The Fourth Day...

The Modellbahntreff Diary (cont'd)

Day 3:  The Second Day of the Treff

My plan to meet up with Nigel on the platform at Göppingen at 7:00 a.m. did, indeed, fall through. Instead I enjoyed another delicious breakfast of warm Brötchen, this morning covered in thin-sliced Westphalian ham ("Schinken") or spread with thick, rich honey. Stretch and Carol were already downstairs when I came in, and the three of us set off for the day's trip to Göppingen.

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The platforms were slightly less crowded when we arrived, so I walked among the trains and took a few more photographs. I was planning to meet Chris and Nigel for lunch, and with much left to film, headed off to the Stadthalle (the venue for Z and N scale). Although Marklin did not have any new layouts to show, there were several clubs with modular layouts which filled the hall. I always enjoy watching full-length trains in Z-scale make their way along seemingly endless stretches of track. I particularly enjoyed seeing the purple "Fliegender Hamburger", a diminutive railcar that looks really good scooting along in 1:220 scale.

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Some pictures of the N- and Z-scale modular layouts...

Lunch was just around the corner, and so was the departure of the BR50 with its excursion up the Geislinger Steige. The E94 was scheduled to arrive soon, too, so I hurried to the station. Alas, the E94 had already arrived, so, after taking a few still pictures of that locomotive, I parked myself at a decent vantage spot to watch the BR50 leave. It was another picture-perfect (no pun intended) day, and the sight of this steam behemoth pulling its excursion train out of Göppingen was quite a sight.

click here for a video (warning: 5MB) of the BR50 leaving Göppingen

As soon as the train left I hurried to the Marklin Museum and the Marklin Hospitality tent, where I was to meet up with Chris and Nigel. We downed some lunch and a beer, lamented our personal and professional woes, and agreed to meet up again at three for the steam train ride to Plochingen and back.

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The Hohenstaufenhalle was next on my list, and, although less so than Saturday, the hall was still very busy. There were few new layouts to be found, and only one from Marklin. It was a fantasy layout featuring a medieval castle set up as an amusement park called "Knight's Land". The details were great, and there was a beautiful station on one corner of this modest layout.

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Marklin had brought two other H.O. layouts, both of which had been shown at the Messe in 2002. I was disappointed to see that the VT11.5 was still not running with the correct intermediate car set, as Marklin had again used extra intermediate cars to simply extend the length of the train.

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My favorite layout in that hall was a very simple U-shaped point-to-point design with all scenery and buildings painted entirely in white. The purpose wasn't to create some kind of nouveau-art showpiece. Instead, the group who developed this layout were dedicated operators, who took great pleasure in running their trains according to a timetable, and with realistic operation.


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Some additional snapshots from the H.O. scale layouts

I watched their activities for some time before heading back towards the Göppingen train station, where I would meet up with Nigel, Chris, Stretch and Carol for our train ride to Plochingen and back...

Nigel and Stretch on the Thunderbox platform

We camped out in one of the first cars and soaked up the scenery and sun as the diminutive BR75 pulled the train to Plochingen. Scores of bicyclists were enjoying the path which followed the rail line for much of the way, and my arm grew increasingly tired from waving back at the smiling faces that rode alongside and waved. The locomotive switched to the other end of the train at Plochingen, a small town some distance from Stuttgart.

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We were all marveling at the station building when the BR75 gave a long, shrill whistle. Another whistle sounded in reply. Surprised, we turned to see the BR103 with the trio of Rheingold coaches rush by towards Stuttgart. I managed to pull my still camera up to my face in time to take two quick pictures of this unusual consist as it disappeared under a bridge and out of sight.

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The BR103 with its unusual train flashes by...

Moments later the BR75 coupled up, and we continued back towards Göppingen.

In another fluke of luck, I happened to be looking forward along the side of our steam train just as the BR50 flashed by on its way towards Stuttgart. With camera at the ready, I was able to catch this lucky (if a bit shaky) meet on video.

Chris and Nigel were joining us in Esslingen for dinner, and I only had a few more minutes to film the goings-on at the station. I knew the S3/6 was scheduled to head back towards Nördlingen, but had no idea what was about to happen. In one of the most unusual consists I have ever seen, I watched the S3/6 pull out, coupled to the 60's era passenger cars the BR50 had brought, which in turn were coupled to the E94, with the BR75 and its rake of thunderboxes coupled on the back!

As this train was preparing to pull out, the hourly Regional Express to Stuttgart was just pulling in. Shutters clicked and video cameras whirred as a throng of enthusiasts filmed the unusual steam and electric train pulling out. Many of the remaining train fans were taking the Regional Express home, and no sooner had the last thunderbox cleared the end of the platform when they all raced full-speed across the platform to catch their *own* train! I was amazed to find myself nearly alone on a platform that had been buzzing with activity moments earlier...

I met up with the rest of the group a short time later, and the five of us (Martin had work to do and couldn't join) took the train to Esslingen. While Chris and Carol found a shady spot in the pedestrian zone to enjoy vanilla ice cream with hot raspberry sauce, Stretch, Nigel and I waited at the Esslingen station for the BR01 and the P8 to pass through. They were scheduled to arrive within minutes of our own arrival, and sure enough, it wasn't long before this amazing train flew through Esslingen station at top speed. I had never seen a steam train at full throttle (I'm usually *in* them, not on a platform), and it was amazing to see, the running gear whipping back-and-forth at top speed, the rapid-fire chuffs from the stack... In an instant, the train had passed. We packed up and headed into the pedestrian zone to meet up with Chris and Carol.

Our dinner venue in Esslingen Sunday evening...

Dinner was, once again, delicious. I wished our evening of conversation, beer and delicious German Schnitzel could go on for hours, but Chris and Nigel had to catch their train back to Göppingen, so I left Stretch and Carol to enjoy dessert while I escorted Nigel and Chris back to the station. It was nearly midnight when I turned in, and even though I was exhausted, my head was filled with the day's sights, sounds, and smells. Tomorrow would be a quite different day, with four train changes, and a ride through some of Germany's most beautiful scenery: The Höllental and the Black Forest. I finally drifted off, to dreams filled with steam, cinders and smoke...

Next:  We leave Göppingen for points south...