If some people are still wondering why Minett Park’s historic trains don’t run during the winter, here’s a rundown of all the work that’s been done this winter to accommodate visitors during the season.
Train 1900 has an impressive collection of 10 steam locomotives and 5 diesel/rail locomotives. It may seem surprising, but not all of them have the same use and, above all, steam locomotives can only be used for 5 years at a time. Indeed, each steam boiler has a certificate valid for 5 years, after which it must be completely dismantled, checked, maintained and possibly repaired before being reassembled. The volunteers then take the opportunity to do all the other necessary work on these machines, most of which are a hundred years old. Four locomotives will be in circulation for the 2022 season. If you want to know more about these locomotives, please read the dedicated article (LINK).
Three locomotives required extensive work this winter:
Locomotive ex-Arbed Esch-Belval n°5
Six locomotives of this type were in service at the Belval steelworks from 1921 to 1972. In the 1960s, it was converted to run on oil. After it was taken out of service, it was displayed in the factory. Over time, the locomotive fell into disrepair and, in 1993, the owner decided to sell it to Train 1900. To avoid confusion, the machine was renumbered n°6 as Train 1900 already had a locomotive with the number 5.
In 2020, the association is starting to survey the locomotive to analyse the overall condition for a possible restoration. This winter it was completely dismantled to analyse the different components. The planning for the restoration is underway and the first parts will be specially manufactured during the year. The restoration of this locomotive is a long-term project that will keep the volunteers busy for several years.
Locomotive ADI n°12
With the boiler’s validity having expired in 2018, volunteers are working on this iconic locomotive and hope to have it back in service by 2023. Did you notice that this is the locomotive shown in the Train 1900 logo?
During the winter, the brake linkage was overhauled and the valve timing was analysed to optimise steam distribution in the cylinders. Cold testing of the new timing will begin in the next few weeks. The wooden floor in the cab has been refurbished and the restored air pump is back in place.
In order for it to be able to celebrate its 120th anniversary next year in top form, various works will be carried out, such as repainting and some technical finishing touches.
Also started in 2018, the major overhaul work on steam locomotive Energie 507 is nearing completion. Ready to return to service for the 2022 season, the locomotive has benefited from extensive work on its boiler, carried out in Great Britain and other work at Fond-de-Gras by various parties such as Train 1900, the “ProActif” employment reintegration measure and external companies. This intervention was made possible thanks to the support of the Ministry of the Economy – Directorate General for Tourism.
The National Institute for Architectural Heritage (INPA), formerly SSMN, has been responsible for the maintenance of the railway for some years. This work, which is particularly important this year, is essential to ensure safety. Every winter, depending on the age and state of preservation of the timbers, the sleepers are replaced on a section. This year, the siding at Fuussbësch was on the programme. This section of track, which was laid in 1990 using recycled material, was beginning to show worrying signs of fatigue. The work was carried out by the specialist company ETF, which is practically next door to the platform in Pétange. The transport of material, rails, wood and ballast is provided by Train 1900. As part of the work, platform 1 at Fuussbësch was extended to accommodate longer trains.
In 2021, the service van MW942 named “bronge Woon” (brown van) was taken out of service for a major overhaul. The entire brake system and the axles were overhauled. The chassis of the van was cleaned and repainted. Important work is also being done on the doors. All this work is being done in collaboration with the “ProActif” team. The wood still needs to be replaced and painted. The wagon will probably be completed in November.
Other work has also been carried out to improve the reception of visitors and to increase security:
Volunteers have replaced the interior lighting of the carriages with LEDs. On the outside of the carriages, lamps are installed to give visitors a better view of the gallery during the journey.
Works on the Lasauvage-Saulnes track (F)
In 2002, the mining train inaugurated this section of track, thus becoming the first cross-border narrow-gauge tourist train in Europe. After 20 years, the sleepers had to be replaced. The ETF company from Pétange, which also looks after the tracks of Train 1900, carried out this work. In addition, a bridge was removed and the tracks re-laid.
Safety in the mine
Some visitors have already realised that there is no longer a telephone network in the mine. For this reason, a landline telephone has long been installed in the mine for communication with the outside world. In order to be able to communicate better with the emergency services in case of an emergency, a RENITA radio antenna system was installed throughout the mine. As every year, the volunteers checked the shoring and support to ensure safety and avoid collapses. Minor maintenance work was carried out.
As every year, the rolling stock is overhauled and the boilers of the steam locomotives are checked by Luxcontrol. The railway track is inspected and maintained and the trackside is cleaned.