Continuing Jack May's Paris-based trip, Charleroi, Belgium, plus Vicinal museum/heritage operations

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Continuing Jack May's Paris-based trip, Charleroi, Belgium, plus Vicinal museum/heritage operations
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, August 06, 2019 9:34 AM
If the photos don't show up, I will be able to post them next HU-with-wifi visit, hopefully tomorrow.   -Dave
 
There was a time when a desire to visit the Charleroi area of Belgium was paramount in planning my trips to Western Europe.  In those days the region was home to the only substantial interurban streetcar system remaining in the so called "free world."  The great network in western Pennsylvania was gone and Upper Silesia was difficult due to perceived travel risks imposed by governments beyond Western Europe that might be considered enemies of the U. S.  The SNCV (or Vicinal) was still operating a system of meter-gauge lines using mostly traditional cars that interconnected various villages and urban centers along trackage that consisted of miles of street running, side-of-the-road, cross country and other types of reserved rights-of-way in both single- and double-tracked configurations.  The cars rolled through a mix of industrial landscapes, slag heaps and bucolic farmland (and everything in between) following the contours of a countryside dotted with canals and railway lines, with the occasional bridge or short tunnel.  The system was so photogenic that scores of picture books were issued, with many finding a home in my bookcase.

Alas, that description of Belgium's Hainault province no longer holds as most lines were converted to bus operation and the remaining pieces of the network were incorporated into a controversial and expensive "Metro" system that has a great deal of sterile underground and elevated track.  Much has been written about the subject, including suggestions that planning and construction of the Metro may have been prompted by little more than the availability of funds for infrastructure projects starting as far back as the early 1960s.  Be that as it may, it soon became policy for the Vicinal to convert its rail lines to bus operation--except in unique circumstances.  Meanwhile politically, Belgium was moving toward federalism based on the geography represented by the country's two predominant languages, Flemish and French.  In terms of transportation one result was the 1991 liquidation of the national Vicinal system in favor of regional entities, specifically De Lijn in Flanders and TEC in Wallonia.  In any case the quaint rural tram lines I first witnessed are long gone and other than some isolated rights-of-way, virtually the only remnant of the previous operation is the rolling stock that the SNCV acquired in 1981-82, prior to the breakup.  50 single-end versions of these BN-built high-floor cars went to the Coastal Tramway in Flanders while 55 double-ended ones were sent to the only remaining tram system in Wallonia, the French speaking part of the country centered around Charleroi.

The city of Charleroi itself has a population of 200,000 and looks a great deal nicer and more prosperous than it did on my last visit over a decade ago.  After World War II the region, so important to the production of coal, iron and steel, began a steep decline as de-industrialization took hold, which resulted in a rise in unemployment signalling a depressed economy.  Thus I was pleased to see that the Charleroi had lost its "down at the heels" look and now is sporting a virtually new city center, which I suspect is attributable to urban renewal and the introduction of post-smokestack industries, specifically aeronautic, computer and petrochemical.

The planning of Charleroi's Metro, originally called a pre-Metro as it would utilize streetcars, started more than a half-century ago, when the city boasted two independent tramways, the local STIC (green cars) and the regional SNCV (whose color scheme was cream, but also red-and-cream for a period).  An ambitious 32-mile system was to consist of 8 branch lines radiating from a circular trunk line around the city center, focusing on Charleroi Sud, the main railway station (which had separate terminal loops for both systems in its forecourt--much like Williamsburg Bridge Plaza in Brooklyn).  A large portion of the initial work proceeded on part of the trunk loop and along SNCV lines 90 and 92, which extended westward to the village of Anderlues and at the time beyond (in 1960 I rode a route 90 car for about 25 miles from Charleroi to Mons, and then returned on the 82 over a slightly longer alignment).  Much of the Metro was being built to heavy rail standards and as work continued the corresponding portion of the tramlines were transferred from street level trackage to the new massive structures (the first portion in 1976).  Meanwhile the Vicinal was converting most of its extensive tram system to bus operation and by 1974 the STIC had totally abandoned its tram routes.  Work proceeded at a snail's pace with construction occasionally being interrupted due to lack of funds and political disputes. In fact two branches of the Metro that had been virtually completed were unable to open.  

When the SNCV was dissolved in 1991 a new entity, the TEC, was created to operate all public transit in Wallonia and continue development of the Metro.  By then most of the tram lines in the area were already gone and what was left was partially operating through the finished sections of the Metro.  But at least one of the two completed lines in the eastern part of the city to Gilly was now open.  The entire project was officially scaled back and rationalized in 2004, and finally reached its current extent of 21 miles and 48 stations over three branches in 2013 (the trunk loop having been completed in 2012).  At that time the leftover SNCV-type route numbers for the remaining services were changed to today's M1, M2, M3 and M4.

The weather on Friday August 17 was a mixture of clouds and sun.  We had no intention of moving our auto and it remained in a corner of the hotel's parking lot.  Once we completed breakfast we walked over the attractive pedestrian bridge leading to the Charleroi Sud railway station, where the TEC has a large facility serving its buses and the trams operating on the Metro.  The transit operator's comprehensive departure boards indicated the following headways were being operated on the tram lines:  M1/M2 to Petria every half hour combined, M3 to Gosselies every 15 minutes and M4 to Soliement every 10.  Had this not been during the period that schools were closed for summer vacation they would have been
 better on all but the M4:  every 15 minutes on the M1/M2 and every 10 on the M3.  


Charleroi Sud, the main railway station for the city, is behind the ceremonial arch that spans the walkway crossing the Sambre River, which separates the city center from the hub of transportation activity. 



Looking westward along the channeled Sambre River 
toward the Villette Metro station from the walkway that connects the city center with the Charleroi Sud hub.



Not to be confused with the SNCB's (Belgian national railroad) information board for Charleroi Sud, this display addresses the platform locations and times of bus and tram departures.  The Metro (tram) routes are prefixed with the letter M and use "Quais" A and B.  With departure times of the next and second trips shown, we were able to determine the headways for this Friday morning--noting that the rail routes were running more frequently than the bus lines.


Before leaving home for Belgium we found out the M1 had been cut back from Anderlues to the Petria station in the town of Fontaine l'Eveque, a distance of just over 2 miles, because of roadwork and trackwork that was to last for at least the summer (it still continues).  This was a blow to our plans as we wanted to be able to ride and photograph the only remaining Vicinal-style side-of-the-road trackage left in the area.  Thus with the outer terminals now being the same, the only difference between the M1 and M2 was the direction of operation around the trunk loop, clockwise for the M2 (and M3) and counter-clockwise for the M1 (and M4).  See 
http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/be/char/charleroi.htm for a map.  We took these photos in the Sud area and along the south-to-west segment of the loop that leads up the ramp to the Villette station.



Passengers planning to ride the rail lines are well protected from the elements in this view of the "clockwise loop" platform for lines M2 and M3.  The facility for the counter-clockwise M1 and M4 routes is out of range of the camera to the right.  The rails in the photo's left foreground lead to a pair of storage tracks, while those running straight ahead see revenue operation.



view from Sud showing a tram at the top of the ramp that carries the Metro from the station, with another car on the storage tracks below.



A close up view of the Villette Metro stop with one of TEC's 48 remaining trams about to pause to drop off and take on passengers.  The high-floor cars were built by La Brugeoise et Nivelles (BN) 
for the SNCV in 1981-82.  55 double-ended units were constructed for Charleroi (numbered 6100-6154 and since renumbered into the 7400 series) while the Coastal Tramway received 50 single-enders (6000-6049).

 
We finished our photography just in time to board the 9:54 departure of the M2 to Fontaine l'Eveque/Petria, avoiding a wait of about a half-hour for the next M1.  The tram first took us up the ramp to the elevated Villette stop, then into a subway for the Ouest station, and then back onto an elevated right-of-way and through a three-way junction.  But instead of heading onto the westward leg into the Piges station toward Fontaine l'Eveque, we turned eastward and entered the subway portal leading into the Beaux Arts facility.  This is the largest of the Metro stations, and contains two platforms serving three tracks, with a fourth, on which an old green STIC motor and trailer is displayed at platform/street level, plus a fifth with no platform access.  We ran through on the fifth track, which descended further and made a U-turn under the others.  We then stopped at the northernmost platform, heading westward in the direction of Piges.  After this slight detour (which eliminates conflicting grade crossing movements with cars going in the opposite direction while also allowing for a centrally-located station stop) we stopped at Piges, where the M3 to Gosselies branches off.  Then we descended into a subway again for Dampremy and finally followed a mixture of underground, at-grade and elevated trackage, working our way through eight more stops until we reached Petria, the end of rapid transit operation and for now the furthest west cars can operate.  We encountered no grade crossings on what we both considered to be vastly overbuilt infrastructure.



Looking westward at the Petria terminal in Fontaine l'Eveque.  The island platform is at the height of the car floors.  A similar tram lays over in the background. 

There are center layover tracks on both ends of the Petria island platform and we could see a curve leading to the ramp that heads down onto the original SNCV line on the surface to Anderlues that was now clearly out of service.  After a very short period allowing for just a few photos, we boarded another M2 car for our return to Charleroi.  This time we entered the Beaux Arts station on the track adjacent to the southernmost platform, as our car was going to operate via the clockwise loop to Charleroi Sud.  We alighted here however, to inspect the heritage car;  it was too dark for me to take a slide, but Karl-Heinz got a decent digital photo, which is displayed below.  We then transferred to an M3 car to ride up to Gosselies.


Ex-STIC motor 310 and trailer 12 are posed for the admiration of passengers using the Beaux Arts station of Charleroi's tram subway.  The single truck motor was built in 1930 by Ateliers Metallurgiques de Nivelles.
  Karl-Heinz Roeber photo.

 
Once we left Piges, the next station, we entered the center of Chausee de Bruxelles, and we then rode over what could be best described as a traditional streetcar line--quite a contrast to the round trip to Fontaine l'Eveque we just experienced.  The narrative and descriptions for lines M3 and M4 will continue in Part 2 (segment 06), but first, a few more photos along the trunk loop.

Most of the loop is built to Metro standards, but the last segment to be opened, in 2012, which finally completed the circle, was built more like a tramway that operates over reserved track rather than the originally planned elevated structure.  Leaving Sud the tracks run along the Sambre and then turn northward to pass over it and enter the Tirou station.   Beyond that point they cross a major street adjacent to a busy traffic circle at grade, and then descend into the portal that leads to Parc station, from where they continue underground.



In 2012 the portion of the loop
 connecting Sud (1976) and Parc (1996) was finally opened, closing the city center circle.  The height of the platforms at Tirou, the only stop on the link (and also served by buses), is a good indication that Metro standards were no longer being applied when fiscal common sense ruled otherwise.  The reddish building is an office of the province's government.


Part 2 continues in segment 06.


 
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I interrupted my narrative about the events of Friday August 17 at the point where Karl-Heinz and I transferred to an M3 tram to take us up the branch to Gosselies.  Basically the M3 follows the path of the former SNCV route 62, a mostly street running affair that was abandoned in 1988.  However despite the conversion to bus operation, most of the trackage had to remain in use as the system's rolling stock still had to be housed and maintained at the Vicinal's large facility along the line in Jumet, as in upgrading the network to Metro standards no new storage facilities had been added.  The initial Metro plan had a branch to Gosselies come out of the trunk loop at Waterloo station (called Nord in the original documents) and then operate underground and over reserved track similar to the line to Petria, but when the TEC revised its plans to finally complete the system, it would be at considerably lower cost with a slightly modernized version of the old line sufficing.

In fact, prior to 1992, the only branch that had been converted to Metro standards was the one to Petria (now M1 and M2) that we had just ridden.  Work had proceeded on two more routes that would operate almost entirely in subway tunnels, one becoming the M4 to Soleilmont, which opened as far as Gilly in 1996, and a second branch, to Chatelet, whose track and stations were completed as far as Centenaire.  And that line has never opened!  (Photos however indicate that charters have operated over it.)  After 1996 there was another pause in construction due to lack of funds and the need to revise the final plan.  This was remedied after the receipt of a loan from the European Investment Bank, and work was resumed about a decade later, but now as a scaled down project.  In 2004 the 8-branch plan was officially scrapped and it was decided to complete the system in the form it appears today--with completion of the circle and only three branches, the M1/M2 and M4 with a mostly Metro-like infrastructure, and the M3 as a street running operation.

Oddly enough the M4 and the dormant line to Centenaire were built for left handed operation, but that was because of the initial plan for the layout of the Waterloo station, which was to serve all 8 branches.  Thus in order to swing trams from their normal right-hand operation around the circle to the other side, just after leaving the Waterloo stationthere is a simple "X" crossover (which fortunately is controlled by signaling) on the M4.  A track map indicates this is also the case on the Centenaire line, which is also underground at that point.

Enough about the history and the unusual aspects of the Metro (which I hope I've relayed correctly).  I find it fascinating and I cannot help wondering if the same types of unrealistic ambition spelled the doom of California's high-speed railroad project--and maybe even the Cincinnati subway a century ago.

After turning onto the Chaussee de Bruxelles, a not-too-wide arterial that is mostly lined with traditional housing above retail storefronts, there are 7 stops before the Jumet shops.  They are all in pavement, with most consisting of islands endowed with semi high-level platforms (set about a foot above the track) to protect passengers and make boarding and alighting easier, while other stops have low-level curb loading (only about 6 inches, which also suffices for shared bus stops).  Depending upon the varying width of the street (and the need for curb parking), one or both of the tracks are ensconced in attractive brick pavement, which is raised slightly above the street surface in the manner of the N-Judah line in San Francisco.  This deters most motor traffic from interfering with the trams, and also allows automobiles to pass railcars stopped at stations. 

The Chaussee de Bruxelles is also designated as national route N5, once the main highway between Charleroi and the nation's capital, but since replaced in that capacity by a motorway.  The street eventually reaches a traffic circle near its junction with the freeway loop (which we used to get to our hotel on the previous evening), and here the tracks enter the Madeleine Park and Ride station.  This is a wide transit-only transfer interchange, with various bus lines stopping in the two lanes between the outbound and inbound tracks and platforms, all protected from the elements by a shed.  Beyond that point the street eventually narrows to a width that forced the remaining portion of the route to Gosselies to become a single-track loop, outbound on streets and inbound on a combination of streets and private rights-of-way.  Due to its changing alignment, we really enjoyed riding this line and spent time photographing its upper reaches with its diverse landscape. 

 
This view of the rear of a Gosselies-bound tram on the narrow single track section along Rue de Jumet evokes the flavor of the neighborhood.  I suspect that at the nadir of Charleroi' post World War II decline, these houses had fallen into disrepair.  But now the area looks like it could have become gentrified as conditions changed for the better.  A question for American cities--when do tenements become town houses?  Answer: when they no longer get sub-par city services. 

 
 
Next page:  Faubourg de Bruxelles is the name of the M3-Gosselies line's last stop.  The upper view shows a tram about to swing over from the street of the same name into the terminal's throat, while the lower photo shows it laying over before departure onto single track to the east of the street from which it came.  It is possible that the tram on the left is available as a gap-filler.




Above and below: The two ends of the single track that brings the M3 south from its outer terminal at Faubourg de Bruxelles to the start of double track.  In the upper photo and inbound car has just left the terminal on a former railroad right-of-way, while below a similar unit reaches the end of the uni-directional track at the Carrosse stop, where it will turn slightly to its left to join parallel outbound rails at the end of Chaussee de Bruxelles.
 


We then rode back to the city center, rounding the circle and alighting at Tirou for photos similar to the one that ended Part 1.  Then it was time to ride the M4 (see below), but after a round trip we split up to allow Karl Heinz to accomplish some sightseeing.  I went back to the inner section of the M3 south of Jumet and took some photos along the Chaussee de Bruxelles in lengthening shadows.  I remain pleased that TEC finally adopted the route of the original Vicinal line.



An inbound M3 tram pauses at the Puissant stop.  Outbound cars stop at the high-level island platform.  The brick pavement serving outbound trams is slightly raised.  Southbound auto travel has to stop while the tram loads passengers.

 
As for the M4, most of it is underground and the line operates left handed.  It emerges permanently into the open air short of the Sart Culpart station, where it continues on the surface to Soleilmont, the terminal where connecting feeder buses cross it at grade.  While observing our tram crossing the opposing track inside the tunnel beyond Waterloo station,and thereby making the transition between right-hand and left-hand running, we couldn't help think of other places where we've encountered a similar situation, including (but not limited to) Zurich, Long Beach, Goteborg and Stockholm.  But I don't know if there are any other places where trams going in opposite directions cross at grade inside a tunnel.



Above and below  These photos and the previous one above provide a good characterization of the neighborhood around Chaussee de Bruxelles (equivalent to 3000 words?).  In the next-page upper view just north of the Chaussee de Gilly stop, the four lanes of the street, from right to left, are parking, northbound motor traffic and trams, southbound tram, and southbound autos.  The lower photo indicates that the roadway is narrower at the Rue Berteaux stop in Jumet, and there is no room for allowing cars to be parked.





Car 7439 on the M4 route is operating left-handed, moving away from the camera, in this scene at the high-level platformed Sart Culpart station, one stop before the end of the line.




 
We had a good day covering the tramway/pre-Metro/Metro, but couldn't help wishing that the Vicinal had not converted its extensive tram network to bus operation. We would be consoled somewhat on the following day by a visit to the ASVi tramway museum at Thuin.  Meanwhile, we were content with a good meal and then slept well.

 
  
 
  

The Soleilmont terminal of the M4 liin Gilly.  The upper photo shows the arrival platform, including the curb loading area for outbound buses, which loop inside the tram loop.  The streetcars then move away from the camera and circle to the inbound facility, which is where buses discharge their passengers.  The lower view shows a carload of passengers heading toward to Charleroi.


 

 

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, August 11, 2019 11:50 AM

A computer problem prevented posting anything on my visit to Hebrew U - wifi today.   I'm posting the text continuation, and hope to edit-in the photos tomorrow.

We were looking forward to celebrating the "old" Vicinal on Saturday, August 18, and were pleased that the weather report indicated blue skies for the morning, but then were disappointed that they would cloud up in the afternoon.  The ASVi tramway museum in nearby Thuin was scheduled to open at 11:00; so we started early to insure a prompt arrival.  The ASVi is the Association pour las Sauvegardede Vicinal, meaning an organization  devoted to 
safeguarding (protecting) the history and artifacts of Belgium's Vicinal (or SNCV). This day it scheduled its festival, where every piece of rolling stock possible would be operated or put on display.

The museum is located in Thuin, a town of 15,000 located some 12 miles southwest of Charleroi, and it looked like it was a half-hour drive away.  As it turned out the weather forecast was accurate and so our plan of photographing as much as possible early and riding later was appropriate, but in practice it turned out difficult to achieve, as we had to first ride the line to find the best locations for photos.  There was only a minor glitch in the day's proceedings, which didn't have a real effect on our activities.  When we went to the hotel's parking lot to retrieve our car we found it hemmed in the corner we left it--by walls and a large SUV.  The lot was almost empty, and we wondered whether this was retribution for us not agreeing to move it to an off-site garage for the previous day and night.  It didn't matter; when we told the desk clerk he had the offending vehicle moved immediately.

Now we were out on the road, and had plenty of time to get to the museum before it opened.  So we decided to follow the route of the old 92, which operated west from Charleroi to Anderlues and then south to Thuin, rather than driving via the hypotenuse of the triangle.  The road we first followed still had a number of landmarks that I remembered from before the tramway was alternately elevated and depressed to become the M1/M2.  And then, after we got past Fontaine l'Eveque Petria, the Metro's current terminal, we continued alongside the line and confirmed it was in the gradual process of being upgraded for future use.  Having been replaced by buses at the beginning of summer, it looked pretty run down, but we could also understand why it had to be temporarily closed, and we expected that once the work was finished it would look much like the M3 to Gosselies that we enjoyed on the previous day.  The line's carhouse is near its end point and we found it to be wide open without any personnel in sight.  We took a chance and went in, and saw a number of work cars plus a heritage car that looked like it was in working order occupying various bays.  Karl-Heinz took digital photos, but it was much too dark for me to get slides.

Then we continued along the old route of the 92 (and the 91, which was a short turn version that ran just between Anderlues and Thuin) following the line, seeing what we could of any vestiges of the past, and came upon meter-gauge track at the side of the road, and a little further, overhead wire.  We did our best to follow the right-of-way, a combination of side-of-the-road and cross-country reservation, all the way to the museum, and arrived there at about 10:45.  Finding a parking space was no problem, as there were few visitors present.  This changed dramatically as the day wore on.  We purchased day passes at the visitors’ center, were given printed operating schedules, photographed the cars in sight and lined up for rides.

The museum houses about 50 former SNCV electric and diesel (also steam) motors, trailers and work equipment, with at least 20 operable.  Located on the site of the national railway's former Thuin Ouest station, a short distance from the tracks of former Vicinal route 91/92, its visitors center includes a souvenir and book store, historic displays and a small cafe.  The ASVi was founded in 1972 and in 1978 began operating historic equipment over SNCV trackage.  When route 91/92 were abandoned in 1983 the group took over the trackage but in 2005 its connection with the rest of the system in Anderlues was severed, and so it now is isolated, terminating in Lobbes.  Three "lines" are operated under the name, Tramway Historique Lobbes-Thuin, along approximately 4½ miles of meter-gauge rail.  Two are electrically operated with 600-volt DC overhead using portions of the former 91/92 route, extending from the connection to the museum buildings and running east and north.  The shorter route extends for a little less than a half mile along street trackage into the center of the lower section of Thuin, which provides riders with as urban-like a setting as a small town can offer.  In the other direction the line runs for about 2 miles to Lobbes mostly through a formerly industrial landscape.  The third route, also about 2 miles long, extends over an old SNCB (Belgian National Railways) branch line through a totally rural landscape to the village of Biesme-sous-Thuin.  The museum converted this line from standard gauge to meter so it could be used as a conduit for the operation of its former Vicinal autorail units.  The museum's website can be found at 
https://www.asvi.be/en/index/index.htm.With
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASVi_museum#/media/File:Lobbes-Thuin_tramway_relief_map.svg containing a map.

We rode all three of course, but started with the diesel line, as there was a departure scheduled for exactly 11:00.  For those not exactly aware of what the SNCV (or Vicinal) was, here is my attempt at a short description.  The enterprise was organized by King Leopold in 1885 to provide passenger and freight operations in the sections of Belgium that were not served by the national railroad (the SNCB): in other words to provide needed transportation connecting villages and towns outside the national grid with each other and connecting with the SNCB network.  The narrow-gauge* system of secondary railroads was built to light railway standards and in order to lower costs, mostly ran along the sides of roads (many tree-lined and paved with cobblestones and in some cases no wider than paths), following the contour of the topography.  Mostly single track and with some rights-of-way criss-crossing the landscape, it was the epitome of rural rail transit in the days before the common usage of automobiles and trucks.  First operated with steam, it began to electrify the lines that radiated from population centers with 600 volt-DC overhead in 1894.  By the beginning of the first world war, the network's total route length reached some 2,500 miles, but that was reduced to half by the time hostilities ended with the 1918 armistice.  Reaching a peak of almost 3,000 miles by the start of World War II, it again declined in size because of wartime destruction.  At its postwar prime, around 1950, it operated 2,640 miles of route, almost 1,000 of them electrified with the remainder using diesel railcars for passenger service and diesel tractors for pulling freight. The SNCV could literally be found everywhere in Belgium.  The busiest of its lines operated into the major cities, supplementing the local transit companies' routes by extending out into suburbs and exurbs.  But soon after the end of the war, the construction of more roads and the availability of affordable automobiles would spell the end of most rail operations in favor of buses, except where demand continued to be high.  The first casualties were the remaining passenger and freight services on its rural lines, which quickly began to wither and die.  

On the other hand, with demand for travel to burgeoning suburbs growing, the SNCV's single track was no longer sufficient to efficiently handle the passenger load.  But rather than having the infrastructure upgraded and improved, the Vicinal's side-of-the-road trackage was usually expropriated to widen roads.  The organization placed its first major order for buses in 1953.  On the other hand, in the years stretching from 1949 to 1959 new and modernized cars were still being fabricated and placed into service.  Nevertheless it was also true that during that period the SNCV was fast becoming a bus company and there probably was a tipping point where rail abandonments began to occur in great numbers and as a matter of policy.  The bus company eventually decided that only the Coastal Tramway and the proposed Charleroi pre-Metro system would remain rail operations.  One of its last activities before its 1991 dissolution into regional organizations was the ordering of new cars for both of these networks in 1981-82.  In summary, there was a time that the all-encompassing SNCV tramway system was truly an important part of Belgium's transportation system, and it is still beloved by those who are old enough to remember its operations.

* Most of the system was originally built to meter gauge, but the "Dutch" gauge of 3' 6" (1067 mm) was used for the lines in the Antwerp area, so they could connect with the steam trams across the border.  However after the First World War the lines were regauged to meter, the same as the local electric tramway in the city of Antwerp (which is still in operation). 


After riding the diesel line we rode the other two electric services, and then chased all three for photos as the skies darkened.  Among the highlights of the day was riding and photographing American-style PCC 10409, one of a series that operated in the Charleroi area but was sold to Belgrade in 1960.  With the help of the E. R. A. it was repatriated in 1985 and restored to operating condition.  I had the serendipitous opportunity to operate it during a fantrip over the remaining Vicinal system in 1989.

We drove back to the Ibis in Charleroi in the late afternoon through towns and villages over roads and bridges once used by Vicinal trams, a fitting end to a great day of railfanning.  We barely had time for dinner before retiring to bed and preparing for further Vicinal adventures on the following day.

Because of the large number of operating trams and the multitude of diverse settings, my coverage of the ASVi museum is split into two parts, showing a combination of equipment portraits and the line's discrete surroundings.



A close-up of the side of SNCV tram 9288 from 1910, showing the Vicinal's coat of arms.  Prominent atop the herald is the crown of King Leopold II, who founded the railway in 1885.



One of my first photos after arriving at the museum shows cars 9924 and 10308 at the northern edge of the property.  This scene almost caught me unawares and I had to use a telephoto setting to show one car waiting on a siding as the other heads for the center of Thuin.  No. 9924 dates from 1931, while 10308 was built in 1942.

Here are a few equipment views.
 

No. 10308 awaits passengers prior to leaving (previous photo) for Thuin Ville Basse (Thuin lower town), one of the three destinations to which visitors could ride.  This unit is a Vicinal "Standard" tram, a group of some 400 4-axle cars built beginning in the 1930s.  This one dates from 1942.
 

Single-truck tram 9288 was built in 1910.  Initially Vicinal cars were equipped with either poles or bow collectors, which in most cases were later replaced by pantographs.  However the poles were retained on the Brabant division, which was centered in Brussels, as dual gauge trackage was shared with the local tramway, which employed poles for current collection well into the last half of the twentieth century. 


Tram 9924, posed on a siding waiting to be summoned into service to carry museum visitors.  It was built in 1931, part of the last major series of four-wheelers to be operated on the national system. 



Tram 10480 was part of a series of 81 new cars built for the Vicinal between 1949 and 1958.  Christened Type N, the modern car from 1954 operated on the Brussels network with trolley poles.  It is shown on Avenue de la Couture at Thuin Cimetiere, half-way between Thuin-Center and Lobbes..

And now we switch gears and look at ASVi's roster of preserved units that are do not run on electricity.  While the Vicinal electrified its busiest lines, the vast majority of the national system had to depend on steam and diesel power.  In 1950, before rail abandonment got into high gear, the system's total length was 2,641 miles, of which over 60 percent, some 1,691 miles, were powered by fossil fuel.  The home of the museum's wireless operations is a two-mile stretch over an abandoned SNCB standard-gauge line, which the organization converted to meter gauge. 



Passenger carrying Autorail AR 86 from 1934, shown pulling a pair of trailers, approaches the mid-station of the line at Haut-Marteau.  Until just before our visit, when work was completed to extend the line further southward, the passing track was regularly used to allow the motor to run around the train and head back to Thuin.Rue de Rag
 
 
 
 
Rue de Ragnies crosses above the regauged former SNCB line near the museum's southern terminal in the village of Biesme-sous-Thuin.  Autorail 300 was the last of 4 diesel motor cars built for the Vicinal--in 1947.

 


The loving restoration of steam tram HL303 had just been completed when it was shined up for deployment for the museum's festival weekend.  It was displayed and then moved under its own power without passengers for short distances on the museum's trackage directly outside the storage barns.  Since then the 1888-built unit has been operated occasionally in museum passenger service to Biesme-sous-Thuin.
 

 

 
Thuin Ville Basse, or Thuin Lower Town, near the former outer terminal of routes 91/92, with SE-class car 9974 from 1958.  The parking of automobiles on the part-time used track can be a problem, but was not on this festival Saturday.  The scene evokes memories of regular Vicinal tram service in towns throughout the length and breath of Belgium in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s.
 
Thus,we have ended Part 1 of this report with a preview of the photos in Part 2, which will show locations along the portions of SNCV's former route 91/92 that are now served by the ASVi.

The second part of this report about our Saturday, August 19 visit to the ASVi museum in Thuin continues with views of the trams in various settings along former Vicinal route 91/92.  But first, here are some photos of PCC 10409, which I consider to be the piece de resistance of the ASVi's collection of rolling stock.  
 

This car was one of 24 American-style units built by La Brugeoise Nicaise & Delcuve
 (later La Brugeoise et Nivelles, then BN*) in Bruges (Brugge) for the Vicinal.  The cars were delivered in 1950 and split between the Hainault (Charleroi) group and the Leuven-to-Brussels route, but eventually all of them operated in the Charleroi area.  Richard Solomon and I were able to ride and photograph some of these streamliners in the summer of 1960, just a few months before they were sold to the transit system in Belgrade.  SNCV's decision to eventually close most of its tramways had made these unconventional cars excellent candidates for early disposal.  They ran in Yugoslavia's capital for some 20 years until their replacement by Tatra PCCs in 1981-82, and I was fortunate enough to ride and record their operation in that city in 1967.  As soon as they were retired the ASVi began efforts to bring one back to Belgium.  Some of the surplus funds from a successful charter on the Charleroi system as part of the E. R. A.'s first European trip in 1983 were donated to the group to prime its plan to return and renovate No. 10409.  The PCC returned to its native soil in 1985 and was soon restored to its Vicinal appearance and operating characteristics.

* BN built the first LRVs for Portland, Oregon.

For most of their lives on the SNCV, the cars were painted in the organization's standard all-cream livery, but between 1957 and 1959 some were given the red-and-cream bus color scheme, which was also being applied to other trams in the Charleroi area.  And this was the livery the renovated 10409* sported when it emerged from the shop.  In Belgrade the PCCs initially appeared in two-tone green, but later in green and cream, and finally in red and cream colors.   On a bright and sparkling Saturday in June, 1989 I had the privilege of riding the bright and sparkling streamliner on a fantrip that covered most of the Vicinal's remaining trackage in the Charleroi area (the museum was still connected to the system at Anderlues then).  My enjoyment was magnified to the utmost level after I was rewarded with the opportunity to operate the PCC over SNCV trackage in the La Louviere area.  It certainly was a thrill to step on the pedals and witness the car accelerating to my touch.  Today was the first time I'd ride the car again in almost 30 years, almost 60 years after I my first experience with European-built PCCs in Den Haag.

* To this mathematician the number of the restored PCC is significant.  It consists of the first three perfect squares separated by zeros.

Here are five photos of the car operating on this extraordinary Saturday.


The PCC edges out of the ASVi carhouse in the early afternoon.  Note the sign that once indicated where SNCB trains would stop at Thuin West.  This may be very close to its original location.



Emerging from the private right-of-way alongside the SNCB railroad embankment in Lobbes, the streamliner is about to cross 
National Road 559 (Rue de la Grattiere) and enter the pavement of Rue des Villas, where a passing siding is located. 




 
Above and below:  Two views of the PCC car operating through the streets of Thuin's lower town.  The upper photo was taken along Rue t'Serstevens while the lower is at the end of the line, along the Sambre river.






A superficial glance at this view along Rue du Moustier in Thuin might make one suspect that the 10409 is about to disappear around the corner, but in reality it is operating toward the camera, as can be verified by looking through
 the rear window and seeing the motorman operate the car's backup controller.

Now some photos along the former route 91/92 in sequence from the museum to the current outer end of service.  You may follow along on this map:  
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASVi_museum#/media/File:Lobbes-Thuin_tramway_relief_map.svg.




 
Above and below:  Two views of tram operation along Avenue de la Couture where it crosses under the SNCB railroad tracks just north of the museum.  The upper photo shows car 9288 from 1910 pulling a trailer southward from Lobbes to the museum grounds, while the lower view, taken a minute or two later, is of 1931-built No. 9924 also returning to its home base.






Another view of No. 9288 along Avenue de la Couture, this time about to take the curve on the northern side of the SNCB underpass.  The Dutch Colonial house appeared to be undergoing renovation.  The road peters out behind the tram at Thuin Cimetiere.  Between that point and the adjoining town of Lobbes, the track runs on private right-of-way parallel and below the railway embankment.



No. 9924, running away from the camera, is flagged across National Road 559 (Rue de la Grattiere) in Lobbes from Rue de l'Abbaye onto the prw that will carry it to Thuin Cimetiere. 



No. 9515 and 9974 pass on Rue de l'Abbaye near the Lobbes railway station.  The 9515, which dates from 1918, was celebrating its 100th birthday, while in comparison the 9974 is just a baby of 60.  The clouds were starting to thicken, and the sun was about to disappear for the rest the day.



After somewhat of a U turn beyond the Lobbes railway station, the course of former route 91/92 emerges from prw onto Rue de Entreville.  No. 9924, going away from the camera, is about to turn away from the side of the road as it heads back to the museum.



The current northern terminal of the museum line at the side of Rue des Quatre Bras in Lobbes.  Motor 9515 from 1918 followed the outbound green motor-trailer set from the museum and is now attached to the consist.  The motor in the rear, No. 9288, will soon be separated and then will follow behind once the now two-car train moves forward.  This is the typical mode of operation, as there is no passing siding to let a motor run around its trailers at the current end of the line.  The ASVi hopes to extend operations for a further mile or so toward Anderlues, with Lobbes Bonniers then becoming the terminal.


Finally, a scene at the museum that evokes memories of my visits to Belgium in the 1960s and '70s.



The two trams, captured alongside each other on the museum grounds, are good examples of the last two groups of double-truck cars added to the SNCV's roster: 81 type Ns from 1949 to 1958 and 210 similarly-bodied type S units from 1953 to 1959.  Type N No. 10480 was built in 1954 for service on the Brabant division.  Capable of speeds up to 45 mph, the pole-equipped unit and its brethren were extremely busy serving Expo '58, the Brussels World's Fair of 1958 (whose symbol was the Atomium).  The Vicinal, supplementing extensive local tram service to the grounds with its direct route from Place Rogier and Gare du Nord, was an important player in serving the hugely successful exposition that was held in the northern reaches of the capital.  In fact, in order to speedily bring its riders from the suburban ends of the lines to the Expo, it even built a 2000-foot long subway tunnel under Parc de Laeken.  After the SNCV lines were abandoned in 1978 the tunnel lay derelict until 1994, when the tracks were finally regauged and certain Brussels city routes were extended to run through this valuable piece of infrastructure.  Speaking of Expo '58, at right is SE-class car 9974 built in that year as one of the last S-type Vicinal units.  Most* of these trams consisted of new bodies placed on trucks coming from older "standards" and other wooden 4-axle cars.  Using the motors and electrical components that came with the trucks, and unlike the all-new N-class cars, the rebodied units remained geared to pull trailers, which was necessary on the Coastal Tramway and during peak periods in Charleroi, Brussels and other cities.  The SE designation was applied to 13 cars remodeled for World's Fair-bound passengers, indicating their interiors were outfitted with more comfortable seating and a special modern decor.  When construction of Charleroi's Metro was undertaken some of the S units were modernized with new, more streamlined bodies (class SJ).

* Only 7 class S cars were built entirely new.  10 N-class trams were converted to class S, making the total of cars with N/S body styles in the postwar period equal to 281 rather than 291.


The museum's N-class 10480 (above) and Standard 10308 (shown in the previous segment) were recently transported to Brussels, where they were placed on display as part of the May 1, 2019 150th anniversary celebration of trams in Belgium's capital.  See 
http://transphoto.ru/photo/1211483/?vid=457242.

Segment 8 will continue with the next day's activities, which also involved a survey of parts of the former Vicinal tramway system, but in other locations.



 
 
 
 
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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, August 12, 2019 9:21 AM

Photos added sccessfully, today, 12 Aug. '19

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Posted by York1 on Monday, August 12, 2019 9:27 AM

Very interesting.  Thanks!

John

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, August 14, 2019 1:42 PM
Continued from Segment 8.

We had a number of tasks scheduled for Sunday, August 19, but felt they all could be accomplished at a leisurely pace.  We would conclude the day by leaving the Kingdom of Belgium and entering the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, where we would spend the next two nights, but first we wanted to continue our nostalgic survey of the Vicinal with stops to ride and photograph two diesel-operated light railways that were once part of the national system of secondary railways.

The first would be at Han-sur-Lesse, some 65 miles southeast of Charleroi, which, according to Google Maps, we could reach in just over an hour.  We slept in a little later than normal, had our usual robust breakfasts, checked out of the Ibis and had no trouble leaving the hotel's parking lot and getting out onto the highway by 9:30.  The forecast was for a cloudy morning, with the skies clearing up later.  Han-sur-Lesse is the home of one of Belgium's most popular tourist attractions, the Grottes de Han (or Caves of Han).  Located in the Ardennes forest, 
a region of rolling hills and rough terrain (made famous by major extended battles in both world wars), the caverns have been served by a meter-gauge railway since 1906.

When the SNCV was dissolved in 1991 the only passenger service still in operation other than the Coastal Tramway and the Charleroi system was the diesel-operated Han tramway.  Located in the French speaking section of the country, the line became part of the TEC, the same organization that operates throughout Wallonia (including the Charleroi Metro), but remained under lease to an consortium controlled by the owners of the caves and operators of the tourist attractions in the area.  Its website is 
http://www.grotte-de-han.be/en/the-cave-of-han.

Anyway, we had ascertained that the first trip of the day would be at 9:30, but figured service might not reach its peak until later.  We arrived in the town at 10:30, and found that all the close-by parking lots were already filled.  As a result we had to park a little further away than we wanted, but that wasn't really a problem.  Based on the information we compiled from the internet and the notices posted at the visitor's center, we were afraid we would have to pay 19 or 21 Euros to ride the line, as the fares were bundled with admissions to one or more tourist attractions.  But when we got to the ticket window and indicated we only wanted passage on the tram, we were sold [unadvertised] 3-euro round-trip tickets.

We positioned ourselves to photograph the 11:10 departure, which we found to be a convoy of three trains, each consisting of a red autorail tracteur pulling three open trailers.  As soon as they passed the sun started breaking through the clouds, so we knew we would be back later for more pictures, but now it was time to get on the long queue of visitors waiting to ride.  After the trains returned from the cave entrance a little before 11:30 we were able to climb aboard the last open coach in the three-train procession.  Loading takes place from a long curved platform that is alongside the turnaround loop, which makes operations both fast and simple.  There is no unloading, as virtually no passengers ride in the other direction.  The 9 coaches soaked up almost all of the large orderly crowd, but because of demand, some passengers were left behind to wait for the next departures, scheduled for a half-hour later.  We pulled away from the station on time at 11:40+, as per the posted timetable.  The operation appeared to be very professional.  The enjoyable 13-minute ride was on single track, and except for skirting a campsite was through a wooded area.  We took photos at the line's end point, which is equipped with a passing track.  While all of our fellow passengers queued up to enter the main attraction, we surveyed the rail activities.  The motor of the first train of our convoy was detached and ran around the string of all three trains, changed ends and then backed into our train, whose motor was then detached and driven back a short distance to couple onto the second train.  Then its motor was detached and in turn hooked up to what was the original rear car of the first train.  The procedure was simple and quickly accomplished by the three operators.  We boarded the first motor for the return trip and not-unexpectedly were the only passengers aboard.  Unfortunately, our lack of French made it virtually impossible to converse with the operator.

Upon our return we positioned ourselves to photograph the 12:10 procession, which also operated on time.  We then wandered about for a while, picking up brochures (and ice cream), and finally started on the next part of our journey.

A few of my photos are below, but first a little more history from both 
personal knowledge and the internet.  In 1967, while living in The Hague, Clare and I drove to Han and visited the cave, participating in the entire tourist rigamarole.  It was in the fall and the caves were not too busy, nor was everything precisely organized and carefully controlled as it is now.  I was able to get some slides of trains that consisted of a mixture of cream colored equipment and some that were red and cream.  We rode aboard a motor-trailer-trailer consist to a point where we had to walk downhill for a short distance to the entrance of the cave.  We then toured the underground cavern at our own pace, and eventually came to a point where we had to board a boat on the Lesse River to take us through the final lap and back out into the open air, where we easily walked back to my automobile, a 1967 BMW 1600.*  It was a very enjoyable excursion.  Now I am told that visitors to the cave are escorted by multilingual guides and also attend a sound and light show.  Also the boat ride is gone, replaced by a "bridge" (over the river?).

* Our daughter Sandy was less than a year old at the time;  she eventually learned how to drive using that car.

As for the 2
½-mile long line itself, in 1967 it was still being operated by the SNCV.  It had become totally isolated when the connecting Vicinal lines were closed to passengers in 1955 and abandoned totally in 1957.  None of these lines had ever been linked up to the bulk of the SNCV, but they did reach various SNCB railroad stations.  Since 1955 passengers arriving in Han-sur-Lesse by public transportation have had to ride on a bus.  The outer end of the line was relocated in 1969 to run directly to the entrance of the cave, as we witnessed now.  Then in 1989 the stub end terminal in the town itself was replaced by the current loop.  Five of the original motors are in service with a sixth undergoing renovation.  It appears, however, that the Detroit Diesel engines retrofitted into the 1934- to 1936-built tracteurs that succeeded steam traction are now in the process of being replaced with battery power, and apparently some, if not all, have already been so converted.  The 9 open trailers are replicas of the originals, but built in the 1990s and equipped with air brakes.

 
AR145, constructed in 1934 and pulling three trailers, is shown approaching the curved Han-sur-Lesse platform where passengers (like Karl-Heinz and I) were queued to ride the next convoy of three trains to the Grottes, which was scheduled for 11:40.




 
Above and below:  My initial and ultimate photos of the former Vicinal line from Han-sur-Lesse to the nearby cave during our August 20th visit.  Both show Autorail 266 (built in 1936) at the beginning (or end) of the loop that leads into the inner station.  In the upper view, an empty train emerges from the woods on a return trip from the grotto at around 11:00 while the sky was still filled with clouds.  The sun had finally broken through about an hour later, and the same train is shown below heading toward the cave with a full load of passengers.
 




We got back onto the road at around 12:40 and headed to Erezee, the location of the TTA, the Tramway Touristique de l'Aisne, a museum-style heritage operation over former Vicinal trackage.  The railfan-oriented organization had scheduled three round trips for this Sunday, to leave Erezee for Forge a la Plez at 11:00, 14:00 and 15:30.  We decided to ride the 14:00 train and chase the 15:30, and subsequent to a short 25-mile drive in a northeastward direction on quiet secondary roads, arrived at the departure point at 13:30--but only after an unexpected stop.  As we had gotten close to our destination we suddenly came upon a plinthed tram at the side of the road. 
 


Encountering this deck-roofed tram certainly made us blink and then caused us to almost stop in our tracks, or at least pull off to the side of the road as we neared Erezee and the Tramway Touristique de l'Aisne.  It turned out to be a "monument" celebrating Vicinal 10737, one of the trailers that was once pulled by steam locomotives and later by diesel autorails on the SNCV lines centered on the nearby town of Melreux.  The real 10737 was built in 1919 and remained in service until the abandonment of the area's small network in 1959.  But this car is actually trailer 72 from the city system in Gent, and was built in 1912.  It had been acquired by the museum we were about to visit and renumbered to commemorate the local tramway--and perhaps also serve as a subtle billboard advertising the heritage line.

We duly arrived at our well-marked destination and found a two-story modern building shared by the museum and the region's office of tourism, containing exhibits, a souvenir/book shop, a cafeteria with food and drink vending machines and a small auditorium for movie/video programs.  But our interest was centered on the railway. 

The Tramway Touristique de l'Aisne (TTA) was founded in 1964, after a group of Belgian railfans who wanted to create an operating museum teamed up with the mayor of the village of Dochamps, who wanted to attract tourists to the area.  Their idea was to 
preserve and replicate the experience of Belgium's rural population in the period when society depended on steam and diesel-powered tramways to transport residents and their goods.  In 1965 the group acquired a 7-mile portion of the idle Vicinal Melreux-Manhay line between Erezee, Dochamps and Lamormenil, which had been completed in 1912, to serve as a representative portion of the nation's secondary rail system.  The meter-gauge line had been closed to passengers in 1954 and abandoned outright in 1959, and so the right-of-way was still virtuously intact, thereby allowing the line to be rebuilt with less effort than starting from scratch.

Melreux was the area's SNCB railhead and the center of a two-line portion of the Vicinal system in the province of Luxembourg.  Like the network around Han-sur-Lesse, it was isolated from the bulk of the national system, in this case falling short by about two miles for a connection in the town of Comblain with lines that were centered in Liege.

A year after it took title to the line the TTA was able to move a diesel autorail tracteur as far as Dochamps and by 1967 it had obtained a steam locomotive and rolling stock, which allowed it to begin offering rides to the public.  In time additional steam locomotives and diesel railcars were obtained, and for a short period the line was even operated electrically (1975) with a pair of Verviers trams sandwiching a rolling generator car.  Throughout the period scheduled tourist operation was provided between Erezee and Forge a la Plez, locations where there were passing sidings--and this is the section of line we rode on this pleasant Sunday afternoon.

The acquired line finally was restored to its outer end at 
Lamormenil in 2015.  Round trip fares were 11 Euros to Forge and 17 to Lamormenil.  However, during our visit all service was operated to Forge (only 4 miles) because the rails had buckled due to excessive heat on the line's outer end.  Next time . . .

According to a Dutch site on the internet, the TTA's motive power consists of 5 autorails, built between 1933 and 1935, and 3 steam locomotives, dating from 1915 and 1920.  It states there are 10 trailers, 2 of which are open-bench cars.  It is doubtful that the steam locomotives were functioning in 2018, as we couldn't find any scheduled events on the association's website that called for their operation.

Our motor, ART 69 from 1934, pulled three trailers, which were reasonably well patronized.  A small bus had brought a group of young people, some of whom may have been autistic, to Erezee for the excursion.  The ride, through a mostly wooded landscape, took about a half hour in each direction, while another 10 minutes was spent readying the short train for its return trip.  Here are some photos from the start and end of our journey.  We passed the carhouse near the line's first grade crossing, but weren't able to see any equipment of great interest in the vicinity.


Upon our arrival in Erezee we observed what would become our train of a motor and three trailers laying over near the end of track just beyond the station.  It must have been positioned there after coming in from the first round trip of the day.  While we were inside the visitor's center the crew ran the autorail around the train and then brought it to the paved platform.


 Upon our return to Erezee, our motor, ART69 from 1934, ran around the train to prepare for its 15:30 departure, passing the attractive visitors center. With 5 such autorails on the property, it was possible that a red-and-cream unit could have propelled us on this day.



ART69 and its three trailers, ready to accept passengers from the paved platform for the TTA's 15:30 trip to Forge-a-la-Plez.
 


Forge-a-la-Plez is as far as the TTA would be going today.  ART69 is shown running around the train to prepare for the return trip to Erezee.  Notice the equestrians passing to the right of the tracteur.  The neighborhood has a horse riding academy and an equine rental business near the tracks.


We returned to Erezee, officially Pont d'Erezee, at 15:00, which gave us plenty of time to watch the motor run around the train again and get back on the road to reach our first location for photos of the 15:30 trip.  We had enjoyed our excursion, and felt it probably provided an 
accurate impression of transportation on the rural lines 85 years ago, right after steam propulsion was replaced.  The question I kept wondering about was how fast did these autorail trains go, say right before the Second World War.  Was it as slow at the 15 or 20 mph we experienced?

As we reached the main road, national highway N841, we saw some police cars parked at the intersection, but did not give them any further thought as we passed by.  We set up for photos two miles down the road at the village of Amonines and I was able to make two exposures of the train trundling up to the grade crossing and then passing by.



Puff, puff, puff.  ART69 is captured by the camera as it emerges from the woods near the village of 
Amonines on the last run of the day from Erezee to Forge-a-la-Plez.
 


The 15:30 southbound train passes through the village of Amonines.  The open bench trailer was very popular with passengers on this warm, sunny afternoon as it effectively caught the breeze. 


We were stymied in our attempt to chase the autorail for additional photos, as by the time we reached the main road again, access was blocked by a policeman.  In talking to the driver of another vehicle who spoke English and had communicated with the police officer, the road was temporarily closed to make way for a bicycle race.  Apparently we made it to our photo stop by a whisker, as the appearance of those police cars probably meant the road was about to be shut down just after we turned onto it.  Now we had to wait for over a half hour until all the stragglers cycled by before we could resume our trip.  By then it was too late for more photos, so we continued on to the city of Luxembourg, some 60 miles further.  The ride then became uneventful, at least until we arrived at the traffic circle near the airport and couldn't figure out which leg to take to get to our motel.  We finally made the right (literally) turn and got to our accommodations, where we had to press a button and be interviewed at a barrier to get into the parking lot.  Being so close to the airport the management was making sure that airline passengers weren't clogging up all the parking spaces.

After checking in we were given a keycode for entry and egress at the barrier.  We found a decent restaurant at another nearby hotel and soon retired to a restful sleep before our next day's activities.  This would constitute a total reversal of our last two days of emphasis on heritage operations in favor of exploring a real urban transit operation, created recently in order to carry thousands of people--in other words, Luxembourg's new  tramway.

To be continued in Segment 10.

I'm leaving for Toronto/Kitchener tomorrow and so the distribution of segment 10 and the succeeding parts of this trip report will be delayed until my return in about a week's time.

Jack

 

 
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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, August 15, 2019 2:16 AM

Photos installed

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, August 15, 2019 2:35 AM

The photos in the first posting of this thread and several subsequent postings, including several by other posters, have been removed.

Who?   Why?

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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, August 15, 2019 4:32 AM

If I learn that the moderator did not remote them, I'll do my best to replace what was removed.   Might take several days.

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, August 16, 2019 12:48 AM

But all seems OK this morning.  Could it have been a server problem here?

Correction, there is a segment missing, but it is now in the process of being restored as an edit.  First the text, and hopefully after a few hours, the pictures.

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, August 16, 2019 12:58 AM

Don't know Dave, but when I tried for you I can tell you those pictures were a nightmare! Took a month off my life! Never dealt with anything so frustrating . 

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, August 16, 2019 1:17 AM

I am so delighted with Jack's reports that I won't complain at all about the format he uses to send me these reports, just happy to get them and happy to be able to share.  However, when each trip is complete I do make pdf books of the total trips to make it easy for me to use the text and pictures in the future.  And I am in the process of assembling the pdf for this Paris-based trip.   I have done Uk, Southern Europe, Baltic, New Orleans, & USA Streetcar, and Jack permits me to share them.   I ccannot email them all at once, since some approach or even are just at the 25000mg limit on Google transmission.  Anyone wanting any or all can contact me, and I will do my best to be helpful.

But your effort in posting the pix indicates why I prefer to post the text at the Yeshiva and use my limited time at the University only for the pix.   Trying to do it all at once opens possibilities for mistakes and confusion.

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Posted by Miningman on Friday, August 16, 2019 1:23 AM

Of course. I understand. Certainly hope Jack appreciates your effort. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, August 16, 2019 4:15 AM

Success in adding the photos.  

Jack had included a statement that could be termed political, and it was unnecessary, and so I removed it.  Strange, since neither he nor I agree with the specific politics.   I will be more careful.

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