The Longest Passenger Train in the World (9)

Sequel February 19th, 1989 (4)


Trains coming from the direction of Tilburg-Oisterwijk and ’s-Hertogenbosch end up in Boxtel. Before the tracÚ became four tracks wide, the train service leader fixed the order of going on to Best on basis of which train came first on the announcement. So on february 19th I was truly stunned to hear that the local train from Den Bosch came in first and was to leave first also. With my hand on the microphone I told Arie we would not have a green signal at Boxtel. He was shocked, so was everyone. Jaap called out ‘he must be green’! I told this to the train service leader in charge in a very compelling way, but I succeeded only half. I was thinking of the right arguments but couldn’t find them. We were very aware of the fact we couldn’t stop at a red signal at Boxtel. Jaap asked me to give him the telerail, and he told them if we had to stop we couldn’t depart anymore for many hours. It would be irresponsible to depart again for surely the crowd would gather around the train and it would become difficult to survey. Jaap told them that the Railway Police ordered this train to go on with absolute priority. And so it happened……

 (*).When we were still one company the conduct in case of emergencies was always in the hands of the highest person in charge no matter what  section he belonged to. There used to be a sort of military order. In this case it was an enormous relief!

By freewheeling the LRT Arie droppes the speed. The nearer we come to our final destination the more people we see. It’s almost a bit like the finish of the Tour de France, where people climb over the fences to embrace the racers. Large number of people are on the tracks now. The only track that’s clear is ours.

Photo: The LRT was received like a kind of hero on the third track to Eindhoven. After the attempt this photo was used for a poster titled ‘NS has the longest…..we have the most’ by the Railway Union FSV (it’s my 'CNV-hand' sticking out of the window of the locomotive) The  word ‘most’ reffered to the number of members at the time.

Actually it was quite frightening, especially when we seemed to ride into the crowd straight ahead of us near the ‘connection  eight’ (where we change tracks, following the third track to the Beukenlaan). Arie said he hoped the switch was OK. Jaap told him not to worry but I’m still not sure he meant it. The way the LRT behaved proved to be usefull. Arie let the train run out and only used the brakes at the very last part. It didn’t matter now anyway. Formally we were in the Guinness Book of Records, but now we truly finished!

When we come to a stop on Eindhoven Beukenlaan first we congratulate each other. Roel Ananias (our manager Traction and Equipment from depot Feijenoord) and Ben Bras (Region Director Rotterdam Cargo) come from their carriage to congratulate us. Of course Roel Ananias was informed by Teus about all that had happened. Concerning all the others; I suspect they had no idea. When Ben Bras informed if there had been any problems we told him there hadn’t been any. While the locomotive with the first nine carriages were separeted from the rest of the LRT, Arie and I went outside. There was still the text ‘I pull ( in Dutch: trek) the longest…..’ on the side of the locomotive. After our arrival at Eindhoven we would peel of the ‘e’ of ‘trek’ and underneath would show an  ‘o’ , which would make it ‘trok’; the past tense of ‘trek’. So now it was ‘I pulled the longest….’. The ‘e’ was made of magnetic vinyl and to prevent it being stolen by souvenir hunters it was taped with cellotape.  We removed the cellotape at our stop at Eindhoven Beukenlaan, since we could hardly do this in front of the press at Eindhoven. It’s funny to know that we arrived at Eindhoven with on one side of the train the word ‘trek’ , the platform side of course, and on the other side it already said ‘trok’.

Photo: On arrival at our final destination this  'e'  had already disappeared into my bag...

After all the exciting events that had taken place, the last part from Beukenlaan to Eindhoven wasn’t so special. However this counted well for the huge public interest on the platform of Eindhoven. Once again! There are so many people that the crowd need to be kept at a distance from us. Like it’s a real ceremony Arie and me pull the yellow plate with the wellknown ‘e’ from the side of the locomotive. Everywhere we hear the clicking  and humming of photo- and film camera’s….

Photo (Rob van Ee): At the side of the platform we change ‘trek into ‘trok’. We had already changed the other side at Eindhoven Beukenlaan.

Afterwards we speak with countless reporters, even the Australian television is present. Present as a translator is head of the NS-press Wim Binnendijk, but we don’t need his services. Like we agreed there were no details and no difficulties to report. We claim everything went very smoothly, although I think I got some amazed looks from some people. It’s difficult, but we would put ourselves in an awkward position if we would mention something of our problems. Nothing said is nothing lied….Of couse we also shook many hands, in most cases from strangers. Ben Bras is introducing members of the board of directors. Looking back I understand there were only invited guests present; passengers from the LRT and employees from NS. It became clear to me when I saw my father-in-law Nico Luijendijk (a retired boxman from The Hague) emerge from the crowd. My parents-in-law had followed the LRT with a regular train. Inconspicuously they also had been present at Breda.

Photo: Arie is congratulated in Eindhoven by Joost Cohensius.

Of course I cannot forget to mention al the signatures we put on literally everthing; handkerchiefs, pieces of paper, press photos, train tickets, envelopes and so on….The thing I also remember were the special cakes ordered by the organisation of NS-150 for the passengers, with the text ‘The longest Passengers Train in the World’. Someone showed us such a cake and we said we would love to have one. But there were alle eaten on the way and nobody had given a single thought of the engine-drivers of the LRT. The same thing happened with the cold buffet organised for all the people involved. After all our considerable efforts to give the Dutch Railroads a place in the Guinness Book of Records we could both take a part of the LRT and bring it back to Kijfhoek. At the last moment the Traffic Control decided one of us could go to the buffet, but we were in this together and we passed. We got ourselves a cup of coffee at the personnel quarters, where we were just in time to see us cross the Bridge of Moerdijk on television. Our colleagues were watching it mesmerized and never saw us standing in the door. Teus Mels, who sympathized with us, was to travel back with us. He insists on running the train, since we had done enough. It appears to be a good idea because in front of the train is an 1100 e-locomotive! When we leave Eindhoven it starts to rain. Taking turns on the only chair left in the cabin Arie and me count the minutes till we are home. I can’t remember, and neither can Arie, when I ever felt more tired….

When we reach Kijfhoek Teus makes sure our relieve engine-driver meets us at the level crossing near the main building. He doesn’t even know we have just run ‘The Longest Passengers Train in the World’, and askes us from which place the carriages come. From Eindhoven is our response. Then we say each other goodbye and go to our cars.

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