The International Steam Pages
Steam in Serbia, May 2002
Chris Gee reports on a comprehensive tour with Intra Express - the German group managed and led by Thomas Fischer.
The organisation was excellent with two very knowledgeable Serbian guides and fixers - particularly Zoran Veresic - a Serbian enthusiast who knew the locations well and had arranged permits and special steamings where required. We visited all locations where steam is to be found in regular use.
Thursday 23rd May 2002.
The day was spent with the embryonic preservation movement in Serbia, which appears to be in good health and very impressive with significant investment being poured into this project.
The Mokra Gora Railway, close to the border, is being revived and by November 2002, 760mm gauge track should be in place for the 13.5km between Sargan Vitasi and Mokra Gora, covering the km over the Sargan Eight - a wonderful example of civil engineering with elongated spirals and several tunnels set amidst attractive forested mountainsides. Our charter, hauled by 0-8-2 83-173 took us from Sargan Vitasi to the current terminus of the line at Gclubici, a distance of about 8km. An unidentified 0-6-0T named ELZA was also steamed for us at Mokra Gora station and a Duro Dadovic 0-6-0T (DD 88 of 1947) was in steam on the short 600mm gauge line at Izvori.
Friday 24th May 2002.
The journey to Vreoci took in a number of plinthed and preserved locos at Uzice station (Closed) where a 760mm gauge 2-8-2 85-045 is plinthed and Cacak station where 85-005 is plinthed. We also called in at Pozega Narrow Gauge Museum which has eight 760mm and 600mm gauge locomotives on display, with a Chrzanow 0-4-0T located in a nearby timber yard.
We then paid a visit to the branch line from Lucani Munitions Factory to Dragacevo station. For security reasons, we could not visit the Munitions Factory, but the unusual fireless locomotive was brought out in steam for us to ride behind and photograph on the branch down to the main-line connection at Dragacevo. The loco was rebuilt in 1987 at the Sinvoz works at Zrenjanin using the chassis of a class 62 locomotive. Numbered LBV-001, it is painted in green livery and carries shrapnel damage to the left hand cab side - a legacy of the 1999 NATO bombing of the munitions factory. The locomotive hauled two typical (?) battered workers coaches along the branch which includes a shared road-rail bridge across a river.
Finally, we called in at Vreoci Mine and Kolubara power station operated by Industrijsko Energotisko Kombinat. Two 62s were in steam on the standard gauge sidings serving the colliery yard and screens. 62635 and 62643, both in green livery, were busy shunting coal wagons in the sidings. A third 62 - 62127 was cold, but serviceable in nearby sidings. A fourth 62 (62117) was known to be under repair in the workshops which were not visited.
The mine operates an extensive 900mm narrow gauge electrified system using German built Bo-Bo overhead line electric locomotives and 15 of these were seen in use. Of more interest, however, are the Decauville six coupled side tanks, one of which, 53-017 was in steam for us. This loco may be an amalgam of locomotives as it also carries numbers from 53-023. In green livery, it was used to shunt a small p/way wagon within the sidings. It is only occasionally used on engineering work. Derelict 53-029 was nearby. The chassis and cab of a crash damaged Decauville was also dumped in undergrowth and this is believed to be 53-028 although no numbers were located. A fourth Decauville 53-018 is away for overhaul at Sinvoz Works at Zrenjanin.
The 900mm gauge operates over the system to the large opencast mine at Ceroviti Potok and power station at Veliki Crljeni.
Saturday 25th May 2002.
We started the day by viewing two plinthed locomotives - standard gauge 4-8-0 11-022 plinthed at Belgrade station and a 600mm Feldbahn 0-8-0T 99.4-084 (Schwartzkopf 6316/1917) plinthed about 300 yards away in front of a building in the city.
We then journeyed to Smederovo to pay a visit to the riverside iron and steelworks operated by Sartid Zitats. Two 760mm gauge four coupled saddle-tanks built by Porter are stored here out-of-use, with remaining works traffic operated by a narrow gauge diesel. Internal traffic is scrap for smelting. There is also an adjacent standard gauge sidings and redundant wharf. The standard gauge was still in use and appeared to be shunted by the state railway.
Our next visit was to the Smederovo Carriage and Wagon Workshops to see an active USA tank - 62073 in grimy black livery. The locomotive was in steam shunting coaching stock and tripped a sleeping car down to the sidings at the main-line station beside the old fort which provides a pleasant backdrop. A second USA tank in an attractive blue livery 62088 was cold, but serviceable inside one of the carriage shops. Two 62s 62107 and 62365 are out of use in the sidings and 2-4-2T 16018 is also plinthed within the works. A fifth 62- 62369 has been either sold or scrapped.
Our last visit was to the 900mm gauge system at Kostolac Opencast Mine operated by Industrijsko Energetisko Kombinat. The mine was closed for its summer shutdown, only being operated during the winter months to meet peak demands. However, two locomotives were steamed for and operated a typical tippler train over the short branch to Klenovik opencast mine. 12 and 13 were in steam, both painted in a light green livery and both having been overhauled by Sinvoz at Zrenjanin.
We then paid a visit to the attractive roundhouse which is still used to house the locomotive fleet. 9 was inside and is said to be in use as a stationary boiler (although 14 has also been credited with that duty). 10 was also inside, cold but serviceable. 14 was out of use outside on one of the turntable roads and was due to depart the following week for overhaul at Sinvoz works at Zrenjanin.
Sunday 26th May 2002.
Jugoslavian Railways 2-6-2 01-088 was noted from the road outside Belgrade roundhouse.
Most of the class 62 locomotives carry worksplates, but many are illegible having been painted over many times in the past or never stamped in the first place.