Transsib travelogue (part 1: Netherlands - Moscow)

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David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
12.10.2004, 09:55:1812.10.04
an

Hey all,

I just returned from a Transsiberian and Transmongolian train trip.
Together with one other person, I travelled from Holland to China by train.
From China we also made a short journey into North-Korea, travelling
Beijing - Pyongyang v.v. by train; thus effectually travelling all the way
from Holland to North-Korea by train.

The purpose of the journey was not rail-related, we just wanted to see
these cities and countries. But being a train enthusiast, the railway trip
itself was of course also fascinating. In this travelogue I'll try to
concentrate on rail-related parts, but please forgive me for some off-topic
wanderings.

Our initiary was as follows: Netherlands - Moscow - Rostov Veliky - Moscow
- Barnaul - Novosibirsk - Irkutsk - Ulan-Ude - Ulan-Bator - Beijing -
Pyongyang - Beijing. Some parts were booked through a travel agency (VNC
Travel, who did the entire North-Korean part including the train tickets;
and the Treinreiswinkel who booked the part through Mongolia as well as
some Russian tickets). The train tickets to Moscow and from Moscow to
Barnaul were booked at the DBAG ticket office in Aachen, using an Euro
Domino for the latter part of the journey. We didn't pre-book Rostov -
Moscow, Barnaul - Novosibirsk and Novosibirsk - Irkutsk.

NETHERLANDS - MOSCOW

We left the Netherlands on 6 September, crossing the German border at
Venlo. The regional train to Germany always consists of a push-pull
combination with some Silberling cars. For some reason, I never like the
atmosphere in this train. There are always drug tourists to/from Venlo on
this train as well as loud, drunk people, etc. This also was the case this
time and I was happy to leave the train in Duesseldorf.

After waiting for some time in the pleasant station of Duesseldorf (well,
large German stations are usually pleasant) our train to Moscow arrived,
which would take us in two nights to the Russian capital. This train
consists mainly of modern PKP sleeping cars to Warsaw, and a couple of RZD
cars to Moscow as well as a Belarussian car to Minsk. The boarding process
was chaotic, partly due to the fact that there was an extra RZD car in the
train that wasn't published on the "Wagenstandanzeiger". AFAIK this car
wasn't occupied. When we found our right car, we showed our ticket to the
"provodnitsa" (Russian female car attendant) who "of course" only spoke
Russian.

The RZD cars on this train are the latest stock with European loading
gauge. They don't seem all to different with Western-European cars,
although the gangways between the cars are weird and by no means level. The
cars all have 3-person compartments that can also be booked for 2 or 1
person. We booked such a compartment for two persons, so we had it for
ourselves.

The train ride was very smooth and we could sleep very well. Not for too
long though, because in the middle of the night we arrived in Frankfurt a/d
Oder, where the German and Polish immigration officers wanted to see our
passports. Can't this be handled a bit differently, especially now Poland
is part of the EU?

In the morning we arrived in Warsaw, where some shunting is carried out:
the PKP cars are detached and I think some RZD cars are added. We hoped to
get some breakfast in the station, but the provodnitsa advised against
(read: forbid) leaving the platform. Fortunately we still had some supplies
with us.

The scenery in Poland we saw the rest of the morning was mainly flat and
open, with the occasional forst. Pretty similar to what we saw on many
parts of the journey, though Poland is starting to look a whole lot more
modern than the ex-Soviet states. Somewhere in the afternoon we arrived in
Belarus. Similar to many Soviet border crossings, the train made a
non-advertised stop directly after the border, to allow passport check to
happen. Hearing bad stories about Belarus we expected a tough check, but it
all went smoothly and friendly. Because of agreements between Belarus and
Russia, this is in fact also the entrance check for Russia. What bothered
us was that we didn't get a declaration form, even after asking for it. We
heard that we could run into trouble on the Russian-Mongolian border if we
didn't get one.

Some time later we arrived in Brest. Here the bogies of the train are
changed. We were interested in that operation, but we really had to get
some food now, so we left the train at the station (the provodnitsa locked
our compartment) and decided to check out the town. Brest turned out to be
a nice town and it was a pleasant walk. Unfortunately we didn't find an ATM
so we couldn't buy anything. Finally we found one, and we could buy some
things to eat in the impressive station of Brest. This was about 15 minutes
before train departure. While we were in the restaurant, a fellow train
passenger came looking for us... he was sent to look for us by the
provodnitsa, who was worried we wouldn't be back in time... ;-) On the
train we had an interesting conversation with the guy, who originally came
from Uzbekistan and now worked in Brussels as a theatre director.

The next morning we arrived in Moscow, in the Belarussian station. The next
couple of days we spent visiting this huge, interesting and modern
metropolist. Of course we also admirerd the famous and wonderful metro
stations. The metro is really impressive, especially the huge amount of
passengers. It often runs every 90 seconds... but in about 60 seconds a
platform is totally crowded again! We noticed quite some "work" trains,
which transport for example metro wheels. We visited the new station Park
Podeby, located very deep under the surface. The design is classic and very
similar to older stations; except that instead of communist paintings,
there are now scenes from tsarist times on the walls!

We also made some tram journeys. Unfortunately, trams have almost
disappeared from central Moscow, though they're still important in the
suburbs and in trangential (centre-avoiding) journeys. Trams are a mix of
old and new. Although modern in design, the new ones are in fact pretty
conventional: one car, high floors, etc. On one line, tram cars have
automatic gates inside which prevent you from entering without a ticket.
The monorail was unfortunately not in use when we were there.

Next part: Moscow - Rostov - Moscow.

Best regards,
David


Helmut Uttenthaler

ungelesen,
12.10.2004, 15:31:5512.10.04
an
"David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> schrieb im
Newsbeitrag news:01c4b062$f704ff80$9600000a@mijn-computer

>
> The purpose of the journey was not rail-related, we just
> wanted to see these cities and countries. But being a
> train enthusiast, the railway trip itself was of course
> also fascinating. In this travelogue I'll try to
> concentrate on rail-related parts, but please forgive me
> for some off-topic wanderings.
>
> Our initiary was as follows: Netherlands - Moscow -
> Rostov Veliky - Moscow - Barnaul - Novosibirsk - Irkutsk
> - Ulan-Ude - Ulan-Bator - Beijing - Pyongyang - Beijing.

Beijing - Netherlands by plane?


> After waiting for some time in the pleasant station of
> Duesseldorf (well, large German stations are usually
> pleasant) our train to Moscow arrived, which would take
> us in two nights to the Russian capital. This train
> consists mainly of modern PKP sleeping cars to Warsaw,
> and a couple of RZD cars to Moscow as well as a
> Belarussian car to Minsk. The boarding process was
> chaotic, partly due to the fact that there was an extra
> RZD car in the train that wasn't published on the
> "Wagenstandanzeiger". AFAIK this car wasn't occupied.

How was the occupation of the other cars?

> In the morning we arrived in Warsaw, where some shunting
> is carried out: the PKP cars are detached and I think
> some RZD cars are added.

When I rode this train in 2002 PKP-sleeping cars (Sczcecin -
Moskva and Wroclaw - Moskva) were added at Warszawa Wschodnia.

>
> Next part: Moscow - Rostov - Moscow.

Thanks for your interesting report, I'm hope we will soon reed the
other parts ;-)
North Korea sounds very interesting!

However, I'll be patient. I know it takes much time to write such
reports, I've still to write some parts of my Balkan-travelogue
(parts 1 and 2 already posted to at.verkehr.bahn, unfortunately
only in German) and also an Ukraine-travelogue waits to be
written...


BTW, do you plan to upload some photos of your trip at
www.railfaneurope.net?


--
Helmut Uttenthaler,
Graz


David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
12.10.2004, 17:29:0412.10.04
an

Helmut Uttenthaler <helmut.ut...@gmx.at> wrote in article
<2t2pp4F...@uni-berlin.de>...


> "David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> schrieb im
> Newsbeitrag news:01c4b062$f704ff80$9600000a@mijn-computer
> >
> > The purpose of the journey was not rail-related, we just
> > wanted to see these cities and countries. But being a
> > train enthusiast, the railway trip itself was of course
> > also fascinating. In this travelogue I'll try to
> > concentrate on rail-related parts, but please forgive me
> > for some off-topic wanderings.
> >
> > Our initiary was as follows: Netherlands - Moscow -
> > Rostov Veliky - Moscow - Barnaul - Novosibirsk - Irkutsk
> > - Ulan-Ude - Ulan-Bator - Beijing - Pyongyang - Beijing.
>
> Beijing - Netherlands by plane?

Yes. We didn't feel like going back also all the way by train... so we
went back by plane, although flying isn't exactly my favorite travelling
mode (I find it very scary, actually).

> > After waiting for some time in the pleasant station of
> > Duesseldorf (well, large German stations are usually
> > pleasant) our train to Moscow arrived, which would take
> > us in two nights to the Russian capital. This train
> > consists mainly of modern PKP sleeping cars to Warsaw,
> > and a couple of RZD cars to Moscow as well as a
> > Belarussian car to Minsk. The boarding process was
> > chaotic, partly due to the fact that there was an extra
> > RZD car in the train that wasn't published on the
> > "Wagenstandanzeiger". AFAIK this car wasn't occupied.
>
> How was the occupation of the other cars?

Pretty good, at least in our car most (all?) of the compartments were in
use.


> > In the morning we arrived in Warsaw, where some shunting
> > is carried out: the PKP cars are detached and I think
> > some RZD cars are added.
>
> When I rode this train in 2002 PKP-sleeping cars (Sczcecin -
> Moskva and Wroclaw - Moskva) were added at Warszawa Wschodnia.

I think it now was all RZD when we arrived in Moscow, but I could be wrong
on this one.

> However, I'll be patient. I know it takes much time to write such
> reports, I've still to write some parts of my Balkan-travelogue
> (parts 1 and 2 already posted to at.verkehr.bahn, unfortunately
> only in German) and also an Ukraine-travelogue waits to be
> written...

I know what you mean. :-) I plan to do the entire travelogue in the next
couple of days, otherwise it'll probably never be finished. I'll start
writing on the next part in a few moments.



> BTW, do you plan to upload some photos of your trip at
> www.railfaneurope.net?

Probably, though I didn't make many railway related pics. I got only a
handful railway pics (out of over 600 pics...),

Regards,
David

Helmut Uttenthaler

ungelesen,
12.10.2004, 18:11:2512.10.04
an
"David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> schrieb im
>
> The train departed from the Yaroslavl station in Moscow
> (surprising, huh?). It consists of a long commuter EMU,

There are also some express trains with conventional rolling stock
(loco + cars), I think this applies to the express train Moksva -
Nishnij Novgorod and the afternoon service to Jaroslawl.


> but with an upgraded, more comfortable interior. It also
> includes a bar car. Also, every car has a provodnitsa

I wonder, when railways in the former USSR will start to reduce
staff on daytime long distance trains. One attendant per car is
not necessary on daytime services.


> We were going to stay overnight in Rostov and would
> return the next day to Moscow. We didn't have anything
> booked yet; our options consisted of both commuter trains
> and long distance trains. We couldn't take an express
> back, as then we would arrive too late in Moscow for our
> train to Barnaul. Immediately after arriving in Rostov we
> went to the ticket office to make a reservation for one
> of the long distance trains, but they told us to return
> the next day.

Buying tickets from intermediate stations is often possible only
at short notice.


> So the next day we went to the station, about one hour
> before departure of the train. Buying a ticket (kupe
> class, 4-person sleeping compartment) was no problem. The
> train arrived a little late. It was a typical Russian
> long distance train, consisting of a lot of (dark green)
> cars, looking a bit old-fashioned. I think most (all?)
> Russian long distance cars were built in East-Germany.

There are now also more and more new long distance cars built in
Tver (Russia).
See
http://www.railfaneurope.net/pix/ru/car/large_profile/5_34_baikal_mariinsk.jpg

-> http://www.tvz.ru/wag.htm / http://www.tvz.ru/

--
Helmut Uttenthaler,
Graz


Timo Valtonen

ungelesen,
12.10.2004, 20:00:5612.10.04
an
"Helmut Uttenthaler" <helmut.ut...@gmx.at> wrote in message
news:2t3345F...@uni-berlin.de...

> "David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> schrieb im
> >
> > The train departed from the Yaroslavl station in Moscow
> > (surprising, huh?). It consists of a long commuter EMU,
>
> There are also some express trains with conventional rolling stock
> (loco + cars), I think this applies to the express train Moksva -
> Nishnij Novgorod and the afternoon service to Jaroslawl.
>
>
> > but with an upgraded, more comfortable interior. It also
> > includes a bar car. Also, every car has a provodnitsa
>
> I wonder, when railways in the former USSR will start to reduce
> staff on daytime long distance trains. One attendant per car is
> not necessary on daytime services.
>
Seems unlikely. A recent article on rambler.ru
http://www.rambler.ru/db/megapolis/msg.html?place=news&mid=5133512 tells
about plans to order Talgo double decker cars to be operated between St
Petersburg and Moscow, same ones as used presently by VR in InterCity
services. According to the article modifications needed are a cabin for a
"provodnik" in every car. VR operates a whole train of double deckers with a
staff of three (two conductors and a refreshments sales person), but the
Russians stick on having a person per car and still a separate dining car.
Better service, but eventually expensive.

Greg Gritton

ungelesen,
12.10.2004, 23:56:5512.10.04
an
Timo Valtonen wrote:
>
> Seems unlikely. A recent article on rambler.ru
> http://www.rambler.ru/db/megapolis/msg.html?place=news&mid=5133512 tells
> about plans to order Talgo double decker cars to be operated between St
> Petersburg and Moscow, same ones as used presently by VR in InterCity
> services. According to the article modifications needed are a cabin for a
> "provodnik" in every car. VR operates a whole train of double deckers with a
> staff of three (two conductors and a refreshments sales person), but the
> Russians stick on having a person per car and still a separate dining car.
> Better service, but eventually expensive.
>
Eventually expensive is probably correct. With the labor rates
in russia being relatively low, the expense of having car attendants
is probably low compared to the expense of purchasing and operating
the train. So, it is more likely to be worth it than in countries
with higher labor costs.

Greg Gritton

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
13.10.2004, 07:13:5413.10.04
an

MOSCOW - BARNAUL

After arriving back from Rostov on 13 september (see part 2) we were
heading for Barnaul that evening. We arrived from Rostov in the Yaroslavl
station in Moscow and we would depart from the Kazanskaya station, which
was just across the street. Unfortunately we had to pay a short visit to
our hotel (Gamma Delta Izmailovo, quite a way from the city center) to pick
up some laundry. This meant two metro trips on a very busy time, not very
comfortable if you have lots of luggage.

Around 18:30 we arrived back at the station area. We wanted to have
something to eat before departure of the train at 20:08. As everywhere in
Moscow, there were a lot of food stalls and kiosks around. We bought some
food and ate it in the waiting area of the Yaroslavl station, which was
actually outside, because the station building is undergoing repairs.

About 30 minutes for departure we went to our train. This would be our
first long distance train ride in Russia, so of course we were pretty
curious. The train ride to Barnaul would take 3 nights. We were going to
visit this city to meet a friend we met through the internet. An advantage
of this was that this way we avoided the trains frequented by a lot of
tourists, like the trains to Beijing, Vladivostok (Rossija) and Irkutsk
(Baikal).

The train we took (N036M, the "Altai") was a "firm train", the best train
category in long distance trains. These cars on these trains often have
their own livery, and so did this one, as well as inscriptions of the
train's name. Before boarding, our tickets and passports were chekcked by
the friendly provodnitsa. She was quite surprised by our Euro Domino and
reservations, which we bought at a DBAG ticket office. It took some while
for her to figure out what it all meant, but finally she brought us to our
compartment.

On this train we travelled "spalny vagon" (2 person compartments, the best
class of travel; on some other trains we travelled "kupe", 4 person
compartments). The compartment looked very nice and consisted of two beds
opposite of each other. On the table a teapot, two tea cups and some
information about the journey was awaiting us. The compartment also had a
TV; but we couldn't adjust the volume setting, and it was set on the
loudest option possible. ;-) A good thing about the TV was that we had a
power plug in the compartment, so I could charge the batteries of my
camera.

After the train started running the provodnitsa brought us our bedsheets,
as well as some reading stuff (including RZD's magazine "Express"). Some
time later a woman entered our compartment, and without saying anything she
settled down on one of the beds and started browsing through a lot of
papers. It turned out that she wanted to have our orders for the lunch the
next day, which was seemingly included in the ticket price, and tried to
find some English translation of the menu options. She couldn't find it,
but with a lot of gesture talking we finally made some orders.

That evening we spent just a bit reading, talking and walking around. While
walking around in the train it turned out that there were not many
passengers in our car. The kupe cars were also not very busy; most
passengers were located in the platskartny car (open compartment with a lot
of sleeping bunks). We went to bed not too late. The beds are very
comfortable, but I didn't sleep too well because Russian trains shake quite
a lot. Later during the journey I got used to this.

It also takes some getting used to such a long train journey, but actually
we never really got bored. It's quite a nice way to travel around, just
gazing out of the window, reading, talking, etc. The scenery was nice,
although not very spectacular. I imagined Siberia (which we entered during
the second night) to be more empty than it was; most of the time we could
see roads and villages. But probably these are just built around the
railway, which is Siberia's life line. There is a surprising amount of
freight on the Transsib.

The provodnitsas very very nice on this train, and clearly not really used
to foreigners on this train. They provided excellent service, including
cleaning the entire car twice a day and bringing tea now and then. They
also happily posed for some pictures on the platforms. :-)

The food in the restaurant turned out to be pretty bad. It was very fatty
it tasted like... well.. nothing really. We had the complimentary lunch in
the restaurant, but didn't have the dinners there. Many travel books and
travelogues suggested to buy your food from the "babushka's" (old ladies)
on the platforms, but actually I found the amount of food availible on the
platforms disappointing. Perhaps this phenomenon is decreasing in the last
couple of years? Anyway, we bought some snacks and fruit on the platforms,
but for dinner we mostly relied on the noodle meals we took with us from
Holland.

The last evening, after passing Omsk, our train left the Transsib. We
reached Barnaul via a single track diesel line, close to the border with
Kazachstan. Unfortunately most of this was during the night, although we
had some nice views from this line on the last evening, including a nice
sunset. At that time we were sitting in the restaurant car for some drinks.
A Russian guy came to us and offered us free beer (always nice :-). We
spent the rest of the evening talking and drinking with him, altough
conversations were difficult because he spoke no English and only a handful
of words in German. Still a very nice experience. He turned out to be from
Barnaul, but he currently worked in Omsk, so he travelled very often on
this train.

BARNAUL

The next morning (16 september) we arrived in Barnaul. Although there's not
much special to see, it is a very pleasant, green and nice city to walk
around in. It has an tram network which is very similar to the tram network
in many Russian cities. An interesting feature of the city's public
transportation is the collection of buses: all buses are second hand from
German-speaking countries, probably because of the large amount of people
of German origin in the city. Most run around in their original livery,
often still boasting German destinations. Buses include double deck buses
from Berlin and former post buses from Switzerland. All buses were pretty
new compared to buses in many other Russian cities.

Next part: Barnaul - Novosibirsk

Regards,
David

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
13.10.2004, 06:18:1913.10.04
an

Ulf Kutzner <kutz...@mail.uni-mainz.de> wrote in article
<416CF720...@mail.uni-mainz.de>...
> David Eerdmans schrieb:


>
> > So the next day we went to the station, about one hour before departure
of
> > the train.
>

> Would commuter train have been okay in case there were no tickets
> available for the Vorkuta one?

Yes, that would've also been an option. Not a very comfortable one,
though...

> I guess this was true for compartment cars. However, they opened
> domestic production in Tver' (and other places?) since they would have
> to pay much money (DM, EUR) for Ammendorf cars.

Thanks. On one train (between Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude) we had somewhat more
modern cars than the cars on the other trains (which were nearly
identical). Would that have been a car from Tver?

> > The ride towards Moscow took more time than the express on the way out
of
> > the city, although we made less stops. The ride indeed was pretty slow.
>
>
> Do you remember whether it was train nr. 41 or 375?

375.

> Both are *a bit* slower than 93/821. A agree that 827 is fast.

Indeed. How come that one can run faster on that stretch than regular
trains?

Regards,
David



David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
13.10.2004, 07:14:3413.10.04
an

BARNAUL - NOVOSIBIRSK

In Barnaul we tried to make reservations for the journey to Novosibirsk.
For some reason it didn't work out; perhaps the train was allready fully
booked out. We didn't understand it, but we didn't get the tickets. Seeing
that there's a large bus station just outside the train station, we went
there and saw that there were many buses going to Novosibirsk. Our friend
from Barnaul also told us that the bus is faster than the train on this
route. Therefore, we decided to take the bus.

Just before leaving Barnaul on 17 september we bought tickets for the bus
without any problem. The bus was very old and in a very bad state. The ride
turned out to be pretty nice, with some interesting scenery. Just outside
Barnaul we crossed a very high road/rail bridge across a river(?). Midway
we stopped at a car park to have a rest; there were several food stalls
here. Later that journey we crossed the dam and bridge across the
artificial Ob Sea. Shortly after that, we saw a railway museum from the
bus. We decided to go there later.

NOVOSIBIRSK

We arrived in Novosibirsk in the run-down bus station. We couldn't really
figure out where we were on the map in our Lonely Planet Transsiberian
guide (which actually isn't that good... Trailblazer's guide is better). We
decided to just board a tram and see where we would end up. The tram's
looked quite bad compared to the ones in Moscow and Barnaul. On the whole,
the city looked less modern than those other cities. During the ride we
found out where we were and deboarded near a metro station. The metro
network consists of two lines. One of the two consists only of three
stations; on this line, there's just one metro train on each track,
providing a shuttle service. Both trains have two drivers; one on each
side, so the train can depart very quickly again from the terminal
stations. This means that in the middle station, you can't be sure which
track you have to board to reach your destiantion. Fortunately this is
clearly indicated on an electronic indicator.

We went to the impressive long distance station of Novosibirsk. Lonely
Planet advised to stay in the hotel in the station. This indeed turned out
to be a very economical and nice location. Stepping out of our room we
looked down into the grand main waiting hall of the station! Later that
evening we took some pictures from there, but that wasn't a good idea:
while we were just asleep, there was banging on the door. It turned out to
be two "militsia" guys, telling us in a very unfriendly way that
photography was forbidden in the station. Fortunately they left it at
that...

The next day we wanted to visit the railway museum, south of the city. We
went to the ugly concrete commuter station next door and figured out which
train to take. Trains are not very frequent. Buying tickets was no problem;
there's a clear zonal system for the commuter trains. The train turned out
to be a very old commuter train in a wonderful classic Russian design. The
interior was very uncomfortable (wooden benches). A good thing was that the
train had automatic announcements (including one that warns for door
closure; the same as in Moscow's metro system... it sounds a bit like
"astarozjna, severitzne krovaltz" or something like that). The train was
almost empty when we left the station, but it filled up quite a bit at the
other stations in Novosibirsk.

The railway museum was pretty nice, although quite static and no
descriptions in English. It consists of a large collection of steam, diesel
and electric locomotives on display on several tracks. During our visit,
there were some almost naked girls posing with the locomotives for a
photographer... probably for a railway worker's calendar or something like
that. ;-)). From the museum, we hopped on another commuter train towards
Akademgorodok, a university town nearby. Arriving in the station was weird,
as there's nothing pointing to the town. We started walking through the
forest in the eastern direction (as indicated by Lonely Planet), and after
15 minutes we reached the town. Akademgorodok is a nice town to visit, due
to the relaxed atmosphere and scenic location. Especially after visiting so
many large cities it was nice to walk around in the forests. Some time
later we catched a train back to Novosibirsk.

Regards,
David


Ulf Kutzner

ungelesen,
13.10.2004, 06:35:4213.10.04
an
David Eerdmans schrieb:

> > > So the next day we went to the station, about one hour before departure
> of
> > > the train.
> >
> > Would commuter train have been okay in case there were no tickets
> > available for the Vorkuta one?
>
> Yes, that would've also been an option. Not a very comfortable one,
> though...

To be more precise: After a potential ticket refusal, you would have had
enough time to catch the electrichka to Moscow the long-distance train
to Barnaul?

> > I guess this was true for compartment cars. However, they opened
> > domestic production in Tver' (and other places?) since they would have
> > to pay much money (DM, EUR) for Ammendorf cars.
>
> Thanks. On one train (between Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude) we had somewhat more
> modern cars than the cars on the other trains (which were nearly
> identical). Would that have been a car from Tver?
>
> > > The ride towards Moscow took more time than the express on the way out
> of
> > > the city, although we made less stops. The ride indeed was pretty slow.
> >
> >
> > Do you remember whether it was train nr. 41 or 375?
>
> 375.
>

> > Both are *a bit* slower than 93/821. I agree that 827 is fast.


>
> Indeed. How come that one can run faster on that stretch than regular
> trains?

I guess acceleration for EMUs is better. I guess they run at 130 kmh and
reach this speed quite easily.

Regards, ULF

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
13.10.2004, 08:12:2813.10.04
an

Ulf Kutzner <kutz...@mail.uni-mainz.de> wrote in article

<416D04FE...@mail.uni-mainz.de>...
> David Eerdmans schrieb:


>
> > Yes, that would've also been an option. Not a very comfortable one,
> > though...
>
> To be more precise: After a potential ticket refusal, you would have had
> enough time to catch the electrichka to Moscow the long-distance train
> to Barnaul?

Yes, we could have taken a commuter train at 13:00. With a change in
Aleksandrov, we would then have arrived in Moscow at 17:39. Would perhaps
get a bit tight with getting our laundry from the hotel, but I guess it
would have been possible.

Regards,
David

Markus Schreilechner

ungelesen,
13.10.2004, 14:27:4413.10.04
an
Ulf Kutzner schrieb:

>>The train we took (N036M, the "Altai")

>>The last evening, after passing Omsk, our train left the Transsib. We


>>reached Barnaul via a single track diesel line, close to the border with
>>Kazachstan.
>
>

> Strange. Should be electrified according to
> http://www.parovoz.com/maps/supermap/supermap.php?X=B&Y=6&LANG=en

As I read the map (single thin line), the line
Tatarskaya-Karaskuk-Kulunda-Barnaul seems to be unelectrified, or did I
misunderstand the legend?.

//Markus

Ulf Kutzner

ungelesen,
13.10.2004, 14:43:0513.10.04
an
Markus Schreilechner schrieb:

Tatarskaya - Karasuk - Slavgorod - Lenki - Barnaul is unelectrified,
indeed; my mistake.

Omsk - Irtyshsk - Karasuk - Kamen-na-Obi - Barnaul is electrified but
not used by train nr. 36.

Regards, ULF

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
13.10.2004, 16:58:4913.10.04
an

Helmut Uttenthaler <helmut.ut...@gmx.at> wrote in article
<2t5e32F...@uni-berlin.de>...
> "David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> schrieb
>
> Did you use a Eurodomino-day for the day of departure?
>
> (due to departure after 19:00 this would not be required).

No, we didn't.

> > On this train we travelled "spalny vagon" (2 person
> > compartments, the best class of travel; on some other
> > trains we travelled "kupe", 4 person compartments).
>

> How much did the reservation cost?

I think it was about 40 euro.

> The power plug in the compartment didn't work, because - as I have
> seen in the conductors compartment - the 220V-supply for the
> comopartment has been switched off. I asked the conductor to
> switch on the power supply, that was no problem.

Yes, the provodnitsa's often switch everything off which they don't find
needed at that moment... usually all lights are also off during the day.

> So far, so good. I could start to recharge my batteries. Some
> hours later the batteries were full enough to take again some
> photos, but the my battery re-charger didn't work any longer. I
> assume that there were voltage fluctuations, which weren't good
> for electronic devices...

I saw some strange things happening on my battery charger on a train in
Mongolia (indicator light flashing, which it usually never does...).
Fortunately it's still working...

> BTW, did you or your travel partner speak Russian?

No, we don't. Would have been handy in many cases, but it wasn't a great
problem.

Regards,
David

Ulf Kutzner

ungelesen,
13.10.2004, 14:12:2113.10.04
an
David Eerdmans schrieb:

> interior was very uncomfortable (wooden benches). A good thing was that the
> train had automatic announcements (including one that warns for door
> closure; the same as in Moscow's metro system... it sounds a bit like
> "astarozjna, severitzne krovaltz" or something like that).

=========== ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~
(quite okay) dveri zakryvayutsya.

Regards, ULF

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
15.10.2004, 06:18:0115.10.04
an

Part 5 of my Transsib travelogue. I just realized it is already off-topic
for mtre, but in order not to abruptly end this thread I'm crossposting it
now in mtre and mtrm (which is an almost dead group anyway). Hopefully
readers won't find this disturbing.

NOVOSIBIRSK - IRKUTSK

We didn't book this leg of the journey ahead, so we had to buy tickets in
Novosibirsk. We planned to take train 8 (Novosibirsk - Vladivostok),
running on alternate dates at the same times as the Rossija, leaving
Novosibirsk on 18 September. But if this wouldn't work out, we could also
take a different train; even one or two days later wouldn't have been a
great problem, as we would stay a week in or around Irkutsk.

Hearing all the bad stories about buying tickets in Russia, we feared the
worst. We went to the ticket office on 17 September. After not too long a
wait it was our turn and we handed over a note with our travel plans
written out in Cyrillic. The ticket women seemd to understand it and
started working on her computer, to produce two tickets some time later. We
payed and decided to immidiately check out if we indeed got what we wanted.
That wasn't the case: we got tickets for the right train, but for
platskartny instead of kupe, which we requested (we should have known,
because the price we paid was much lower than we expected). Of course
someone else was already being served, so we thought we would have to wait
again. Fortunately the next person allowed us to go first, and with the
help of some Russian who spoke a bit English we managed to explain it. The
sales agent clearly didn't like this, but took our tickets back and after
some time we got the right tickets. Despite this, buying tickets was not
nearly as bad as I expected.

The next evening we came back from town and wanted to take up our luggage
in the left luggage room, where we had left it that morning. It was still
closed, however. But when we left it they asked for our train number, so we
supposed it would be open in time for our train. We killed some time
waiting in the nice waiting room (which can be entered only upon showing
your ticket), and playing on one of the ever-present slot machines. Some
time later the platform for our train was announced on the electronic
display. We went back to the left luggage room and it was indeed opened,
and very busy with passengers for our train.

From the left luggage room we walked through the tunnel to the platforms.
Only the first couple of platforms can be reached from the station
building; the other ones are only used by commuter trains and can be
accessed from the neighboring commuter station. The platform was very dark
and with a torch the provodnitsa checked our tickets and passports, then
showing us to our compartment. Our reservations were for the lower beds,
but she indicated that we would (probably) be alone in this compartment, so
we could also use the upper bunks if we wanted.

We indeed remained alone in the compartment for the rest of this journey
(two nights). Nothing really special happened; we just enjoyed these lazy
days on the train, which are a welcome rest after visiting a couple of
cities. The scenery started getting better; especially during the second
evening we rode through some nice hilly areas with a lot of forests,
already turning into full autumn colours.

The train was not a firm train, but a "regular" fast train. I didn't notice
many difference in standards though; the cars and interiors were exactly
the same, only the toilets weren't as clean as on the train to Barnaul. ;-)
The toilets are not very handy when trying to clean yourself, BTW.
Especially the water tap is not very handy; you have to push a metal piece
underneath the tap upwards to get water.

The restaurant car was in my experience much better than the one to
Barnaul; although not great, the food in this car tasted like something...
The restaurants are BTW usually staffed with a waiter, a cook and an
"administrator". Quite a bit overstaffed I would say, especially since I
never saw it busy in the restaurant cars (except on the tourist trains -
see later parts of this travelogue).

The provodnitsa's were nice and did a good job keeping the rest of the car
clean. The only thing that bugged me was that they didn't allow me to
charche my camera's batteries in the electricity plug in the gangway
(anyone knows why this would be a problem)? A good thing about this train
was that some windows in the gangway could be opened. The weather was still
warm and sunny, so it was a nice experience to catch some fresh air from
the train windows.

IRKUTSK

The second morning we arrived in Irkutsk at 7:33 (local time). About an
hour before the provodnitsa woke us up. Unfortunately, the toilets were
closed, because we were already approaching another station in Irkutsk...
and they remained closed 'till arrival. Not really awake (no coffee, no
shower ;-) we found ourselves on the cold platform of the Irkutsk station.
Upon entering the nice station building we immediately noticed this is a
touristy place: many people approached us for taxi's, selling city maps and
God may know what more.

We had planned to get to Olkhon that day. Olkhon is an island in Baikal
lake, some hours driving north of Irkutsk. We had heard about a bus leaving
from the bus station at 10:00, and minibuses leaving around 9:00. From the
Lonely Planet map we found that the bus station was located quite far from
the train station. We didn't feel like boarding one of the very busy trams
with our luggage, so we started looking for a good looking taxi with a
telephone number on the outside (which are usually the more reliable
taxi's). We found one (a right hand driving Japanese car, just like many
cars in Siberia) that brought us to the bus station for a small amount of
money. Our impression when driving through the town was that despite the
tourism, it is more run-down than the other cities we visited so far. The
bus station was especially bad.

We found out that a bus to Khuzir on the island would indeed leave at
10:00, and that indeed a minibus would leave earlier. We opted for the
minibus, but since there were not enough passengers the driver directed us
to the big, old, uncomfortable bus that took us to Olkhon in about 8 hours.
The visit to Olkhon was wonderful and highly recommendable, though way
off-topic for this NG.

Back in Irkutsk we stayed in a hostel in the suburbs. To get to the city
centre we would usually catch a minibus. These minibuses are far more
popular than the regular public transport system in the city. Buses leave
every few minutes and you can ride along at a fixed price of 6 or 8
roubles. Some are so popular, that they even run large buses now...mostly
second hand from South-Korea. A nice system. All those minibuses make the
traffic very chaotic, though...

Next part: Irkutsk - Ulan-Ude - Ulan-Baatar

Regards,
David

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
15.10.2004, 07:51:1215.10.04
an

Timo Valtonen <timo.valtonen@***saunalahti.fi> wrote in article
<ckhr9e$6kp$1...@phys-news1.kolumbus.fi>...


> A recent article on rambler.ru
> http://www.rambler.ru/db/megapolis/msg.html?place=news&mid=5133512 tells
> about plans to order Talgo double decker cars to be operated between St
> Petersburg and Moscow, same ones as used presently by VR in InterCity
> services.

That's interesting. How certain are these plans? There was also some talk
about these kind of cars for the route Helsinki - St. Petersburg, right?

> According to the article modifications needed are a cabin for a
> "provodnik" in every car.

:-))

> VR operates a whole train of double deckers with a
> staff of three (two conductors and a refreshments sales person), but the
> Russians stick on having a person per car and still a separate dining
car.

A seperate dining car is a Good Thing(tm). Will the cars also have
samovars? ;-)

Regards,
David

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
15.10.2004, 08:36:1415.10.04
an

Ulf Kutzner <kutz...@mail.uni-mainz.de> wrote in article

<416D7005...@mail.uni-mainz.de>...

Which means? (I suppose "attention, doors closing").

Regards,
David

Timo Valtonen

ungelesen,
15.10.2004, 20:38:5815.10.04
an
"David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> wrote in message
news:01c4b2ad$4c5f0b00$9600000a@mijn-computer...

> Timo Valtonen <timo.valtonen@***saunalahti.fi> wrote in article
> <ckhr9e$6kp$1...@phys-news1.kolumbus.fi>...
> > A recent article on rambler.ru
> > http://www.rambler.ru/db/megapolis/msg.html?place=news&mid=5133512 tells
> > about plans to order Talgo double decker cars to be operated between St
> > Petersburg and Moscow, same ones as used presently by VR in InterCity
> > services.
>
> That's interesting. How certain are these plans? There was also some talk
> about these kind of cars for the route Helsinki - St. Petersburg, right?
>
VR has not been planning to operate double deckers to St Petersburg even
thouh they did have test runs to Vyborg and beyond in the late 1990-s. The
biggest obstacle is platform use. The double deckers uses 55 cm high
platforms, Russian platforms are way too high. There is also some problems
with the profile. I don't know exactly, but it should be something to do
with the width of the waggon on the top.

The present VR waggons used to St Petersburg have been built in 1972-1985
and have been last thoroughly overhauled in 1992, so they have to be
renewed. Only the first class and restaurant waggons have been equipted with
air conditioning. VR would like to use double system Pendolinos when the all
the works on the Helsinki - St Petersburg line have been finished, but that
is expected to be ready in 2008 according to latest information. In the mean
time VR would like to switch to using present single deck IC cars, but they
have not yet been certified to be used on Russian railroads yet. Their
maximum speed is 160 km/h just as the presently used cars can do.
Here is a VR brochure showing both single deck and double decker IC waggons
currently in use (sorry, in Finnish only, but nice pics):
http://www.vr.fi/heo/eng/junat/vaunukuvasto_ic.pdf

Russians use waggons build in Tver. Basically they are sleeping cars. Here
is a VR brochure on Sibelius, Repin and Tolstoi trains:
http://www.vr.fi/heo/eng/junat/vaunukuvasto_ita.pdf

> > According to the article modifications needed are a cabin for a
> > "provodnik" in every car.
>
> :-))
>
> > VR operates a whole train of double deckers with a
> > staff of three (two conductors and a refreshments sales person), but the
> > Russians stick on having a person per car and still a separate dining
> car.
>
> A seperate dining car is a Good Thing(tm). Will the cars also have
> samovars? ;-)
>

Certainly! A Russian train without samovars is like a rainy day...

But back to Talgo double deckers. A Russian passenger train company called
PKK belonging to the biggest Russian cargo operator ZAO Eurosib wants to buy
same kinds of waggons as VR now uses on its domestic IC services built by
Talgo works (formerly Transtech) in Otanmäki in Finland.
Here is a Talgo brochure of the cars, this time in English:
http://www.talgo.fi/talgo-e/b-osa/pdf/doubled.pdf
They would like to have some 15 waggons to start the Moscow - St Peterburg
service, but the negotiations seem to be tough as Talgo is keeping a low
profile in this matter. Price is a big question since the production cost of
Tver waggons is only a fraction of what the Talgo double deckers would cost.
This deal would start waggon deliveries from Otanmäki works to Russia again.
Sales to Russia used to be a big thing for Otanmäki works, but they came to
a halt when the USSR ceased to exist and Transtech ended up with hundreds of
unpaid special freight waggons (mainly for car transport) on hand. Transtech
went belly up and is now part of the Spanish Talgo group.

tv


greg byshenk

ungelesen,
15.10.2004, 13:00:4715.10.04
an
David Eerdmans <usen...@xs4all.nl> wrote:

> Ulf Kutzner <kutz...@mail.uni-mainz.de> wrote:
> > David Eerdmans schrieb:

> > > interior was very uncomfortable (wooden benches). A good thing was that
> > > the train had automatic announcements (including one that warns for door
> > > closure; the same as in Moscow's metro system... it sounds a bit like
> > > "astarozjna, severitzne krovaltz" or something like that).

> > =========== ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~
> > (quite okay) dveri zakryvayutsya.

> Which means? (I suppose "attention, doors closing").

Hmmm. My Russian is lousy, but "dveri zakryvayutsya" would mean "doors
closing. IIRC, 'attention' would be 'vnimaniye' (not sure about the
proper transliteration); I'm not sure about 'astarozjna' -- perhaps
'caution' or something similar...?


--
greg byshenk - gbys...@byshenk.net - Leiden, NL

jjr

ungelesen,
16.10.2004, 05:18:2616.10.04
an
Timo Valtonen wrote:
> "David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> wrote in message
> news:01c4b2ad$4c5f0b00$9600000a@mijn-computer...
cut

>>
>>That's interesting. How certain are these plans? There was also some talk
>>about these kind of cars for the route Helsinki - St. Petersburg, right?
>>
>
> VR has not been planning to operate double deckers to St Petersburg even
> thouh they did have test runs to Vyborg and beyond in the late 1990-s. The
> biggest obstacle is platform use. The double deckers uses 55 cm high
> platforms, Russian platforms are way too high. There is also some problems
> with the profile. I don't know exactly, but it should be something to do
> with the width of the waggon on the top.
cut

In The Netherlands we have many double deckers where the problems you
mentioned have been taken care off:
Standard platform height may continue to be used: he passenger
enters/exits at standard platform height and from there either steps
down or up into either the lower or the top level.
The waggons need to be narrower at the top: because a double decker
waggon is higher than standard and sways sideways the top would get too
close to posts and other constructions along the line.
J.

tobias b köhler

ungelesen,
16.10.2004, 06:42:2216.10.04
an
Timo Valtonen schrieb:

> VR has not been planning to operate double deckers to St Petersburg even
> thouh they did have test runs to Vyborg and beyond in the late 1990-s. The
> biggest obstacle is platform use. The double deckers uses 55 cm high
> platforms, Russian platforms are way too high.

They could have doors above the bogies, like S-Bahn Zürich and many
similar doubledeck cars.

--
tobias benjamin köhler ____________________________________ t...@uncia.de
._______..__________.._______.._________. <>_<> <>_<>
| |_| || |_| |_| || |_| || |_| |_| | .---|'"`|---. .---|'"`|---.
"-o---o-""-oo----oo-""-o---o-""-oo---oo-""o"O-OO-OO-O"o""o"O-OO-OO-O"o"_

Klaus von der Heyde

ungelesen,
16.10.2004, 07:28:2316.10.04
an
jjr wrote:

> In The Netherlands we have many double deckers where the problems you
> mentioned have been taken care off:

And some new problems have been introduced.

> Standard platform height may continue to be used: he passenger
> enters/exits at standard platform height and from there either steps
> down or up into either the lower or the top level.

The same as in (West-)Germany, the platforms are too high for doors
on the lower level of dd stock, and too low for a stepless boarding
through doors located above the bogies (NL and parts of DE use this
arrangement). This is not suitable for some handicapped passengers,
for example.

> The waggons need to be narrower at the top: because a double decker
> waggon is higher than standard and sways sideways the top would get too
> close to posts and other constructions along the line.

This caused some problems for taller passengers - I am sure the
Nederlanders would like the VR DD stock for not risking to bump their
heads on somewhat when riding on the upper deck...

And, there is virtually no luggage room, but that is not so much of
a problem when used in Randstad commuter trains.

Klaus

greg byshenk

ungelesen,
17.10.2004, 08:17:1417.10.04
an
Klaus von der Heyde <uzs...@uni-bonn.de> wrote:
> jjr wrote:

> > In The Netherlands we have many double deckers where the problems you
> > mentioned have been taken care off:

> And some new problems have been introduced.

Perhaps, but...



> > Standard platform height may continue to be used: he passenger
> > enters/exits at standard platform height and from there either steps
> > down or up into either the lower or the top level.

> The same as in (West-)Germany, the platforms are too high for doors
> on the lower level of dd stock, and too low for a stepless boarding
> through doors located above the bogies (NL and parts of DE use this
> arrangement). This is not suitable for some handicapped passengers,
> for example.

How is this any different than the case with normal wagons (those having
their entire passenger compartment above the bogies)? Perhaps it doesn't
_gain_ level, stepless boarding, but it doesn't _lose_ anything, either.


> > The waggons need to be narrower at the top: because a double decker
> > waggon is higher than standard and sways sideways the top would get too
> > close to posts and other constructions along the line.

> This caused some problems for taller passengers - I am sure the
> Nederlanders would like the VR DD stock for not risking to bump their
> heads on somewhat when riding on the upper deck...

This doesn't seem to be a problem in the Netherlands, and the Dutch are
reputed to be among the tallest (if not the tallest) population in
Europe. Further, in my experience (admittedly wholly unscientific), the
upper deck is more popular than the lower.


> And, there is virtually no luggage room, but that is not so much of
> a problem when used in Randstad commuter trains.

This strikes me as just completely wrong. Yes, there is less _overhead_
luggage space, but there is considerable space for luggage between seats
(on both upper and lower levels), as well as space for large items (large
bags, bicycles, etc.) in the sections over the bogies.

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
17.10.2004, 08:33:1117.10.04
an

Timo Valtonen <timo.valtonen@***saunalahti.fi> wrote in article

<ckpql1$12b$1...@phys-news1.kolumbus.fi>...


>
> VR has not been planning to operate double deckers to St Petersburg even
> thouh they did have test runs to Vyborg and beyond in the late 1990-s.
The
> biggest obstacle is platform use. The double deckers uses 55 cm high
> platforms, Russian platforms are way too high.

Most Russian stations have low platforms. Those in and around St.
Petersburg indeed have low platforms, but they could use one dedicated low
platform for this double deck train.

How are they going to handle this on the Msk-St.P. double deck train that
you mentioned?

Regards,
David

Tadej Brezina

ungelesen,
17.10.2004, 16:47:2017.10.04
an
> [toilet nuisance] Tip: go to the bathroom before reaching the border
> station...

Tip2: The next time you travel in the CIS, take the right triangular shaped key
with you.
-> you can use the locked toilet independent of the provodnitsa.
-> you can lock the door of your compartment yourselves

And just take care, that the provodnitsa does not see your key! :-)

Tadej
--
Tadej Brezina (tadej_...@gmx.at)

... und aufgebrezelten Maedels beim Zappeln zugucken.
Thomas Engelmeier in dtr


David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
17.10.2004, 17:15:4317.10.04
an

Tadej Brezina <tadej_...@gmx.at> wrote in article
<4172DA57...@gmx.at>...


> > [toilet nuisance] Tip: go to the bathroom before reaching the border
> > station...
>
> Tip2: The next time you travel in the CIS, take the right triangular
shaped key
> with you.

Yes, I thought about it. I didn't do it eventually because I thought it
might give some troubles at border crossings.

> -> you can use the locked toilet independent of the provodnitsa.
> -> you can lock the door of your compartment yourselves
>
> And just take care, that the provodnitsa does not see your key! :-)

Yes, you'd better remain friendly with the provodnitsa's on Russian trains.
They hold all the power and can make your journey a lot better... or worse.
;-)

Regards,
David

Dik T. Winter

ungelesen,
17.10.2004, 20:33:4417.10.04
an
In article <slrncn4ou0....@byshenk.demon.nl> <gbys...@byshenk.net> writes:
...

> > This caused some problems for taller passengers - I am sure the
> > Nederlanders would like the VR DD stock for not risking to bump their
> > heads on somewhat when riding on the upper deck...
>
> This doesn't seem to be a problem in the Netherlands, and the Dutch are
> reputed to be among the tallest (if not the tallest) population in
> Europe. Further, in my experience (admittedly wholly unscientific), the
> upper deck is more popular than the lower.

The reason the Dutch have no problem with them is that they are designed
to work here. They would have problems id the DD's were of French, Belgian
or German origin. On Dutch DD's the height of both lower and upper deck is
considerably more than on the others.
--
dik t. winter, cwi, kruislaan 413, 1098 sj amsterdam, nederland, +31205924131
home: bovenover 215, 1025 jn amsterdam, nederland; http://www.cwi.nl/~dik/

Ulf Kutzner

ungelesen,
18.10.2004, 05:11:3118.10.04
an
David Eerdmans schrieb:

> > (quite okay) dveri zakryvayutsya.
>
> Which means? (I suppose "attention, doors closing").

Word by word: "doors close themselves".

Regards, ULF

Ulf Kutzner

ungelesen,
18.10.2004, 05:10:2218.10.04
an
greg byshenk schrieb:

> > > > "astarozjna, severitzne krovaltz" or something like that).
>
> > > =========== ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~
> > > (quite okay) dveri zakryvayutsya.
>
> > Which means? (I suppose "attention, doors closing").
>
> Hmmm. My Russian is lousy, but "dveri zakryvayutsya" would mean "doors
> closing. IIRC, 'attention' would be 'vnimaniye' (not sure about the
> proper transliteration); I'm not sure about 'astarozjna' -- perhaps
> 'caution' or something similar...?

True.

Regards, ULF

Klaus von der Heyde

ungelesen,
18.10.2004, 10:38:5218.10.04
an
greg byshenk wrote:

> How is this any different than the case with normal wagons (those having
> their entire passenger compartment above the bogies)? Perhaps it doesn't
> _gain_ level, stepless boarding, but it doesn't _lose_ anything, either.

The newer EMUs and DMUs in Germany have a floor height almost equal
to the platform height for at least part of the unit's length. It
should be possible to build wagons to the same layout.

Klaus

greg byshenk

ungelesen,
18.10.2004, 16:43:2018.10.04
an
Dik T. Winter <Dik.W...@cwi.nl> wrote:
> In article <slrncn4ou0....@byshenk.demon.nl> <gbys...@byshenk.net> writes:

> > > This caused some problems for taller passengers - I am sure the
> > > Nederlanders would like the VR DD stock for not risking to bump their
> > > heads on somewhat when riding on the upper deck...

> > This doesn't seem to be a problem in the Netherlands, and the Dutch are
> > reputed to be among the tallest (if not the tallest) population in
> > Europe. Further, in my experience (admittedly wholly unscientific), the
> > upper deck is more popular than the lower.

> The reason the Dutch have no problem with them is that they are designed
> to work here. They would have problems id the DD's were of French, Belgian
> or German origin. On Dutch DD's the height of both lower and upper deck is
> considerably more than on the others.

I'm hardly an expert on the varieties of rolling stock, so I'll give you
this one.

That said, I can recall riding on French DD's, and I doubt anyone would
have problems bumping their head while _riding_ (seated) on the upper
deck -- though I recall the headroom being a bit tight while walking to
the seat.

greg byshenk

ungelesen,
18.10.2004, 16:46:1718.10.04
an
Klaus von der Heyde <uzs...@uni-bonn.de> wrote:

And presumably one could build DD's in some similar way. I recall the
RE trains in Berlin having a ramp from low platforms into the lower
level of a DD.

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
20.10.2004, 16:14:1220.10.04
an

After a couple of busy days I found some inspiration to continue my
travelogue... ;-)

ULAN-BAATAR - BEIJING

We travelled from Ulan-Baatar to Beijing on 30 September with train K 24.
We couldn't book this through DB (I guess because it's not in the Russian
reservation system... Hafas also doesn't show this train), so we arranged
it through the Treinreiswinkel (Dutch travel agency specialised in train
travel). We had to pick the tickets up at a travel agency in Ulan-Baatar,
which went fine.

That cold Thursday morning we arrived at the station, which was then
already packed with tourists, mostly in groups. After some time our train
arrived. It was a purely Mongolian consist, boasting some ads for tourism
to Mongolia on the outside. Besides that, the cars were completely similar
to Russian train cars. Just like in Russia, there were also provodnitsa's
in every car. In short, the train experience was quite similar to
travelling in Russia.

We settled in our kupe-compartment. We shared it with two French guys, one
of them being the group leader of a large group of French tourists. There
were also some Dutch people in our car.

As soon as we left Ulan-Baatar, we got some great scenery. Very wide open
spaces, with lots of snow and the occasional "ger" (traditional tent).
Beautiful. The train travelled very slowly across the curvy track, making
for some great photo opportunities.

After some time, lunch was brought by the provodnitsas in exchange for a
coupon which was attatched to the ticket. It was a bit airline-style and
didn't taste bad. We only got chopsticks though... ;-) Fortunately I had
some plastic forks with me (although I learned to eat with chopsticks later
in Beijing).

While moving south, the snow started disappearing and the scenery slowly
turned to desert. I found it incredibly impressive: I never saw such a
thing in my life before. We even saw some camels from the train. Only the
cities were pretty ugly.

On the train to Ulan-Baatar we met two very nice Scottish ladies who then
told that they also would take this train. At one of the stops I ran to the
locomotive to make a picture (it was an articulated "Taigatrommel" 2M62).
On the way back to our car I bumped into those Scottish ladies and I
invited them for dinner in the restaurant.

So after the train started moving we went to the restaurant. Bad luck: it
was reserved completely by tour groups, we were told in a very very
unfriendly manner by the waitress (well, she more or less screamed us out
of the compartment). That was bad news for us, because we didn't have much
to eat left. Fortunately the Scottish ladies and the Dutch guys in our car
were nice enough to provide us with some noodles, bread and soup. We sat
quite some time in the compartment of the Scottish ladies (all the way at
the other end of the train - they travelled spalny vagon) and enjoyed a
really beautiful sunset. It also gave me the opportunity to recharge my
cameras batteries, because in our own car the power sockets weren't
working.

Late at night we arrived at the Mongolian border post. We had to wait there
for a long time again. Then we started moving and we slowly entered China.
Lonely Planet described the Chinese border station as very lively and
colourful, but the station we entered was dead and ugly. The French tour
group leader told us the train indeed used to go to a different station.
Anyone knows the story about this?

After some time we went moving backwards to Mongolia again. After some
shunting we reached the shed where we were going to be regauged. The train
is split and every car is towed into the shed through an ingenious cable
system. It's not very comfortable though... Inside the shed we were able to
watch the bogie changing very well, although we weren't allowed to leave
the car. It all went very fast and efficient, much more so than on the
Belarus-Polish border, we were told by the Dutch guys.

When it was completed the train was lowered on the bogies and shunted back
to the station. We then stood in the station for a very long time, with no
apparant reason. But I didn't care: some French people from the tour group
had entered our compartment and started sharing their vodka with us, so I
didn't object (my travel companion did... he was just trying to sleep...
;-)

The next morning I woke up later than expected. I looked out the window and
the scenery had changed completely. The landscape was now green, hilly and
densely populated. We went to the (now Chinese) restaurant car to have a
breakfast (well, it was more like lunch time). The car was again fully
reserved, but the nice Chinese waitress offered us a take-away lunch
instead. I had noodles with beef, which tasted very good (eating in China
for me was heaven anyway, certainly compared to the bland Russian food I
had been eating for weeks now).

After some time the scenery started being more mountenous, and at some
point we had some great views of the Chinese wall. From a station in that
area, the train was reversed and we started a very steep descent. It really
was one of the steepest normal gauge lines I ever traveled on (anyone knows
the gradient?). On that stretch, we passed Badaling, the main tourist point
on the Chinese wall. Lots of tour buses parked there. Too bad there's no
station at that point.

Soon thereafter the scenery suddenly turned completely flat and more and
more urban. We soon entered the huge suburbs of Beijing, with lots of
modern residential towers standing around. The stations on the railway
still looked pretty rural, so probably there were villages around just a
few years ago. After some time a modern metro line ran parallel to the
railway (is that the new line 13?).

Not long thereafter, we arrived in the modern station of Beijing. It looked
nice, though a litle small for such a huge city. Or are there more main
stations in Beijing? This one is always referred to as "the" railway
station. I noticed some modern trains standing around, including a modern
diesel train set, consisting of two power cars (like a TGV) and double deck
cars in between.

Most (all?) trains seemed to be long distance trains... are there no
commuter trains in Beijing? The city certainly could use some more rail
transport: there are no trams and only three metro lines. The metro is
efficient but not special, and rather quiet compared to Beijing's crowded
bus system. When we arrived, the metro station on Tiananmen square was
closed, because of the crowds there on National Day (1 October). The next
couple of days we spent in this fascinating city.

Next part: Bejing - Pyongyang v.v.

Regards,
David

Helmut Uttenthaler

ungelesen,
20.10.2004, 17:16:5520.10.04
an
"David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> schrieb im
Newsbeitrag news:01c4b6e1$6afd52a0$9600000a@mijn-computer

> After a couple of busy days I found some inspiration to
> continue my travelogue... ;-)
>
> ULAN-BAATAR - BEIJING
>
> We travelled from Ulan-Baatar to Beijing on 30 September
> with train K 24. We couldn't book this through DB (I
> guess because it's not in the Russian reservation
> system...

The Russian reservation system includes all states of the former
USSR, except Turkmenistan, Georgia and Armenia.


> Late at night we arrived at the Mongolian border post. We
> had to wait there for a long time again. Then we started
> moving and we slowly entered China. Lonely Planet
> described the Chinese border station as very lively and
> colourful, but the station we entered was dead and ugly.
> The French tour group leader told us the train indeed
> used to go to a different station. Anyone knows the story
> about this?
>
> After some time we went moving backwards to Mongolia
> again.


You really mean 'to Mongolia' or do you mean 'towards Mongolia'?

Can't believe that the regauging procedure takes place on
Mongolian territory after you already entered China. AFAIK the
regauging facility is at Erlian (China).


> When it was completed the train was lowered on the bogies
> and shunted back to the station. We then stood in the
> station for a very long time, with no apparant reason.
> But I didn't care: some French people from the tour group
> had entered our compartment and started sharing their
> vodka with us,

How were the border controls? Or did you forget them due to the
vodka? ;-)


> After some time the scenery started being more
> mountenous, and at some point we had some great views of
> the Chinese wall. From a station in that area, the train
> was reversed and we started a very steep descent. It
> really was one of the steepest normal gauge lines I ever
> traveled on (anyone knows the gradient?). On that
> stretch, we passed Badaling, the main tourist point on
> the Chinese wall. Lots of tour buses parked there. Too
> bad there's no station at that point.

I've heared that international trains make a short stop at the
Chinese Wall to offer the possibility to take photos.
Or does this only apply to train 4 (Moskva - Beijing) or the
luxury cruise train running sometimes between Moskva and Bejing?

--
Helmut Uttenthaler,
Graz


Ulf Kutzner

ungelesen,
21.10.2004, 05:29:4521.10.04
an
David Eerdmans schrieb:

> Late at night we arrived at the Mongolian border post. We had to wait there
> for a long time again. Then we started moving and we slowly entered China.
> Lonely Planet described the Chinese border station as very lively and
> colourful, but the station we entered was dead and ugly. The French tour
> group leader told us the train indeed used to go to a different station.
> Anyone knows the story about this?

Hmmm, couldn't find much information.

Found http://www.ndahl.com/places/zamynuud

> After some time the scenery started being more mountenous, and at some
> point we had some great views of the Chinese wall. From a station in that
> area, the train was reversed and we started a very steep descent. It really
> was one of the steepest normal gauge lines I ever traveled on (anyone knows
> the gradient?).


http://www.ndahl.com/places/greatwall/rmc2000

Trains are top-tailed with locos.

But I guess you didn't travel Boppard <-> Emmelshausen, béziers -
Neussargues or Foix - La Tour de Carol.

Regards, ULF

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
21.10.2004, 13:43:2421.10.04
an

Helmut Uttenthaler <helmut.ut...@gmx.at> wrote in article

<2to2tuF...@uni-berlin.de>...


> "David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> schrieb im
> Newsbeitrag news:01c4b6e1$6afd52a0$9600000a@mijn-computer
> > After a couple of busy days I found some inspiration to
> > continue my travelogue... ;-)
> >
> > ULAN-BAATAR - BEIJING
> >
> > We travelled from Ulan-Baatar to Beijing on 30 September
> > with train K 24. We couldn't book this through DB (I
> > guess because it's not in the Russian reservation
> > system...
>
> The Russian reservation system includes all states of the former
> USSR, except Turkmenistan, Georgia and Armenia.

But Mongolia wasn't part of the USSR...

> > After some time we went moving backwards to Mongolia
> > again.
>
>
> You really mean 'to Mongolia' or do you mean 'towards Mongolia'?

No, I meant towards Mongolia. :-)



> Can't believe that the regauging procedure takes place on
> Mongolian territory after you already entered China. AFAIK the
> regauging facility is at Erlian (China).

Right.



> > When it was completed the train was lowered on the bogies
> > and shunted back to the station. We then stood in the
> > station for a very long time, with no apparant reason.
> > But I didn't care: some French people from the tour group
> > had entered our compartment and started sharing their
> > vodka with us,
>
> How were the border controls? Or did you forget them due to the
> vodka? ;-)

Pretty slow, but at least they were pretty friendly. We had to fill in
quite some forms (entry card, customs declaration, health declaration...).
Our temperature was also measured.

> I've heared that international trains make a short stop at the
> Chinese Wall to offer the possibility to take photos.
> Or does this only apply to train 4 (Moskva - Beijing) or the
> luxury cruise train running sometimes between Moskva and Bejing?

Our train didn't stop there, but the slow pace made it quite easy to make
pictures.

Regards,
David

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
21.10.2004, 13:45:2621.10.04
an

Ulf Kutzner <kutz...@mail.uni-mainz.de> wrote in article

<41778189...@mail.uni-mainz.de>...

I did Foix - La Tour, which was indeed very steep too.

Now we're on the subject: what's the steepest normal-gauge line in the
world?

Regards,
David

Toma Bacic

ungelesen,
21.10.2004, 19:35:1921.10.04
an

"David Eerdmans" <usen...@xs4all.nl> wrote in message
news:01c4b795$d00adf00$9600000a@mijn-computer...

>
> Now we're on the subject: what's the steepest normal-gauge line in the
> world?
>

hmmmm.... very good and interesting question! In Europe.... Maybe Ruebeland
line?

regards
toma


Helmut Uttenthaler

ungelesen,
22.10.2004, 03:46:2622.10.04
an
"Toma Bacic" <toma....@zg.htnet.hr> schrieb im
Newsbeitrag news:cl9h3p$i8e$1...@ls219.htnet.hr

According to
http://www.visitnorway.com/templates/NTRarticle.aspx?id=29392 the
"Flamsbana" (Norway) is the steepest normal gauge railway in the
world. However, http://www.flaamsbana.no/eng/ says that it's only
"one of the worlds steepest railway lines on normal gauge".


> regards

http://www.schwarza-tal.de/geisler/umgebung/umgebung.html says
that the "Oberweissbacher Bergbahn" (Germany, Thuringia) is the
steepest normal gauge line in the world. But this is a funicular.


BTW, the steepest normal gauge line in Austria is the
"Erzbergbahn" (71 ‰), see http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erzbergbahn

--
LG

Helmut


Toma Bacic

ungelesen,
22.10.2004, 04:07:4922.10.04
an

"Helmut Uttenthaler" <helmut.ut...@gmx.at> wrote in message
news:2trs6iF...@uni-berlin.de...

>
> According to
> http://www.visitnorway.com/templates/NTRarticle.aspx?id=29392 the
> "Flamsbana" (Norway) is the steepest normal gauge railway in the
> world. However, http://www.flaamsbana.no/eng/ says that it's only
> "one of the worlds steepest railway lines on normal gauge".
>
> http://www.schwarza-tal.de/geisler/umgebung/umgebung.html says
> that the "Oberweissbacher Bergbahn" (Germany, Thuringia) is the
> steepest normal gauge line in the world. But this is a funicular.
>
> BTW, the steepest normal gauge line in Austria is the
> "Erzbergbahn" (71 ?), see http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erzbergbahn

OK; Pilatusbahn is also normal gauge? And VERY step; but it is rack line!
Anybody knows the promiles for the Flamsbana and Oberweissbacher Bergbahn?
But what's going on with the rest of the world? AFAIK zig-zag lines in Latin
America are also very step.....

regards
toma


jjr

ungelesen,
22.10.2004, 05:24:2322.10.04
an
Toma Bacic wrote:
> "Helmut Uttenthaler" <helmut.ut...@gmx.at> wrote in message
> news:2trs6iF...@uni-berlin.de...
>
>>According to
>>http://www.visitnorway.com/templates/NTRarticle.aspx?id=29392 the
>>"Flamsbana" (Norway) is the steepest normal gauge railway in the
>>world. However, http://www.flaamsbana.no/eng/ says that it's only
>>"one of the worlds steepest railway lines on normal gauge".
>>
>>http://www.schwarza-tal.de/geisler/umgebung/umgebung.html says
>>that the "Oberweissbacher Bergbahn" (Germany, Thuringia) is the
>>steepest normal gauge line in the world. But this is a funicular.
>>
>>BTW, the steepest normal gauge line in Austria is the
>>"Erzbergbahn" (71 ?), see http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erzbergbahn
>
>
> OK; Pilatusbahn is also normal gauge? And VERY step; but it is rack line!

The private Pilatus Railway is known as the world's steepest railway
with a gradient of 1-in-2 (more precisely, 48%), reaching an altitude of
2070 m using a special rack-andpinion system.

> Anybody knows the promiles for the Flamsbana and Oberweissbacher Bergbahn?

On the site of Flamsbana (Technical Information) (see above) it says:
Steepest gradient 55 ‰ - 1:18

> But what's going on with the rest of the world? AFAIK zig-zag lines in Latin
> America are also very step.....
>

and this one:
http://www.pref.shizuoka.jp/kikaku/ki-20/english/pride/trans/apt.htm
The Apt type railroad is for moving up and down steep slopes using a
toothed type rail called rack rail. The only section of Apt type
railroad in Japan is between Apt Ichishiro station and the Nagashima Dam
station on the Ohigawa Railroad. This section is the steepest in Japan,
with a gradient of 90/1,000 (90 per-mil).

Ulf Kutzner

ungelesen,
22.10.2004, 06:05:0122.10.04
an
David Eerdmans schrieb:

> > > We travelled from Ulan-Baatar to Beijing on 30 September
> > > with train K 24. We couldn't book this through DB (I
> > > guess because it's not in the Russian reservation
> > > system...
> >
> > The Russian reservation system includes all states of the former
> > USSR, except Turkmenistan, Georgia and Armenia.
>
> But Mongolia wasn't part of the USSR...

That's propably why you couln't book from Russia...

From this year on, Express 2/3 should be connected to Hermes in order to
book Western trains.


Regards, ULF

Ulf Kutzner

ungelesen,
22.10.2004, 06:16:0922.10.04
an
jjr schrieb:

>
> Toma Bacic wrote:
> > "Helmut Uttenthaler" <helmut.ut...@gmx.at> wrote in message
> > news:2trs6iF...@uni-berlin.de...
> >
> >>According to
> >>http://www.visitnorway.com/templates/NTRarticle.aspx?id=29392 the
> >>"Flamsbana" (Norway) is the steepest normal gauge railway in the
> >>world. However, http://www.flaamsbana.no/eng/ says that it's only
> >>"one of the worlds steepest railway lines on normal gauge".

> >>BTW, the steepest normal gauge line in Austria is the
> >>"Erzbergbahn" (71 ?), see http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erzbergbahn

Good candidate.

> > OK; Pilatusbahn is also normal gauge? And VERY step; but it is rack line!
>
> The private Pilatus Railway is known as the world's steepest railway
> with a gradient of 1-in-2 (more precisely, 48%), reaching an altitude of
> 2070 m using a special rack-andpinion system.
>
> > Anybody knows the promiles for the Flamsbana and Oberweissbacher Bergbahn?
>
> On the site of Flamsbana (Technical Information) (see above) it says:
> Steepest gradient 55 ‰ - 1:18

Boppard - Emmelshausen: 66 ‰
http://www.zu-den-zuegen.de/Seiten/Schub/schub-datenbank.htm

Regards, ULF

Klaus von der Heyde

ungelesen,
22.10.2004, 08:05:2822.10.04
an
Helmut Uttenthaler wrote:

> http://www.schwarza-tal.de/geisler/umgebung/umgebung.html says
> that the "Oberweissbacher Bergbahn" (Germany, Thuringia) is the
> steepest normal gauge line in the world. But this is a funicular.

The funicular has broad gauge track, and this 1800 mm gauge does
count as broad even in Russia, Spain etc. ;)
http://www.bahnen.de/d/oberweis.htm

Klaus

Mike Roebuck

ungelesen,
22.10.2004, 09:25:4522.10.04
an
On Fri, 22 Oct 2004 11:24:23 +0200, jjr <j...@yes.eu> wrote:


>http://www.pref.shizuoka.jp/kikaku/ki-20/english/pride/trans/apt.htm
>The Apt type railroad is for moving up and down steep slopes using a
>toothed type rail called rack rail. The only section of Apt type
>railroad in Japan is between Apt Ichishiro station and the Nagashima Dam
>station on the Ohigawa Railroad. This section is the steepest in Japan,
>with a gradient of 90/1,000 (90 per-mil).

Poor translation - it should be Abt, not Apt.


--
Regards

Mike

mikedotroebuckatgmxdotnet

Arthur Figgis

ungelesen,
23.10.2004, 02:54:1423.10.04
an
On Fri, 22 Oct 2004 09:46:26 +0200, "Helmut Uttenthaler"
<helmut.ut...@gmx.at> wrote:

>
>http://www.schwarza-tal.de/geisler/umgebung/umgebung.html says
>that the "Oberweissbacher Bergbahn" (Germany, Thuringia) is the
>steepest normal gauge line in the world. But this is a funicular.

It's also 1800mm gauge. A standard gauge vehicle rides on top of one
car, but I don't think that counts, or else a vertical wagon hoist
somewhere would win.
--
Arthur Figgis Surrey, UK

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
23.10.2004, 18:07:4923.10.04
an

BEIJING - PYONGYANG

On Monday 4 October we arrived at Beijing's main station by taxi. We had
booked it through our hotel and turned out to be somewhat of a rip-off: it
costed 40 RMB (about 4 euro), while a regular taxi would probably cost only
10 RMB. Oh well, it was still very cheap by European standards.

We stepped into the departures hall of the station. Yes - there's a
seperate departure and arrival hall. Upon entering the hall we had to go
through a security check. The station has an interesting system: there are
a couple of waiting halls, and each train is assigned a section of such a
waiting hall, indicated by electronic displays. When the train is ready for
boarding, it's also displayed on these displays (well, I suppose it is - I
can't read Chinese). Besides these waiting rooms there are also more
luxurious waiting rooms for which you have to pay.

On our ticket there was a notice (in English) that we had to check in for
our train. That seemed weird, and I also didn't notice any place where you
can do that. To be safe, I asked at the information desk, but they just
directed me to the platform where our train would depart. Oh well, I guess
it's not needed. We spent most of the time at the station shopping for some
food and drinks for our train ride.

When the train was ready for departure, we went there. Tickets were cheked
upon entering the platform. The train consisted of a lot of Chinese
sleeping cars (blue/white livery), looking a bit more modern than the
Russian cars we had in the last couple of weeks. We went to our car (it was
13 IIRC) and showed our ticket to the car attendant, but he directed us to
a car more towards the back. It turned out that the through cars to
Pyongyang were all the way at the back of the train, and those cars have
duplicate car numbers with car numbers in the rest of the train.

There are two through cars to Pyongyang. Both were of an older type, which
was similar to the Russian sleeping cars (also built in Germany). There are
two cars: one with 2 person compartments (spalny vagon in Russia, I think
it's called luxury in China) and one with 4 person compartments (kupe in
Russia, I think it's soft sleeper in China). No platskartny / hard sleeper
to Pyongyang.

From Pyongyang to China North-Koreans are all booked in the 4 person car,
while all foreigners are booked in the 2 person car... easy to seperate
them this way. From China to North-Korea it's also possible to book a 4
person compartment though, which is what we did. So we ended up in a car
which was mostly filled with North-Koreans. Our compartment was still empty
when we boarded, but some time later a large group of North-Koreans entered
the train. Two of those, two girls about our age, were assigned to our
compartment. They were clearly a bit afraid of being in a compartment with
two male foreign guys around their age. To relax them, one older male
person also came sitting in our compartment, and he started to have a
conversation with us. It ended up as a nice conversation and we also shared
some food and drinks. We steered clear of any political / controversial
topics though.

In the evening we wanted to visit the restaurant car, but that was not
possible: the doors to the rest of our train were locked. Fortunately we
had some noodles and soup with us, as well as some other snacks.

We went to bed early, because we were tired. We woke up the next morning
because Chinese border police were knocking on our door: we had arrived in
the border station of Dandong. We were surprised to find out that the other
beds in the compartment were not occupied by the North-Korean girls, but by
two men from their group. Seemingly the girls were too uncomfortable
sleeping in the same compartment as us.

Border checks went fairly smooth, although it took a very long time before
we got our passports back. In the mean time we explored the station, bought
some things in the shops there. Also, some shunting was going on with our
train, because the part that remained in China was located in front of our
cars.

Finally we left the modern and booming city of Dandong, and we entered the
bridge towards North-Korea. The railway bridge also has a small road on it.
The border is clearly noticable: from that point on, less maintenance has
been done on the bridge... There's also a second bridge, that leads to
nowhere. It ends in the middle of the river, and is seemingly in use as a
tourist attraction.

Immidiately after entering North-Korean soil we noticed some propaganda
banners and derelict factories. After some minutes we entered the Korean
border station. Here again we had to wait for a very long time, filling in
many forms, etc. Our baggage was checked by a very unfriendly North-Korean
officer. The check wasn't very thourough though. After we were checked we
were ordered to leave the train; I guess they don't want us to see how the
North-Koreans are checked.

During the time at the border, a North-Korean part of the train was
attatched to our train. It was very long (about 15 cars), including a
restaurant car directly next to our car. The Chinese car attendant
indicated that we could make use of the restaurant.

BTW, the Chinese "provodnitsas" were mostly male, a great change with
Russia, where they were all female. They didn't do their job as well as the
Russians did. Well, actually, they did mostly nothing. Especially the
toiled ended up very dirty during the journey.

After a long time, the train started moving again, now headed by a
North-Korean electric locomotive. The tracks looked bad - really bad. Many
concrete sleepers were broken, and in many cases there was no connection
between the sleepers and the track itself. Our speed was also very low. It
gave us a good chance to watch out the window, on the Korean countryside.
Many, many people (including children) were working in the fields. Also, a
lot of bicycles, but almost no cars. The people looked pretty poor,
although the village we saw looked reasonably good.

The next town we saw was clearly the town that was hit by a train explosion
half a year ago. All buildings around the station were brand new concrete
buildings, and when you looked a bit better, you could see the remains of
old building standing in between. Very sad to see. The station was also
brand new and of course boasted a large portrait of one of the Leaders
(can't remember if it was the Great or the Dear one).

Due to the slow speed, the ride to Pyongyang takes quite a lot of time for
a relatively short distance. We had to arrive in Pyongyang at 19:30. In the
late afternoon, we wanted to visit the restaurant, but again the door was
locked. We asked the car attandent, and he was surprised to hear that. He
knocked on the door which was then opened by a restaurant waitress. She
told that the restaurant was already closed because we were close to
Pyongyang. Well, too bad. Dinner consisted of noodles again.

Shortly thereafter, we halted in a station - and kept standing there. It
was strange to see a totally dark station in a totally dark town
(North-Korea has a very severe energy crisis). When we started moving again
it was a couple of hours later. Could be a power cut, although it's weird
that we ended up right at a station.

Arriving in Pyongyang was weird. Many parts of the city don't get . There's
also no streetlights in most parts of the city. So we travelled by train
along huge rows of concrete residential blocks, which we could only vaguely
see in the moonlight. Creepy. Then we entered the relatively small station
of Pyongyang. It was fully lit and marching music blasted through the
speakers. Immidiately after deboarding we met our guides, which would
accompany us the next days in the country. You cannot travel in North-Korea
without a guide. They took us to a side exit of the station; North-Koreans
have to stand in line to show their passports and travel permits before
they can leave the station.

From there we went to a car, which drove us through the 1984-like streets
to the giant (and mostly empty) hotel on an island in the river. This hotel
(160 meter high) is only meant for foreign tourists and is situated on an
island in the river (so tourists can easily be seperated from
North-Koreans). This means that they can allow things for the tourists that
are not allowed outside. We had BBC World on our TV and there's even a
casino in the basement!

The next couple of days we were driven around the country by car - although
we travelled by metro in Pyongyang. So, the next and last part of the
travelogue will consist of Pyongyang's metro and our journey back to
Beijing.

Regards,
David


Lennart Petersen

ungelesen,
23.10.2004, 19:16:2223.10.04
an

"jjr" <j...@yes.eu> skrev i meddelandet
news:4178d1c7$0$76526$b83b...@news.wanadoo.nl...

> Toma Bacic wrote:
>> "Helmut Uttenthaler" <helmut.ut...@gmx.at> wrote in message
>> news:2trs6iF...@uni-berlin.de...
>>
>>>According to
>>>http://www.visitnorway.com/templates/NTRarticle.aspx?id=29392 the
>>>"Flamsbana" (Norway) is the steepest normal gauge railway in the
>>>world. However, http://www.flaamsbana.no/eng/ says that it's only
>>>"one of the worlds steepest railway lines on normal gauge".
>>>
Indeed it's steepest in the world with cogwheel but Pilatusbahn is narrow
gauge with 800mm gauge.
If cogwheel counts I would suggest the Rigibahnen as some of the steepest
standard gauge railways in the world with a maximum of 201 o/oo (Rigi-Arth
Goldau) and 250 o/oo (Rigi-Vitznau)
The SZU standard gauge Zürich-Uetliberg with a maximum 70 o/oo is
probably one of the steepest standard gauge lines without cogwheel.


Dik T. Winter

ungelesen,
23.10.2004, 21:09:3323.10.04
an
In article <slrncn8aut....@byshenk.demon.nl> <gbys...@byshenk.net> writes:
> Dik T. Winter <Dik.W...@cwi.nl> wrote:
...

> > The reason the Dutch have no problem with them is that they are designed
> > to work here. They would have problems id the DD's were of French,
> > Belgian or German origin. On Dutch DD's the height of both lower and
> > upper deck is considerably more than on the others.
>
> I'm hardly an expert on the varieties of rolling stock, so I'll give you
> this one.

I have now here the heights for French and Dutch double-deckers. The
French are lower deck 1921 mm, upper deck 1938 mm. The Dutch are both
lower and upper deck 2010 mm.

> That said, I can recall riding on French DD's, and I doubt anyone would
> have problems bumping their head while _riding_ (seated) on the upper
> deck -- though I recall the headroom being a bit tight while walking to
> the seat.

The major problem is not when you are seating, but when you enter or
leave your place. And the height of the French cars would be a major
problem for a large part of the population in the Netherlands. (If I
remember right, quite some years ago the mean length of the Dutch male
of about 18 years was over 1.80 m, and of the Dutch female over 1.70 m.
And it was still increasing. Ah, I found it. 1997, Dutch 19 year old
male, mean 1832 mm, Dutch 21 year old female, mean 1706 mm. See:
<http://www.vwl.uni-muenchen.de/ls_komlos/press/trouw.pdf>, alas, in
Dutch only.)

The length of the Dutch also requires a larger pitch between seats.

Tadej Brezina

ungelesen,
24.10.2004, 01:38:1324.10.04
an
> On Monday 4 October we arrived at Beijing's main station by taxi. We had
> booked it through our hotel and turned out to be somewhat of a rip-off: it
> costed 40 RMB (about 4 euro), while a regular taxi would probably cost only
> 10 RMB. Oh well, it was still very cheap by European standards.

My experience in China was, that erverybod asked us before the taxi ride, if
the price to be expected will be fine with us. And they did it always very
apolgetically, e.g. the hotel clerks.

> We stepped into the departures hall of the station. Yes - there's a
> seperate departure and arrival hall. Upon entering the hall we had to go
> through a security check.

Probably you noticed the body temperature check too. I had the experience in
all of the visited stations: Harbin, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. People
were usually lead into the building channelised. And a little bit of that main
stream was typically sitting a guy with accompanying police behind a laptop and
a IR camera. In Beijing, as I had time enough, I watched them from behind. The
laptop was showing the entering persons in dark green. But suddenly a person in
bright red came on the screen. The operator immedeately send two policemen to
welcome that guy and they led him away.
<conspiracy on> And he wasn't seen again. <conspiracy off> :-))

> The station has an interesting system: there are
> a couple of waiting halls, and each train is assigned a section of such a
> waiting hall, indicated by electronic displays. When the train is ready for
> boarding, it's also displayed on these displays (well, I suppose it is - I
> can't read Chinese).

Yes, but the alphanumerical train code is written in western style, e.g. the
very modern, "luxury" night train Z13.

> Besides these waiting rooms there are also more luxurious waiting rooms for
> which you have to pay.

If I understand that correctly, there were then three types of waiting rooms?
The large ones with plastic seats in the building wings and in the
superstructure above the rails, the first class room in the eastern wing in the
groundlevel. That's where my father an me waited for the night train to
Shanghai. Those were quite nice, red leather sofas, ... but the Chinese don't
give a dime about cleanliness, The hard class waiting rooms were an incredible
mess. Well it's not a mess if tired and sweaty people are lying all over the
place. But there was also a lot of junk like food residues, especially chicken
bones, lying all over the place. The thing that disturbed us was, that even in
our first class waiting room e.g. a guy who ate a cucumber threw the remains at
the couch table just in front of him.
And what did the luxury class waiting rooms look like?

> [...]


> From Pyongyang to China North-Koreans are all booked in the 4 person car,
> while all foreigners are booked in the 2 person car... easy to seperate
> them this way. From China to North-Korea it's also possible to book a 4
> person compartment though, which is what we did. So we ended up in a car
> which was mostly filled with North-Koreans. Our compartment was still empty
> when we boarded, but some time later a large group of North-Koreans entered
> the train. Two of those, two girls about our age,

Which age would that be then?

> were assigned to our
> compartment. They were clearly a bit afraid of being in a compartment with
> two male foreign guys around their age.

I hope that you were/are not really to be afraid of! :-)
It might be more that, as North Korea is the most separated country in the
world, the average north koreans do not get to see foreigners often as a) they
are too poor or restricted to travel or b) only a few foreigners enter the
country.

> [...]


> Border checks went fairly smooth, although it took a very long time before
> we got our passports back.

> [...] Here again we had to wait for a very long time, filling in
> many forms, etc.

How long? I read somewhere that the Chinese-North Korean border checks are the
most time consuming. But it also might have been the RUS-North Korean ones?

> BTW, the Chinese "provodnitsas" were mostly male, a great change with
> Russia, where they were all female. They didn't do their job as well as the
> Russians did. Well, actually, they did mostly nothing. Especially the
> toiled ended up very dirty during the journey.

Besides the travel on the Z-night trains we also took the standard express K47
Shanghai - Guangzhou, there the two very friendly female attendants were busy
as bees cleaning the toilet and separate washrooms quite often during the 24
hour ride.

> After a long time, the train started moving again, now headed by a
> North-Korean electric locomotive. The tracks looked bad - really bad. Many
> concrete sleepers were broken, and in many cases there was no connection
> between the sleepers and the track itself. Our speed was also very low.

There's probably no money left for the railway and the people as most of the
state's money goes into the nuke-campaign and the leader's biggest porn VHS
library! :-)

> [...]


> Arriving in Pyongyang was weird. Many parts of the city don't get .

Don't get what?

> [...]You cannot travel in North-Korea


> without a guide. They took us to a side exit of the station; North-Koreans
> have to stand in line to show their passports and travel permits before
> they can leave the station.

How was their English?

> From there we went to a car, which drove us through the 1984-like streets

What do you mean by "1984-like streets" exactly? I remember seeing photos from
Pyongyang, the streets 5-7 six lanes wide with only one car now or then coming
along.

It would be interesting to hear something more, esp. transport related, about
N.Korea.

Thanks so far

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
24.10.2004, 07:43:5224.10.04
an

Tadej Brezina <tadej_...@gmx.at> wrote in article

<417B3FC5...@gmx.at>...


> > On Monday 4 October we arrived at Beijing's main station by taxi. We
had
> > booked it through our hotel and turned out to be somewhat of a rip-off:
it
> > costed 40 RMB (about 4 euro), while a regular taxi would probably cost
only
> > 10 RMB. Oh well, it was still very cheap by European standards.
>
> My experience in China was, that erverybod asked us before the taxi ride,
if
> the price to be expected will be fine with us. And they did it always
very
> apolgetically, e.g. the hotel clerks.

I'm not sure if they did this with us, my travel companion arranged it.
Later we took regular street taxis and they just used the meter, usually
charging 1,30 - 1,60 per km.



> > We stepped into the departures hall of the station. Yes - there's a
> > seperate departure and arrival hall. Upon entering the hall we had to
go
> > through a security check.
>
> Probably you noticed the body temperature check too.

Yes, indeed.



> > Besides these waiting rooms there are also more luxurious waiting rooms
for
> > which you have to pay.
>
> If I understand that correctly, there were then three types of waiting
rooms?

Indeed, there were hard class waiting rooms, soft class waiting rooms and
waiting rooms where you'd have to pay to enter. We used the hard class
waiting room. I suppose our ticket gave us the right to use the soft class
waiting room, but we didn't know there was one at that moment.

> The large ones with plastic seats in the building wings and in the
> superstructure above the rails, the first class room in the eastern wing
in the
> groundlevel. That's where my father an me waited for the night train to
> Shanghai. Those were quite nice, red leather sofas, ... but the Chinese
don't
> give a dime about cleanliness, The hard class waiting rooms were an
incredible
> mess.

The hard class waiting room we used was fairly clean. There were young
children begging though.

> And what did the luxury class waiting rooms look like?

Not sure, didn't take a look inside. I just noticed the signs pointing
towards it.



> > [...]
> > From Pyongyang to China North-Koreans are all booked in the 4 person
car,
> > while all foreigners are booked in the 2 person car... easy to seperate
> > them this way. From China to North-Korea it's also possible to book a 4
> > person compartment though, which is what we did. So we ended up in a
car
> > which was mostly filled with North-Koreans. Our compartment was still
empty
> > when we boarded, but some time later a large group of North-Koreans
entered
> > the train. Two of those, two girls about our age,
>
> Which age would that be then?

23.

> > were assigned to our
> > compartment. They were clearly a bit afraid of being in a compartment
with
> > two male foreign guys around their age.
>
> I hope that you were/are not really to be afraid of! :-)
> It might be more that, as North Korea is the most separated country in
the
> world, the average north koreans do not get to see foreigners often as a)
they
> are too poor or restricted to travel or b) only a few foreigners enter
the
> country.

Right. Although I suppose these people are somewhat more used to it,
because they were allowed to travel to China. I think it's a combination of
both not being used to foreigners, as well as just two females being a bit
uncomfortable spending a night in a compartment with two unfamiliar men.



> > [...]
> > Border checks went fairly smooth, although it took a very long time
before
> > we got our passports back.
>
> > [...] Here again we had to wait for a very long time, filling in
> > many forms, etc.
>
> How long? I read somewhere that the Chinese-North Korean border checks
are the
> most time consuming. But it also might have been the RUS-North Korean
ones?

Not entirely sure, but not considerably longer than the other border
crossings we had been through. I think it was about 4 hours.

> > Arriving in Pyongyang was weird. Many parts of the city don't get .
>
> Don't get what?

Electricity.



> > [...]You cannot travel in North-Korea
> > without a guide. They took us to a side exit of the station;
North-Koreans
> > have to stand in line to show their passports and travel permits before
> > they can leave the station.
>
> How was their English?

Pretty good. Their knowledge of the English language was actually very
good, although they were sometimes hard to understand because they didn't
always pronounce it correctly.



> > From there we went to a car, which drove us through the 1984-like
streets
>
> What do you mean by "1984-like streets" exactly?

Well, I meant not only the streets, but everything we saw was so different
from any country we've seen so far, it all just screamed
"state-controlled". That reminded me of the book 1984. Of course I knew it
would be that way, but seeing it with your own eyes is a strange
experience.

> I remember seeing photos from
> Pyongyang, the streets 5-7 six lanes wide with only one car now or then
coming
> along.

This is a pic I took:
http://www.xs4all.nl/~davidee/Vertigo/PYON09.jpg



> It would be interesting to hear something more, esp. transport related,
about
> N.Korea.

Despire the pic I mentioned, the actual number of private cars in Pyongyang
surprised me. There are clearly far more private cars than I saw on pics of
people who went there a couple of years ago. The guide told me that
Pyongyang citizens can now receive cars as a gift from Japanese family
members. Also, FIAT is now producing cars in the country; there was even
advertising for it, replacing propaganda on some billboards!

Besides the cars, there are a lot of crowded trams and buses in the city.
And of course there's the metro - I'll write about it in the next and last
part of the travelogue.

In other parts of the country, cars are still very rare. We travelled to
Kaesong and to the north of the country on the "freeway". It was indeed a
dual-carriage motorway, but the one to Kaesong didn't have any lanes
painted on it. Both had some impressive tunnels and viaducts, all in a very
very bad state. Almost no cars on the motorway; only some army vehicles,
some old lorries (often also transporting people), some crowded buses and
some tourist vehicles (can be spotted because the licence plate starts with
91). Many people walking and cycling on the freeway though... What we saw
of villages and Kaesong, also a lot of people walking and cycling.

Exiting Pyongyang and at various other places there's police standing on
the road stopping some vehicles, probably to check their travel permits.
Police tried to stop our car a couple of times, but we just drove by at
high speed. Near Kaesong and the border area there were some more extensive
check points and we did have to stop there.

For those who are interested, I uploaded quite some urban pics (not
rail-related though) on http://www.xs4all.nl/~davidee/Vertigo/ . I plan to
build a web site about it some time later.

Regards,
David

tobias b köhler

ungelesen,
24.10.2004, 08:42:2024.10.04
an
David Eerdmans schrieb:

> Later we took regular street taxis and they just used the meter, usually
> charging 1,30 - 1,60 per km.

Of what currency?

> Despire the pic I mentioned, the actual number of private cars in Pyongyang
> surprised me. There are clearly far more private cars than I saw on pics of
> people who went there a couple of years ago. The guide told me that
> Pyongyang citizens can now receive cars as a gift from Japanese family
> members. Also, FIAT is now producing cars in the country; there was even
> advertising for it, replacing propaganda on some billboards!

Interestingly http://www.fiat.com/ tells nothing about that. It seems
that the country is still rather secret - both ways.
(Another example would be the animation film industry - drawing classic
animated movies frame by frame is a lot of work, and apparently North
Korea is a country that can do that very cheaply, but the big movie
makers don't admit they are subcontracting part of the work to there ....)

How much bureaucracy did you have before getting into the country?

cheers, toby
--
tobias benjamin köhler ____________________________________ t...@uncia.de
._______..__________.._______.._________. <>_<> <>_<>
| |_| || |_| |_| || |_| || |_| |_| | .---|'"`|---. .---|'"`|---.
"-o---o-""-oo----oo-""-o---o-""-oo---oo-""o"O-OO-OO-O"o""o"O-OO-OO-O"o"_

David Eerdmans

ungelesen,
24.10.2004, 11:16:2024.10.04
an

tobias b köhler <t...@uncia.de> wrote in article
<MqNed.36433$z77....@news.chello.at>...


> David Eerdmans schrieb:
>
> > Later we took regular street taxis and they just used the meter,
usually
> > charging 1,30 - 1,60 per km.
>
> Of what currency?

RMB.



> > Despire the pic I mentioned, the actual number of private cars in
Pyongyang
> > surprised me. There are clearly far more private cars than I saw on
pics of
> > people who went there a couple of years ago. The guide told me that
> > Pyongyang citizens can now receive cars as a gift from Japanese family
> > members. Also, FIAT is now producing cars in the country; there was
even
> > advertising for it, replacing propaganda on some billboards!
>
> Interestingly http://www.fiat.com/ tells nothing about that. It seems
> that the country is still rather secret - both ways.

Well, officially the cars are not FIAT, but some North-Korean car brand.
The factory is (partly?) owned by FIAT and they produce cars very similar
to existing FIAT models.

> How much bureaucracy did you have before getting into the country?

Not much, the travel agency you book through does all the paperwork. You
just have to pick up the visa in Beijing. I heard stories that sometimes
they refuse a visa for unknown reasons, but we got it without any trouble.

Regards,
David

Alan J. Flavell

ungelesen,
24.10.2004, 11:43:1224.10.04
an
On Sun, 24 Oct 2004, David Eerdmans wrote:

> Well, officially the cars are not FIAT, but some North-Korean car brand.
> The factory is (partly?) owned by FIAT and they produce cars very similar
> to existing FIAT models.

That sounds very reminiscent of 1970's Romania: some Renault models
(initially assembled locally from imported components, I think later
there were locally-produced components) sold with the brand name
Dacia. We saw inside one of the workshops and there were packages
with the original Renault branding on them, but the cars actually
delivered to local customers said only Dacia on the outside.

(Of course that's all very different now.)

Tadej Brezina

ungelesen,
24.10.2004, 13:11:5924.10.04