The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Steam in Turkey Part 12 (1986/1989)
Sivas to Kars

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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Sivas saw Standard 56124 work the train to Erzincan with G8.2 45006 - normally the Divrigli pilot - also provided, but it was in poor condition. The line featured sharp ascents with many curves and tunnels and some outstanding scenery. 

We reached Divrigli as the sun was setting on the surrounding hills, the marshalling yard for the ore trains had 3 Standard 2-10-0s in steam leaving us to speculate if they tripped to the mine as part of their pilot duties. 56134 was the only engine on the small shed and was joined by the tour engine which was serviced here.

That night I had a lengthy cab ride on 56124 as we ran through the gorge next to the Euphrates River, a magic night with the half-moon lighting some of the cliff faces and leaving others enfolded in shadows and reflecting on the swift flowing river. 

I looked down on the river as we crossed bridges with no guard rails and raced in and out of tunnels, with a short breath between them. In tunnels red hot sparks from the chimney would flash by the cab. The fireman swinging in a quick round between tunnels, leaving the firehole door open with the flames licking hungrily around the edges as we enter the next tunnel. Another cause for alarm was the engine rode some tight curves at speed, at times a gut wrenching lurch was a reminder the locomotive really wanting to keep going in a straight line.

A water stop became a comedy of errors. In the dark the driver overshoots the column and then has to push back against the grade and spinning the wheels. The fireman made a number of suggestions at his expense. Younger staff by now rarely had steam experience so firemen for the tour train were often regular drivers.

45006 at its home shed, Divrigli 

Standard class 2-10-0s come off shed at Erzurum.

56162 rumbles over the turntable passing a steam crane as it enters the shed.

Erzurum Kars.

More regular steam workings were seen at Erzurum where we had another engine change with yet another Standard 2-10-0 to take us to Kars. In addition to the pilot there were two suburban arrivals, featherweight loads for the large engines.

The new tour engine was 56159, after the morning photo runs I again spent time on the footplate. After the usual rush to be on a new locomotive few fans seemed interested in a sustained ride, which was great for the few who enjoyed this. The engine was another easy rider with a good crew, we ran along the steppe, with the occasional hillside and sulphurous tunnel to negotiate.

Sungutasi station is overlooked by a high cliff face with a fort on top; it is here that we crossed 56142 on a lengthy mixed from Kars. We had been joined by a contingent of police who were to be our escort and ensure we did not take photos on the sections where there was a large military presence, the Turkish army having many tank squadrons positioned in this area against the Soviets. After WW 1 Russia was given control of this region and built railways to their broad gauge standard.

56142 departs Sungutasi on the mixed from Kars.

G10 55011, the Kars pilot.

Kars was reached on sunset; there was still a steam presence here with the two branch lines being worked by Kriegs and old G10 class working as pilots. The G10s like all other engines in this area would have been overhauled at Sivas and would be expected to haul freight to and from there, probably as part of a double header.

Krieg 56542 took us to the Russian border station, en route we passed villagers harvesting wheat in the evening light as eagles soared above intent on mice being flushed out.

The return working again saw us at Erzurum in the early morning where the pilot is seen at work. 

Rob Dickinson