The International Steam Pages

Steam in Bosnia, June 2014

Edward Buchanan has added a few notes from his visit at the end of June - click here to read them.

Will Sherston reports:

Between the 22nd and 26th of June I headed out to Bosnia, I flew with Lufthansa, flying into Sarajevo, I hired a car there and headed off to my first destination, Zenica. I stayed in the Hotel Almy and that afternoon I walked down to the coal mine, with a translation letter where the guard at the gate told me to come back at 07.00 tomorrow. Arriving at 07.00 the next day (23rd), I was allowed in, 62-003 and 62-648 were dumped in a headshunt, 62-650 was lying out of use in the shed, the only workable locomotive 62-633 was undergoing a washout, and also having some arc welding in the firebox! Staff in the shed were very friendly, and I ended up having breakfast with them. They told me to come back at ‘1 ish tomorrow’ when it would be working.

The next day (24th) I returned to Zenica, arriving at about 12, where I was blankly refused entry by security. Undeterred I headed round to the crossroads where 62-633 was simmering away in shed, I was ushered in by the crew and watched the locomotive shunt a few wagons and then did a run to the exchange sidings, the crew were very friendly, and it was a real shame I couldn’t get access to the mine proper. The new diesel is supposedly arriving in September, and I urge anyone who can to see this last 62 working before it’s too late.

In the afternoon (23rd) I headed over to Banovici, after paying 15 euros, I was granted a permit. You get the impression that the mine owner is a real steam enthusiast, as the hallway to his office is covered in pictures of the line's steam engines and he has a large table of brass works plates in his office! At the workshop 25-30 was sat cold and 83-158 was simmering away in steam, it looked as though it had not long been finished and looked very smart indeed. At Oskawa there was a huge procession of lorries which were taking coal out in lieu of the railway, which had been damaged by the floods (although later in the week I saw some diesel hauled coal trains through Ljubace, so I’m not sure if that’s still the case). 88-159 was shunting on the narrow gauge, and I spent a happy couple of hours in the cab and taking photographs. That night I stayed in the Room centre in Tuzla.

Due to the severe flooding that ripped through Bosnia in the previous month I wasn’t sure if either the Dubrave or Sikulje mines would be functioning, so on the morning of the 25th I headed to Bukinje and after paying he 25 euro fee was allowed to walk around freely. 33-236 and 33-248 were cold in the yard but apparently ready to go, 33-503 was undergoing general repairs and 33-504 was having a full overhaul, which they think will take about a year to complete. The four 62 class locomotives were still stored in a siding, surplus to requirements. According to one English speaking worker they have no plans to replace the Kliesleklogs. I also learnt that the Dubrave mine was operating as usual, but the Sikulje mine was under 60m of water, they’ve been given a grant to fix it but it will be out of service for at least 6 months. With that in mind I headed over to Ljubace at about 14.00, where I found I’d missed that day's workings, I went to Dubrave but could only see the loco stationary from a distance. The next morning I headed back to Dubrave and was rewarded with 33-064 shunting, I watched this for an hour or so from the conveyer belt over bridge before I sadly had to depart for Sarajevo and the plane home.

All in all a very rewarding and quite successful trip, it’s good to see the steam by and large survive the floods, the Bosnians on the whole are incredibly friendly and helpful, and driving there is relatively easy too. There are some really invaluable guides on this website with directions which I printed out and took with me. I also printed off some satellite images of the areas n question, these proved invaluable in actually locating where the mines and depots were. If you’ve got the opportunity to go, do it, you won’t regret it.

62-633 flying..

83.158 in its new black livery (very traditional(:

83.159 working:

Krieg under repair..

and Krieg working:

Edward Buchanan adds:

Having been in Sarajevo for the 28th June 2014 remembrance of the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand, and seeing 71-022 plinthed at Sarajevo station my wife and 20 year old daughter travelled to Tuzla via Vares where there is 62-370 behind a fence in a lightly abandoned state – and far less abandoned than the works it sits in. The road from here towards Tuzla very quickly turns to being non tarmac so is a bit of an experience although the scenic views make it well worthwhile. 

On Monday the 30th June we visited Bunkje in the morning. Things were as stated in the latest report with 33-503 still under light repair. The manager Mr Merim Alicic was very happy to show us round and did not charge us the full rate for 3 people. He earns a salary of about 500 Euros a month a pittance for what he knows. He said it was hard to get young people to work there. He was delighted to meet my wife and daughter as he is very family orientated. 

We then continued on to Banovici where we paid our full fee to a helpful lady manager and were allowed to look round and saw 83-158 and 83-159 and others not in steam. There is also a wagon works here where the wagons are repaired. We continued to Oskawa where although there were a number of lorries parked up suggesting the trains were not in use, a diesel was shunting standard gauge trucks. On the upper narrow gauge 25-30 was working (in steam) and I was allowed a cab ride up to the coaling and watering point and back. Whilst there I was asked by security for the pass from Banovici, which seemed to be readily accepted. Having my family with me was a good idea rather than being a single person as it appeared to increase hospitality. The pictures were taken at Srajevo (71-022) and Banovici/Oskawa.

Rob Dickinson