Various dates in 2019: the Störtebeker-Express

Among the many haulage opportunities already announced for 2019 are a series of interesting charter trains in the former East Germany.

Four charters will operate over four consecutive Saturdays in July 2019 under the “Störtebeker-Express” title, all on the same theme: long-distance trips from towns in the region of Thüringen to the island of Rügen (a distance in the region of 350-400 miles each way), travelling via the outskirts of both Leipzig and Berlin along the way, departing on a Saturday morning and returning through the night.

The main reason for these trains, and their name, is that they visit the Störtebeker-Festspiele, an annual festival in the Rügen village of Ralswiek, started in the DDR days based on legends and stories surrounding Klaus Störtebeker, Germany’s most famous pirate, who lived in the 14th century.

Developing the DDR theme is the booked traction for the charters – former Deutsche Reichsbahn class 109 electric, 211 030.  Built in 1963 – as E11 030 – this is the loco that would have become “109 030” following German reunification if it had remained in traffic long enough; it was in fact withdrawn from DR use in 1988 and passed into private ownership, initially with VE Braunkohlenkombinat, and nowadays belongs to Eisenbahngesellschaft Potsdam (EGP).

In recent years, class 109 haulage has been available in just two places: on 211 030‘s railtour workings, and on the “Berlin Night Express” Summer-only dated overnight between Berlin and Malmö, where the section between Berlin and the train ferry at Sassnitz has been booked for 109 073 when available.  However, neither the dates of operation nor the use of the 109 have been confirmed for the “Berlin Night Express” for 2019 yet.

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212 297, 213 334 and 211 030 at Arnstadt on 30th July 2016 (Stewart Wells)

Added traction interest exists on two of the four tours, as they actually start from Ilmenau, away from the wires.  On recent experience, this has resulted in pairs of ex-DB (West German) V100-type centre-cab diesel-hydraulics hauling the train on the relatively short unelectrified stretches – roughly 30 miles each way – with the 211 pan-down inside.

These are expected to come from the fleet of the Rennsteigbahn (the organiser of the tours); in 2017 they were 212 297 and 213 339, and in 2016 212 297 and 213 334 performed.  Haulage behind these classes of loco is not exactly rare, although limited to heritage and charter operations nowadays, but the specific examples of the Rennsteigbahn are not frequently available for haulage.

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212 297, 213 334 and 211 030 at Arnstadt on 30th July 2016 (Stewart Wells)

As mentioned above, these tours are operated by the Rennsteigbahn and details are on their website.  The precise details of the four trips are as follows:-

  • 6th July 2019 – from Ilmenau (diesel haulage expected to/from Erfurt)
  • 13th July 2019 – from Gerstungen
  • 20th July 2019 – from Saalfeld
  • 27th July 2019 – from Ilmenau (diesel haulage expected to/from Erfurt)

The return legs depart from Bergen auf Rügen in the late evening, after a fireworks display, so it runs back to Thüringen through the night, arriving back on the early morning of the Sunday.  Dining is included, however, and the train conveys a bar/saloon car which will be open on the return leg for the insomniacs/party animals…

Whilst on Rügen

If the cultural festival does not float your boat, there are a few other things that you could do with your time on Rügen.  By far and away the most interesting are on the occasion of the first trip, on 6th July 2019, which coincides with a Pressnitztalbahn V100 (of the East German variety) top-and-tailing with 2-8-2T steam loco 86 1333 on some shuttles along the branch from Bergen auf Rügen itself to Lauterbach Mole.  More details on that little operation will become available in the early part of next year.

Similarly, the 13th July 2019 trip coincides with the 86 and V100 combo being used on shuttles from Greifswald along the short freight-only line to Ladebow – just over an hour from Bergen auf Rügen with a change at Stralsund, although I wouldn’t like to be drawn on whether it will be possible to combine the two, as the timings for neither have been confirmed yet.

Aside from that, but perhaps most prosaically, are the occasional loco-hauled InterCity service trains to Ostseebad Binz.  However, the island is also home to the Rügenschen BäderBahn – better known as “Rasender Roland” – a 760mm gauge steam railway, which is well worth a visit.  Not haulage related, but interesting nonetheless, is the Eisenbahn & Technik Museum Rügen a short distance away at Prora, which houses many items of rolling stock, including “Warship” V200 009, ex-ÖBB class 1018 E18 204 and E44 electric 244 139.

The fare for the trip is €164 for the full return trip, with lower fares available if boarding later in the journey (€136 from Leipzig and €115 from Berlin), however do consider that as effectively an overnight some of this goes towards replacing the hotel you might’ve otherwise have forked out for.

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