Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 Finale- A day at Barnetby

60035- a rare survivor in non-overhauled condition hauls a train of loaded iron ore tipplers from Immingham to Santon.


66104 with one of the many daily coal trains from Immingham
Barnetby is one of those rail enthusiast 'Meccas' that one really does need to make the effort to visit from time to time. It has large volumes of freight traffic, many interesting photographic angles and to complete the scene is set off by some of the best semaphore signals still to exist in the UK. Usually my presence in this part of Lincolnshire is enough to force the weather to throw its worst at me- my last two visits have been in dull wet and generally unpleasant conditions. It was therefore a treat to be here on a perfect winters day. An enjoyable way to end 2014.


Looking back at 2014 itself as a year has many highlights for me, in terms of railways at least! The year started spectacularly with two weeks in China photographing 'real' steam in its dying days. The trip was blessed with exceptional weather and really was an experience of a lifetime which I will never forget. 

Several other countries have been visited as well including Germany, Denmark and several trips to France. I still feel I have 'unfinished business' in all of these, especially France and am sure I will be seeing more of this country in particular in 2015. Off the beaten track almost as much as China was the autumns trip to Kosovo and Macedonia. These railway systems are a world away from our own- though getting a ride on a NoHab diesel locomotive on a service train in 2014 has to go down as one of my highlights of the year. 
66200 'Railway Heritage Committe' with empty biomass
60074 with empty tanks from Kingsbury to Humber
There has been plenty going on closer to home as well. The rapid expansion of the Colas fleet has been well documented while I have particularly enjoyed catching some steam charters in recent weeks in the lovely winter sun that we have experienced. Riding class 47's on service trains in Anglia is always a joy, as was finally traversing the Cumbrian Coast line- with steam.
Going into 2014 there is a lot to look forward to, more countries to explore and more pictures to be take.  
The first photo I posted this year was of a spectacular sunset (http://trains-today.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/its-all-been-bit-quiet.html) so it seems only fitting to end the year in the same way- with 60035 bringing the curtain down with an iron ore train at Barnetby.
I hope you have had an enjoyable 2014 and wish readers a happy new year.

60035 pierces the sunset at Barnetby with a Santon- Immingham empty iron ore train. The semaphore signals are due for replacement in 2015 much to the demise of this location

Sunday, 30 November 2014

SNCF Paris Weekend 22-23rd November 2014

CC72180 crosses the Seine at Nogent le Perreux with the 14:12 Troyes-Paris Est
This was a very brief visit to Paris because cheap Eurostar tickets were available (well- they would have been cheap had I not mucked up the booking!) and I always have fun out there. Just the weekend as I've exhausted my leave allowance for the year!

Saturday 22nd November:

Out on the 08:01 Eurostar from St Pancras with 3213/3214- breakfast on board as my waking up failure had resulted in a rather rushed leaving of the house to say the least!

BB17066 and it's RIO stock will be going no further
than Mitry Claye today!
Loco hauled trains within the Paris zone are no longer quite so easy to come by these days, especially at weekends- however the diagrams had revealed the 12:13 from Nord to Crepy en Valois should still be a BB17000- Sure enough it was. I took up residence in the 'hanging area' at the front of the train and enjoyed the ride to Mitry Claye. I would have gone further but it became apparent that the line ahead had been closed due to an 'accident'. I cannot therefore report if the afternoon turn beyond Mitry Claye is still hauled or not as RER B had to come to the rescue to take me back into the city. This was not the only 'accident' in the area- a large contingent of orange vests were gathered around shunter 8230 which had put itself in the dirt on the hump in Le Bourget yard!



27111 at Nogent le Perreux
A little mishap! 8146 assists 8230 which is in
the dirt on the hump at Le Bourget.

With an earlier arrival back into Paris than I expected it was time for a bit of sightseeing before heading over to Nogent le Perreux to photograph the inbound CC72100 off the 14:12 ex Troyes. If knows which loco this was I would be most grateful to hear (and caption my photo!). Interestingly there seemed to be a lot of freight on this line- something which I have never seen before here. In the space of an hour there were two trains each way- Sybic 26039, VFLI 27111, ECR Traxx E186-176 and another unidentified ECR Traxx. Of course I wasn't in a good position to photograph any of them. Is it usual to see freight here? My theory is that the normal 'freight loop' which runs east of here must have been closed for the weekend?

Next stop was over to Gare de Lyon for a couple of locos on Mobilis to Melun.

BB7243 at Gare de Lyon with the 16:43 to Larroche Migennes
BB7243 produced on the 16:43 to Larroche Migennes with BB7409 returning me on the 15:46 off Laroche Migennes. Both locos had some interesting doors- the first with a Beton door set against an 'En Voyage' loco- the second just having it's 'En Voyage' doors at the wrong end. Most odd!

I made it back to Paris Est just in time to miss the departure of the 18:42 to Belfort, however I did catch CC72145 arriving with the 15:21 from Vesoul. BB17098 removed the stock.
BB17103 then arrived with the stock for the German sleeper- sadly just a few days left for this service now.

A sight about to disappear- as from 14th December 2014 DB's City Night Line will withdraw its daily train to Paris. BB17103 has arrived at Paris Est with the stock for the overnight to Berlin/Munich/Hamburg- BB26004 will work the train.

Sunday 23rd November:

CC72166 at Nogent sur Seine with the 07:42 Paris Est - Belfort.
Another early(ish) start.
As I was staying right next to it I popped into Gare du Nord to see if the stock was in for the 08:01 to Le Treport- this has previously been booked BB67400 but isn't at the moment. No sign of any stock, but the train was shown running through on the displays. Either way the mornings entertainment had already been decided and I made my way to Est for the 07:42 Belfort. Winner CC72166 was working this, which I took to Nogent sur Seine. 10 minutes later I was boarding the 06:44 ex Culmont-Chalindrey back into Paris with less winning CC72186. This is a very nice out and back move which only works on a Sunday. There really aren't many opportunities to get a 'quick' ride on the big diesels from Paris without having to endure a unit one way or a very long wait.

On arrival back into Paris it was a quick dash across to St Lazare for the 10:31 to Rouen (calling at Mantes le Jolie for some more Mobilis mileage). Unfortunately this was not the loco I was expecting but with no premeditated 'B plan', and no sign of any BB17000's, I hopped on the unit anyway. The train was pretty full, not helped by bags on many of the seats- to be fair to the passengers there really wasn't anywhere else for the bags- double deck stock doesn't have a lot or room for luggage racks.

Back at Mantes, and with the sun shining beautifully I decided I really needed to end up somewhere for some decent photos. I ended up spending the next few hours at Villens sur Seine. Not a lot happened really- and of course as I was about to head back to Paris BB17046 appeared heading to Mantes. I knew it would be back in 90 minutes so waited for it in the hope the sun would stay out for the shot I really wanted. It did- but most of the day was now gone and I had once ended up unable to buy lunch (I never worked out where the baguettes the locals were carrying had come from).
The shot of the trip- in perfect lighting BB17046 departs Villens sur Seine for Paris St Lazare.
Covered a few winning 'Primas' before heading back onto the lines out of Nord in search of some more BB17000.
In the twilight of its career the sun sets behind
BB17094 at Persan Beaumont.

Covered two of the three Creil-Pontoise turns after a long 'Francillien' journey with BB17094 and BB17053 producing (BB17073 also seen on the other diagram). The plan was then to take the 18:20 from Valmondois to Paris, shown hauled on the latest diagrams. Unfortunately the train no longer exists in any form. There was now little option but to endure another Francillien. These trains wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the ear-splitting door alarms! I really don't know how the commuters stand it- surely these trains have the most awful door sound in all of Europe if not the world!? I'm serious!

BB17053 on a Creil to Pontoise train at Persan Beaumont.
I had had enough of the alarms and jumped off at Ermont Eaubonne hoping for something more 'real' into St Lazare. I was to be disappointed with at least 3 Francilliens on the Ermonts. I endured one back to Argentuill before picking up a Prima and some less annoying stock back into St Lazare.

BB17024 was stabled on RIO stock, and I had seen a couple of others out on my travels- very much reduced though compared to my previous trip.

A little more sightseeing before being whisked home all too soon by 3011/3012.

Conclusions:
Not the most fruitful of weekends loco-wise but I always enjoy a trip to Paris. The weather made up for a lot- it was gorgeous! Sunny and warm- I tired of carrying my coat around all weekend.
Loco haulage continues to diminish within the Ile de France so it was good to still find some of the older locos- even if it was a struggle at times.
Runs on the Big diesels out of Est are always good fun- but even a trip to Nogent sur Seine is reasonably pricey.
I was hoping to see some Z5300 units at Melun, but did not see any working. I suspect many of their remaining turns are weekdays only now- though I was only at Melun for 30 minutes on a Saturday night.

As usual I had absolutely no problems or bother with SNCF staff with regard to photos. Everyone I came into contact with being very friendly.

While Paris is becoming more difficult for trains I'm sure I'll be back again- maybe on a weekday next time.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Picture of the week- 26th October


It is that time of year again- The nights are drawing in, the clocks have gone back, and we are starting to think about digging out winter coats out of the wardrobe. It also means it is time for the annual leaf busting operation on the UK's railways. This means Network Rail's fleet of sandite and water cannon vehicles are kept busy as they keep the rail network clear. On the Southern region we are used to seeing the fleet of MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicles) running these trains- however this year some turns have gone over to loco haulage with several circuits based at Tonbridge and Horsham using traction provided by GBRf. On Sunday 19th October BR blue liveried 73119 and GB 73213 were set to work on a Horsham based train which would visit East Grinstead and Uckfield among other locations. The train is seen here as it crosses Riddlesdown viaduct on its way to East Grinstead- a location I have wanted to visit for several years!

Friday, 10 October 2014

MZ, Train Kos, ZS Trip Report 1st-6th October 2014

Wednesday 1st October-


In reality the trip started the evening before with an HST to Luton, a curry and an Ibis in order to make the fairly early 08:15 Wizz air flight to Skopje. We were delayed at a shambolic Luton while a 'normal' (in the loosest of terms) threw his toys out of the pram and refused to join the aircraft... after his bags were offloaded we got into the air around 40 mins late. Arrival at Skopje was not far from time and the 13:00 bus into town was made. 
'Batman Boobie' (I know it says boogie really!) on the Bitola
We had booked hostels in both Skopje and Prishtina for the night depending on how things worked out. Plan A, which was to take the 14:30 Bitola was soon thwarted when DMU 712-101 'Batman Boobie' was sitting in the platform ready for the train. Excellent start. We called in at the Skopje hostel to tell them we would not be turning up that night and booked the post-Kosovo night instead. 







Soviet EMU power back to Skopje- very dirty it was too!
Having stocked up on beers and bureck we took the DMU at 14:30 anyway- just a few shacks to fill in time. Soviet EMU 412-056 was then taken back into Skopje, passing 642-403 with load 2 on the train to Kocani. Another small fester at the delightful Skopje station (is this the worst capital city station in Europe? It must be a close call with Sofia (Bulgaria)- the addition of a burnt out car at Skopje would definitely swing it if there were any doubt) before boarding the 16:20 to Prishtina. In the absence of a loco on the Bitola we were really hoping for a 661 on this- but had to be content with 642-404 on load 1. Would the close connection with the train from Bitola work? Well- sort of. A 661 rolled in ex Bitola just as we began moving off, only our train then ground to a halt. By the time we started again a few desperate passengers had crossed the tracks and were running for the train- so we stopped again for them. Definitely not a safe connection! 
661-236 was sitting behind the Prishtina train, this must have been ready for the 16:50 to Kicevo.
642 403 passes our train as it heads towards Kocani. This train
is booked for a DMU, but can produce a 642 loco in times of
shortage.

Tickets for the Prishtina train are purchased on the train- Skopje station wouldn't sell them- The gripper came to our compartment and spent half a year writing out five individual paper tickets none of which cost very much to Deneral Jankovic- which then becomes Hani i Elezit on arrival at the border. The passport grip was before leaving the Macedonian train and then we were free to wait for the connection to Prishtina... Everything crossed that we might just get lucky and get a Nohab- but it was not to be. Ex-Sweedish DMU 02 1304 turning out for the train forward. Again, inexpensive ticket purchased on board. 





Another 642- this time 404 at the border with Kosovo.
The journey was an absolute stagger to Prishtina arriving around 40 mins down for no apparent reason. Vossloh loco 009 was passed en-route with a freight. 

Prishtina turned out to be a pleasant surprise for all of us- a very warm and welcoming city with ever so friendly people. Nothing in the restaurant that evening was too difficult to be met with a 'Yes' from waiting staff- not that that meant we would actually get what we had asked for! 'Desert menu?' 'Yes' 'We do not have ice cream...' Cheers then!

The remainder of the evening descended under a cloud of beer and wine. 
A DMU is now the usual forward traction after changing trains at the border station Hani i Elezit

Thursday 2nd October-


I could not have asked for more- Nohab 007 waits between duties at Peja- the sun and mountains completing the view.

Well this was it. We were frankly only on this trip for one thing- we wanted a Nohab- and the Peja train was our chance. Having read that GM 001 was now the regular loco on this train it was with much apprehension that we arrived at the station in Prishtina to await the inbound working from Peja. None of us could quite believe our eyes when Nohab 007 appeared in the distance illuminated by the early morning sun- we had our Nohab!
007 approaches Prishtina
The Nohab is ready to leave the diminutive Prishtina station
















Departure was just a few minutes down with the 07:50 to Peja. A decent train as well: a generator/luggage van, two former SJ coaches and two Austrian coaches. An excellent run down to Peja was had through some amazing scenery and it warm enough to enjoy the sound of the battered Nohab through the open windows. A freight was passed at (I believe) Drenas with 2640 007- not a Nohab, but a very smart looking loco (ex JZ 661).

Remains of a turntable and engine shed (out of view) at Peja
We took sunny photos in Peja of the run-round (does it get any better than this!?) before exploring the old town and finding some food and beer for the return journey. At Drenas we again passed a freight, this time with Nohab 008. Another cracking run to Fushe Kosovo and we left the Nohab behind.
Just enough time to hop off for a photograph on the return journey from Peja to Prishtina. 


007 pauses at a ruined station. Evidence from the war still
survives in some parts of this country.
The new loco at Train Kos- Vossloh 009 is seen with a freight
















After spending a short while 'bothering' the plinthed steam loco we went into the Train Kos offices to request permission to visit the depot. During this process we had a lengthy chat with the railways translator who was able to confirm that the Nohab is still the usual traction for the Peja train- Much as they would like to get new locos to replace them the money simply does not exist. 
You never know what you may find in scrap lines- Ex SNCF
shunters with KFOR logos were not what I was expecting!
Permission to enter the depot was granted and having watched the Vossloh loco 009 run around a freight train we wandered down the tracks watching some shunting with MDD3-01 on the way. Locos on the depot were 2640 007 (ex class 661), 010 (the heavily rebuilt 661 with two cabs) and Nohab 006 stabled with four ex-Austrian coaches. 
Nohab 006 on depot. It has reportedly worked the
Peja train earlier in the week.















We met a German enthusiast while wandering the long-demic locos who advised that 006 had worked the Peja the previous day. Several other locos were locked away inside the depot which we could not gain access to. These are all apparently dead and awaiting parts which will probably never arrive- the locos being Serbian these parts are not forthcoming, and the Croatian outfit who has overhauled other Train Kos locos will not touch them! Nohab 005 was nowhere to be seen- presumably also in the shed.
This scrap 661 will not be running again!

Ex 2044 loco '001' had been seen on the depot from our train in the morning- but had now vanished.


Nohab 008 is passed on a freight train
Fantastic scenery on the Peja line














With no trains forthcoming it was the bus back into Prishtina after watching the evening Peja departure (again with Nohab 007). The bus still proudly displaying 'Bahnhof' on it's front- which the map inside revealed to be Lucerne!

A slightly tamer evening in town- we even managed to find the one establishment in Prishtina which sells postcards (but no stamps- that would be far too helpful).

Shunder MDD3-01 is a bonus find while around the depot
Loco 010 has its origins in a JZ 661, but is heavily modified!

















Friday 3rd October-

661 410 has arrived at Hani i Elezit from Macedonia with a freight. It would leave the wagons to return to Skopje with
one coach on the 'international' train.
Another DMU awaits for the journey to the border

The morning move was simply to get ourselves back to Skopje on the 07:10 from Prishtina. Of course once again we had a faint hope that a Nohab might produce- but following our success the previous day nobody was particularly disappointed, or surprised when DMU 5800 004-9 rolled in. The passage to Hani i Elezit was much quicker than they day we arrived- maybe the other unit only had a top speed of 20mph?

On arrival at the border we were greeted by 661 410, one of the arguably more attractive 'lower hood' examples. The loco soon came off its freight and ran round the single Macedonian coach. We then nearly had a farce as one of our group nearly missed the border grip by going off in search of a post office to send some Kosovan postcards home! A little desperate we all agreed!! Border patrol fortunately took it in good humour and all were present and correct for the departure- complete with the amazing 661 410 'Nellie the Elephant' horn! Amongst the fits of laughter at 'Nellie's' trumpet the gripper came round and managed to write the ticket for all of us on one piece of paper this time.
661 236 arrives into Zinzifov with a Bitola- Skopje train

Back in Skopje in time to miss any morning activity there was nothing to do until the Bitola at 14:30... and if the diagrams had stuck we were expecting a kart on that. Into town for an explore and to find a pivo- We eventually ended up in a wine bar in the old town and that really set the tone for the rest of the day. We did prise ourselves away back to the hell hole of Skopje station for some more bureck and the Bitola- which was our friend 'Batman boobie' the unit again. We brought returns to Veles and took it anyway, as, in theory the 12:45 was 661- and who can have enough of leaning out of the door on these DMU's?
Loco hauled trains passing at Zelenikovo
We bailed at a shack- Zinzifov and waited the train from Bitola. A short while later we were rewarded with 661 236. The gripper became thoroughly confused when one of our party showed the return ticket to Veles, and I then tried to explain our move to the next shack to pick up the Kocani to then head back to Veles and that we wanted a return to some random shack that even the gripper had probably never sold to before... Some timetable pointing later we had nearly achieved an element of understanding until one of the group produced his FIP- It was all too much for the gripper and he retreated back to the next coach! 






642 403 departs Veles for Kocani. A long run for a shunter!
We sat quite a while at the next tiny shack... not realising it was where we had told the gripper we were alighting- Smesnica. We didn't realise until it was too late and despite the call of 'Bail Bail Bail!' we were already on the move... we were going to have to rely on a +1 to the Kocani at Zelenikovo! We knew this was our shack as 642 403 was already in the adjacent platform as we rolled in- some gesturing to the driver and a very quick disembarkation made the connection- and we went on to Veles with the 642. 
We had a while to spare in Veles so wandered down to the shed where 661 408 was hiding- bothering some demic wagons and a kettle along the way. After this it was back to one of the establishments next to the station for kebab, pivo... and some nasty firewater type spirit that one of my esteemed companions had found! 
441 754 was our escape from Veles, a good 20-30 mins down on the overnight Thessoloniki to Belgrade. We were slightly surprised to see a fairly smart Serbian air-con coach on the front of the load 4 set- with the couchette on the rear. Unbeknown to us this train was compulsory reservation- and we were chinged 50 dinar by the gripper. A worrying sign on the outskirts of Skopje- we passed the 19:38 Bitola with a unit- this was the diagram we really needed to stay hauled for tomorrow afternoon!
Steam loco 01 046 dating from 1922 has clearly not moved from this siding in Veles for some time- nor is it likely to!

Back in Skopje it was a quick turn around to go out in search of pivos, wine and more ghastly firewater spirit. 4 bars, a taxi ride to a car park and eventually an open air club (which we definitely *didn't* have a reservation for) later and we fell into bed around 04:30!
661 408 pokes it's nose into daylight from the Veles shed
461 120 passes Veles with a freight

















Saturday 4th October- 
661 236 catches the suns rays while paused at Radushe on the Kicevo line


Soviet EMU 412 056 at Skopje

The hostel owner is rather surprised to see our corpses getting up just after 7am... 'You have had no sleep'- True, but we needed to get the 08:05 Kicevo! 
We all made it to the station in time, purchased tickets and a days supply of food and drinks... though nobody was sure how much beer we would actually manage in our zombie-like state! 
On the platform were our two coaches and it was nice to meet Julian/Gruntle who advised the train had arrived with 661 236 which had disappeared during the run-round. He was after 661 408, and we were able to give the bad news that it was in the shed at Veles.



661 236 pauses at Gostivar with the 08:05 Skopje- Kicevo
08:05 came and went, 441 755 left with the 08:20 Belgrade, 712 103 arrived from Bitola... and *eventually* 661 236 returned and backed onto the Kicevo. We left 43 minutes late- presumably the loco had gone for a drink- it must have worked yesterdays 16:50 Kicevo straight after arriving from Bitola. Anyway- it was a storming run trying (and failing) to make up lost time. I must thank Gruntle for the additional company and bus gen (and apologise for the state of the 5 corpses he had to share a compartment with). 





Journeys end our 'Kennedy' has reached Kicevo
The return run was slightly closer to time- and we were all a little more awake to enjoy it. The planned move was then to do the 14:30 Bitola... but there were two question marks over the train- would we make it? (the connection hadn't worked the day before), and would it be a loco? Well it did make- and it wasn't. We couldn't face another trip on the DMU- even though it was a different one- 712 106 so we stayed on the platform and debated what to do next. 
Gruntle went off to score Kocani with 642 403, but we stuck by our 661 guns and waited for the Prishtina. 




Nice light for 441 107 at Skopje
Racing 441 108 out of Skopje
















661 236 at Dorce Petrov on the 16:50 Skopje- Kicevo
The loco was our friend 'Nellie' 661 410 with full elephant horn to Dorce Petrov. There was a fantastic parallel departure with 441 105 on the 16:20 to Tabanovici- the drivers loved it! The gripper seemed most put out that we were on the Pristina train with tickets for Tetovo and advised us that we were on the wrong train and must change at Dorce Petrov... Well that was our move anyway... Either way- with our 'mistake' realised we bailed and waited for the 16:50 Prishtina. No surprise to see 661 236 again- which we took to Tetovo for the bus back to town. This move worked especially well with less than 5 minutes spent in Tetovo. It is easy to see why the busses are more popular than the train over here- the bus was clean, and there were frequent departures- however it didn't have opening windows or any GM Thrash- it also took almost as long as the train once city congestion was factored in!
A quieter night tonight- off to the old town for a bite to eat and then to retreat to the hostel- a shame we had burnt out the previous night as the streets of Skopje were clearly the place to be!
661 410 provides more than enough power for the one coach on the 16:20 Skopje - Prishtina

Sunday 5th October- 
441 755 shunts off the demic coach at Tabanovici
We had flagged the overnight to do the day train to Belgrade- a sensible move. After saying goodbye to Gruntle who left on the Kicevo with 661 236 (again!) we boarded the front of two coaches behind 441 755 for the 08:20 Belgrade. 
Arrival at Tabanovici for the border grip, loco swap and a bit of wheel tapping action. It turns out the tapper had earned his dues for the day identifying our coach as a demic! All off and into the one remaining coach for the trip across the border... we managed to keep a compartment to ourselves, but once in Serbia behind 441 040 it became apparent that load 1 was far from enough and the gripper invited a normal in to join us. 
The first part of the journey was tediously slow and we began to wonder if we would EVER make it to Belgrade! After one station the loco repeatedly lost power and made 'banging' sounds- but somehow we soldiered on. At Nis- thank heavens- two more coaches were added to the train- though it was still fairly wedged. Our compartment gained a new 'normal' and we realised there was an opportunity to stock up on pivo from the platform kiosk. We realised this of course *at* departure time- but the train was clearly in no hurry. A suspicious character from our group headed up to the driver to gesture at the beer kiosk with some left over dinar from a previous trip... Thumbs up and across the track to the pivo shack. Beers placed on the counter and the lady in the stall displays a number on the calculator... more beers out of the fridge... a new number on the calculator... more beers from the fridge- juggled all over the place and on to the floor to howls of laughter from the rest of the compartment and the normal! Eventually our character has spent all his dinar and clutching a thin bag full of beer ambles back across the track to our train narrowly avoiding a Serbian carrier bag disaster! The driver and Redcap look as if they want to be annoyed but nobody can contain their laughter. The train then leaves and we continue- fully stocked with beer. Our normal disappears and returns with a cool bag for the new cans! Cheers!!!
441 040 with its pans down and apparently a total failure- it got going again a little while later and made it to Belgrade!

441 017 attaches additional coaches to our train at Nis
We have reached the tunnel at a location described by the locals as 'Lipe' before the next key event of the journey. The loco has popped. We sit in the tunnel for some while before deciding to try rolling out under gravity. Fair play to the loco driver as this is admirably managed and there is a loop outside the tunnel where we can now fester and await developments. The loco tries to take power several times but each time a loud 'Bang' is all that is achieved. After 20 minutes or so a few normals get off the train- so I go out for a photo- the gripper doesn't look especially pleased. We communicate that the loco is dead. Back on the train our normal has pinched the remainder of our gin- her friend has finished it off and chucked the bottle out of the window!! Cheers then! We begin to wonder what might rescue us as a soviet EMU pulls up alongside- surely we're not going to be shoved onto this? Surely this isn't our rescue drag? No- on both accounts- it speeds off and leaves us alone once again. About 50 minutes after grinding to a halt 441 040 sticks its pan back up- and miraculously we are off! Something must have been isolated- but we were on the move. Dreams of a rescue Kennedy are left behind in the loop at Lipe. Our normal has clearly taken a liking to us and is now showing us her wedding photos, before scrolling through some photos of her trollied on a night out on her phone... eventually we come to her collection of semi-naked lady photos 'My son, my son!' she shouts... continuing to scroll through the pictures as she does...


We arrive into Belgrade only around 50 late- which all considered wasn't bad at all- and a brilliantly fun journey. Not a lot happening on a Sunday night but those of us man enough still manage an 04:30 return to the hotel.


Monday 6th October-
Belgrade has an extensive tram network. Most vehicles are
Tatra KT4's but BE 4/6's from Deuwag and some newer
CAF Urbos also appear

Not a lot rail-wise to report. Shunter 621 110 busy in the station area. We spent the morning exploring the Belgrade tram system, taking a trip out to Kosutnjak to oogle at the three JZ 761 locos which once powered Tito's blue train and now lie very demic in the yard. As a nice bonus 661 117 was spotted (and photographed thanks to a running across busy road move) on freight as a concluding Kennedy to the trip.
All too soon it was a taxi to the airport ready to 'Wizz' back to London Luton.







These German V200 derived locos once pulled Tito's
impressive Blue Train. Their career is now sadly long over.

All in all an excellent trip- even if we never did make it to Bitola!












412 103 works a local train near Topcider

Huge thanks to Rick, Rabbit, Ted and Fatz for the excellent company and entertainment all week. Until next time! 

Thanks as always to all who have provided gen, posted trip reports in these areas and answered my questions prior to this trip- all a huge help.







661 117 passes the depot housing the 'Blue Train' in Topcider with a freight