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Railwatch 068 - July 1996

Eurostar show the way to short breaks

After sampling Paris and Brussels by Eurostar, RDS members went one step futher in April and travelled to Germany. We left Waterloo at 1027, changed trains in Brussels and checked into our Köln hotel at 1900, reports Trevor Garrod.

Members used their German Regional Rail Passes to visit Bonn, Koblenz, Essen, Wuppertal, Minden and Hannover, while some also enjoyed boat trips. The trip was arranged for us by Peter Cannon of Deltaplan Ltd, 1A Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich IP4 1HN. Tel: 01473-213000. He will be pleased to advise and handle bookings from individual RDS members and groups planning holiday or business trips abroad. Koln has 16 tram routes and the majority of the vehicles are stabled at the new Merheim depot which we visited. Safety and cleanliness were top priority.

Most Stadtbahn halts (or stations) seem to be modern, with cycle racks and connecting bus services, while park and ride is actively encouraged at many of them. A wide range of fares, including group tickets, is on offer. This is urban transport as it should be.

Up the Schwebebahn

A group of us ventured to Wuppertal, an industrial city northeast of Cologne, to ride on its unique monorail or Schwebebahn which opened in 1901. Trains suspended from a track up to 12 metres high snakes their way for eight miles along the Wupper valley.

Dürener Kreisbahn

Düren, about halfway between Köln and Aachen, is on the main line from Brussels. The local council has taken over two rail branches and are running a better service with new trains able to handle bicycles and prams and with comfortable seats, enormous windows and an automatic ticket machine. The line also carries freight from certain private sidings at its northern end and occasional steam specials are run. There are some lessons here for Britain.

Into the snow

Another RDS party used Eurostar and TGV services to visit Lyon, reports Trevor Jones. From Lyon we went on a round trip into the Alps, heading for Chambery and Grenoble. In Grenoble there was time for a cable-car ride up a valley-side across the river, and then a diesel-hauled train ride up into the snow to reach the picturesque old town of Veynes. The ride back was through mountain gorges back to Valence on the main Rhône Valley line south of Lyon, for a final local all-stations connection back to Lyon.

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