2017-12-09 Kerstexpress SSN 2017

SSN (Stoom Stichting Nederland, Steam Foundation Netherlands) organises mainline steam events on a regular basis. By now the Christmas Express has become a tradition and I decided to join this year's edition buying a second ticket for my son-in-law who didn't know about it.....
2017-12-10 10.10.12  I booked two tickets way in advance, forcing the family to keep the secret for my son-in-law. Route  The original plan was to stop at Gouda and Amersfoort and taking the yellow and orange routes to Beekbergen, avoiding Utrecht. The shortest route is over Utrecht and then taking the black route. That however required the loco to be turned at Utrecht. As no turntable exists there any longer taking the triangle Utrecht-Breukelen-Harmelen-Utrecht would be necessary but that option is fraught with difficulty. Probably the long orange route is faster and far less complicated.There was a problem however blocking the line between Amersfoort and Apeldoorn. So our outbound train was diverted over the blue route. At the end of the day we returned over the originally planned route (orange+yellow) DSC09165  The day out was a complete surprise for my son-in-law, my daugther barely having been able to keep the secret for so long. I picked him up at Zwijndrecht and there we waited for our local stopper service to take us to Rotterdam. DSC09170  The train from Brussels to Amsterdam passes at speed while our stopper trundles over the Merwede bridge, barely having left Dordrecht. If it where not for the bridge the station of Dordrecht would be in viewing distance being only 2 km away.
DSC09173 2017-12-09 10.35.45  We arrived early in Rotterdam and spent our time waiting for the steam train to make its entrance. DSC09174  Even on a Saturday Rotterdam is a busy place, so we didn't get bored. The weather turned bad. It was cold, barely above zero, there was a nasty wind and it started raining seriously. DSC09179  The first indication of the steam train was a light cloud drifting over the yard of the station
DSC09180  Locon 9901 (ex NS 1627) slowly pulls the train into the station DSC09181 DSC09184  The three cylinder 01.10 is sometimes described as the Queen of the Rails. Well, it's kind of funny to see a queen making an entrance butt first.... DSC09186  There she is at last. This is my second sighting of a member of the 01.10 class in one week, the  01.1063 being plinthed at Braunschweig. .  You can see the streaks of rain lashing the loco. It was very unpleasant weather.
DSC09187 DSC09190 2017-12-09 10.58.00  Son-in-law .... 2017-12-09 10.58.10  .... and me
DSC09192 2017-12-09 11.32.05  Now look! After all it is a Christmas Express. 2017-12-09 12.12.43  The buffet car was too busy to get a decent meal. Fortunately we had sufficient supplies with us. DSC09195  As said, our train was diverted and unexpectedly visited Utrecht.
DSC09196  The new route was correctly shown on the displays. DSC09200  Under a dark and dim lead grey sky throwing everything it had on us, the train pulled out of Utrecht Central and passed Utrecht Vaartsche Rijn DSC09205  The steam showed up clearly by ample condensation in the cold and moist air, so billowing clouds accompanied us everywhere we came. DSC09207  After Utrecht the landscape turned white from last night's freshly fallen snow
DSC09214  Approaching Arnhem DSC09218  Again a dark sky loomed over us when we passed Arnhem without stopping 2017-12-09 13.15.48  Son-in-law having a good time 2017-12-09 13.30.56  Approaching Dieren, the station where the museum railway of the VSM (Veluwe steam train co) branches off from the mainline.
DSC09225  Our train was diverted from the mainline ont a siding DSC09226  from where it eased onto the VSM line slowly DSC09232 DSC09235  After lots of rain earlier that day, it started snowing
DSC09241 2017-12-09 14.27.31  Before long the skies started throwing heavy snow at us but still mixed with a cold and very penetrating rain. DSC09243  Station Loenen on the VSM line. We left the train here. It was set back to make a photo entrance into the station. DSC09246
DSC09247  Victorian enacters joined the crowd. DSC09248 DSC09249 DSC09252
DSC09253  It was uncomfortable outside. DSC09254  The train eased backwards in preparation of its fake arrival. DSC09255 DSC09256  Hiding between the trees
DSC09258  Well, it is winter and this is what a Christmas Express is about, innit? DSC09263  Fake entrance, the light of day hardly sufficient to make decent photos. I didn't trouble to get really good shots as the SSN-crew left the crowd unorganised resulting in people being as close to the track they possibly could, disabling any chance for everybody to get a free view of the loco. The entire photo session was good for nothing. DSC09264 DSC09266
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DSC09338 2017-12-09 16.13.58 2017-12-09 16.14.20 2017-12-09 16.14.41
2017-12-09 16.15.45 2017-12-09 16.15.50 2017-12-09 16.16.01 2017-12-09 16.16.07
2017-12-09 16.16.14 2017-12-09 16.17.38  The Christmas Market. At promised much, but it was actually a bit disappointing. 2017-12-09 16.18.03 2017-12-09 16.25.04 001  In the workshop's shed
2017-12-09 16.25.47 2017-12-09 16.28.15 2017-12-09 16.28.22 2017-12-09 16.28.42
2017-12-09 16.29.19 2017-12-09 16.31.18 2017-12-09 16.31.30 2017-12-09 16.34.07
2017-12-09 16.34.13 2017-12-09 16.36.22 2017-12-09 16.37.48 2017-12-09 16.41.10  A roaring diesel was doing a bit of shunting
2017-12-09 16.43.12 2017-12-09 16.44.07  Although the day had been dim from the very morning, now dusk started falling. Although it made photographing ever harder it also offered great opportunities. 2017-12-09 16.44.22 2017-12-09 16.46.07
2017-12-09 16.46.17 2017-12-09 16.46.47 2017-12-09 16.49.11 2017-12-09 16.48.27
2017-12-09 16.46.34 2017-12-09 16.48.40 2017-12-09 16.49.26 2017-12-09 16.49.00
2017-12-09 16.49.32 2017-12-09 16.50.42 2017-12-09 16.51.33 2017-12-09 16.51.47
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2017-12-09 16.55.39 2017-12-09 16.56.05 DSC09341  This absolutely sublime photo happened by accident. I was taking a photo without flash with a long shutter time. Some one else took a flash photo giving the loco some extra details and freezing the falling snow flakes. Next time I will have my camera on a tripod and I will trigger the flash by hand myself ;-) DSC09353
2017-12-09 17.05.38  We took a ride on one of the VSM trains while the light of day was fading fast 2017-12-09 17.17.18 2017-12-09 17.17.25  A "sailor's choir" singing easy folky songs. 2017-12-09 17.18.19  Cold, light and steam create a great atmosphere
2017-12-09 17.30.45  The VSM train at Loenen 2017-12-09 17.31.58  The 52 class being uncoupled to run round. 2017-12-09 17.32.01 2017-12-09 17.33.01
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2017-12-09 17.39.32  A good view in the ash pan lit by the glow of the fire above 2017-12-09 17.57.56 2017-12-09 18.12.03  Having some time left we spent some more time on the shed. 2017-12-09 18.12.18
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2017-12-09 18.23.37  The 01.1075 in the process of being prepared for the return trip to Rotterdam 2017-12-09 18.27.30 Route - 2  As said, the return trip was over the originally planned route, going almost to Amsterdam to avoid turning the loco in Utrecht. It was completely dark by now and all we saw was occasionally passing a station and accompanied by the eerie, howling sound of the low voiced locomotive whistle. 2017-12-09 20.10.38  Amersfoort
2017-12-09 21.33.00  Gouda