FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Crocodiles in the wild (at Profen)

Posted in Germany, Profen by folkestonejack on May 4, 2014

The final day of our tour dawned brightly and our spirits rose as we reached Tagebau Profen in full sun, enjoying a splendid view over the open cast mine from a public viewing gallery. The open cast mine at Profen is operated by MIBRAG (Mitteldeutschen Braunkohle AG) and comprises the mine fields at Profen Süd, Schwerzau and Domsen. Together these produce 9-10 million tons of coal per year.

Our interest in the mine is, rather predictably, down to the company’s use of 15 unmodified class EL2 electric locomotives. The railway network here is much smaller (just 100km) and uses a traditional telephone block system (in contrast to the centralised operations centre of the kind that we saw at Schwarze Pumpe).

A crocodile in sunshine

A crocodile basking in sunshine

Although we did not have an official photo permit for the mine we were able to photograph trains on the system. To help us, the railway gave us the services of the shift mining engineer as a guide and he was able to stop the trains if we needed to photograph them a second time. I liked the sound of that!

We soon had need of this special power as our attempts to photograph a double headed train looked likely to be thwarted by clouds. It was somewhat strange to hear the instruction “Let the regular train come when the sun is out!”. I like to think that this is not the artificiality of a photo-charter, but rather a slightly altered reality!

The morning went incredibly well overall and we got shots from the best of the locations on offer – though I think the backdrop of the distinctive light blue power plant was my favourite.

Two crocodiles push a coal train into the yard at Wählitz power station

Two crocodiles push a coal train into the yard at Wählitz power station

We spent some time chasing locomotive 1255 and it’s driver became an unwitting film star as he filled the sand boxes on the locomotive at a stop just before midday. It couldn’t have been easy carrying out your everyday job with a bank of twenty photographers snapping away, but he managed admirably!

Our morning ended at the company’s site which includes a narrow gauge class EL3 locomotive and a spreader used to shift tracks.

Satisfied with a good morning’s work we headed to the Hotelgasthof Draschwitz for some rather tasty homely fare (the goulash with Thuringer klose and rot kohl comes highly recommended!). This seemed like a good way to celebrate the end of a short but highly enjoyable tour, with just the relatively short drive to Leipzig/Halle airport left ahead of us.


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