Friday, August 18, 2017

In vollen Zuegen

Friday morning, it's almost time for the Intercity to Stuttgart to arrive at Zurich HB. The Minibar is being delivered, too.

45 minutes later, I finally managed to take a nice picture of the Rheinfall in Schaffhausen with Schlössli Wörth, the actual falls, and the Rheinbrücke where the rail line to Winterthur crosses the river. I've come through here several times, but usually in the dark, or the weather was bad, or I forgot to pay attention.

When I got off the Intercity in Singen (Hohenthwiel), I quickly realized something odd was going on. The Intercity to Stuttgart ends in Horb, 67km before its destination.

As usual, the SBB Re4/4 II was cut off and a DB BR101 coupled to the trainl for the rest of the journey north.

The leaving Intercity revealed a wide variety of freight trains on the sidings in Singen. This is highly unusual, ... and then it hit me. The engineer of the RE to Stuttgart confirmed my suspicion: These are all rerouted freight trains that would normally travel down the rhine valley from Karlsruhe to Basel, which is now closed for several weeks because of a tunnel construction mishap near Rastatt that rendered a section of this very, very busy mainline unusable. DB is rerouting freight through France, as well as along the east side of the Black Forest over the Gaeubahn. Since this line is partially single track, the many freight trains are displacing various passenger trains throughout the day.

I'd guess between DB, SBB, and Hectorrail there where more than a dozen extra locomotives stationed in Singen to handle all the additional freight passing through here.

The RegionalExpress to Stuttgart ends in Herrenberg, so the passengers of the InterCity that left 15 minutes ago will detrain in Horb, get picked up by the RE, which gets everybody to Herrenberg. From there they will need to take the S-Bahn to Stuttgart.

7 minutes until departure of my InterRegio Express to Ulm.

It turned out this was a very popular train formed with two BR612 Diesel units. With all my luggage I was happy to sit in the stair well at the end of one train set. I learned later that these units use tilting technology to achieve higher speeds on the curvy Bodenseeguertelbahn.

From Radolfzell to Friedrichshafen I enjoyed the views of Lake Constance. 

After Friedrichshafen the train takes the Suedbahn to Ulm. One last view of the lake.

Now that we had this super-touristy region behind us, the crowds were gone, too, and I got at least a folding seat.

... which I upgraded to a real seat 20 minutes later. Gorgeous summer scenery was going by outside the windows.

In Ulm a rather dilapidated pair of BR218s pulled IC2012 from Oberstdorf to Stuttgart. An odd combination to see these old locomotives before shiny white InterCity cars.

The RegionalExpress to Crailsheim pulled in on time, was quiet, comfortable, and reasonably empty. The BR611 in the background will leave for Neustadt (Schwarzwald) in a little while.

I arrived in Sontheim a.d. Brenz on time, and managed to catch the departure shot with the nicely restored station building before the train got too far away.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Two Things

It is shortly after midnight in Zurich. Trams on most lines are still running on 15 minute headways. Functional and effective public transit is an asset to a city.

It rained over night, so we got a sunrise with interesting clouds this morning. I'm almost over my jetlag now.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Real Bread

I woke up shortly after 6am with the sunrise. The breakfast food selection was good, and I really liked the selection of real, non-squishy bread.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


I hung out in Terminal 2F at CDG dozing off a couple times. The plane is here, my luggage will join me, it would not have made the earlier flight either.

The TGV ads inside the terminal right at the gate are either genius, or madness. It's kind of cool to think about that you can be in Bordeaux in just over 2 hours now by rail, contrary to the almost 5 hours two years ago.
Ad for traveling with TGV trains right at the gate inside the airport terminal
Stepping off the Air France plane with "Au revoir" in Zurich, I'm greeted with a hearty "Grüezi" by the airport staff. I really enjoy the language changes when traveling internationally.

I took S2 from the airport through the new Weinbergtunnel to Zurich HB and on to Bahnhof Enge. No need to change trains at Hauptbahnhof and lug my baggage around.

When I got to the hotel I was pooped, tired, and hungry. I scratched the planned walk through the city. Due to the airport delays, there was no longer a need to try and stay awake until evening.

Dinner on the hotel terrace. Time for bed.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Lunch with a view. Next stop: Paris, CDG.

Flight AF83 was delayed by almost 2 hours because of malfunction in the baggage handling system at SFO. I already noticed during check-in that baggage was piling up behind the check-in counters. Even after all passengers had boarded, ground crew was still loading bags that trickled out from the terminal building. 

Arrived at Charles De Gaulle airport
We did make it do Charles De Gaulle airport eventually. An Air France employee collected all Zurich-bound passemgers at the arrival gate and guided us to terminal 2F. I expected that he would be able to speed up security or immigration for this group, which is why I stuck with the group. However, chatting with him while we traveled from the outer gates of terminal 2E to terminal 2F, it turned out that he has no such power. He was merely our guide through the maze at CDG. As we made our way through security and immigration, the departure gate was closed. Bummer.

Could I have made it, if I had gone ahead instead of sticking with the group? We touched down at 12:09, and arrived at the gate at 12:20 due to ground delays at CDG. My connecting flight was leaving at 12:55. Air France closes the gate 20 minutes before departure, so I'd have to be there at 12:35.  ... In 15 minutes from 2E to 2F and clear security and immigration is not feasible. Kudos to Air France for sending an employee to the gate nevertheless. I managed to get one of the last seats on the next flight to Zurich, so now I just have to kill 3 hours at the airport ...

Saturday, August 05, 2017

A brush with history

This was a very random and unexpected encounter with local history at Starbucks in Roseburg. The picture shows Roseburg around the turn of the 19th century with the Oregon and California Railroad tracks running through the middle of the city to the roundhouse.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On the coast between California and Washington

At Arch Rock, Oregon
I might have mentioned before that we love the US West Coast. This year, we decided to do a road trip that would take us from the SF Bay area all the way up to Vancouver Island. The first couple days we drove Highway 101 along the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts to Mukilteo. 

Meyers Creek Beach, Oregon
Battle Rock Park, Port Orford, Oregon
Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon
We stayed with friends in Mukilteo, WA. The view from their living room is breathtaking, covering not only Pudget Sound, Whidbey Island, and the ferries, but also the BNSF main line north to Vancouver with plenty of freight and passenger traffic, as well as the siding used for deliveries to the Boeing factory in Everett.

Mukilteo, Washington

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Good Night

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
at Tillamook Bay


They found me at Oregon Dunes!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Eurowest 2017

Shortly before 10am I arrived at Hiller Aviation Museum to meet with David and the Swiss Narrow Gauge folks. We finished setup and shortly after trains were running.

RhB 621 is ready to leave staging. Paul and David are in active discussion.
This time the setup was along the window front of the entrance hall with bright sun light. Probably one of the best places to take day light photos of the setup.

RhB 642 on the stone arches bridge under the Wright flyer
The setup is point to point. Locomotives need to run around their trains in the staging yard at each end. Occasionally it happens that one end of the layout gets overloaded.

Whoops. Ken's staging yard is full
The Chamby station module once again drew lots of excitement from visitors.

As in previous years I walked the dealer tables with new and second hand stuff. Contrary to most other years, I didn't really see much that jumped out at me, so my bag remained quite light when I left in the afternoon.
The Rungenwagen is SNCB which I only noticed at home, but that's fine for $10. The model is really nice and DB had very similar cars, so it fits right in.

I spent most of my time running trains on the narrow gauge modules, chatted with various people, met more ETE members, and really enjoyed myself. This continues to be a fun event.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Tdgs-z decaled

The two Tdgs cars have been sitting in a box for the last 2 months. While painting over the wrong decals was easy, I waited until the decals from arrived before finishing the renumber of the car, which I did tonight.

I could have made my life dramatically easier if I had painted only over the last 3 digits of the car number. Andreas Nothaft has a spiffy set of new car numbers that go with any classification numbers (the first 4 digits). I spliced 074 9 from two numbers and finished it off a third number. Yes, that's a waste. I won't make that mistake again.

The numbers are not perfectly straight. Close enough for the first try. I hope to get better with more practice.

Morning Routine

Waiting for the bus to work.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

To fence, or not to fence

I'd like to do something about the edge where the grass hits the backdrop. One option is to add fencing to draw the eye away from the edge. I have two different styles of fencing that I'd consider using here.

I'd build proper transitions between the horizontal sections, of course. To the right of this area is a bushy transition to the forest. To the left is the town of Emsingen. The grass area will get a couple apple trees at some point to suggest a "Streuobstwiese". Here's an overview shot of the current state.

Any opinions of my dear readers? Does one fence work better than the other? Are they basically the same? Any other ideas to hide the transition?