The Longest Passenger Train in the World (5)

To the Guinness Book of Records


 It’s february 19th, 1989! To the Guinness Boek of Records, of better said to Breda; for that’s the place we have to reach in order to establish a new world record. The record so far was the one made by the Australian Railways. On december 27th, 1974 they ran fortytwo carriages from Perth to Port Pirie. The train consisted of a Indian Pacific and two Trans Australians. The reason we have to run all the way to Eindhoven is a logistic one. We simply do not have the opportunity to ‘park’ this train anywhere but Eindhoven, because of it’s length of 1601 meters  and 58 cm…..

Because it had become very late the previous evening, we agreed dat Arie and me would arrive a little later the next morning. Jaap, Teus, Joop and a number of others would take care of everthing until our arrival. At least we would have a reasonable amount of sleep. The evening before I went straight to bed when I got home and slept like a log. My wife’s diary testifies that I wasn’t home until 23.30 hours:

Picture: A part of my wife’s diary.

For today’s events there is a guard at the gate on the northside of Kijfhoek and when I arrive the railway-yard appears almost ghostly quiet.

The railway-yard is, because of today’s events, only accessible for people on duty. This is to avoid the concourse of railway fans. And everyone who wants to go in  must explain their presence. During the night the railway-yard and the train had been guarded by the Railway Police, but nevertheless graffiti-artists had gained access to the railway-yard. Before they were caught the vandals were unfortunately able to smear a number of carriages of the record train. A cleaning crew (under supervision of Henk Poel, chief of Cleaning Rolling-stock) is on their way.


Picture: My shift for february 19th; a handwritten notice,

Because Arie and me are a little later to arrive it was arranged that we we taken from the main building to the north side by a (taxi) locomotive. The 1607, with the first 20 carriages, is waiting for us there. After this first part is placed on the departure track by us, schunters take care of the other two parts being placed behind the first. A wooden staircase for our circa 1000 passengers is brought in position. In the mean time a cleaning crew has arrived to remove the graffiti. The passengers are a group of selected people. Because the train has the status of ‘technical test run’, all occupants must satisfy certain conditions. In case there are irregularities, or even evacuation of the train we have to count on disciplined passengers. All passengers must be over six years of age and be able to walk on their own.


Picture: The announcement that was given to every member of the staff.

For this occasion there were special and numbered tickets made. The one below belonged to my region director (Ben Bras).

Picture: The tain ticket was also valid for the journey to Kijfhoek by a special train.

Before I describe the record attempt itself, I have to go back to Saturday evening, february 18th. After we finished with everything we couldn’t go home just like that. We still had a serious problem! The promess that we would have green signals all the way was great but it didn’t mean everything was watertight. For a start assistance locomotives would be permanently present. Besides that no regular trains were allowed on the track the LRT would use. If a locomotive ahead of us would break down, we would have a big problem. Although now we knew that we could stop on the way, we were not sure the train would stay in one piece. If we would have a signal failure it probably would be the end of the record attempt. There is no way you can oversee 1600 meter of train and also spectators would approach the train. For safety reasons alone it would be impossible to go on. But there was nothing we could do about these things but to accept them. Except for all this there was also the problem of local speed regulations. It was hard to control the speed if it changed alle the time. With such a long train it was almost impossible. But the ATB (Automatic Speed Control) would automatically operate the brakes. Besides; in those days there were regular failures in the ATB. So we decided to close down the ATB system. There were a few questions left concerning local tracks, but we would keep in constant telerail contact with trainposts on the way. In that way one engine-driver can concentrate on the run, while the other can provide him with the right information. This proved to be an excellent descision ....

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