A Brief Baltic Visit 2010 - 4: American GEs in Estonia II, August 17 (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

We continue the travelogue in the early afternoon of August 17 2010 at Kehra: I had returned to the station when the next tank car train from Russia hauled by 2TE116-1366 passed by. In the foreground you can see the old, abandoned station building standing apart from the modern, concrete Soviet platforms just like in Aegviidu.

ChME3-1328 - an ex-Soviet loco of Czech production in Wisconsin Central livery seemed a little strange, but looked good - had reversed its short local freight in the meantime, standing on a freight siding. There also was a rail connection to a nearby pulp mill which manifested itself by a strong, omnipresent smell, almost as if all babuschkas of the village were cooking cabbage soup at the same time.

The next train from Tallinn arrived, this time well patronized.

The local was following right away - you don't often get a straight where you can see two trains behind each other separated by a signal block at one glance! At the other end, kilometers away, was the curve of Aegviidu, close to the foreground you can spot the bridge at Kehra.

Finally, at 15:42 I could continue east, taking the next DMU to Tartu.

At Lehtse, one station before Tapa, I got out of the train pushed by DR1B-3705. From the concrete platform I had this view of the lovely old station and thought that it might look good with a long snake of cars, so I waited and waited...

But there was always only something approaching from behind, like this maintenance vehicle! The signal towards Tallinn was self-blocking, so it had nothing to tell about oncoming trains.

2TE116-1682 next.

And as highlight C-36-7i 1503 with container cars in front, that didn't look European anymore!

A little later the DMU to Narva stopped.

Observation through the mirror of the passenger entering the train - a process which often required bridging huge gaps, even with elevated platforms!

The sun provided some great moods, and I temporarily gave up my dream of a train into the desired direction in order to move a little towards Tapa.

Here, I expected the express to Tartu first at 18:15 and caught it below this great spectacle of sunrays.

Now I waited for the Moskva-Ekspress, but what came was the next freight from Tallinn, pulled by 2TE116-1259!

My spot was situated at a level crossing exactly on the hilltop between Lehtse and Tapa, so the grade of the line went up into both directions towards me. Sadly, the crossing alarm sounded annoyingly and persistently.

After the last train had passed, another very heavy downpour started, without umbrella I would have been dripping wet. But soon the sunrays fought their way through again, and I could feel a very special mood coming up! So, voilà: GORail Moskva-Ekspress Tallinn - Moscow, as always hauled by TEP70-0238, in sun and driving rain!

A panoramic view:

At Tapa the next express from Tartu passed the one to Moscow.

The rain had stopped, but I had no second to breathe, at Tapa yard a huge column of smoke rose out of something yellow-red! ;-)

It was a GE double header consisting of C36-7i 1545 and 1515!

I quickly changed to the super wideangle lens for the cloud mood:

Is this Estonia or perhaps Wisconsin? ;-)

After the diesel monsters had passed with a greeting horn, I turned around and saw: train meeting!

Former Soviet engines sound worse, but smoke better: my favourite loco from this morning at Aegviidu, Transoil 2TE116-795, had clouded the whole landscape into white diesel mist...

No cul-de-sac for the railroad here.

Now I could gladly return to the platforms where I walked to the other end for the next DMU. But I had a hunch that there still might be another freight coming from Tapa and returned to my previous position. And really, in the distance another giant cloud of smoke rose into the evening sky in the distance. It would take a few minutes, so I could conveniently catch DR1BJ-2717 to Rakvere at sundown, it was almost punctual at 19:49 and the last eastbound train of the day.

As hoped the long row of cars led by 2TE116-1050 (also known from the morning) looked great on the hillcrest.

The shot next to the station was also nice. The shift of the strange drivers had obviously ended, and I was greeted by a friendly crew.

You don't see that every day where I am living: flight of the ibises!

At 8 p.m. a passenger came along and desperately wanted to catch the train to Rakvere, which had left 15 minutes before with no further connections that day. Obviously, frequent changes of the timetable due to the engineering work had confused some people. My train from Valga to Tallinn arrived punctually at 20:15, and the the pour man was still waiting stubbornly, even though his female companion and I had explained to him that nothing would come anymore that day.

On some clearings you could still see the setting sun.

I leaned out of the window from time to time and was not disappointed: shortly after Lehtse we encountered 2TE116-788.

The benches inside the train were almost wooden class, only with plastic covers, and absolutely unsuitable for longer distance journeys (the ride Valga - Tallinn takes about five hours), my back already started to hurt after half an hour. Some trains are supposed to have first class compartments, and new Stadler units have been ordered. In the evening the ride was quite fast, mostly over 100 kph, and showed the potential of the line. Obviously the works had finished for the day, we arrived punctually at Tallinn.

My train after arrival at 21:27 in the dusk, to the right DR1A-228 departed to Turi under a lot of diesel fumes.

Together with a class ER2 the empty DMU left the terminal.

On the way home I took this photo on town hall square, a great conclusion for a highly successful day! 21 freight trains were sighted, as well as six different GE Dash-7s, all C36-7i, more in service than had been reported. This is the end of my short summer trip to the Baltic States, but I will gladly return now that I know them a little better. As home base I might choose Rakvere next time, as you can get to the grade at Tapa earlier in the morning from there. The Moskva-Ekspress at sunrise must look great, and you probably could spend all day at that place watching and listening to the monster diesels accelerating uphill!

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