The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
From Turkey to Syria by Train and Bus, 1981

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index.

The plan was to travel across Turkey and onto Syria using trains all the way. Izmir to Afyon was easy enough (previously covered in Kriegsloks in Turkey, 1981) but after that the railway's uncertain timekeeping and my dislike of arriving in new towns in the middle of the night meant things didn't quite work out the way I originally intended........ 

Two mornings of haunting the south end of Afyon yard for one photo opportunity! The mixed from Izmir was combined with the mixed from Istanbul Haydarpasa at Afyon and then continued its cross country journey to Kurtalan as a passenger train. It should have been away from Afyon well before sunrise but was sufficiently late one morning for this shot of 46060 making a spirited get away. Eleven of these fine looking 2-8-2s were supplied by Henschel in 1937 for passenger trains on the Istanbul to Ankara main line but by the time of my September 1981 visit were relegated to passenger and freights between Afyon and Konya.

A few days later I travelled between Afyon and Konya on the same train: this time hauled by 46056 seen here during the water stop at Aksehir. I'd got up at 2.30 that morning to catch the train: a wasted effort as it was three hours late away and on reaching Konya was four hours late! 

One of the yard shunters at Konya was 45011: a 2-8-0 supplied by the Swedish builder Nydqvist & Holm in 1928. A total of sixty two of these engines were supplied to the Turkish Railways between 1927 and 1935. Check out the six wheel tender. 

Getting underway from Konya the Kurtalan to Izmir/Haydarpasa passenger is just on eighteen hours late today! Up front is oil fired 56132 a 2-10-0 dating from 1949. TCDD purchased 166 of these engines between 1940 and 1949 from Germany, England and Czechoslovakia and then built two themselves in 1961.

Konya had three northbound passenger services each day: the upmarket diesel hauled Meram Express which left at breakfast time, the passenger from Kurtalan which passed through when it got there and a late afternoon upmarket carriage and van that would be added to the diesel hauled Pamukkale Express at Afyon. Here 46061, another Henschel 2-8-2, waits in the loop line for right away with its contribution to the Pamukkale Express. A train this size would be a doddle for this magnificent looking loco.

The fascination of foreign carriage destination boards! Heading south from Konya there was only one passenger train a day.....the passenger to Kurtalan....a train with variable timekeeping (a polite way of putting it) and diesel hauled for this part of the journey. I chickened out and caught the bus to Adana where I would join the Toros Express on to Syria. Mind you the Toros Express maintained the best timekeeping traditions of the region: three hours late out of Adana which had blown out to nine hours by Aleppo. In all fairness though, to the Turkish and Syrian railway authorities, I was the cause of three hours of the delay. An invalid Syrian entry visa entitled me to special attention at the border between midnight and 3.00am whilst the authorities questioned and then decided what to do with me. Luckily I was allowed to carry on. Aleppo arrival was at 6.00am as opposed to the scheduled 9.00pm but at least I didn't have to worry about trying to find a hotel that night!

Rob Dickinson