Today, Deutsche Bahn’s locomotive fleet is largely dressed in red paint with very light gray lettering, while Intercity carriages and ICE train sets wear an inverse arrangement. (Admittedly, the light gray looks nearly white.)
During a visit to the Köln Hauptbahnhof (Cologne Main Station) in August 1998, I counted no less than eight different DB locomotive liveries. Passenger carriages were equally colorful.
I made this slide at the west side of the Hauptbahnhof of an inbound regional express. One of the common class 110 electrics leads this train. Back then, this was the normal arrangement. By contrast, recent trips to Germany’s Rhein has found that regional express and local trains tend to be operated by local operators using modern electric multiple units/railcars. So much for traditional locomotive hauled stopping passenger trains.
Scenes like this one are now largely in the realm of slide collections.
NS keeps trains flowing one after another, and doesn’t seem to have any qualms about running freight tightly between passenger trains. I found that about every half hour a freight would be slotted in.
This was one of the last exposures I made before sundown. A former Netherlandse Spoorwagen electric leads a southward Deutsche Bahn freight. While I’d seen several of these classic electrics on the move, this was the only one I caught in nice light hauling freight.
Views from the East Side of the Rhein—September 2013.
For me the Right Bank (east side) of the Rhein has always been more challenging and more intriguing. This side has more freight, but the vistas are more difficult to access. Certainly getting the viewpoints that I envision take a little more work.
On this trip, with the help of maps and some advice from local photographers, I found several satisfactory spots to work from.
Where the Left Bank (west side) remains dominated by passenger traffic (with the occasional freight slotted in), the Right Bank is primarily a freight route, with the requisite hourly (half-hourly at peak times) stopping passenger train.
Since my last visit to the Right Bank in 2010, the passenger service has been upgraded with modern Stadler three and four piece Flirt-model railcars. The tide of freight ebbs and flows, but its not difficult to get four or five freights at one location in a relatively short span of time.
It seems that no sooner than one train has clattered out of sight when the next is on its way. If action on the east side ebbs too much, there are plenty of boats and barges on the Rhein as well as trains on the left side. Regardless of what happens, I find it easy to expose lots of images.
Oberwesel is south of Boppard and also on an elbow-bend in the river. It’s spectacularly set along the river and against steeply rising hills while featuring castles and a medieval city wall.
The old city wall is set up as a tourist attraction and can be easily used as a platform for photography. Not only does this provide great views of the line on the Left Bank, but gives superb angles of the dual tunnels on the line serving the Right Bank.
I visited Oberwesel in April 2010, but the light was a bit dull, so I’ve been aching for another try at it on a clear day.
While there are some good angles in the morning, I found the best light angles were obtained after about 2 pm. September is a great time to photograph because the light is good throughout the day and it’s past the peak tourist season. Jostling elbows with the masses while trying to focus on a IC train might be challenging.
The parade of trains is unceasing. If one side of the river starts to lag, the other will seem to make up the difference. It was only during the lunch that traffic seemed to lull. Certainly the passenger trains kept coming, but the freights must of all paused for a snack.
Not far from the south edge of city wall in Oberwesel, we found a suitable restaurant with outdoor seating, a choice of beer, and a view of the tracks
A few hours at Oberwesel gave me more great images than I knew what to do with. I could make this a multi-installment post. Will you still be there for Oberwesel Left Bank Northward Views Part 12? Hmm?
German coal railway? 60 million tones annually? An article in May 2013 Today’s Railways Europe peaked my curiosity. Taking advantage of cheap fares on Ryan Air from Dublin to Maastricht, then into a Hertz rental car for the drive over the border brought an Irish friend and me trackside by early afternoon.
While I’ve long been aware of a heavy coal railway near Köln, despite regular trips to Germany over the last 20 years, until last week I’d never bothered to investigate it.
RWE Power (formerly Rheinbraun) operates an unusual railway. This is a largely electrified network which on its main stems primarily carries lignite coal from enormous open pits to nearby power stations. It is built to a very heavy standard and tracks are separated wider than normal to allow for larger than normal loading gauge.
Complicating matters, we’d forgotten to bring the Today’s Railways article with us. But we managed to find the tracks anyway. Our first glimpse of the RWE Power mainline was of the old Hambachbahn double track line serving the Tagebau Hambach coalfield. This line is soon to be removed to allow expansion of the coalfield.
Finding nothing moving on this section we decided to relocate and accidentally stumbled upon the ‘new’ Hambachbahn double track line located a couple of miles south of the old line, and parallel to Deutsche Bahn’s east-west Aachen and Köln main line at the village of Buir.
RWE Power is presently undertaking a massive relocation of railway, A4 autobahn, and town to develop the coal beneath. The newly built railway is extremely impressive and could easily be mistaken for a high-speed line.
At Buir, we met a local railway photographer named Björn who gave us lots of advice and assisted our further photography. As it turned out, the new line was only being used for loaded trains (which passed about every 20 minutes), while the old line was handling empties.
We spent a full 24 hours studying the railway and its operations. More to come!