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Big on Quality, Small Enough to Care
By Henry Allum
Day 1 - Travel to Erfurt
We started at London St Pancras where we boarded the Eurostar to Paris. On arrival at Paris we walked the short walk to Gare D'Est where we boarded an ICE to Frankfurt for an onward train to Erfurt. On arrival at Erfurt we had dinner at a restaurant close to the hotel. As staying at an InterCity Hotel gives you free access to the local transport network, I went for a quick tram ride to round of the day.
All modern trains today, but these we taking us
east to where we would find some steam!
Day 2 - Afternoon steam on 750 mm narrow gauge Lössnitzgrundbahn
Another high-speed journey took us from Erfurt to
Dresden where the hotel was a short
walk away. That afternoon we caught the double decker DB Rego
train hauled by 146 213 to Radebeul Ost. The
Lössnitzgrundbahn still runs steam daily including a
school train every morning therefore can claim to be one of the
last steam commuter trains in the World. Despite it regular
daily passengers the line also cater for tourists with a
roofless carriage per train. Sitting in this carriage, hauled
by 99 1761 was a great experience as you could see and hear the
whole journey from a different perspective from sitting inside
a usual carriage. As the train departs Radebeul Ost the locomotive rings the
bells as the first 3/4 mile runs down the public streets and
crosses Dresden Tram Route 4 before climbing up into the hills
for the run to Radaburg. At Radaburg the loco runs round and
takes water before working the train back to Radebeul Ost where
we catch a DB Rego train back to Dresden hauled by 146
Day 3 - A trip up to the Polish border for steam on 750 mm narrow gauge Zittauer Schmalspurbahn
We caught a DMU from Dresden for the scenic trip
up to Zittal, close to the Polish border. On the way the line
also cuts through a corner of the Czech Republic. At Zittal we
boarded a steam hauled train on the narrow-gauge railway hauled
by 99 1760 for a trip up to Bertsdorf, the junction station
where lines go off to Kurort Oybin and Kurort Jonsdorf. Here we
found 99 758 and we were able to watch the double departure as
both trains headed up to their designations. We were given a
tour of the shed where we saw a few more of their locomotives.
Next, we took the train up to Kurort Oybin where we had a
lovely lunch at a local hotel. We then travelled back to Zittal
where we had another trip over the line, this time up to Kurort Jonsdorf behind 99 758.
Day 4 - A full day at the fabulous Dresden Steam Festival
Today was the start of the Dresden Steam Festival, the event the tour
was built around.
We took a coach to Dresden Alstadt where the festival was taking place. One of the 1/4 roundhouses here is a working museum where main line steam locos are serviced. We started with a look in the shed where the reserve collection of the Dresden Transport Museum is housed, not normally open to the public. We then made our way through a 1/2 roundhouse with static steam, diesel & electric locos housed as well as some road vehicles. Down at the working 1/4 roundhouse was the place to spend most of the day however as steam locos were coming on and off shed and 52 8154 was doing footplate rides up and down the yard. I also stayed on for the night shoot where we saw the locos by night and the arrival of 01 202 from Switzerland.
Day 5 - Main Line Steam from Dresden
As part of the Dresden Steam Festival a number of steam hauled rail tours were run.
This morning we were on a tour to Chemnitz hauled
by 01 202. The outward run took as via the railway backwaters
of Nossen and Doblen. On the way we saw a man posing his
Trabant at various level crossing the get a picture of this
classic car with the steam special. On arrival at Chemnitz 50 1036 backed onto the train
to take us back to Dresden via the direct route.
Then in the afternoon we took another main line
steam run to Senftenburg which took us via some
freight only lines giving the track bashers a change to get
some rare track.
There was also a night train to Cottbus which didn't return to Dresden until 2am so this wasn't included in the tour but some of the group returned to the main station at 7pm to see the train depart into the night!
Day 6 - Parallel Main Line Steam up the Tharandt Incline
This morning was the highlight of the tour for
many. We departed Dresden on another steam hauled rail tour
although this time we werent going so far but were about
to witness a specular show!
35 1037 was on the front of our train again, a few
miles from Dresden we arrived at Tharandt Station, the foot of an incline on
the main line to Chemnitz. Soon 50 3648 pulled in with a coal
train and we departed for the parallel run up the incline.
Having 50 3648 running right next to us working hard as a
specular site, I've seen main steam train in my life but to run
next to one was specular! Once we arrived at the top of the
incline we carried on to Freiburg (not the city in the Black
Forest although I have also been there with Railtrail). At
Friberg we were hauled back to Dresden by a vintage electric
That afternoon we were on another rail tour around
the freight only lines in Dresden and then a run up the scenic
branch to Neustadt. This time we were hauled by 50 3648 again
and heritage diesel 122 481 was on the rear as this tour had
quite a few reversals.
Day 7 - Steam Charter on the Döllnitzbahn
Back to narrow gauge we travelled to Oschatz where we had a private charter on the Döllnitzbahn hauled by Saxon Mayer 99 584. Like at Radabeul the line runs through the streets of the town before heading out into the countryside. We stopped at couple of locations to photograph the train and we had a false arrival at one of the wayside stations. At Mügeln, which was once the largest narrow-gauge station in Europe we stopped for lunch and a look around the sheds. That afternoon we continued to the two terminal stations giving a chance to photograph the engine on each branch before heading back to Dresden.
Day 8 - Return to London
An early start and a trip behind DB eclectic loco
101 038 to Leipzig. At Leipzig we had the chance to visit the
museum platform, which has a steam loco, The
Flying Hamburger and some vintage electric locos on
display. It is not often you visit a railway museum before 7am!
From then on it was modern trains back to Paris and London,
enjoyed the views as we went.