The International Steam Pages

Steam in Bosnia, September 2010

Trevor Maxted reports on A September 2010 visit. Click here for Jens Ingemann's July 2010 report.

Flights Heathrow-Munich-Sarajevo out, return via Vienna.

Kakanj/ Bresa 

On 19/09 (Sunday) we called in at Kakanj where it appeared 62.020 had been working earlier in the day but the loco was in its 'shelter' by the depot. Told the loco would be in use from around 10.00 the following morning we spent the night at the pleasant hotel Premium, about 42 euro for a double room. On 20/09 the loco was not in steam and we were informed it would be in use in the afternoon but no, more duff info! We took a quick trip up to Bresa but their 62 was cold and a diesel was in use. So another night at the Premium on the back of information that 62.020 would be in use the next morning. As promised the loco was in use on 21/09 and after a lot of early morning low cloud and mist had cleared some reasonable shots were made.

Tuzla Area

In the afternoon we drove from Kakanj to the Tuzla area via Sarajevo, this to attempt to buy a digital camera for one of our number whose camera had expired. There really is not much available in Sarajevo camera wise even now so a decent 'back-up' is advised for anybody going there. We stayed 7 nights at the hotel Zlaca, about 7km above Oskova, a real sanctuary in the forest with very good restaurant. 36 euro per double room and we were virtually the only guests! On the 22/09 we paid the 15 euro photo permit/visitors fee at Banovici and had an enjoyable day with 83.158 on the narrow gauge shunt plus depot/workshop visit where 83.159 was under full overhaul. Although the permit is for one day only nobody checked our papers where the shunt action takes place and repeated visits and checks to this area were made. The 0-8-2 was in use every day of our visit, including the weekend, though on our last full evening a diesel shunter took a load up from the exchange sidings to the unloading point at the washery despite 83.158 being there and in traffic. Some equipment breakdowns seemed common here and there was a derailment one night, curtailing the following morning's action. Also a word of warning. While driving up the Oskova approach road to the NG we were passing three sheep when one, after crossing in front of us, turned and brushed the front side of the car as we passed. Not thinking any more of this we continued photting and were then approached by a very irate local wielding an axe! It was soon made apparent he wanted money as we had, according to him, broken the sheep's rear leg. It is possible that we did, but it was unavoidable and the sheep was in the road, but this is Bosnia! When we drove back down the hill he had blocked the road and was threatening the police unless we paid some money. The sheep was limping badly so to avoid any grief 40 euro was paid though I think perhaps we should have stood  our ground but it just was not worth any problems for 10 euro per head. Victims of the oldest trick in the 'countryside' book? The standard gauge was shunted by a diesel during the period of our visits to Oskova with 19.12 and 62.677 reserve locos in the depot, 62.125 outside dumped and being overgrown by foliage.

On 23/09 we visited Durdevik colliery where 62.111 was very dead but looked in reasonable condition. It was very obvious there had been no rail traffic for some time, no wagons were on site even, and we were informed that rail workings would resume 'in the winter'. Next stop was Lukavac soda factory where information was that a diesel had taken over the workings. 62.638 & 62.644 were in the depot near the exchange sidings with rusty track outside and no obvious recent use. The cab and tanks from 62.638 were outside the building. After this we went to Lukavac station where a train arrived soon after 13.00 behind 33.064 from Sikulje colliery, returning about 15 minutes later with empties. Another load was brought out of the mine around 1530, this time the loco returning light engine. Another word of warning. While at the far west end of Sikulje colliery we were approached by a member of staff bearing a note in English and German. We were not really on colliery property, just at the edge. The note read something like 'If you want to take pictures here you must pay me 10 euro, if not I will call the police, if you do not pay then on your way'. Of course we did not pay and as the loco had finished shunting were about to leave anyway. I should have kept the paper but guess he would have got another one prepared quite quickly. A return visit to Sikulje the following day, 24/09, produced just one return working soon after 1300 with 33.064. We left to return to the Zlaca soon after 14.00 due to poor weather and approaching heavy rain.

The next day, 25/09, another visit was made to Sikulje where 33.064 did a return trip to Lukavac around 13.20 but no other line action was seen up to 15.00 when we gave up as the weather had deteriorated. On 26/09, Sunday, a visit to Dubrave in the morning and 33.248 did a return trip to Ljubace around 08.30 and was seen shunting Dubrave colliery later but no other line work up to 16.30 when we retreated due to poor light. 27/09: a morning visit to Bukinje depot and workshop at a whopping 25 euro pp, payable locally of course! In steam was 62.123 (pilot/colliery shunt loco) with 33.504 (standby loco) and 33.503 (under repair) outside the depot. 33.236 was under repair inside the workshops and 62.376, 62.637 & 62.368 were dead alongside the works building of which 62.376 was serviceable though allegedly for sale. 62.123 has to go down to the colliery to take on coal and we were advised that it usually takes 6 loaded coal hoppers to the power station every other day between 08.00-09.00 at this time of year, Tuesday 28/09 being the next such time. In the late morning/afternoon a return to Dubrave where 33.248 shunted at around 14.00 but no line work was seen up to 16.00. 28/09 and 62.123 did indeed take coal hoppers down to the power station near Bukinje at 08.30 but there were easily 12 hoppers of coal. Then a return visit to Dubrave where no line work was seen between 11.00 and 15.00, just a shunt or two with 33.248, though we had the impression the plant was having production issues. After this we departed for Sarajevo ready for the following days early return home.

The pictures show Durdevik and Bukinja, with Sikulje and Dubrave below:

The best collieries photographically in our opinion are Durdevik and Bukinje, nice old style loading areas. Bosnia needs a lot of patience but it is nice to visit and it's real European steam with very interesting locos. The weather in the Tuzla area tended to be very misty/murky/polluted, particularly in the mornings, Banovici/Oskava not having the same problem. We were advised by two German gricers that Kreka still need 10-12 days notice to issue permits so it is difficult to obtain one unless well in advance though for most pictures a permit is not needed. Petrol is easily obtainable everywhere, about 1 Euro a litre.

Rob Dickinson