Plandampf 175 Mega Steam
Celebrating 175 years of German railways with probably Europe’s biggest railway festival in the last 25 years. We combined the best of the 3-day Plandampf Festival with visits to the very best, and rarely visited, heritage steam lines with private photo charters, line-side photography etc.
140 people travelled with Railtrail to Trier for the 175th Anniversary of German Railways. The group was divided into four each with its own tour manager and separate daily itineries so that we did not feel part of a very large group. Detailed planning by Railtrail enabled us to follow a tour manager or do one's own thing on any day by using our individual rail passes. I did some of both.
Travelling from the north-west we departed St Pancras on the Thursday about 13.00 though there were other options. Four of us travelled first class on Eurostar and that continued to the Belgium/Luxembourg border included in the price. The service on Eurostar was very good. As there was not a quick connection in Luxembourg Railtrail had organised a coach to take us the short distance to Trier. We stayed at the Mercure opposite the famous Porta Negra, a good hotel with excellent rooms and staff.
The following day we visited two installations. In the morning it was the Hermeskeil Museum, a short distance from Trier. There were about 40 steam locomotives here plus old diesels and electrics. After lunch at a typical German restaurant we continued to the Eisenbahn Losheim, a standard gauge museum line operating some 15 kilometres. Our locomotive was 0-6-0T Murzeg and we were able to have false starts and run pasts for photographs.
The Plandampf started on the Saturday. We had reserved seats on the 07.09, steam hauled by pacific 01 1066 to Koblenz where buses took us the short distance to the DB Museum, mainly diesel and electrics, and replicas of two very old steam locos giving rides including the famous Adler. Then we had a four hour steam ride to Saarbrucken, again with 01.1066. This, as all our steam hauled trains, showed spirited running accelerating well and reaching speeds in the 60s (mph). Rather than wait for the steam departure back to Trier we chose to get a service train back, our event ticket covered this.
Sunday, was a later start using a 4-6-4T, 78 468 built 1923. This went along the line to Gerolstein. This was a centre for steam locos with several steam trains a day operating to Trier. We travelled the branch line to Ulmen. However, the vintage diesel unit that was to take us on to the Brohltalbahn Railway was prevented from doing so by falling trees. So we went back to Gerolstein to observe the many steam workings. A shuttle with steam on both ends operated between the station and the shed. We returned to Trier later in the day.
For the Monday there was a choice between watching the steam trains departing Trier or a steam run towards Saarbrucken and a run back to Trier with a vintage electric. Then the planned day continued with preserved Luxembourg 2-10-0 42.2718 to and from Luxembourg City. However, some of us decided to visit the Brohltalbahn that we did not reach the day before. Again our tickets covered us for all the trains that day. Six of us took a service train to Koblenz passing several steam trains on the way. From here we took another train to Brohl where we found the narrow gauge line with two steam locos operating. We avoided the diesel train up the hill and waited for the steam engine, a delightful little 0-6-0T. This took us up and back to Oberzissen, a wonderful trip both because of the scenery and the noise from our engine. After returning to Brohl we travelled behind a 0-4-0T on the Dock Branch. This passes a preserved diesel depot before entering a dual gauge headshunt. From here we travelled another half a mile or so on dual gauge track into the dock area. Railtrail are planning to include this in a 2011 tour. We returned from Brohl by service trains to Bullay. Railtrail had arranged an evening cruise on the Moselle with dinner. Before a spectacular firework display lighting up the Moselle the boat was positioned to photograph a steam train on the famous bridge across the river.
Next day the official trip was a trip to the Kuckuksbahnel preserved railway for a ride on a chartered train which was thoroughly enjoyed. However, I decided instead to return to Gerolstein. I found my train was not just one steam locomotive on the front but two banking. What a combination! Local people were getting on the train who had never seen a steam locomotive and were having a great time. I stayed at Gerolstein watching the train movements for several hours before returning to a local station. I wanted to photograph a north bound steam train and I did in perfect sunshine conditions.
On the last day we returned from Trier to London, with time for brief looks at Luxembourg and Brussels arriving St Pancras at 19.00 giving ample time for connections to many parts of the country.
Railtrail spent spent much time checking the organisation beforehand and this paid off. Apart from the incident of falling trees stopping some visiting the Brohltalbahn everything worked well and delivered what was promised even though trains could be late. There were over one hundred steam hauled trains operating over the four days with some thirteen steam locomotives in action. There was also ample opportunity for those wanting to visit more conventional tourist places such as Trier itself or Koblenz. I think all found it a very pleasant trip.
Chris Lewis (This report is the personal reflections of the tour participant.)