The Longest Passenger Train in the World (8)

Sequel February 19th, 1989 (3)


Slowly we increase the speed up to 80 km/h. The typhoons of the locomotive are sounding the whole time. Psychological it’s taking it’s toll and I have to force myself to keep rational. The next obstacle, the bridge of Moerdijk, is approaching fast. The script tells us to run step by step. Not because of the tonnage, but because the LRT has to be filmed in full length by a helicopter that’s flying along side the bridge. The length of the bridge is one kilometer, so at precisely the right moment the train is hanging over on both sides of the bridge by 300 meters. When the LRT passes too fast the helicopter won’t make it to the other side of the river  ‘Hollandsch Diep’ on time, and the back of the train then will have disappeared on the bridge. Of course this is the moment for the perfect press photo.

Photo: Very concentrated; it’s one exciting moment after another.

First we don’t have to use the brakes because of the slope. A little before the bridge we slow down to 30 km/h. Because of the delay we keep it that way, although we going too fast. In the film, if you are aware of this fact, you can see this very well. The last part of the shot from the helicopter is clearly showing this.

Photo: The bridge of Moerdijk. Clever shipowners organised tours for the occasion.

Watch this video of the LRT on the bridge of Moerdijk:

The descent from the bridge goes the same as the one in Dordrecht. The speed stays exactly the same because the last part of the train is still on the other side of the bridge and in the fly-over we’re making a S-turn. So there is not much traction necessary while descending to Zwaluwe. I’m looking out of the window a couple of times, hoping I can see the train at full length. Alas…! When the last part of the train has passed the fly-over, we start to increase our speed again. Lage Zwaluwe was also crowded with people and it seemed to get busier and busier.

Photo: the last carriage has just left the Moerdijkbrug. The train is approaching Lage Zwaluwe. Photo Marcel van Ee.

Photo (M. Haman)The LRT just after Lage Zwaluwe near Zevenbergschen-Hoek.

Now we’re going in de direction of Breda. To make a long story short; we start using the brakes near the bridge, which crossed the Mark at the time. We only use the ED-brake. Some underestimate the enormous power of this brake, which is formidabel! Near prinsenbeek our speed has dropped from 90 km/h to 60 km/h. At this point I stop using the brakes because the long curve in the track to Breda will slow us down strongly. Everybody’s getting real excited now because we nearing the finish. Now  it’s getting tense and I want to concentrate, I ask everone to be very quiet until we’ve stopped at Breda. If necessary only Arie and me will speak, although there is not much to talk about any more.

Before we reach the switches in the track I carefully use the ED-brake for the second time. It’s important to this bit by bit, waiting for the power of the brake equally distributing over every carriage. Finally we use the full brake capacity. Fortunately the track is not slippery. In spite of the heavvy clouds it’s still dry. If the tracks would have been wet it it would have been more difficult.

We knew the buffers between the cariages would suffer greatly, but as long as we were extremely careful we hoped everything would work out. Nevertheless the carriages cracked considerable during the use of the brake, and inspection after the record attempt was highly advisable. There was also the risk of a short drop in the power supply, which would give the train an enormous push forward and perhaps separate the carriages. It was known that at this point of the track.power failures occured. Alhough we had too much speed I decided to use the front power supplier and placed it against the overhead wires. In that case a power failure would have no impact. I carefully estimated the right moment. It certainly was not without a certain risk……in a curve and between track switches. Afterwards Jaap, Teus and Joop told me they were filled with fright at that moment. They wanted me to give them an explanation for my actions. Not Arie, by the way, he also used ‘engine-drivers mathematics’ from time to time.

So slowly decreasing our speed we entered the train station of Breda. Slowly I build up the pressure in the brake cilinders with the shunting brake. Usually the EP brake automatically takes over the ED brake, but this time I wanted to stay in control.

They asked me to stop the LRT at the number sign nr. 10, where the press and the notary were waiting. The train stayed in one piece but in the back of the train the impact was clearly felt. This was also the case at our departure from kijfhoek. Later we heard that some technicians fell (while leaning against the wall in one of the last carriages) at departure; as if they sat on a rat’s tail……

We made the Guinness Book of Records!! But the journey is not over yet…….

After dealing with the necessary formalities (part of this was the apprehension of certain 'persons', found in the LRT, in spite of the measures that were taken. After paying  a considerable fine they were forced to come to Eindhoven with us.) we continue our way to our final destination Eindhoven. Because I haven’t experienced a departure with the LRT yet, I will be the engine-driver for the first part. After a careful start I increase the power up to 3000 ampere. The most stressfull part is over now. And as promised we did have a green signal the whole way. The public is quite disciplined, some do strange things, but they all take care to be off the track on time. We haven’t encountered any dangerous situations, considering the circumstances. Gradually the speed increases. Finally, reaching Gilze-Rijen, the speed is 102 km/h. This would be the fastest the LTR would run during the attempt.

Arie Wander takes over again. First we make contact with the train service leader in Tilburg. His response is to take track nr. one. He tells us the station at Tilburg is packed with spectators. They are standing almost on the edge of the platform. Arie doesn’t take any chance and decides to drop the speed. After a little while we pass Tilburg at 80 km/h.

Photo:  Arie Wander takes the train from Gilze-Rijen to Eindhoven.

There are no further problems. After a while we reach Oisterwijk. As soon as I receive the right channel number in the display of the telerail, I call the boxman at Boxtel to ask if we’re cleared for the rest of the way. I’m stunned to hear we’re not……

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