German Miscellany

06 -18 September 2011

Report by Duncan Cotterill


This trip was designed to take advantage of the temporary closure of the Oberstdorf branch, which resulted in ALEX running five coach trains through to Lindau instead of the usual two or three coach rakes. In addition, visits were made to the electrified Koblenz - Trier and Stuttgart - Singen lines, the lines north-east of Nürnberg for diesel freights and the Ceske Budejovice - Nove Udoli line in the Czech Republic (Czech report here).

Travel was by car from the UK via the Channel Tunnel and accomodation was booked on the hoof via

This section of the report summarises what was seen. For train by train details with loco numbers etc, go to the Day by Day pages.

KBS 690 Koblenz - Trier

The Koblenz - Trier line is scenic, busy and about five hours drive from Eurotunnel’s Calais terminal. In other words, an excellent place to start and finish any car based trip to Germany. This was my third trip to the line (see my October 2010 and July 2011 reports for more details) and I spent the afternoon of Tuesday 6 September and the morning of Sunday 18 September on the line, en-route from and to the UK.

Passenger services were generally in line with what was seen July although the 143 worked push-pull sets that cover many of the RE and RB services were even more mixed up than before with at least one set the wrong way round, with the driving trailer on the south end and the loco on the north end. Another was the right way round but was being hauled in both directions while other sets had a loco at each end. A minority of trains were worked by class 425 and/or class 426 EMUs and these seemed to turn up almost at random on RB and RE services. Train RE12003 from Kaiserslautern to Koblenz was consistently an EMU.

InterCity services from Luxembourg to Koblenz and beyond were worked by the booked class 181 electrics. On the Sunday two special trains were seen, both going north around lunchtime, one behind a class 110 and the other hauled by Centralbahn’s ex-ÖBB class 1042. This was probably the same train seen at Bullay on Sunday 10 July behind Centralbahn’s pair of ex-SBB class Re4/4s.

Freight traffic was reasonably heavy on both days with six freights seen in less than three hours on 06/09/11, curiously all southbound, and five freights seen in four hours on 18/09/11. Everything on the first day was hauled by DB locos of classes 140, 151, 152 and 185 with the highlight being a pair of 151s on one of the heavy Maasvlakte - Dillingen iron ore trains. In contrast, three of the five trains on the Sunday were worked by other operators’ locos namely a Fret SNCF BB37000, an RBS class 186 and a CB Rail class BB37500, with the other two hauled by DB class 185s.

Photographically this was the most disappointing part of the trip, with poor weather on both days. Only one good shot was obtained but fortunately it was of the pair of 151s on the ore train, something I hadn’t managed to photograph before.

KBS 970 München - Kempten - Lindau

Regular readers of these reports will be aware that this line is one of my favourites. Many of the best photo positions are west of Immenstadt but they’re not the easiest shots to get due to the short length of the loco hauled trains that normally run over that section. Occasionally, longer trains do run and there have been freights diverted from the Arlberg and ECs from the parallel München - Memmingen - Lindau route on several occasions over the last few years. This summer a different opportunity presented itself when engineering work closed the Oberstdorf branch for several weeks and the ALEX trains that usually split at Immenstadt continued undivided all the way to Lindau. As luck would have it, there were also diverted ECs for the first three days of my visit. I spent five days on the line, from Wednesday 7 to Sunday 11 September 2011.

ALEX services run at two hourly intervals throughout the day and are worked by class 223 diesels (Siemens ER-20 type), registered to Vogtlandbahn (VBG) and painted in an attractive blue, white and yellow livery. Under normal circumstances the trains split at Immenstadt with three coaches going to Oberstdorf and the other two or three continuing to Lindau. For the period of the branch closure, five coach sets were running all the way to Lindau undivided. Only four locos were seen over the entire five day period, namely 223.065/066/067/069.

The remaining regional services on the line were worked by DB class 612 DMUs, although class 642s have been seen on some RB services in the past. The only exceptions were the Saturday and Sunday only “Radlzüge”, trains RE57468 from München to Lindau and train RE57469 back, aimed at cyclists and worked by Kempten’s 218.464 and a push-pull set on both days. Another push-pull set worked over the line on the Saturday afternoon as train 71534, the 14:35 Kempten to Lindau ECS, hauled by 218.467.

Three of the four daily EC trains from München to Zürich are booked to run via Memmingen leaving only one on the traditional route to Lindau via Kempten. The Memmingen route was closed for engineering work for a few days until early on the morning of Saturday 10 September and during the closure all four ECs ran via Kempten. The ECs seen were all worked by pairs of Mühldorf based class 218 diesels, as diagrammed. From Saturday morning three pairs of ECs returned to their normal route via Memmingen, leaving a single pair of trains running via Kempten.

Locos 218.400/404/405/416/418/423/440/444/445/463 were all seen on EC services.

On Saturday 10 September there were also two specials over the line. The first, from Mühldorf to Lindau and back, was worked by Mühldorf’s 218.405, no stranger to the line, having worked ECs earlier in the week. The other special ran from Nürnberg and was hauled from Augsburg to Lindau and back by preserved Bavarian S3/6 Pacific No. 3673 (formerly 18.478) and banked by V100 1365 (formerly 211.365), both owned by the Bayerisches Eisenbahnmuseum at Nördlingen.

There is no regular freight traffic at the west end of the line and no freights were seen during my visit.

I’d hoped to get my pictures in the first two or three days and then move on. However Wednesday and Thursday were cloudy and, shortly after the sun came out on Friday morning, services were disrupted by an accident of some sort at Harbatshofen. No trains appeared to be involved but the line was closed for more than three hours while the police, fire brigade and air ambulance sorted things out. After that everything went well and the cloud stayed away all weekend. By the end of play on Sunday I’d got the shots I wanted.

KBS 860 Nürnberg - Hof &
KBS 870 Nürnberg - Schwandorf

I’d last visited these lines more than quarter of a century ago in 1985. DB were celebrating 150 years of railways and ran steam specials from Nürnberg to Bayreuth and Amberg all summer. Both lines are very photogenic and follow picturesque valleys through the wooded hills of the Fränkische Schweiz and Fränkische Alb north and east of Hersbruck. My interest was rekindled by the realisation that the freights I’d photographed on the Reichenbach - Hof line last October would continue to Nürnberg via KBS 860. Inspection of the freight schedules on revealed that there was quite a lot of diesel hauled freight in the area east of Nürnberg so I spent two days in the area from Monday 12 to Tuesday 13 September 2011.

Passenger services were generally worked by tilting DMUs of classes 610 and 612 with one class 628 also seen. The Nürnberg - Neuhaus (Pegnitz) local service was terminating at Hersbruck due to engineering work so I’m not sure what would have worked these trains but it probably wouldn’t have been very exciting. The only loco hauled passengers seen were the through trains from Nürnberg to Praha via Schwandorf, Furth i Wald and Plzen. Two pairs of trains are currently worked by ALEX class 223s between Nürnberg and Plzen and there is a pair of shorter positioning workings from Schwandorf to Nürnberg and back. The locos used come from the same ALEX pool that work München - Hof services north of Regensburg and 223.062/068/070 were seen.

Freight traffic on the Schwandorf line gave the impression of being fairly reliable with most of the expected trains appearing close to their booked times and a few extras running as well. Trains on the Hof line tended to be longer distance workings and running was a bit more haphazard with some trains showing up when expected and others disappearing without trace. In many ways this reflects the timetable where trains on the Schwandorf line tend to run Mondays to Fridays but those on the Hof line vary a lot more from day to day. A typical weekday should produce about three trains each way on each line but, as stated above, it does vary from day to day, particularly on the Hof line. Saturdays and Sundays are quiet on the Schwandorf line with only one early afternoon eastbound booked to run. On the Hof line Saturdays are as busy as weekdays but Sundays and Mondays are quieter.

Most freight traffic in the area is booked for class 232 diesels although a few local workings should be handled by class 294s. No 294s were seen but there were plenty of 232s, some double headed, and a 233 as well.

232.131/252/255/262/330/457/547/589/618/654/870 and 233.511 were seen.

It was obvious that two days were nowhere near enough to do justice to these lines but it enabled me to judge if a longer trip would be worthwhile. The map I’d marked up on those 1985 trips proved a useful starting point but a lot of the spots I’d visited had long since been overwhelmed by unchecked lineside jungle. Fortunately other spots were still nice and clear and I even found a few new locations. There are definitely enough good locations and enough traffic to justify going back for longer.

There was some sun on the Monday but very little on the Tuesday when there were more trains. In addition, the engineering work between Hersbruck and Neuhaus resulted in some wrong line working that made things more difficult. I did get a few sunny shots but have barely scratched the surface. Look out for a return trip in the near future.

KBS 740 Stuttgart - Singen

This scenic line runs down the eastern flanks of the Black Forest through a very attractive landscape. My only previous trip here was in Spring 2010 but there have been changes to the motive power since then and the landscape looked quite different in late summer. There were also a number of locations I hadn’t successfully photographed that needed to be done. I spent Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September on the line, mainly on the scenic section between Horb and Rottweil.

The basic pattern of passenger services has hardly changed since my previous visit. RE services run every hour from Stuttgart to Rottweil with every second train continuing to Singen. The services that start or terminate at Rottweil are worked by class 425 EMUs while those that start or terminate at Singen are double-deck push-pull sets with a class 146 electric on the north end. One set seen had a loco on each end, no doubt due to a problem with the control trailer. Locos seen were 146.203/207/208/218/221. The exception to the EMUs stop at Rottweil rule was RE19040, which runs from Schaffhausen to Stuttgart on weekdays and was worked by a class 425 and a class 426 EMU. On the Saturday it starts from Singen and was a 146 and Dostos.

The IC service from Stuttgart runs every two hours and has been loco hauled since the ICE3 sets developed wheel cracks a couple of years ago. Last year every train was booked for class 120 haulage between Stuttgart and Singen, where SBB Re4/4ii take over. This year a significant proportion of trains are booked for class 101s and there are two out and back workings for class 181s on Saturdays and Sundays. The diagrams are very complex so just about every train is booked for class 101 on some days and class 120 on others. Although everything was hauled by either a class 101 or a class 120, the locos seen weren’t always of the class expected. A particular disappointment was that the class 181 didn’t appear at all on the Saturday and was substituted by a class 120. Locos seen were 101.011/072/100/111, 120.104/132/155.

All the freights seen on the line were worked by class 185 electrics with the heaviest trains double headed. I presume there is a reason for only using 185s as most electrified main lines in Germany see a wide variety of different classes. Three freights were seen on the Friday and two on the Saturday so traffic volumes are not high.

I had a number of different shots in mind on this line and managed to get around half of them, mostly on the Friday, which was generally sunny. The lack of class 181s didn’t help and neither did the cloud that took out the middle of the day on the Saturday. The shadows also took a surprisingly long time to clear in some places and then returned earlier than expected in the afternoon. A return trip in the late spring will be required to fill in the gaps.

Comments and Conclusions

The trip was a bit of a pig to plan with changes having to be made until after the halfway point to take account of engineering work and bad weather. As a result, my logical circular route around the country became a very distorted stagger, involving many more km driving the Autobahns than I really wanted. The Koblenz - Trier line, which had to be done on the first and last days only produced one good picture. Apart from that, I had at least one good day on every other line and got a reasonably high percentage of the shots I wanted. Although there were some miserable days, the sun was out almost 50% of the time possible, which isn’t bad for any northern European trip. Overall quite a successful trip and certainly not the last time I drive to either Germany or the Czech Republic.