One heritage railway in Germany that uses exclusively heritage diesel locomotive haulage is the Museumseisenbahn Küstenbahn Ostfriesland (MKO), in the far north-west of the country.
The MKO (website here) runs trains on a 16.5 km (10.3 mile) stretch of line from a junction with the “big railway” at Norden to Dornum. Services are operated on every Sunday throughout the Summer, supplemented by occasional extra days here and there – please refer to the Haulage Calendar on this website for further details.
Ostfriesland (tourist website here) is a mainly rural area characterised by its coastline, and is often overlooked by those who travel through it bound for either its beaches or the numerous islands lying off it. This is a shame, as it is an interesting region with a character and beauty very much of its own.
The above is a link to a YouTube video uploaded by user djdose100 showing operations at the railway.
An unusual aspect of this railway is that its mainline passenger fleet consists of two very similar locomotives, but one was built in Belgium and operated by the SNCB, the other in Germany and operated by the Deutsche Bundesbahn. Both are MTU (Maybach)-powered six-axle diesel shunters.
The first is an ex-SNCB Class 80, 8062, built by La Bruges et Nivelles (BN) in 1963. This was withdrawn in Belgium at the end of 2002 and was sold to the MKO the following year. It has been painted into an historic DB maroon livery with yellow lining and has been given the non-authentic “German-style” running number V60 062.
The second is a genuine ex-DB V60, later class 260 under the 1971 renumbering scheme and later still class 360. Built by Krupp in Essen in 1960, V60 555 (later 260 555 / 360 555) joined the MKO fleet in Spring 2016. It has been painted in a similar scheme to V60 062 and carries the number 260 555-8.
Each day of passenger service sees one of these machines used. According to the railway, “both locomotives alternately cover our trains. Since it is always decided at very short notice with which locomotive we operate, unfortunately we cannot provide any reliable information in advance. The other locomotive can be visited on the day of the trip in the railway museum”.
Times and Fares
On each day that the railway operates a service, there are four round trips from Norden to Dornum – at 10:30, 12:30, 14:30 and 16:30. A round trip is a very fair €8.
Norden station is on the main line from Leer and Emden to Norddeich Mole – the coastal terminus that serves as a ferry port for sailings to the North Sea islands of Juist and Norderney.
Among the trains that operate through it are two-hourly loco-hauled Intercity services, some of which are IC2 sets powered by class 146.5 locomotives. These provide a comfortable +22 onto the MKO services in both directions (as they pass at Norden), although it’s an unfortunate -7 off the MKO trains back onto an IC working.
The alternate hours’ services are RegionalExpress services hauled by DB class 146s – one of which, as a result of “Storm Sebastian”, on 13th September 2017, was actually rescued by V60 062 after being incapacitated due to OHLE damage!
May I convey my thanks to Thomas Thiess of the MKO for his help with the research of this article.