Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Express Some Thoughts

The train standing at Plataforma 4
Why does someone always have to stand in the way?
Inside one of the two 1950s carriages
Alco RS-3 Switcher Locomotive 6001
The train staff befriend their turista inglês
Having only returned from Brazil a little over a week ago there has been no new construction work carried out on the layout, although we did spend an afternoon cleaning track and running trains again after three weeks of inactivity. 
So, with no progress on our model railway to report, I thought I would continue with a few more postings of my various real railway encounters whilst in the land of samba! 
In my previous posting, I stated that I thought we had lost the chance to travel on the Expresso Turistico owing to the fact that it was fully booked on the only Saturday that we were able to travel. Well luck, as they say, favours the bold or, in our case, the determined since, after many enquiries, we finally managed to acquire a pair of tickets that someone had returned!
The Tourist Express commenced operations on 18 April 2009 and is run each weekend from Estação da Luz by the Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM). Every Saturday it visits Jundiai (pronounced zhoon-zhy-ee) whilst each Sunday it alternates between Paranapiacaba and Mogi das Cruzes.
Since our trip was on a Saturday we were bound for Jundiaí where we would have six hours to kill before the return journey. During that time one can either join a CPTM-organized tour of a local fruit farm or do as we did and head for the city centre and, thence, to the Museu da Companhia Paulista de Estradas de Ferro (Railway Museum). This was very interesting but more of that in another posting.  
The time taken for the train to travel the 60 km to Jundiaí is about 75 minutes, which means that, at an average speed of 48 km per hour the term 'express' is a bit of a misnomer! However, having said that, it was a very pleasant journey and the relaxing ride made for a very welcome change from the more usual stresses and strains that is driving in São Paulo! 
I also managed to capture some of the journey on video and I intend to upload a version of this onto YouTube once it has been edited.
Actually the train is great for rail enthusiasts since the windows in the carriages all open sideways (there's no air conditioning) while the doors in the vestibule have no windows at all. A fact that almost got me into trouble since I was leaning out of the 'window' videoing the departure from Jundiaí only to hear frantic calls from the guard in Portuguese who was, I gather, warning me of the possible dangers of leaning out. This did strike me as somewhat incongruous since I had already witnessed the Brazilian attitude to road safety.

Still, once the guard learned that I was English and did not understand all of what he was saying to me, he laughed heartily, firmly shook my hand and promised to come and get me later when the train reached a point where he considered it would be safe to video.
This he did and I have some superb video footage of the train as it approaches a twin-bore tunnel - a very narrow twin-bore tunnel which, had I been leaning out very far, could have proved extremely dangerous - hmmmm!
As for the train itself, it consists of an Alco RS-3, 1,600 HP B-B switcher locomotive and two, 1950's, Brazilian-built stainless steel coaches or cars. 
Forty-six of the RS-3s were purchased in 1952 by the Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil from the Montreal Locomotive Works although I am not sure how many still operate on Brazilian railways today.

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