Sunday, June 30, 2019


I had no idea that there is a flying equivalent to the well-known leafcutter ants: The leafcutter bee. Megachile is the largest genus of bees. They are typically solitary.

During breakfast today, we got to watch one build its nest in a pot on the breakfast table. Every 5-10 minutes it brought another neatly rolled up leaf piece, flew a round on the patio, and deposited the leaf in its nest.

Since the bee was so busy building its nest, it didn't disturb our breakfast activities at all and was good fun to watch.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Berlin - Neckargroeningen

Morning departure at Berlin Hbf. Obviously we had a great time in Berlin. A couple hours later we're approaching Erfurt at full-speed: 300 km/h

Group photo with our ICE 3 train set upon arrival in Nuremberg.

Oh, you prefer the train without the people? There ya go.

I like the look of this class 185 in blue "Bahnland Bayern" livery.

Intercity 2068 is ready to depart Nuremburg for Stuttgart Hbf. While these new train sets are nice, their failure rate seems to be still relatively high.

Despite an 8 minute late departure from Nuremberg due to "technical problems with the train", we arrived on-time in Stuttgart Hbf.

35 minutes later we disembark U12 in Neckargroeningen. Back home again.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten

Bhf Zoologischer Garten served as Berlins main station for long-distance trains from West-Germany while East and West Berlin were separated by the wall. The amount of traffic passing  over the Stadtbahn and through this station with its only 4 tracks was impressive and there were routinely reports in the press how this station was bursting at the seams.

Today Bahnhof Zoo is not quite as busy any more, since a lot of traffic as moved to the new and nearby Berlin Hbf station. However, one can still see a variety of modern regional and long-distance equipment here, e.g. this class 442 regional train.

To my surprise I didn't see an ICE here today as we waited for our train, but a DB Intercity led by a class 101 locomotive and a PKP Intercity led by a class EU44, which is the polish version of Siemens' ES64U4, came through the station.

Speaking of ES64, the area around Berlin hosts the two dozen ES64U2 rostered by DB as class 182, which is the same model as the famous Austrian "Taurus". These versatile and fast locomotives are wasted on regional trains  with bi-level cars like this RegionalExpress.

Our ride to Luebbenau today is a Stadler-built bi-level EMU of Ostdeutsche Eisenbahn GmbH (odeg). Yet another example how German regional rail traffic has been rapidly changing in the last few years as new operators enter the scene and are generally required to provide service with new modern equipment as part of their operations contract.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Anhalter Bahnhof

The Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin is legendary. Not much of it remains today, but it gives a glimpse of its former splendor.

The S-Bahn station has pictures of the station over time. Here's an inside view from the 1880's.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

At Night in Berlin

We had tickets for the Reichstagskuppel timed for 10pm, which allowed us to stay in the cupola until closing time. We ended up hanging out up there almost by ourselves. It made for a very nice and almost peaceful atmosphere.

Friedrichstrasse and Fernsehturm from Reichstagskuppel
Of course we tried to take photos of Brandenburger Tor at night, too ... just like everybody else. However, except on the first day of our visit the Tor was fenced off in preparation for an event the coming weekend. Nevertheless, I got a couple nice shots.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Neckargroeningen - Berlin

Our route starts at the Stadtbahn endpoint in Neckargroeningen.  I pick up some appropriate reading material at the excellent newsprint and book store in the main hall at Stuttgart Hbf. Sadly, the store will close in August because they lost their lease.

ICE 576 is already at the platform when we got there 25 minutes early, but the doors didn't open until 10 minutes before departure. That seems ... silly. Or, maybe they had a problem with the train and didn't want passengers to board until the problem was resolved. Even though the car with our reserved seats was close to the main platform, I walked the length of this 14-car ICE 4 train set to get a nice departure photo ... and they didn't close the coupler covers. Arrgh.

We left Stuttgart Hbf on time at 13:24. By the time we arrived in Frankfurt Hbf as scheduled at 14:52, conveniently enough the car with our reserved seats ended up at the head end of the train due to a change of direction at Frankfurt Airport station, dropping us off close to the main platform at Frankfurt Hbf.

ICE 1316 is made up of two ICE-T train sets. Of course, our reserved seats are in the front-half of the train, so we get to enjoy walking past all 12 cars of the rear train set.

ICE 1316 normally runs as "ICE sprinter" from Frankfurt Hbf to Berlin via Erfurt, Halle, and Berlin-Suedkreuz. However, due to track work in Erfurt this weekend, in Fulda the train was diverted onto the original North-South high-speed line towards Hannover. First stop in Kassel-Wilhelmshoehe. The next scheduled stop was Berlin-Spandau. Due to construction on the high-speed line north of Kassel we were diverted onto the old North-South main line. I got to enjoy views of Goettingen, Noerten-Hardenberg, and Northeim from the train, places I've seen a lot as a child when visiting relatives.

We continued on the main line towards Hannover and took the "Braunschweiger Kurve" north of Laatzen to turn East towards Misburg and Lehrte, passing through freight yard tracks at Lehrte Gbf (!) before entering the high-speed line Hannover - Berlin, taking us non-stop to Spandau. Time to lean back and start reading about history ...

On-time arrival, 19:20 at Berlin Hbf.

We took S-Bahn and U-Bahn to our final destination in Berlin-Moabit.

Thursday, June 20, 2019


Zurich - Stuttgart - Waiblingen

While I take this route fairly regularly, there is almost always something new. This time, a SBB Cargo class 421 will lead the InterCity until Singen, which makes for an interesting composition. The lightly rolling hills of the landscape south of Schaffhausen are not that impressive, but I really like the mid-summer green tones on display here.

The Rheinfall from the other perspective.

The electro-mechanical control tower in Singen was built in 1958, apparently using older equipment from elsewhere in the country, and sports typical architectural elements of the time.

Stuttgart, almost there.

Arrival at Stuttgart Hbf.

I forgo the S-Bahn ride suggested by the Bahn app and instead take the RegionalExpress to Waiblingen, which is operated by DB with one of the new Baden-Wuerttemberg owned EMUs.

I seem to manage to pick trains lately that drop me off on the Murrbahn side of Waiblingen.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Good Morning!

Start the day with a nice breakfast

Sunday, June 16, 2019

A Sunday with trains in Switzerland

This Sunday, Balazs joined me for a trip from Zurich to Kaeserbergbahn and Montreux. We used a SBB day pass and were riding the rails for more than 12 hours. I broke up the trip report into multiple posts and linked them below.

Zurich - Fribourg: The first leg takes us to Fribourg in the french-speaking part of Switzerland.
Kaeserbergbahn: We visit the Kaeserbergbahn, a very impressive model train layout.
Fribourg - Vevey: The next leg of our trip takes us to Vevey for a quick layover.
Vevey - Blonay: A short trip up the hills above Vevey.
Blonay - Chamby: A steam train excursion on a museum railway.
Chamby: Exploring a picturesque little station in the Montreux hills.
Chamby - Montreux: Heading downhill to Montreux.
Montreux - Chateau du Chillon: Hanging out on the lake and taking a steam paddle-wheel steam ship to a medieval castle.
Chateau du Chillon: Exploring said castle.
Veytaux - Zurich: The return trip to Zurich

Good night

Sunset at main control tower, Zurich HB

Veytaux - Lausanne - Zurich

Intercity to Lausanne
At Chateau du Chillon, we missed the boat back to Montreux by a few minutes, so we decided to take the train from Veytaux-Chillon instead, which is only a few minutes walk away, but ooops! the S-Bahn will get there in a few minutes.

Nevertheless, we made it quite comfortably for the 17:20 departure and enjoyed the views from the scenic main line along the lake shore to Lausanne.

Arrival in Lausanne at 17:55.

We take the InterCity via Neuchatel to Zurich, which promises to be not as crowded as the InterCity via Bern. It's operated with an ICN trainset. The station hall in Lausanne is very bright and airy.

It did get a little bit more busy than this, but not by much.

Lake Neuchatel.

Did I mention that I like train travel?

Arrival at Zurich HB shortly after 8pm. What a great day!