The International Steam Pages

Steam Back on the Rack in Slovakia, 2014

The 2015 operating timetable is available on, thanks to Alex Jesserer for this (1st April 2015).

Many rack railways in Europe were built as tourist operations and a few survive with steam, these are listed in the Hill Railways (Rack / Cog Railways) section of this website. As for those which had a 'proper' purpose, they have just faded away. Perhaps the most famous was that at Vordernberg (see 'Bashing the Iron Mountain Part 1 Summer 1971 and Part 2 Winter 1876') and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia I had a tantalising glimpse in passing of steam on the Komar Pass and more famously there was a narrow gauge rack section over the Ivan Pass.

Elsewhere in the Austro-Hungarian Empire there were two notable rack sections for both of which the term rural backwater could have been invented. In today's Romania, the secondary line between Subcetate and Boutari had rack on the steepest sections. A 1973 journey on the line is described on, The pictures below of CFR 40.002 courtesy of Ing. Svatopluk Šlechta were taken on 8th June 1977 and the line closed soon afterwards, there was no freight traffic and a good bus service ran on the parallel road.

In today's Slovakia similarly, part of the Brezno – Tisovec line between Tisovec and Pohronská Polhora has a 16km Abt section which has now seen a steam revival. The connection between these last two lines is the Austro Hungarian Class 40 rack locomotive which worked both lines. While the Slovakian versions disappeared long ago, CFR 40.004 survives in Sibu Museum and 40.006 (and sister locomotive 40.003) were sold into preservation in Slovakia. Now renumbered to its original MAV number 4296, the locomotive has been returned to service and is available for charter trains from October 2014.  

Two special trains were run initially on 30th September 2014 (for IGE) and 4th October 2014 (for the general public). There is a YouTube video covering both - The first was blessed with an almost cloudless sky while the second was extremely damp. Readers will have no trouble discerning on which day each pictures was taken.

The first selection is from Thomas Anton:

These are stills form the YouTube video by Petr Holub and Tomas Sluka and are used with permission.

Rob Dickinson