The Longest Passenger Train in the World (2)

The start


 Many things concerning the organisation of the event past us by. Im speaking of myself and Arie Wander, the other engine-driver of the longest passenger train. Not until we were carefully questioned about the idea to run such a train, did we get really involved .What we didn’t know yet was that there had been a meeting about who would be capable to succesfully do the job. After having heard the details of the operation we both said yes to the job. Later I wondered what possessed  me. Running and especially using the brakes of something that weights 4 or 5 thousand tons, askes a lot of a engineer-driver, in spite of all his expertise and experience. Since we were used to run such trains on a daily basis it shouldn’t be a problem.

Every afternoon train 48117 ran from  IJsselmonde to Venlo. Here a quick snapshot before we depart. The enigeer-diver  who serves the diesel-engines for me, is John van Vugt. Click for more.

Even more, an important part of the selectionprocedure was an extensive experience with these kind of trains. Personally I had years of experience and before we started double-traction for the transport of ore, I was one of four engineer-drivers for the testride. The biggest instinctive problems with the LT was clearly not the weight but the fact that it was completely new to us and it had never been done before.

Passengerscarriages are no freightcarriages and are not constructed to be part of such a long train. Beside that there was the tension of having a TV-camera following us every step of the way. It gave us a feeling of limitation. It was not possible to compare this with anything I had ever done before and I wanted to consult my fellow engine-drivers, who are just as fantastic in their trade. But we were forced to keep silent; under oath of secrecy! So we just speculated in silence about the event. Arie was as serious and tense as I was.

During the meetings that followed we tried to get as much information as we could about the expectations concerning the use and character of the brakes. Also interesting for us was the way the connection between the carriages would hold. During this proces the idea of us being filmed went to the background. More important was the need of a script with al the safety aspects. Nothing could be left to chance. Brakecompany 'Oerlikon' was asked to design a simulation to predict the conduct of the brakes with 60 carriages. Although in Switserland they could only imitate a simulation with 42 carriages, they were sure it would work. Arie and myself were kind of sceptical, but we were allowed to travel to Switserland to see everything for ourselves and to have our specific questions answered.The tickets were ready when 'Oerlikon' at a last minute notice told us we were not welcome after all. Reason for this we were told was the manufactering of arms and munition on the plant. Together we decided, suggested by Arie, to take extensive tests with the brakes on Kijfhoek, using the long hoses of the groundservice. Later more about this subject….. Because the, sometimes disastrous, split-up of the Dutch Railroad Company had not taken place yet in 1989, it was not possible to keep anything a secret. Soon there came objections to the idea of a cameracrew in the cabine. Because of safety aspects the management clearly stated that filming was out of the question during the recordattempt on februari 19th. Solution for this problem was found in filming the cabinshots some weeks before the recordattempt. We could use the locomotive, the 1607, for two days, as well as two carriages. Later they would edit this material in the final result. What seemed to be an exellent idea turned into a bit of a problem due to the weather. I don’t remember everything exactly, but a fact is that one of the shooting days it was raining. The scène where the locomotive is attached to the carriage happened on the same rainy day. In the final version of the film, when you look closely, you see the water dripping next to the shunter. But on the day of the attempt there was not a drop of rain. For the final film the attatchment of the locomotive took place in Breda, as was the interview with the enigine-drivers before the attempt. In reality we brought the first part of the train with the 1607 to the departurelocation. Radiocrews did the rest.


Photo: From location Kijhoek-north the 20 first carriages are being brought to the departuretrack by the LT engine-drivers  themselves.

 The during the running of the train filmed scenes of the attatchment were also of an earlier date. The best shot perhaps, was the one where in the cabine a square clock on the control table was filmed that showed 90 km/u (55.923 miles/h) and trough the refection of the glass my face was zoomed in.  I remember vividly the reaction of Koos Snel (known als engine-driver for SSN) who said “nice speed, Cor”. After I told him that the square clock just read the adjustment of the automatic speedcontrole, he then understood. Double scènes……… the true runningspeed of an 1600 or 1800 locomotive is read from an horizontal placed band. With this knowledge it is perhaps fun to watch the film again and find the differences……. Do pay attention to the low signal which comes out of the stopstand before departure, while train 37860 was indeed standing for a highplaced  signal.

Photo: The high sign which would give a green flashing light for departure.

While I leafed trough my papers I found the service order dated february 11th, 1989, written by my service planner. Funny detail is that we used trainnumber 37860. The same number was used again february 18th when we ran to Breda for filmshooting. The days were long and tiring and it was a good thing nobody knew, due to technical problems, how late we quit that evening of the 18th. Later more about that subject.

It goes without saying all kind of things had to be arranged concerning the passengers. As the engine-drivers we only wanted to focus on everything technical that was to take place, so we didn’t pay much attention to that aspect. We told everyone to talk to the head guards with questions concerning the passengers. The only thing we did wanted to alter was the place from where the head guard was to give the command for departure. And so it happened; from the first carriage behind the locomotive.

Picture: Page from the 'script'. The command for departure is altered from carriage 14 to carriage 1.

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