The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Steam in Turkey 1984, Part 9

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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12th October 1984 was to be our final day of steam haulage, we had Skyliner 56358 on the front. After ascertaining there was no longer any 8F pilot here at Irmak I joined the rest of the group for breakfast in the dining car, whilst our own engine was being serviced at the tiny shed.

Leaving Irmak the line to Cankiri passed through spectacular countryside running alongside a swift flowing river. We were able to disguise our short train using tunnels, rock cuttings and curves and with the Skyliner clagging furiously it was easy to forget it had a featherweight train in tow! An enthusiastic crew had the engine making some rapid restarts using its power to advantage on runpasts.

By mid-morning we had settled back to enjoy the run with more photo stops scheduled for our return working. Regular steam workings were limited. 56329 was seen waiting for any train that needed banking at Dumbelik. We later crossed a well cleaned Skyliner, 56338 at Germec on the last steam freight duty rostered for steam in daylight hours. The diesels had arrived and there was little steam work left. 

We arrived at Cankiri around midday and ran into problems. The (not so) secret police were sat in cars outside the station. Our tour leader had to visit the mayor to verify for them we had permission to photograph. It led to the ludicrous situation of the mayor shuttling between rooms welcoming our leader and showering him with hospitality and then back to yell at the fans whom the police had earlier arrested for taking photos in the station area! The car chaser group were released and told to leave the town whilst we had the Stanier 8F pilot 45161 run us to the depot.

The shed was a hive of activity, as some engines were cooling down and others were raising steam, with crews in their smart uniforms parading around. I suspect the reality was there was little work left for the Skyliners. The scrap line was composed of a line of S160s, most without tenders and some G8.2 and Stanier 8Fs.

I joined the crowded footplate of the 8F as it took us back to the station. Steam wheezed out of loose joints and from the regulator handle. The motion made the familiar clanking sound associated with freight engines heard in my childhood. The 8F now seemed small and underpowered compared with the German equivalents.

I secured an early afternoon cab ride, I remember the driver holding the American style regulator, and the sharp blast from the chimney. At Alibey we found the banker awaiting work and included it in a photo run past, one of a series in this our final steam section.

The finale was to be Irmak where we found the steam freight awaiting departure and some of us commenced a long run in the sun, with all our gear, trying to find a position. We got far enough away to be able to scramble to a position as the engine departed. Approaching our position the engine’s exhaust seemed incredibly loud as it rapidly gained speed and attacked the grade. Long after it had passed the sound went on, we stood listening as one fan said it was “Fuckin brilliant!”

Out of Irmak we had a final run behind the Skyliner to Ankara where we drew to a halt in its gleaming station. We transferred to the main platform where the stock of an Istanbul sleeping car express with Wagon Lits style coaches was awaiting to depart. There was time to have a beer with the group in the snappy restaurant on the station concourse and watch the carriage attendants waiting to check in their passengers. Once inside the carriage I soaked up the mahogany woodwork and the plush sleeping compartment, it promised to be a great train ride back to Istanbul.

Rob Dickinson