This week, I'm gonna put on my history buff wannabe hat, and write about a named passenger train in Great Britain called the Coronation. The Coronation isn't a train any member of my family, or my friends, or myself has ever had the chance to travel on. But a great event hosted by the National Railway Museum in York in 2012 had drawn a slight enough connection between the Coronation and I. The Railfest 2012 was where I had a chance to see and climb aboard of some of the equipment that was used on this train.
Seating plan of the Coronation
Like any other premium passenger train inaugurated in that era, streamlined equipment, tastefully decorated interior, and ample amenities were a must. Being a train named after the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Coronation could not fall short of any expectations. A special blue livery with red wheels was applied to the beautiful and famous A4 Class Pacific steam locomotives and the interior of the passenger cars was decorated in fashionable Art Deco style. Assigned to this train, the Coronation, was also a very special locomotive, one that marked an important milestone of railroading history, the A4 Class locomotive that carried road number 4468 and named Mallard. That is the locomotive that set the speed record for steam traction at a whopping 126 miles per hour on 3 July 1938, one day before the anniversary of Coronation's inauguration.
Beautiful red wheels on the A4 Class Pacific
The Coronation took 6 hours to travel from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley. In the summer months, the LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) added a beaver tail observation car to the train. This offered passengers a great view along the East Coat Main Line, giving them that extraordinarily unforgettable, romantic experience of long distance travel by train.
I got to meet my childhood hero, and it's everything I dreamed it would be! Yes, by it, I mean a train, of course, given how weird and awkward I am as a human being, this shouldn't come as a surprise. It all happened when I still lived in Asia, more than half a lifetime ago. The Chinese Railways, whatever they called themselves back in the 1990s, bought (or "leased") a set of the X2 (a.k.a. X2000 or SJ 2000) from SJ for services on the KCR (Kowloon to Canton Railway) at 125 mph (the first ever regular service in China at that speed). Granted, being Chinese, they'd also conveniently and inadvertently copied its design, albeit not quite so successfully (see DJJ1).
由慕尼黑啤酒 - 自己的作品，CC BY-SA 3.0，链接 (the Chinese X2)
This time around, the X2 also brought me about my first impressions of the friendly Swedes. Judging from the sign of me taking pictures like a mad (or normal) Chinese tourist, not one, but two drivers invited me on a tour of the cab. Finally, not only did I …
Between the Internet and the LKAB presentation at the Heavy Haul Conference in Calgary some five years ago, I've become no stranger to these iron ore trains of the Arctic Circle.
It has been a while since I last laid my eyes on some AAR 100-ton trucks, although they were surrounded by otherwise unfamiliar equipment. Photos don't do the IORE justice when it comes to their incredible might. In person, they, even with just a single section, almost in a weird way, look really long.
The City of Kiruna itself feels like a deja vu. Snow and mountains in the backdrop, fatally frigid temperatures, sizable, heavy freight trains, and a passenger depot that was moved out of the city centre (although for different reasons than we are used to in our neck of the woods), to the yard at the edge of town. Fortunately, Kiruna isn't very big. It takes less than half an hour to complete a leisurely walk downtown, and there is a bus that shuttles people in between.
4 AM. Excited and foggy at the same time, I crawled out of bed. The instant coffee from the hotel would do. Dressed in clothes warmer than I usually would, in anticipation of beautiful snowy mountains, I marched towards the S-Bahn station in the empty streets of Vienna.
A slight hesitation saw to it that the suburban train left me behind. But what was to come, was better than I could have hoped for. A shiny Siemens Desiro came to a stop. As I stepped inside, I was greeted by that new train smell, still lingering in the air.
The clock had just ticked past the quarter hour mark past five, but Wien Hauptbahnhof was already a bustling place. Following the signage, I ascended onto the mainline platforms, where my Zürich bound Railjet stood. This was my first time onboard one. The interior was simple but functional, indeed, a very clean and modern design. At 5:30 sharp, the train effortlessly pulled out of the station.
Unlike most people, who traveled one station far, I was on this train fo…