Tag Archives: Antwerp

I Visited SNCB’s Antwerp Central Station on this day in 2016.

 

It was on this day, 25 April 2016, almost, 20 years after my first visit to Antwerp Central, I made the opportunity to revisit this amazing European railway palace.

SNCB’s (Belgian National Railway) Antwerp Central had been completely transformed since my 1996 visit (while traveling from Brussels to Amsterdam with my dad).

It now features tracks on three levels, including a through line at the lowest level.

Steel and glass train shed at Antwerp Central Station on 25 April 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.

 

Lowest level of Antwerp Central.

 

A through Amsterdam to Brussels train arrives on the lowest of three levels. Photo adjusted in Lightroom to compensate for contrast and colour saturation.

In my railway travels across Belgium, I’ve photographed at Antwerp Central on a half dozen occasions over the years, and the station remains one of my favorite.

These photographs were exposed digitally with my Lumix LX7, which is an ideal tool for making urban images.

Antwerp is among the cities featured in my new Railway Guide to Europe published by Kalmbach Publishing.

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

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I exposed the cover photo in Germany’s Rhein Valley using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

 

 

 

Antwerp in the Rain; Trams and Bountiful opportunities for Eclectic City Scapes—16 new Photos.

It was a rainy Monday when I arrived in Antwerp. Working with my Lumix LX7, I spent several hours riding the Lijn trams and making photos.

Does the rain and gloom ad atmosphere to this eclectic Flemish port city? There’s a lot of history here.

Lijn has been buying new low-floor articulated Flexity-2 trams to replace its antique fleet of four-axle PCCs, so I was keen to catch the older cars at work while I still can.

(See related posts: Gent Revisited—Trams, Castles and Cobble StonesGent in Six PhotosTrams of Gent Part 2Trams in Basel, Switzerland; 21 April 2016).

A modern Flexity2 tram glides through the rain in Antwerp. Lumix LX7 photo.
A modern Flexity2 tram glides through the rain in Antwerp. Lumix LX7 photo.
Complicated track work makes for a more interesting urban image.
Complicated track work makes for a more interesting urban image. The PCC is almost incidental to the scene.
There are plenty of eclectic establishments in Antwerp where you can grab a bite to eat an enjoy a glass of beer while watching the tram cars grind along cobblestone streets.
There are plenty of eclectic establishments in Antwerp where you can grab a bite to eat an enjoy a glass of beer while watching the tram cars grind along cobblestone streets.
Antwerp enjoys a complex transport system with tram lines on many streets. However, expansion of the tram subway may soon reduce the number of surface services in some parts of the city center.
Antwerp enjoys a complex transport system with tram lines on many streets. However, expansion of the tram subway may soon reduce the number of surface services in some parts of the city center.

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Could a bus be as photogenic in such a setting?
Could a bus be as photogenic in such a setting?

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Among the advantages of photographing on a cold wet day is that there tend to be few people on the streets to get in your way. Not to be antisocial, but masses of urban humility can be a problem when composing tram photos.
Among the advantages of photographing on a cold wet day is that there tends to be few people on the streets to get in your way. Not to sound  antisocial, but masses of urban humility can be a hindrence  when composing tram photos.

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Near the main railway station there's a tram loop.
Near the main railway station there’s a tram loop used by route 11 cars.
This level crossing is a great place to catch the action.
This level crossing is a great place to catch the action.
I don't think everyone was quite as enthusiastic about tram tracks and cobblestones as I was.
I don’t think everyone was quite as enthusiastic about tram tracks and cobblestones as I was.

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Curbside running makes it easier to board the cars.
Curbside running makes it easier to board the cars.
Here's my car now!
Here’s my car now!

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White trams navigating narrow dark cobble-stone streets makes for some interesting contrast. So, would shafts of sun have improved these images?

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A Dozen New Photos: Antwerpen Centraal‑Part 2.

Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.

Among my recent book projects is an illustrated examination of railway station architecture to be published by Voyageur Press later this year. This is an excerpt of my text:

Today’s Antwerpen-Centraal is a blend of architect Louis de la Censerie’s elaborate and elegantly adorned station building and spacious balloon-style shed with two modern new levels. The lowest level provides through connections to the north. The original station opened in 1898, while the improved and expanded modern terminal reopened in 2007.

I revisited this railway wonder of the modern world at the end of March 2015. Yesterday I presented a few interpretive images, today I present an more literal collection of images.

Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Lumix LX7 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Lumix LX7 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Lumix LX7 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Lumix LX7 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Lumix LX7 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Lumix LX7 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Lumix LX7 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Lumix LX7 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Fuji X-T1 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Lumix LX7 photo.
Antwerp Central Station—Lumix LX7 photo.

Antwerpen_Centraal_station_325_DSCF4687

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Antwerpen Centraal—Reflections March 2015.

Both in the literal and the metaphorical: these photos depict my recent visit to one of Europe’s most elegant railway terminals.

Exposed in Antwerp, Belgium with a Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed in Antwerp, Belgium with a Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed in Antwerp, Belgium with a Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed in Antwerp, Belgium with a Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed in Antwerp, Belgium with a Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed in Antwerp, Belgium with a Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed in Antwerp, Belgium with a Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.
Exposed in Antwerp, Belgium with a Fuji Film X-T1 digital camera.

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Belgian Narrow Gauge PCC

On March 26, 2013, I had 47 minutes to change trains at Antwerpen Centraal (Antwerp Central Station).

I used my time to wander around and make photos, including this image of some old PCC trams working narrow gauge tracks near the station.

Antwerp. Exposed with my Lumix LX3
Antwerp. Exposed with my Lumix LX3

My previous visits to Antwerp were plagued by dull light, which too often afflicts coastal regions along the North Sea. This morning I was rewarded with low rich sun.

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Brian’s Belgian Rail Marathon, Liege and Beyond

Getting the most from My SNCB ‘Railpass’.

At Leige (Liège-Guillemins) I boarded an InterCity train for Brussels and glided along in comfort along perfectly maintained track. At Bruxelles-Nord/Brussel-Noord (French and Flemish names appear randomly applied to Brussels stations—so far as I can tell) I changed to another express, this one destined for Antwerp.

View from the train, Belgium.
Gazing east from a westward SNCB InterCity train bound for Brussels. Lumix LX3 photo.

I was aiming for Antwerpen Noorderdokken, a location I explored in March, where freight trains access the port of Antwerp. Another change of trains at Antwerp Central brought me to this station. As I walked toward my desired photo angle, I noticed a dark wall of clouds rolling in off the North Sea. (It had been clear and cloudless at Liege!)

Yet, I managed to photograph six freights before the sun vanished—mission accomplished. Boarding my eighth train of the day, I aimed to ride around Antwerp and then back toward Brussels.

By the end of the day, I’d visited eight locations and traveled on ten trains. Not too shabby for the first day of my August visit to Belgium.

Freight train.
A French freight diesel leads a container train from the Port of Antwerp near Antwerpen Noorderdokken. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Electric freight train, Belgium.
Belgian Class 13 electrics crawl along with an empty freight train near Antwerpen Noorderdokken. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Electric freight.
SNCB class 28 electrics lead a train of tanks from the Port of Antwerpen. Canon EOS 7D.
Train with dark clouds.
Dark clouds rolling off the North Sea signal the time to head back toward the station. Canon 7D photo.

 

SNCB passenger train.
Departing Antwerpen Noorderdokken on a local train, another SNCB passenger train was rolling along on an adjacent track. Lumix LX3 photo.
SNCB Class 27 electric at speed.
Many SNCB passenger trains work with locomotives at both ends. Here a class 27 electric works the back of a train accelerating toward Antwerp Central. I’m on a local that will run around Antwerp on a different route. Lumix LX3.

 

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Belgian Rail Freight— March 22, 2013

 

Making the most of a Belgian Rail-Freight Hotspot.

Mid-Morning on Friday March 22, 2013, I took a SNCB (Société National des Chemins de fer Belges—Belgian National Railways)  local train from Antwerpen Centraal to a suburban station at Antwerpen Noorderdokken. This is an important junction north of central Antwerp, where routes toward Amsterdam diverge from the principal freight line to Antwerp Port.

Belgian Railways.
An SNCB InterCity train led by a Class 18 Electric (built by Siemens) passes the station at Antwerpen Noorderdokken on March 22, 2013. While something less than a garden-spot, this busy junction is a great place to watch and photograph trains. Canon EOS 7D.
Railway junction near Antwerpen, Belgium.
SNCB diesels working light-engine pass Antwerpen Noorderdokken on the morning of March 22, 2013. In the foreground is the link to the new Antwerp-Amsterdam high-speed line. Lumix LX3.

I was following the recommendation of a friend who had previously explored this junction. As one of Europe’s busiest ports, Antwerp is a large source of rail freight, and this route is famous for both its volume and variety of traffic.

An SNCF Fret (French National Railways Freight) diesel leads a grain train toward Antwerp port. Canon EOS 7D.
An SNCF Fret (French National Railways Freight) diesel leads a grain train toward Antwerp port. Canon EOS 7D.

Crossrail_freight_Antwerpen_Noorderdokken_IMG_2604 2 Crossrail_freight_Antwerpen_Noorderdokken_IMG_2609 2 SNCB-banking_into_curve_Antwerpen_Noorderdokken_IMG_2730 1

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In addition to SNCB’s freights, open access arrangements allow for a variety of private rail operators and other national railways to serve customers. In a little more than 4 hours, I witnessed nearly 35 freight moves (including light engines) under partly sunny skies. In addition I also photographed a dozen or so passenger trains.

SNCB passenger train at speed.
An SNCB Class 18 electric with double-deck push-pull train races through Antwerpen Noorderdokken. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens set at 120mm, 1/60 second at f25.0. ISO 200. Hand-held pan with image-stabilizer disabled.

My preferred locations were in a field about a 15 minute walk from the Antwerpen Noorderdokken station. Here, the freight line makes a sweeping ‘S-bend’ that allows for a variety of angles favoring the light.

After 4 hours of intense photography, I was cold and hungry, so I retraced my steps and headed back toward Brussels. In addition to digital images exposed with my Canon EOS 7D and Lumix LX3, I also made a number of color slides with my Canon EOS-3.

CFL_freight_Antwerpen_Noorderdokken_IMG_2591
A pair of CFL (Luxembourg National Railways) electrics lead a train carrying structural steel.

Class66_w_containers_Antwerpen_Noorderdokken_IMG_2679 1 Class66_w_mineral_train_Antwerpen_Noorderdokken_IMG_2555 1 Container_train_Antwerpen_Noorderdokken_IMG_2563 2

 

SNCB Vossloh diesels work a mixed freight toward Antwerp port.
SNCB Vossloh diesels work a mixed freight toward Antwerp port.
SNCB local glides towards its station stop at Antwerpen Noorderdokken.
SNCB local glides towards its station stop at Antwerpen Noorderdokken.
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Railway Cathedral Antwerpen Centraal, March 22, 2013

 

Belgium’s jewel is among Europe’s most magnificent railway terminals.

Antwerpen Centraal, Belgium on March 22, 2013. Lumix LX-3.
Antwerpen Centraal, Belgium on March 22, 2013. Author Carroll Meeks (The Railroad Station, 1956), credits architect Louis de la Censerie with the station’s Art Nouveau style. Censerie’s ornate decoration and exceptional use of light makes Antwerpten Centraal one of Europe’s finest railway terminals. Photo exposed with a Panasonic Lumix LX-3.

 

On the morning of Friday March 22, 2013, I rode an SNCB (Société National des Chemins de fer Belges—Belgian National Railways) train from Brussels to Antwerpen Centraal (Antwerp Central Station). It was bright and sunny, a real contrast to my experience in Dublin on the previous day where it was cloudy, windy and raining.

I first visited Antwerpen Centraal in May 1996. Since that time this classic stub-end terminal has been transformed into a three-level railway intermodal center. Tracks on the lowest level permit through services without the need for trains to reverse direction as was previously required.

Looking straight up at the domed roof in Antwerpen Centraal, Belgium on March 22, 2013. Lumix LX-3.
Looking straight up at the domed roof in Antwerpen Centraal, Belgium on March 22, 2013. Lumix LX-3.

The station head-house is among the most opulent and best kept anywhere in Europe, while the steeply pitched balloon train shed makes for a wonderful venue to photograph trains, its glass windows acting as enormous soft-box.

On Friday March 22nd, I had about 45 minutes at Antwerpen Centraal between trains. I used my time to good advantage and exposed a variety of digital images with my Lumix LX-3, and some Fuji Provia 100F with my Canon EOS-3. The film will be processed at a later time.

New SNCB electric multple-unit at Antwerpen Centraal, Belgium on March 22, 2013. Lumix LX-3.
New SNCB electric multple-unit at Antwerpen Centraal, Belgium on March 22, 2013. Lumix LX-3.
Station at Antwerp, Belgium.
New SNCB electric multple-unit at Antwerpen Centraal, Belgium on March 22, 2013. Lumix LX-3.

The terminal is well-suited to the city center and connected to myriad destinations through an excellent public transport system operated by De Lijn. This includes a 1000mm gauge tram network that still hosts vintage President Conference Committee (PCC) streetcars.

PCC Streetcar near Antwerpen Centraal on March 22, 2013.
PCC Streetcar near Antwerpen Centraal on March 22, 2013.

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My layover at Antwerpen Centraal was a sideshow to my main effort: I was on my way to a location near Antwerp port where I was aiming to photograph freight trains. Keep your eye on this space for those images!

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