Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Snow March

1st March 2018 dawned bright and with a dusting of snow in South West London. 450124 leads a morning commuter service in to Surbiton.

As March arrived in the UK and the days started to draw out, most would be forgiven for not expecting snow. However March 2018 has been unseasonably cold with two blasts of arctic weather sweeping the country bringing widespread snow (and all the travel chaos that goes with it!). In the south of the country the first bout of snow arrived overnight providing a coating by the morning of Thursday 1st March. The white stuff continued to fall across the weekend but brought with it poor light and only slight accumulations in the London area. Other areas saw much deeper snow fall with further issues caused by drifting due to the dry nature of the snow coupled with strong winds. Across many parts of the country lines were closed due to being blocked with snow and Network Rail dispatched many of their snowplows to clear routes.

A 10 car formation from Guildford to Waterloo is led into Surbiton by 5713. 01/03/18

Wearing the new South Western Railway colours 158887 calls at Basingstoke with a heavily snow encrusted service to London. 01/03/2018

444006 kicks up the powdery snow as heads towards London at speed following the second wave of snow to hit the south of the UK. Sunday 18th March 2018.

444030 makes an impresive sight kicking up snow as it heads through Potbridge (near Hook). The M3 crosses the SWML on the lower of the two bridges. The roads did not escape the travel disruption with many in this area being quite treacherous. 18/03/2018.

Despite the cold snap weekend engineering still had to take place. 66847 had been involved in a possession in the Portsmouth area and now heads through Potbridge back to Eastleigh 

450112 brightens up the bleak landscape with a Basingstoke - Waterloo service seen at Potbridge on Sunday 18th March.

Temperatures had returned to more normal levels by the second week of March however forecasts of further snow began to surface. The weather forecasters once again got it right with another dose of snow covering much of the country on Saturday 17th March. The snow continued across the weekend with accumulations of several centimeters widely across the south east by the end of Sunday. This was to be the last of the snowfall with skys clearing the following week and the snow then rapidly melting as just a few days after it fell temperatures made it to double figures. While always a challenging time for the transport industry snow is a rare commodity in the UK and certainly provided some photographic interest!

Following snow over the weekend the sun put in an appearance on Monday 19th March. As can be seen the snow has already started to melt around the stabling point at Eastleigh where 66061 shunts past some if it's competitors stabled locos.

66519 accelerates away from a crew change at Eastleigh. 19/03/2018.

Photographed from the nearby public road 57003 can be seen collecting snow within Eastleigh Works. 19/03/2018

377158 emerges from Southampton Tunnel with a Southern service. 19/03/2018

158957 passes St Denys bound for Southampton while working a Portsmouth - Cardiff service. 19/03/2018

Another view from St Denys with 66092 heading north east with a container train from the ports. 19/03/2018

Monday, 12 March 2018

One night in Bangkok... 1-2 February 2018

Friday 2nd February

4013, my first 'Shovel' GE UM12C shunts stock outside Bangkok's Hua Lampong station.

UK spec Desiros on the Suvarnabhumi Airport Link.
A very brief visit on my way to New Zealand saw me touch down with Thai Airways at Suvarnabhumi Airport around 06:30. My cunning plan to avoid jet lag by flying half way around the world straight of a night shift appeared to be paying dividends as I had had a good sleep on the plane and felt quite awake. It was a little struggle to get into Thailand as the queues at immigration were quite lengthy- anyway, nothing to do other than stand in line. Once stamped into Thailand it was a simple process to transfer to the airport rail link to the city. Having arrived into Waterloo the previous day on a class 450 it was somewhat sureal (even if expected from my research) to find myself on another UK spec Desiro on the airport link!

3rd Class on board an 'Ordinary' Thai train.
The crossing 'closed' 4402 cautiously approaches Asok.

I didn't continue the whole way through to central Bangkok as, having checked the train times online there should have been a connection onto a train on the conventional network at Asok. The Eastern Railway follows the air link for most of it's route however I chose to change here as I could also use the subway to reach my destination if the train didn't materialise. As soon as I hit street level I got my first experience of the full-on nature of Thailand. The place is bonkers with all sorts of transport pretty much everywhere and beneath the pillars of the modern airport rail link was the single meter gauge track of the Eastern Railway - no fences and in some places squeezed right next to buildings. The station was easy to find though there was nobody else waiting- a look at the departure board confirmed the train time that I had checked online so I made my way to the only building on the station, the crossing keepers cabin to attempt to buy a ticket. I couldn't, but I was directed to the correct platform for the train, and only a few minutes after the scheduled time the road barriers were lowered, the traffic did not stop, and with a green flag from the crossing keeper the train hauled by Alsthom A24C 4402 cautiously approached. As I had been expecting a DMU the loco hauled train was a pleasant surprise and I jumped on through one of the open doors. The train was well loaded, but not full and very soon a member of staff ushered me to a seat and sold me a ticket to Bangkok's main station- Hua Lampong for the princely sum of 2 bhat (around 4p). Of course I was quite happy to stand and lean out of a window, or a door, and take in the streets of Bangkok as well as the quite rateable traction.

Carriage Cleaning at Hua Lampong.
Destination boards wait their trains at Hua Lampong.

Life by the lineside -No palisade fences here!
The journey into Hua Lampong could only have been a few miles but took some 40 minutes, our progress being very slow- particularly at road crossings where it could take anything up to a few minutes to clear the road for our passage. There was a further delay outside Hua Lampong where quite a few passengers just got off onto the track anyway. Approaching the station I got my first glimpse of the locos that were top of my list for this country- the fairly ancient 1963-66 built General Electric UM12C -or as the enthusiast like to call them 'Shovel Noses'. 4013 in the older livery (which I though may have all disappeared) was shunting the station and instantly I could see, and hear, the attraction of these machines!
Alsthom AD24's have arrived into Hua Lampong and await
their next duties.

The plan of was to head straight to my hotel, drop off my bag, be a tourist for a bit and come back a to the station a little later. Of course this isn't what I did. There was a 'Shovel' shunting around, the sun was out and I had already discovered what a wonderful little rail system this was to explore. I talked my way over to the depot at the end of the station where another 'Shovel' 4038 was shunting and also got my first and only glimpse of one of the SRT 'Sprinter' units- a tag on to the BREL class 158 order at York and originally delivered in Regional Railway Express livery as nothing else had been specified!

A product of BREL York in Bangkok! A class 158 based 'Sprinter' with
inward opening slam doors, minus gangways and on narrow gauge!
I had no issue with photography at Hua Lampong (except for the difficulty with light and dark under the main trainshed) until I upset a member of staff for straying too far down the platform. I suspect he didn't like my camera as there were plenty of other people all over the track - I would now be hounded for the next 2 days by this one uniformed staff member! Hua Lampong is a fascinating place to spend a few hours with a multitude of morning loco-hauled arrivals interspersed with a few DMU's. Most trains are then shunt released and there was plenty of work to keep 4013 busy taking coaching stock to and from the yard and adding and subtracting coaches from the various trains that were coming and going from the station. The shunters were very prompt and despite considering it many times I never did manage to 'accidentally' get on any of the trains which were being shunted in order to score 4013. There is plenty of life on the platforms aside from the trains; the team who change the destination boards on the train sides to the staff wandering the platform with carts with engines on who's role seems to be to clean the trains. Elsewhere there is another platform with a large store of brake blocks presumably for carrying out necessary repairs to the stock while it lays over. While 4013 kept tempting me by sitting on trains approaching their departure time it was 4050 that would be my first sighting of a 'Shovel' working a train when it arrived with train 342 from Kaeng Khoi Junction. Finally it was time for me to leave station and head into the city to see some sights - I would be back later for my 'Shovel' ride.

Alsthom AD24C 4420 arrives into Bangkog during the morning rush.

4413 and 4005 await departure from Thon Buri for Nam Tuk. The semaphores
are the last in Bangkok but are no longer functional.
Having taken my first trip on the Chao Prahya River (with boats at least as bonkers as the trains), wandered around the Grand Palace and found myself some street food for lunch I made my way across the river to Thon Buri station- a much smaller terminus in the west of the city. I knew I had missed the 13:05 departure, which according to the gen I had seen is a good bet for a 'Shovel', but this still left the 13:55, which I also believed should be a good bet. I had a little time so went to explore the depot which is home to Thailand's collection of steam locomotives as well as several diesels undergoing maintenance.

'Shovel' 40xx hauls a container train through Bang Sue.

4038 assist with afternoon shunting at Hua Lampong station, Bangkok.
Back at the station 4013 and 4005 had appeared in multiple to work the 13:55 to Nam Tok. I bumped into another fellow with a camera at Thon Buri, and was pleased to chat to Colin, a loco driver form Australia. We both brought our tickets to Taling Chan Junction for 100 bhat (I never quite worked out why this train was so expensive compared to those out of Hua Lampong) and enjoyed the short journey - not much noise from the 'Shovel' unfortunately, though it was turned on. We hadn't checked the onward connection from Taling Chan back to Bangkok and it therefore wasn't a huge surprise that there was no train for several hours. A taxi was coaxed into taking us to Bang Sue and was no trouble once we had persuaded him where we were going with a little help from Google Translate. I left Colin here to play on the SkyTrain while I hoped for a loco hauled connection back to Hua Lampong. It wasn't to be as there is clearly a dirth of trains at off-peak times. Instead I took the full length of the metro which featured a couple of Mormon's, some American tourists and an old lady with nasal sticks up both her nostrils who was lying on the floor (A kind Thai gentleman walked her home cementing my view of the Thai's as some of the friendliest people around).

4050 at Bang Sue with 341 the 17:00 to Taeng Khoi Junction. Construction
on the new Bang Sue station can be seen to the left.
Back at Hua Lampong I had a couple of trains in mind for my 'Shovel' ride from the various trip reports that had appeared on World Rail Gen- 277 the 15:25 to Kabin Buri and 341 the 17:00 to Kaeng Khoi Junction seeming to be the most likely candidates. My metro ride had caused me to miss 277, however 341 did the trick and 4050 backed onto the train and armed with my 2 bhat ticket I took my seat (after my security friend from earlier had tried to shoo me away!). The run to Bang Sue Junction was most enjoyable, 4050 providing great entertainment with plenty of station stops and many crossings where the train once again had to pause to wait for traffic to clear. The train moved at a decent speed but it was still staggering how long it took to cover the small distance to Bang Sue. This stretch of track along with the main station at Hua Lampong is due to close in 2019 to be replaced by a new huge new station currently under construction at Bang Sue.
GE CM22-7 4555 pauses on the run in to Hua Lampong.
A quick connection was available back into the city, this time with GE CM22 4555 which also made a rateble bit of noise. With darkness falling it was time to call it a day for trains and head back out to the city.

Bangkok's Hua Lampong terminal in the city centre is due to close permanently in 2019 with trains terminating at the new Bang Sue station. The old station is planned to be converted to a railway museum. Alsthom 4123 has arrived with a passenger train as night falls on the city.

Saturday 3rd February
4040 passes the floating market at Taling Chan with 251, the
13:05 departure from Thon Buri.
This wasn't really a day for trains, but of course a few managed to creep into the schedule. My morning entertainment was to visit the floating market at Taling Chan which is adjacent to the railway out of Thon Buri. A number of trains were seen but generally I managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, eventually managing to get into position for 251 the 13:05 departure from Thon Buri. This produced 'Shovel' 4040 - with the weather being fairly gloomy it possibly wasn't worth the wait, especially as it now left me very tight to make my train back to the airport.

4017 pauses at Makkasan with 277 the 15:25 from Bangkok
to Kabin Buri. The airport express line towers above.

A boat ride back to my hotel in the Chinatown district and a hurriedly hailed Tuk-Tuk was just about quick enough for me to reach Hua Lampong for the 15:25 departure. I had intended to take the metro and Airport Rail Link back to the airport, however a quick check of the train schedules showed a train at almost the perfect time from Hua Lampong to Lat Krabang (the last station where one can connect onto the Airport Rail Link off the Eastern line), better still it turned out to my delight that the train in question was 277, one of the two I had down as a very good bet for a 'Shovel' - it was and 4017 was a great way to finish my short trip to this fantastic country. The train was packed and I spent much of it hanging out of a door - certainly a contrast would be felt when I moved from the 'old' station at Lat Krabang up into the concrete sky to board the airport Desiro. And thus my fleeting visit to Bangkok was at it's conclusion. Thanks to the gen providers and particularly those who have posted their reports to World Rail Gen.

Active GE UM12C 'Shovels' observed:

'Shovel' 4050 in the original colour scheme arrives into Bangkok Hua Lampong with train 342 from Kaeng Khoi Junction.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Cumbrian 37's

37401 and 37402 both looking work-stained in Large Logo Blue at Barrow-in-Furness. 37401 prepares for departure with the 11:40 to Carlisle while 37402 has arrived with the 10:04 from Preston and will shortly depart for the carriage sidings. 22/01/2018

37401 pauses at Whitehaven for the token exchange.
With the news that full class 37 operation may soon be giving way to class 68's on the Cumbrian Coast I found myself on the Sunday night Caledonian Sleeper on 21st January heading up to Carlisle. The sleep wasn't too bad but there was still no getting away from the fact that an 04:30 wake-up call is early! At 04:45 the London - Glasgow/Edinburgh overnight snaked out of Carlisle into the night and all that remained was to wait for the class 37 to arrive for the 05:15 Northern service to Preston via Barrow-in-Furness.

37402 'Stephen Middlemore 23.12.1954 - 8.6.2913' stands beneath the roof at Preston awaiting it's departure with the 10:04 Preston - Carlisle via Barrow-in-Furness. 22/01/2018
Several locomotives were on Carlisle Kingmoor which could have turned up for the train but ultimately I was very pleased to see 37402- the one I had been hoping for- on the rear of the train as it growled into the station. I had first seen 37402 back in 2005 when it was stored at Bescot- A loco I had missed and never expected to see running again. When 37402 returned to service with DRS in 2013 it was certainly a pleasant surprise- yet it had eluded me on passenger workings since (I really should have come to Cumbria more!) and was now considered a very threatened loco with high engine hours. The 'large logo' 37 did not disappoint taking me the 156 miles to Preston via the coast- sadly all in darkness at this time of year. If not for the scenery watching the various flows of commuters proved interesting - workers for Sellafield, school traffic for Barrow and then Ulverston and finally workers heading into Preston. The 05:15 from Carlisle is a heavily loaded train for many sections of it's journey!
37401 crosses Harrington Viaduct working the 11:40 Barrow - Carlisle. 22/01/18
The other locomotive out on the coast was 37401 which had berthed at Barrow-in-Furness overnight. The result was a great pairing of the first two class 37/4's working together in BR Large Logo blue in 2018!
Things are soon due to change with class 68's expected to take over one of the diagrams from late January. 37's are likely to continue in some form for a few more months but issues with reliability of both the locos and the Mk2 DBSO's have caused poor performance on the route and alternative options are therefore being explored. Once again I am reminded that this is a beautiful line and I really must make the effort to get back here once the weather improves!

Friday, 19 January 2018

Picture of the week - 18 January 2018

I am a great believer that often if you wait long enough an interesting train will often come to you rather than you having to chase it. Of course it isn't always true, but certainly was the case for my first encounter with Colas Rail's class 67's which are used on test duties. The locos made a rare appearance on the Southern Region in place of the more usual class 73's and happened to find my camera just at the right time passing Basingstoke on 17th January.

If you've noticed it has been a bit quiet here... well- you would be right. I've been moving into a new flat which has diverted a lot of my time away from railways temporarily. Hopefully posts should return to normal levels soon- but not before another trip overseas where I will once again bring back something a little different to report.

Monday, 1 January 2018

DB SBB RhB Trip Report 7-12 December 2017

Thursday 7th December:
001 180-9 at Munich Ost having worked the final 'Nicholasfart' special of the day. The sunshine didn't last!
Flew Heathrow - Munich with Lufthansa taking the very long way to Heathrow Airport via Paddington as the local airport bus timetable has been changed enough to make it next to useless for me to reach the airport for any morning flights. Arrival at Munich was only slightly delayed but escaping from the Flughaven took much longer than I had hoped (it's massive!). After waiting nearly the full 15 minutes I was on an S-Bahn to meet my friends who had already arrived from Manchester at Munich Hbf.
Would you like a Vectron? TX Logistics 193553 leads three
classmates through Munich Ost with a 'piggyback' train.
The first surprise of the trip was from the S-Bahn window shortly before Johanneskirchen where a steam loco was briefly sighted in steam and looking as though it was ready to turn onto the S-Bahn line. A quick look at Google Maps and a few calls to my friends (who very much like their steam) and a plan was hatched to meet at Munich Ost and chase the train. An educated guess was made that it would probably pass through Munich Ost and upon my arrival there I found another enthusiast. 'Do you speak English' 'No'- so I try anyway, to no avail. The others arrive and a few more shouts of 'Dampflok' appears to explain our pursuit, and confirms that the other spotter is waiting for the steam also. Duly it appears in the sun soaked platform and we get some worthwhile shots. It is also ascertained that a series of Santa Specials (or 'Nicholasfart'- a term we all found very amusing) are being run by the Eisenbahn Museum Beirichts across the weekend. 001-180-9 which we had seen this afternoon would be empties back to the depot now but would be back for more work in eh coming days. Something to remember for later in the trip.
A bonus Rabbit! DB Netz 218 477 passes with a test train.
Pleased with the haul it is time to get some late lunch, check in at our Hotel (taking OBB 1116 087 across from Ost to Hbf) in the process and even visit the model shop on platform 11 before looking for our first rabbits of the trip. My target was to finally get a ride to Muhldorf with a 218 and the best option is to take the first evening train the 17:05 which produced winning locos 218465 and 218428. Just before departure there was time to check that nothing too mega had dropped onto the 17:10 vice turn to Kaufstein- Vectron X4E 664 had the honours. The Muhldorf train was taken as far as Ampfing where I realised a cunning plan to drop back onto the 17:21 Munich - Simbach with 218423 and 218452. This allowed a connection into the 18:42 Muhldorf - Munich with far less interesng but never the less required 245009, this being the last loco hauled departure back to Munich from Muhldorf.
218 465 prepares for departure with the 17:05 Munich Hbf - Muhldorf.

Back at the Hbf it was very clear that the old 115 locos were no longer working the sleeper ECS, OBB having found it's own locos to use instead on the NightJet. As for us it was time to retire to dinner, a great meal and atmosphere as ever at the Augustiner Brauhaus. Here a fun game of 'smuggle as many beer mats as we can into James' pockets' began. I guess it was my own fault for saying that I already had one and therefore really didn't need anymore. Coming home with a stack of beer mats was to become a recurring theme.

Friday 8th December:
Snow is falling heavily as 218 466 approaches Seeg on the Fussen branch with the 11:52 Munich Hbf - Fussen.

Locomotion 193 771 on the blocks at Munich Hbf having worked in on the
06:29 from Kaufstein on the Meridian vice turn.

It was an early start for our one chance to cover the Kaufstein morning vice turn. Fortunately despite quite a few beers and a late night all were out of the hotel present and correct to head over to Munich Ost (even if the other two didn't really get why we were doing it). No heritage electric which would have been the best outcome- but we did score a very shiny 193771. Almost light by our arrival at Hbf (this train really is pretty nocturnal in December) and time to find a fill in before heading down the Fussen branch. 111 183 took us to Reichurtshausen for 111 057 back with a quick spin on the Treuchtlingen turns.
111 183 at Munich Hbf with the 08:22 to Treuchtlingen.
A far cry from the beautiful sunshine of the day before the weather had turned quite unpleasant- cold and wet with very little daylight- by the time we reached Buchloe with 218 414 on the 09:52 to Fussen the precipitation was falling as snow and by Fussen there was a reasonable amount of it in places. The train was very busy with tourists including a couple of American ladies who didn't seem too hot at standing up on a moving vehicle- A lot of Americans just don't get trains!).
In heavy snow 218 420 approaches Weizern-Hopferau with the
11:52 Munich - Fussen.
By diagram the next two trains on the branch should also have been rabbits and they were in the form of 218 420 and 218 446. I had hoped to visit Neuschwanstein castle in the afternoon but my friends were 'absolutely not' interested- and the weather was not really the best for it either. Instead we whiled away our time in the pretty town of Fussen exploring the castle, the Christmas Market and several beerhouses (acquiring several beer mats that I 'didn't need' on the way). Following the earlier flurry of Rabbits on the line the next departure from Fussen wasn't until 18:06- we left the beerhouse in plenty of time for this and were rewarded with 218 415 to Munich.
Tried to eat/drink in the Hof Brauhause in town but after 10 minutes of wandering around aimlessly looking for a table we gave up, instead landing in the Augustiner place over the road where we very fortunately found a table just being vacated. Dinner ended up being a (very nice) kebab wrap!

Saturday 9th December:
EC195 13:09 Zurich - Munich is powered through a snowy Hergatz by 218 419 and 218 422. Note that SBB panoramic coaches have now appeared in the consist of Munich - Zurich trains, displaced from the Gotthard route.

Today's target- more Rabbits, though after the success of the previous two days it was about time things got a little more complicated.

A snow encrusted Alex 223 072 at Lindau.
It was another cold and earlyish start for the 07:14 EuroCity to Zurich which produced required pair 218 421 and 218 433. After a quick snowy photo stop at Buchloe we met another enthusiast, Michael, who would travel with us as far as Kempten (heading towards Oberstdorf) while we would continue with the pair right through to Lindau to pick up the Ulm-Lindau axis.

245 036 works the 10:05 Lindau - Stuttgart (to Ulm).

There had been a lot of snow on parts of the Allgaubahn and we were keen to get photographing, particularly as the sun had made an appearance on the southern part of the line. We were a few minutes late into Lindau (421 383 taking the EC on to Zurich) through no entirely descernable reason- and so was everything else. This did at least mean we made the connection onto the 10:05 towards Stuttgart as it had not yet arrived. When it did it was 245 036 at the helm which was a little disappointing.

218 409 pauses at Langenargen on it's way to Lindau.

We took the 245 through to Ravensburg, the snow diminishing the further along the route we got. Unfortunately the next train back to Lindau eventually turned up around 20 minutes late due to signalling problems. Back at Freidrichshafen while 218 436 was running round on the delayed 11:05 Linda - Stuttgart (presumably a failed DVT) our train with 218 427 was terminated. All passengers forward on a single coach class 650 DMU through to Lindau! It was a little busy! Fortunately a new move was quickly planned, to photograph 218 495 and 218 343 at Langenargen on the OBB EuroCity before then taking 218 409 on to Lindau on the next train from Stuttgart.

Sunshine and snow! 218 495 leads 218 343 towards Langenargen with IC118 08:54 Innsbruck- Munster. 

Dispolok liveried ER20-007 departs from Hergatz with a Lindau bound Alex.
Back at Lindau I was surprised to see OBB 1144 250 in the stabling point as I have not seen this class here before. In search of some proper snow Alex 223 069 was taken back onto the Allgaubahn to Hergatz with plenty of time to seek out a snowy location for the next southbound EuroCity from Munich. DB however had other ideas- while we had walked out onto the single line towards Memmingen the train simply did not appear. Only when one of our group decided to look up the trains progress online did we realise to our horror that it was no longer calling at Memmingen, made an additional stop at Kempten and had therefore already passed us on the other route! We weren't very impressed. A few other photos were managed at Hergatz- but not what we were really looking for.
223 068 arrives at Hergatz to take us back to Munich.
All in all we were fairly pleased when 223 068 arrived to save us and take us back to Munich. I still quite enjoy the 223's and the Alex stock is good fun with a compartment to ourselves most of the way to Munich. A slight further delay was encountered at Immenstadt attaching the portion from Oberstdorf (which was worked in by another 223)- possibly explained by more than 1ft of snow.
I can't remember where we had dinner- but it was a beer house and it was good!

Sunday 10th December:
50-0072-4 powers towards Munich Heimerenplatz with its circular excursion.
Following our unexpected encounter with the Dampflok on Thursday there was an obvious plan for today- have a ride on the 'Nicholasfart' around Munich which I believe cost the princely sum of 16 euros (though nobody ever came around to charge us). The train arrived into Munich Ost with both locos and a double set of stock ready to split and for two trains to head around Munich, 001-180-9 was to head anti-clockwise, while 50-0072-4 lead the other set of stock clockwise. Shortly before departure from Munich Ost with 50-0072-4 there was the surprise arrival of 115 509 in some sort of racing livery on a set of IC coaches- no idea what it was doing!
115 509 at Munich Ost.

Having done the loop around Munich in around 40 minutes, including the spectacle of passing the other steam train 3/4 of the way around we then headed to Heimerenplatz to photograph the next pass of the steam. A few freights were also seen before it was time for me to split from our group, the others of whom were flying home that afternoon. My own move was to head to Munich Hbf for the 12:33 EuroCity to Zurich. I had worked out that this would be the other pair of weekend EC Rabbits to those taken the previous day- This produced required 218 422 and 218 419 as expected.

218 422 and 218 419 at a snowy Buchloe with the 12:33 Zurich - Munich EC

Snow was falling again by Buchloe and again I was joined by Michael who was taking the train down to Lindau. I wasn't sure if I was going to continue straight through to Munich or go for another go on the Ulm-Lindau axis. The decision was simple- it was raining, the weather was cold and horrid and the next train to Stuttgart was delayed. 421 394 therefor took me into an increasingly slushy Switzerland. My hostel in the outskirts of Zurich was nice enough- I cannot say the same for the walk into the city which turned out to be much longer than I had thought, and also much wetter. By the time I reached the city I was pretty frozen and soaked right through, and not really any much clearer where I was going to find dinner. Eventually settled on a Pizza restaurant within Zurich Hbf which served up a decent dinner. I was pleased to get back to the hostel, warm up and get to bed.

Monday 11th December:
Ge4/4ii 613 at Davos Platz waiting for it's next journey on to Filisur.

Ge4/4ii 615 at Chur- base level of the RhB.

Fortunately my clothes and shoes had dried out overnight and I made my way down to Zurich Hbf for 460 104 on the 09:37 to Chur. This trip was really intended just to be a reckie of the RhB and it took me a little while to get my bearings (and find some lunch) at Chur. If it helps anyone eles- don't go into town looking for lunch- go to the station Subway. I didn't find this until much later. The weather was once again pretty horrific with rain falling heavily even at altitude. I missed a couple of RhB services and then got distracted when Re4/4 11151 arrived on an old push/pull set. This turned out to be vice ICE. Another similar set (!) appeared for the next departure a regional service with 11136. I took this to Landquarts on the 12:16 Chur - Zurich loosing even more time on the RhB in the process. 11151 was to follow on the 12:39 'ICE' departure for Hamburg.
Ge4/4iii 650 is bound for St Moritz at Filisur.

With half the day gone already I finally got onto the RhB taking Ge4/4ii from Landquarts to Davos, and then after a wait on to Filisur. There was a bit more snow at this altitude but still it was raining heavily and was quite miserable. The plan (there wasn't really a pre-planned plan) was to drop my luggage at my hotel at Filisur at this point and check that the restaurant would be open in the evening- however because of the connections at Filisur that would have put me back an hour and I had already wasted quite enough time- so onwards I went with Ge4/4iii 650 to Samedan on a St Moritz service.

Snow at Pontresina. Abe4/4iii waits for the 16:01 to St Moritz

Passing through the Albulatunnel finally came a change in the weather, from rain to snow. It made photography even more challenging but at least a little more interesting. Continuing to avoid units my next move was to take Re4/4ii 630 to Pontresina. Finally locos gave way to an Allegra railcar (though still hauling some traditional coaches which I chose to take and a wagon of logs) for my final leg from Pontresina to Alp Grum - having reached the highest point on the line and with darkness definitely now descended it was time to re-trace my steps to Filisur. Conditions up at Alp Grum were certainly interesting, several feet of snow and pretty much a blizzard- the solid station building definitely providing a welcome refuge. The on train announcements describing the view did seem somewhat superfluous. Re-tracing my steps back to Filisur was behind another Allegra unit attached to an Alvra trailer unit to Pontresina, Ge4/4ii 627 then took me forward to Samedan for Ge4/4iii 652 back to Filisur.

Snow is still falling at altitude- Allegra EMU 3505 pauses at Pontresina.
Fairly soaked (it was still raining heavily rather than snowing in Filisur) and in the dark I did eventually find my hotel- only to find the door locked. Eventually after a bit of knocking and trying the phone number on the door several times I was let in. Clearly the hotel was not busy as I was upgraded to a room with an en-suite bathroom- I also took the time to check that the restaurant was open. Having walked past I secretly already knew the answer- it wasn't. And nowhere else was either. I think I may not have sounded entirely grateful when I was offered a pot noodle and a kettle and told once again that nowhere else was open. Unperturbed I deposited my gear and went for a final soaking just to prove that nowhere else was open. It really wasn't. I supplemented my pot noodle with a drink, cake and biscuit from the station vending machine. Not really the end to the day and the last meal in Switzerland that I had been hoping for!

Tuesday 12th December:
Ge4/4ii 615 heads towards Reichenau with a train from the Disentis line.

Ge4/4iii pauses at Davos Frauenkirch with a train to Filisur.
The weather forecast on my phone had been correct and at some point overnight the rain had turned to snow and I woke up to the sound of the roads being ploughed. Snow was not falling when I awoke but that wasn't the end to the weather problems. I had an hour or so to burn before the Coop opened and I could get some breakfast so I took the train to Davos with traction provided by one of the railmotor vehicles. As we climbed the fog which surrounded Filisur lifted and the weather actually looked like it might have been Ok- a few patches of blue at this altitude. I photographed and rode the next train back to Filisur for breakfast behind Ge4/4iii 649.

Ge4/4ii 611 approaches Reichenau with a Glacier Express.

The plan after breakfast was to walk to the Landwasser viaduct, but visibility had further reduced and frankly efforts would have been futile. Instead I gathered my things and made my way down towards Chur on the line I had yet to cover hoping I could find some attractive spots in the snow to get some photographs. My train was an Allegra/Alvra set again and ultimately was taken all the way to Reichenau-Tamins where the weather was better and there should be more trains (I was very conscious of my flight back home from Basel at 17:00).

Ge6/6ii takes the line towards Thusis near to Reichenau

I found a spot that was reasonable and photographed a couple of trains, including freights lead by Ge6/6ii's 703 and 704. In waiting for a shot of a train of the Disentis line I ended up with a run of almost epic proportions to make my train back to Chur for the onward connection I planned to make - the 12:39 ICE (incase it was a scratch set again). I did make my connection- just and also had time to cover the RhB between Chur and Landquarts to pick up my mainline train from there. Doing the honours was Ge4/4ii 615 on a Klosters service.
Sun in Switzerland finally- Re2/2ii's 11304 and 11156 at Basel

Of course the ICE was actually an ICE today but did give the chance to bail off at Zurich for an alternative loco-hauled service on to Basel, this turned out conveniently to be the 14:08 from St Gallen to Basel which was already in the station and was worked by Re4/4ii's 11304 and 11156 in tandem. The sun had finally come out by Basel so I did manage just one sunny picture of the Re4/4ii's detaching from the train! Off to the airport for a painless return to Luton with EasyJet.

218 419 and 218 422 kick up snow and show off their rabbit ears approaching
Hergatz with a Zurich - Munich EuroCity.
Rail trips in December are always going to be risky- especially if you are coming for photography! Two of my main aims in Germany were to cover the lines to both Muhldorf and Fussen with 218's as I had failed to do so previously. This was achieved and a good number of winners were had as well. Of course Munich is a good city to spend Christmas evenings in with beerhouses and the Christmas markets. We weren't really expecting to see snow here so that was a bonus- though some brighter skies would of course have been lovely. I still intend to come back to this area- most likely in the summer and with a car as there are plenty of great spots on the Allgaubahn as well as the Fussen and Oberstdorf branches.

Snow is around 2ft deep at Immenstadt wih Alex 223 063.

This was my first visit to the RhB and what a fantastic railway it is. I feel I have got a feel for how the network works now while my stock of photos lacks behind somewhat due to the weather I experienced. I know I will be back on the Rhatiche Bahn before too long- especially with a substantial EMU order currently being built which will inevitably eradicate a lot of the more interesting loco hauled trains.
Travel was on FIP coupons throughout and no problems were encountered.
Cloud is closing in on Filisur as a St Moritz - Chur train appears on the hillside.