France / Belgium 2002 (50 p.) is a free online Railroad Discussion Forum and Railroad Photo Gallery for railroaders, railfans, model railroaders and anyone else who is interested in railroads. We cover a wide variety of topics, including freight trains, passenger and commuter railroads, rail news and information, tourist railroads, railway museums and railroad history.


Proud Earthling

As short interlude a report of a trip in the summer of 2002 featuring a small selection of photos - of course there would be many more - not entirely from a railway viewpoint. Once again I was travelling with my first digicam Olympus Camedia C3000Z, a small 3 MP compact camera which I used mainly from 2000 until January 2004, in summer 2004 still as secondary equipment.

August 12 2002

In the evening of August 12 2002 my parents and me were occupying a sleeping car compartment of EuroNight "Orient-Express" - then still scheduled to reach Paris - at Vienna Western Station. It was the eve of the "hundred-year flood", "Transalpin" express from Zurich was the train most delayed at 3 hours, from all other directions services still were running relatively regularly. "Dacia" to Bucarest and Belgrade, still conveying JZ coaches in old livery, was waiting for departure on the opposite platform. But this time we escaped the bad weather into the west, not east.

August 13 2002

Already at Strasbourg we were woken up by the female sleeping car attendant. She told us that SNCF often let this train already terminate here in order to save locomotive operations. A picture of our train can be found in the first part of the Orient-Express-series.

Highspeed LGV Est did not exist back then, so a replacement Corail-train hauled by BB 15002 "Longwy" took us to Paris Est, arriving around noon in little more than four hours. The other train to the right departing Strasbourg westwards consisted of several car carriers and Belgian overnight train carriages.

While Central Europe was drowning in the rain, Paris turned out to be quite cloudless.

Models had to be protected from the scorching sun as well.

August 14 2002

After a first acclimatisation-walk the first afternoon we started our sightseeing programme next day. First Sainte-Chapelle with its partly original painted window panels.

Gargoyle-details along Nôtre-Dame.

View from Sacré-Cœur basilica on Montmartre towards Gare du Nord and de l'Est behind it.

About at eye level with the Eiffel Tower.

August 15 2002

Next morning we tried out the viewpoint on top of the Arc de Triomphe, actually a good alternative to the Eiffel Tower flow of tourists.

In the later afternoon I split and visited modern Gare Montparnasse, reachable from the Métro via a long conveyor belt.

Nose parade of different ages inside the flair-less subterranean station, terminal of LGV Atlantique.

Impressive view outside.

I continued my tour of Paris terminals at the classic Gare de Lyon with its famous restaurant "Le Train Bleu".

Another comparison of noses, TGVs towards the southeast dominated here.

Pont Charles-de-Gaulle connects Gare de Lyon to Gare d'Austerlitz on the western shore of the River Seine. The Métro can be observed on Viaduc d'Austerlitz, small in the background: Nôtre-Dame.

Former BB 9228 could already be encountered in modern "Frêt"-livery and -designation hauling a passenger service.

Trenhotel Talgo 477 "Joan Miró" stood ready on platform 12 to depart at 20:32 to Barcelona, while sister train 409 "Francisco de Goya" to Madrid had already left at 19:43.

BB 9333, a couchette coach to Rodez behind it.

The sun had disappeared and I returned to the hotel. Someone had tried to rob my father's SLR hanging around his neck in the afternoon. As the mentally rather confused gentleman noticed that his efforts would be futile, he walked away cursing. The memory card of my camera was still that small at the time, that I had to sit down on benches inside the large stations four times to transfer pictures to my laptop.

August 16 2002

On my father's birthday we visited various other interesting spots in the city.

Cloud iridescence above the Eiffel Tower in the evening.

August 17 2002

Next morning we strolled through parks until proceeding to Gare du Nord before noon. A Thalys PBA (Paris - Brussels - Amsterdam) was just arriving. We took a double decker train to Amiens.

August 18 2002

There we moved into a hotel near the famous Gothic cathedral. Its amazing western facade houses the largest number of statues in their original arrangement.

The interior of the church is just as imposing and also features reminders of the turbulent recent history of the city by the Somme river, which in WWI often was situated directly on the front lines.

August 19 2002

Next day we visited Arras with its beautiful squares lined by historic houses, here viewed from the belfry of the Gothic townhall. One of us - as several times that journey - ate Moules-frites at a local restaurant, consisting of a pot containing counted 110 mussels and a giant plate of chips.

BB 16002 at Arras hauling our train back to Amiens.

A special highlight at 10 p.m. was a light show projecting the original colours onto the Gothic figures.

August 20 2002

The next, rather rainy day was spent at Boulogne-sur-Mer which could be reached via a diesel line. At Amiens the Corail-express trains from Paris changed from class BB 16000 electric to a class BB 67400 diesel double header.

Strange forms of sport along the Channel, we also encountered "Baby-Foot Humaine" where players tethered themselves to crossbeams on a closed pitch, like a large scale version of table football. All in all you could not tell at first glance on which side of the Channel you were, the same brick terrace houses, the same weather, the same surroundings...

The crypt of the cathedral housed a museum, then guarded by a geriatric curator. This item on display is reminiscent of the first pilgrimage to Boulogne by rail, votive offerings were brought here in heart shape.

Back at Amiens I stayed to take a few more pictures at the station. "Caravelle" DMUs could be spotted in original livery as well as the newer one of Picardie region.

August 21 2002

We undertook a boat ride through town gardens crisscrossed by canals (Hortillonages of Amiens) and visited the Jules Verne-museum, who spent the second half of his life here.

August 22 2002

During a morning run along the Somme we caught a wonderful view of the two most dominant buildings in town. To the left 1952-built Tour Perret near the station with its interesting twisted architecture of the top floors.

That day we took a train via Arras to Lille.

From where you had a connection to our next destination, Gent in Belgium. On the central Korenmarkt square trams were meeting with and without ad livery.

August 23 2002

In the morning we started our excursion at Gent-Sint-Pieters station, the building had been errected for the 1913 world exposition.

Northern Belgium's fast train services took us via Bruges, which my parents had visited during a trip a short time before, to Ostend at the coast.
I knew it from a short stopover during our UK-trip in 1994, when we were still able to come here directly from Vienna by EuroNight. We had been the last remaining sleeper passengers from Brussels on. Always when we took that train at the time we were accompanied by a rather stout Belgian sleeping coach attendant. Subsequently a ferry took us to England, just that day search and rescue training was being carried out by helicopter. For the next journey to the UK in 1995 the overnight train already terminated at Brussels, connecting to the newly inaugurated Eurostar service.

After a short walk to the harbour we asked around what might be of interest in the area and took the Kusttram (coastal tram) towards De Panne, the longest tramway line in the world.

Soon afterwards we got off at Domein Raversijde halt, next to an open air museum of the German WWII Atlantic Wall fortifications. Normally not our topic for sightseeing, but an interesting change nevertheless. Additionally, some surreal scenes presented themselves in the dune landscape.

Inland the scenery proved to be no less surreal, as the international airport Ostend-Bruges was located here - and exactly as we visited a Volga-Dnepr Antonov An-124-100 landed, one of the largest planes worldwide.

Back at the tram stop viewing towards Ostend.

At the harbour we snacked some fresh seafood, then continued to the railway terminal.

At the bay platforms a line of SNCB class 21s stood stabled, here mirrored twice.

My birthday next day was celebrated in Gent in front of the Waterhuis aan de Bierkant.

Shortly before close of operations I took this image featuring a cool effect resulting from use of flash plus time exposure.

August 24 2002

The next rainy morning I managed to capture some impressionist photos of Gent.

Tramway in front of Sint-Baafskathedraal.

In the evening I continued alone to Brussels to visit a female friend working for the EU during the summer. In the evening we went out to town with some other acquaintances visiting from Austria or working in Brussels.

August 25 2002

That day I toured some of the EU institutions, as well as some of the many unfinished buildings in Brussels, in the evening we visited the city centre again.

August 26 2002

We visited Antwerp, Brussel-Centraal station was situated closest to our flat.

At Antwerp the view into the great station hall was unspoiled, the entrance was just being renovated, however.

August 27 2002

In the morning I said goodbye, from Brussels South a Thalys took me to Cologne, from where I continued with this InterRegio on my first daylight trip through Rhine valley to Mainz, where I visited another female friend working at Rüsselsheim.

I stayed as long as possible, but shortly before midnight I took an S-Bahn towards Hanau to Frankfurt Airport station. There I was forced to wait until 2 a.m. as now the EuroNight from Brussels, which my parents had taken, was delayed due to floods in Belgium. I could face the situation in a relaxed way, I was just expecting a comfortable berth in a nice sleeper compartment. Also, it would turn out to be my favourite class of ÖBB, a P-coach sleeper.

August 28 2002

Arrival at Vienna Hütteldorf with EN 225 "Donauwalzer" from Brussels.

3 1/2 months later the train was converted to a CityNightLine as EN 325, one year later, almost exactly 10 years ago in December 2003, the direct overnight service from Vienna to the EU capital was cancelled. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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