8th March 2003

The Unnatural Selection

Locos Used 2623, 5217, 6077, 6218, 7005, 7332 & 8524
Stock Used 21030+21026+9001+21008+21023

Route :

Loco(s) Route
2623 Gent Sint Pieters - Y Welle - Y S. Katherina Lombeke - Y Curegem - Y Brussel Ouest - Y Pannenhuis - Y Laeken - Y Zennebrug - Y Josaphat - Brussel Schuman - Brussel Luxemburg - Etterbeek - Y Boondaal - Y Linkebeek Halle - Linkebeek - Brain l'Alleud - Nivelles - Luttre - Monceau Formation
6218 (1) Monceau Formation - Centrale D'Amercoeur (end of Northern arm of line 260A)
7332 (2) Centrale D'Amercoeur - Pac De Dampremy (end of Southern arm of line 260A)
6218 (1) Pac De Dampremy - Faisceau Docherie (junction of two arms of line 260A)
7332 (2) Faisceau Docherie - Monceau Formation
6218 (1) Monceau Formation - (via line 260) - Chareloi Ouest - Fleurus
7332 (2) Fleurus - Auvelais - Jemeppe sur Sambre  - Moustier - Floreffe - junction for line 288
6218 (1) set back to near Floreffe station (3)
7332 (2) near Floreffe station - Extremity L288, Port de Malonne
6218 (1) Extremity L288, Port de Malonne - Floreffe
7332 (2) Floreffe - Ronet (staff platform) (4)
5217 Ronet (staff platform) - Floreffe - Moustier - Jemeppe sur Sambre - Châtelet - Charleroi Sud - Pieton - La Louvière Sud - Mons - St Ghislain (alongside PFT museum) (5)
5217 (5) St Ghislain (alongside by PFT museum) - St Ghislain yard (by station)
8524 (5) (6) St Ghislain yard (by station) - St Ghislain (station side of bridge by PFT museum)
7005 (7) St Ghislain (station side of bridge by PFT museum building) - ??? (end of line) (8)
8524 (6) ??? (end of line) - St Ghislain yard (by station)
6077 St Ghislain - Blaton - Antoing - Tournai - Froyennes - Mouscron - Kortrijk - Waregem - De Pinte - Gent Sint Pieters

Notes :
(1) 7332 on rear.
(2) 6218 on rear.
(3) Set back to collect pilotman!
(4) Had been requested to go into Ronet yard ("Formation") but not done on the day. Passengers were escorted from the staff platform to the scraplines at the south side of the yard for a walk round.
(5) Majority of passengers detrained for look around PFT museum but some remained on and got the run to the yard where the locos were changed and back.
(6) 7005 on rear.
(7) 8524 on rear.
(8) Travelled from St Ghislain to the current end of the former branch to Warquignies. Distance from St Ghislain was approx 2km. Confirmation of the name of the current end of line is required.

This comment from Matt Reeves regarding the locos and track at St Ghislain : PFT were asked to use 2 of their shunters on the train if possible as a surprise bonus to those on the train. Mercia Charters didn't know the identities of which engines would be used until the day and we were told that it would be a simple shunt move to "the stub of a closed line" and back. With nothing showing on any maps of the area we assumed it was just a short spur from the yard - not quite what we ended up with!

Tour Review
(by Ian Monkton)

The assembled masses on platform 8 of Gent St. Pieters welcomed the arrival of the familiar green stock behind 2623, to which even the most dedicated Belgian bashers seemed to give their approval (Spare a thought for one of the passengers who'd only had one 26 for haulage...actually he'd had it twice....yes, 2623! Webmaster). After running round, there was the opportunity for photos, although it was not yet fully light. We set off along line 50a at a sedate pace slowly losing time.

Turning off at Y Brussels Klein Eiland, another spur was covered to Y Kuregem, then we were off along line 28 again, but in the opposite direction to the previous day. We turned east at the end under the north-bound lines out of Brussels for a brief stop at Bruxelles Luxembourg to pick up a few more passengers (plus breakfast for the stewards as we'd left our Brussels hotel at about 6am to get the stock prepared for the day - Webmaster). Next it was to Etterbeek and round the spur to line 26 at Boondaal. A pathing stop at Y Linkebeek Halle meant we were more-or-less on time when joining line 124 before stopping briefly at Braine l’Alleud to wait for a path through a single line section caused by engineering works.

At Monceau Formation we were expecting a photo stop but we were not allowed off the train because the local staff did not want people wandering over the tracks. However, we did swap the 26 for 6218 on the front and 7332 on the back and set off for Faise Docherie, over a canal and a single-track branch and into the reversing loop. Again we were expecting a photo stop and return to Monceau, but were told that if we stayed on board we would go down the branch that we crossed over to the end for a photo stop alongside the canal. This was something agreed locally on the day, and gained approval from all on board.

We returned to Monceau to reverse and travel over the line through the Charleroi steel works area, noting several industrial shunters en route, joining line 140 at Charleroi Ouest and running wrong line to Fleurus. Again there was time for photos here before reversing and heading off down the recently-renovated and electrified branch to Auvelais.

Rejoining the main line here, and passing through another engineering single-line working section, we passed through Floreffe, on to line 288, before coming to an abrupt stop – it appears we had forgotten to pick up the pilotman at Floreffe! We returned to Floreffe then set off cautiously down the line to Port de Malonne. The branch-line crowd were probably upset that we stopped a few centimetres short of the buffers! The photo stop here included a ‘seminar’ on 7332.

We returned to Floreffe, reversed and continued to Ronet Formation where we stopped in the staff halt, alongside a train containing 3 British china-clay Silver Bullets, probably on their way to Switzerland. We were informed that if we wanted to visit the scrap-yard here, we would have to de-train and be escorted across the tracks and around the scrap-yard as a group. Most people took advantage of this offer, and were greeted by the sight of several dozen withdrawn locos and coaches in various stages of decay, positioned almost as if for an open day photo session! Also noted here was 55011, no, not a Deltic, but the steam loco which was previously plinthed at Namur.

Back on the train, 5217 was now in charge for an uneventful run through Charleroi and Mons to St. Ghislain where we stopped outside the PFT shed. We had plenty of time to look around their collection of locos and units while the next surprise of the day was being prepared. Our train went down to the yard alongside the station and returned top ‘n’ tailed by 270005 and 8524. The driver motioned to us to climb aboard, which we did without much hesitation, and set off down the remains of an old branch to a point which someone’s ordnance survey map identified as Petite Bruxelles, on the outskirts of Boussu, approximately 1.5km from St. Ghislain, although from the pile of redundant distance posts here, you could have had any distance you wanted! More photos were taken here.

We returned to St. Ghislain yard for a swap to 6077, one of PFT’s preserved diesels. Our run back to Gent promised to be interesting as our train was limited to 80km/hr by the buffet and our timings were for 100km/hr. Let’s just say that we were 29 minutes late away from St. Ghislain, and 29 minutes late into Gent St. Pieters, but no-one seemed to mind about this!

Our arrival at Gent was at the same platform as we had departed in the morning and facing the same direction.

The vast majority of the participants seemed well satisfied by the day’s events, particularly by the unscheduled ‘extras’. Personally, I scored all locos for haulage except 6077, and some useful pieces of track, and I’m sure most people would join me in giving a big vote of thanks to the Mercia team for an excellent tour, and to the PFT crew for their well-stocked buffet.

 Ian Monkton

Route, Distances and Timing's (Booked & Actual)
(by Gary Thornton)

Train Reporting Codes :
Z18099 :
Gent Sint Pieters - Monceau Form.
Z18100 :
Monceau Form. - Monceau Form.
Z18101 :
Monceau Form. - Fleurus
Z18102 : Fleurus - Ronet Form.
Z18103 : Ronet Form. - St. Ghislain
Z18104 : St. Ghislain - Gent Sint Pieters

KM Location Booked Actual
0.00 Gent Sint Pieters 07.30d 07.35
9.60 Y Meulewijk 07/36 07/44
28.70 Y Welle 07/47 ??/??
34.80 Y S. Katharina Lombeke 07/52 07/58
50.40 Y Bruxelles Klein Eiland 07/59 08/14
51.45 Y Cureghem 08/01 08/17
53.35 Bruxelles Ouest 08/05 08/19
57.05 Y Pannenhuis 08/11 08/22
57.95 Y Laeken 08*13a ~ 08*15d 08/23
58.45 Y Zennebrug 08/16 08/25
59.25 Y Josaphat 08*18a ~ 08*20d 08/26
62.55 Bruxelles Schuman 08/23 08/29
63.65 Bruxelles Luxembourg 08.25a ~ 08.29d 08.31 ~ 08.32
65.85 Etterbeek 08/32 08/35
67.25 Y Boondaal 08/34 08/36
72.75 Y Linkebeek Halle 08/42 08.42 ~ 08.54
74.10 Y Linkebeek 08*44a ~ 08*45d 08/55
77.90 St Genesius Rode 08/57 08/57
85.45 Braine l'Alleud 09/02 09/03
95.80 Nivelles 09/14 09/19
107.50 Luttre 09/23 09/28
Monceau Formation 09L25a ~ 09L50d 09.38 ~ 09.51
Centrale D'Amercoeur 10.00a ~ 10.10d 10.00 ~ 10.06
??? Pac De Dampremy - 10.15a ~ 10.23d
??? Faisceau Docherie (jn of lines 260A & 260B) - 10.29 ~ 10.32
Monceau Formation 10.20a ~ 10.30d 10.38 ~ 10.40
??? Block 4 10*42a ~ 10*54d 10.48 ~ 10.51
6.00 Chareloi Ouest 11/04 10/52
9.20 Lodelinsart 11/08 10/58
Fleurus 11.17a ~ 11.27d 11.07 ~ 11.27
8.80 Auvelais 11/37 11/38
19.50 Floreffe 11*47a ~ 11*48d 11/55
Extremity L288, Port de Malonne 12.08a ~ 12.18d 12.22 ~ 12.35
Floreffe 12.38a ~ 12.48d 12.47 ~ 12.50
Ronet (staff platform) 12L54a ~ 13L59d 12.59 ~ 14.12
5.50 Floreffe 14/03 14/18
7.80 Franière 14/05 14/19
11.20 Moustier 14/07 14/23
13.50 Jemeppe sur Sambre 14/10 14/27
18.60 Tamines 14/14 14/30
26.70 Châtelet 14/20 14/35
33.50 Charleroi Sud 14/26 14/44
36.80 Marchienne au Pont 14/30 14/53
37.40 Y Martinet 14/31 ??/??
45.70 Piéton 14/36 15/01
52.90 Y Mariemont 14/41 15/06
54.40 La Louvière Sud 14/43 15/08
57.00 Y La Paix 14/45 15/10
74.20 Mons 14/58 15/24
St Ghislain 15L10a ~ 16L40d 15.37 ~ 17.07
14.00 Blaton 16/48 17/21
31.80 Antoing 16/58 17/33
38.50 Tournai 17/03 17.37a ~ 17.38d
41.80 Froyennes 17/06 ??/??
58.25 Mouscron 17/19 17/53
70.55 Kortrijk 17/29 18/01
84.55 Waregem 17/39 18/10
96.95 Dienze 17/47 18/17
105.15 De Pinte 17*52a ~ 17*54d 18/22
112.35 Gent Sint Pieters 18.01a 18.28

No attempt has been made to verify the distances given. The run from Faisc. Docherie to the end of line 260B and that with 7005 & 8524 were not given timings or distances in the tour brochure.

a : arrival time
d : departure time
/ : passing time
* : Pathing stop
A time in brackets is approximate.

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