The Longest Passenger Train in the World (3)

The proceedings: Saturday February 11th, 1989


As I wrote before, nothing was left to chance. For safety reasons we had to improvise a lot. On the previous page I already told you one or two things, but there are more things to be told. Concerning the first day of filmshooting on february 11th the script stated the next:

Who knows the world of Railroads, knows that many things turn out in a different way than they were intended. We found the 1607 “stone-dead” on  track 233. Without air in head- and sparereservoir and with not enough battery voltage. In a hurry we had to get another locomotive to fill the main reservoir, and without switching on the ATB (automatic max. speedcontrol) we barely had enough power to start up the engine. But by the time the cameracrew arrived everthing looked as if we didn’t have any problems at all!

I think I rembember ( it’s been 16 years!) we made some logical adjustments in the planning of that day. But even so, a couple of things simply took more time than was foreseen. It’s evident that the simulation of occupied tracks in the scène asked for very many short-circuit cables and shunting engines. The best achievement was the improvisation we, as engine-drivers, needed voor the slip of the wheel-axle of the locomotive:

At the time we were filming the part of the slipping wheel-axle and the sprinkling of sand, the tracks were absoluty dry. So what to do? We couldn’t use a dry track because it would be damaged as well as the wheel-bands of the locomotive. In the main building of Kijfhoek we pinched a bottle of detergent hoping it would make the track beneath the 1607 slippery enough. After the involved procesmanager had put the detergent on the head of the tracks, it soon dripped over the sides of the track. But because it didn’t look like rainwater we had to wipe the sides of the tracks with old rags. After a lot of carrying on we were finally reading for filming. With adjustments we tried to use the brakes in such a way that the locomotive would slip on the track. But it didn’t work. To get more grip we decided to put the back wheels on the shunting brakes. It would be enough for the film to see one set of wheels slipping. And again we couldn’t make this happen. Finally a shunter on duty hooked his 2200 locomotive on for more weight and reluctantly the 1607 slipped for a moment. Someone outside yelled  “sand” and I hid the button. Later on film it looked great! An attempt to let the locomotive run over a  camera was cancelled. There is not enough free space beneath a 1600 engine and besides that: camera’s were a lot bigger in those days. Later we heard that for some of the scenes they had to hang on the legs of the cameraman, for fear of him falling out of the train. Such things didn’t reach our earsat the time; we were much to busy with our own work. Attention also must be given to a few colleagues who were closely involved in many things concerning the record attempt. For instance there is the project leader Jaap Schuit. Naturally his experiences had to be told in the film. But there would be no opportunity during the record attempt. So this interview also took place before the final date. Everything he said during the interview was based on knowledge and experience, but in particular on expectations and hope. I knew Mr. Schuit already from other projects and I know him as a person who always keeps his cool, no matter the pressure he’s under. Fortunatly there were hilarious moments too. Because of the interview a mark was placed on the floor for the position of the interviewer and the person interviewed. Apparently the host of the show (called  “De eerste, de beste”) Joost Cohensius and Mr. Schuit were at first standing too far apart. The film director told them to get a bit closer and he had to do this several times. Mr. Schuit then said to Mr. Cohensius: “If this keeps going on, next thing you know we’re going steady”.  This took Mr. Conhesius by surprise and the film crew had to wait until he finished laughing. Also I must not forget to mention my superior, Mr. Teus Mels. During the whole thing he supported us on the background. Even during the interviews he kept making gestures, of which I still don’t know the meaning.

Photo: From left to right:  Teus Mels (Groepschef Krachtvoertuigpersoneel), Joop v.d. Hout (Materieel & Werkplaatsen) and Jaap Schuit (Ep 51).

After we finished filming, there suddenly was a panic. There seemed to be a filmcassette missing with material filmed that day. We searched everywhere, even in the locomotive, but suddenly the crew thought they might have been mistaken in the number of cassettes they brought. Talk about stress!!

Picture: Numbers and places of the 60 LRT-carriages.

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