Belgian beast 1303

“1303”  The one that got away

Thanks to “TC” for the memories and phots

This story starts back in September 1999 when me and Driver Phil had a trip to Germany. I had only been to Holland before, so everything was new. We left the UK on Thursday 9th September and came back on Tuesday 14th, although we split up at Liege on the way back. I wanted a trip on the blue 55’s that still worked the Luxembourg trains. Phil had an earlier start for work the next day and with three overnights over the previous five nights he continued home for some rest. After scooping 5531 and 5519 I headed up to Brussells Noord for a couple of hours number crunching before my Eurostar home. During my stint at Brussells Noord, I took a photo of “brand new” 1303 heading for Oostende. My ride across Brussells that day was with oldie “2513” on the Etterbeek – Kortrijk commuter train.

Over the next few years I adopted a plan of “doing” Belgium twice a year with my railway staff passes, and on the first few trips I used to stop in Oostende. Although it was out of the way, accommodation and food was plentiful and most people spoke English. From 2004 I changed my base to one of the hotels in the square opposite Leuven station as it made covering the hoped for class 26 on the school train at Mons much easier.

By 2001 all 60 class 13’s had entered service, 1360 was scored one morning in November 2001. It was around this time that rumours started appearing about the 13’s becoming freight locomotives, with many people saying to get them in the book sooner rather than later.

Eventually the freight only rumours did come true, with 1301 – 1340 becoming freight and 1341 – 1360 staying passenger for the Brussells – Luxembourg line and some commuter turns to Welkenraedt and Oostende. By this time I was down to a handful.

Occasionally the low 13’s came out on passenger, usually it was related to either maintenance or overhauls. 1301 and 1314 were both out in February 2006 when I was over there, the only times I had these two. 1306 was out in September 2009 and 1302 and 1311 were out in September 2011.

By 2009 I was down to 3 to clear.

In June 2009 I had a few days in Belgium mainly for Mercia Charters “The Resurrection” railtour. 1331 was out on the Oostemde – Eupen’s, and that put me down to 2 to clear.

One evening in October 2009 I am at home reading some emails, and one had some Belgian “gen” with news of some of my last 23’s working commuter trains. With a couple of days off the next week I decided on a quick trip with a night in the IBIS in Hasselt. On the morning of 19th October I catch the Eurostar to Brussells and on arriving I spot 1333 arriving from Maastricht. It worked back and I was down to just one class 13 to clear, 1303. After 1333 I managed to score 2325/31/68/80 and 2615, so it was a successful trip.

As for 1303, I am still in the “59/60” club with them. 2513, the loco I had back in September 1999 did haunt me on commuter trains and I had it six times before it was withdrawn.  

1303, Brussells Noord

1303 in September 99

1316, Namur

1303 at Namur in February 2017

1337, Gent St. Pieters

A brand new 1337 in November 2000

SNCB 1329 + CFL 3011, Ekeren

1329 and Luxembourg’s 3011 on the line out of the docks complex at Antwerp in June 2010.

Thanks again to “TC” for the memories…


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