30th April 2000

Mercia Charters
The Cloaked Vessel

Locos Used SNCB : 5156, 7608 & 7609
TUC : 5926, 5946 & 5947

Mercia Charters second Belgian railtour.

Loco(s) Route
5156 Leuven - Aarschot - Diest - Schulen - Hasselt - Hasselt West Jn - (1) - Bilzen - Tongeren - Glons Jn - Bassenge - Longchamp Jn - Vise - Bressoux - Garde Dieu Jn - Val Beniot Jn - Kinkempois ATD (depot visit)
7609 + 7608 (2) Kinkempois ATD - Seriang - Val-Saint-Lambert Jn - Flemalle Haute
5947 + 5926 (3) Flemalle Haute - Tilleur - Liege Guillemins - Herstal - Liers - Rocourt
7609 + 7608 (2) Rocourt - Liers - Herstal - Liege Guillemins - (4) - Yard
5946 + 5156 (3) Yard - Liege Guillemins - Waremme
5156 (3) Waremme - Landen - Leuven

Notes :
(1) Tour was booked to run via Boksbergheide Jn & Nieuw-Dak Jn to Bilzen but didn't on the day as the line was closed so the direct (route 34) line was traversed instead.
(2) 5947 & 5926 on rear.
(3) 7609 + 7608 on rear.
(4) Loco change (and direction change) booked at Liege Guillemins station but after a short stop we headed off to the sidings in the direction of Angleur where the loco change was made.

Source : Gary Thornton.
(on the train throughout)

Tour review
(by David Russell & timings by Gary Thornton)

Sunday April 30th was the occasion of Mercia Charters' second Belgian railtour, "The Cloaked Vessel", from Leuven to the Liege area featuring haulage behind a Class 51, a pair of 59's and a pair of 76's. Myself and Gary Thornton were stopping on Gent, so we travelled down to Leuven behind 1606 on IC411 (05.44 Oostende-Cologne), in readiness for the 08.40 booked departure.

Around 08.30, 5156, one of the two Antwerp based boiler fitted Class 51's, ran through the station to collect our stock. We had been told the previous evening by Denzil Morgan of Mercia that the loco would be coming off Antwerp, and that they only had two boilered locos there (5156 and 5168). In true railtour tradition, our departure time came and went - some things never change, even abroad! The train arrived about 15 minutes later, and once everyone was on board we departed at 08.59, 19 minutes late. The train comprised four first class passenger coaches plus a PFT buffet coach, and there was plenty of room to spread out on the train. We found seats near the back of the train, putting us in the right position for the Class 59's and also the 51 up the bank out of Liege in the afternoon.

Rather than travelling direct to Liege, our outward route took us a longer way round, and we departed north from Leuven and through Aarschot, Diest, Hasselt and Tongeren. We were still around 20 minutes late when, at Y. Glons, we took the freight line which runs through to Aachen in Germany. We continued along this track until we crossed over the Maastricht-Liege line, where we diverged left and went around a loop of 270 degrees to join the line we had just crossed. A stopping unit ahead of us delayed the tour for a few minutes, but we were soon on our way and arrived at Kinkempois depot just before 11.00.

At Kinkempois depot, we had the opportunity to alight from the train and wander round the depot and yard while a loco change took place. Somehow, I can't see EWS and Railtrack allowing this to happen in the UK - imagine a load of railtour passengers jumping off a tour and being able to wander round Toton! This was the first time I'd ever had the opportunity to look round and photograph locos on a Belgian depot, and made the tour even more enjoyable. There was a wide variety of motive power on the depot, including a CFL Class 16 (1603), and long withdrawn 6010, not forgetting several Class 55's and 59's. (here are some more general views of the locos at Kinkempois depot).

With the loco change completed, we departed at 11.34 for Flemalle Haute. Hauling our train now were 7608 + 7609, a pair of former NS Class 2200's, while at the rear were 5947+5926. We made a smoky exit from Kinkempois Yard with the 76's on the front, the first occasion I had ever traveled behind any of this class. We had a photo stop at Flemalle Haute station, where the tour reversed for the run to Rocourt behind the 59's. Again, the 59's were a new class for me, and it was good to find some Belgian locos which gave a decent thrash. The 59's had previously been described to me as sounding like a cross between a BR Class 20 and 25, and I have to agree with this. After passing through Liege Guillemins, we climed out towards Herstal and Liers. As we started heading down the freight branch to Rocourt, we could see another Class 50, No 5945, at Liers depot - it is apparently used as a train heating loco (or something like that!).

There were quite a few photographers along the route as we ran over the branch to Rocourt, as well as some horses which didn't seem to know what to make of a train full of people! We ran right into the disused station at Rocourt, where we had another photostop (something else which wouldn't be allowed in the UK!). It was then the turn of the 76's to take us back to Liege Guillemins where we expected to have a loco change. I say 'expected' as this wasn't quite what happened! Instead, the Class 59's were uncoupled from the rear and we were then hauled by the Class 76's into the carriage sidings. This move was totally unexpected, and it was quite surprising that everyone was actually on the train and not still stood in the buffet queue! (This wouldn't have mattered a great deal, as we stopped in the station again on our return.).

The return leg of our journey - direct from Liege to Leuven - was scheduled to be hauled by 5156 again, but we got a bonus in the form of 5946 which was coupled to 5156 for the steep climb out of Liege as far as Waremme where we had a photo stop. We passed several more Class 59s - Nos 5905/16/17/41 - at Voroux, where they were stabled for used on construction trains. At Waremme, 5946 was removed at 5156 continued along the main line to Leuevn, where we arrived just a few minutes late.

To sum up, this was an interesting day out, with a good mixture of interesting loco haulage, track, a depot visit and photo opportunities - combined, these provide all you need for a decent tour. The inclusion of an on train buffet was also welcome, as it is difficult to pack up food for the day when you are not at home. Having been involved in railtours in the UK, I know how much effort goes into the organising of them, and I'm sure an overseas one must be even more difficult! Mercia's next Belgian tour is at the end of May, and I am sure this will be as good - although due to me being unable to be off work, unfortunately I won't be on the train.

Route, Distances and Timing's (Booked & Actual)

Train Z18667 - 5156 : Leuven - Kinkempois AT
Train Z18668 - 7608 + 7609 : Kinkempois AT - Flemalle Haute
Train Z18669 - 5926 + 5947 : Flemalle Haute - Rocourt
Train Z18670 - 7608 + 7609 : Rocourt - Liege Guillemins
Train Z18671 - 5946 + 5156 : Liege Guillemins - Waremme
Train Z18672 - 5156 : Waremme - Leuven

KM Location Booked Actual
0.00 Leuven 08.40d 08.59
3.00 Y. Holsbeek 08/44 09/02
15.30 Aarschot 08/53 09/11
17.50 Y. Oost Aarschot 08/55 09/11
33.10 Diest 09/07 09/25
43.00 Schulen 09/15 09/32
51.50 Y. West Hasselt 09/21 09/38
53.80 Hasselt 09/24 09/41
69.50 Bilzen 09/36 09/59
80.00 Tongeren 09/46 10/06
85.00 Y. Glons 09/50 10/10
98.70 Y. Longchamp 10/07 10/20
101.00 Vise 10/10 10.26a
---.-- - --/-- 10.32d
???.?? Cheratte 10/16 ??/??
113.90 Bressoux 10/21 10/45
117.50 Y. Garde Dieu 10/25 10/50
118.00 Y. Val Beniot 10/26 10/53
118.90 Kinkempois 10/30 10.54a
---.-- - --/-- 10.57d
119.80 Kinkempois AT 10LP38a 10.59
0.00 - 11LP20d 11.34
0.90 Kinkempois (?) 11/28 ??/??
??.?? Y. Renory 11/32 11/38
6.10 Seriang 11/37 11/43
8.60 Y. Val-Saint-Lambert 11/41 11/45
9.60 Y. Borgnet 11/43 11/47
10.80 Flemalle Haute 11Pr45a 11.48
--.-- - 12Pr00d 12.00
1.80 Y. Leman 12/02 12/02
4.90 Tilleur 12/07 12/06
11.20 Liege Guillemins 12/12 12/12
17.90 Herstal 12/21 12/23
25.30 Liers 12/29 12.30a
--.-- - --/-- 12.33d
28.30 Rocourt 12Pr37a 12.49
0.00 - 12Pr52d 13.03
3.00 Liers 13/00 13/18
10.40 Herstal 13/09 13/25
17.10 Liege Guillemins 13LPr18a 13.36
--.-- - 13LPr38d 13.49
??.?? Liege (Sidings) --.-- 13r51a
0.00 - --.-- 14Lr06d
** 0.00 Liege Guillemins --.-- 14.11a
-.-- - --.-- 14.15d
** 6.90 Ans 13/44 14/23
** 10.20 Y. Voroux 13/48 14/27
** 19.50 Remicourt 13/58 14/33
** 24.80 Waremme 14LP03a 14.39
0.00 - 14LP30d 14.46
13.90 Landen 14/42 14/57
27.10 Tienen 14/52 15/06
45.30 Leuven 15.06 ??.??

Did Anyone note the time we arrived back at Leuven - I forgot to!

a : arrival time
d : departure time
L : loco change
P : photo-stop
r : reversal of direction
/ : passing time

All distances, in miles and chains (M & C), are taken from the timing sheet given out on the train. No attempt has been made to verify the mileages given. Mileages for short run to sidings at Liege and back to the station have not been determined (i.e. those marked ** require distance from sidings to station adding on).

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