11th January 2003
Along Different Lines
The Kortrijk Kingpin
|DMU Used||SNCB 4150|
|4150||Kortrijk - Oudenaarde - Zottegem - Geraardsbergen|
|4150||Geraardsbergen - Lessines - (via Line 87) - Ollignies|
|4150||Ollignies - Lessines (1)|
|4150||Lessines - Ath - Jurbise - Mons|
|4150||Mons - La Louviere Sud - Pieton - Bascoup|
|4150||Bascoup - Pieton - (2) - Charleroi Sud|
|4150||Charleroi Sud - Charleroi Ouest - Fleurus|
|4150||Fleurus - Auvelais - Floreffe - (via Line 288) to Port de Malonne|
|4150||Port de Malonne - (via Line 288) - Floreffe - Namur - Dinant - Bertrix|
|4150||Bertrix - Libramont - Marbehan - (double reversal to gain access to line 155) - Saint Lambert - Zoning de Gantaufet|
|4150||Zoning de Gantaufet - Saint Lambert|
|4150||Saint Lambert - Croix Rouge|
|4150||Croix Rouge - Marbehan - Libramont - Marloie - Ciney - Namur - Gembloux - Ottignies - Brussels Luxembourg - Y. Josaphat - Y. Laken - Jette - Denderleeuw - Zottegem - Oudenaarde - Kortrijk|
(1) Was planned to cover the Raccordement Gralex branch, but couldn't as the track was barred by a sleeper across it.
(2) Was booked to take the direct ("west") curve to Charleroi Ouest but did not for operational reasons.
Source : Stuart Smith (on the train throughout)
(by Stuart Smith)
Having only recently joined ADL I thought I would start off with a day trip, rather than a full week long tour that they are noted for.
Colin and I travelled over on the Friday via the 08.27 Eurostar to Lille, arriving 20 minutes late due to earlier problems at Beckenham Junction. With the tour starting early from Kortrijk and needing to do the line to De Panne, we opted to stay in Kortrijk, rather than Brussels as usual. An afternoon trip to De Panne, a tram ride up the coast to Oostende and a winning Class 27 loco back to Kortrijk took care of the Friday.
It was a very cold start to Saturday with temperatures barely above freezing. Arriving at the station, we found our tour waiting on platform 7. Class 41 DMU, number 4150 was being loaded with plenty of sandwiches, beers and Belgian Chocolates for the day ahead. Personally, I think the Class 41's are a comfortable unit to travel in, but, being modern and air-conditioned they lack opening windows to look and take photographs from.
We left on time, initially heading east across to Oudenaarde and Zottegem. We reversed at the latter, down through Geraardsbergen to Lessines. We stopped in the station briefly awaiting before heading along our first branch of the day. Progress was slow due to the need to stop the odd speeding car at the many level crossings, much to the surprise and amazement of the locals. The branch appeared to only serve two sleeper producing factories and we finally stopped just short of the entrance to the second. As with most Belgian tours photo stops are compulsory, and the majority of the 100 participants descended (it was a long way down to the ballast) on to the adjacent crossing to do the photos. With everyone back on board we returned to Lessines to attempt the Raccordement Gralex branch - a letter had arrived the previous week explaining of local difficulties in traversing this short branch. Unfortunately we were denied by a sleeper across the track and so had to settle for a short spur through the adjacent yard for another photo call.
A fairly uneventful journey then followed via Ath to Mons for another reversal. Several Class 73 and 91 shunters were noted in the yard and station area. After a quick crew change we headed east again via La Louviere-Sud to Pieton, but not before we hit a nasty section of track causing beer bottles, cameras and mobile phones to be thrown across the floor (it was thought that the driver had failed to slow for a speed restriction, thus causing the violent lurch). I spent most of the journey up to Bascoup wiping down myself and inside of mobile phone clean of beer following the incident. Our path to the very end of the branch was blocked by a discarded ballast wagon, leaving the BLS members no alternative but to walk the remaining part on foot. The rest of us took even more photos of 4150. This surely must now be the most photographed unit in Belgium.
We headed now for Charleroi and the much sought-after West curve onto line 140. However, due to operational reasons we had to reverse in the station and take the normal East curve. A master and Slave industrial unit was noted shunting in the nearby steel terminal. A quick reversal was made at Fleurus, before taking the newly laid line 147 down to Auvelais. At Floreffe we turned off the main line and dropped down onto line 288, running alongside the canal. This was another crawl, eventually stopping just 6 feet from the buffers. On the opposite side of the canal was a large bus depot, and much to the delight and annoyance of Colin he got lots of photos of un-identified TEC liveried buses. A pair of CFL 3000 locos, numbers 3005 and 3007 were also spotted on a freight heading East across on the main line. This branch appeared to be required by many on the train, and the 'BLS brigade' were crowding in the front vestibule to get those few extra inches of track. Back to Floreffe and yet another reversal, before continuing to Namur (this was an un-advertised stop to load 7 more crates of beer, the original supply being consumed completely by about 2 o'clock).
From Namur we turned south through Dinant and Bertrix. The amount of fallen snow was ever increasing as we continued through the Ardennes region. The route we had just traversed from Dinant through to Virton and the Luxembourg border has just been electrified and various freights were noted being hauled by Belgian and Luxembourg electric locos. The snow covered platforms at Bertrix provided the next photo stop before heading across to Libramont and then picking up line 162 for the run down to Marbehan. Access to the freight only line 155 is via a double reversal, again progress was slow due to the various level crossings on route. Firstly we visited the Zoning de Gantaufet branch (line 269), the final photo stop was deep in snow and several participants, myself included, stumbled into a deep snow pile in pursuit of that unusual angle to photograph from. We returned to the train with snow up to the knees.
Back on board, it was then announced that we would be doing the nearby line to Croix Rouge as a bonus, providing we didn't mind getting back later than planned. On arrival at the far end of this final branch a lineside/roadside temperature gauge was showing -5'c. As it was now dark, around 5.30pm, the photo stop was abandoned and the tour headed back North, through Marloie, Namur and Ottignies to Brussels Luxembourg. After setting down, we took the dive-under connection, avoiding Brussels Nord, to the Jette line. Finally, we headed through Ternat and Denderleeuw, rejoining our outward route at Zottegem and back to Kortrijk. Despite leaving Croix Rouge almost an hour late, our arrival in Kortrijk was just 25 minutes later than booked.
This was an excellent tour, despite being on a DMU, and I will certainly be booking on future tours with ADL.
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