The International Steam Pages
The EF Dona Tereza Cristina
Click here for steam on the EFDTC 1977.
Click here for steam on the EFDTC 2013.
James Waite writes:
The oldest section of what became the metre gauge EF Dona Tereza Cristina was built by a British company, the Donna Thereza Christina Company Limited. It ran for some 110km long between the port of Imbituba and the coal mines at Lauro Müller in Santa Catarina state together with a short branch to the port of Laguna and opened in 1884. Brazil had been the last country in the western world to abolish slavery, an issue which had led to almost open warfare between the country and the UK for many years as the British Navy operated openly in Brazilian waters to prevent slave ships from setting off for Africa or transporting slaves by sea from one part of the country to another. Large-scale immigration from around 1880, mostly from Italy, Germany and the Azores, into Brazil’s southern states led to slavery there becoming economically superfluous and paved the way for its formal abolition throughout the country in 1888.
The construction of the EFDTC and the exploitation of the coal reserves which have always provided its main traffic became possible thanks to the inflow of foreign investment into the state in anticipation of the abolition and the growth of its modern economy. Although primarily a coal railway the line was a common carrier and ran daily passenger trains until 1968. It takes its name from Dona Tereza Cristina Maria de Bourbon who married Dom Pedro II, Brazil’s last emperor.
The railway runs close to the sea for the first few km out of Imbituba, today a much photographed stretch, and then through generally easy country for the first 31km from Imbituba as far as Cabeçuda. Here a lattice girder viaduct, some 1,420 metres long, was needed to cross the lagoon which separates the Imbituba district from the mainland. It was the longest bridge in the country until the early 20th century and consisted of 102 fixed spans and a movable section. This consisted of two spans which were cantilevered from a central pivot mounted on a masonry pier, though there is some suggestion that this dated only from the first years of the 20th century and replaced an earlier telescopic structure. The other principal structure was the 164 metres long Passagem bridge across the river at Tubarão. The remainder of the route to Lauro Müller was quite different as it ran through hilly country and tight curves and steep gradients were accepted in order to keep costs down, a source of great operating difficulty in later years as loads increased.
For its first sixteen years the railway led an relatively uneventful existence. It suffered major flood damage in 1887 after which the Passagem bridge had to be rebuilt. Tubarão, always its operating base, was the centre of an armed rebellion from September 1893 and the line was worked by revolutionaries between 1st January and 21st April 1894. Thereafter the federal government embarked upon a policy of sustained inflation which played havoc with the economics of many of the country’s railways which had been financed from overseas. To counter this the government began to buy back railway concessions. The railway company sold out to the government in June 1902 and so ended British involvement in the line.
During this period it had been worked by a series of 2-6-0T’s, two of which were built by Hunslet in 1882 with six somewhat larger machines following from Nasmyth Wilson the following year. One of these, reported to have been no. 6, was written off in 1894 and was perhaps destroyed during the rebellion of that year. The other seven continued to run as the railway’s only locos for more than 25 years.
For some years after the purchase the government leased out the railway to a variety of operators but this had little effect on its day-to-day operation. Things began to change in 1917. Brazil had come to rely heavily upon imported coal but disruption to its supply during the First World War led to a decision to develop its indigenous coal reserves. As a part of this initiative the Companhia Brasileira Carbonifera de Araranguá was incorporated to develop the coalfield to the south west of Tubarão and to take over operation of the railway.
Coal production started near Criciúma in January 1919. The new company built two long extensions to the original line, a new main line from Tubarão through Criciúma to Araranguá and a branch from Esplanada to Urussanga. The new lines run through rolling countryside with occasional rock cuttings though no other major engineering work was required. They were much easier to work than the hilly route to Lauro Müller which soon assumed branch line status. Coal mining around Criciúma soon developed exponentially and with it the growth of traffic on the railway. Today the mining operations there are the largest anywhere in Brazil. The company bought five new ALCO-Cooke locos in 1919, two 4-6-0’s and three 2-8-0’s and a single 2-8-2 from ALCO’s Montreal factory the following year. They were initially numbered in a separate series for the EF Tubarão a Araranguá but before long the whole system was being treated as a single entity.
One of the 2-8-0’s, EFTA no. 3, later EFDTC no. 100, was later sold to the Companhia Docas Imbituba to serve what had become the busy port there. By the late 1970’s it had been dumped at Imbituba. It is reported to have been overhauled and put back into service at the docks in the early 1980’s but is now a prized exhibit in the railway museum at Tubarão. The coal company’s new locos supplemented the seven remaining British 2-6-0T’s.
The lease of the railway continued in effect until 1940 but the history of its operation and the acquisition of more locos during this period is not well documented. It was clearly a period of steady, if modest, expansion. More locos were acquired, some new and some second hand from a variety of sources. They included at least two 0-6-0T’s, no’s 7 and 8, which had been built by Baldwin for the Rede de Viação Cearense, way up in the north east of Brazil. No. 9 has survived and is now another prized exhibit in the Tubarão museum.
Two 4-6-0’s arrived at Tubarão in the early 1920’s. They had been built in 1911 for the 60cm gauge EF Perus-Pirapora in the northern outskirts of São Paulo city and their reconstruction as metre gauge locos must have involved quite a startling transformation! The EFPP is now a preserved railway and in their original 60cm gauge form these two 4-6-0’s must have looked much like the line’s no. 16 which is awaiting restoration at Perus.
Two more ALCO-Cooke 4-6-0’s which had been built for the EF Central do Brazil subsequently arrived second hand and became EFDTC no’s. 25 and 26. They were destined for long lives. No. 25 was later sold to the dock company at Imbituba and survived out of use into the 1980’s. No. 26 ended up shunting at Lauro Müller mine in the 1970’s. Most regrettably they appear both to have been scrapped.
We’re on firmer ground with a series of three Baldwin Pacifics which were bought new by the coal company for the line in 1925 becoming no’s. 50-52. No. 50 was very much in use as the Tubarão shed shunter in the late 1970’s and no. 52 was stored out of use nearby. No 50 was overhauled in 1982 and sold to the isolated EF Madeira-Mamore Railway in the far west of Brazil which was then being revived as a tourist line. Sadly the revival did not last long and no. 50 has spent many years slowly rusting away in the tropical jungle. A similar Pacific, no. 53, was acquired later from the FC EF Noroeste do Brazil. It ended up as a stationary boiler at Tubarão and today is another exhibit at the Tubarão museum. The others had been scrapped by the early 1980’s. In the 1930’s the railway also acquired three second hand Tubize-built 2-8-2’s, EFDTC no’s 150-152. They had all disappeared by the 1970’s.
Another major work started during this period was the replacement of the long girder bridge across the lagoon at Cabeçuda. Corrosion had taken its toll and the structure was anyway unsuited to the heavier trains using the line. Work on the replacement structure, part causeway and part bridge, which carries the main coastal road as well as the railway, began in 1936 and continued for several years. Known as the Henrique Lage Bridge it remains in use today and is a most impressive piece of engineering.
The lease to the coal company was revoked and the railway came under full state control in 1940. The present-day loco shed and works buildings at Tubarão were built between 1942 and 1944. Construction began in January 1943 of the Treviso branch, part of which forms today’s main line north from Criciúma. This involved heavy civil engineering and a lengthy tunnel near Siderópolis. The line was not opened throughout until 1947. The extension serves several collieries and perhaps in anticipation of the increased traffic which it would bring five more 2-8-2’s, no’s 153-7, were bought new from ALCO in 1941. They remained in service until the 1980’s. No. 153 is kept in working order at Tubarão and others are preserved elsewhere.
In 1946 the Brazilian government bought ten magnificent 2-6-6-2 Mallets from Baldwin. They were the latest in a long line of Mallets of numerous wheel arrangements which had served the country’s railways since as far back as 1890 when one of Anatole Mallet’s pioneer design of tiny 0-4-4-0 tanks locos arrived for work on a sugar railway. A machine similar to the 0-4-4-0T, incidentally, has been preserved in working order on the 60cm gauge Östra Södermanlands Järnväg at Mariefred, Sweden and can occasionally be seen in steam there on special occasions. Seven of the 1946 batch went to the Rede de Viação Paraná-Santa Catarina. The other three became the EFDTC’s no’s. 200-202. They were clearly well liked at Tubarao as four more arrived in 1950, no’s. 203-206. These were destined to be the last Mallets built for service in Brazil. In their later years at least the seven Mallets worked mainly on the difficult Tubarão - Lauro Müller section and may well have been bought specifically to operate it.
By the early 1970’s only three of them, no’s 203-5, were still in service. Their working lives were cut short in 1974 when the region was devastated by torrential rains, some of the worst ever recorded in Brazil. In Tubarão 199 people lost their lives and around 45,000 were made homeless. The railway suffered enormous damage. One casualty was the Passagem bridge on the main line at Tubarão and its replacement by the present 9-span concrete viaduct became an urgent priority. The Lauro Müller line, which by then had become a relatively unimportant branch, had been swept away in many places. The decision was taken not to rebuild it but instead to reuse its track materials in the construction of the new bridge. The piers consist of groups or rails welded together and encased in concrete. It is estimated that 23km of rail were used in the construction of the bridge.
No’s. 203-5 worked only infrequently after 1974. Two of them were lying around Tubarao yard looking distinctly careworn when I visited in September 1977. One was steamed in 1980 for the benefit of a visitor involved in the acquisition of the 400 class 2-10-2’s from Argentina and the three locos were definitively withdrawn the same year. No. 205 formed the centrepiece of the new Praca Dona Tereza Cristina, a public space laid out opposite the railway’s old headquarters in Tubarão in 1984 to celebrate its 100th anniversary. No. 203 is at the Tubarão museum while no. 204 is now at the Trem da Serra do Mar at Rio Negrinho in the north of Santa Catarina, part of the old RVPSC where seven of the 1946 batch had spent their working lives. It has recently been restored to working order.
In 1950 a batch of ten Pacific Garratts built by Henschel in 1931 became redundant on the Viação Ferrea Rio Grande do Sul down in the far south of the country after their replacement there by a series of ALCO-built 4-8-4’s. Three found their way to Tubarão but they were unsuccessful and had gone by 1952. None is known to have received an EFDTC number.
Next on the scene were seven 2-8-4’s designed by André Chapelon, the famous French steam loco engineer, after he had retired as the CME of the SNCF. They formed part of a series of 90 locos ordered by the Brazilian government for its metre gauge network from Groupement d'Exportation de Locomotives SA (Gelsa), a French state-sponsored consortium of loco builders and delivered in 1951 and 1952.
The locos were delivered to railways throughout the country. They were at best a mixed success. It’s fair to say that Brazilian enginemen of the time were used to conservative, if not outdated, loco designs and opinion is divided about the extent to which their unpopularity stemmed from a reluctance to adapt to their unusual design features or whether they were just unsuited to conditions in the country. The railways’ senior management also lacked enthusiasm for them at a time when dieselisation was getting into its stride. None lasted in service beyond the 1960’s. Some were sold to the Bolivian railways and a few are rumoured to survive amongst the country’s many abandoned steam locos though none have been positively identified there.
The locos were designed for curves of a minimum 80 metres radius. At Tubarão they were an unmitigated disaster, being said to be prone to derailment and track spreading, and were also underpowered for the railway’s heavy coal hauls. It is thought that only three of them were ever tried out there after which they were all sold for scrap.
The Brazilian government formed the Rede Ferroviaria Federal SA, or RFFSA, on 30th September 1957 in order to bring all the country’s nationalized railways under a single administration. The EFDTC came under RFFSA control from the start. One almost immediate consequence was the acquisition of more large locos. Five 2-8-2’s arrived secondhand in 1958. No. 160 had been built by Baldwin for the Companhia Mogiana in São Paulo state and proved to be another long-lived machine. Two Borsigs, no’s. 170 and 171 came from the EF Noroeste do Brasil and two Krupps, no’s 180 and 181, came from the EF Soracabana, also in São Paulo state. These four German locos had disappeared by the 1970’s when the line first became popular with visiting enthusiasts.
The 1960’s saw the start of closure of outlying parts of the system. The withdrawal from all traffic other than coal in 1968 had been preceded the year before by year by the closure of all 35km of the Araranguá line beyond Criciúma and also of the short Laguna branch. Around the same time the Treviso branch was cut back to Rio Fiorita, a little to the north of Siderópolis, and in 1969 a bypass line to the east of Tubarão replaced the railway’s old route through the town centre.
Undoubtedly the most successful steam locos to have run on the EFDTC are the well-known Texas 2-10-4’s. It’s unclear quite when the first of these locos arrived at Tubarão but it’s likely to have been in the 1950’s after the Gelsa locos had proved to be unsuitable. Fourteen of them, no’s 300-313 served the railway well for many years. They were all second hand, most being drawn from two large batches which had been built for the EF Central do Brasil by ALCO and Baldwin in 1940 along with two built in 1947 for the EF Noroeste do Brasil which was slowly being built westwards from Bauru, in São Paulo state, to Corumba on the Bolivian border which it reached in 1951. From there the line continued across southern Bolivia and on to northwestern Argentina and at once became an important international trunk route. It’s believed that six or seven more of these locos were delivered to the EFDTC and were used as a source of spare parts for the ones in traffic.
These most impressive locos were immensely popular with the railwaymen and were powerful, rode well and were fast. The sight and sound of one of them at speed heading a long coal train was one of the most memorable railway experiences the world had to offer in the 1970’s. For the most part they projected an all-American image though their smokebox doors looked as though they had come straight from the SNCF and were probably a legacy of Chapelon’s influence in the 1950’s.
Sadly no. 312 suffered a boiler explosion in 1981 with fatal consequences. It’s generally believed that the immediate cause was low water level compounded by a number of broken firebox stays. Inspection of the boilers of the remaining class members led to an immediate reduction in pressure from 200psi to 150psi. Gone were their phenomenal haulage abilities and they were no longer to be seen at the head of long trains running at high speed. They must have presented a forlorn sight during their last few years. Seven were withdrawn in 1985 and the remainder followed soon after. The last one, probably no. 306, ran on 14th May 1986.
The railway was clearly loathe to let them go. Proposals were made in the mid-1970’s to buy second hand West German boilers following the end of steam there, presumably from class 44 or class 52 2-10-0’s. In the mid-1980’s the railway looked at buying boilers from South Africa, maybe from redundant class 25 4-8-4’s. In the event nothing was done. Most of the locos were scrapped a few years later – a sad end to a magnificent class. Three are preserved at Tubarão and one more at Bananal in the east of São Paulo state.
It’s been reported that some would have been bought were it not for the fact that the Ferrocarriles Argentinos was withdrawing a batch of 2-10-2’s which had been in service on the FC General Belgrano’s Salta-Socompa route through the Andes in the far north west of their country. The much lower cost of moving them by rail to Brazil via Bolivia and the EFNOB route to Bauru led to them being chosen instead despite the fact that they were considerably older. Eleven were bought along with some spare boilers at the total price of US$800,000.00 and were transferred in August 1980 by rail in a cavalcade from Tucuman in Argentina to Porto Alegre, completing their journey to Tubarão by road. The rail journey took 45 days, including 10 while the cavalcade was delayed in Bolivia where its arrival coincided with a military coup. Two of them had been built by Henschel in 1937 and the remainder by Skoda in 1949.
Their design was based on locos previously built by Baldwin for the predecessors of the FC General Belgrano. They were thoroughly reconstructed at Tubarão and entered service on the EFDTC between 1981 and 1984. It is said that the pressure on workshop capacity caused by this work led to the postponement of routine overhauls of the 2-10-4’s and was a major contributory factor in no. 312’s boiler explosion. The new locos were initially allocated numbers 400-410 but were soon renumbered 200-210, though not in the same order, as part of a nationwide computerised numbering scheme. No. 210, the last to be overhauled, carried this number from the start.
Diesels arrived after 1982 to replace the 2-10-4’s but the steam era at Tubarão had still not quite reached its conclusion. Professor L.D. Porta first visited Tubarão in 1986 to investigate the modernisation of the steam locos. Nothing happened immediately but by 1989 he was back with a contract to upgrade them, starting with 2-8-2 no. 4, one of two similar machines which had been built by Jung in 1954 for the Companhia Siderurgica Nacional which ran the Capivari washery, just over the river from Tubarão. They were the last steam locos to be imported into Brazil and had worked at Capivari until their sale, probably in the late1980’s, to the EFDTC.
No. 4 was completely rebuilt and the trademark features of Porta’s designs, his gas producer combustion system and Lempor exhaust ejector, formed the core of the work. This was followed by similar rebuilds on 2-10-2 no’s. 203 and 200 in 1990, 205 in 1990/1 and 210 in 1991. The rebuilt 2-10-2’s were easily identified as their chimneys were angled forwards at the front, necessary for the exhaust system to clear the superheater header. Porta was never one to stand still and the locos carried several experimental features designed to increase their efficiency still further.
Porta had developed many of his ideas and designs while working as the CME at the 2ft 6ins gauge RFIRT line at Rio Gallegos in the far south of Patagonia. Intriguingly the baby 2-10-2’s there had started out life as scaled down versions of what were now the EFDTC 200 class. At Tubarão Porta worked with Phil Girdlestone, another British engineer who had already applied Porta’s technology on the Ffestiniog Railway and in Sudan. From Brazil Phil moved on to the Alfred County Railway in South Africa to apply Porta technology to the 2' gauge Garratts there. He still lives in South Africa and now operates a consultancy on advanced steam designs.
Porta died in 1993, only a couple of years after his work at Tubarão came to an end and while he was developing a new Lemprex exhaust system which very probably drew on his experience at Tubarão. Nigel Day, another Porta disciple who is now the CME of the West Coast Wilderness Railway in Tasmania, is actively involved in developing the design and has recently fitted one of the line’s locos with a prototype exhaust which incorporates elements of the Lempor and Lemprex designs.
In the early 1990’s Brazil’s coal industry collapsed and it became cheaper to import coal into the country than to mine it. The line had enough diesels to handle the small amount of traffic still on offer. No more rebuilds were carried out and steam working came to an end.
The railway celebrated its centenary in 1984. Mallet no. 205 was repainted and set up on a plinth in the town centre along with what’s believed to be the last of the old wooden-bodied passenger coaches which had been built at Tubarao for the old passenger service. It’s now used as a café. A tourist service was started, using four of the distinctive wooden-bodied coaches with high arched windows brought in from the EF Noroeste do Brasil. Many of these coaches had been built at Bauru in the early 1950’s to coincide with the completion of the international link to Bolivia. At the same time the first steps were taken to set up the EFDTC’s museum.
The railway was privatized in 1997 following the break-up of the RFFSA and is now known as the Ferrovia Tereza Cristina. The Sociedade dos Amigos da Locomotiva a Vapor, a non-profit organisation, was founded in the same year to take over the museum and the tourist trains. Currently 2-8-2’s no’s. 5 and 153 and 2-10-2 no. 205 (ex-407) are kept in working order. 2-10-2 no. 210 has also seen use within the past few years and in 2013 was stored in good condition at Tubarão shops. Like no. 205 it retains its Porta-designed improvements and so is of considerable technical interest even if one of the by-products of Porta’s draughting and combustion not to the liking of photographers is that his locos don’t usually make much smoke!
Since 2006 the society has restored Pacific no. 53 and 2-10-4 no. 300 to a very high standard in their RFFSA lined black paint scheme from a state of near-dereliction though they aren’t in working order. They are a joy to see though for some people the effect is marred by the use of the railway’s old British name on the tenders instead of the RFFSA or EFDTC lettering which they carried during their working lives. The society also plans to bring back Pacific no. 50 from its remote home at Porto Velho on the EF Madeira-Mamore and to return it to working order. The tourist rains operate at weekends over various stretches of the line between Imbituba in the north and Urussanga in the south.
The Companhia Docas Imbituba operated its own fleet of locomotives, several of which have survived to be preserved. Its full stock list is not known and the list below draws on the observations of enthusiasts who visited from the 1970’s onwards. In addition to its ex-EFDTC machines mentioned above its locos included several Manning Wardles and two magnificent Beyer Peacock 2-6-2T’s, no’s 25 and 26 which originated on the Southern São Paulo Railway, once a short, isolated metre gauge railway at Santos which later formed a vital part of the EF Sorocabana’s Santos extension which ended the monopoly which the broad gauge São Paulo Railway had enjoyed over traffic to the port at Santos. No. 26, along with 4-6-0 no. 25, lasted into the 1970’s but, sadly, seem both to have been scrapped.
Two of the Manning Wardles are survivors of three 0-6-0ST’s built to work the Davington Light Railway in Kent which served a munitions factory and operated only from 1916 until 1919. It was one of the UK’s few metre gauge railways. All three locos went to Brazil after its closure but it’s not known whether the third one (MW1914/1916) also worked at Imbituba. The two survivors still carry what are very probably their DLR numberplates. Another most interesting loco to survive is an unusual Henschel-built 2-4-4T. It came to Imbituba after service in the docks at Rio de Janeiro. The wheel arrangement may seem unlikely for dock shunters but two were built new for service there by Baldwin and were followed by several more from Henschel.
Another loco believed to have worked at Imbituba is the curious-looking 0-4-2T no. 10 (Baldwin 34113/1909) which was rescued for the museum from display at Lauro Müller. It is reported to have originated on the EF Teresópolis, one of the metre gauge railways running into the mountains north from Rio de Janeiro and originally to have been a rack loco. If this is correct it must have undergone a radical rebuilding at some stage of its career as the locos on the line’s Riggenbach rack section were pure rack machines without any adhesion capability. The only other steam loco which survives in the district is a small 0-4-0ST numbered 2 which is plinthed at the Capivari washery. It is Manning Wardle 375/71 and is presumed to have ended its working days at the washery. It previously worked at the EF Ytuana in São Paulo state and was named “Caramaru”. This was a 950mm gauge railway and it would be interesting to know if the loco has ever been regauged.
The identities of many of the later locos, in particular the EFDTC’s 300 and 400 classes, has never been certain, probably due to the interchange of major parts over the years. The information given is based on what is generally accepted but any corrections or additions would be appreciated!
All-time steam loco list
The Donna Thereza Christina Railway Co. Ltd
1 “Viscount Barbacena” 2-6-0T Hunslet 269/1882
One of these locos, possibly no. 6, was withdrawn from service in about 1894. The others remained in service until at least the 1920’s and are believed to have been scrapped in the 1940’s.
EF Tubarao a Araranguá
1 4-6-0 ALCO 60510/1919, sold or scrapped
1 0-4-0ST Baldwin 1922 No further history known
Companhia Docas Imbituba
2 0-6-0ST Manning Wardle 1915/1916, ex-Davington Light Railway, preserved at Tubarão museum