The International Steam Pages
Residual Steam Locomotives in Georgia
Please see also additional information from Torsten Schneider from his visit in July/August 2005 (pictures added 8th October 2005)
John Athersuch took these pictures in July/August 1995, the additional information came from Keith Chester and Ian Button:
Poti on the Black Sea coast - plinthed outside railway station
Zestaponi (near Shoripani on the road from Poti to
Samtredia) - plinthed
on roadside to North of main railway line
Samtredia - plinthed in yard opposite station near old roundhouse
Kutasi - dumped in siding South of main road bridge
Comments on the four steam loco survivors in the 1995/2004 entry:
1) Poti (Black Sea): the loco still exists, on plinth, but not outside the station, but in the yard about 500 m to the right of the station near the shed. On the outside, its supposed number "** 210" (Gr 210) is no longer identifiable after a repaint, and inside the cab the boiler plates are missing. The friendly staff could not give any details. Under ”Georgia” the Russian website (www.parovoz.com/narrow/indexe.php link dead 26th April 2014) mentions only a 3 km 750 mm shortlived (1987 to 1991) children's railway in Poti, but in the ”Gr” entry it contains a 1952 photo showing Gr 210 at ”Poodi”, which is Poti, I guess, so that there obviously was in 750 mm line in Poti though it is not mentioned in the ”Georgia” entry. Compared to 1995 it looks a lot smarter!
2) Samtredia: "bBH-9775" (1520 mm gauge) is no longer in the yard opposite the station, but has been put on a plinth at the far end of the station court, been repainted with the marking "9775", with no further details identifiable inside and outside.
3) Kutasi (=Kutaisi ?)/Samtredia: at Kutaisi we found no steam loco (supposedly Eu -713-69, 1520 mm gauge) and nobody we asked knew of one. However, in Samtredia in the yard opposite the station, where I had first gone for the above 9775 before I spotted it at its present position, stands the rusty shell of an abandoned main line 0-10-0. The plates inside the cab were too worn to read. On the left side of the cab there was something like 077?-66?? With some misreadings this could be what's left of a SDZ computer number (class Eu got the code 1037, followed by a four-digit order number), or of Eu -713-69. But then, are the remaining dome and the tender on my photo really the same as on the 1995 photo ? If yes, maybe the loco was in Samtredia even in 1995, but compared to 1995 the loco has definitely been moved as can be seen from the positions of the wheels.
By the way, the depot near Kutasi I station (the terminus off the main line) is still the base of the veteran VL22m electric locos, built from 1941. Probably only two are still operational, blue 1204 and recently repainted green 1664. They had (unfortunately for me) just been withdrawn from their very last scheduled service, the passenger trains from Kutaisi II (the main line station) to Tskhaltubo, but are still used for local freight and shunting, including sometimes helping out in Samtredia and Zestaponi. Also reduced to shunting duties as a reprieve at various places all over the country are the last remaining VL8 electric double-locos, first introduced in 1953.
4) Shorapani near Zestaponi, which however is not on the Poti-Samtredia road but further east between Kutaisi and
Khashuri. "** No 45" (750 mm gauge) is still there, visible from the main road on the other side of the river. To get to it, cross river for example at
Zestaponi. Best light in the morning. My first impression approaching the faded number was it is "245", but on the 1995 photo it appears to read No45. The boiler plates in the cab are missing. Actually, I am still not sure about the number. Three Reasons: (1) My first impression. (2) During superficial restoration of the sister loco in Batumi (see below) a wrong number was applied, on the other sister loco at Poti the number was simply omitted. Correct reproduction of numbers obviously is not so important. Similarly, the "o" in "** No 45" may originally have been the top part of a "2" or "3", making it maybe "** N.245" (like e.g. on the Ukrainian "*P-6 N.286" in
Irshava). (3) The locos on the pictures in the ”Gr” entry of the Russian website all carry 3-digit numbers, for example 001 and 090. Maybe Keith Chester can again comment on this issue.
Further three steam loco survivors:
1) Batumi (Black Sea): plinthed outside "Batumi Station" (actually the centre of operations a few hundred metres from the southern end of the line, while the present provisional passenger station is 6 km to the north outside Batumi) is recently repainted Gr 258 (750 mm gauge, built in 1950 by Lokomotivfabrik Karl Marx, Babelsberg No.8049 according to the boiler plates in the cab). Like with the two Gr's at Poti and Shorapani it has no tender. On the left side of the cab one can just about guess a painted over number "** 285", but depot staff said that this is likely to be wrong since an earlier repaint. We were told that the loco came from Shorapani (see above) more than 10 years ago. However, pictures from 1981 on the Russian website show it (and Gr 268) at Gori (see below). We were also told that there once existed a narrow gauge line from near the northern end of Batumi into the city centre, but they did not know any details, and there is no mention of it on the Russian website (http://www.parovoz.com/indexe.php link dead by 26th April 2014).
2) Borjomi (Central Georgia): A loco with number "b* 48" (900 mm gauge, Kolomna No.44874, 1914) is on a plinth at the level crossing on the road to Bakuriani, a few hundred metres from the station. The "b" in "b*" really is no "b", but a cyrillic "pronounce soft" sign, so that "b*" should probably be transliterated as something between P and B. Today the 38 km 900 mm gauge Borjomi to Bakuriani line, supposedly the only public electric narrow gauge line on the territory of the former Soviet Union, is served by Czechoslovak-made TshS11m electric locos featuring one central cab.
3) Tbilisi: A 750 mm gauge 0-4-0, numbered "AK1721", is exhibited at the ticket office of the Mushtaidi Park railway, a 1.5 km 750 mm gauge former children's railway, at present operated by a Tu7 diesel loco. A plate on the cab reads in Georgian script "first steam locomotive in the world on a children's railway in Tbilisi". The loco is placed under dense trees. There seem to be no steam loco survivors at either Tbilisi main station or state railway depot.
Regarding this locomotive, Harvey Smith informs me that the book Narrow Gauge
Steam Locomotives - Russia by Leonid Moskalev, Vladimir Bochenkov, Sergei Dorozhkov
states on page 167 that this is a Jung:
1) Gori (Eastern Georgia): on the way to a historical cave city we passed a railway maintenance shop (though I am not sure what they actually did). From the road I spotted two 1520 mm industrial diesels, and therefore "had" to get in. Surprisingly there was also narrow (750 mm) and mixed gauge (three rail) track, and two Tu8 narrow gauge diesels still in use. Thus, the 1981 photo of Gr 258 today in Batumi may show it either on repair or, more likely, as works loco in Gori.
2) Khashuri: to annoy steam purists, at the western end of the station electric loco VL19-01 (Dynamo Moscow, 1932) is displayed. Best light late afternoon. A veteran in is own right, a class SR3 electric railcar commutes on the 5 km secondary line to Surami. Khashuri also had a 750 mm railway, under ”Geogia” on the Russian website there are undated photos of Gr 282, 307, and 318.