The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Steam in Turkey 1984, Part 7
Samsun - Sivas

Terry Case writes about his travels for steam. Further tales will follow from time to time covering more of Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan.

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As with the previous tale, there are pictures of this section from 1984 and 1989 tours. Unless otherwise stated the pictures were taken on 10th October 1984 between Samsun and Sivas.

At 5.15am the mosque next door to the hotel started calling the faithful to prayers, the loudspeakers on the minaret were directly opposite my fifth floor bedroom, I was blasted awake!

Nils Huxtable had organized a shared a taxi for some early morning shots whilst the main tour group visited the shed. I have Nils to thank for taking us to some superb locations before we re-joined the tour train. Our first target was the Carsamba line which had been converted from narrow gauge to standard gauge a few years previously. The trains were basically for workers in the early morning and evening. The coastal scenery was brilliant but the early train to Azot departed before dawn. Next up was the Carsamba branch passenger, the light had improved a smidgen, but was still disappointing.

Back into town to check the shed where we found G10 55019 ready to leave for a day on shunt duty and found the usual double-headed steam freight turn to Sivas was to be a diesel hauled as a class 21 had worked in the previous night. Two G8.2s stood in light steam having arrived earlier on another freight. 

Still feeling like a zombie I was revived by breakfast at a local Turkish café which was packed with workers smoking and gulping soup before heading to work. On offer was fresh bread and a light soup followed by a number of glasses of tea, heavily sugared.

At the station we found the third branch departure was to leave at 07.50. This was an unadvertised workers’ train to Azot consisting of 4 wheelers with a bogie carriage at both ends. Back at our spot on the coast we found it in sunlight at last. The train swept around a curve to run alongside the Black Sea, it was worth the wait!

A lengthy drive followed to find the spot where the road from Samsun meets up with the railway line to Sivas and climbs to a summit. The morning pass to Sivaswas hauled by the expected G8.2. We managed to get 3 shots in, including the summit. It had been a real experience to see these old locomotives at work on a regular passenger trains.

Re-joining our train I talked to one of the organizers about our morning photography and was asked to ride the footplate and point out run-past locations, the only occasion I’ve called the shots! It was a good section to ride the footplate of 45058 as the crew had the locomotive hard at work with the regulator full open and cut off set to give maximum power pummelling its way uphill after each re-start, it sounded brilliant!

Following our final runpast the train neared the summit, the crew gesturing for us to cover our faces and kneel down as we approached the first of the tunnels. The locomotive was still hard at work and the heat was savage in this narrow bore! The train emerged for a brief respite a quick gasp of air before the inspector gestured to us to get down again. The tender plate was lifted to access some air then we were in the second oven, but running downgrade. What a ride, but I’d hate to be the crew on a long slow freight! 

Even though the train was no longer climbing the crew continued to work hard, the fireman had been shovelling into a wide firebox that gobbled the coal. Later we crossed another single headed diesel freight, it seemed steam haulage would not last much longer.

At Amasya the locomotive locomotive posed with a mountain backdrop while waiting for a cross. There was time for a tour of the town which included views of some of the now rare Ottoman style housing that over looked the river. We climbed the lower part of the mountain to view caves where some of the early Christians had lived, whilst Roman fortifications guarded the town.

In late afternoon light we had a series of photo-stops with some dramatic high hills overlooking the line near Kizoglu.

Later we came into a station with a nearby sugar mill. (Maybe Turhal, I did not record the name). One of the sugar mill locomotives had been positioned in the station yard for us to inspect. This was a delightful green 0-6-0ST which was in steam and looked British in design. 

Following dinner I rode in the baggage car whilst waiting a turn riding the locomotive. At one stage I thought the locomotive had broken its ash pan when I saw a huge glowing pile of embers appearing under the coach and looking back saw them spread like a trail in our wake, leaving some sleepers burning. It was created by a mammoth fire cleaning session on the run, the effect had been spectacular.

I had a terrific night ride as the crew worked the locomotive fast on the climb towards the snow tunnels, looking back you could see a trail of smoke, from the heavy firing hanging in the night sky. Plenty of “rockets” as the British fans call them were erupting from the chimney, and raining down on the cab, the exhaust was almost vertical. 

The night passenger to Samsun was crossed in this section and I watched it descending down a steep grade, the line twisting and passing through snow tunnels. The ascent saw the fireman throwing huge rounds in the fire whilst still looking immaculate in his white shirt and tie. After heavy firing he inspected his raging fire and the whole cab was lit by the inferno. He brewed up some tea by using a long strand of heavy wire with a hook to hang a flask of water over the fire and of course guests had to have the first glass, before he and the driver would have one! Non-stop smiles from the crew and myself as the locomotive thrashed upgrade, the crew forcing the pace as they head for Sivas.

I returned to my compartment to find the other occupants asleep. I reflected on the long hours the Turkish crews work, their stamina and good humour.

The final picture shows 45016 on the Skyliner V tour on the 23rd August 1989 near Kalin.

Rob Dickinson