The Darkside of the Moon tour, Saturday Sep 28th 1996.
Emerging bleary eyed, some hungover! around 200 British cranks left the mighty “Konigen Beatrix” superferry to join the vintage tour stock with former EM2 1501 recently repainted in BR black as E27003 at the head. We were in Coach A , the Brits taking about 3 of the coaches, the “Dutchies” the rest.
NS 1501 renumbered and reliveried as 27003 looking superb at Rotterdam CS with the tour, a photo by the late Tony Ewer
The atmosphere was lively despite the early hour, The scale on passing through Rotterdam’s rail system made it obvious the NS system was a quality one. The third photo stop of the trip was at Tilburg Works where a 90 minute stop allowed us to explore the huge works area, packed with locos. E27003 was displayed on the works turntable and had a few spins!
A dimunitive “pug” 290 at Tilburg Works
To complete the varied Tilburg works phots. beat this 27003 on the works turntable!
We departed Tilburg heading East to Apeldoorn where preserved? former NS diesel 2233 was attached to drag the EM2 and tour over the non electrified branch to Zwolle. The diesel was very quiet, a little disappointing, but a new class for many on board.
2233 at Apeldoorn about to take us towards Zwolle with the tour, i think this was a preserved ex NS 22’er
As we ventured to the restaurant coach RD 7659 we all picked up on the friendliness of the Dutch stewards and bar staff. Made a change from RESL!!! With E27003 powering North from Zwolle there was one of several yard line ups of power, put on just for us.
Classic dog nose EMU 6957 at Zwolle, a Tony Ewer photo
At Onnen yard, NS went one better, we all piled off to view the EM2 coupled from the tour and put on the front in perfect light of an oil train in Onnen Yard!
Beat that! 27003 was removed from the tour in Ossen yard and temporarily put on an oil train!
We arrived at the Dutch Northern stronghold of Groningen where the hills were as flat as the rest of the country, we raided a nearby Supermarket for fodder in the hours break here and along with most other cranks, a bar!.
Pug 320 is dwarfed by a modern NS EMU at Groningen, a Tony Ewer photo
The return trip covered much more new track, passing South Amsterdam too. The end of the tour came unexpectedly, E27003 nearly failed outside Rotterdam CS with a “switches problem”. At Rotterdam CS we were advised to take the Hook bound unit which made a dead onto the ferry home!. Of course the “Stena Europe” ferry was held and we collapsed exhausted into our cabins soon after.
Back in Harwich we joined good old Blighty on a Sunday morning. A rail replacement bus to Colchester, a 321 to Witham for a Bristol VR beast to Shenfield for a 315 to the Street. “We’re home” my mate muttered more than once!
312704 1600 Liverpool St – Harwich LS-CO
321355} 1700 Liverpool St – Ipswich CO-MT
312704 1840 Manningtree – Harwich MT-HPQ
Konigen Beatrix 2130 Harwich – Hook HA-HO
E27003 0730 Hook – Groningen “Darkside of the Moon” Railtour Hook – Apeldoorn
(via Rotterdam, Tilburg, ‘s Hertogenbosch, Utrecht, Amersfoort)
2233} 0730 Hook – Groningen “Darkside of the Moon” Railtour Apeldoom- Zwolle
(via Zutphen, Deventer)
E27003 0730 Hook – Groningen “Darkside of the Moon” Railtour Zwolle – Groningen
(via Meppel, Assen, Onnen)
E27003 1732 Groningen – Rotterdam “D’side o’ Moon R’tour” Groningen – Rotterdam CS
(via Assen, Zwolle, Amersfoort, Weesp, Abcoude(South Amsterdam), Woerden, Gouda)
2894} 2135 Rotterdam – Hook RTM-HO
Stena Europe 2200 Hook – Harwich HO-HA
Bus (Heddingham L201) 0750 Harwich – Colchester RRS HA-CO
321329 0850 Colchester – Witham CO-WI
Bus (East Nat VR 3227) 0935 Witham – Shenfield WI-SH
315833 1042 Shenfield – Liverpool St SH-LS
321411 1154 Euston – Northampton EU-LB
Organiser – Werkgroep 1501
Stock – 21003, 21019, 21027, 29126(all Belgian 1934 build), 7659 (Haarlem 1951 built)
Fare – £52, plus £48 boat