Sunday, 18 October 2015

From Our Own Correspondent [2]

Not Hearts or Harts or Hartz; But Harz
Many of our blog readers will know the Harz mountain region of Germany, famed for its lush afforestation and spectacular crags; famous also for its delightful network of narrow gauge railways.
fbb has never been, so needs to be told where these lovelys are situated. It is sort of in the middle in what used to be East Germany ...
... and that green splodge gives some idea of the richness of the vegetation (i.e. trees).
Courtesy of our prolific Northampton correspondent we are off to Nordhausen (bottom centre of the map). Alan writes:-
When I was last (2007) in Nordhausen in the Harz mountain area of Germany there were Siemens trams with pantograph and diesel engine which after trundling round the town tram network ran to and from Ilfeld, 10 km from Nordhausen on the track of the Harzer Schmalspur-Bahn using the diesel engine.

The vehicle on the left of the picture in blood and custard livery is one of the HSB railcars which operated most of the day to day services.

The vehicle on the right is a tram. Like this one:-

Zweisystem Stra├čenbahn Nordhausen hier im Dieselbetrieb
auf der Strecke der Harzer Schmalspur Bahn (HSB) in Ilfeld.

On 1 May 2004 a link line was opened in Nordhausen between the Nordhausen Tramway and the Trans-Harz Railway. Since then, the above-mentioned tramway between Nordhausen Hospital and the HSB halt of Ilfeld-Neanderklinik (Line 10) ...
Line 10 shown  in GREEN

... has been worked by electric and hybrid vehicles of the Combino duo class. On the Trans-Harz Railway (which has no catenary), motive power is diesel-electric, the trams being equipped with an in-board diesel engine. As a result of the connecting track to the Nordhausen Tramway, the station of Nordhausen Nord, in particular, lost its significance. Apart from one pair of steam trains from Nordhausen and a few HSB railcars all trains since then have terminated at the tramway stop of Nordhausen Bahnhofsvorplatz.

A look at the timetable (click to enlarge it - a bit) confirms the Wikepdia extract quoted above.
The departures at xx58 from the Krankhaus (Hospital) are tram-trains. Departures from Nordhausen Nord are either steam hauled or diesel railcars. Note that, in true continental style, connections are available to take you all the way to Brocken. 
This peak is the highest of the Harz moutains and is served by its very own branch.
Much more could be written about the Harz railways but this post is included because it contrasts with the not-quite tram train of Lyon as blogged last week.

In the UK we wait with eager anticipation for our first tram-train operation. Originally planned for the Sheffield to Huddersfield line and now reduced to a little run from Meadowhell to Parkgate just north of Rotherham.
The trams have been ordered ...
The trailblazing scheme will see tram-trains operating between the cities of Rotherham and Sheffield from 2017. The vehicles will run on Sheffield’s Supertram network and on part of the adjoining national rail network, which will be adapted to allow seamless travel from one to the other. This will involve electrification of a stretch of track between the two cities and the construction of a 400 metre line linking the train tracks to the tramway. Seven tram-train vehicles are also being bought to service the line. The vehicles are currently being manufactured and work to the tramway and depot to accommodate them is well underway.

As usual, Europe rattles on at great speed with tram-train, whereas in the UK we struggle with over regulation, lack of funding and a simple lack of "get on and get it done" philiosophy.

And a bit of irrelevant triva about Brocken.
A Brocken spectre (German Brockengespenst), also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre, is the apparently enormous and magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun. The phenomenon can appear on any misty mountainside or cloud bank, even when seen from an aeroplane, but the frequent fogs and low-altitude accessibility of the Brocken, a peak in the Harz Mountains in Germany, have created a local legend from which the phenomenon draws its name.
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Stagecoach's New Website
Still expected "soon"! (Yawn)
But it will be "exciting" (Even more yawn!)
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 Final tram/train blog : Monday 17th October 

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