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A photo charter journey through Småland and
Author: Michael Carlsson
One day in late autumn 1999, my friend Henrik Reuterdahl called me, and asked if I would like to participate in a photo charter event, that the Nässjö Railway museum had been asked to run. If?! Of course I would!! The train was set to run on two of the most scenic and wonderful lines I can think of, there was no doubt, I wouldn?t miss this chance to fire a steam engine along the Nässjö-Hultsfred and Hultsfred-Linköping stretches.
And suddenly, the time had come. Early Sunday morning May 21 2000, I packed my things in the car and set off for Nässjö. It was really nice to meet all the good people at the Nässjö Rwy. Museum (NJ) again. Well arrived at the locomotive shed, I saw the engine for the day, an inner cylinder 2´C-3 built in 1930 for the Kalmar Rwy. as their no. 17, back in her nationalisation period?s colour?s and road number, as SJ A5 1545, with Witte smoke deflectors, just like she had them in the 50?s and 60?s! A quick change into working clothes, and we went on with firing up, lubricating, polishing, painting, coaling , watering, and looking things over for the trip that would start the next day. Our orderer, Mr. André Sinn, visited us late this evening to check things out, and we were doing alright. The loco crew were two drivers and two firemen, so we were to change crews at Hultsfred, and as I were to be on the footplate for the first stretch Nässjö-Hultsfred, I got the early morning pass at Monday 22.
Believe it or not, it has a certain charm, going up at 4:30 AM to wake up a sleeping beauty, carefully open the water level gauge valves, opening the safety valve on the steam "crown" (Swe. engines has all steam valves for air pump, train heating, turbine generator, etc. Fitted in the "crown" on top of the boiler, inside the cab.) carefully start the blower, push out the "back fire" with a rake and throw in some fresh coals...
This was to be an exciting day, as these photo charters are very uncommon, if ever happened before, in Sweden. A strange feeling to pull out with an empty passenger train, knowing everything still is as it should be... There were expected to be photographers from all over the world, Europe, USA, Canada and Japan, would we be able to give them the show they expected from us..? Heading out of Nässjö at 6:38 AM, with a threat of rain hanging over us in the sky, it sure were a fine day to drive a steam engine, but to photograph in this weather..? We arrived to Eksjö at 7:02 AM, where we halted for about 50 minutes to allow a pair of DMU?s pass our train. The fire brigade met up to give us water as well. We started to notice the presence of our camera-carrying "followers", but not yet in full numbers. We left Eksjö at 7:53, and before we arrived to Hjältevad 8:13, the sky opened upon us. We felt sorry for our photographers, who did the best of the situation, balancing an umbrella, camera, tripod and camera bags in the spruce twigs and bilberry sprigs of the deep Småland forests. After have met the goods train 67321, we left Hjältevad, and at km-pole 56.8, we made our first halt to allow the viewers to regroup themselves. Short stop in Mariannelund for meeting a DMU again, and finally we arrived Hultsfred at 10:14 AM. Now the raining had stopped, and it looked to be a fine day after all. Now we are taking water from a fire hydrant in the street near the Hultsfred shed, so we are having use for our fire hoses we brought, after all. Lesson #1, never leave home station with less than three 30 meter long fire hoses... We had seven, so there was no problems at all. 12:20 PM we headed out of Hultsfred for a ride along the line to Oskarshamn, where the narrow gauge line to Växjö is running parallel, and crosses on a bridge over the s.g. line. Unfortunately the n.g. steam engine in Västervik weren?t finished with it?s overhaul, otherwise she would have met up here, what a sight it could have been!
We passed under the n.g. bridge two times, watched by about 50 men with cameras... I believe there were some nice pictures taken! The train reversed to a crossing closer to Hultsfred, and we waited for clearance to do a new photo run. Meantime, we were approached by a woman, informing us that we had scared most of her animals half insane by our back and forth driving, she was out looking for her animals in the forest...oops! Sorry about that. Her peacock was yelling, her hens cackled, we?d noticed, but not her cows taking off... Back in Hultsfred, we rolled out on the turntable, to get the engine front-first to Linköping. The 1545 by the way, are a true "fast-runner", not even having any dampers for reverse, tender-first running, so of course we should spin her around for the next stretch of line. Being 30 years since any steam engine last were turned in Hultsfred, it showed to be "impossible" to spin it with 104 tons of locomotive upon it. So much for the promises that everything were in order... The locking pins were broken, and didn?t pull out properly, when the lever were pulled to release, well, that could be fixed, but it was very sluggish and heavy to turn the table, thanks to our photographers we finally could spin her around, but it must have taken an hour or so to finish this up! After cleaning out the ash pan and some complementary lubricating, the train set off for Linköping at 2:57 PM with a fresh fireman on the footplate. We were expecting a driver to meet up on us later, because this line has a very special safety device, work?s just like Indusi, ATC, ATS and whatever it?s called, but this is a radio controlled block system, yet only to be found on this particular line. Our experienced driver were unfortunately very ill, but had promised that he?d meet us up at the border of the block system. He would carry a hand controller, marking our presence on the line to the dispatcher in Linköping. After passing Vimmerby and a short stop on the line at km-pole 74.6, we arrived Kisa at 4:02 PM, where a tractor helped us to lift coal in EUR-pallets up to the tender, and the fire brigade again supplying water... After allowing four trains to pass and meet us, we could take off at 5:56 PM to Rimforsa, where the radio block system required a marking halt, and our followers got time to regroup. The line north of Rimforsa are extremely beautiful, winding between the river and high mountain sides,
So I hope and truly think some very nice photos were taken, hopefully they?ll get published in Eisenbahn-Kurier as we heard someone said they would. Look out for them... Arriving Bjärka-Säby, our ill driver simply had pushed himself too far, in fact we were thinking of calling an ambulance for him, although it weren?t necessary, luckily enough. It later turned out he had gotten pneumonia, no wonder his strength left him. Well, what to do? Thanks to Henrik, our travel leader, everything sorted out, he found a competent person to ride with us, only delaying the train by 10 minutes! I won?t ever more be impressed by any magician, pulling rabbits out of hats, after seeing Henrik solving the problems he is standing in front of... "Normally", the train would simply been cancelled, just as the train the following day, but everything sorted out very well. Arriving Linköping at 9:28 PM, we set off for the turntable, and guess what? Must have been just about 30 years since anything as heavy were turned on that one too... It weren?t turned at all since 1993, the repairmen at the DMU workshops told us, oh well, no cameramen to help us here, but there was another turntable too, just like the one in Hultsfred, it was a hand-operated, 15 meter (to an engine with a wheel base of 14.4 meter) we didn?t expect it to work anymore smooth than the other?s, but look and see! It was in perfect order! Amazing! After watering by hose again, cleaning ash pan, and all "the usual stuff", we could go to sleep, until the departure at 7:50 AM Tuesday May 23. A new radio block driver followed us this day, unbelievable how helpful people can be, this day turned out to be like the one before, the sun shined, photographers placed on the strangest places along the line, and a wonderful scenery with water, mountains and forests. At Rimforsa 9:27 AM, we expected the fire brigade with water, but they didn?t show up, strange enough. After a while, a fellow came and asked us, "Don?t you want any water?" They had connected up a hydrant far, far from the station, where we couldn?t see them... There was no time, we had to leave soon, and we called for the fire brigade in Vimmerby instead, who promptly arrived to the station there. In time, we had only about 3 cubic meters of water left then... Same procedure in Hultsfred with turntable and watering, but this time we were prepared to the problems, and found out what?s wrong a bit quicker. No sensations on the way back to Nässjö, except for the rain, that came back when halting in Hult between 4:39-4:59 PM. A long stay at Eksjö again, where a couple of DMU trains and a goods train passed us, we left for the last leg to Nässjö at 6:53 PM. Henrik got the last spotting of a photographer, lurking in the shrubbery close to a garden, his mind totally focused on the train, not seeing the inhabitants of the little weekend cottage, with red, angry faces sneaking up behind his back, wondering who the trespasser was... Back in Nässjö at 7:25 PM, the train shunted into the sidings at the museum, and the engine back into shed, we felt that we had indeed delivered what our customers had expected, about 400 kilometres in two days, along these beautiful lines. Hopefully they were satisfied, too.
If anyone of the participators is reading this, I bid you welcome back, this was fun!
[ last updated 31st Dec 2003 ]