23rd April 2010

Charters Helvetica
The Basel Docker 2

Locos Used BLS 205, BLS 235 209, BLS 485 011 & SERSA 843 152
Stock Used 50 63 18-33 801-5 + 50 63 82-33 840-4 + 50 63 18-33 811-4

Route :
33030 : Interlaken Ost to Basel SBB RB
33032 : Basel SBB RB to Basel Dreispitz
33033 : Basel Dreispitz to Basel SBB GB
33034 : Basel SBB GB to St. Johann
33035 : St. Johann to Pratteln
33036 : Pratteln to Birsfelden Hafen
33037 : Birsfelden Hafen to Basel SBB RB
33038 : Basel SBB RB to Basel Bad
33039 : Basel Bad to Basel SBB RB
33041 : Basel SBB RB to Spiez
33043 : Spiez to Interlaken Ost

Loco(s) Route
843 152 (1) Interlaken Ost [P5] - (via Track 333) - Bonigen Works [Track 1] (3)
235 209 (2) Bonigen Works - (via Track 324) - Interlaken Ost [Track 6, Through Line] - Interlaken West [P1] - Leissigen - Spiez Yard [Track 572]
205 Spiez Yard - (via Tracks 550 & 530) - Thun - Munsingen - Bern Avoider - Zollikofen - Burgdorf - Langenthal - Aarburg-Oftringen - Olten [P3] - Olten Yard [via Tracks 596, E3 & E568] - Tecknau - Pratteln [P1] - Basel SBB RB [via Tracks E15, E25, F35, G55 & G75]
235 209 (2) Basel SBB RB [via Tracks A35, A28 & 802] - Basel St. Jakob - Basel SBB Dreispitz [Track A3, touching the buffers]
843 152 (1) Basel SBB Dreispitz - Dreispitz Halle [Track G3]
235 209 (2) Dreispitz Halle - Basel SBB Dreispitz [Track A3]
235 209 (5) Basel SBB Dreispitz - Dreispitz Halle [Track G1]
235 209 (2) Dreispitz Halle - Basel SBB Dreispitz [Track A3]
843 152 (1) Basel Dreispitz - Basel SBB GB [via Tracks E81, E71, E12 & L97] - Basel SBB [Track 18] - Basel St. Johann [Track C5] - RFF/SBB frontier point
235 209 (2) frontier point - Basel St. Johann - Basel SBB [Track 19] - Basel SBB GB [via Tracks L75, D2, D72 & D92] - St. Jakob [P1] - Basel SBB RB [via Tracks A41, G86, G56, F40, T30, T32, E2 & 381] - Pratteln [P7]
843 152 (1) Pratteln - Basel SBB RB [via Tracks 374 & E2]
235 209 (2) Basel SBB RB - (via Tracks E51 & E88) - Schweizerhalle [Track 2, adjacent to Novartis Factory]
843 152 (1) Schweizerhalle - Basel SBB RB [via Tracks E88, E51, E2, E20, T39, T19, F40, F36, G61 & G94] - Birsfelden Hafen (beyond 'B Yard' to end of line, touching buffers)
235 209 (2) end of line - Birsfelden Signal Box
843 152 (1) Birsfelden Signal Box - Birsfelden Auhafen [Track 2, adjacent to Landor Factory]
235 209 (2) Birsfelden Auhafen - Basel SBB RB [Track G75]
843 152 (1) Basel SBB RB - (via Track A26) - Basel Bad (P2)
235 209 (2) Basel Bad - (via Track A27) - Basel SBB RB (Track G75, to KM Post 4.0)
205 (4) Basel SBB RB [via Tracks G75, E15 & 381] - Pratteln [P2] - Sissach - Olten [P12] - (reverse of outward route) - Spiez [P4]
485 011 Spiez - (via Tracks 641 & 671) - Faulensee - Interlaken West [P2] - Interlaken Ost [P8]

Notes :
(1) 235209 on rear.
(2) 843152 on rear.
(3) The train stopped with the leading loco and first coach on the Depot Traverser.
(4) 235209 and 843152 either end of the train consist, but not powering!
(5) Propelling from the rear.

Source : Stuart Smith

Tour Review
(from Stuart Smith)

Again it was that time of year to head to Switzerland and another of Charters Hevetica excellent railtour weekends.

But first turn back 7 days, and Mt. Eyjafjallajokull has just erupted in Iceland and planes are now grounded all over the UK and the rest of mainland Europe. My initial thoughts when my wife first told me about this event was that it would all be forgotten by the time I got to fly out! How wrong was I? Fortunately I had equipped myself with a Eurostar and TGV ticket just in case, and that was the means I would use to reach sunny Switzerland.

And so to the tours themselves.... Most of the usual participants were gathered on the platform when the stock arrived in from the Carriage Sidings. The first 'surprise' was the inclusion of Sersa loco, number 843152, in the formation. What an excellent coup to obtain one of these machines. Once on board it was discovered that the proposed traction (a BLS Class 843 diesel) was unavailable, and so this had been arranged as the replacement. At the other end of the 3 coach formation was 235209, a BLS shunt loco, complete with crane!!!! Last years tour had also used one of these devices, but its inclusion today still produced many looks of amazement.

Sersa 843 152 in Basel Yard (photo: Stuart Smith)

Shunting crane 235 209 at Leissigen (photo: Stuart Smith)

After the initial photos had been done, the tour set of towards Bonigen Works, where it was expected that we would reach the access gates. Nope! Clearly our driver had other arrangements as after a brief pause he continued right through the depot itself and across the traverser! I think it is safe to say that the nearby group of workers were somewhat surprised by our presence. A quick reversal and we proceeded back to Interlaken Ost and on through to the West. A quick pick up here and we set off for Spiez. The final pick up (actually in the yard) was also the location where we attached the heritage loco, BLS205. This has been kept 'on the mainline' by the company and looked as fantastic as when I had last seen it in 2005.

BLS 205 after beign detached in Basel Yard (photo: Stuart Smith)

Once it was bolted in front of the 'crane' we headed north. A steady run followed, which took us via the Bern Avoider, Langenthal and Olten before reaching Pratteln and the sprawling yards of Basel. Here we lost the electric loco before continuing with diesel power for today's highlights. We threaded through the yard, taking a route between the endless rows of wagons waiting onward transit and the almost countless lines of locos waiting their next turns. Finally exiting the far end we swung left past the football stadium and around the back of the depot to reach Basel Dreispitz. Here we performed three shunts taking in different tracks, whilst a seemingly busy shunting lok, performed many different duties around us. Of note here to the spotting contingent was one of the "Grey Mouse" units formally used on the Zurich to Italy services of years gone by. Once the track-bashing was complete we exited back around the depot again, and through the avoiding lines (Tracks 18 + 19) that skirt the main station taking freight trains into France. Originally we were due to have visited the docks complex on the French side of Basel, but in the weeks leading up to the tour it had been advised that due to the condition of track, the train had been refused access. We reversed at the Swiss/French border before returning to St Johann station for a short photo stop.

Back on board and we returned past the depot (this time on the north side) and back all the way through the yard again. At Pratteln we made another reversal in order to access the line to Schweizerhalle. This branch curved away from the yard, over the motorway and dropped down into several industrial sites. We reached the gates to a petrol terminal which was parallel with the mainlines we had left a while before, yet we were now about 50ft below them!

The track bashers were no doubt happy at the rare routes taken by today's train, and the number crunchers equally, judging by the amount of the private locos we noted at 'hard to reach locations'. A fine line to tread to keep all on board happy, but needless to say, Charters Helvetica had just about managed it again.

After another photo stop, we retraced our steps back through the yard, and this time swung right towards Birsfelden Hafen. We had covered part of this line back in 2009, but this time the intentions were to cover different parts of the complex, and reach beyond the 'overheads' which wasn't possible last time. The first set of buffers was duly reached near to the former Clariant branch, before we traversed the dockside line at Aufhafen. Yet another photo opportunity here, before heading back to yards again, then the quick run to Basel Bad. Several Swiss and German locos were noted here during the short stop, before we returned to the yard (yet again) to re-attach the heritage loco for the run back to Spiez.

Here 1930's heritage gave way to 2004 technology in the form of 485011. This efficiently took us back to Interlaken to conclude the first enjoyable day.

485 011 at Spiez for the last leg of the day (photo: Stuart Smith)

Back to "The Railtour Files"