The International Steam Pages
The Pereslavl Narrow Gauge Railway Museum, Russia 2012
The English part of the Museum's website is http://www.kukushka.ru/english/ .
James Waite previously visited the museum in 2009, the pictures from that visit are still available elsewhere on this site. The text below is an updated version of that which formerly appeared on that page, but all the pictures below are new and were taken in June 2012.
Itís often forgotten that narrow gauge railways were enormously important to the old USSR. The earliest lines predated the 1917 revolution and were built to a wide variety of gauges. In 1918, in the very early days of the Communist state, a decision was taken to provide the country with a proper electric system. Many of the power stations were fired by peat and enormous narrow gauge systems developed to transport the peat to the power stations. The rapid development of industry and forestry along with the construction of secondary public railways brought many other lines into existence. Many aspects of narrow gauge construction were standardised including the gauge itself at 750mm. The system reached its greatest extent in the late 1960ís when itís believed that around 100,000km of line were in use. Since then the story has been one of rapid decline. The Pereslavl narrow gauge museum was set up in the loco shed and yard of an old peat line in 1991 with support from the regional government. By then much stock had been lost but the museum has assembled a good representative range of what was left.
The museum is located at Talitsy, a small village about 20km west of Pereslavl, an old town in a popular holiday area a little more than 120km north east of Moscow on the main route north to Archangel. Initially it had the use of the forestry line into Pereslavl but more recently local political chicanery resulted in most of the railway being closed and its route sold off to a property developer/oligarch. The track was lifted almost at once but fortunately the route runs through a protected area and no development has actually taken place. Now the museum has the use only of a branch line some 3km long which connected Talitsy with the main peat system. At least this branch belongs to the museum and so its future should be secure.
Three of the museumís steam locos are in working order. They are 0-6-2T Ft4-028 (Tampella 559/1945), 0-8-0 no. Kp4-469 (Chrzanow 4384/1955) and 0-8-0 no. Gr-269 (LKM 15366/1950. The locos are only steamed occasionally, partly to conserve them and partly because the museum is a popular attraction for the Russian public and it hasnít proved possible to provide a safe running track which is secure from trespass. The museum has another three 0-8-0ís which are awaiting restoration.
We visited in June 2012 during a week when the museum was steaming the first two of these locos, mainly for test purposes. A thorough rebuild of F t4-028 was completed last year. The Jokioisten Railway in Finland has been very helpful in supplying the original buildersí drawings and technical info such as the code for the correct shade of paint. The loco looked quite magnificent and was running with a replica of an open carriage built in 1923 for the Azerbaijan Oil Trust. Like the original it runs on the chassis of a WW1 military vehicle, the new wooden body being needed as the original had decayed beyond repair. No. Kp4-469 was put into steam later in the week. It was found to need attention to its front end and to a sticking regulator before it can move, perhaps not surprising as it's been standing out in the cold Russian winters for the past four years since it was last steamed. Much of the remedial work has already been carried out and the remainder should be completed shortly.
The museum has a large range of diesel and petrol locos and railcars. Full details are in the list below. Thereís also a comprehensive collection of passenger and freight rolling stock, some of it dating back to pre-revolutionary times. Of particular note to western enthusiasts are a carriage and covered van built for the Pommeranian narrrow gauge system in north-eastern Germany which was dismantled and taken bodily to the USSR as booty after WW2. Like much of this equipment these vehicles ended up at the huge Shatura peat railway system east of Moscow from where they were rescued for the museum in 1990. The museum has assisted in the recovery and return to Germany of two more of these vehicles where they are now on display.
Since 2001 the museum director has been Sergei Dorozhkov, a very keen enthusiast with an immense knowledge about the Russian narrow gauge and who is passionately involved in conserving more of the countryís narrow gauge heritage as and when it is found and becomes available. Sergei is an extremely helpful and hospitable person. Sergei and many of the museumís volunteers were immensely helpful and hospitable throughout our visit.
The museumís official opening hours are Wednesdays to Sundays at 10.00 to 17.00 in the winter and to 18.00 in the summer. though Sergei told us that they try never to turn any visitor away and that it must be the only museum anywhere which it may be possible to visit 24 hours a day for 365 days a year! However itís securely locked up when itís unattended so stick to the proper times and donít count on finding anyone around if you call out of hours. Itís hard to see how anyone could get there except by private transport. If youíre heading there from the Moscow direction along the M8 main road to Archangel turn off the main road at the outskirts of Pereslavl where the bypass starts and follow the old road towards the town centre signposted ďПереславль-ЗалесскийĒ. After around 1km turn left at the foot of a hill onto a secondary road signposted (in English) ďPeter I BoatĒ and leave the town passing the kremlin, the old fortified heart of the town, on your left. Pass through Веськůво (Veskovo), a small village about 3kms west of Pereslavl and continue on through the woods, skirting the southern shore of a lake, for around a further 15kms until you reach Купанское (Kupanskiy), the next village. Turn left in the village centre at a large blue sign reading ďМузей паровозов 3 кмĒ (steam locomotive museum 3kms). If you reach the large red church in the village youíve gone too far and have missed the turning! From the turning follow a dirt track across sandy terrain for 2.8kms until you reach the village of Talitsy. The museum is at the far end of the village. The museumís website at http://kukushka.ru now has pages in well-written and idiomatic English. There's a particularly helpful page with directions for reaching the museum and photos of the turnings at the key junctions en route - very useful if the Cyrillic script on the signposts has the potential to baffle you!
This is an excellent museum in every way and itís particularly impressive considering the difficulties which have beset its history in many ways. Well worth going to visit.
The museum also has the frame and wheels of a 900mm gauge 0-6-0T probably built by Krauss, Munich in the 1880ís which was found in an abandoned quarry beside the River Oka and part of the frame and wheels of a 750mm gauge E class 0-6-0T built by Kolomna in 1921 for a factory at Yegoryevsk.
Three views of Ft4-028 and Kp4-469 outside the old peat railway's engine shed.
A rear view of Ft4-028.
Kp4-469 during its test steaming.
Vp4-2120 with its peculiar-looking steam gas drier above the smokebox and Kp4-300.
Long-derelict Kp4-300 on the right is no doubt envious as Kp4-469 raises steam.
Kp4-469 has steam to spare.
Ft4-028 with the Azerbaijani carriage passing a level crossing on the Talitsy branch line. The signal is newly acquired and had only been installed earlier in the day, a job which involved the use of the electrically powered rail-mounted crane in the museum's collection. Many of the Soviet peat railways had one of these cranes in their stock. Power was being supplied by ESU-2a-511, one of a large class of purpose-built locos and mobile generators also found on most peat railways.
Sergei and his colleagues kindly drew Gr-269 out of the shed where it normally lives for this evening glint shot.