Director General’s trip to Sweden – Winter 2011

An opportunity to hear (and see) a friend sing in a choir at Stockholm’s Konserthuset seemed like a good idea to go to the Yule railway fayre, “Hjulmarknaden,” also! It has been many years since the last visit to this event, and so it was about due. This Stockholm event is one of the biggest in the country, attended by the smaller Swedish model manufacturers, larger retailers, magazine producers and more besides. Unlike large UK events, which also have a selection of working model railway layouts, there was only one present, but with too much chatter taking place for there to be any concentrating on operating the layout!

The reason for making the effort is that there are models that are desired at the FLMJ, but which are so difficult to get from Sweden, or more significantly, pay for! If the trader accepts card or PayPal, then the transaction is quite easy; but otherwise, a foreign payment from a British bank account can incur a charge in the region of £20! These smaller traders are in many cases, people who have full-time day jobs, but who produce models as part of their hobby. So it is unrealistic to expect them to have the facility to take card payments; though it is possible that PayPal (if it wasn’t so expensive for the seller) could be used. Over the last few years, the FLMJ has built up a list of models that we would like, so this was my intention.

As a result of this visit, the FLMJ now has a proper chassis for the Dm-loco (as a kit – not white-metal, this time – we still need to sort out motors and gears), replacement parts (mirrors, wipers and ploughs) for the X10 unit, a limited edition tank wagon in Green Cargo livery, an obsolete pre-UIC ‘O’ wagon (for a special purpose – see photo), and replacement brass TGOJ lettering for one of the green TGOJ coaches.

I was also able to get a replacement door for the one that got damaged on the GSJ (Säröbanan) railbus; but this was from MJ-Hobbyexperten three days later, from where I also purchased two B6 coaches. I was not happy with the På-Sporet ones (over-priced for the build quality which has similarities with Triang from the 1970s), but the ones purchased are made as a very limited edition by C M Laser in Italy. They could be run straight from the boxes, but they really need the extra parts fitted first, steps, end door-connections, etc. (The FLMJ has some C M Laser wagons already, but these are more ready-to-run, and so far, we haven’t bothered fitting the extra detailing!)

A visit to Stockholm’s Model Railway Club (SMJ) was in order, not just to visit the Ekensholmsbanan (their impressive model railway layout), but to buy some of their models. The club meets in the lower basement in a block of flats very near Söder station, and this demands quite a high rent. So, in addition to membership fees, open days and so on, they produce models and books (three of their books are desired here, but can’t be bought until there is enough “modelling funds” left over during a visit to Sweden – and room in the suitcase)! The models purchased are a set of three steel-bodied 2-axle coaches (as kits) to be painted into SJ brown, as modified from the original ÖKB lined green! One of the coaches had sold out, but a suitable (and probably better) alternative was found instead. SMJ has also commissioned Phoenix Precision Paints to produce SJ colours in 14ml tins as enamel paint – very useful to know, and a tin of “Rodbrun” was purchased!

Together with a friend, other shops were visited, including Eskader. This shop is usually quite pricey, and from a railway perspective, concentrates more on the Märklin system. We came away with four Wiking model cars, one of them another light coloured Volvo 264, which will be painted white to become a “Polis” car, using transfers purchased a long time ago. The FLMJ also acquired from this visit, an ‘information panel’ from a scrapped Rc2 locomotive, complete with 24v lights. It serves as a relic (along with our Da-loco speedometer), and we shall try to find a use for the lamp indications!

Aside from the models a day was spent at Södertälje, looking at all the work being undertaken to convert the short 1km single-line section to the town centre into a double track section – it really is that busy! The project is huge and should take up to another year to complete. Another day was spent on a steam train from Stockholm Centralstation to Nynäshamn, but this took much longer than expected because the loco crew weren’t able to keep the pressure maintained (or so we were told). We crept through Södra station slow enough to set off the fire alarms (presumably) and waited at Älvsjö long enough for two trains to overtake us, and again at various other places on route – thank goodness for bi-directional signalling on the double-track section! (As if that wasn’t slow enough, the cafe where we bought lunch was depressing … a simple coffee and cheese-roll costing not too much had to be recorded on the computer, and the cashier had to log in each time … it took three or four minutes to complete each transaction with complete disregard to an ever-increasing queue!)

Interesting updates were noted also during the trip. The Tvärbanan is being extended northwards from Alvik, and tracks are now in the roads at Sundbyberg (at least). The new Spårväg-City trams are being repainted into the more pleasing blue livery with white stripes. Centralstation is sinking by about 3mm each year (according to the project display boards), and efforts are being made to prevent this. SL is to operate trains through Arlanda, and Knivsta station at least will need its platform height raised! All of the X1 units have now been withdrawn with only one (3019 we think) preserved at the Gävle railway museum. The Nynäsbanan is to be doubled all the way from Västerhaninge to Nynäshamn (but the short section to the Ferry station has been lifted)! Many different plans are being submitted for the redevelopment of the Slussen area, though popular opinion is that this would be a tragic waste of money and would only make things worse (there is nothing wrong with the present layout given its city-centre location); part of one of the proposals is to remove the T-bana bridge between Slussen and Gamla Stan, moving the whole section underground!

And aside from the railways completely, I thoroughly enjoyed the concert that I originally went to Sweden to see! As a contrast to the previous winter visit, the temperature averaged around 1°C and there was no settling snow; until the day of the return to the UK, and thus the flight was delayed by 90 minutes!