The International Steam Pages

Steam in the former Yugoslavia 2005

James Waite reports:

Landed at Belgrade just after 12 noon and arrived at Kostolac around 2.00pm on Sunday 6th November - much swifter than I had expected and I didn't really expect to get there until dusk . Friendly people on the gate but they wouldn't allow us access until Monday morning when the technical director and office staff were about which was fair enough. While we were taking at the gate we could see no. 13 (running with no. 10's tender) on the turntable preparing to start work - presumably there's no shift on Sunday mornings. The engine came out of the yard about 2.30, coaled and watered by the level crossing outside the power station and then spent about half an hour waiting outside the enginemen's welfare building which is about 200 metres up the line towards the pit - quite a pretty wooded location. No trouble at all photographing outside the power station despite our lack of permit - very friendly enginemen although one of the drivers seemed a bit edgy in case he was got to by security. The shift changes at 3.00pm. Stayed there until dusk and checked in the the Hotel Dunau at Pozarevac - welcoming staff and good food although the hotel itself was a bit tired.

Arrived the following morning about 8.00am. Checked in with the technical director, one Dragan Milosevic and given the freedom of the place. Excellent sunny weather all day. No. 13 in use again, coming off shed about 8.30am. No. 9 was drawn out of the shed having some attention to its tubes. Both very clean and looked very pretty with their green and black paint scheme and lots of lining out in yellow. No's. 12 and 14 were out of use in the shed and no. 10 was dumped outside.

After an hour or so we drove up to the pit. This needed checking in with the admin staff there - again very welcoming with copious helpings of slivovica served from a well-used Grant's whisky bottle. We were driven by jeep the 200 metres or so to the working face. Working stopped around 11.00 am for a two hour lunch break. One more run before the shift change at 3.00pm, and one more run before it got dark. Trouble with the brake pump on the engine towards the end of the day which involved a break to fix it by the tippler at the power station which allowed for some interesting time exposures there. After it got completely dark we took 2 sets of time exposures of no. 9 outside the shed until some security guards came and ushered us away, politely making it clear that visitors weren't welcome 
after dark.

Returned next morning around 8.00am. Another good sunny day. No. 13 was already out, we got the impression it might have been working all night. No. 12 was steamed up in the shed to use as a stationary boiler. Around 9.30am no. 13 came on shed for more attention to its brake pump. It was still on shed when the lunch break began at 11.00am. We left then for pastures new.

Called at US Steel at Smederevo. Told they still had engines there out of  use but we'd need to apply in advance for a permit. Also visited the carriage factory in Smederevo but were told there was a total ban on photography which unfortunately even extended to the preserved 2-4-2T plinthed just inside the gate. Pressed on to Vreoci. Quite a lot of action on the electric ng line including one of the elderly Brown Boveri machines. Saw one 62 class by the level crossing on the public road through the plant after dark. Didn't get to see the Decauville ng engines at the shed at the far end of the line as they needed authority to unlock the shed which they didn't have, apparently because the office staff had gone home with the shift change at 3.00pm. Drove on to Pozega, arriving about 7.30pm and checked into the hotel there. Good food but the restaurant was a bit smoky and full of drinkers, a bit like a working men's club.

The following morning was foggy. Visited the Pozega ng museum, then to Uzice where we saw the 85 class preserved at the old ng station. Nice mural-type map of the ng system on the wall of the station building. Drove on to Banovici, a 4-hour drive, via the border crossing at Zvornik. Got through the border quickly, thanks to having organised a green card in advance for the car we hired at Belgrade airport. Reached the level crossing at Dubrave around 2.40pm, just as a 33 class was coming up the line tender first with empties - quite a reasonable photo but didn't get its number. 

Pressed on to Banovici, arriving 15 minutes later. The railway manager Djevad Hodzic had gone home for the day but we were offered an impromptu visit to the yard and works. In the works 62-125 which we had seen in the early stages of overhaul last July was now approaching the end of the overhaul. Frames nicely painted up and the boiler appeared to have been retubed. 

The real surprise here was 55-99 in the works - it's been on a plinth for years. Judging by the fresh flange marks outside it must only just have arrived. 

All the locos on shed apart from 25-33. Spent the night at the excellent Hotel Zlaca about 5 miles south of Banovici, the road there being the course of an old forestry line. A pleasant surprise here was that the road has now been surfaced all the way up to the hotel since we last stayed in July.

Got back to the depot around 8.00am on 10th November and obtained our permits to view the system, price 15 euros each. It was foggy and the fog didn't lift until about 11.00am. 25-33 was working at the ng yard at Oskova and Skoda 19-12 at the standard gauge yard. 

Stayed until about 2.00pm. On the way back to Belgrade saw the 33 class again at Dubrave but it was very foggy there.

Rob Dickinson