24th April 2004

The Second Chances

Locos Used 5407, 5506 & 7368

Route :

Loco(s) Route
7368 (1) Gent Sint Pieters - Y West Ledeberg - Y Noord Ledeberg - Gent Dampoort - Gent Zeehaven Yard
5506 Gent Zeehaven Yard - Y Noord Ledeberg - Y Oost Ledeberg - Y Melle - Schellebelle - Aalst - Denderleeuw - Jette - Y Bockstael - Y Laeken - Schaerbeek AT
5407 (1) Schaerbeek AT - Y Zennebrug - Y Pannenhuis - Brussels West - Y Cureghem - Ruisbroek - Halle - Enghein - Ath
5506 (2) Ath - Ghislenghein
5407 (1) Ghislenghein - Ath - Lessines - Geraardsbergen - Denderleeuw - Aalst - Erpe-Mere - Burst - Zottegem - Oudenaarde - Ronse - approx 0.5km past station
5506 (2) approx 0.5km past station - Ronse - De Pinte - Gent Sint Pieters

Notes :
(1) 5506 on rear.
(2) 5407 on rear.

Tour Review 1

After a long drive over from Gloucester, the sight of required 5506 was very welcome, 7368 was another bonus in so far as I expect to score it but nothing is ever guaranteed.  7368 ran us round the corner to Zeehaven yard where we left it and proceeded with the 55 to Scharbeek via Schellebelle, Aalst and Jette.  At Scharbeek 5407 and 5316 were waiting and 5407 duly got attached and 5316 got failed as it was missing a brake cylinder - so we kept 5506.  Made no real difference to me as it was dud but not everyone was so lucky, eh Steve.  Thence via Brussels West, Halle and Silly to Ath with various people (Denzil, Clarke) clearing what's left of the SNCB 54s.  Reversed at Ath with 5506 leading to Ghislenghein with 1 photo stop on route, and the traditional sight of Richard Lea waving the driver up to within 6 inches of the buffer stops.  Soon followed by the traditional (in Belgium still) seminar.  Of course, when going from Ghislenghein to Ronse it makes perfect sense that we would go via the Aalst - Burst line (it does actually, if you don't want to reverse), so we headed north with the nohab and round to Burst via a couple of photo stops on the single line.  On down to Ronse then where the driver rang up and we went on into the undergrowth for about an extra ˝Km, then drew most of the train back into the station for more phots.  Following this we had the sound of 5506 thrashing up the hill out of Ronse, one final photo stop and then back to Gent were we all dispersed to various hotels.

Good day all in all, especially considering how long the Mercia boys had to put it together.

Duncan Jennings.

Tour Review 2

This started off as another of those tours that come into the category  “would like to do, but do I really want to use precious annual leave to cover it”. Enter Hubby again (see class 73 farewell tour) who pointed out that he was weekend off and would quite like to do the tour and that if I had two days leave, we could even have a couple of days nedding around beforehand. Sounded good to me, especially after some investigations showed that all the ex DB class 202’s working in the Dutch enclave of Terneuzen were required.

The booking was duly sent off, then the bombshell arrived. The tour could not go to Terneuzen due to “urgent bridge repairs at Wondelgem”, this barely a month before the tour. The thought did cross our minds to cancel, but we decided to stick with it and show our support – as long as some form of tour would run. Eventually an alternative was sorted with a freight branch included, we did not require this – but we did not need Terneuzen either. Motive power would now be a selection of SNCB locos (a class 73, TVM fitted 55 and two Nohabs) – hopefully some of these would be winners.

Saturday morning saw us strolling down the road at the incredibly late hour of 0830, the “last minute” arrangements had meant that we would only have about 8 ˝ hours on the tour – but at least there was one! We went to platform one as shown on the board, then traipsed over to eight when the platform was changed, bracing ourselves for a farce – but no, the train duly arrived with enough time to take some phots and more importantly it had two required loks in the shape of 7368 and 5506. Having only had one Gent 73 and one TVM fitted 55 previously I would have been most disappointed to get the same ones again.

A couple of minutes late, we set off for the short trip to Gent Zeehaven Yard and duly arrived in the middle of a batch of empty roads – just right for a photograph. Eventually we all got the go-ahead to get out, but just as I got to the class 73 a major flap blew up over whether we were meant to have been allowed off the train and we were promptly ushered back on board. Oh well, good job that I got a picture of it at St. Pieters then.

Next stop Schaarbeek via Line 50 with a bit of class 55 thrash to enjoy now that we were at the front of the train. Not too much though as we appeared to be subject to a speed restriction, investigation revealed that the PFT buffet car was marked up for 80kph although I am sure we have been faster with it in the formation before now. Once at the depot it was help yourself provided that nobody entered any of the sheds. This did 

not bother John and myself as there were more than enough locos for us to photograph outside but I am sure that the spotters would have liked to get the numbers of the shunters stored in the north end shed.

Whilst we were rushing around trying to commit everything to film (yes we are both still in the dinosaur age), rumours were percolating through that one of the Nohabs had failed. Fortunately, it was not required 5407 but 5316 (dud) which we had viewed a couple of days previously parked at the end of a row of withdrawn class 76’s. We had assumed that it too was withdrawn or stored and maybe that was the case, as the story was that the driver had found some parts missing from it when he went to prep the loco. This now meant that we were stuck with 5506 for the rest of the tour, there being a distinct lack of serviceable diesel engines on the shed. In any case, there was now insufficient time for the driver to prep another engine without making the tour late and if this happened we could cause us serious pathing problems later in the trip.

So we set off three minutes late with our third and final loco on this particular tour. There were two other TVM fitted 55’s to greet us at Ath as well as ex Gent steamer 6247 and 6316 (which most of the train appeared to require). Unfortunately the 62’s both belonged to the Infra sector, who never let them work anything else, and the 55’s were required back at Schaarbeek (yes the question was asked !).

We reversed at Ath for the freight line to the car terminal at Ghislenghien, this was dud track for me but is was nice to get it in the book hauled – the previous trip had been on a railcar.

Part way down, we stopped in the middle of some fields for a PFT style photostop, totally withering a photographer who was already there with camera poised as we ground to a halt and all bailed out right in front of him. The driver must have well used to British cranks as we ended up virtually touching the buffer stops at the end of the sidings alongside a compound of brand new cars before retracing our route to Ath. As we paused briefly in the station, it was noted that the pair of class 55’s had indeed gone, shame that we couldn’t have them as they would have ended up back at Schaarbeek anyway attached to our train ……. eventually.

Up front the Nohab was performing well and as per usual, John and myself had picked the wrong end of the train, however 5407 could be still be heard from the rear and was clagging quite nicely as well.

The photo stop in the station at Aalst was scrubbed in favour of a couple of impromptu stops on the line to Burst, this was not a problem as the line is single track and has no service at weekends. The second of these stops was just past an overbridge carrying the main line between Brussels and Gent. As we approached, a train passed over us – needless to say we waited in vain for another one to go by once we were all in position. A further quick stop was taken at Burst for a Pathfinder Railtours seminar with the station sign – at least that was one word that did not apply to today’s trip.

From here it was a quick thrash down the main line to Oudenaarde before turning off for Ronse, a place that I had not been to since the ‘plastic rot’ set in. En route it was noted that the line to the power station at Ruien had been severed, but the track was still in situ heading south from Ronse to Frasnes-Lez-Anvaing. After a brief pause at the station, the subsidiary signal cleared and we kept heading south, finally stopping at a limit of shunt board a few hundred metres from the station. On our return we stopped just past an overbridge where much amusement was caused by people scrambling up and down the bank in order to take phots of the train in the station from the bridge.

All that was required after that was a spin down the direct route back to Gent St Pieters, probably done by virtually everybody on board behind a class 62, but perhaps not with a class 55. Arrival was at an unusually sociable time with plenty of time for food / beer sampling. Despite my fears that the trip might be a disaster, I did enjoy it – three new locos and a bit of new track (even if only a few hundred yards) cannot be bad. It would have been better to have a longer day out but given all the problems that occurred beforehand we should be grateful for what we did achieve.

Janet Cottrell

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

Train Reporting Codes :
Z18172 : Gent Sint Pieters to Gent Zeehaven
Z18173 : Gent Zeehaven to Schaarbeek AT
Z18174 : Schaarbeek AT to Ghislenghein
Z18175 : Ghislenghein to Aalst
Z18176 : Aalst to Ronse
Z18177 : Ronse - Gent Sint Pieters

Location Booked Actual
Gent Sint Pieters 09.15d 09.18
Y West Ledeberg 09/19 09/23
Y Noord Ledeberg 09/21 09/24
Gent Dampoort 09/27 09/28
Gent Zeehaven 09.29a ~ 09.59d 09.58 ~ 10.00
Y Noord Ledeberg 10/07 ?
Y Oost Ledeberg 10/08 10/06
Y Melle 10/13 ?
Schellebelle 10.21a ~ 10.27d 10.19 ~ 10.28
Aalst 10/38 10/41
Denderleeuw 10/45 10/47
Jette 11/03 11/02
Y Bockstael 11/04 ?
Y Laeken/Laken 11/06 ?
Y Zennebrug/ Pont de la Senne 11/07 ?
Schaerbeek 11/10 11.10a ~ 11.13d
Schaerbeek AT 11.15a ~ 12.00d 11.18 ~ 12.03
Schaerbeek 12/09 ?
Y Zennebrug/ Pont de la Senne 12/12 ?
Y Laeken/Laken 12/13 ?
Y Pannenhuis 12/14 12/15
Bru. O/W 12/20 ?
Y Cureghem/ Kuregem 12/24 ?
Y Petit Ile/ Klein Eiland 12/25 ?
Ruisbroek 12/29 ?
Y Noord Halle 12/37 ?
Halle 12/39 12/33
Enghien 12/52 12.47a ~ 12.51d
Silly 13/00 13/04
Ath/ Aat 13.10a ~ 13.15d 13.12 ~ 13.17
Ghislenghien 13.35a ~ 13.46d 13.44 ~ 13.56
Ath / Aat 14.06a ~ 14.11d 14.17 ~ 14.19
Lessines 14/25 14/34
Geraardsbergen 14/32 14/40
Y Nederboelare 14/34 ?
Ninove 14/49 ?
Denderleeuw 15/00 15/06
Aalst 15.11a ~ 15.28d 15.14 # 15.18
Erpe-Mere 15.36a ~ 15.46d ?
Burst 15/53 15.52a ~ 15.54d
Zottegem 16/02 16.04a ~ 16.05d
Oudenaarde 16/19 16/21
Ronse / Renaix 16.32a ~ 16.50d 16.35 ~ 16.58
Oudenaarde 17/03 17/11
Zingem 17.13a ~ 17.23d 17.17 ~ 17.19
Gavere 17/26 ?
De Pinte 17/35 17/35
Gent St. Pieters 17.43a 17.43


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