21st June 2003

Mercia Charters Limited
The Persistence of Vision

Locos Used SNCB : 2319, 2554, 5166, 5512, 6077, 7402, 7409 & 8246

Z18226 : Antwerpen Berchem to Antwerpen Noord TW
Z18227 : Antwerpen Noord TW to Schaerbeek TW
Z18228 : Schaerbeek TW - Ath
Z18229 : Ath to Frasnes lez Anvaing
Z18230 : Frasnes lez Anvaing to Kortrijk TW
Z18231 : Kortrijk TW to Poperinge
Z18232 : Poperinge to Antwerpen Berchem

Loco(s) Route
7409 + 7402 (1) Antwerpen Berchem - Antwerpen Oost - Antwerpen Noord TW
2554 (2) Antwerpen Noord TW - Antwerpen Berchem - Morstel - Y Krijgsbaan - Kontich - Duffel - Mechelen Nekkerspoel - Muizen - Weerde - Hofstade - Vilvoorde - Y Haren Noord - Schaerbeek TW
8246 (2) draw forward within Schaerbeek TW (approx 50m)
5512 (2) Schaerbeek depot - Brussel Noord - Brussel Zuid - Braine le Compte - Y Jurbise - Y Lens - Lens - Ath (9) - Leuze
5166 (3) Leuze - Frasnes lez Anvaing
5512 (2) Frasnes lez Anvaing - Leuze - Tournai - Mouscron - Kortrijk TW
5166 Kortrijk TW - Menin - Ieper - Poperinge
5166 Poperinge - Ieper - Wervik - km post 15.9 (4)
5166 km post 15.9 - Wervik (propelling move, approx 200m)
5166 Wervik - Menin - Kortrijk (6)
2319 (5) Kortrijk - (7) ??? - Gent Sint Pieters (7)
2319 (5) Gent Sint Pieters - Gent Sint Pieters Yard (propelling move)
6077 (7) Gent Sint Pieters Yard - Gent Sint Pieters - (via line 50A) - (7) Denderleeuw - Dilbeek - Jette - Boxstael - Brussel Luxembourg - Etterbeek - Delta - Haren - Y Keelbeek Noord - (8) Schaerbeek Yard - Brussel Nord - Brussel Midi (8)

Notes :
(1) 2554 on rear.
(2) 5166 on rear.
(3) 5512 on rear.
(4) The tour was severely delayed at km post 15.9 near Wervik owing to a person who had committed suicide (they "used" the service train a couple of minutes ahead of the tour). The tour stopped over the remains and had to wait until the police and coroner had completed their work before continuing.
(5) plus 5166 dead-in-tow.
(6) 5166 failed - it had been struggling for a while on low power and overheating but was declared a complete failure on arrival at Kortrijk.
(7) Was booked via Burst - Alst but diverted to Gent Sint Pieters on acount of the late running and failure of 5166. Regained booked route at Denderleeuw.
(8) Was booked to return to Antwerpen Berchem (via Vilvoorde, Hofstade, Muizen, Kontich & Y Krijgsbaan) but re-routed into Brussels because of the late running - arrived into Midi at 1.31am!
(9) Original tour spec had the train traversing the Ath to Ghislenghien freight branch but this was taken off the itinerary by SNCB shortly before the tour owing to the line being closed for engineering works.

Sources : Stuart Clarke, Alan Spencer & Duncan Jennings

Tour Review
(by Stuart Clarke)

As the crowds gathered at Antwerpen Berchem station’s platform 3, the first surprise of the day produced in the shape of not one but two class 74 shunters on the rear of the train. 2554 provided the traction at the other end of the three K1 coaches of which the middle was reserved for the ‘Fat Boys’ party. The addition of the extra 74 was to make up for the loss of line 287 which was not available due to engineering work.

The tour set off Northbound round the Antwerpen avoiding line and along a realigned line 12 to make way for the high speed line. The tour branched off into Antwerpen Noord and into the depot yard where some50-60 locomotives were available for sight, including about a dozen switched off class 51s. Other locos of note were 7777 and recently delivered 7791 & 7792 which are the first of the second batch of 77 series locos. 204004 was also noted here.

The 2x74 were replaced by SNCB museum loco 5166 and after an hour of ‘spotting’ the train headed South via the booked route round via Morstel Liersesteenweg and turning left at Mechelen Nekkerspoel through Muizen and right again towards Weerde. At Vilvoorde, line 26 was taken to Y Haren Nord where the tour gained access to the top end of Schaerbeek yard and wove through the carriage sidings, EMU sidings and into the loco sidings in front of Schaerbeek depot where a further visit was planned. The sight of 8246 shunting the PFT buffet car towards our train caused a major flap and desperados swarmed towards the car like Moths to a flame!! Matt Reeves insisted that the two people who had already got on the buffet car should get off as everyone would want to do it, but a cunning compromise was declared, and that was that when the buffet car was attached to the train, 8246 would haul the stock closer to the peg. Albeit, only a distance of 50 metres but I think most people counted the bonus haulage!

TVM fitted class 55 no. 5512 went onto the buffet car end of the train and leading the train, set off via Bruxelles Midi along line 96 towards Jurbise. Before reaching this location though the tour turned right after Neufvilles and traversed the non passenger curve to gain access to the line towards Ath and then a sprint along to Leuze where the train revered onto the former through line to Ronse as far as Frasnes Lez Anvaing. The tour stopped in the platform and it was observed that there were no buffer stops to prevent the train traversing the line North from this location. The locals were also somewhat bemused by the sight of a passenger train.

Next planned stop of any significance was Kortrijk, where 5512 was removed and 5166 was run round the train for what should have been the rest of the journey. On approaching Poperinge it was announced that 5166 was suffering from lack of coolant and was overheating.

At Poperinge, many tour participants retired to a local bar outside the station, where the local Pigeon Racing club meets. Stacks of crates containing racing pigeons were piled up in a room adjacent to the bar and shortly afterwards a large truck arrived to collect them.

Mercia Stewards had attempted to get the tour away before the arrival of the service train but this did not happen, and the service train arrived and duly departed after only a two minute turn around as booked. The tour followed the service train only a few minutes later and proceeded to follow it closely. Shortly after departing from Werwik station the train came to a sudden halt and as participants of the tour looked out of the window the unit in front was noted also stationary about 400m further ahead and shortly afterwards, a unit heading the other way also came to a stand. Driver and guard got off the tour and began looking under the train and it soon became apparent that the train in front had hit someone on the line which was later learned to be a 25 year old woman who was believed to have committed suicide. The tour had stopped over the remains at KM post 15.9.

Eventually passengers from the Poperinge bound train were detrained and placed on the Kortrijk bound train that had struck the woman and it ran empties past the tour train very slowly. About 20 minutes later the Kortrijk bound train departed and was terminated at the next station where a loop existed. The tour remained stationary for about an hour and three-quarters until the incident photographer had taken his pictures, after which the tour train was reversed back 200 metres where it was now alongside a street containing a row of terraced houses on the opposite side, on the outskirts of the village of Wervik.

The tour finally proceeded forward, now some 3 hours late, but about 10Kms later 5166 failed and the tour virtually coasted to Kortrijk where it was shut down. Assistance was found in the shape of 2319 and the tour was then diverted to Gent so that the failed loco could be taken back to Antwerpen and 6077 (due to have taken the buffet back from Bruxelles Luxembourg to Schaerbeek earlier) was on route from Bruxelles.

At Gent Sint Pieters the tour was propelled back into the carriage sidings and 2319 duly departed with 5166. About 15 minutes later, 6077 came on the scene, and after attaching to the train began to set off, but one of the buffet staff was still beside the track so the chord was pulled before she was left behind!

The train eventually went forward as far as Gent station, where due to some huge event in Gent, the platform we entered into was full of youngsters who believed that the tour was the 10.57 to Kortrijk (which was what was advertised on the board, and it was 10.58 by now!).

Back on the way at about 11.10 and the tour left the main line and went via Denderleeuw before continuing down the back route towards Jette. It was anticipated that the train may go via Bruxettes Ouest to gain access to Midi but when continuing forward, participants fully expected the tour to go left into Schaerbeek to lose the buffet car instead of right towards Midi. In fact it was sent straight on via the route originally booked to be taken towards Bruxelles Luxembourg. In went the brakes and another half an hour was sat stationary whilst it was decided what to do. At 00.25(ish) the train continued forwards and was now going to have to run via Etterbeek, Delta and line 26/A all the way back round to Schaerbeek where the PFT buffet car would be removed. Pausing briefly at Bruxelles Luxembourg it was noted that the tour was officially 4hrs and 5mins late!! Eventually the tour arrived at Bruxelles Midi at 01.33!! having taken another hour to get there from Bruxelles Luxembourg.

Despite the scenarios, most if not all the punters who were still there seemed to be in high spirits if not somewhat tired!!!

Stuart Clarke

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(courtesy of Mercia Charters Limited; actual from Robin Addison)

KM Location Booked Actual
0.00 Antwerpen Berchem 0804d 08.05d
0.20 Y Antwerpen Oost 08/05 08/05
1.00 Antwerpen Oost 08/07 08/07
3.40 Antwerpen Schijnpoort 08/10 08/08
8.20 Luchtbal 08/15 08/11
13.70 Y Driehoekstraat 08/20 08/17
14.80 Y Schijn 08/22 08/19
Antwerpen Noord TW 08L27a ~ 09L30d 08L36a  ~  09L42d
1.00 Y Schijn 09/35 09/45
2.10 Y Driehoekstraat 09/37 09/57
7.60 Luchtbal 09/43 09/51
12.40 Antwerpen Schijnpoort 09/50 09/56
14.80 Antwerpen Oost 09/52 09/59
15.60 Y Oost Berchem 09/53 10/00
15.80 Antwerpen Berchem 09/55 10/01
17.00 Y Zuid Groenenhoek 09/58 10/02
20.20 Y Krijgsbaan 10/01 10/04
21.30 Y Liersesteenweg 10*02a ~ 10*04d 10/05
24.80 Kontich 10/07 10/08
26.10 Y Duffel 10/08 10/09
33.40 Y Sint Katelijne Waver 10/14 10/13
39.40 Y Muizen 10/19 10/18
42.30 Y Prinsenhoek 10/22 10/21
46.40 Y Weerde 10/28 10/24
52.60 Vilvoorde 10/32 10/28
54.10 Y Machelen 10/34 10/29
55.50 Y Haren Noord 10/36 10.31a  ~  10.36d
Schaerbeek TW 10L45a ~ 11L26d 10L44a  ~  11L32d
1.70 Schaerbeek 11/32 11/35
4.00 Brussel Noord 11/35 11/39
7.80 Brussel Zuid 11/43 11/45
9.70 Brussel Petite Ile 11/45 11/48
12.30 Y Ruisbroek 11/49 11/52
20.60 Hal 12/03 12/03
26.10 Tubeke 12/10 12/10
36.90 'S-Gravenbrakel 12*18a ~ 12*23d 12.21a  ~  12.27d
43.20 Zinnik 12/27 12.33a  ~  12.38d
48.55 Neufvilles 12/32 12/44
55.70 Y Jurbise 12/35 12/49
57.35 Y Lens 12*37a ~ 12*41d 12/51
Aat 12*58a ~ 13*10d 13.12a  ~  13.14d
12.00 Leuze 13c18a ~ 13c28d 13.24a  ~  13.32d
Frasnes lez Anvaing 13.58a ~ 14.10d 13.54a  ~  14.11d
6.80 Leuze 14/31 14.31a  ~  14.32d
24.90 Tournai 14.43a ~ 14.53d 14.48a  ~  14.53d
44.65 Mouscron 15.07a ~ 15.17d 15.08a  ~  15.17d
Courtrai TW 15L28a ~ 16L25d 15L28a  ~  16L17d
1.00 Y Leiebrug 16/26 16/18
1.50 Y Kortrijk 16/27 16/18
20.90 Comines 16*45a ~ 16*50d 16/32
33.70 Ypres 17/00 16/44
Poperinge 17.08a ~ 17.36d 16.55a  ~  17.44d
10.00 Ypres 17/44 17/53
22.80 Comines 17/54 18/04
  Wervik KM 15.9  - 18.10a  ~  19.21d
  Reverse 200m  - 19.24a
  Wervik KM 15.7  - 20.39d
42.70 Y Lieibrug 18/13 21/08
43.50 Courtrai 18c15a ~ 18c23d 21.11a  ~  21.33d
46.00 Y Zandberg 18/25 DIV
69.00 Audenarde 18/43 DIV
86.30 Zottegem 18/56 DIV
95.05 Burst 19/04 DIV
99.10 Erpe Mere 19.10a ~ 19.20d DIV
105.50 Aalst 19/37 DIV
112.00 Denderleeuw 19/45 ??/??
119.10 Ternat 19/56 ??/??
131.10 Jette 20/12 ??/??
132.20 Y Jette 20/13 ??/??
133.40 Y Laken 20/16 ??/??
133.70 Y Zennebrug 20/18 ??/??
134.60 Y Josophat 20/21 ??/??
137.80 Brussel Schuman 20/24 ??/??
138.90 Brussel Luxembourg 20.26a ~ 20.29d ??.?? ~ ??.??
141.10 Etterbeek 20/32 ??/??
142.45 Y Etterbeek 20/33 ??/??
147.35 Schaerbeek Josaphat 20/39 ??/??
150.95 Y Harenheide 20/45 ??/??
151.70 Y Keelbeek Noord 20/46 ??/??
153.50 Y Machelen 20/48 DIV
155.00 Vilvoorde 20/49 DIV
161.20 Y Weerde 20/55 DIV
165.30 Y Prinsenhoek 21/01 DIV
166.70 Muizen 21/03 DIV
174.10 Y Otterbeek 21/14 DIV
174.30 Y Sint Katelijne Waver 21*19a ~ 21*22d DIV
181.60 Y Duffel 21/27 DIV
182.90 Kontich 21/28 DIV
186.40 Y Liersesteenweg 21/31 DIV
187.50 Y Krijgsbaan 21/32 DIV
190.70 Y Zuid Groenenhoek 21/34 DIV
191.90 Antwerpen Berchem 21.37a DIV

No attempt has been made to verify the distances given.

a : arrival time
c : crew change
d : departure time
L : loco change
/ : passing time
* : Pathing stop

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