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.