Dortmund and beyond, Nov 29th - Dec 3rd 2018
Awaiting the bus at Leighton station there appeared to be a farce on the WCML as a Pendo stopped on the down fast. No farces thankfully on Arriva with 3959 arriving right time on the F77 to Luton. My fellow traveller Neil Evans like most rail enthusiasts was not over impressed with the busway. Still it got us from Dunstable to Luton station in under 10 minutes. A short wait saw 3894 on the A get us to Luton Airport well under an hour from leaving Leighton.
The first of many coffees then we both got through a very slow security hoss free! EZY2175 loaded up for a right time departure with dud G-EZHB providing the power.
We left towards the West but were soon in cloud for the remainder of the hours flight. Dortmund airport was unusual in they use tugs to drag the loaded aircraft onto the stand on arrival rather than on departure. Dortmund airport too had "the arse of the week" on show, "wonderful curves"!!
The airport express bus at 8 euros was flagged for the cheap bus/tram move. With my note rejected by the machine we managed to miss the first bus and 20 minutes later Volvo YGP1052 had us on the move into a now dark Apelbech. Here we leapt for the tram and on seeing it was a pair moved forward to the quieter front car only to be withered by the doors closing and the pair leaving!
The tram was on route U47 a U boat famous for sinking the likes of 50017 (Royal Oak) in Scapa Flow so i was instantly impressed by anything that can reduce the dob fleet! About midway to the city centre the tram (351) went underground and speeds increased. We had a short walk through the city centre where a Punch and Judy show was in full swing. We soon found the impressive Novum Hauptbanhof hotel though the check in girl was officious, almost surly. On reaching room 314 we found it was a double not the comfort triple i had booked. The beds could be split but not the sheet but there was also a 9 foot long curved sofa in the room!
Neil went down to complain to the even less cheerful Frauline but nought could be done. We soon ventured down to the station with Neil finding a rover to Wuppertal was the cheapest piece for two and valid for unlimited travel (we think) for 24 hours. As we photted beastly 111111 at the head of the 1809 Dortmund - Aaachen a local asked why we were photting it. I replied "English?" and he switched to perfect English and was advised that this loco was "old was soon to be scrapped". Upstairs on the leading double deck stock was chosen but the insulation was good and we could only just hear from the beast up front. We bailed at Wuppertal main station which was a building site and 10 minutes later we were returning to Dortmund behind 111122. 4 or 5 German TTI's inspected our ticket with a courteous smile, the only TTI's viewed over the whole 4 days. Back to the hotel, we split the beds , Neil went out to do the city me, i crashed out!
A 6.30 alarm had us awake and down the station with plenty of time to board 111113 on the 0809 Aachen using the same pieces as the night before. We did a bit of a ned move here bailing at Witten which resembled Wolverton! Still the station had a plinthed narrow gauge kettle and a decent breakfast bar. 212157 passed on a RHTT train before 111111 again (this was dud from the night before and my previous July 86 trip!). A NWest day rover was purchased back at Dortmund and 146278 joined on a Minden bound service. The sheers scale of the yards, loco depots and infrastructure on DB took our breath away, quite something.
At Minden we had to buy pieces for Neinberg in the hope the vice unit turn was still out. With 2 German enthusiasts hovering we knew we were in and the impressive sight of 110278 topping vintage Austrian 1142704 soon arrived. A local German crank exchanged soche glances but we didnt invade his lead compo! The stock was quality compo stock coaches 2240180-2, 2230003-8, 223004-6 and 1070150-2 making up the consist. The 114 soon had us trundling on the electrified single line to Neinburg. Much of this trip was through a National Park, many buzzards and a single white stork were soon, there were bird hides everywhere.
Neinburg was on the main line to Hamburg and plenty freight was on the move including a Heavy Haul power "shed" 29002. The 110 soon returned us to Minden large numbers of cranks photting her as she passed through the Park. Fodder, then 146263 was joined on the 1428 to Cologne. Being a Friday afternoon this train soon wedged up and the slow boarding saw our plus 4 at Dortmund connection looked very dubious by Hamm. At Dortmund across platform plus 2 scarper saw 111126 on the 1609 Aachen made and its late departure meant it was probably held for the Minden anyway.
We bailed at Wuppertal Ob shack and were pleased to see 110469 already in on the 1713 vice unit National Express turn to Bonn. More modern stock meant no thrash and this train was busy on arrival at Cologne. The station here was mega busy but less frantic than a UK big station. A quality Bratwurst stall was sampled, very nice too! Vast crowds were hovering for the Dortmund train but the double deck consist soon absorbed all and we got upstairs seats with ease behind 146271. At Cologne Deutz our bay of 4 was invaded by some young German blonde and boyfriend who rabbitted non stop all the way West!
The bar next to the hotel was sampled and a cracking atmosphere it had too! Several wheat beers went down well!
An early alarm saw us awake and up and about not long after 6. This gave plenty time for snacks before boarding 146267 on the 0755 Minden. At Hamm with plenty time we photted passing traffic before that Maybach sound and smoke trail could be heard! A magnificent looking V200 033 and six long wheelbase coaches plus steam van they reversed into sight. 10 minutes later as the V200 arrived at its departure platform a second Maybach in prototype "bunnie" V160 002 arrived on another tour!
With my colleague alarmingly missing, we departed right time in a rake of steaming stock with around 20 seats in our sub section which had a few Germans and alarmingly loud English enthusiasts aboard. As we departed on the line to Soest Neil returned having been involved in a possible camera purchase with a local! At the final pick up stop of Soest the majority of seats were taken by a large party with crates of beer! We kept our bay of 4 to ourselves though.
We were soon climbing through nice scenery with a few hills and viaducts which made a change from the very flat lands of the Ruhr. Much freight was crossed, the only non electrified section of line was a triangle spur onto the extensive Hannover avoiding freight lines. The weather remained sunny all day and we arrived Celle around 1300 after 253 km of Maybach mileage! As we admired the mighty Maybach a hauled set was viewed on a "Metronom" Uelzen - Gottingen service so a fill in move to Hannover was on.
Much container and coal traffic thundered through Celle coming from Hamburg docks. Our Hanover train with 146535 up front was caught up in some sort of farce and we were switched to a high level freight track South of Cele. This allowed several IC's to pass and also gave good views of a 3 car 1950's vintage DB bubble pass on another special to Celle.
Our stay in Hannover was just 5 minutes as we leapt onto 146510 straight back to Celle just in case the farces worsened. At Celle we ventured up to the North Rail yard where there was plenty of power stabled including an ugly single windscreen 330094. After coffee and snacks we waited for the tours 1746 return. Vast amounts of freight passed at speed with pairs of 152 electrics on lengthy coal trains the most impressive.
V200 033 then emerged from the darkness and we joined what was now the front coach seats. The steam van plus now loud but soche pissed Soest party rendered any thrash inaudible but we had a good run back arriving in Hamm 30 early! More phots then a long all shacks farce affected run back to Dortmund behind 146282. Several glasses of Brinkhoff in the bar ended an enjoyable day and the 9 foot long sofa formed a most comfortable bed for the night!
By 0730 we were walking the deserted streets of Dortmund, at the Hautbahnhof our planned trip to Aachen was out of the window. Engineering work meant our 0803 service with 111125 was only going to Neuss. The weather was grey and wet and we both dossed a bit before crossing the mighty Rhine (not Ruhr as i thought) east of Dusseldorf. We bailed at Neuss but the breakfast moves here at this run down shack were poor so we joined 146260 for the short run back to Dusseldorf. We were spoiled for choice here, more bratwurst were consumed!
With the weather still grey we joined 146266 for a move across the soggy flatlands to Cologne Airport. This characteristically dull station only offered 1 move out due engineering work and that was 146266 again! Once back at Cologne Hautbahnhof we opted for the walk across the Rhine to Cologne Deutz. A move i'd last done several times in July 86! my colleague 3 weeks earlier!
The mighty Rhine and the 1911 built 3 span Hohenzollerbrucke bridge impressed us both, perhaps the thousands of small token padlocks on the bridge fence less so. On spotting a skytower we paid just 3 euros for the express lift thrash. The Shard is 30 by comparison. Despite the cloudy weather the views of the city and beyond were superb. Much rail traffic passed below. I claimed we were at least 500 feet up, my colleague claimed 100m and he was right the Skytower Bert confirming it was 103m high!
We eventually descended to ground level and on climbing the ramp up to platform level at Cologne Deutz and on spotting a hauled decker rake we hopped on. The power was 143825 on a Koblenz service on the other side of the Rhine. we leapt at Bonn Beadle just as V100 235 passed on an engineers train. This was the non commercial side of Bonn, the station unmanned, a bit rundown but 365-131-2 was stabled in the shed. As hoped for another 143 in 143 925 returned us to Cologne Hbf. As we admired the beast she left ECS and on seeing another RB27 to Koblenz on another platform we just made 143 555 on a mileage move to Deutz! A Trier bound DMU returned us to the Hbf where heavy delays were shown for several services.
146279 eventually took us on to Aachen where the engineering block on the Dortmund line was still on. An empty 111119 took us to Munchengladbach for a DMU to Duisburg. A very busy 146260 returned us to Dortmund where we photted 111115 on the 2012 Neuss. 111's look old, 143's scream and 146's are can like we decided later that evening.
An early 0600 alarm and at least the rains eased as we walked to the U47 underground stop. 349 took us and many early Monday morning German commuters to Apelbech. VGP1046 took us forward to the airport and we were soon at the gate watching loads of Wizz air departures in the rain. G-EZBV left 20 early on EZY2174 0945 DTM-LTN and maintained this all the way to lovely Luton airport.
3896 on the A, 3962 on the F77 had us home by 1100 a fascinating trip over.