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Vintage rail museum has too many trains

11:46 19/03/2013

Train World, the vintage train museum due to open next year in Brussels’ Schaerbeek station, is faced with an unexpected problem: there are too many trains, writes the Wall Street Journal’s Frances Robinson. Belgium built continental Europe’s first railway line in 1835 and still has the world’s densest rail network. The country ran the world’s longest passenger train, which had 70 cars. Now, 178 years after Le Belge puffed 15 miles from Brussels to Mechelen, the project is on track. The centre will be a “rail opera” of trains past, present and future, promises François Schuiten, the museum designer and popular Belgian comic-book author. Now, before the museum can open, Belgium’s SNCB state railway must tackle a real embarrassment of riches. Baudouin Dieu, president of the PFT Rail and Tourism Heritage Association, tells a story of intrigue. It starts in 1966, when Belgium’s last regular steam service ceased puffing. As convoys of condemned steam engines were taken to the junkyard, enterprising SNCB employees flouted orders and furtively decoupled their favourite locomotives and hid them in remote sidings and dusty corners of rail sheds. “The real gems,” says Dieu. “They stashed them away, without management knowing.” Watch a video report, also by Frances Robinson, about Train World.

Written by The Bulletin