These items come from Line News International ISSN 1354-0947 (c) The Branch Line Society 2000 International Editor: Brian Philp, 11 Arden Street, Edinburgh EH9 1BR, Scotland, UK, rail@rinbad.demon.co.uk

2000

0410][BE] Dendermonde - Baasrode-Noord - Puurs: (BLN 852.0325; Ball 8A2-8A3) It is unlikely that Stoomspoorlijn Dendermonde-Puurs were able to run from their base at Baasrode-Noord west into Dendermonde NMBS station at any time during summer 1999, for only in the autumn were they finally able to buy from NMBS various parts for the repair of diesel railcar #4302, their sole vehicle allowed to run on the main line. Through running to Dendermonde should again be possible in summer 2000. (Febelrail, autumn 1999)

0411][BE][DE] (Liège -) Welkenraedt SNCB/NMBS - Aachen DB: (R99.0134, 0268; Ball BE-10A2, DE-37A1) Just inside Belgium, where the world’s first international main line crosses the deep valley of the river Gueule, double-track working over the new Hammerbrücke was to replace the long period of single-line working on 15 November 1999. The two central girders of the old structure were taken down on 12-13 July 1999, and piers #1 and 3 were blown up on 13 August. The central pier #2 was reduced in height to some 8m, leaving it with its commemorative plaque as a monument to the Belgian soldiers killed dynamiting the strategic viaduct in May 1940. (Trans-fer, #113, October 1999)

0412][BE] Y Zaventem - Bruxelles-National-Aéroport/Brussel-Nationaal-Luchthaven: (R99.0326; Ball 10B2) Double-track working on line 36C to the airport was restored 26 September 1999. Y Zaventem north-side lead (track A) had been out of use from 22 March to 1 May 1998 and again from 16 October 1998 to 25 September 1999, with all trains in both directions using Y Zaventem south-side track B to run between line 36 and line 36C. (Trans-fer, #113, October 1999)

0413][BE] Libramont - Bastogne-Sud - Bastogne-Nord: (BLN 752.0147; Ball 17B3) During summer 1999 track between Bastogne-Sud and Nord was lifted, and a new road was laid on the platform side of the station-building at Bastogne-Sud. (Trans-fer, #113, October 1999) Each year since May 1993 the SNCB public timetable has repeated the fiction that Libramont - Bastogne trains are only temporarily (provisoirement) replaced by buses, but the reality is that neither the railway nor the Région Wallonne will stump up the costs of refettling line 163 and reintroducing passenger trains, now increasingly unlikely.

0473][BE] Knokke - Oostende - De Panne: light rail: (R.0323; Ball 7A3) A feature of Belgium’s Kusttram (= coastal tram) line is alternative rail-routes at opening bridges to avoid delay by movements of waterborne traffic. During a trip on 18 January 2000 a passing ship caused the lengthy and double-track diversionary route at Zeesluis to be used, but not the shorter single-track one at Vaart. Noteworthy as architecture are De Lijn’s somewhat ornate 1920s Vicinal station building at De Haan aan Zee and a rather fine 1920s-style concrete shelter at Bredene Renbaan. Altered line-diagrams inside the cars reveal the existence of a former stopping-place between Duinpark and Groenendijk-Bad, not now readily visible on the ground. The modest double-track diversionary route at the harbour bridges in Oostende was blocked and perhaps under repair, though work was not visibly in progress. The cars normally run through from end to end, but drivers work the line as two routes back-to-back on either side of Oostende. Knokke - Oostende is route #1 and Oostende - De Panne #2, though the numbers are not displayed on the trams themselves. Extensive track-relaying on the Raversijde - Ravelingen promenade section meant buses were replacing trams on the 28-minute journey between Oostende Station and Westende-Bad. Cars were turned using the Marie-Joséplein loop at Oostende and the loop at Westende, taken round as empty stock by a specially rostered shunt driver, while the ordinary drivers worked their normal route #2 duties, driving both bus and tram and transferring at Westende along with their passengers. The present tram-halt at De Panne Esplanade runs across the site of the former terminal turning-circle, but trams can still turn there using the triangular junction where the short branch diverges to the little tram-depot. The Oostende-facing curve of this triangle remains as in the previous layout but the one facing Adinkerke was installed when the line was extended to De Panne NMBS station.

0528][BE][DE] (Liège -) Welkenraedt SNCB/NMBS - Aachen DB: (R.0134, 0268, 0411; Ball BE-10A2, DE-37A1) The eastbound line A across the new Hammerbrücke was commissioned early, with the first passenger train being eastbound Thalys #9433 on 5 November 1999. (Trans-fer, #114, December 1999)

0558][BE] (La Louvière-Sud -) Y Haine-St.Pierre - Leval - Binche: (Ball 8A1; SNCB 108) The old Saxby signal-boxes at Leval and Binche are to be abolished when the planned singling of Ligne 108 (BLN 828.0278) goes ahead later in 2000. A railtour run by preservation group Patrimoine Ferroviaire Touristique on 18 March 2000 was probably the last train on the Raccordement Electrabel, a c.2km industrial line leaving Ligne 108 at Leval to serve a power-station, now disused, just north of Binche. No traffic had passed for some time and it is likely the connection at Leval, an indirect one from a siding on the west side of the main running lines, will be removed with the singling and resignalling. On the Electrabel line the PFT railcar managed to pass cautiously an embankment slip that had left the sleeper ends unsupported, but it could not proceed beyond the level-crossing at Rue de l’Industrie, Ressaix, about 1.5km from Leval, where road repairs had filled in a section of the rails. The Electrabel line is not shown on railway maps, but does appear on the 1:200,000 Michelin road map.

0596][FR][BE] Hautmont avoiding line (Feignies - Sous-le-Bois): (BLN 779.0212, 808.0368, 818.022; EGTRE FR00/125; Ball 16A3) The Mons SNCB - Maubeuge SNCF ordinary passenger service on the Raccordement de Sous-le-Bois ceased 6 August 1973, though this north-to-east curve near the Belgian border either retained or later acquired locally-advertised summer weekend SNCB trains between Maubeuge and the Belgian coast. In summer 1996 the main Bruxelles - Paris service became Thalys trains running via LGV Nord-Europe instead of the traditional route, Bruxelles - Mons - Quévy SNCB - Feignies SNCF - Aulnoye - Paris. New connections from Mons into France had to be established and most of them were and are made at Aulnoye-Aymeries. However, from 2 June 1996 the Sous-le-Bois curve was given a very limited all-year passenger service from Mons for those few connections made with the SNCF at Maubeuge instead of Aulnoye. This service became weekends-only from 28 September 1997, and is now reduced to SSuO train L5704 Mons - 07:00 Quévy - Maubeuge, connecting into the Berlin - Paris overnight train #242. With the summer 2000 timetable the Berlin - Paris overnight train is to be diverted via Bruxelles - Mons - Quévy - Aulnoye, and it is likely therefore that from 28 May 2000 all Mons - Paris connections will be made at Aulnoye. The Raccordement de Sous-le-Bois would thus lose its vestigial all-year service, though the weekend seaside trains - which are advertised from Maubeuge only locally - may well run again in summer 2000.

0753][BE] (Eeklo -) Baigerhoek - Maldegem: (R.0211; Ball 7B3) NMBS inspectors have banned use of the Eeklo - Baigerhoek section because of unsafe track condition. Stoomcentrum Maldegem are running only on the c.5km from Maldegem to Baigerhoek, which has no run-round loop, only a siding. Working there requires the use of overhead-maintenance trolley ES202 to shunt-release the stock. This pattern of operation is expected to apply for most of the (summer Sunday) season in 2000. Intending visitors may wish to check with the preservation group by e-mailing scm@yucom.be. Operations of other Belgian tourist lines may also be affected by tightening-up on track safety.

0777][BE] Gent trams: Gent-Sint-Pieters - Zwijnaardebrug: (R.0324) From 28 May 2000 tram-routes #21 and 22 were extended south of Sint-Pieters station, replicating route #5, abandoned in the 1960s. (Tramways & Urban Transit, July 2000)

0808][FR][BE] (Paris - Aulnoye - Hautmont -) Feignies SNCF - Quévy SNCB (- Mons - Bruxelles): (R.0596; Ball 16A3) Until the summer 1996 launch of the successful Thalys services that now run via the French and Belgian Lignes à Grande Vitesse, this was a busy international main line between two European Union capitals. The cross-border service today seems unnaturally sparse, with only one booked all-year-round passenger working each way from 28 May 2000, the overnight #242/3 Paris - Bruxelles - Berlin / Hamburg sleeper. All other trains are seasonal (EGTRE FR01/132). Notwithstanding R.0596, May 2000 also saw complete withdrawal of the short-haul Belgian services that formerly ran from Mons to Aulnoye or Maubeuge to connect with trains in France. The high international fares charged apparently discouraged short-distance traffic. If they follow the 1999 pattern, two summer 2000 weekend return workings to the seaside, shown in the SNCB timetable as running within Belgium, will probably again be locally advertised as actually starting in France, running Maubeuge - Sous-le-Bois - Feignies SNCF - Quévy SNCB - Mons - Blankenberge via the otherwise non-passenger Raccordement de Sous-le-Bois (EGTRE FR01/131).

0813][BE][LU] Liège - Rivage - Martinrive - Trois-Ponts - Gouvy SNCB (- Troisvierges CFL - Luxembourg): (R.0375; Ball 9B3-18A2) Electric services (3000V dc to Martinrive, 25kV 50Hz beyond) began 28 May 2000, but not without problems. High winds blew down a tree on to the wires. (Trans-fer, #116, June 2000)

0814][BE] Jemeppe-Froidmont - Moustier: (R.0325; Ball 8B1) On weekends 29-30 July and 5-6 August 2000 southbound trains on InterCity routes J and M were again being diverted via Gembloux - Jemeppe-Froidmont (line 144), the non-passenger north-to-east curve avoiding Jemeppe-sur-Sambre (line 130/1), then Moustier - Namur (line 130). Local trains were being replaced by buses, and northbound IC trains were not being diverted off their usual line 161. (SNCB public notice)

0815][BE] Ciney - Braibant - Spontin - Spontin-Sources (- Dorinne-Durnal - Evrehailles - Yvoir): (Ball 17A3-9A1) This secondary line was relatively late in being built by the Chemin de Fer de l’État belge (which became SNCB in 1926), the Ciney - Spontin section opening 5 May 1898, Spontin - Dorinne 1 May 1902, Dorinne - Evrehailles 1 May 1903, eventually reaching Yvoir 1 June 1907. It closed to passengers (and completely west of Evrehailles) 31 July 1960. Freight beyond Spontin-Sources ceased in the late 1960s, but the whole line west of there was not officially put out of service until 29 January 1971. Meanwhile the Carrières de la Rochette at Spontin-Sources continued to supply SNCB with ballast until 7 November 1983. SNCB may have formally abandoned the route in 1993 (BLN 705.02). Preservation group Patrimoine Ferroviaire Touristique first ran a trip on the line in September 1992, with more trips in later years. Regular Ciney - Spontin-Sources PFT trains ran on July and August Saturdays from 10 July 1999 (R.0213). The PFT preservation operation now calls itself Chemin de Fer du Bocq, after a local river whose valley the line follows.

The Ciney - Halloy - Braibant section is a third track following the same alignment north as the (Luxembourg -) Ciney - Namur (- Bruxelles) main line, but without any connection north of Ciney. Stations and halts were Halloy (alongside a chapel, remains of a low platform are just visible); Braibant (km3.367 from Ciney, where the secondary line diverges west; the building still stands, in private ownership and good condition); Sovet (km6.126; building in private ownership, at the bottom of a cutting in a remote spot); Senenne (a low platform remains); and Spontin (km8.790; building in good condition, probably in local-authority ownership, partly used by PFT, part for other purposes; on 22 July 2000 it seemed to be in use for a wedding reception). Spontin Sources at about km9.5 had no halt in pre-preservation days and is no more than a nameboard and temporary steps. Some technical setback has prevented the extension, timetabled for summer 2000, to Dorinne-Durnal (km11.6), so the tourist trains run to Spontin-Sources and reverse just beyond, at a point a few metres beyond the km10 post, on the Ciney side of the first culvert. They are then timed to spend 30 minutes at Spontin on their return journey.

0845] Promotion of ‘sustainable’ transport: In a symbolic move to increase awareness of the air pollution caused by private cars, various towns and cities in a number of countries are making Friday 22 September 2000 a ‘no-car day’ or ‘journée sans voiture’. Some places may run special rail trips on unusual lines, like the 1998 shuttle along a section of the freight-only La Rochelle - La Pallice line in France (BLN 837.0547). Readers might look out for, and tell us about, any such schemes. Belgium will be declaring the following eight days a ‘national week of sustainable mobility’ culminating in the annual TTB (Train+Tram+Bus) day on Saturday 30 September, which promotes public transport with cheap fares and a few unusual journey opportunities, including Neerpelt NMBS - Weert NS trains (R.0302).

0848][FR][BE] Carignan - Messempré: (Ball 17A2) In the 1914 Chaix timetable this branch was shown as a chemin de fer d’intérêt local, exploité par la Compagnie de l’Est, offering a single round-trip daily at 13:12 from Carignan, a thin service even for France - though with three classes of accommodation! In 2000 the line remains as an SNCF freight branch heading north from the Lille - Carignan - Strasbourg main line to serve a factory near Pure, just short of Messempré, close to the Belgian border. On the Belgian side, the SNCB’s (Bertrix -) Y Orgeo - Ste.Cécile - Muno Ligne 163A, opened 20 April 1919, diverged from the east side of the present Bertrix - Florenville (- Virton) Ligne 165 and dropped to pass beneath it, heading south-west towards the frontier. Latterly renumbered from Ligne 163A to 165A, this branch lost its passenger and freight trains 23 February 1959 and was finally lifted in 1968.

Both Carignan - Messempré and Bertrix - Ste.Cécile - Muno are shown as separate dead-end branches on a 1965 Michelin 1:200,000 map, but a Belgian railway map (Les Voies Ferrées de Belgique; GTF, 1978) shows line 163A as having continued into France. Between Messempré and Muno an obvious railway formation remains, not just following the terrain but properly engineered with embankments and stone-arch bridges, climbing over the watershed between the Chiers and Semois rivers, crossing the Franco-Belgian border and becoming a countryside trail through the village of Muno and onward for another 6km to Ste.Cécile. On 1993 and 1997 Michelin maps this route is formally shown as a cycleway from the border to Ste.Cécile. Clearly a Messempré - Muno international railway was built, but did it open, and if so what traffic did it have and when did it close?

0853][BE] Han-sur-Lesse Église - Entrée des Grottes de Han: (BLN 696.05; Ball 17A3 not shown) Some 8km west of the main-line railhead at Jemelle, a short 5.3km remnant of Belgium’s once-extensive metre-gauge Vicinal system of local railways remains in passenger use, with tourist trains to the caves using leased track once owned by the Societé Nationale des Chemins de fer Vicinaux. On 30 July 2000 two sets were working the Sunday-morning half-hourly service, each comprising a diesel tramcar plus three trailers, with another set and a single tram available on a standby track. The two trains left in quick succession, arriving at Entrée des Grottes in close line astern. The loop is long enough to run round both trains, so the first traction-unit duly ran round to couple to the rear of the second train, while the second traction-unit uncoupled from its train and recoupled to what had been the rear of the first train. Both trains then set off back to Han village, where the turning-circle installed by 1990 makes operation even simpler. Operating dates in 2000 are 27 Feb-12 Mar, 18-19 Mar, 25-26 Mar, 1 Apr-5 Nov, 11-12 Nov and 26-31 Dec. Frequency varies between four times a day in winter (11:30, 13:00, 14:30 and 16:00) to half-hourly in the summer peak (15 Jul-20 Aug; 10:00-18:00 except 12:30). Only tram-plus-caves tickets (price BEF360=EUR8.92) are sold at the Grottes booking-office; for a tram-only round-trip of about 20 minutes, pay the ticket-collector at the platform-barrier the fare of BEF70=EUR1.74.

0887][BE] (Dinant - Y Bouvignies - Anhée -) Warnant - Carrière Haut-le-Wastia - Falaën - Denée-Maredsous (- Ermeton-sur-Biert - Tamines): (BLN 792.0493, 816.0593; Ball 9A1-16B3-8B1; SNCB 150) Anhée - Ermeton-sur-Biert opened 15 October 1890, together with the (Yvoir -) Y Houx - Anhée north-to-west (freight) curve. Y Bouvignies - Anhée, the south-to-west curve used by passenger trains, seems to have followed on 5 July 1891. Passenger services were withdrawn 26 August 1962, from which date Haut-le-Wastia - Ermeton-sur-Biert and Y Bouvignies - Anhée closed completely, the latter being lifted by 1976 and barely visible on the ground in 2000. Y Houx - Haut-le-Wastia freight trains continued to serve the quarry but seem to have ceased between 1976 and 1988. Disused track remains from Y Houx to Anhée (the station site behind the town-hall appears to have a goods-shed still standing) and Warnant (station building extant, with disused sidings).

In May 1994 SA Les Draisines de la Molignée, trading as Rail-Bike, began hiring out rail-cycles to run on part of the abandoned track, initially only on the 3km (upper) section from Falaën to Denée-Maredsous, now referred to simply as Maredsous. (Trans-fer #92, July 1994) In summer 1999 Rail-Bike began operations also on the 4km (lower) section from Warnant to Falaën, their Warnant terminal being some 500m west of the old station, thus avoiding a main-road level-crossing. Both sections are uphill on the outward journey and downhill on the way back (good psychology!), running through limestone-gorge scenery along the river Molignée, with two tunnels on the lower section and some attractive viaducts over the road and river which meander beneath. Though the formation was built for double track, the line is single, with some concrete-and-steel tie-bar sleepers, but the condition of the majority of the wooden sleepers is such that real trains could not use the line again without considerable trackworks. The only set of points encountered, at the former Haut-le-Wastia quarry, has been carefully adapted by welding small pieces of metal to block the gap at the point-frog and to keep the toe closed. Falaën station building is occupied but not associated with the rail-cycle operation. At Sosoye, the former halt’s platforms can be seen beneath the undergrowth. Maredsous station is in use as a bar-restaurant accessible to rail-cyclers, and the proprietor seems to be involved, at least in turning the cycles round. Beyond the ‘limit of navigation’ is another tunnel, with 1888 carved in the arch.

The rail-cycles, built by Valdenaire SA of Remiremont in France, take two pedallers (minimum) plus up to two passengers (maximum). Rail-Bike must have over 50 cycles, all of them numbered, but they are organised in two pools and do not inter-work at Falaën; the ones that stay on the lower section have yellow brake-pedals, the ‘upper’ ones red! Between the top of the lower section and the bottom of the upper section is a level-crossing, and about 100m of track including this crossing is barred to rail-cycles. On each section, the rail-cycles can be hired only at the lower end, with timed ‘windows’ for uphill and for downhill movements on each section. By having customers join only at the lower end, Rail-Bike always have enough rail-cycles for everyone to come back, however long they choose to spend at the top end of either section. Staff turn the rail-cycles at each end of each section, but do not in practice use the neat little turntables provided (one, at least, was said to be ‘kaput’!) merely manhandling the cycles round on sections of track where gravel has been laid to virtually railhead level.

The best way to cover the whole line is to start at Warnant, pedal up to Falaën, transfer to the upper section, pedal up to Maredsous and back, transfer back to the lower section and pedal back to Warnant. Operation is daily, year-round except that the lower section is not available on Mondays. The Rail-Bike pamphlet advertises Warnant - Falaën MX departures at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00 and 18:00, but a permanent sign allows departure within 30-minute ‘slots’ at 10:00-10:30, 12:00-12:30 etc, though not admitting to a slot at 18:00. You can leave in any slot but once having set out in a given direction you have to reach the other end within the time allowed. Corresponding Falaën - Warnant MX departures are at 11:15-1130 etc. The pamphlet advertises Falaën - Maredsous departures daily at 11:00-11:30, 13:00-13:30, 15:00-15:30 and 17:00-17:30 but in practice, though no sign was displayed, departures seemed to be allowed on the hour with return from Maredsous on the half-hour. Rail-Bike’s price for two people for a trip over both sections was BEF640=EUR15.87. SNCB in 2000 continue to offer their inclusive package #102 at a reasonable price (BEF470=EUR11.65 per adult from the cheapest SNCB zone, for a minimum of two people, booking two days in advance), but it includes only the upper section, above Falaën. SNCB have given up on the very infrequent TEC bus as a connection and use a pre-booked taxi between Dinant station and Falaën.

0888][FR][BE] Carignan - Messempré SNCF - Muno SNCB (- Y Orgeo - Bertrix): (R.0848; Ball 17A2) On the French side, Carignan - Messempré opened 3 September 1871, and passenger trains continued until 1938. The extension into Belgium was built by the German military during World War I, and its legal status in France was regularised by a décret d’utilité publique in 1922. The Messempré - Muno section however appears never to have had a passenger service, and it is not clear if its track remained in place for the whole of the inter-war period. In World War II, the cross-border line seems again to have been intensively used by the German forces during 1940-42, but saw little traffic thereafter. It closed to freight in 1955, and was formally abandoned (déclassée) 7 December 1965. (Trains Oubliés, volume 1, 1981; Les Petits Trains de Jadis, volume 10, 1995; both published by Les Éditions de Cabri)

0904][FR][BE] (Charleville-Mézières -) Givet SNCF - Heer-Agimont SNCB - Hastière - Dinant: (R.0260; Ball 16B2-17A3) Preservation group Chemin de Fer à Vapeur des Trois Vallées are the sole users of this section, but are withdrawing at the end of the summer 2000 season. SNCF and SNCB are to reclaim the cross-border line and upgrade it for through SNCF trains, expected to be running in 2002. Last regular weekend workings of the CFV3V autorail were to be on 16-17 September, with a final run on Saturday 11 November 2000.

0936][BE] Basècles-Carrières - Basècles (- Leuze): (Ball 7B1) Seen from a train passing Basècles-Carrières on 9 September 2000, the short remaining stub of the former through line 86 to Leuze looked recently lifted.

0968][BE] Belgium: Train+Tram+Bus day: (R.0845) This day, aimed at promoting public transport, is usually the first Saturday in October but in 2000 was Saturday 30 September. The TTB day ticket was valid in Belgian trains, trams and buses but not generally between the last stopping-point and the Belgian border, though Hamont - Weert was specially included. Cost was BEF380=EUR9.42 if bought in advance between 11 and 29 September, or BEF450=EUR11.15 if bought on the day. Whenever bought, the TTB ticket included a voucher entitling one to purchase for BEF250=EUR6.20 another ticket covering public transport for use on one other day of the holder’s choice between 22 September and 31 October. If this is again on offer in 2001, it could be useful in making a comprehensive weekend tour of Belgium.

0969][BE][NL] (Antwerpen -) Neerpelt - Hamont NMBS - Budel NS - Weert: (R. 0672, 0845; Ball 9B3) This international line has no ordinary passenger trains, but for several years a service has run under the enigmatic title Teutenexpress 12 annually on Belgium’s Train+Tram+Bus day. On 30 September 2000 the service, sponsored by Werkgroep Openbaar Vervoer Kempen, was again worked as an extension of alternate hourly Antwerpen - Neerpelt trains calling at Hamont (07:31 to 19:33 on the odd hours from Neerpelt; 08:55 to 20:55 on the even hours from Weert). At Weert the Belgian train sat for 55 minutes at the west end of the southern side of the Dutch island platform while normal NS services worked round it using a mid-platform crossover. The first round-trip saw very few passengers on the cross-border section.

1043][BE] (Winterslag -) Waterschei - As - Eisden: (Ball 9B2-9B3) Tourist trains of Limburgse Stoom Vereniging once ran on part of NMBS' out-of-use line 21B, but this operation seemed rather in decline when visited in August 1997 (BLN 811.0460). However, after track repairs and a demonstration run in September 2000 on this isolated 14km section, regular operation, presumably again by tourist trains, is reported to be planned in summer 2001. (Today's Railways, October 2000)

1072][BE] (Anderlues -) Lobbes - Thuin trams: (R.0063, 0703; Ball 8B1 not shown) At the Thuin-Ouest tramway museum of the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Vicinal, the new electricity sub-station is complete and the twenty new masts to support overhead wiring in the yard are in place. A public service is to operate on Sundays and public holidays from 1 May to 1 September 2001, from 13:00 (opening) to 17:00 (last departure), though ASVi do not yet say how far the trams will actually run from the museum. (ASVi e-mail bulletin, 8 November 2000)

1099][BE] (Anderlues -) Lobbes - Thuin heritage trams: (R.0063, 0703, 1072; Ball 8B1 not shown) The preserved trams of the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Vicinal did not operate regularly in summer 1998, but they ran in the 1999 and 2000 seasons. ASVi’s new museum is at Thuin-Ouest, so most departures have been from there instead of the former Thuin (Ville Basse) terminus. However some trams have run from Lobbes through to Thuin (Ville Basse), then back up to Thuin (museum) when passengers have asked for this, or where time has permitted, usually on the last journey of the day. Electrical equipment ordered from AEG in October 2000 is to be installed in January 2001, and electric trams should be able to operate at the museum itself from May 2001. Thereafter maintenance of the overhead wiring on the Lobbes - Thuin ‘main line’ is scheduled until the end of 2001, so mixed diesel and electric operations are planned on all Sundays from 1 May until 1 October 2001, with electric traction progressively taking over. (ASVi)

1100][BE] St.Ghislain - Tertre: (Ball 7A1; SNCB 100) As part of a heritage weekend (journées de la patrimoine) in Belgium’s French-speaking Région Wallonie, an open day was held in the former SNCB maintenance-depot just south of St.Ghislain station (though accessible from it only by a walk of several hundred metres across the road bridge). On 10 September 2000 preservation group Patrimoine Ferroviaire Touristique were running special trains hourly from a temporary platform next to the depot, reversing in the station area, though not at a platform, then taking the main line to access the freight-only branch north-east to Tertre. The 12:05 departure, despite being free of charge, attracted only five passengers, including some three British visitors who had stayed on in Belgium after the previous day’s ADL tour. About halfway along the branch some track marked the former junction for the lines shown in the Ball atlas heading east to Darse-Sud and to Ghlin, but both are now disconnected and derelict. Near this point a basic temporary platform had been set up to allow visits to the Marais des Marionville nature-reserve, just north of the motorway, but all passengers on the train opted to continue to Tertre, where it reversed at the surviving station, still in railway use. Track continues for c.400m to the factory still served by the branch.

1101][BE] Statte - Moha: (BLN 711.05, R.0674; Ball 9A1; SNCB 127) Wallonia’s heritage weekend also saw PFT special trains here on 10 September 2000. The well-filled autorail working the 14:00 from Statte ran first into the sugar-factory south-west of the station before returning to the platform and reversing to head north on the Moha line. A witty and informative PFT commentary (Bienvenu dans le train à grande vitesse à destination de Moha...) enlivened the trundle up the branch, which has a 20km/h speed-limit throughout. The train reversed at the site of Moha station, of which nothing survives. Some 250m beyond is the still rail-served quarry, where a British-built industrial locomotive can allegedly be seen, although time prevented our reporter from checking this.


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