FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Trains around Trier

Posted in Germany, Trier by folkestonejack on May 1, 2018

Over the course of four days, between Saturday 28th April and Tuesday 1st May 2018, nine steam locomotives (along with historic electric and diesel locomotives) hauled more than 100 special services over a distance of 8,400 kilometres around Rheinland-Pfalz and into Luxembourg for ‘Dampfspektakel 2018’.

The event, organised by the federal state and its two regional railway operators, more than lived up to its billing as a spectacle. It was a joy to stand on the platforms at Trier Hauptbahnhof and see steam locomotives moving in all directions before getting anywhere near the more scenic stretches of line!

Pacific 01 202 (Henschel, 1937) hauls a mid-morning service from Trier to Saarbrücken through Taben on Monday 30th April 2018

An event of this scale, with all the challenges and liabilities involved, could only take place with the patronage of regional government. I am very thankful that they continue to offer such events to help draw in tourists and promote the wonderful sights in their region. It certainly succeeded on that front as far as I was concerned, introducing me to some lovely restaurants and remarkable sights during a stay in the area.

Unlike the two similar events I attended, in 2009 and 2014, I attempted to come up with a blend of spectacle and sightseeing that would keep my better half happy. The result was a terrific trip, taking in some well chosen photospots, but also impressive sights such as iron works at Völklingen, the roman remains of Trier and Stolzenfels Castle near Koblenz. A few early starts were planned but ditched following forecasts for some particularly wet mornings.

DB electric 103 113-7 hauls a special from Trier to Koblenz across the double-deck bridge at Bullay on Saturday 28th April 2018

I have a particular fondness for the class 103 electric locomotives that were a common sight on intercity trains as I was growing up, even if I only had one opportunity to see them for real in 1984. The elegance of a 103 once again hauling a rake of red and cream coaches, recalling the golden era of the Trans Europ Express, was something that I could not miss. Three of the opportunities that I picked out were designed to capture this sight at its best.

The first opportunity came from the riverside at Bullay, with DB electric 103 113-7 hauling a special across the Moselle using the double deck bridge at Bullay on the saturday morning. It couldn’t have been a better start – the sun gloriously illuminating the steep hillside vines of the Stein family behind the bridge as the train passed.

In the evening I returned to the same location, this time taking the zig zag path up the hillside to the top of the vines for a view down on the bridge. By this point the first rain had arrived, necessitating a little shelter amidst the trees as we waited. The arrival of the evening train from Koblenz was delayed by around half an hour, but luckily appeared before I had to abandon to catch catch my train back. Only later did I hear the sad news that the day’s schedule had been interrupted by a serious spectator injury at Trier.

DB electric 103 113-7 hauls a special from Koblenz to Trier across the double deck bridge at Bullay on the evening of Saturday 28th April 2018

Our next encounter with 103 113-7 came the next day. We took the train from Trier to Bullay, then switched to a much smaller shuttle for a six minute hop on the Traben-Trarbach branch line. A leisurely 45 minute walk along the cycle path from Reil, the first stop on the branch, brought us to a small stony beach with a terrific view of the 786 metre-long Pünderich Hangviadukt. It was the perfect spot for spectating and the sun even deigned to come out for the veteran electric – a vast improvement on the rain and gloom that had greeted us at the start of our walk.

As we left Pünderich behind we could see that all of the little beaches and vantage points had been filled by photographers, ready to snap the steam special due around midday. I took my chances with that at Bullay but the sun disappeared moments before the train crossed the bridge. Some you win, some you lose.

DB electric 103 113-7 hauls a special from Trier to Koblenz along the Pünderich Hangviadukt on Sunday 29th April 2018

On a handful of occasions during this event I simply enjoyed the spectacle, rather than photographing it, such as with the parallel morning run of trains to Saarbrücken and Nennig run parallel between Trier and Karthaus. At other times, the wisdom of standing on a bridge in a gale or in the pouring rain at a hilltop chapel, camera in hand, seemed suspect but the resulting pictures were usually sufficient reward. I might not have come away from this trip with a stackful of shots but I certainly had one or two that looked alright.

One night stays in Luxembourg City sandwiched our trip to Trier, giving us an opportunity to enjoy the sight of many regular service trains crossing the impressive Pulvermuhl and Pffafenthal viaducts. It seemed like a good way to start and finish the trip. Here’s hoping that this isn’t the last of the spectaculars and that we’ll be plotting another eclectic mix of sightseeing and railway photography in another few years.

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