It’s cloudy bright

In a complete first for this blog, steam trains have appeared!

The HSB (Harzer Schmalspur Bahnen) centered around the Harz mountains in Germany, while essentially a tourist operation, isnt quite your normal preserved railway. The fleet of 1950s steam engines run all day, every day providing a service between Werningerode and Nordhausen with extensions to Brocken. Brocken is 1125m above sea level, so you can imagine the steam engines get a good workout!


997237 departs from Werningerode Westerntor station, over the road intersection. It is quite a spectacle watching the traffic stopping to allow a steam train to pass through.


997239 arrives into Drei Annen Hohne. The engine has been worked non stop to pull the 7 coach train up to a height of 540m above sea level in just 15km!


99 7239 again, leaving Drei Annen Hohne for Schierke (685m above sea level) and finally Brocken (1125m above sea level).


In addition to the full size steam engines, there are a number of smaller engines which get sent out on charters or special running days. 99 6001 seen here being prepared at Werningerode.

Now on to Switzerland, where the weather wasn’t as good but the freight passing through Spiez heading from or to Italy was pretty much non-stop. The below photos come from Mulenen which is just outside Spiez heading towards Italy.


SBB 4/4 and 6/6 pair on a steel train. Note the approaching express on the other line; all tracks in Switzerland are bi-directional so it isn’t exactly unusual to see a passenger train overtake a freight train, both going in the same direction!


CrossRail TRAXX pair headed by 186 902 heading up the incline from Spiez.


Yet another pair of TRAXX led by 185 526. They are getting around Europe like an infestation, but at least there are a decent variety of colour schemes on offer. The blue and grey of these Railpool examples aren’t exactly overly inspiring though compared to some of those you can see…


BLS Vectron 475 405 on top of 485 004 heading towards Freiburg with one of the ‘roll on roll off’ lorry services. BLS have 15 of these machines on order in total, although they don’t seem to be particularly well used at present.


Another pair of TRAXX, albeit a slightly more colourful pair. 185 140 leads another UID classmate through Liestal.


BLS vectron 475 404 light engine towards Basel through a light snow shower.

There will be more to come, given time. Watch this space!


Spotting in Switzerland

Having been convinced to have a few days away in Switzerland based in Wassen which is on the Gotthard Railway, here are the results. The Gotthard Railway is one of the main arteries from northern Europe to Italy and goes through the Swiss alps over some pretty gruelling gradients. A new tunnel is due to open imminently – the Gotthard Base Tunnel – which will take the freight away from this scenic line.


The layout of the railway is somewhat unique; coming from the bottom of the valley at Erstfeld (left hand side of the map above) to the top of the mountains at Goschenen (right hand side) and climbing approximately 2000ft in the process. Most of this takes place at Wassen where there is a system of double loops to climb the mountain. Standing in Wassen village, you can observe the same train three times climbing from the bottom of the valley, heading through Wassen station (which itself is level) on the middle layer and then up on the top layer heading towards Goschenen. Map shamelessly borrowed from Wiki.


On the middle layer, 4/4 11262 drags a tamper.


6/6 pairing lead by 11678 with a cargo branded sister heading from Erstfeld towards Goschenen. Just to the left of the red aspect of the left hand side signal can be seen a tunnel structure which carries the line at its highest level.

swiss_611194 and a service train. All loco hauled trains over this route convey a first class panoramic coach with larger than normal windows – seen here second coach from the front.

11159 dragging a unit through Wassen station.



DB Traxx 185107 with a steel train.


185135 with another steel train heading down towards Erstfeld; just about to enter the second of the curves to take it to the bottom of the valley.


The photo is nothing spectacular but it highlights the gradient coming up from the bottom level to Wassen station. 4/4 11243 in charge.