10th August 2002

Adieu aux 51

Locos Used SNCB: 5133 & 5178
Stock Used 21015+21017+21030+21123+9001+21023+21026

Z18393 : Brussel Zuid to Trois-Ponts
Z18394 : Trois-Ponts to Weywertz
Z18395 : Weywertz to Büllingen to Weywertz
Z18396 : Weywertz to Sourbrodt to Weywertz
Z18397 : Weywertz to Bütgenbach
Z18398 : Bütgenbach to Trois-Ponts
Z18399 : Trois-Ponts to Brussel Zuid

Loco(s) Route (3)
5133 + 5178 Brussel Zuid - Schaerbeek - Leuven - Landen - Liège Guillemins - Angluer - Rivage - Aywaille - Trois-Ponts
5133 + 5178 Trois-Ponts - Malmédy - Weywertz - Bütgenbach
5133 + 5178 set-back to Bütgenbach bridge for photostop (approx 1km to Weywertz side of Bütgenbach)
5133 + 5178 Bütgenbach bridge - Bütgenbach - Büllingen
5178 draw forward to headshunt
5133 (1) Büllingen headshunt - Büllingen - Bütgenbach - Weywertz
5178 (2) Weywertz - Sourbrodt
5133 (1) Sourbrodt - Weywertz (junction of Sourbrodt & Büllingen lines)
5178 (2) Weywertz (junction of Sourbrodt & Büllingen lines) - Bütgenbach
5133 (1) Bütgenbach - Weywertz - Malmédy - Trois-Ponts
5133 + 5178 Trois-Ponts - (reverse of outward route) - Brussel Zuid

(1) 5178 on rear.
(2) 5133 on rear.
(3) Above does not allow for various minor "re-positioning moves" at several of the photo-stops i.e. after dropping photographers off at the trackside the train was moved some distance to be in the perfect location - then moved back again after the photos were taken to collect the photographers. The distance moved was generally a trains length or so.

Source : Gary Thornton (on the train throughout)

Tour Review
(by Gary Thornton)

Some photos of the tour.

My first railtour in Belgium operated by a company other than Mercia Charters!  PFT (or "Patrimoine Ferroviaire Touristique") were the organisers of this tour, a farewell to the Cockerill Baldwin type 51 diesels.

Mercia Charters however made the booking easy - they reserved an entire coach and made it "pay on the day".

I made it to Belgium using a new airline - SN Brussels Airlines...or Sabena as was (so not really a new one then!). Avro RJ OO-DWA (a winner for me) doing the honours. Was surprised to see a "bung" (AM96) EMU on the airport shuttle and 522 was duly taken to get me to Midi (Zuid) station. As it was nearing 10pm I had intended heading straight for my hotel to check-in but the appearance of 1348 (my penultimate 13 for sight and one of 18 required for haulage) meant a quick double-back to Centraal to "scoop it" for haulage. Dud 1317 back, check in and round to a local bar for a well earned Chimay Bleu.

Being in a hotel right next to Midi meant an easy start. With breakfast a whopping 8.5€ it was a case of heading to the Panos on Midi station and getting fed and watered for 2.2€ instead. Quite a few others seeming to have the same idea! Into the supermarket for provisions and up to the platform where 5133 & 5178 were in ready for departure. Our coach was the 6th of 7 in the formation and a seat was duly claimed with a few other friends.

The journey to Trois-Ponts was a fair stagger and there wasn't much to report en-route. At Trois-Ponts the 51's ran round to our end of the train for the onward journey along the freight line to Büllingen and Sourbrodt. Along this stretch I got the full experience of what a Belgian organised photo-stop is about....

....all off (who want to get photos) in the middle of nowhere
risk vital parts of ones anatomy getting into adjacent field over barbed-wire fence
have train repositioned to perfect location
get photographs - making damn sure not to get in the way of any photographers else a severe ranting was in prospect (isn't that right Steve??).
blast of horn, head back and wait for train to draw back to collect everyone.

At the second photostop (near Masta) we had just finished when the local farmer turned up. He was not at all happy we'd just invaded one of his fields for our photos!

Oh, I should also mention that the sheet given out for the tour included a page detailing the 17 (yes...seventeen!) photo-stops. That not only said where they were but which side of the train to get off and where top stand to get the photos. All credit to PFT, as there were about fifty UK cranks they had made an English version of the sheet.  

At Weywertz we took the right hand track at the junction which is the line to Büllingen. At Bütgenbach we said good bye to the "normals" who were just along for a day out. We'd be back to collect them later. From here we reversed about a kilometre to a rather impressive bridge. This was photostop no. 6 of the day. We scaled a steep field to get an absolutely superb view of the bridge. The train was reversed onto the bridge under instructions by walkie-talkie  of a PFT steward who was in the field with the photographers. A herd of cows in the field weren't sure what to make of goings-on but wandered up for a better look at us. Attempts to put them between us and the train to improve the photos however failed abysmally!

Onwards now to the saw mill at Büllingen. Here 5133 was removed and positioned on a rake of timber wagons and our train with 5178 drawn up alongside. Once photographed to death 5178 pulled the tour forward into the headshunt and 5133 was attached to the other end of the stock. We were to remain in top-and-tail mode from here until Trois-Ponts.

Back now to the junction at Weywertz where we reversed and headed to Sourbrodt. Here both 51's were taken off the train to allow them to be posed next to some redundant semaphore signals and the signal boxes. A bush which had thoughtlessly spent years growing up close to the signals was flattened by a group of Belgians photographers who regarded it as spoiling their photos!

Back now to Weywertz but due to late running we reversed at the junction and omitted the planned photo-stop at the disused station. We were running late I think because of the number of people taking photographs - this meant quite lengthy stops whilst everyone negotiated barbed-wire fences, ditches, cow-pat ridden fields etc for that perfect phot!

At Bütgenbach we collected the normals who'd left earlier to do touristy things and we headed back to Trois-Ponts, pausing several times along the way to worry a few more cows and add a few more tears in trousers and jeans were the undercarriage got too close to the fencing!

At Trois-Ponts the UK contingent got the obligatory "seminar" before 5133 was run-round to make a double-header again. The shunter was unhappy about where the photographers were standing but no-one paid him much attention. Once he stood in their shots however he got a severe ranting at himself!

The run home was superb - the pair making quite a lot of noise as the driver was determined to catch-up some of the lost time. A last, unscheduled, photo-stop was made at Poulseur as the sun (which had stayed hidden most of the day) had decided to put in an appearance. After checking with the station "red-cap" we simply stopped on a curve on the mainline and it was a case of "everyone off" to get the photos.

One of the days highlights for me was the climb out of Liège Guillemins - the Belgian version of The Lickey. Its made allthe better though as the station platforms are on the gradient itself so there is no run up. We got up to about 60kmh before the speed bled away to 40kmh before the steepest part was behind us and it rose again.

Another highlight was the run from Brussels Nord to Midi through the tunnels. The driver was in the right mood as he pulled up to a virtual stop at the start of Centraal's platform before opening up right through the station! The punters waiting trains witnessed quite a performance, though I'm not sure many appreciated it!!

Back at Midi and I watched the 51's run-round before heading off back to Schaerbeek and another diesel class is basically consigned to preservation only (though it may be a while yet before the 51's are completely finished for SNCB).

Sunday was a quiet day spent spinning round Brussels after required locos. I only managed two 13's (1335, 1359) before heading for the airport and my flight home (winning Avro RJ OO-DJX). All in all, a superb weekend away...and one with some really decent railtour photos too!

Gary Thornton.

Timings (Booked and Actual)
(by Gary Thornton)

km Location Booked Actual
0.00 Brussel Zuid 08.27d (08.28)
3.80 Brussel Noord 08.35a ~ 08.39d (08.40 ~ 08.43)
32.90 Leuven 09.08a ~ 09.10d 09.09 ~ 09.19
??.?? Landen 09.34a ~ 09.49d 09.53 ~ 09.55
??.?? Liège Guillemins 10.18a ~ 10.21d 10.25 ~ 10.29
??.?? Poulseur 10.40a ~ 10.50d 10/49
106.20 Trois-Ponts 11.35a ~ 11.50d 11.46 ~ 12.02
??.?? Malmédy 12.18a ~ 12.28d 12/43
188.50 Weywertz 12.55a ~ 13.15d 13.05 ~ 13.10
192.60 Bütgenbach 13.23a ~ 13.28d 13.17 ~ 13.23
Büllingen 13.36a ~ 13.51d 14.12 ~ 14.36
Weywertz 14.07 ~ 14.30 14.57 ~ 15.01
Sourbrodt 14.50a ~ 15.25d 15.27 ~ 16.02
Weywertz 15.45a ~ 16.18d 16.30 ~ 16.31
Bütgenbach 16.25a ~ 16.40d 16.39 ~ 16.43
??.?? Malmédy 17.08a ~ 17.15d 17/39
Trois-Ponts 17.42a ~ 18.15d 18.05 ~ 18.28
??.?? Liège Guillemins 19.14a ~ 19.16d 19.26 ~ 19.39
??.?? Landen 19.45a ~ 19.52d 20.13 ~ 20.15
127.80 Leuven 20.12a ~ 20.15d 20.37 ~ 20.39
157.10 Brussel Noord 20.42a ~ 20.44d 20.59 ~ 21.01
160.90 Brussel Zuid 20.48a 21.08

Distances by Loco:
5133 : 409.10km
5178 : 372.10km

a : arrival time
d : departure time
/ : passing time
A time or mileage in brackets is approximate.

All distances, in kilometres, are provided by Stuart Clarke.
No attempt has been made to verify the distances given.
Various photo-stop set-backs etc are not accounted for.

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