We took the U-bahn to Wien Westbahnhof and caught the Zurich-bound RailJet to St. Polten getting there on the dot at 0957. At Westbahnhof, the normal exit from the U-bahn was closed so we had a little difficulty in finding the station. First class in the RailJet is very smooth and pleasant. We were standing next to a double decker suburban set which are branded "Wiesel" - with a picture of a weasel on the side.
The narrow gauge (960mm) electric(6.6kv ac) line to Mariazell has caused the OBB some headaches in recent years. Two new electric multiple units were delivered in 1994 but the OBB had trouble with them and older equipment was having to stand in. There was also talk that the line, or part of it, would be converted to standard gauge. The latest information I had was five years old so I didn't know what to expect. I was blown away when I saw our train backing into the platform - ancient passenger cars and an OBB narrow gauge 2095 class, built 1958-62, diesel hydraulic. The vacuum brakes had been coupled up and I nearly flipped when I noticed that the supposedly Bo-Bo trucks were using side rods.
|Our train being backed down to the platform at St. Polten|
|A 60 year old diesel hydraulic with side rods.|
|Settling in for the 2 1/2 hour ride to Mariazell|
|The incoming train at St. Polten is hauled by a 100 year old electric with side rods and a jackshaft drive gear.|
Our first meet was with a diesel railcar - no sign of the new electrics. At Boding we crossed another of the original electric locomotives. A centenarian electric passing a 60 year-old diesel.
|Crossing a diesel railcar|
|Crossing a loco hauled train at Boding.|
|Running round at Mariazell|
|Tie date nails are used in many places, this one was at Mariazell.|
|Arriving at Mariazell for a quick turnaround|
We had a sudden stop just before Boding and then drew gently into the station. It was announced that we would have a ten minute rest - while we were waiting for a late train to pass. An opportunity for another private run past. I got out to look at the old timer gently steaming from the roof. To top it off the errant train, when it arrived, was hauled by another centenarian. I was lost for words watching two centenarian electric locomotives pass each other on regular service trains.
|Waiting for a meet at Boding|
|Vacuum brake cylinders are large|
|Meet between two centenarians|
The track seems to be in pretty good condition which is a good sign. There are a number of bridges including several curved viaducts in both stone and concrete. Speeds are limited to 50 kmph for the electric locomotives and 60 kmph for the diesel locomotives. I didn't see any of the electric multiple units all day.
The Mariazellerbahn also runs a steam locomotive and I saw a derelict one outside a roundhouse at Ober Grafendorf near St. Polten.
1099 class locomotives seen this day:
In operation: 01, 02, 07, 08, 11, 13.
On the St. Polten shop track: 04, 10, 14, 16.
Although there was some smart station work we were unable to make up any time and we missed our planned connection back to Vienna at St. Polten. We caught a late running local that stopped at all stations to Wien Westbahnhof. It was a comfortable double decker Wiesel that ran as smooth as silk on the excellent roadbed and there were good views from the top deck.
We had an inkling for Wienerschnitzel and stopped off on the way back to the hotel. The place we had in mind was full and we were in no mood to wait - besides, there were lots of oriental tourists, all with guidebooks in their hands, so we went to a hotel restaurant. The schnitzel with potato salad was excellent. A good end to an excellent day.
Click here to see all my pictures on Flickr
Click below to see my pictures in slide show format.