The International Steam Pages
Steam Age Relics in Azerbaijan 2010
Azerbaijan is a place where it pays to be careful when searching for steam. Harvey Smith reports:
I have made various efforts to find interesting rolling stock in Baku, Azerbaijan. The list is not long but an expat or tourist would certainly find something to look at.
1. The Main Station. The facade of the old railway station is beautiful. The waiting room is worth visiting for original decoration. The only 2 items of rolling stock I found that interested me were a tender from a Class E locomotive and a Snow Plough. The tender is in very dilapidated condition. I have a photo, but the condition of the solitary tender is so bad it is not worth publishing. Simply walk to the end of the platforms and just keep walking. The tender was on a siding the start of the branch down to the port. It was near some trees and some small station buildings.
Where the branch to the port meets the main line to the station at Fioletov you will find a large signal box. There you will find the snow plough. The builder’s plate states that it was built in Tula in 1956. Personally, I love the giant machine especially the curtains.
2. Keshla. I went to Keshla on the advice of a work mate. Take the metro to Nariman Maramanov metro station and walk for 15 minutes. I found an old railway carriage near the goods yard and station. Walk north up the tracks to the large motorway bridge. On the right hand or east side opposite a factory on the other side of the tracks are a row of trees. The carriage is behind the trees and appears to be used as a mess for railway workers. It is really quite a find, since it is the same type as one built in 1913 which resides in the Moscow Richskaya Museum.
3. Bilajari / Binagadi depot. Bilajari is the first station in Baku to the North of the city and has a huge goods yard and attached depot (Binagadi). On my first visit to Bilajari station I went straight to the roundhouse and turntable to the North of the tracks near the long foot bridge linking the north and south halves of the Bilajari passenger station. I found little of interest. The security guard at the roundhouse was friendly and offered to show me around. The water tower at the station to the south of the tracks is nice. It is stone built in the style of a medieval tower. The water column it is also still in place between the tracks. I visited the area again and had more luck. On that occasion I approached from the opposite direction. I went to where the tracks cross a main road (Binagadi Highway) to the north of the city. Access to the tracks is easy. There are the remains of a dilapidated small station / halt (Binagadi) to the east of the bridge. Remarkably it is still in use. Walk up to the platform and tracks via a dilapidated concrete staircase, which is part of the station. I then walked westwards 15 minutes over the railway bridge and along the tracks until I got to the depot at Binagadi depot. I had at last found Azerbaijan’s “Barry Scrapyard”. The first item of interest was the rolling stock from the children’s railway. I should explain that as of the date of this report only the stations of the children’s railway near the stadium and zoo remain in situ. See these web pages http://www.dzd-ussr.ru/towns/baku/index-eng.html and http://www.dzd-ussr.ru/towns/baku/foto1-eng.html.
All the track of the Children’s railway has been lifted. No one knows its intended fate. The rolling stock is stored to the east of the Bilajari in the Binagadi locomotive depot. You can see it as you enter or leave Baku by train. There are several brightly decorated coaches covered in various cartoon characters and two TU2 Diesel locomotives to the north of the main line. For me the star find was a Soviet 750mm gauge 159 steam locomotive built in 1935. See also these web pages http://www.dzd-ussr.ru/ps/159/index.html and http://www.dzd-ussr.ru/ps/159/tth.html. Although Soviet it looks just like something from an Alpine railway.
There were also numerous old standard gauge diesel locos, diesel engine blocks, 4 old tenders that look like they may have come from steam powered snow clearing equipment and 4 class L Soviet Steam locomotives. One locomotive was in a newly-built shed. This locomotive is more complete than the others, but is still incomplete. It had been placed there only recently since the track is also new, the shed even lacked walls and a roof and so perhaps it is intended to renovate the locomotive. One of the locomotives is located separately further west. I got a shot of it from an embankment overlooking that part of the depot. I managed to locate most of the locomotives using Google Maps satellite photos before going to the depot. The workers at the depot were friendly and I was even offered a ride in an electric locomotive, but I declined. It is still illegal to photograph rail facilities in most if not all post-Soviet countries so it is better to avoid contact with the locals or walking around with a camera visibly dangling from your neck. I managed to identify one of the class Ls as L2216. All are in poor condition, but worth a visit if only to see representative examples of the 2-10-0 final class of Soviet freight locomotive. Arguably the class L was the last of the Russian decapods, being in part descended from the Russian designed Baldwin and ALCO Russian decapods. In a way it is quite fitting, since the two very first Russian decapods arrived from Baldwin for use on the Trans-Caucasian railway in 1895. They therefore probably visited Bilajari.
Tim Littler of GW Travel told me that as of 2001 there were also steam locomotive reserves at Divichi and Azadykend.