16th September 2000

Mercia Charters
The Last Outpost

Locos Used SNCB : 2340, 5503, 6246, 7001, 7103 & 7506

Mercia Charters sixth Belgian railtour....an exploration of some of the Antwerpen Docks complex.

Route :
Z18458 : Leuven to Antwerpen Ost
Z18459 : Antwerpen Ost to Zuid Yard
Z18460 : Zuid Yard to Liefkenshoek
Z18461 : Liefkenshoek to Canada Yard
Z18462 : Canada Yard to Zuid Yard
Z18463 : Zuid Yard to Antwerpen Dam
Z18464 : Antwerpen Dam to Gent Sint Pieters
Z18465 : Gent Sint Pieters to Leuven

Loco(s) Route
6246 (1) Leuven - Aarschot
5503 (1) Aarschot - Heiset-op-den-Berg - Lier - Lint Jn - Kontich - Hove - (2) - Mortsel-Oude-God - Antwerpen Berchem - Antwerpen Oost
7001 (3) Antwerpen Oost - Antwerpen Berchem - Antwerpen Zuid - Zwijndrecht Wijksp. - Kallo - Bundel Zuid
7506 (4) Bundel Zuid - (approx) km post 11.5 (5)
7103 (6) (approx) km post 11.5 - Liefkenshoek
7001 (3) Liefkenshoek - Bundel Zuid (7)
7103 (6) Bundel Zuid - Kallo - Canada Yard (8)
7001 (3) Canada Yard - Kallo
7103 (6) (approx 1.5km south of Kallo Yard) (9)
7001 (3) (9) (approx 1.5km south of Kallo Yard) - Bundel Zuid (9)
7103 (6) Bundel Zuid - Zwijndrecht Wijksp. - Antwerpen Zuid - Antwerpen Berchem - Antwerpen Oost - Antwerpen Dam ATD (depot visit)
2340 Antwerpen Dam ATD - Antwerpen Oost - Antwerpen Berchem - Antwerpen Zuid - Beveren - Sint Nicklaas - Lokeren - Dendermonde - Schellebelle - Melle Jn - Merelbeke (10) - Gent Sint Pieters
2340 (11) Gent Sint Pieters - Melle Jn - Schellebelle - Dendermonde - Londerzeel - Mechelen - Muizen - Haacht - Leuven (12)

Notes :
(1) Booked for a 62/55 but the depot was not made aware of this! A 55 was sent out to meet us en-route. Once added the locos were not in multiple so only 5503 was working.
(2) Booked via Krijgsbaan & Zuid Groenenhoek Jn's to Antwerpen Berchem but took direct route for reason unknown.
(3) 7506 + 7103 on rear.
(4) with 7103 (not powering) and 7001 on rear.
(5) 7506 and 7103 swapped so we could "claim" 7103 for haulage!
(6) with 7506 (not powering and 7001 on rear.
(7) Booked to take direct route towards Kallo but, due to late running and lack of staff still on duty, it was decided to take us back to Zuid yard for a reversal. At this stage it was also the intention of the SNCB staff on board to abandon the run to Canada Yard but the Mercia Charters stewards ensured the track was covered.
(8) Booked to run to Zwijndrecht but stopped just inside Canada Yard, some way short of Zwijndrecht itself.
(9) Should have reversed at Kallo and headed straight back towards Antwerpen but the additional movements assumed to be for signalling requirements.
(10) Planned depot visit at Merelbeke abandoned - because of late running, pouring with rain and very limited access to the depot being allowed.
(11) Were due to swap to another electric loco here - a class 26 - but there weren't any available so 2340 ran round to take us home.
(12) Arrival back at Leuven was 92 minutes late. The day was somewhat spoilt by the almost continual heavy rain - not many braved the photostops or depot visit at Antwerpen Dam!

Sources : Gary Thornton (on the train throughout, but still got quite wet!) & Neil Aitken

Tour Review
(by Gary Thornton)

Saturday - tour 2. 1326 to Leuven where we met up with the Mercia stewards. Long faces though as Kinkempois depot had not sent any locos for the tour! 6246 was turned out to get us away as close to time as they could manage. That didn't go down so well as it is a common 62 on the Neerpelt passenger service so not required by many on the trip.

We got as far as Aarschot where we made an unscheduled stop - to add another loco. 5503 had been sent to intercept us. Slightly happier punters now.

Somewhere about here it started raining....

On the way to Antwerpen Oost we were sent "direct" rather than the advertised route (via Y. Krijgsbaan) so no doubt that upset one or two on board who would have scored some required track.

At Oost station we lost the 62/55 combo in favour of 7001 (south end of train) and 7103 + 7506 on the other end. We set off for Antwerpen south docks with 7001 powering - what a little beast it was too! We reached Zuid Yard where a wet photo-stop was taken (i.e. it was still raining).

7506 +7103 now took over and we headed for Liefenshoek. Only problem was that 7103 didn't seem to be working. After enquiring it became clear that the two locos were not "in multi" and there was not a driver for 7103. In other words, as things stood, we wouldn't actually be able to claim 7103 for haulage! This little situation was solved however at the next set of points - the locos were swapped round so 7103 was leading. OK, no more haulage from 7506 but who cares, it was "dud" now anyway.

As with other outings in Belgium, the traincrew seemed happy to let a couple of punters into the cab to enjoy the thrash from upfront. A quick negotiation with a couple of the Mercia stewards secured me a cabride for later in the day - in 7103. Being a centre-cab loco I was quite looking forward to this as you'd be able to see forward as well as back.

Returning from Liefenshoek we were running about an hour down. A vote was taken to eliminate the depot visit at Merelbeke later in the day - partly because it was raining (harder than ever) and also because it was to be a very "limited" visit, restricted to the walking route only. Is the British safety "disease" now making its way across the Channel I wonder....?

We should have taken the curve to head towards Zwijndrecht Industriezone but instead returned to Zuid Yard. Oh dear, a re-plan of the cabride would be required as this had reversed the train. I soon found out it was more serious than that - we'd missed the third side of the triangle (Y. Beverse Dijke to Y. Steenland) because many of the docks staff were knocking off duty. Our traincrew said we had to head back out of the docks or risk being stuck there when the signalling staff finished their duty!

Much negotiation by Mercias train organiser however convinced them to make the trip to Zwijndrecht Industriezone. Thanks Neil ! Myself and a friend then got a good soaking getting from the leading coach into the cab of 7103. Not a fast run down the branch but quite interesting watching the driving technique. Got even wetter when we got as far as we were going down the branch (Canada Yard) as we got back into the train - the rain was even worse!!

Bit of a farce then as we had to go all the way back to Zuid Yard before reversing and heading out of the docks complex - something about having to get permission from staff at Zuid Yard before we could leave the docks area. This meant we were still running about an hour late. 7103 made a lot of noise powering us back towards Antwerpen Oost, as did 7001 on the back. We passed through Oost station and down the incline into Antwerpen Dam depot.

Still raining? Erm.....

Not many braved the atrocious conditions to photograph the locos (including 2340 which was our new loco to get us to the Gent area). We were granted permission to visit the depot but again only a few "die hards" bothered to go. I had an umbrella with me but still got drenched. The spotters pad suffered too and I had a bit of reconstruction work to do when I got back on the train!

For those interested, I managed to get most of what was at the depot (I know I did miss a handful of locos though, including preserved 5910 in a shed I didn't look into);

2235, 2247
2311, 2319, 2333, 2348, 2358
2503, 2505, 2510, 2512, 2514, 2553, 2554, 2558
DMU's 4903 & 4905
5102, 5125, 5133, 5142, 5154, 5158, 5178, 5183
7379, 7390, 7391
7401, 7406, 7409, 7410
7503, 7504, 7505
7702, 7703, 7704, 7708, 7705, 7706, 7709, 7711, 7714, 7713, 7715, 7716, 7717, 7718, 7719, 7720, 7721, 7722, 7723
8256, 8257, 8259, 8261, 8262, 8263, 8265, 8266, 8270, 8272, 8273, 8274
8452, 8453, 8461, 8470
8503, 8511, 8515, 8524

I was pleased as 2503 & 2554 were the last two Class 25's I needed for sight. Also scored the majority of the shunters as they are rarely seen other than at the depot or in the docks. This was also the frst time I'd ever seen one of the new Class 77's - in about 15 minutes I almost cleared all those so far introduced!

The above list includes a great convoy of shunters appeared that from the north docks just as we were leaving, something like 9 or 10 locos long!

2340 took us to Gent Sint Pieters. It had almost stopped raining but I don't think anyone was so bothered about missing out the depot visit at Merelbeke. As soon as we got off the train...it started raining again. A last farce of the day - we were supposed to get another electric here (Class 26) but nothing seemed to have been arranged so we ended up having 2340 run-round the train and head us home to Leuven via Mechelen. Engineering works further delayed us and our eventual arrival back as 92 minutes late! That said it was still a decent day out. Our group headed back to Brussels (behind 1608) for a meal and a beer or three at the same cafe as we'd been in on Friday evening.

Shame about the rain! The days only "real" complaint was that the buffet did not have any decent food - only chocolate bars and waffles. This was not the fault of the buffet staff however as they had all the fillings ready but the local baker let them down and hadn't opened at the time when they had to leave...or miss the train altogether!

Gary Thornton.

Timings (Booked & Actual)

Train Loco Powering From To Km
Z18458 6246 Leuven Aarschot 15.90
Z18458 5503 Aarschot Antwerpen Oost 44.45
Z18459 7001 Antwerpen Oost Zuid Yard 19.45
Z18460 7506 Zuid Yard (approx) km post 11.5 5.85
Z18460 7103 (approx) km post 11.5 Liefkenshoek 5.15
Z18461 7001 Liefkenshoek Zuid Yard 10.60
Z18461 7103 Zuid Yard Canada Yard 7.10
Z18462 7001 Canada Yard Kallo 5.15
Z18462 7103 Kallo (south of Kallo Yard) 1.55
Z18462 7001 (south of Kallo Yard) Zuid Yard 3.50
Z18463 7103 (+ 7001) Zuid Yard Antwerpen Dam 22.45
Z18464 2340 Antwerpen Dam Gent Sint Pieters 84.35
Z18465 2340 Gent Sint Pieters Leuven 80.75

Mileages courtesy of Stuart Clarke. Distances in Antwerpen Docks are approximate as there were very few km posts. Best estimations used!

Location Booked Actual
Leuven 08.45d 08.59
Y. Holsbeek 08/49 09/03
Aarschot 08/58 09.13a ~ 09.21d
Y. Zuid Aarschot 08/59 09/23
Y. Nord Aarschot 09/01 09/24
Heist op den Berg 09/07 09/32
Y. Nazerath 09/14 09/40
Lier 09/16 09/43
Y. Lint 09/21 09/48
Y. Duffel 09/22 09/49
Kontich 09/24 09/49
Y. Liersesteenweg 09/28 10/01
Y. Krijgsbaan 09/29 DIV
Y. Zuid Groenenhoek 09/32 DIV
Antwerpen Berchem 09/33 10/12
Y. Oost Berchem 09/33 10/12
Antwerpen Oost 09.36a ~ 10.03d 10.15 ~ 10.45
Y. Oost Berchem 10/05 10/48
Y. West Berchem 10/07 10/49
Y. Antwerpen Zuid 10/09 10/59
Zwijndrecht Wijksp. 10/12 11/06
Y. Zwijndrecht Fort 10/13 11/09
Kallo 10.30a ~ 10.45d 11/17
Bundel Zuid 11.00a ~ 11.15d 11.27 ~ 11.39
Liefkenshoek 11.43a ~ 12.00d 12.32 ~ 12.36
train was diverted back to Bundel Zuid, not
traversing the 3rd side of the triangle
Kallo 12/20 13/30
Zwijndrecht (Canada Yard) 12.40a ~ 13.00d 13.45 ~ 13.47
Kallo 13.20a ~ 13.30d 14.02 ~ 14.06
train did a double reverse and went back to
Bundel Zuid before finally "escaping" the docks!
Y. Zwijndrecht Fort 13/47 14/40
Zwijndrecht Wijksp. 13/49 14/42
Y. Antwerpen Zuid 13/52 14/50
Y. West Berchem 13/54 14/55
Y. Oost Berchem 13/56 14/59
Antwerpen Oost 13/58 15/01
Y. Antwerpen Schijnp. 14/00 15/03
Y. Holland 14/02 15/05
Antwerpen Dam 14.06a ~ 14.36d 15.08 ~ 15.43
Y. Holland 14/40 15/49
Y. Antwerpen Schijnp. 14/42 15/51
Antwerpen Oost 14/44 15/52
Y. Oost Berchem 14/46 15/53
Antwerpen Berchem 14/47 15/53
Y. Antwerpen Zuid 14/50 15/57
Zwijndrecht Wijksp. 14/54 16/01
Y. Zwijndrecht Fort 14/56 16/02
Beveren 14/59 16/05
Sint Nicklaas 15/05 16/12
Lokeren 15/15 16.24a ~ 16.31d
Zele 15.21a ~ 15.35d 16.38 ~ 16.45
Dendermonde 15/42 16/53
Schoonarde 15/46 16/59
Schellebelle 15/50 17/04
Y. Melle 15/56 17/11
Merelbeke AT 16.01a 17/13
Gent Sint Pieters - 17.18a ~ 17.42d
Merelbeke AT 16.50d 17/47
Y. Melle 16/55 17/54
Schellebelle 17/01 18/00
Schoonaarde 17/05 18/05
Dendermonde 17/09 18/10
Londerzeel 17/16 18/37
Y. Heike 17/22 18/47
Mechelen 17/27 18.55a ~ 18.57d
Y. Hever 17/32 19/01
Haacht 17/36 19/06
Y. Dijlebrug 17/43 19/14
Leuven 17.46a 19.18

Back to "The Railtour Files"