By rail to Vienna 1989

In mid-September 1989, as part of the acceptance tests on the then new IC225 Mk IV rolling stock, climatic tests were undertaken in the ORE testing facility based at the Arsenal site in Vienna, Austria.

Map showing location of Arsenal

A contemporary map of the Arsenal complex in Vienna showing the Test Centre at the bottom right 'Objekt 210'

(Author's collection)

To get the two selected vehicles (a DVT and a coach) to Vienna, it was necessary to haul them as a special train from Derby via the train ferry, across France, through Switzerland and Liechtenstein and then over the Arlberg Pass into Austria, through Innsbruck, Salzberg, Linz and on to Vienna. Motive power varied on the journey from a class 47 to an Austrian crocodile loco and the following photos give some idea of what was encountered.

In view of the novelty of BR stock travelling abroad it was thought prudent to have a couple of volunteers to 'ride shotgun' throughout the journey to ensure that nothing untoward happened to the vehicles. After the deprivations of the previous trip to Hamburg for the IVA88 exhibition the staff were provided with the luxury of a couchette coach for the outward and return journeys on the Continent.

Following the testing phase the return journey was similarly accompanied.

In the years that followed other stock was tested in Vienna but all travelled by road. Some photos of Centro's Class 323 unit are also included.

Click on the picture for a bigger image - all photos are the author's unless otherwise credited

Bye bye England The view looking towards the stern taken from the passenger accommodation of the SNCF Nord Pas De Calais train ferry as it left Dover. Note the trucks on the upper deck. The train deck was below. Hello France The captain's view of the Dunkerque linkspan as the NPDC approaches

Nord Pas De Calais enters Dover Harbour

Author's collection

NPDC at Dunkerque

NPDC docked in Dunkerque

SNCF waybill The SNCF waybill which was attached to the vehicles of the train for the journey through Europe to 'Wien Arsenal OBB'.

Issued on 15th September 1989 it mentions the limitation on speed (Vitesse Autorisee 120 Km/h) and the name of the owner - ME!

In the top right is a copy of the special notice detailing the route to be taken through France - see below.

SNCF special notice The 2 page SNCF 'Avis de Transport Exceptionnel' (Special Notice)  SNCF special notice This was issued by SNCF for the journey across France
Switzerland An SBB CFF Re6/6 loco 11403 pauses at Basel yard with the train en route to Vienna. The majority of the outward journey presented little opportunity for photography Switzerland The same train viewed from the rear.
Basel The author and colleague pose for a picture in the yard at Basel whilst the locos is changed. Buchs An ÖBB  'crocodile' loco No:1020 029-3 Co-Co waits the right away at Buchs (St Gallen) prior to hauling the train through the Arlberg pass. The train reversed at this point.
Arlberg pass A view of the Arlberg pass  Arlberg pass And a view looking back towards the vehicles
Arrival in Vienna The two intrepid adventurers pictured after arrival in Vienna following a journey of over 36 hours from the UK The Arsenal testing centre A general view of the site within the Arsenal complex looking towards the climatic chamber
DVT outside The DVT stands on the approach road to the static chamber The climatic chamber A closer view of the static chamber entrance with a class 323 in position

Author's collection

Roasting A picture taken from the Test Station's contemporary brochure shows an ÖBB coach in the 'dynamic chamber', which also serves as a wind tunnel.

Author's collection

Inside Another picture taken from the Test Station's contemporary brochure shows an ÖBB class 1044 locomotive in the 'static chamber'

Author's collection

Underneath the snow is a MkIV DVT

Author's collection

The heat lamps are on and the snow is beginning to melt

Author's collection

The Arsenal testing staff

Some of the Austrian staff who assisted with the testing of the class 323 unit

Author's collection

Ready to depart The return journey is about to commence - pictured at Vienna awaiting motive power Brig

The train pictured at Buchs in October with snow on the mountains on the way back

Basel A view on the journey home - an Re4/4  loco 11147 at the head of the train in Basel Basel at night

The train was parked up for a while in Basel where the staff took the opportunity to nip into the city for a bite to eat

The return journey was delayed until the end of October by which time the Arlberg Pass was under a lot of snow but unfortunately it was traversed at night and once again little opportunity was available to take any photographs. If you want to see more pictures of the Arlberg Pass look here.

If anybody has any photos of the train en route to or from Vienna and would wish them to be included then let me know, all credited to the photographer of course!

Further testing

Snowy The class 323 unit underwent severe weather testing in the climatic chamber

Author's collection

Freezing The class 323's BR/Brecknell Willis pantograph is subjected to minus 40 degrees Celsius

Author's collection

Oven ready On another occasion a class 323 unit is positioned within the dynamic chamber ready to be baked by the banks of lights on the right

Author's collection

Class 465 unit snowed under

Rail Tec Arsenal

Class 92

Class 92 in chamber

R Shingler

Footnote 2014

The first of the Class 700 Desiro City EMUs being built by Siemens for use on the Thameslink route through London was tested at the Rail Tec Arsenal climate chamber in Vienna in April 2014.
The tests focused on the ability to withstand the effects of temperatures between -25°C and 40°C, solar gain, ice, snow and wind. Tests included:
• simulated coupling scenarios;
• traction and brake functionality;
• exterior CCTV camera performance;
• ensuring doors can open and close in severe snow and ice;
• testing windscreen heaters work when the cab windscreen is iced up;
• ensuring the correct performance of windscreen wipers at speeds up to 160 km/h.

Class 700 Class 700 Thameslink unit

Railway Gazette

Class 700 Class 700 Thameslink unit cab
Class 700 Class 700 Thameslink unit underside Class 700

Class 700 Thameslink unit roof

So the testing station is still being put to good use for the UK market.

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