The International Steam Pages

Steam in Bosnia, September 2015

Rob Pritchard writes::

I recently returned from a visit, mainly to Bosnia, with Steve Newman (organiser/driver), Andy Freyne and Ivor Thomas.  We arrived just across the border at Osijek in Croatia on Monday 14/9/2015 and departed from there on Monday 21/9/2015.  Much of the weekend was occupied with a trip to Mokra Gora and plinthies etc. in Serbia but we concluded with Kriegslok action on the last day.

The weather was a debilitating heatwave followed by some rain at the weekend and a final day of perfect sun.  The state of the greenery suggested the heatwave was abnormal.  One local said “October thinks it’s July” although in this case it was September that was thinking.  Railway activity during the middle of the day was relaxed and sparse except at the very end.

A summary follows for each industrial site.  An asterisk [*] indicates numbers supplied to me by another member of the party, usually obtained with binoculars.

Class 33 = Kriegslok 2-10-0.  Class 62 = USA 0-6-0T or local (Đuro Đaković) development.  Class 83 = 760mm gauge 0-8-2.  Steam classes 19 (0-6-0T), 25 (760mm gauge 0-6-0T) and 55 (760mm gauge 0-8-0T) are stylised renditions of their Škoda, ČKD and Budapest works numbers.  144R 03 is a Fives Lille 0-8-0T.  All other classes are diesel.

RLKuT Bukinje Depot & Works, Tuzla (16/9/2015)

We arrived just before midday when the sun was shining along the line.  Earlier would be better, shadows permitting.  Initially we viewed from gaps in the trees next to the public road on the eastern side but soon we were invited to the gatehouse and offered a tour at €25 each.  We declined on this occasion but chatted to the Engineer who said 33-248 was inside undergoing general repair.  He seemed confident that steam operation will continue at the mines supplied from here, and that the recent extra regulations are being met.  33-504 and 33-064 were dead outside, the latter with a loose tyre or wheel.  Both were facing the workshop building.  The usual line of other steam locomotives was between the building and the road, namely 62-123, 62-376*, 62-637*, 62-368* and the derelict Kriegslok which is presumably 33-216.  These were facing the opposite way.  Two Kriegslok tenders were on the other side of the building, one from 33-248 and the other presumably from 33-216.  We did not look for the derelict diesel or see any other motive power.

RLKuT Dubrave (15,16,21/9/2015)

33-236 was the working locomotive, chimney-first on loaded trains.  When it is shunting at the loading point by the opencast mine it can easily be photographed from outside but not when it is stabled.  We only saw one loaded trip along the scenic branch to Ljubace exchange sidings but that is worth describing in full:  33-236 showed signs of imminent activity at Dubrave around midday on Monday 21st September and there were plenty of loaded wagons so we drove the short distance to the first level crossing.  Soon a man walked along the line from the mine to remove the track clamp and lower the barriers.  The train passed us at 12.22 and we knew we could not chase it but we continued to the exchange sidings at Ljubace anyway.  When we got there, mainline diesel 661-275 was on the middle of the three tracks with an incoming train of empties and 33-236 had stopped with its loaded train just short of the entrance.  Already two locals were on top pilfering coal.  661-275 uncoupled, ran towards 33-236 and then reversed onto one of the empty tracks in the yard.  By then 33-236 had also uncoupled so it ran directly onto the front of the empties.  Then 661-275 came towards the full train and coupled to it.  The diesel-hauled loaded train left first and as soon at it had cleared the points, the steam-hauled empty train departed too.  Both moving trains were in view simultaneously at 12.55.  The only other item of motive power that we saw on this line was the maintenance gang’s rail lorry which was probably the same Volkswagon as last year.

RLKuT Sikulje (15,16,21/9/2015)

33-503 was the working locomotive, tender first on loaded trains.  (All RLKuT’s Kriegsloks have the bathtub type of tender which is fairly photogenic.)  Again, when the locomotive is shunting at the loading point by the opencast mine it can easily be photographed from outside but not when it is stabled.  The branch to Lukavac exchange sidings is shorter and less attractive but there is the added interest that around a dozen locals leap onto loaded trains as soon as they depart and hurl large lumps of brown coal overboard throughout the journey.  This is then collected, bagged and openly resold.  The police tolerate the practice perhaps as a welfare system in kind.  Just be careful not to get hit!  A bigger problem for photographers is that the locomotive crews keep asking for pivo (beer) or money.  Fair exchange is one thing but this was the first occasion we have seen a train of empties stopped en route to demand money.  It isn’t all bad though.  The headshunt is a good place to photograph arriving empties and shunting, or it would be in spring, but this time we got an apparently unnecessary movement from the stabling point to the headshunt with two wagons which we nicknamed the “pivo shunt”.  Although many railwaymen ask for pivo, a significant number decline it because they do not drink.  We felt a beer each or 10 Bosnian marks (Ł4) per crew was about right.

RMU Banovići – standard gauge (at Oskova) 15,16,17/9/2015)

Diesel 732-195 was working in the same shabby condition as last year, so if it ever received the rumoured overhaul it certainly didn’t get a repaint.  Two steam locomotives were locked in the shed.  The bunker of the one nearer the main entrance did not look like a 62 so this was presumably 19-12.  The other, photographed by pushing a small digital camera under the door at the back of the shed, had an open smokebox door which hid any numberplate but a non-standard fall plate identified it as 62-125.   62-677 was dumped under the gantry crane behind the shed.  144R 03 had been extracted from the bushes at the top of the headshunt and is now displayed on one of the operational sidings near the shed, presumably for photography by visitors - see also below.

RMU Banovići – dual gauge (at Oskova) 17/9/2015

Please refer to the pictures below (click thumbnail for full size). The first shows the standard gauge shed with 62-677 behind it. This locomotive is on standard gauge track. The line that appears to continue beyond it is actually 760mm gauge and ends alongside 62-677 where there is a gantry crane for exchange between the gauges. In theory standard gauge locomotives can be transported over the narrow gauge to Banovići works. However the second picture shows what appears to be the necessary transporter wagon stored in a siding next to the narrow gauge yard (on the high level) and its condition speaks for itself. The branch from the depot joins the 760mm gauge Oskova (high level) – Banovići line just beyond Km post 2. Notice that the narrow gauge line to the shed now has a set of points and a newly-laid extension which leads past the shed to the top of the standard gauge sidings, one of which it shares as dual-gauge track. The adjoining landsale yard has been cleared to its concrete base but this might just be seasonal. The dual gauge track can be seen in front of 732-195. I think it is safe to say that this will be the Oskova terminus of a tourist service to Banovići – see also later. In the valley just above Oskova is the extended village of Repnik which is a tourist attraction for walking and picnicking and was heaving with school parties during the week so the custom is there.

RMU Banovići – 760mm gauge (17/9/2015)

After paying an on-the-spot permit fee of 15 Bosnian marks each we entered the main repair shop where 25-30 was standing with a selection of spanners on the floor.  A quarter of an hour later it was towed to the open-air locomotive sidings where a gang of men set about it.  Whether this was maintenance or repair/overhaul I do not know.  I suspect the job was taken outside because the heatwave was expected to make the repair shop too hot.  Also in the locomotive sidings were 83-158 in recently ex-works condition and 55-9983-181 was dumped in the siding behind the makeshift passenger coaches.  25-29 and 25-32 were dumped on another line.  25-31 (which was displayed by the road last year), the 4-wheel MIN draisine and another 0-8-0 (presumably 83-157) were dumped on a further line.  A diesel frame was dumped in the bushes and is probably a leftover from when two twin-unit diesels were converted into 720-001/002/003.  Diesels present were 740-113 which was shunting 720-003 and 740-108, the last-named being deposited in the separate diesel depot.  All diesels seen running during the week had their engine compartment doors open.

After this visit we moved to Oskova where our works permit secured freedom for the day.  83-159 was on washery shunting duties but barely moved for six hours despite the presence of two coal trains in the arrival sidings.  Washery breakdown or extended siesta?  It wasn’t lack of demand for coal because dozens of lorries were queuing to load and more was leaving on the standard gauge.  There is a small cafeteria by the narrow gauge stabling point on the high level but it is only usable if you have a special card.  740-113 (seen earlier at the depot/works) and 720-002 were practically fixtures and the nearest I got to activity on the line was 740-107 which ran light towards Banovići at 12.13 and returned at 13.32.  It must have gone back to Banovići again after then but not on empties.

Finally at 17.48, 740-107 was successfully photographed from an elevated public road while it shunted a train under the loading gantry at Banovići.  This gantry is nowhere near the end of the line, which continues as a double track into the hills, and it seems to serve a non-rail connected mine via a conveyor belt.

RMU Banovići – other (15/9/2015)

Whilst visiting Banovići to change currency we spotted 720-001 crossing the main road light engine.  Nearby is an open-air museum which contains beautifully restored 25-33 (dumped at the depot/works last year), a caterpillar-tracked shovel, a dragline and a newly-created set of covered passenger coaches.  The site is rail-connected and it seems to be the Banovići terminus for the tourist service from Oskova mentioned above.

RMU Đurđevik (15,16,21/9/2015)

We visited briefly three times in the hope that 62-111 would work the photogenic line from the colliery to Živinice but the coal was leaving by lorry.  The locomotive was standing in the open in well-oiled condition and still seems to be a runner.

GIKI Lukavac Coking Plant (15/9/2015)

Our permit application failed this year so the only locomotive we saw was a red diesel.  If it was the one that was working last year, it was 6wDH DD 1123/1989.

Tuzla Thermoelectric Plant (18/9/2015)

This is the power station that is the principal recipient of the local-mined coal.  A yellow diesel was shunting but only a brief glimpse was possible from the road.  Research last year suggests it should be 797 820, a 4wDE built by CZ Loko of Česká Třebová in the Czech Republic but that is the same size as the locomotive at Lukavac Soda Works and our subjective impression was that this year’s was larger.

RMU Breza (18/9/2015)

The colliery was viewed surreptitiously from the hillside above it.  A shiny new diesel was working, bright green 797 825-7*.   This appears to be another standard CZ Loko 4wDE.  A dark green diesel was under the screens and looked like the one seen last year (allegedly ĐĐ 13/1958).  62-672* was near the diesels and 62-363* was near the shed, both possibly spare.  The shed was empty and 62-020 had returned to Kakanj since last year.

Vareš (18/9/2015)

62-370 is still stored at the old factory on the way into town.  It is relatively boring in itself but the drive up the valley from Breza is interesting and the semi-dismantled ironworks and quarry in the town really stir the imagination.

RMU Kakanj (18/9/2015)

The shed adjacent to the public road (at Čatići?) was empty.  62-020 and 62-366 were standing face-to-face behind it, providing an interesting comparison between the bar-framed US-built original and the plate-framed Jugoslavian version.  New dark green diesel 797.824-0 was working and is almost certainly another standard CZ Loko 4wDE.

Rudstroj, Kakanj (18/9/2015)

62-015 is plinthed under a canopy.  Both steampipe covers are missing.  It carries a Porter 7537 works plate which has been highlighted in black paint as “PORTEN”.

RMU Zenica (18,19/9/2015)

We were unable to obtain an on-the-spot permit for a morning visit to the colliery because it was Saturday but we saw everything we wanted from outside.  It was obvious on our evening arrival that last year’s pair of dumped steam locomotives had grown to all four.  In the morning they were identified as 62-633, 62-650, 62-003 and one which was covered with vegetation on the LHS and had no numberplate on the RHS but obviously had not moved for years and was therefore 62-648.  The tracks to the locked engine shed were overgrown and the insertion of a small digital camera under the door revealed nothing inside except for ancient tools.  Knowing there would be no steam activity we delayed our Saturday visit until around the time the train of empties was due back from the exchange sidings and we were greeted by their arrival behind a brand new bright green and yellow diesel inscribed MDD 3-10.  This locomotive is different from the CZ Loko type. states “The producer of locomotive is Express – Service OOD Bulgaria and the supplier is KATIRE BH d.o.o. Sarajevo.”.  The construction date can be inferred as 2015.  Express Service’s website adds the model number is MDD 3-00 and the locomotive is a twin-engined 4wDH.

Yard in Zenica (19/9/2015)

642-118 (deep green with yellow lining) and 732-183 (brown with yellow lining) were in a small private yard by the main line.

Arcelor Mittal steelworks, Zenica (18,19/9/2015)

An unplanned evening arrival at the gatehouse found 62-362* plinthed as usual.  The next day we climbed the hill south of the steelworks and main line.  There is an excellent view except for the pollution.  It couldn’t have been heat haze because everywhere else was clear.  Remarkably, “Enhance/Auto Levels” in Photoshop cuts it like a knife.  Five steam locomotives and a partially dismantled green diesel were visible outside the old steam shed.  If they were the same as last year, then from back to front/right to left they were 62-380, 62-322, 62-382, 62-383, 62-520 and 734-028.  Three orange diesels were working, presumably Gredelj rebuilds of Classes 642 (one) and 732 (two).

Sarajevo (19/9/2015)

For the record, this was the only place I got stopped from taking pictures.  I was in the street trying to photograph a tram when Bosnoplod politely pointed to the “NO PHOTOGRAPHY” sign in English right behind me.

The travelling time from our last sight of a working Kriegslok to touchdown at Stansted Airport was less than eight hours, including checking-in at Osijek and allowing for the different time zone.  The three Bosnian steam locations are close together and the locomotives can work at any time of day or night.  You can only concentrate on one locomotive at a time, wherever you are, so three are enough and enough is as good as a feast.  The double-track narrow gauge railway with bogie diesels is a major attraction in its own right.  Ryanair is cheap, efficient, conveniently timed and makes a genuine profit.  Hotel, food and beer prices are about half those at home.  Despite all this we did not see another enthusiast!

Rob Dickinson