The Longest Passenger Train in the World (7)

Sequel February 19th, 1989 (2)


With Arie in position we’re just moments away from our record attempt. We received  word that everthing is ready and after the doors have been closed the departure order is given. The signals come out of the stop position and winkes at us with a green eye. The first part shall be from the third track from Kijfhoek in the direction of the bridge of Dordrecht. From there the signal gives permission to go down the bridge with a maximum speed of 60 km/h. Then we follow track nr. four in the direction of Lage Zwaluwe. There are no particularities, exept the incredible number of people beside the track.

Photo: Arie at the controls...

Carefully Arie switches the traction on. To be on the safe side he gives no more than 1000 ampere of power to the engine. Nothing much happens. But when the power is slowly increased the locomotive finally comes into action. The mass in the towing-hook feels like a sponge, in contrary to what you experience with a freight train (much worse than with a 5000 tons train with automatic coupling). Normally you can feel every carriage starting up in the back of your seat; one by one. This time this feeling fails to appear. But it seems the train is starting up without any problems. When the first crucial moment has passed I see that the volume of the telerail is quite high. We put it high ourselves that morning, in case there were calls when we were not close to the telerail. (before I go on with my story I have to tell that while you controle the volume the telerail gives a corresponding loud signal). Because we don’t need a loud signal I adjust the volume. Arie hears this and looks in reaction up to the telerail for a moment. He doesn’t give it much attention, but he misses the buzzer from the dead-man’s pedal, who sounds at exactly the same moment. It’s diabolial that this happens; the same loudness of the two signals at exactly the same time. I do hear the signal of the dead-man’s pedal but give it no attention either. I’m focused on the telerail. Suddenly I hear Teus Mels calling; ‘dead-man’s pedal’!!. But by then it’s too late. Slowly we come to a stop. The first attempt has failed. When running any other train the engine-driver would probably say nothing to the train service leader, call himself a fool, fill the train reservoir with air, wait untill all the brakes are in working order again en depart yet. But not so in our case; it takes more than five minutes before the brakes are in working order again, and every carriage has to be checked. We have no choice but to report that we cannot depart!. According to schedule the next possible moment to depart will be 30 minutes later. It’s not so much of a problem for us because we need the time.

Photo: A shiny polished 1607, shortly before departure as LRT trainnumber 37860.

Photos left and right (Wybe Bruinsma): At the edge of  railway yard Kijfhoek there are quite a number of spectators. On the photo on the right you see the LRT after the second and final attempt  depart.

Click here for the contribution of Wybe concerning the radio broadcasting amateurs who were present in the train!

We learned from our mistakes and the second attempt succeeds. The train is finally moving this time. After a little while we pass underneath the viaduct of the Munnikensteeg. The weight of the train is no longer an issue now that we’re moving. We can start the climb  against the slope to the bridge.

Photos (M. Haman): LRT passes Kijkhoek south.

While we’re running Arie tries to sense in what way the train is behaving with those 60 carriages. Jaap Schuit had told us it would be fantastic, but we found this a little hard to predict. An Intercity carriage runs light, but there is the question of the length of the train. We don’t know in how many curves the train is bent. We will find out when we reach the bridge near Zwijndrecht. Whatever happens, Arie isn’t going to take any chances. Until the train is on the bridge running it is fairly (freight)routine. Over 2500 tons against the slope. So far so good….But there is the question of speed. When the first 30 carriages are over the top, we will be pushed in the back. The way in which the speed will increase, with the traction shut down, depends solely on the weight of the last part of the train. The extreme length, the difference in altitude and the curves in the track are unknown factors. The safest way is to moderate our speed and see what happens while descending. To use the brakes would be an emergency measure and we can always increase the speed. It appears the train is behaving like an old man with bad legs due to the resistance of the weight of the train. And slowly and composed the train is running of the bridge. Before the last carriages can give us a push, the front part of the LRT is already in the curve between Dordrecht and Dordrecht-Zuid, which slowes us down. Until that moment we’ve seen spectators everywhere. Even on the roofs! What a crowd; it’s like the queen is passing by, Jaap says. It’s unreal and moving at the same time. But no wonder…..running a train that can stop at two stations simultaneously. Of course there are moments of surprise; while passing the platform of Dordrecht, wich is crowded with people, I see an old acquaintance. It’s Age Schotanus; one of the engine-drivers who learned me the trade in 1977. In the past he had moved from Rotterdam to the east of the country. I hadn’t seen him in years….and there he was! In the meantime Arie increases the speed to reach 60 km/h off Dordrecht-Zuid. All engine-drivers of the regular trains are warned to run with care. This is because of the growing crowds near the tracks. The spectators are even between the tracks or hanging from signalposts in order to get a view of the LRT. It’s completely crazy, but there is no way back. We have to go on……

Photo above: Past Dordrecht-zuid, a little before the exit of the Kiltunnel.

Photo below: A little further my wife took this photo. My children were too young at the time to travel with the LRT. Later a ring-road was layed-out at this spot.

Just after passing Dordrecht-Zuid Arie and me change places. I barely sit down when Jaap Schuit, who had been watching the speed-control for a while, asks if the train can go faster. I’m convinced that we are on a straight piece of track so I start to accelerate. I am careful not to exceed the power over 3000 ampere. It would be irresponsible because then the power could drop in the overhead wires.

Photo: View from the cabin. Near the last level crossing before Moerdijk it’s very crowded. 

Photo above (Wicher de Goede): Train 37860 approaches the same level crossing as on the photo above this one.

Photo below (Wicher de Goede): Except from the sky there is nowhere you can see the whole length of the train.

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