24th May 2003

Return of the GBDT
(Grand Belgian Depot Tours)

Loco Used SNCB 5166

(ADL tour ref ADL03S2)

Loco Route
5166 Antwerpen Berchem (Platform 1) - Line 27 (slow lines) - Line 27B - Muizen - Eppegem - Vilvoorde - Line 26B - Schaerbeek WDT
5166 Schaerbeek WDT - Line 26 - Line 26/1 - Zaventem - Leuven - Landen - Voroux - Line 36A - Kinkempois ATD
5166 Kinkempois ATD - Liege Guillemins - Liers - Tongeren - Hasselt WDT
5166 Hasselt WDT - Diest - Heist op-den-Berg - Lier - Line 15 - Antwerpen Berchem - Line 12 (fast lines) - Antwerpen Dam - Line 27A - Antwerpen Noord
5166 Antwerpen Noord - (internal loop via Line 27C) - Line 27A - Antwerpen Dam - Antwerpen Berchem (Platform 2)

Source : Stuart Smith

Tour Review
(by Stuart Smith)

Here are some photos taken on the day by Stuart Smith.

The Saturday started very grey, but this failed to stop Colin taking an early morning walk to the bus/tram stops for photographic purposes. (At this point it should be noted that he had already broken the hotel window in search of that 'elusive angle' to get the trams using the turning loop outside the hotel). We arrived at Berchem station to find the usual crowd waiting for the stock arrival. Many more from the UK (including some of the Mercia Boys) had been spotted at Waterloo the day before, but it turned out these were heading for the other tour operating this weekend.

We left 2 minutes late at 09.47 and headed South for Schaerbeek. The only detour being via Muizen Yard to gain some unusual track. Once stopped inside the complex we were free to wander the site at will. Not surprisingly, the withdrawn shunter locos were attracting most attention, along with the preserved Class 59, now numbered 201010, under restoration. The timings for the day were such that a one hour break had been allowed for each depot visit. However, with the huge area of sidings to be covered, getting around was a bit hectic.

All too quickly it was back on board for the next leg to Liege. Passing the junction for the airport branch, I noticed the new fly under line was in use for trains heading towards Brussels. We stopped briefly at Leuven, still under renovation for the new high speed line, and further on at Voroux made a right hand turn for the freight line heading around the back of Liege to the depot. Unfortunately, a track defect prevented the train from gaining direct access to Kinkempois, and therefore we had to walk from the adjacent marshalling yard into the depot itself. I had visited this depot before last year and was surprised to find less than half the number of locos this time. Although a good number of 'smaller' ones were still present. One thing I enjoy about this depot is the photographic opportunities for freights passing on the high level lines adjacent, and again I wasn't let down.

Next it was off to Hasselt. We crawled all the way through to Liers, stopping further here for the short single line section. Once through, we were held at Glons for a steel train coming off the freight line from Montzen to proceed before us. Then to finally finish us off, we were looped at Tongeren for 30 minutes awaiting passage through the 'single line working' section for track re-ballasting. Eventually, we arrived in Hasselt almost an hour late. The depot visit here was cut to around 20 minutes to leave enough time for the main depot still to come at Antwerpen. Fortunately, most locos/units here were in close proximity and it was easy to view all of them.

Our run to Antwerpen was fairly speedy, stopping only at Antwerpen-Noorderdokken to allow two freights access to the depot before us. For most people on board, this was the major attraction of the day. It did not disappoint.

During the 60 minutes spent walking around I noted 212 separate locomotive numbers. I can honestly say that this was by far the largest collection of locomotives in one location I have ever seen. To say the hour flew by is a massive understatement. Back on board the train we set off for a small circular tour of the near-by yards, using lines 27A/1 and 27/C.

Once out of the depot complex it was a straight run back to Berchem.

Stuart Smith.

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