for a bit before handing it back, made the first attempt at sleep fruitless. Eventually though, I drifted off and managed to put all the noise somewhere else in my mind….
Gen for Monday 3rd February 2020
D13E-715 SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet, SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon
D13E-707 SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon (added to rear at Binh Thuan)
D13E-702 SE25 1400 Quang Ngai – Saigon
D13E-714 SE26 1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai
D13E-705 SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon
D19E-968 SE1 2220 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon, SE22 1140 Saigon – Da Nang
D19E-971 SE21 0912 (P) Da Nang – Saigon, SE30 1520 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-959 SE29 1530 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-939 SE15 2305 (PP) Vinh – Saigon, SNT2 2030 Saigon – Nha Trang
D19E-915 SE19 2000 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-936 SE17 0900 (P) Dong Hoi – Saigon
D19E-911 TN8 0950 Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D19E-960 TN4 1225 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-932 SE10 1430 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-958 SE24 1610 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-957 SE4 1925 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-963 SE11 0800 (P) Hanoi – Saigon
Moves for Monday 3rd February 2020
|D13E-715||Saigon||Phan Thiet||0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet||SPT2|
|D13E-715||Phan Thiet||Saigon||1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon||SPT1|
|D13E-705||Saigon||Quy Nhon||2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon||SQN2|
Photos for Monday 3rd February 2020
Tuesday 4th February 2020 (Saigon D13E bash – Day 6)
I was up by 7am, and the next compo’s occupants weren’t far behind. Having been bowling along of a morning, we came to an abrupt halt at La Hai, 10 minutes early. D19E-935 turned up with SE5 0850 (P) Hanoi – Saigon and we both waited for D19E-972 to pass through with SE2 2250 (P) Saigon – Hanoi. SE5 was on the move as soon as SE2 had gone but we had to wait for SE2 to clear the next section before continuing north; 10 minutes late.
On arrival into Dieu Tri, resident D12E-629 was shunting freight wagons in the adjacent yard and was still doing so when SQN2 departed for Quy Nhon. Having managed to get a window open I was able to spot the red shape of a D13E as SQN2 turned left onto the Quy Nhon branch; and tired of being bowled for photos at Quy Nhon, I walked the length of the train and was poised at the door of the front coach when we arrived into Quy Nhon. Even then, with only two coaches to the loco, I had to rush down the platform and the shunter was already in between by the time I got my camera out! On this occasion though, rather than stable the loco at the side of the stock, this crew put it under a tree near what would now be the rear coach of the set.
My plan for the late morning was food, then taxi to Dieu Tri to do TN3 1225 (P) Hanoi – Saigon back to Saigon; hopefully with D13E-708 if the previous evening’s Nha Trang plan was correct. D13E-708 had been working freight’s off Nha Trang for the last few days and another chance conversation with Phan revealed that as of very recently, all freight trains between Saigon & Nha Trang now have to be worked by D19E, with D13E only working them between Nha Trang & Dieu Tri. It seems that DSVN are now hauling heavier freights out of Saigon and anything over 800 tons is too heavy for a single D13E. Of course, with DSVN not using two locos on the front of any of their trains prevents them from even considering using two D13E in multiple.
KFC in Quy Nhon provided lunch and because I couldn’t get a grab taxi to take me back to Dieu Tri, I had to brave it on a grab bike instead; which wouldn’t have been too bad if it hadn’t have been a roasting hot afternoon that almost melted my head underneath the helmet I had to wear en-route. As luck didn’t have it, D12E-629 was hidden away behind a rake of wagons the whole time I was at Dieu Tri and because I was towards the rear of TN3, I daren’t risk wandering up the platform to get a photo of D13E-708 when it dropped on; which sat at the exit gates to Dieu Tri shed until after D19E-938 had been removed from the train.
When we departed, D13E-714 was sat at the exit to the shed which had worked north with SE26 1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai the previous day; and would ultimately end up working freight from Dieu Tri as opposed to returning back south with the opposing working. I was grateful of a compo that was full, but quiet, and there was a nice calm feeling about it as D13E-708 hammered south towards Saigon. It was a stop-start affair though with the service being a bit messed up and generally running around an hour late which meant all the booked crossing points were out of sync and I had to use the Nha Trang loco plan to confirm some of the trains we passed.
It wasn’t long after Nha Trang when I ended up with a Dieu Tri, Nha Trang & Saigon loco plan, almost at the same time! There was a lot of red on the Saigon & Nha Trang plans, which when scrutinized meant only one thing; I really had booked a hotel in Saigon to use as a left luggage storage facility, shower room and washing room! The fact that there was availability on SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon, and what’s more SQN1 1310 Quy Nhon – Saigon the following day, both in lower berths of 4-berth compartments, made the move too easy to flag. So, it was settled and having booked tickets on Baolau.com I alighted from SQN1 at Binh Thuan, where it was about 45’ late and meant I only had just over an hour to wait for D13E-704 to arrive with SQN2.
It was the fact that D13E-713 was on the rear of SQN2 that enticed me to get off for it and had I been in two minds, or if there’d been no availability on SQN2, I could have waited it out for D13E-709 behind it with TN10 2315 Saigon – Thanh Hoa, and if that wasn’t enough, D13E-712 was shown to be on the rear of SQN1 back to Saigon the following day. So, by this point in proceedings, only D13E-703, 706 (withdrawn), & 710 had not worked passenger trains during my week in southern Vietnam. And to be fair, none of the remaining two had appeared on a plan either.
Unlike the previous night on SQN2, I had nobody in my compo, the ones adjacent, or indeed any other compo in my coach. Using the Baolau.com website to book tickets does have its advantages when looking at where to sit/sleep. The other bonus of the night was the fact that the coach didn’t rattle as much as the one had the previous night but neither had some kind person left some of their clothing strapped over the efficient air-con vent on the compo ceiling; so it was a bit cold outside the cover of the blanket!
Gen for Tuesday 4th February 2020
D13E-708 TN3 1225 (P) Hanoi – Saigon
D13E-705 SQN1 1310 Quy Nhon – Saigon
D13E-715 SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet, SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon
D9E-227 SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon (added to rear at Binh Thuan)
D13E-704/D13E-713 (T&T) SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon
D19E-935 SE5 0850 (P) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-972 SE2 2155 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-938 TN3 1225 (P) Hanoi – Saigon (to Dieu Tri)
D19E-933 SE18 2250 (P) Saigon – Dong Hoi
D19E-942 SE9 1425 (P) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-919 TN10 2315 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D19E-970 SE22 1140 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-914 TN4 1225 Saigon – Hanoi
Moves for Tuesday 4th February 2020
|Grab Bike||Quy Nhon||Dieu Tri||VND 60,000, 15 minutes|
|D13E-708||Dieu Tri||Binh Thuan||1225 (03/02) Hanoi – Saigon||TN3|
|D13E-704||Binh Thuan||Tuy Hoa||2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon||SQN2|
Photos for Tuesday 4th February 2020
Wednesday 5th February 2020 (Saigon D13E bash – Day 7 – The Final Day)
Not being able to sleep had a massive advantage that morning, and for a second morning in a row SQN2 was running quite early when it came to a halt at Tuy Hoa, some 20’ early. As is always the case, my head was buried in a timetable and when I worked out that we were going to pass SE7 0600 (P) Hanoi – Saigon a brainwave hit. A quick check of Baolau.com revealed there was availability further south, so I gathered my crap and legged it to the booking office and was soon in possession of a ticket back south on SE7. The plan being to do it to Nha Trang for D13E-709 back north to Dieu Tri on TN10; and it was a plan that worked out quite nicely. Despite D19E-944 and SE7 being late from Tuy Hoa, the fact that SQN2 had been early meant it didn’t have to wait at the next crossing point for it and it was spot on time again by Nha Trang. Which gave me enough time to gather a spot of breakfast before TN10 arrived.
I took the liberty of sitting in the empty hard-seat coaches on TN10, despite having a ticket for soft-seat, which allowed me to sample something that had been distinctly lacking since I’d returned to Vietnam; some good old 6-cylinder Alco noise! While I had been able to get the odd window down in the corridor on some journeys, the fact I’d been at the rear of the train on most journeys meant there was no thrash, regardless! It was nice to sit in an empty coach, be acclimatized and be able to hear the loco and the four-hour run north in “ham class” was one of the best I’d done thus far on the trip. Thankfully, it was a storming run and TN10 was spot on time into Dieu Tri, where it arrived almost simultaneously with SQN1 coming off the Quy Nhon branch. D13E-713 was stabled on Dieu Tri shed and D13E-712 was already stood outside the north end of the station ready to drop onto SQN1.
The fact that my camera battery had died was an annoying factor of not spending any time at the hotel I’d paid for, although, the fact that DSVN were being efficient and I had to walk back 5 coaches to get off TN10, on account of there being nobody else in the front 5 coaches, would have precluded me from getting a photo anyway. On a different note, my laptop battery was nearly dead as well, and while I’d brought the charger with me, I’d completely forgot to bring the adapter for the foreign socket, and it ran out on me mid-way through the last episode of the series of The 100 I was watching! Oh, and I’d just received an e-mail from Cambodia Angkor Air to tell me they’d cancelled my 1310 flight from Saigon to Phnom Penh the following day; and they’d kindly booked me on their 2110 flight instead. I wasn’t having much luck with flights recently and this was just the next in a long list of rescheduled flight’s I’d had in the last 6 months, and it wasn’t airline specific either! Still, the silver lining of this one was that I could do SPT2/1 the following day, if they were D13E, before heading to the airport to enter pastures new. Hopefully with everything charged and in full working order!
My compartment on board SQN1 was fully occupied from Dieu Tri. While I get that children under a certain height can travel for free, what I don’t understand is why others on board should suffer when a family beings two children with them, who in turn occupy their berths with them overnight; but, also occupy everyone else’s space during the day and make noise that people shouldn’t have to suffer. Thankfully, none of this was going off in my compo and the one girl who was traveling with her mother was very quiet and well behaved. The young guy on the lower berth opposite tried to bring his dog into the compo but was told in no uncertain terms that it wouldn’t be happening. As a result, his nappy wearing dog spent the whole journey in a toilet at the end of the coach; hindering people that wanted to use the toilet. Randomly, it wasn’t the first dog I’d seen on the trip that was wearing a nappy! It seemed to be a thing in Vietnam.
With almost everything electrical I had with me being dead, I was resigned to listening to my Ipod to keep me entertained. I had managed to get a window open in the corridor for a while, but the coach enjoyment prevention officer eventually closed it, while gesturing that I might get my head knocked off. Which might be true if I was tall enough to get my head fully out. Having been in Vietnam for almost a week on this second part of the trip, the one thing that had been lacking a little was the noise of the D13E’s in my ears. This day had been by far the best for it, even if the “close the window” police had prevented any further enjoyment on this particular train.
By the time SQN1 departed Nha Trang, I had a plan for the following day, and even an alternative plan at that. D13E-704 was allocated for SQN2 again the following night while D13E-715 was allocated to SPT2/1 for a 5th day in a row and to spice things up, D13E-708 was allocated to SE16 0940 Saigon – Hanoi, which offered a lay-in option when I got back to Saigon and the option to do it out to Binh Thuan for SPT1 back. There were a fair few D13E allocated to freight work, along with D9E as well, which seemed to indicate things were starting to move along again after Tet. I had a bit to ponder when I put my head on the pillow that night, especially with my upcoming jaunt into Cambodia, which I feared was going to be a waste of time….
Gen for Wednesday 5th February 2020
D13E-704/D13E-712 (T&T) SQN1 1310 Quy Nhon – Saigon (D13E-712 added to rear at Dieu Tri)
D13E-715 SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet, SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon
D13E-709 TN10 2315 (P) Saigon – Thanh Hoa
D19E-944 SE7 0600 (P) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-935 SE5 0850 (P) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-973 SE2 2155 (P) Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-959 SE18 2250 (P) Saigon – Dong Hoi
D19E-980 SE9 1425 (P) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-968 SE22 1140 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-937 TN4 1225 Saigon – Hanoi
Moves for Wednesday 5th February 2020
|D19E-944||Tuy Hoa||Nha Trang||0600 (04/02) Hanoi – Saigon||SE7|
|D13E-709||Nha Trang||Dieu Tri||2315 (04/02) Saigon – Thanh Hoa||TN10|
|D13E-704||Dieu Tri||Saigon||1310 Quy Nhon – Saigon||SQN1|
Thursday 6th February 2020 (Saigon D13E bash – Day 8 – The Final Day; again!)
I was grateful of the right time arrival into Saigon, and to be awake in time to avoid the rush when we arrived. Having knocked the hotel receptionist up from his slumber, who seemed to not realise where he was when he jumped into life, I was in bed by 0420, with an alarm set for 0845. The fact that I couldn’t sleep and was wide awake at 6am determined my move of a morning. Despite having paid my bill before setting out for the day, and not being back until well after checking out time, the hotel was fine with me keeping the room until I left for the airport later, which was a bonus. I was prepared though and had everything packed ready for a quick getaway.
True to form D13E-715 was already attached to SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet but on this occasion it was a different coach attendant to the other times I’d done the train. Thankfully the journey was as empty as the previous times, which meant I could doze a little along the way. I had grand plans of making an attempt to visit the sea at Phan Thiet but it was so hot that I just couldn’t be othered and settled for beef noodles and a beer at the shack outside the station building; before setting off back to Saigon on my last journey of the trip. And at Binh Thuan, or should I say just south of, I became grateful that I couldn’t sleep earlier when we crossed a waiting SE16 0940 Saigon – Hanoi with D13E-708, running late!
What a trip it had turned out to be and by the time I reached Saigon on SPT1, it had been a trip that was a long time coming and I walked to the hotel that evening feeling like I’d achieved everything I’d set out to do on the trip. Without the help of my good friend in France though it would have been a completely different story, for which I am very grateful and as I bode him farewell my ride to the airport pulled up outside the hotel and the Grab app proved useful for one last time in Vietnam. What’s more, he told me a few days later that DSVN had cancelled SQN2/1 outright after the Tet timetable had run its course and SPT2/1 had been reduced to running at weekends only. Both apparently due to a lack of passengers travelling and likely due to the coronavirus outbreak stopping tourists from visiting Vietnam. With both Phan Thiet and Quy Nhon being tourist hot-spots on the coast, it wasn’t a good sign for Vietnam tourism; and more importantly, with the announcement, this probably ended the only regular D13E-hauled passenger train in Vietnam and would save DSVN three locos a day, so the likelihood of D13E even working trains to Dieu Tri vice D19E were probably slimmer too?
As a parting gesture, not only had Cambodia Angkor Air cancelled my original flight and moved me to one 8 hours later, they relieved me of $65 before issuing me a boarding card as my bag weighed 15Kg. Their hand-luggage limit is only 7Kg and I was stung into the ground for apparently only booking a ticket with a hand-luggage entitlement and no hold entitlement. To say I was livid was an understatement, and I wasn’t the only one being stung. Had it been earlier in the day I’d have considered walking away and booking another flight with another airline but there wasn’t another option if I wanted to get to Phnom Penh tonight!
The flight was on a tatty old propellered AT7, which could have done with a good clean inside. Thankfully it was only an hour-long flight and I was on the ground in Phnom Penh before I knew it. Strangely though, the staff only handed out landing cards to fill in as we exited the plane, which was a bit of a pain. Still, there was no queue at immigration, and I was through in no time. I got myself a Smart sim card from the airport, which cost $6 for a week’s worth of data, before being able to use the Grab app to get myself a taxi to my hotel.
Despite being dropped at the right location, I struggled to find the access to the Crystal Blue Boutique Hotel, which is through the New Season Indian restaurant, which it shares the building with! The receptionist was expecting me, and I’d told them I was going to arrive late anyway. My room was on the 4th floor, was quite small and wasn’t one of the rooms that overlooked the river and main road. The air-con worked well, and there was a decent TV a fridge and half-decent WiFi, when it stayed connected. The bathroom was another with a massive window between it and the bedroom but at least this one had curtains on the outside.
Despite the long day, I used the opportunity, while I had it, to get some washing done in the bath and had it all hanging out by the time I clambered into bed. I’d had grand plans of being able to flag the 0700 Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville the following morning if it wasn’t going to be a YDM4 but as I wasn’t afforded the luxury of knowing in advance what it was going to be, my alarm was set for 6am when I did get to bed. Which I half blame Cambodia Angkor Air for and half blame the CEO of Royal Railways for not responding to my messages; despite telling me he would confirm the plan the Wednesday before the weekend I was going to be in Cambodia if I messaged him to ask….
Gen for Thursday 6th February 2020
D13E-715 SPT2 0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet, SPT1 1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon
D13E-705 SE16 0940 Saigon – Hanoi
D13E-704 SQN2 2000 Saigon – Quy Nhon
D19E-970 SE1 2220 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon, SE22 1140 Saigon – Da Nang
D19E-916 SE21 0912 (P) Da Nang – Saigon, SE30 1520 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-931 SE29 1530 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon, SE26 1240 Saigon – Quang Ngai
D19E-963 SE15 2305 (PP) Vinh – Saigon, SE24 1610 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-967 SE19 2000 (PP) Hanoi – Saigon
D19E-920 TN4 1225 Saigon – Hanoi
D19E-980 SE10 1430 Saigon – Hanoi
Moves for Thursday 6th February 2020
|D13E-715||Saigon||Phan Thiet||0640 Saigon – Phan Thiet||SPT2|
|D13E-715||Phan Thiet||Saigon||1320 Phan Thiet – Saigon||SPT1|
|XU-236||Saigon||Phnom Penh||2110 Saigon – Phnom Penh||K6-819|
Photos for Thursday 6th February 2020
Friday 7th February 2020 (Day 1 of 4 in Cambodia – Hopefully YDM4 bashing…)
As it was a pleasant temperature at 6am, I walked from my hotel to Phnom Penh station, which took around 15 minutes, in a straight line. Disappointment soon filled the air though when I came across the electronic displays at the buffer stops pointing to platform 3 for the 0700 Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville, where recent Mexican-built single-car DMU #1001 was sat waiting, and in the adjacent platform 2 the display was pointing to that platform for the 0730 Phnom Penh – Poipet, where another Mexican-built contraption was sat waiting, #1003. Oh, what a joy those would be!
In the absence of having the gen beforehand, I went to the booking office to see if they could confirm what would be working the trains over the weekend. To be fair the girls there were quite helpful and there was a little glimmer of hope when she told me it would be a big train on the 0700 Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville the following morning. However, knowing that Royal Railways had been using the DMU set, that had until recently worked solidly on the Poipet service, I queried her definition of the “big train” and was shown a photo of said DMU. When I showed her a photo of a YDM4 and coaches, my query was met with a definitive “no”; as she pointed to the photo of the DMU again. I had a good mind to hang around and present myself at the CEO’s office later in the morning but thought better of it and just sent him another message instead, which fell on deaf ears.
With the gen seemingly not being in my favour for a second time, I got myself a Grab Tuk-tuk to the Thai Airways Ticket Office, which took around 15 minutes in the morning traffic. I was the only customer in the office the whole time and while it seemed to take an age to sort out my requested flight change, I ended up having to pay $130 to fly from Phnom Penh to Bangkok the following day at 1040, instead of as booked on Tuesday at 1040. The reason for doing the change at a Thai Airways office was so that I could preserve my flight home from Bangkok to London on Tuesday. Sometimes if you don’t present yourself for your initial connecting flight then your long-haul one is automatically void as a result, which I didn’t want to happen. I had toyed with doing a return flight Phnom Penh – Bangkok – Phnom Penh but with Cambodia visas being single-entry it wasn’t worth the hassle.
I booked a hotel through Booking.com in Bangkok during my Grab Tuk-tuk ride back to the hotel and told the Crystal Blue Boutique that I’d be checking out three days early. They seemed ok with this and said they’d contact Booking.com so I didn’t have to pay for the whole five nights, which worked in my favour when they ultimately only charged me for a 2-night stay. All I had to do now was wait it out for a day in Phnom Penh, this time without my partner in crime, my wife!
I had plenty of time to catch up with stuff, drink coffee and eat food; oh, and pester people for gen on Bangkok simplifiers, timetables, moves, and pretty much anything else they could offer a nobody, who’d been nowhere, who was about as prepared for an impromptu trip to Thailand as someone that wasn’t prepared at all! To be fair, it seemed that I had answers to some of the queries on my OneDrive and they were soon added to my phone’s home screen and fellow class 31 aficionado Andy Ashton provided me with more than enough food for thought and by the afternoon I was going a bit stir crazy but had enough gen to keep me going.
From my previous trip to Cambodia I was aware that the morning departures for the following morning were usually positioned in the station at Phnom Penh the afternoon before, and a trip to the station revealed the DMU for the following morning’s 0700 Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville to be stabled in the correct platform to form it. While walking towards it though, I noticed a headlight up towards the level crossing and investigations revealed a little shunting device, DD-410 running-round a short rake of flat wagons and having photted it I decided to walk the rest of the way towards the Phnom Penh shed, where I was greeted with hostility and told I couldn’t take photos of the steam engines that had moved places since my last visit. Of course, I listened to their advice and after taking some photos of the steam locos, along with some of the little DD device passing by with its rake of flats, I made a hasty retreat to the station, and as I wasn’t able to overcome the language barrier at the shed I didn’t return with what I’d taken the time to walk down for either; which was definitive gen on whether there’d be no YDM4’s out of a weekend.
It seemed that Royal Railways were taking the piss out of me as no sooner had I got back to the station did another loco appear at the crossing, and this time it was only a bloody YDM4, which turned out to be 6561; with another rake of flat wagons! Had I not legged it over the tracks and down the gravel at the side of the tracks, I wouldn’t have made it in time to get a photo of it before it set off, having run-round a lot quicker than the DD thing had! One of the security staff had almost run me over on her moped as she tried to cut me off in my tracks along the way too, but I just ignored her and kept going to get the photo; but I did take the scenic route back to the station and finally managed to get a photo of the DMU, after making sure it was ok with the staff that were preparing it for the following morning’s journey. Ada off the moped attempted to tell me that I couldn’t photograph that either, but she got told where to go, and it was probably just as well she couldn’t understand Yorkshire swear words; especially after almost mowing me down earlier!
From my afternoon jaunt, I learnt that Royal Railways wasn’t as sociable as I’d originally believed it to be from my previous trip, and their staff weren’t forthcoming with any gen at all out in the field on this trip. In fact, the most sociable had been the girls in the booking office, so if anyone happens to be around and chance an attempt at a YDM4 I’d suggest they’re the best bet at confirming what will be out. I’d also suggest that if it is a big bank holiday in Cambodia that the trains will be rammed solid well in advance anyway, so your chances of getting on at short notice will probably be slim.
Quite content that I was doing he right thing and getting out off Cambodia, I passed the evening away but was still going to see what did the 0700 Sihanoukville the following morning anyway, before heading to the airport.
Gen for Friday 7th February 2020
1001 0700 Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville
1002 Airport Shuttle
1003 0730 Phnom Penh – Poipet
Photos for Friday 7th February 2020
Saturday 8th February 2020 (Day 1 of 3 in Thailand; not Day 2 of 4 in Cambodia!)
Having paid the hotel the previous day I was up and away and used a Grab tuk-tuk to get me to the station in time to see what was going on. When I confirmed that my visit to Cambodia had been a waste of time, I used the airport shuttle to the airport, as I wasn’t in a rush at this point. A word of warning on this though, the girls in the ticket office told me the previous afternoon that if there were no passengers at the airport to come back, and there were no passengers for the outbound trip from Phnom Penh, they didn’t send the train down, so anyone turning up at the airport in the meantime was screwed by default; which isn’t really the way to run an already faltering service! I was the only person on board the train I did and there was nobody in the waiting room waiting when I got there either.
The check-in desks for my 1040 Thai Smile flight from Phnom Penh to Bangkok didn’t open until shortly before those for the 0950 Thai Smile flight to Bangkok had closed, which didn’t give much time to process everyone. Luckily when I attempted to get checked in using the 0950 queue, I was given the desk numbers for my flight’s check in, so was among the first through. Even then, after immigration and security there wasn’t much time to do anything before the flight would be boarding and thankfully it was a decent short-haul flight, that wasn’t wedged; and at least immigration paperwork for Thailand was handed out upon boarding this time, as opposed to when de-boarding when arriving in Cambodia!
What I hadn’t realised when changing my plans was that Thailand was now on the FCO’s list of countries where people might have to self-quarantine upon returning to the UK, if they had Coronavirus symptoms within 14 days of arriving back. Cambodia and Vietnam weren’t on the list, yet, and since my departure from Vietnam over 300 people had been denied entry to the country due to showing symptoms of the virus, which, of course, could just be a common cold. Needless to say, facemasks were rife in the immigration hall, even on foreigners, and every desk had hand sanitizer to use, which was probably a necessity with everyone entering the country having to use the same fingerprint machines.
With immigration being quite busy it took about 20 minutes to be processed into Thailand, by which time our bags were already on the carousel and I was off and away. Although not being initially in a rush, the fact that I had a fair wait, about 10 minutes, for an Airport Rail Link train towards Bangkok, I only just made it to Lat Krabang in time to do a conventional train into Hua Lamphong, which saved on the lengthy walk between the ARL’s Makkasan station and the MRT’s Phetchaburi station on the blue line; and on the plus side SRT Shovelnose 4038 was 368 1235 Chachoengsao Jn – Hua Lamphong, which also saved the lengthy walk from the SRT station at Hua Lamphong to the main train shed.
My hotel for the next three nights, the Krungkasem Srikrung Hotel, was right opposite Hua Lamphong station, out of the right-hand side of the station (after arrival), over the canal bridge and the entry doors are straight over the road; it’s a nothing walk at all! I was expected in reception and as expected they were prepared for dealing with the coronavirus, with hand sanitizer on the desks and a big sign telling people what to do if they began to suffer any of the symptoms. From what I saw most were taking the whole outbreak quite seriously, and I was probably one of those being a bit laid more back about it than most; although I did use the sanitizer at every opportunity but was never going to don a face mask, whatever the weather! Seeing Chinese people wearing them at “normal” times is enough but seeing foreigners wearing them during an actual outbreak of something is a bit weird; especially as pictures emerging on the internet of hospital staff having dealt with people with the virus, revealed they’d had their masked on that tight that they’d got sores on their faces! So, what use are the everyday masks joe-public are wearing on the street? Especially as most drop them every now an again to wipe their face, or talk to someone, all the while having used their fingers to touch a host of other things since the last time they did it…..
I stupidly asked for a room with a view of the station and realised my mistake straight away; as not only could I not actually see much of the station but there was a main road right below and with the room having a balcony with an ill-fitting door that was made of wood, and the road noise was horrendous. Other than that, the room was a decent size, clean, had excellent air-con and hot water, along with a fridge, TV and tea/coffee making facilities and complimentary bottled water, which was replenished daily.
I wasted no time at the hotel and was soon changed and back over the road, raring to go. An initial trip out to Bang Sue Jn, after stepping back at Sam Sen, almost blind-sided me but I was saved by an empty stock heading towards Hua Lamphong, which stopped in the back platform to pick up a member of train crew, which I stealthed onto on the off side when I realised what was going on; and that was me back into position for the late-afternoon rush; which I have to say was a bit dry on the Shovel front, with only 4016 producing on 341 1700 Hua Lamphong – Kaeng Khol Jn. The bonus of the evening, if you see it that way, came after I’d watched 4408 arrive Bang Sue Jn with 136 0700 Ubon Ratchathani – Hua Lamphong and was replaced by 4409 for the run into the city. After alighting at Sam Sen from said train I was sat minding my own business when it departed and only noticed the rear of the train when it hammered by with 4549 shoving on the rear!
The rest of the evening went without a hitch but there was a lot of late running off the southern line. Randomly, late evening I managed to bump into a familiar face photographing trains at Hua Lamphong, having seen him on the PTG tour in Spain 10 days earlier! And as it turned out Des Langham would be in Bangkok the whole time I was, so at least I wouldn’t be on my own for the duration. Our paths didn’t cross that much that evening though and when I got back to Hua Lamphong late on, one of the three Shovel’s on the station shunts presented an opportunity; and with 4024 nedded in, it left 4012 & 4013 for another day but their chance arose eventually….
The hotel restaurant provided a decent meal of an evening and I was straight to my room, and not long out of bed after it; already prepared for the morning.
Gen for Saturday 8th February 2020
DMU + coach & genny van 0700 Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville
1002 Airport Shuttle
4225 207 1405 Hua Lamphong – Nakhon Sawan
4552 37/45 1510 Hua Lamphong – Sungai Kolok 4
4229 145 1520 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani 10
4018 277 1525 Hua Lamphong – Kabin Buri 6
4404 169 1535 Hua Lamphong – Yala 9
4230 301 1630 Hua Lamphong – Lopburi 7
4016 341 1700 Hua Lamphong – Kaeng Khoi Jn 8
4553 83 1705 83 Hua Lamphong – Trang 10
4555 173 1735 Hua Lamphong – Kakhon Sri Thamarat 9
4506 9 1810 Hua Lamphong – Chiangmai 4
4115 167 1830 Hua Lamphong – Kantang 10
4550 139 1855 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani
4549 9 1930 Hua Lamphong – Kakhon Sri Thamarat 9
4503 13 1935 AC only Hua Lamphong – Chiang Mai 6
4514 25 2000 silver Hua Lamphong – Nong Khai 3
4409 107 2010 Hua Lamphong – Den Chai 7
4521 23 2030 silver Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani 4
4408 133 2045 Hua Lamphong – Nong Khai 10
4512 67 2130 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani 9
4038 368 1235 Chachoengsao Jn – Hua Lamphong
4111 112 0730 Den Chai – Hua Lamphong
4408 136 0700 Ubon Ratchathani – Hua Lamphong (to Bang Sue)
4409/4549 (T&T) 136 0700 Ubon Ratchathani – Hua Lamphong (from Bang Sue)
4416 262 1410 Hua Hin – Hua Lamphong
4536 102 0630 Chiang Mai – Hua Lamphong
4539 146 0930 Ubon Ratchathani – Hua Lamphong
Moves for Saturday 8th February 2020
|1002||Phnom Penh||Phnom Penh Airport||0715 Phnom Penh – Phnom Penh Airport|
|HS-TKB||Phnom Penh||Bangkok Suvarnabhumi||1040 Phnom Penh – Bangkok||WE583|
|EMU||Suvarnabhumi||Lat Krabang||12xx Suvarnabhumi – Phaya Thai|
|4038||Lat Krabang||Bangkok||1235 Chacheongsao Jn – Bangkok||368|
|4552||Bangkok||Sam Sen||1510 Bangkok – Sungai Kolok||37|
|4229||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||1520 Bangkok – Ubon Ratchathani||145|
|4521||Bang Sue Jn||Bangkok||ECS|
|4230||Bangkok||Ramathibodi Hospital||1630 Bangkok – Lop Buri||301|
|4016||Ramathibodi Hospital||Sam Sen||1700 Bangkok – Kaeng Khol Jn||341|
|4553||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||1705 Bangkok – Trang||83|
|4111||Bang Sue Jn||Sam Sen||0700 Den Chai – Bangkok||112|
|4555||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||1735 Bangkok – Kakhon Sri Thamarat||173|
|4409||Bang Sue Jn||Sam Sen||0700 Ubon Ratchathani – Bangkok||136|
|4506||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||1810 Bangkok – Chiang Mai||9|
|4416||Bang Sue Jn||Bangkok||1410 Hua Hin – Bangkok||262|
|4503||Bangkok||Sam Sen||1935 Bangkok – Chiang Mai||13|
|4514||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||2000 Bangkok – Nong Khai||25|
|4536||Bang Sue Jn||Bangkok||0630 Chiang Mai – Bangkok||102|
|4512||Bangkok||Sam Sen||2130 Bangkok – Ubon Ratchathani||67|
|4539||Sam Sen||Bangkok||0930 Ubon Ratchathani – Bangkok||146|
|4024||Bangkok Platfom 2||Bangkok Carriage Sidings||ECS ex 102 0630 Chiang Mai – Bangkok|
Photos for Saturday 8th February 2020
Sunday 9th February 2020 (Day 2 of 3 in Thailand)
I wasn’t up early and did breakfast at the hotel before heading out to start the bash at a sociable 9am! 4207 started proceedings on 201 0925 Hua Lamphong – Phitsanulok and was replaced by 4219 at Bang Sue Jn. I did that forward to the shack at Km11, which is in the middle of the massive concrete jungle that is part of the mass-construction of the new railway that is being built to have Bang Sue as it’s main hub vice Hua Lamphong. From there I was able to eff and empty stock back to Bang Sue Jn, or just short of the platform, where 4150 was detached and 4538 then took the sets, with 4527 mid-train indicating two sets of stock, back towards whence it had just come from, which was a little confusing.
One of two Shovel’s to produce did so on 212 0530 Taphan Hin – Hua Lamphong with 4050 working into Bangkok, where 4016 (with 4230 dead inside) dropped onto the opposite end of the stock to work back out with the opposing working of 211 1255 Hua Lamphong – Taphan Hin. Other than the shunt locos the only other Shovel’s out all day were 4018 & 4038 on the Eastern Line as confirmed from the train list on platform 7.
The turn of 4012 & 4013 to be nedded in came in quick succession that afternoon when 4012 shunted out the stock off 202 0605 Phitsanulok – Hua Lamphong, which I’d just arrived on, and then 4013 added some coaches to 145 1520 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani, which I departed on! The evening rush then went pretty much as predicted, even with 136 0700 Ubon Ratchathani – Hua Lamphong being re-engined at Bang Sue Jn again; at both ends!
While none of the engines were my cup of tea really, I have to say that the Henschel’s sound more preferable to the Shovel’s, which in my opinion are well overrated, to the point where I think they sound pretty shit. I’ve never liked piddly GE’s anyway and the Shovel’s while they might look the part, are no exception. High revving, droning rubbish really and by the end of a full day’s bash, having been nowhere, I was already ready for going home; especially with there being no growling thrash to be had. Still, beggars can’t be choosers and the fact that the train service out of Hua Lamphong was about as real as it got in the world these days kept me going for another day; and at least I wasn’t sat on my arse in Cambodia sulking about not having any YDM4’s there of course!
Having been suffering a bit with stomach cramps overnight and during the day, I’d been trying to stodge up during the day to suppress the shits that had presented themselves that morning. I’m guessing that my aging body didn’t like the noodles I’d had the previous night, or maybe even the oil they’d been cooked in, which was a shame as I’d liked them very much. So, Domino’s pizza was paid a visit to top up the stodge I’d input during the day, which all helped restore a healthy shitting habit, if not cure the cramps. Still, at least I’d probably managed to stave off getting worse and ending up in quarantine by the time I landed at Heathrow.
Gen for Sunday 9th February 2020
4416 261 0920 Hua Lamphong – Hua Hin (SSuO) 7
4207 201 0925 Hua Lamphong – Phitsanoluk (to BS) 8
4219 201 0925 Hua Lamphong – Phitsanoluk (ex BS)
4221 233 1140 Hua Lamphong – Surin 8
4016/(4230) 211 1255 Hua Lamphong – Taphan Hin (to BS) 7
4207 211 1255 Hua Lamphong – Taphan Hin (ex BS)
4505 171 1300 Hua Lamphong – Sungai Kolok (to BS) 9
4517 171 1300 Hua Lamphong – Sungai Kolok (ex BS)
4557 109 1345 Hua Lamphong – Chiang Mai 10
4225 207 1405 Hua Lamphong – Nakhon Sawan
4515 31 1445 Hua Lamphong – Hat Yai (Silver) 3
4538 37 1510 Hua Lamphong – Sungai Kolok 4
4550 145 1520 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani 10
4018 277 1525 Hua Lamphong – Kabin Buri 6
4205 169 1535 Hua Lamphong – Yala 9
4111 301 1630 Hua Lamphong – Lopburi 7
4050 341 1700 Hua Lamphong – Kaeng Khoi Jn 8
4559 83 1705 83 Hua Lamphong – Trang 10
4113 173 1735 Hua Lamphong – Kakhon Sri Thamarat 9
4518 9 1810 Hua Lamphong – Chiangmai 4
4528 139 1855 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani 8
4508 9 1930 Hua Lamphong – Kakhon Sri Thamarat 9
4505 13 1935 AC only Hua Lamphong – Chiang Mai 6
4501 25 2000 silver Hua Lamphong – Nong Khai 3
4401 107 2010 Hua Lamphong – Den Chai 7
4543 172 1130 (P) Sungai Kolok – Hua Lamphong
4507 38 1420 (P) Sungai Kolok – Hua Lamphong
4505 32 1845 (P) Hat Yai – Hua Lamphong
4050 212 0530 Taphan Hin – Hua Lamphong
4113 234 0520 Surin – Hua Lamphong
4205 202 0605 Phitsanoluk – Hua Lamphong
4109 112 0730 Den Chai – Hua Lamphong
4229 136 0700 Ubon Ratchathani – Hua Lamphong (to Bang Sue)
4401/4508 (T&T) 136 0700 Ubon Ratchathani – Hua Lamphong (from Bang Sue)
4416 262 1410 Hua Hin – Hua Lamphong
4113 102 0630 Chiang Mai – Hua Lamphong
4527 146 0930 Ubon Ratchathani – Hua Lamphong
Moves for Sunday 9th February 2020
|4207||Bangkok||Bang Sue Jn||0925 Bangkok – Phitsanulok||201|
|4219||Bang Sue Jn||Nikhom Rotphai Km 11|
|4150||Nikhom Rotphai Km11||Bang Sue Jn||ECS|
|4543||Bang Sue Jn||Sam Sen||1130 (08/02) Sungai Kolok – Bangkok||172|
|DMU||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||1050 Bangkok – Sila At|
|4507||Bang Sue Jn||Sam Sen||1420 (08/02) Sungai Kolok – Bangkok||38|
|4050||Sam Sen||Bangkok||0530 Taphan Hin – Bangkok||212|
|4016||Bangkok||Sam Sen||1255 Bangkok – Taphan Hin||211|
|4505||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||1300 Bangkok – Sungai Kolok||171|
|4557||Bang Sue Jn||Nikhom Rotphai Km 11||1345 Bangkok – Chiang Mai||109|
|4225||Nikhom Rotphai Km11||Bang Khen||1405 Bangkok – Nakhon Sawan||207|
|4205||Bang Khen||Bangkok||0605 Phitsanulok – Bangkok||202|
|4012||Bangkok Platfom 2||Bangkok Carriage Sidings||Shunt release 4205 ex 202|
|4013||Bangkok Platform 10||Bangkok Platform 10||Add coaches to 145|
|4550||Bangkok||Sam Sen||1520 Bangkok – Ubon Ratchathani||145|
|4559||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||1705 Bangkok – Trang||83|
|4109||Bang Sue Jn||Sam Sen||0730 Den Chai – Bangkok||112|
|4413||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||1735 Bangkok – Kakhon Sri Thamarat||173|
|4401||Bang Sue Jn||Bangkok||0700 Ubon Ratchathani – Bangkok||136|
|4528||Bangkok||Sam Sen||1855 Bangkok – Ubon Ratchathani||139|
|4501||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||2000 Bangkok – Nong Khai||25|
|4113||Bang Sue Jn||Sam Sen||0630 Chiang Mai – Bangkok||102|
|4527||Sam Sen||Bangkok||0930 Ubon Ratchathani – Bangkok||146|
Photos for Sunday 9th February 2020
Monday 10th February 2020 (Day 3 of 3 in Thailand)
Needless to say it was a much slower day on the new engine front but there were still only two Shovel’s out, 4050 which worked back in of a morning with 342 0505 Kaeng Khol Jn – Hua Lamphong before working back to Bang Sue Jn with 211 1255 Hua Lamphong – Taphan Hin, where it was replaced by 4036; which I’d had on my previous visit! 4018 & 4038 were both out on the Eastern Line again, based on the gen on the pad on platform 7.
Of a morning I chose to attempt to get some photos of the demic locos that were dumped by Bang Sue Loco Shed and having done 4546 to Bang Sue Jn on 201 0925 Hua Lamphong – Phitsanulok, when it was replaced by 4504 I did that forward to the Shed entrance, where every train seems to stop, got off on the blind side and walked down the track to where the first bunch are parked up, behind a fence. There are handy piles of rails by the fence that offer decent vantage points for photos of the demics, on which there were some recent footprints, as though someone else had had the same idea recently?
While the first bunch of demics are inside the shed confines, the second bunch are dumped out the back of the shed on what seems to be a newly constructed line that’s in the midst of the construction site with the line even stretching beneath an overhead concrete span that has electrification masts already erected on it. They’re right by where the current southern line junction branches off from the Northern & North Eastern Lines. It’s a complete free-for all at this line and there even appears to be a right of way established through one of the cabs for the locals, to save a lengthy walk around the line. I wasn’t bothered by anyone and one woman even acknowledged me photographing them.
The locos were as follows:
Inside shed confines
3110, 539 + thing on shed
515?, 579, 3011, 3017 in line
Line outside shed confines
(Bang Sue End) 529, 531, 526, 513, 532, 533, 3013, 3022, 3019, 580 (Bang Khen End)
(Bang Khen End) 580, 3019, 3022, 3013, 533, 532, 513, 526, 531, 529 (Bang Sue End)
I was going to walk all the way back to Bang Sue Jn station after my photting expedition but figured I’d wait at the shed gates for a train to turn up instead, and wasn’t disappointed when the next train towards Hua Lamphong duly stopped, and I boarded; which saved nicely on the leg work in the scorching late-morning heat.
The morning photting was pretty much the highlight of the day and in the afternoon, after casually missing a late running DMU at Sam Sen, I was forced to use the metro to get back into Hua Lamphong from Bang Sue; the MRT blue line taking 30 minutes but with the walk at either end, more so at the Bang Sue end, you can add 15 minutes to the whole journey time. The air-con was a welcome respite from the humid day outside though.
The evening peak was a complete wash-out and I only did one return trip to Bang Sue all evening but was rewarded back at Hua Lamphong when Shovel 4021 had appeared on the station shunts. It was like the ball in a pin-ball machine but it was only a matter of biding my time before managing to get it in when it shunted the stock out off 112 0730 Den Chai – Hua Lamphong; and that was my evening over; and almost my three week venture into SE Asia.
With the guts not being quite back to normal, I played it safe and did Domino’s again, despite my waistline saying I probably shouldn’t have! I then spent the evening sorting my big bag out for its journey home as hand luggage, which could no longer house the coat I’d been carrying around for three weeks as a result. As I packed, I had the news on the TV, which showed that there’d been 40,000 cases of the Coronavirus and the death toll was now at almost 1000, with only one confirmed death outside of China at this stage. Yet some people who’d contracted the virus had made a full recovery; so, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. All I had to do now was get home, and after 13 hours on a freezing plane end up with a cold and that was me home bound for 14 days; if the FCO & WHO guidelines were followed with regards to those currently returning from Thailand. And I wasn’t the only person from Freightliner Control currently in Thailand!
Gen for Monday 10th February 2020
4201 135 0640 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani (to BS)
4408 135 0640 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani (ex BS)
4038 283 0655 Hua Lamphong – Ban Plu Ta Luang
4409 111 0700 Hua Lamphong – Den Chai
4415 261 0920 Hua Lamphong – Hua Hin (SSuO) 7
4546 201 0925 Hua Lamphong – Phitsanoluk (to BS) 8
4504 201 0925 Hua Lamphong – Phitsanoluk (ex BS)
4113 233 1140 Hua Lamphong – Surin 8
4050 211 1255 Hua Lamphong – Taphan Hin (to BS) 7
4036 211 1255 Hua Lamphong – Taphan Hin (ex BS)
4516 171 1300 Hua Lamphong – Sungai Kolok (to BS) 9
4514 171 1300 Hua Lamphong – Sungai Kolok (ex BS)
4152 109 1345 Hua Lamphong – Chiang Mai 10
4225 207 1405 Hua Lamphong – Nakhon Sawan
4521 31 1445 Hua Lamphong – Hat Yai (Silver) 3
4144 37 1510 Hua Lamphong – Sungai Kolok 4
4555 145 1520 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani 10
4018 277 1525 Hua Lamphong – Kabin Buri 6
4219 169 1535 Hua Lamphong – Yala 9
4111 301 1630 Hua Lamphong – Lopburi 7
4416 391 1655 Hua Lamphong – Chachoengsao Jn 6
4207 341 1700 Hua Lamphong – Kaeng Khoi Jn 8
4511 83 1705 83 Hua Lamphong – Trang 10
4530 173 1735 Hua Lamphong – Kakhon Sri Thamarat 9
371 1740 Hua Lamphong – Prachin Buri 7
4503 9 1810 Hua Lamphong – Chiangmai 4
4413 313 1820 Hua Lamphong – Banphachi Jn
4407 167 1830 Hua Lamphong – Kantang 10
4552 139 1855 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani 8
4554 85 1930 Hua Lamphong – Kakhon Sri Thamarat 9
4549 13 1935 AC only Hua Lamphong – Chiang Mai 6
4506 25 2000 silver Hua Lamphong – Nong Khai 3
4407 302 0440 Lop Buri – Hua Lamphong
4050 342 0505 Kaeng Khoi Jn – Hua Lamphong
4225 208 Nakhon Sawan – Hua Lamphong
4552 170 Yala – Hua Lamphong
4516 38 1420 (P) Sungai Kolok – Hua Lamphong
4554 172 1130 (P) Sungai Kolok – Hua Lamphong
4513 32 1845 (P) Hat Yai – Hua Lamphong
4219 212 0530 Taphan Hin – Hua Lamphong
4413 234 0520 Surin – Hua Lamphong
4207 202 0605 Phitsanoluk – Hua Lamphong
4401 112 0730 Den Chai – Hua Lamphong
4210 136 0700 Ubon Ratchathani – Hua Lamphong
4415 262 1410 Hua Hin – Hua Lamphong
Moves for Monday 10th February 2020
|4201||Bangkok||Bang Sue Jn||0640 Bangkok – Ubon Ratchathani||135|
|4408||Bang Sue Jn||Bang Khen|
|4407||Bang Khen||Bang Sue Jn||0440 Lop Buri – Bangkok||302|
|4050||Bang Sue Jn||Bangkok||0505 Kaeng Khol Jn – Bangkok||342|
|4115||Bangkok||Sam Sen||0920 Bangkok – Hua Hin||261|
|4546||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||0925 Bangkok – Phitsanulok||201|
|4504||Bang Sue Jn||Bang Sue Shed|
|4516||Bang Sue Shed||Bang Sue Jn||1420 (09/02) Sungai Kolok – Bangkok||38|
|4554||Bang Sue Jn||Bangkok||1130 (09/02) Sungai Kolok – Bangkok||172|
|4050||Bangkok||Bang Sue Jn||1255 Bangkok – Taphan Hin||211|
|4219||Bang Sue Jn||Sam Sen||0530 Taphan Hin – Bangkok||212|
|4152||Sam Sen||Bang Sue Jn||1345 Bangkok – Chiang Mai||109|
|4413||Bang Sue Jn||Bangkok||0520 Surin – Bangkok||234|
|4144||Bangkok||Bang Sue Jn||1510 Bangkok – Sungai Kolok||37|
|Metro||Bang Sue||Hua Lamphong||MRT Blue Line|
|4511||Bangkok||Bang Sue Jn||1705 Bangkok – Trang||83|
|4210||Bang Sue Jn||Bangkok||0700 Ubon Ratchathani – Bangkok||136|
|4021||Bangkok Platform 2||Bangkok Platform 2||Shunt stock ex 112 0700 Den Chai – Bangkok|
Photos for Monday 10th February 2020
Photos for Monday 10th February 2020 (Bang Sue Demic Lines)
Tuesday 11th February 2020 (Homeward bound; at last…!)
Having had a reasonably early night I was awake quite early and was up in time to do 135 0640 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani out to Bang Sue Jn, where I at least managed to get a couple of winners in on the two inbounds I nedded in back to Bangkok, after stepping back at Sam Sen. And before breakfast I had the pleasure of caning in yet another Shovel on the shunts when 4025 shunted a set of stock out which kindly stopped just off the platform end to allow 4505 to be detached from the rear.
After nipping over to the hotel to do breakfast I gathered my crap and headed back to the station to do 367 1010 Hua Lamphong – Chachoengsao Jn to Lat Krabang, which ended my SRT bash with 4416 taking me towards the airport. At Lat Krabang I walked upstairs to the ARL station and did the next EMU to Suvarnabhumi and was soon airside waiting for the gates to the waiting area of gate D2 to open, where my Thai Airways flight TG916 would hopefully be departing at 1315.
It was a pretty full flight but the middle seat in the row of three I was sat in was empty, so I had plenty of space. All of the emergency exit seats were also empty, but staff wouldn’t let people move to them after take-off and eventually put the folding tables up to cover the seats and prevent people stealthing in. Thankfully the two Derbyshire tourist twat sat behind me spent most of the flight asleep, as not only were they quite loud, they were obnoxious to the crew and pretty full of themselves for a pair of pricks that were barely old enough to fly on their own, let alone leave their own country. The food on board was ok and for a 13h15m flight it was a decent service too, which Aeroflot could learn a thing or too from; especially when it comes to keeping people fed and watered.
Right from the off we’d had a projected landing time of 1915, and a 1915 touchdown it was. Once at the stand though nobody was allowed to leave their seats, even when the fasten seatbelt sign was switched off, until we were given the all-clear to get off the plane. This was due to the plane entering the UK from Thailand and was a precaution due to the current Coronavirus outbreak. We only sat for 5 minutes before being allowed off; during which time I’d checked all my messages and gone through the gen I’d been sent, which confirmed that 91115 was the 2033 ex Kings Cross and the next 91 was 91116 on the 2300; which was exactly as I’d managed to glean from TOPS, via work, before I’d left Bangkok.
Arriving at Kings Cross at 2107 was a bit of an arse as had I done the 2133 back to Doncaster, I’d have been there only minutes after I would actually depart Kings Cross. However, every cloud has a silver lining and with Doncaster’s finest driver at the controls of 91116, who I’d last seen in a bar in Madrid, when I went to be early on the last night there, I was hoping for a good run home. Brigg, in his wisdom made the mistake of saying that 1N36 2300 Kings Cross – York was always in Doncaster by about 0045! Network Rail and DB Cargo had other ideas though and at least the vantage point through the front window of the train broke up the monotony of the journey; with us going slow lines both south and north of Peterborough, which included going over the brand new section on the slows at New England, and then we had to examine the line north off Peascliff after 325016 came to grief after an ADD activation brought it to a stand on its southbound postal. Needless to say, we saw nothing amiss and later passed a 67 running 1Z99 to go and rescue it! It was an 0059 arrival into Doncaster and Brigg, bless him, then gave me a lift home to my front door, which was awfully kind of him.
It had been a long day and at this stage of it, having lived it for 7 hours longer than most, I was beginning to regret the fact that I needed to be back at the Bangladesh High Commission in London by 1030 the following morning, and I should probably have planned to stay in London instead; still, at least 4h45m of sleep were on offer by the time my head hit my precious pillow; and the next trip already beckoned! Little did anyone realise just how tits up the world would be by the turn of the month………
Gen for Tuesday 11th February 2020
4507 135 0640 Hua Lamphong – Ubon Ratchathani (to BS)
4408 283 0655 Hua Lamphong – Ban Plu Ta Luang
4150 111 0700 Hua Lamphong – Den Chai
4416 367 1010 Hua Lamphong – Chachoengsao Jn
4226 86 1500 (P) Nakhon Si Thamarat – Hua Lamphong
4556 302 0440 Lop Buri – Hua Lamphong
4413 372 0500 Prachin Buri – Hua Lamphong
Moves for Tuesday 11th February 2020
|4507||Bangkok||Bang Sue Jn||0640 Bangkok – Ubon Ratchathani||135|
|4226||Bang Sue Jn||Sam Sen||1500 (10/02) Kakhon Sri Thamarat – Bangkok||86|
|4556||Sam Sen||Bangkok||0440 Lop Buri – Bangkok||302|
|4025||Bangkok Platform 2||Bangkok Platform 2||Shunt stock to shunt release 4505 from rear|
|4416||Bangkok||Lat Krabang||1010 Bangkok – Chachoengsao Jn||367|
|EMU||Lat Krabang||Suvarnabhumi||???? Phaya Thai – Suvarnabhumi|
|HS-TKU||Bangkok||Heathrow Terminal 2||TG916|
|91116||Kings Cross||Doncaster||2300 Kings Cross – York||1N36|
Photos for Tuesday 11th February 2020