Railway photographer and author Jamie Anderson guides us through traction found on the European continent and his latest book. Words and photographs by Jamie Anderson.
With a combined rail network of around 202,000 km the European continent has a vast expanse for the enthusiast to explore from the snowy far north of Norway through to the baking hot centre of Spain. The traction on the continent is just as varied as the landscapes through which the network runs.
My own exploration began back in 2015 as part of a coach tour to Switzerland where I travelled the Chur-Arosa line. The traction for this first adventure was a Rhatische Bahn ABe 8/12 No 3501. Since then, I journey to the continent a few times a year sometimes in a group and also by myself combining my joys of rail photography and seeing new places.
One of the joys of the continent is that every country has its own unique variety of locomotives and units from both national and private operators and with these comes the standard and non-standard liveries with which they carry. By far the most common locomotives found on the network are from the TRAXX. EuroSprinter. And Vectron family of locomotives alongside these are numerous other types such as the Skoda built classes found in Eastern Europe and the Rc family of locos built by ASEA which are found in Sweden.
Freight traffic is extremely important for the European rail network with several dedicated freight corridors that help with the rapid movement of a wide variety of goods traffic from place to place while at the same time helping to reduce carbon emissions and take HGVs off the road. While the bulk of freight traffic tends to be intermodal containers travelling to and from ports there is also plenty of other freight types on the move from grain and cement in Hungary and Slovakia through to iron ore and timber in Norway and Sweden and everything in between.
The Continent also gives the enthusiast the opportunities to witness practises and rail operations that were once commonplace in the UK and are now either very rare or non-existent. Such as station pilots bringing in or taking out empty coaching stock such as DB Class 362,s at Munich and RhB Class Ge 2/2 at Tirano. Or mixed freight workings that traverse the continental network like OBB Class 1116,s in Hungary and RhB Class Ge 6/6 II in Switzerland.
One of my most memorable experiences with freight was during a solo trip to Sweden and Norway during the winter in 2019. I took the 18:11 night train number 94 from Stockholm to Narvik a journey of some eighteen hours hauled by SJ Rc6 No 1392 taking up my bed for the night in a three-birth cabin. I awoke the next morning to see a snowy rugged landscape and deep pine forests covered in snow. At Kiruna where LKAB operates the enormous underground iron ore mine after getting some fresh air I noted SJ Rc6 No 1395 had taken over for the run into Narvik. When I arrived at Narvik having checked into my hotel for the duration of my stay and exploring the town. I spent the next few days photographing the IORE locomotives in deep snow and -20 temperatures at the station the IORE locomotives are by far my favourite freight loco in Europe and seeing them hard at work moving the iron ore from Kiruna to the off-loading point at Narvik where the ore is loaded onto ocean going tankers was a real experience.
On the passenger side of things there is a just as much a variety of traction on offer with a huge variety of services ranging from humble single car multiple units that ply their trade on local commuter and branch line routes. Through to the long distance domestic and international services that are provided by either the high-speed fleets of the national operators and some private operators such as the TGV fleet of SNCF in France or the ICE fleet of DB in Germany. Or by loco hauled services which are provided by a mix of national and private operators such as the CD class 380 electric locomotives and the ZSSK Class 754 Diesel locomotives.
Alongside these daytime passenger services there has in recent years been a revival of Night train services across Europe with new routes being introduced and old routes revived. This second golden age of night services has been spearheaded by Nightjet with their fleet of EuroSprinter locomotives whisking passenger's long distances under the cover of darkness. As well as Nightjet there is the EuroNight services which also run a wide variety of routes and offer rare and sometimes Mutiple loco changes on route to destination.
Night trains are one of my favourite ways to travel on the Continental rail network and I have some wonderful memories of them. I remember taking the EuroNight 463 Kalman Imre service from Munich to Budapest haulage for the first leg of the journey was with DB Class 120,s Numbers 132 & 143 after a change of traction overnight I arrived in Budapest hauled by MAV Class 470 Number 001. Another memorable experience was on the Nightjet 420 service from Innsbruck to Cologne with OBB Class 1116 Numbers 053 & 095 providing haulage. Waking up the next morning and looking out of the window as the sun was coming up, I was greeted by the view of the River Rhine as our train followed its course along the incredibly beautiful Rhine Gorge a view, I shall never forget.
Having travelled on the Continental Rail network I intend to carry on exploring as much of it as I can with several routes and holidays planned for the future once things improve. I think you can certainly say that the Continent and its railways are in my blood.
ZSSK Class 671 No. 005 is seen at Kosice with a passenger working to Cierna Nad Tisou, a town in the Kosice region near the Tisa river on the 15th of February 2020. The Class 671 is a double-decked electric multiple unit that is very similar to the Czech Class 471.
UppTaget Class X11 No. 3137 rests at Uppsala while waiting to depart with the 13.41 service No 8514 which will run to Sala on the 27th of February 2019. UppTaget use three of these electric multiple units, which are on loan from Krosatagen.
OBB Class 1116 No. 207 is at Innsbruck having just brought in the author from Zurich and is heading on to its destination, Prague, on the 20th of February 2020. This 1116 belongs to a fifty-nine-strong fleet reserved for and turned out in Railjet livery. The Class 1116 are a dual voltage type allowing them to work into Hungary / Czech Republic and Switzerland on Railjet services
[Editor] - You can read more about Railjet services in We Are Railfans' recent interview with OBB: https://www.wearerailfans.com/c/article/obb-railjet-nightjet-1
MAV Class 630 No. 030 makes for a rare sight at Budapest-Keleti as this class normally work only freight diagrams, but is seen here with a passenger service on the 11th of February 2020. The old designation for this type was the Class V63 and their nickname is 'Gigant'.
SZ Class 310 No. 001 is found at Ljubljana having just arrived on a warm sunny summer's day as passengers board on the 19th of July 2018 with a service to Maribor on which these high-speed tilting Electric Multiple Units serve.
SBB Class RABDe 500 No. 021 is found at Zurich having just arrived at the end of its journey on the 20th of February 2020. The RABDe 500 Class are used on high-speed inter-city workings and have the ability to tilt, allowing them to take curves faster. 021 carries the name 'Jeremias Gotthelf', who was a well-known Swiss novelist.
Wiener Lokalbahnen Cargo Class 193 No. 224 passes through Hamburg-Harburg on its way from the port of Hamburg with a rake of mostly MSC intermodal containers on the 8th March 2019. 224 has been on hire to Wiener Lokalbahnen Cargo from ELL since 2015.
LKAB Class IORE twin unit Nos 110 and 120 ease through Narvik with a rake of ore wagons heading back to Kiruna, which is the main source of Swedish iron ore, on the 4th of March 2019. IORE locomotives are always coupled together to form a twin unit and are only uncoupled when one of the pair requires attention. 110 is named 'Bjorkliden', which is a station next to Tornetrask lake, and 120 is named 'Kaisepakte', which is a mountain overlooking the same lake.
Continental Traction is available to purchase through Amberley Books. You can learn more about their range and Jamie's book over on their website: https://www.amberley-books.com/continental-traction.html
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