Building on last year’s success at Stoomcentrum Maldegem, I arranged another Sunday morning diesel haulage event in Belgium to coincide with the eagerly-awaited “Festival” weekend at the Chemin de Fer du Bocq. It seems to be a winning format and encourages people to visit Belgium and attend both events, who may not have done so had just one of the events had been occurring.
93 people (including me – as ever, I also paid my way!) turned out to travel behind the operational members of the PFT-TSP’s collection of diesel locomotives based at their depot facility at Saint-Ghislain. Four locos were advertised – CFL 806, 7005, 7358, and 8428 – and these four all worked as booked. 8320 also worked the train – a loco that had been mid-repair at the time the event was advertised, and indeed work was still being carried out on it on the morning, hence the slightly late start of our visit! We also enjoyed the bonus working of 6106 – considered by many who attended as the highlight of the day. This gave a total of six locomotives hauling our train, as compared to four initially advertised – a real success.
Of interest, had Ryanair not cancelled a number of their flights, causing a number of people to sadly miss their weekend in Belgium altogether, we would have had an attendance just scraping into three figures. Perhaps that is a target for another time.
Facts and Figures
I know that we do not often see numbers against this type of event so I thought it would be interesting to give a quick rundown of the proceeds from the day:-
Fares – €2,760 (2 visitors at child fare)
Fares for optional run with 6106 – €367
Additional donations – €45.19
This gives a total of €3,172.19, to which we must add €310 taken in beer sales within the depot too. Just to reiterate, every single cent went directly to the PFT-TSP for their preservation projects. Added to the estimated ticket sales at the Bocq railway over the weekend, the PFT-TSP have received over €5,000 from just its British visitors over the course of the two days – and that’s before sales of food, drink and merchandise at the Bocq are taken into account. This is phenomenal and I am personally very grateful and more than a little proud that we are able to say this.
Although I was busy throughout the visit I did try to keep a record of what we did – however I will be far from offended if you feel you can offer any corrections!
8428 top, CFL 806 tail – 09:56 end of running line to depot
CFL 806 top, 8428 tail – 10:01 depot to end of running line
8428 top, CFL 806 tail – 10:05 end of running line to depot
CFL 806 top, 8428 tail – 10:07 depot to end of running line
7005 – 10:35 shunt from one road to another on depot
7005 top, 8320 tail – 10:40 depot to end of running line
8320 top, 7005 tail – 10:44 end of running line to depot
7005 top, 8320 tail – 10:48 depot to end of running line
8320 top, 7005 tail – 10:52 end of running line to depot
6106 – 12:07 depot to end of running line
6106 – 12:11 end of running line to depot (propel)
7358 – 12:22 depot to end of running line
7358 – 12:26 end of running line to depot (propel)
7358 – 12:32 depot to end of running line
GPS measurements of the running line indicated a length of approximately 615 metres (0.38 miles).
I am personally very pleased with how the event went, but it’s the first on this scale that I have tried and I am well aware of some aspects of this visit that I can learn from for the future. Please do contact me if you do have any comments on the day, positive or negative, or if I may ask, any testimonials that you would allow me to place (anonymously) on this website.
I am happy to say that following the success of this event, I have already received a couple of extra bookings on my next one – a visit to the Chemin de Fer Touristique du Rhin in north-east France on Sunday 9th September 2018 to ride behind 1948-built Baldwin-engined ex-SNCF diesel loco 62029. Limited space remains on this trip, and it would be great if you could join us too.
I am even happier to say that this success has led to discussions already beginning regarding further haulage opportunities within Belgium – keep an eye on this website for any announcements.
I would like to point out that although the many “thanks JW” comments that I have received and read are humbling indeed, today has been a team effort. Of course, none of it would have been possible without the trust placed in us by the four PFT-TSP staff on site that such a bizarre-sounding endeavour would be worth their while – let alone their tireless efforts in near-30° heat on the day – especially Simon de Ridder.
I would also like to publicly acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Simon Moore at all stages of the process, to Josh Watkins and Andy Read for manning the bar, and to Miles Williams, Alex Cook and Ed Graham for their help tidying up at the end of the visit.
Of course, a big thank you is reserved for the 93 people who attended. This – and the seminar photo taken during the visit – are cast-iron proof when negotiating future haulage opportunities that people really will turn up and pay good money for this type of event in such great numbers, which I am sure will be invaluable.
Same time next year?