Black Forest Beasts

31 May -04 June 2012

Report by Duncan Cotterill


After spending two weekends in April trying to photograph the class 115 and 181 workings on the Stuttgart – Singen line with little success, I went back for another attempt between Thursday 31 May and Monday 4 June 2012. My April trip report covers most of the background information on the line, service patterns, booked classes etc, so I won’t repeat the fine detail here.

This time I flew from Heathrow to Stuttgart with BA and hired a car to get around. Accomodation at the Schweizer Hotel an der Glatt in Hopfau near Sulz am Neckar was booked through

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.

Passenger Trains

DB Regio services ran very much as anticipated with class 146s on the Stuttgart – Singen double-deck, push-pull trains and class 425 EMUs on the Stuttgart – Rottweil workings. The only departure from what was expected was one dosto set running with no driving trailer and a 146 at each end. As seems usual in these cases, both locos ran with their pantographs raised and both appeared to be powering.

My main interest was the Stuttgart – Zürich InterCity service and in particular the trains booked for class 115 or 181 haulage between Stuttgart and Singen on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. See my April trip report for more details of which class is booked to work which train each day. On my earlier visits everything ran with the booked traction (if you ignore the substitution of class 110s for the identical class 115s on several trains).

This time there were a number of occasions when trains turned up with unexpected motive power, although never anything that wouldn’t normally be seen on the line. In the final reckoning, class 120s worked every train they should have, class 181s worked as many trains as expected but not always the trains they were booked on, class 101s worked fewer trains and classes 110/115 more trains. As far as I’m concerned, that was a good result.

Freight Traffic

Freights generally ran as expected and with the usual class 185 traction. However, on the Friday there were a number of additional trains and one of the regulars was hauled by a class 152, not unknown but apparently fairly rare. Monday also saw an extra freight or two.

Other Lines

On the Saturday morning I was photographing on the Stuttgart - Singen line where it climbs out of the Donau valley, south of Tuttlingen and had a distant view of a 218 going west on the Tuttlingen - Immendingen line. The train was IRE3220, the Ulm - Neustadt(Schwarzwald) service booked for loco and coaches on Saturdays and Sundays. However, instead of working from Neustadt to Rottweil and back before returning east in the late afternoon, it came back just over an hour later on IRE3211. It appears that the outward service was terminated at Immendingen due to engineering work between there and Donaueschingen.

On a completely different note, a quick visit to Stuttgart Flughafen S-Bahn station just before I returned home produced a sighting of a class 423 unit on an S3 (Flughafen - Backnang) service and a class 420 unit on an S2 train (Schorndorf - Filderstadt). Nice to see that the old 420s are still going.

Comments and Conclusions

A few days before starting the trip, I seriously considered not bothering. There looked to be very little chance of getting any decent weather, vital for good pictures, with every forecast showing cloud and rain for either four out of five or all five days. Just as well I didn’t cancel as the weather exceeded my best expectations with a few sunny shots on Thursday, more on Friday and almost a full day of sun on Saturday. Sunday was dull and wet with only one sunny picture, while Monday was just dull and wet, but by that time it didn’t matter so much. I already had half a dozen well lit shots of classes 110 and 115, one of a 181 and a few assorted 101s, 120s, 146s and 185s and could go home reasonably satisfied with the results.

It was surprising how much the landscape had changed since April. I expected everything to be green but hadn’t anticipated just how much the lineside vegetation would have grown. Several positions I thought would be clear had become hopelessly overgrown in a matter of weeks and I had to change positions in a hurry on a number of occasions. The other problem with photography in June was the high sun in the middle of the day. Fortunately digital equipment handles harsh lighting far better than film ever did, extending the time when it’s possible to get worthwhile shots. It would have been better to get the pics in April when the light was much nicer and the vegetation was better behaved but I’m very pleased with what I got. That’s not to say that I won’t go back next spring if the use of interesting classes continues.