The International Steam Pages

Steam in Bosnia 2001

Richard Neun visited Bosnia from 19th to 23rd of February 2001 to see active steam. Here is his  report:

KREKA coal mines with the headquarters in Tuzla are using steam still on four of their mines in Tuzla area. It is not really a problem to get a permission to visit these mines but you have to pay for it. When I asked at the headquarters in Tuzla (address is: Mije Kerosevica 1) I was informed that the permit costs 100,-DM. Half an hour later, the chief of the coal mines railway, Sracevic Mustafa, arrived from his office in Bukinje and took me to Bukinje.If you want to go into the mines you need this permit. If you are only interested to take photos outside of the mine when engines are going to Tuzla power plant or to one of the ZBH-stations next to the other mines the expensive permit is not really necessary. But this means you have to be very patient.

In Bukinje well maintained 62 368 was the working engine with also clean 33 064 under steam. Nevertheless at least from Monday to Wednesday the 33 did not move. Several people told us that mines are working only with 30% of their capacities. This seems to be the reason why shunting activities are on a low level as well. Within the engine shed I found 33 503, 62 637, cold but obviously in working order and 62 123 in overhaul. Outside next to the engine shed I found 33 216 and 33 504 dumped.

I was able to get nice shots with 62 368 shunting within the mine, next to the coal loading. Trains to the power plant did not run very regularly. We twice observed the loco running solo in the morning (8.00) to the power plant and returning a few minutes later with empty wagons.

More regular was the impression of the activities in Sikulje. We observed on three days at about 9.30 the active loco 33 236 going with full wagons to Lukavac ZBH-station and returning a few minutes later with empties. The distance is approximately one and a half km or a bit more. There are a few possibilities for shots on the line, for example also with old signals. The mine itself is very modern.

In Mramor, next to the village of Dobrinja, 62 376 was the active engine, also well maintained. There they told us to shunt in the afternoon, I suppose inclusive bringing wagons to the ZBH-station next to the mine. The scenery in Mramor is within the mine much more photogenic than in Sikulje or in Dubrave, which is the fourth KREKA-mine with steam.

Active loco in Dubrave was no longer a 62 but 33 248.

But in Lukavac there is another active steam locomotive: 62 644 of Lukavac soda-factory. The chief of the transport division of this factory allowed us to take photos of the engine. On 22nd of February the loco had to bring wagons to Lukavac station at about 8.00 in the morning.

Banovici mines are still good for different surprises. The permit costs nothing. But you have to ask for it in the administration next to the engine shed in Banovici also if you want to photograph in Oskova. The shunting duties in Oskova narrow gauge part of the system which have been the regular job of a 25 still in autumn last year were now served by a 720 class diesel. Is this the end of steam on the narrow gauge in Banovici? In Oskova was 83-158 steaming as standby. But it was not possible to replace the diesel for us. In Banovici 25-30, 31 and 33 were cold but obviously in working order, Dumped in Banovici we have seen 25-29 and 32 as well as 83-181 cannibalised and 83-159 (obviously still complete).By the way: Most reports claim that 25 class were built by Skoda. This is wrong. They have CKD-makerplates. The overhaul of 83-180 was finished a few weeks ago and the engine is already in Austria. 62 125 is under overhaul. Dumped in Banovici town next to the former narrow gauge station we did found 83-157 (scrap) and 55-99 (0-8-0T, Budapest 1949) plinthed.

In the standard gauge part of Banovici the first days of our visit 62-677 was the working loco. On 22nd of February Skoda-loco 19-12 took over this duty. Dumped in Oskova is still French 144 R03. Best time to take photos in Oskova is the afternoon.

No longer steam activities in Durdevik with well maintained 62 111 dumped. This is a real loss because there are also no longer steam worked trains between Durdevik and Zivinice.

In Kakanj 62 366 was the working loco with 62 020 in the house and 62 031 dumped as scrap outside.I am not really convinced that the US-engine 62-020 is still in working order, but may be.

In Breza 62 672 was the working loco. We were told that this mine owns a second 62.

With the exception of Banovici narrow gauge we have not got the impression that steam locos will be replaced by diesels within the very close future. Especially the railway-chief of KREKA-mines has realised that steam locos are a chance of an additional income. Also the administration in Breza did not confirm reports of plans to purchase diesels. More threatening than diesel-locos may be in the close future decisions to the future of the different mines. May be that there will be closures.

Hotel-price in Tuzla "Dom penzionera" is down to 49,-DM.

Rob Dickinson