15th September 2000

Mercia Charters
The Learning Curve

Locos Used SNCB : 5168 & 5170

Mercia Charters fifth Belgian railtour....to go and view an ex-BR class 03 shunter!

Locos Route
5168 (1) Leuven - Sint Joris Weert - Ottignies - Louvain la Neuve Universite
5170 (2) Louvain la Neuve Universite - Ottignies - reversal point at km post 28.3
5168 (1) reversal point at km post 28.3 - Ottignies - Court-Saint-Etienne - Genappes (3)
5170 (2) Genappes - Court-Saint-Etienne - Ottignies - La Hulpe - Etterbeek - Josaphat Jn - Pannenhuis Jn - Brussels Ouest - Curegem Jn - Brussel Midi

Notes :
(1) 5170 on rear.
(2) 5168 on rear.
(3) 5168 parked up next to derelict 03081 - still in BR blue, numbered and with double-arrow symbols!

Source : Gary Thornton.
(on the train throughout)

Tour Review
(by Gary Thornton - taken from Page in "Bashing Reviews")

With all the problems in Britain (fuel shortages, road blockades etc) I was quite glad to be leaving for a week or so. A Thursday evening flight would get me to Brussels in readiness for the two Mercia Charters railtours then after them I'd be heading off to Eastern Europe on a business trip.

No hold-ups on the way to the airport I arrived in plenty of time for my British Midland flight from Birmingham to Brussels. An Embraer 145 (G-RXJF) was my home for the hours flight. A late departure meant I did not get to my hotel until about 10.30pm and there was no sign of my colleagues. They arrived about 11.15pm at which point we had a room farce as two of the "triple rooms" we'd been allocated turned out to have a double bed and a single. We're good friends....but not that close! An extra room (at no extra charge) was soon obtained as "compensation" for the error. By this time some of our group were ready for bed. Me? I was ready for a beer!

So, four of us that went out for a beer got back to the hotel about 1am....and the alarm was set for 5am to get some rush-hour moves in before the first railtour! No time to rest when we're on holiday....

No breakfast, first loco was a score (1326) which was taken to Leuven. EMU then to Aarschot to go for the four Class 25 electrics that are out on the morning P-trains. One turned out to be an EMU, otherwise we got 2507, 2512 and 2509. Can't say I was over happy getting three dud ones, especially considering the time I had to get up to cover them all! 2106 got us to Mechelen for an EMU to Leuven.

Our tour train was already in when we arrived - 5168 & 5170 sandwiching the two coaches. Some of our group were already aboard and had "reserved" a seating bay for us. We set off on time and trundled on our way to Ottignies then the short branch to Louvain la Neuve Universite, an unusual destination for a loco hauled train. After a few photos we headed back to Ottignies then reversed to head towards Charleroi. A short way down this line and we curved off onto the freight-only line to Genappe. This line is only used for part of the year to service the sugar factory.

A photo-stop with a difference at Genappe - 5168 was stopped next to the (now redundant) factory shunter - an ex-BR class 03!! 03081 (a sight score for me) was in a bad way but still made for an interesting photo posed next to an SNCB Class 51 diesel!

On leaving Genappe we headed for Brussels via Ottignies, Brussels Schuman and Brussels Ouest. We arrived about 40 minutes down but in plenty of time to bash the evening rush-hour trains. I ended up sampling 2730, 2304, 2240, 2213, 2248, 2136, 2134, 2371, 2511, 2236, 2715 & 1328. A little celebration when I scored 2248 - it was my 300th different SNCB loco haulage!

Back to the hotel and a meal in the cafe alongside. Got interesting when we had a thunderstorm - we sat outside (under cover) watching the passers-by getting soaked!

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

Train Loco Powering From To Km
Z18545 5168 Leuven Louvain la Neuve Universite 35.55
Z18546 5170 Louvain la Neuve Universite Ottignies (km post 28.3) 7.25
Z18546 5168 Ottignies (km post 28.3) Genappe 14.10
Z18547 5170 Genappe Brussels Midi 50.15

Mileages courtesy of Stuart Clarke.

Location Booked Actual
Leuven 10.00d 10.01
Sint Joris Weert 10/12 10/12
Warve 10/23 10/22
Ottignies 10/29 10.35a
- --/-- 10.38d
Louvain la Neuve Universite 10.37a 10.48
- 10.57d 10.58
Ottignies 11.04a 11.06
reversal point ~ km post 28.3    
Ottignies 11.12d 11.14
Court Saint Etienne 11/16 11/22
Genappe 11.52a 12.01
- 12.12d 12.13
Court Saint Etienne 12/48 13/00
Ottignies 12.52a 13.09
- 13.07d 13.34
La Hulpe 13/14 13/46
Groenendaal 13/18 asleep!
Etterbeek 13/24 asleep!
Bruxelles Luxembourg 13/27 14/04
Y. Josaphat 13/34 14/12
Y. Zennebrug 13/40 14/14
Y. Pannenhuis 13/43 14/16
Bruxelles Ouest 13/47 14/20
Y. Curegem 13/50 14/23
Bruxelles Midi 13.54a 14.36

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