Deutschland, Diesels and Dull Weather - part 1
21 April - 12 May 2013
Report by Duncan Cotterill
This report covers the German part of a three week photographic trip to Europe in late April and early May 2013. My itinerary took me via the Koblenz – Trier and Koblenz - Mainz lines to the Nürnberg area for a few days on the diesel worked lines to the north and east. Next came a week in the Allgäu, concentrating on the Ulm – Friedrichshafen line and then five days in Switzerland (covered in a separate report). The journey home was via the Stuttgart – Singen, Koblenz – Mainz and Koblenz – Trier lines. This part of the report summarises what was seen. For detailed day by day observations including loco numbers, go to the Day by Day section.
I took my own car on this trip, travelling via the Channel Tunnel and covering around 3000 miles overall. Hotels were booked via booking.com as I went round, always ensuring the next hotel had internet access so I could book the one after.
No diesels but the retreating clouds provide plenty of evidence of the dull weather that plagued the trip. Crossrail's 185.592 cruised down the Rhein Valley at Oberwesel with a northbound intermodal on 11 May 2013.
Koblenz - Trier(Sun 21 April and Sun 12 May 2013)
The trip started with an afternoon session in the Bullay - Eller area and an afternoon session at Pünderich, south of Bullay, brought it to an end three weeks later.
Things have changed quite a lot since I last spent much time in the area in 2011. The Inter City service has been reduced to two trains each way a day, still hauled by class 181 electrics but poorly timed for photography. The slots in the otherwise hourly RE schedule where the IC trains used to run have just been left empty, meaning several two-hour gaps. At least most of the RE services are still worked by class 143s with the occasional class 425 EMU also appearing, much as they did in 2011. The RB service, which was a mixture of class 425 and 426 EMUs and class 143s on push-pull sets, now appears to be solid new DB class 442 and 443 EMUs.
A northbound special was seen around 13:40 on both days and also ran at a similar time on the two Sundays that I was there in 2011. On all four occasions the traction was provided by Centralbahn, either an ex-ÖBB class 1042 or a pair of ex-SBB class Re4/4is. It appears to be regular but I haven’t been able to find out anything more.
Three freights were seen on the first day, all in a fifteen minute period around 14:00 and all hauled by class 185s, a northbound with a DB machine, a southbound CFL Cargo and a southbound Dispolok hired to CFL Cargo. On the second occasion only one freight ran, a northbound with a pair of DB 185s.
The weather was overcast on the first afternoon and a mixture of sunshine and showers on the second. No good photos were obtained on either occasion.
120.113 passed Oberwesel with IC118, the 06:53 from Salzburg Hbf to Münster(Westf) Hbf on 11 May 2013.
In theory this train should have been worked by a class 103 from Stuttgart to Münster but the diagram rarely produced, if ever. A class 120 was a very acceptable substitute as these fine machines aren't seen in the Rhein Valley very often.
The picture was taken from a restored section of the old city wall that parallels the railway for a couple of hundred metres north of the station and provides an excellent vantage point for afternoon photos.
Koblenz - Mainz(Mon 22 April and Sat 11 to Sun 12 May 2013)
As with the Mosel (above) brief visits were made to this line at the beginning and end of the trip with morning visits to Bacharach on the Monday and Sunday and a late afternoon session at Oberwesel on the Saturday.
No real changes to report since my previous visits, also very brief, in 2011 and 2012. InterCity services run hourly, or half-hourly at busy times. The majority continue to be worked by class 101 electrics, mainly hauled but with less than half propelled in the northbound direction. There are also a handful of ICEs and a couple of trains booked for more exotic traction. An MRCE Dispolok 182 works EC7 and EC6 (Hamburg – Chur & v.v.). A class 103 was supposed to work IC119 and IC118 (Münster – Innsbruck and Salzburg – Münster) but apparently it rarely produced. These trains were worked by a 120 on the three occasions I saw one of them.
A two-hourly RE service only runs on Mondays to Fridays, formed of double-deck stock top’n’tailed by class 143s. The hourly stopping services are operated by MittelRheinBahn (MRB) using unattractive class 460 EMUs in an unattractive grey livery.
The vast majority of freights continue to use the parallel line on the opposite side of the river but a few run on the left bank. Observations on previous trips suggest that freights can run on either bank depending on actual traffic volumes, engineering work etc, meaning a high degree of volatility from one day to the next. Apart from one train on the final Sunday morning, all the freights seen on the right bank were worked by independent operators’ traction, i.e. Crossrail, MRCE Dispolok or SBB Cargo.
The timing of EC6/7 and IC118/9 are perfect for photography at Bacharach in the morning and Oberwesel in the late afternoon, assuming the sun shines of course. I didn’t have a lot of luck at Bacharach on either morning but did have a productive session in glorious light at Oberwesel on the Saturday afternoon.
A class 411 tilting ICE contrasts with the architecture of old Bacharach, much of it dating from the Middle Ages. The unit was working ICE27, the 08:27 from Dortmund Hbf to Wien Westbahnhof on 12 May 2013 and was one of only two trains photographed in sun on the final day of the trip.