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3. Heading South


eastwestdivide

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Up early for breakfast at Hornberg station and on the 0731 double decker (upstairs of course). Very twisty and heavily-engineered section of line towards the summit at Triberg, rest of the line less so. Changed at Singen from this:

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to this (on the right, a 2-car diesel):

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for the hop across the border to Schaffhausen, Switzerland. Here, a quick change to a loco-hauled IR (InterRegio) train to Zurich, with comfy SBB coaches, possibly my most luxurious border crossing of the week, unless you count the ferry cabin:

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and a view of the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen (failed attempt to photograph them). I think the train recrosses briefly into Germany, and crosses the Rhine back into Switzerland near Eglisau. Could be wrong, my map wasn't all that clear.

 

Changed again in Zurich to another IR:

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to Arth-Goldau for another quick change to the waiting ICN to Lugano via the Gotthard route. Spectacular, but that was last year's story. Not that much freight running that I saw, possibly because there were engineering works in one or two places on the northbound line, seemingly with reversible working past on the southbound. Used the Bordrestaurant while in the Gotthard tunnel for a fairly expensive cup of tea, CHF4.10 (£2.69 at today's exchange rate, for hot water, a paper cup and some dried leaves in a bag), and then out into Italian-speaking Switzerland, or Ticino.

 

The ICN terminated at Lugano:

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where it was noticeably warmer. Stand-up snack bar lunch of pizza with artichokes, and time for a couple of pictures. Lugano station is high above the lake, so there's a funicular that goes directly from the station, looking like it just burst out of the ground and collided with the main line station at a crazy angle:

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There's also a happy-looking little local train in a separate station across the road:

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Then it's on to the Tilo (Ticino-Lombardy) local service across the lake causeway and on to Chiasso, the Italian border station, where you walk through an unmanned customs point to catch the Trenord local service for Milan:

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Trenord is a joint venture of Ferrovie Nord Milano and Italian state railways. Most of their Milan trains seemed to be operated by single-ended electric locos (E464) on fairly long push-pull sets. Note the departure screen on the right, showing a 15 min delay to the EC Zurich-Milan train. These seem to have quite a reputation for bad timekeeping, and in fact my earlier train south from Zurich was slightly delayed by being held in a loop for a late-running northbound one. Connections still held at Arth-Goldau though.

 

I hopped along to Como on the next Trenord service for an hour's ice cream break, as my following connection only runs every 2 hours, and Como looked like a better place to wait than Monza.

They've got a vandalism problem round there - many of the trains had graffiti half way up the windows:

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and that's not the only problem - square wheels and "theoretical" air conditioning were the case on the two that I caught to and from Como.

While waiting at Como, there was a single diesel unit in a bay platform, parked alongside some more creative graffiti on a "trolley thing":

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and two more of the same type of diesel unit sandwiching a trailer vehicle, seen here on the left with my train to Monza on the right:

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Monza was very busy, nearly all Trenord trains, but also one of these Tilo units (Stadler FLIRT again) on a service into Switzerland:

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After which I caught the 1632 to Tirano, a 2h20 journey. At least the windows opened on this one. Quite fast and a bit wobbly north of Monza, a well-filled long train with yet another of those single-end locos at the front. From Lecco to Colico, the line dives in and out of tunnels right beside the lake, a bit like a single-track Dawlish but without the storms.

Arrival in Tirano was almost on time just before 7. Found my B&B for the next three nights easily enough, polished up my rusty Italian with the owner, and nipped out for proper pizza and beer. Pleasant evening, and slightly odd to see very Italian-looking churches against high snow-topped mountains in the distance.

You may be able to guess which line is coming next, but that's for another day. Buona notte a tutti.

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