The International Steam Pages

The Nizhny Novgorod Children's Railway, Russia 2009

For more information on Children's Railways in the former Soviet Union in general please see (Link dead by May 2023) - which lists known locations with some descriptions in English and some only in Russian. There are links to children's railway sites for other countries here - (Link dead by May 2023), some of the links are self evident but many will need translating! 

This is the first part of James Waite's visit to Russia in early August 2009. The other parts are:

I thought you might enjoy these photos and notes from Thomas Kautzor's and my trip last Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd August 2009 to the Nizhny Novgorod children's railway in Russia, about 400km east of Moscow.

The railway was one of the earliest of the country's pioneers' railways as they were then called. It dates from 1939 when the town was known as Gorky. It was always one of the premier pioneers' railways and at the start of operations even boasted a fully streamlined loco. Bizarrely the streamliner was drafted onto a forestry railway when WW2 reached the USSR in 1941, still complete with its streamlining! The children's railways proved their worth on the outbreak of war as children who had been trained at them were able to take over jobs on the country's industrial railways and release the grown-ups for military service. In this way they made a significant contribution to the country's war effort and many more were built after the war.

The railway came to a sudden and premature end in 1965 when a section of track was removed to facilitate the construction of a block of flats across the route. Although the building of the flats was supposed to cease this never happened. The line reopened in 1996 using just a short length, about 1.25 km, of the old route from Rodina, the original terminus station, together with a triangle at the far end which all trains have to traverse. Rodina station building dates from the opening of the line and is a magnificent Socialist monumental affair complete with statues of children in railwaymen's poses and Soviet crests etc.

The object of the railways is to train children to become professional railwaymen and railway women and as such they reflect current main line practice with CTC, colour light signalling and power-operated points. Preservation is not a principal object and steam finished many years ago on most of the lines. Only two of them still have working steam locos, the NN line and the line at Rostov-na-Don which runs its Gr class loco most Sundays during the summer. The NN loco is one of the ubiquitous PT-4 type locos (similar to the C2's in China) though as a Polish-built loco it's classified as a Kp-4. It usually runs only on the first day of the season and during the first weekend of August which coincides with the Russian national railwaymen's day and which is a sort of party weekend for the railway with free travel (and also free ice cream - very tasty!). The event generally attracts around 4,000 people each year.

Most of the coaching stock is the standard Russian PV51-type coach. There are still three of the older Polish Pafawag-built coaches out of use. Everyday trains are worked by a TU-7 class BB diesel hydraulic, the standard 1980's Russian ng diesel and there are two of the older TU-2 class diesel electrics in reserve.

We heard a steam train going past on the broad gauge main line on Saturday morning and returning mid-afternoon but were too far way to be able to see it. We were told that this is a train which runs regularly during the summer.

The full stock list (prepared by Thomas) is as follows :-

Kp-4-430 (0-8-0, Chrzanow 1955, restored 1996/97) in use
TU2-155 (Bo-Bo de, Kaluga 1958) in shed 
TU2-233 (Bo-Bo de, Kaluga 1958) in shed 
TU7-2567 (BB dh, Kambarka) in use 
3 x Pafawag coaches Gor 6/8/10 (green) stored + Gor 7 without bogies 
6 x PV-51 coaches 6181/6191/6194/6596/6598/6683 (cream and red) 
6 x PV-51 coaches 6244/6252/6255/6261/6263/6264 (cream/blue/red) 
2 x PV-51 coaches without numbers (green), stored 
2 x open coaches 01 02 
4 x flat wagons D.R. 371 3005-08 01 04 
1 x Snowplough

TU-2 233 in the engine shed
Rodina station

Kp-4-430 standing outside the engine shed at the start of the day. Note the balloons in the national colours. Those on the engine failed to survive the first run of the day and by the time of the last train they'd almost all gone throughout the train!

This is Rodina station from the 'inside' with Kp-4-430.
Kp-4-430 prepares to leave Rodina station, 'All Aboard!'

Kp-4-430 passing a typical old Russian wooden house a short distance south of Rodina station. The large pipe to the right of the pic carries steam for communal heating schemes in the city.

Kp-4- 430 crossing a small bridge over a stream
Kp-4-430 leaving Rodina station
Trainee level crossing keepers in action. Note the line of cream-coloured Ladas waiting at the crossing!

Kp-4-430 leaving the station at the southern end of the line at the triangular junction. Note the heavy-section rail in the foreground, presumably ex-broad gauge.

Rob Dickinson