Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Day on the Murrbahn

RE 19958 to Stuttgart led by 143 845 arrives in Oppenweiler 
Today was the day to visit the modern day Murrbahn. The Murrbahn takes its name from the river Murr, whose valley the line follows for a large part on its way from Waiblingen to Schwaebisch Hall - Hessental where it meets the mainline from Heilbronn to Crailsheim. The line was electrified in 1996 and rebuilt in 2012. The Murrbahn is known as one of the last lines in the Stuttgart area where DB Regio still operates rebuilt Silberlinge ("silver coins") cars. The cars were repainted as part of the rebuild and lost their distinct outside appearance. I expected fairly standard, somewhat outdated, Deutsche Bahn fare, and I wasn't disappointed.

The plan was to take B14 through Backnang, drive straight to Gaildorf and work my way back to Backnang. Once I made it through Backnang, I stuck to my plan for about 3 kilometers, and then stopped at Oppenweiler station. That was a good move, since I almost immediately caught a Regional Express with a former DR loco class 143 leading. Class 143 was a relatively new locomotive 25 years ago, and quickly entered push-pull operations in the Stuttgart area and elsewhere. It is now slowly getting displaced by new equipment, so its days are pretty much numbered. 

Streckenpostenhaus in Sulzbach-Reichenbach
After a quick stop in Sulzbach, I took photos of the picturesque former line-side maintainer home in Reichenbach, and continued on to Murrhardt.

Bahnhof Murrhardt
The station building in Murrhardt, like most stations on the Murrbahn, was built in 1878 to a standard plan by Koeniglich Wuerttembergische Staats-Eisenbahnen (Royal Wuerttemberg State Railways).

As I was getting in position to take a photo of southbound RE 19914 to Stuttgart, there's a rumble behind me. I barely managed to snap a photo as 294 861 with a transfer run from Stuttgart Hafen trundles into track 1. This is one of the two local switching runs that still happen on the Murrbahn, so I changed my plan even more, followed 294 861 to Scholz Recycling in Fichtenberg, and hung out on the platform as it was doing its switching moves. I added more details about that in a separate blog post.

Fichtenberg is the only station on the Murrbahn that still has mechanical control and interlocking. The levers on the left move signals and turnouts. The grey box on the right has the actual interlocking. The lights in the green boxes are for train announcements from neighboring stations. I added more details in a separate post.

RE 19916 to Stuttgart led by 111 176 exits the Kappelesberg Tunnel between Gaildorf and Fichtenberg
Since I was way off plan already, I decided to take a small detour and see if I could get close to the south portal of the Kappelesberg Tunnel. The area is quite overgrown, but I was able to take a nice shot of a class 111 on its way to Stuttgart.

Bahnhof Gaildorf West
Shortly after 5pm I finally made it to Gaildorf West. This station is unique on the Murrbahn, since it was the connection to the Obere Kochertalbahn to Untergroeningen operated by a private railroad named Wuerttembergische Eisenbahngesellschaft (weg). There was quite a bit of freight traffic in Gaildorf West due to connecting traffic to the weg.

I took plenty of photos at Gaildorf West, trains, buildings, and facilities.

Bridge #38 detail
111 168 is on the tail end of RE 19951 to Schwaebisch-Hall Hessental
Derails in the yard tracks
These days the yard tracks are used mostly for loading wood.
The weg line to Untergroeningen is shut down for several years now, and the yard tracks in Gaildorf West have been rebuilt and reconfigured.

RE 19925 from Stuttgart has 9 more minutes to go to its final destination Schwaebisch Hall-Hessental 
On the north end of the station is a small railroad crossing. After a few more photos at Gaildorf West, I decided to finally get back on plan and drive back towards Backnang. I stopped a few more times along the way.

RE 19922 to Stuttgart led by 111 025 at the south entry signal in Fichtenberg
It was after 7pm when I arrived in Backnang and made my way up the hill to the station. The large freight shed is standing empty and unused. It's probably just a matter of time until it will disappear.

Bahnhof Backnang Freight Shed
The station building in Backnang is a boring single-story abomination that I refused to photograph. The original station building was torn down in 1974.

Traffic at Backnang station died down as commute hours are now over. I watched RE 19992 arrive from Schwaebisch Hall and pull into the waiting track, a freight leaving towards Schwaebisch Hall right after, as well as various S-Bahn trains arriving from / leaving for Stuttgart or heading towards the storage tracks to stay overnight for the morning rush hour.

As the sun set in the West, I took one of the last photos of the day and headed home for a late dinner.

Regional Express train set on the waiting track at Backnang.
This will become RE 19957 to Crailsheim leaving Backnang at 20:31.

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