Taking the B train

Nynäshamns järnvägsmuseum and Stockholms ånglokssällskap arrange various steam train excursions from time to time. This Easter Sunday they offered a tour of Lake Mälaren, with a stopover in Eskilstuna, it not only being a nice little town, but having several industry museums presumably of interest to people interested in steam engines.

Honeybuns and I managed to get tickets before they were sold out and so joined a huge throng of people at Stockholm Central all admiring the B class locomotive puffing steam and smoke in the bright morning sunshine. A woman with a big camera was taking detail pictures of rods and pistons. Lots of children had been brought along by their parents to get the experience of a real train ride such as we all imagine it to be, with a chugging choo choo and small cars with wooden benches. Some child was heard to comment that the locomotive was smelly and not very nice. Presumably she would ask “Are we there yet?” within minutes of getting on the train.

We got on board and found seats and soon the station pulled away from us to be replaced by a springy Mälar valley. In spite of the warm weather there were still thin ice sheets in many inlets and in places clumps of ice still clung to the walls of rock cuts. Trainspotters, who'd realised you wouldn't get any good pictures from inside the train, dotted the landscape, with their cameras at the ready.

A short break in Västerås to lubricate the locomotive and then the lake continued past us, Eskilstuna soon arriving. The trainfull of people created a considerable crowd on the streets of the Sunday-lazy little town, presumably boosting the local economy some infinitesimal amount as they spread out for their various goals.

Honeybuns and I skipped the museums this time and instead opted for an Asian buffet and a stroll around the old town, peeking into backyards, navigating narrow alleys, passing by all the many cafés, their patrons basking in the sun.

Eventually we were back at the station, where people already waited for the depot to return the train, which had been serviced and polished in our absence. Unmoving pillars of smoke rose from the depot for the longest time, but finally the platform pulled up to the train and we got on. Sun-heated and well-fed, we dozed while I eavesdropped on two gentlemen who'd run into each other for the first time after their studies at Lund University in the late 1960s. I picked up some interesting information on telephony standards development that filled out my more contemporary experiences.

Eventually Södertälje Hamn, the old Södertälje Södra station, hove into view and I noted with delight that it still had not been modified from its original design with wooden shelters and narrow stairs. (Otherwise most commuter train stations were remade in the 1980s into a standard mold of tiles, glass and metal; while in most cases a necessary improvement, still somewhat reminiscent of public lavatories in the general design.)

Finally Stockholm C arrived and we had closed the loop.


Martin said...

Good that you got tickets! I was too late. They've got a package deal in June with a steam train ride to Mariefred and an amateur musical put on by the railway club.

kai said...

Yes, I'm a bit curious about who's written the musical. That they will be shunting cars back and forth during the play might be awesome but risks being tedious. We had planned a steamboat ride to Mariefred for the summer, maybe it could be combined.