Come along on the longest museum in the Netherlands. A fantasctic train ride on the museum train the Miljoenenlijntje (the Million Line), from Valkenburg to Simpelveld, in Limburg, the most southern province of the Netherlands. It is named liked this, because of the fact in the twenties of the last century they build a rail connection for more than one million guilders per kilometer. Between Kerkrade and Simpelveld, with connections to the coal track of the Aachen-Maastrichter Eisenbahn and to the rail links of the Netherlands.
Nowadays this line is operated by the ZLSM, “Zuid-Limburgse Stoomtrein Maatschappij” (South Limburg Steam Train Company). Mainly by volunteers, who have to be rail maniacs, for sure. (Sorry, website only in Dutch)
Starting point, Valkenburg railway station
The train ride starts at the railway station of Valkenburg. This old station building has been completely renovated into a brasserie. In the back a ticket-window, exclusively for the “Miljoenenlijn”, and at the same time it is a kind of small railway museum.
The train arrives at the station. The locomotive has to be be changed, because the back side will now become the front side. An old-fashioned steam locomotive with coal. Chug, chug, chug! The station is full of people, only coming to take a look at this very special train.
The rail guards are wearing old-fashioned caps, and the tickets are being cut, as in former days. Nothing smart card, just cardboard train tickets.
The sign-boards have to be changed manually. A remark of one of the rail guards: “Here no unemployment at all, we still need persons for all kinds of simple work”.
The doors are slammed strongly, the whistle, and then the departure.
So slowly, this train! A snail’s pace through the landscape of Southern Limburg.
When we are finally near the rail station in Simpelveld, we pass a “car transport train”, loaded with old vans. Today the Limburg Beetle Days are being held.
It is rather busy and cosy on this platform. The restaurant is open and people are sitting on the terrace. However, this rail station is only served by the Miljoenenlijn, twice a week. On other days it will be silent here.
A break of 45 minutes, before the train returns. I had a chat with one of the rail guards. He is telling me passionately about a ride in the winter: there was snow, it was noiseless, you only dared to whisper. Arriving in the pitch black, but in the valley small lights everywhere. These men are volunteers with passion!
On the return trip I realize that the train even has a restaurant car.
I am returning to my own railway sation at Schin op Geul, the village I am staying this week. They have 2 freeways here, one for the regular train of the local Veolia railway company, the other especifically for the “Miljoenenlijn”.
It has been a special to experience.
The “Miljoenenlijn” is running on Wednesdays and Sundays, from Easter to October. In October and November there will be a break, because of works on the track. In December special Christmas rides. A return ticket costs € 12.50 and is also on the train available.
Sorry, the mentioned websites are only available in Dutch language.