The International Steam Pages

The Guamka Gorge Tourist Railway, Russia, 2009

Thomas Kautzor reports on his November 2009 visit - no steam, but an interesting operation in an out of the way place.

If you enjoy quirky narrow gauge railways in general you'll enjoy Thomas Kautzor's other visit on the same trip:

The 750mm branch from Samurskaya to Lago-Naki was closed in stages. In the 1960s/70s the section from Temnolesskoy to Lago-Naki was abandoned. In the 1980s several portions of the Samurskaya Guamka section were washed away. As a result the section was closed and the track lifted. Finally, all that remained was the isolated 8 km-long Guamka Mezmay section. This was maintained because there was no direct access road to Mezmay. In 1999 a twice-daily passenger service was operated using a TU6P railcar, connection with a bus service from Apsheronsk at Guamka. The operation was handed over from the forestry railway to the Apsheronsk District. However, in 2002 the line was badly damaged by floods and the railcar fell into the Kurdzhips river in the gorge, injuring a girl (up to today its frame and a bogie can be seen there). As a result the passenger service was stopped and the inhabitants of Mezmay had to walk along the line to get to Guamka.

The first half of the line just beyond Guamka runs through a very deep and picturesque gorge that has become something of a major tourist attraction over the years. In order to allow tourists to get into the gorge, a local built a motor trolley using a GAZ-51 lorry engine. Due to the success of that operation, this year a whole train was acquired and now runs 3 km into the gorge to a restaurant. From there, tourists can walk further along the track through the gorge and beyond. Since 2007, the track has in fact been restored all the way to Mezmay, including the large bridge just before the village, which had been particularly damaged, but at a number of places the platform has again been washed away and it would require additional work in order to allow the train to work through. However a small motor trolley converted from a motorcycle can be rented at the restaurant to travel to Mezmay.

At Guamka a single railway track still reaches the restored old station building in the center of the village. Further on there is a wye with two flat wagons. The train however starts from a small station just before the entrance of the gorge, a short walk beyond the Guamka Hotel (opened in 2005). Trains run daily all year round, from 09:30 departing every 40 minutes. The journey only takes 15 minutes and the round-trip costs RUB 100. The Kambarka diesel TU8-0427 (ex Great Bychkova railway, Ukraine) pushes the three PV-51 coaches into the gorge. Buses connect Apsheronsk with Guamka.

Rob Dickinson