Sunday, 5 November 2017

Journey by train

The 241P17 at full steam
taken from a bridge last year
To celebrate 50 years of friendship between Cees and one of his oldest friends who lives in Amsterdam, they decided to go on a train journey – graciously his wife and I were allowed to go along too. That may not sound too exciting, but Cees’ friend is a train fiend and this was no ordinary train. We were taking one of the fastest steam trains ever built, the 241P17, from Le Creusot to Mulhouse in the Alsace.

I love steam trains. I have mentioned before that I used to live in one of the cottages at Horsted Keynes Station in Sussex, the home to the Bluebell steam train line. Every weekend during the whole year and most days during the summer, steam trains passed by my front garden, their sound and smell, bring back many happy memories. I have taken the train from Horsted Keynes to Sheffield Park a number of times, it was always enjoyable but as it goes at a rather leisurely pace it is not a truly exciting experience, so to be honest, I wasn’t so sure what it would be like to travel in this particular train for the best part of a day up to Mulhouse and the best part of the next day to get back.

The fire brigade came to refill the water tanks
It was fantastic!

The train got up to a very respectable 125 km per hour, only restricted by the carriages it was towing as they were not allowed to go any faster. The sound and the rhythm, the smell and the smoke and all the happy smiling faces of the waving spectators along the track and at the stations was an experience well worth every penny of the cost.

Don't often get the opportunity to travel 1st class
We decide to splash out and travel first class, that put us in a comfortable coupé for 6 people which we shared with a Hungarian/French couple who lived near Lyon. We had our lunches delivered to the carriage, which were simple but very tasty and in the evening we dined at the Railway Museum in Mulhouse amongst the trains. The following morning we had a visit to the museum and then back on to the train.

Cees enjoying the view
I can safely say that I enjoyed every single minute of the weekend - well maybe not the getting up at 6 am to drive to the station, but every other minute. I must admit it was a bit expensive, but for such a special occasion it was well worth it, the organisation was superb and if you look at what you got for your money, it was certainly not overpriced.

We will be looking at the trips for next year - who knows maybe will be on that particular train again.

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