The International Steam Pages
Steam in Bosnia, May 2002
Chris Gee reports on a comprehensive tour with Intra Express - the German group managed and led by Thomas Fischer.
The organisation was excellent with two very knowledgeable Serbian guides and fixers - particularly Zoran Veresic - a Serbian enthusiast who knew the locations well and had arranged permits and special steamings where required. We visited all locations where steam is to be found in regular use.
Sunday 19th May 2002.
We visited the Railovac Locomotive Works of Bosnia Herzegovina National Railways. The works is still recovering from the civil war. It was right in the thick of the fighting being located on what was the front line. There is much evidence of fighting with bullet and shell holes in some of the buildings and trains and we were warned not to wander off into the grass because of the risk of landmines.
Two 760mm gauge steam locomotives are plinthed here, both six-coupled side tanks. One unidentified tank is named BOSNA, with the other numbered 71-022 and identified as a Krauss of 1918.
We then adjourned to Vares Ironworks operated by Rudnik Zeljezera. This ironworks and ore mine has clearly seen better days and appears to be on the brink of closure. Many of the buildings are partly demolished and derelict. The ore mine is closed. Some of the remaining buildings are in use as a foundry for the manufacture of man-hole covers. Rail traffic continues on, but probably not for much longer, with occasional traffic exchanged with the state railway at Vares Station. One 62 is kept in occasional use and on this occasion it was 62 370 in black livery. The locomotive carried out some shunting in the ironworks and ran a short 'charter' up the branch towards the ore mine. A second 62 - 62-320 was cold, but serviceable inside the cramped loco shed and a third 62 - 62-320 was out of use in some sidings close to the ore mine. We also found a redundant 900mm gauge four coupled side tank (Jung 11989 of 1953) on an isolated section of track on top of the ore drops. There was much evidence of a once extensive 900mm and 600mm gauge network. There was once a fourth 62; 62318 allocated here, but this is presumed to have been sold or scrapped.
The last call of the day was to Breza Coal Mine, operated by Rudnik Makog Uglja with 62 672 in use. Painted in a dark green livery, it was shunting coal wagons in the colliery yard. A second 62 (presumed 62 363) was believed to be inside the loco shed which was not visited (out of bounds on this occasion). This coal mine appears to be reasonably busy with plenty of loaded and empty wagons in evidence in the colliery sidings. A thunderstorm and torrential rain made for some typical industrial railway atmospheric shots.
Monday 20th May 2002.
The first visit of the day was to Kakanj Coal Mine worked by RMO Kakanj. Another colliery that clearly sees plenty of rail traffic with two trip workings down the short branch to the national railway exchange sidings. One 62 is kept in use on a regular basis and on this occasion it was 62 366 in dark green livery and lettered 'RMO KAKANJ POGON SEPARICIJA CATACI'. It was busy shunting coal wagons and worked two trips to Kakanj station. A USA built 62 - 62020 was cold, but apparently serviceable inside the small loco shed and a second USA built example 62031 was derelict in the colliery sidings. 62673, once allocated here, was not found and is presumed to have been sold or scrapped.
Next on the itinerary was Zenica Steelworks and Zenica Coal Mine operated by BH Steel, recently privatised. Unfortunately, the steelworks was out of bounds as Turkish NATO troops were apparently garrisoned there (?!). We were able to visit the coal mine and the steelworks locomotive was tripped over to the colliery for photographs. We were informed that the steelworks was operating at about 25% of capacity. 62650 was in steam shunting the colliery sidings and 62383 tripped over with steelworks traffic into the colliery yard. 62633 was in the sidings being prepared for duty the following day. 62648 was stored out of use by the colliery workshops and 62003 (ex Breza Colliery) was stored inside the colliery workshops. There are believed to be another ten class 62s allocated to Kreka steelworks that are still in existence, but these were not seen. A further ten are known to have been allocated here, but are believed to have been scrapped or sold.
Tuesday 21st May 2002.
The first visit of the day was to the Headquarters of Bosnian National Railways in Tuzla where a 760mm gauge Skoda from Banovici Mine is plinthed. 25-26 is on a short section of track in front of the building.
Next visit was to Durdevik Colliery operated by Rudnik Mrkog Uglja. 62-111 in dark green livery was in steam here, although there were no wagons in the colliery sidings. It is, however, used regularly to shunt coal traffic when trains arrive via the national network.
We then adjourned to Banovici Mine proper for the highlight of the day. This extensive system operates a fleet of 760mm and standard gauge locomotives. The mine is operated by Zeljeznik Saobracaj Banovici. We started with a visit to the main 760mm gauge workshops at Banovici, where there is also a drift mine. Skoda six coupled side tank 25-33 (carrying worksplates from 25-32) was in steam in the workshop yard. It was the spare loco for the day and did not move from the yard during our visit. A further three Skodas 25-29, 25-31 and 25-32 are stored derelict along with 0-8-2 tender engine 83-181 in the workshop yard. The diesel shed held 4wD 720-001 and Bo-BoD 740-108. One good sign was one 4wD stripped to the frames, but a second 4wD was under heavy overhaul inside the workshops. More encouraging, however, was the site of 83-159 fully dismantled for overhaul inside the workshops.
Nearby at the former narrow gauge national railway station, two locomotives are plinthed. 55-99, an eight coupled side tank of Hungarian origin, in excellent condition and 83-157 in poor condition.
We then drove the short distance to Oskava Separation Plant. The higher level line - the 760mm gauge - serves the separation plant where coal is screened and dropped into standard gauge wagons on the lower level for despatch via the national network. The Skoda side tanks and sometimes one of the 83 class locos are used here on a regular basis to position wagons in the discharge shed. 25-30 was the active Skoda during our visit. 83-158 was also present in steam and used on a 'charter' stores train between Oskava and the mine at Griviza. Also on the narrow gauge in the running shed was diesel 740-113 and operating coal trains between Griviza and Oskava was diesel 740-107. The diesels normally operate this coal traffic with the steam locos being used very much by exception. Another diesel was found at Griviza Mine 720-002. The line between Oskava and Griviza mine is 5.7km long an passes through Banovici town centre. It is double track, although only one line is currently used. Our charter used the normally disused line.
One the standard gauge at Oskava 62677 in green livery was busy shunting the sidings and positioning standard gauge wagons beneath the screens. 62125 was cold, but serviceable inside the loco shed and Skoda six coupled side tank 19-12 was under overhaul outside. It appears to be nearing completion, although its side tanks were detached. The French Fives Lille built eight coupled tank 144 R 03 continues to rust in the headshunt on the lower level.
Wednesday 22nd May 2002.
The day was spent on the Kreka Mines system operated by Rudniki Kreka. The first visit of the day was to the main workshops at Bukinje. The workshops are located adjacent to Bukinje Mine. Kriegslok 33-064 in black livery was in steam and departed at 09.10 with a long train of coal wagons for the nearby power station. It returned with empties from the power station at 09.40. 62 376 in black livery was also in steam positioning wagons in the adjacent colliery yard and making up the train for the Kriegslok. The workshops contained Kriegslok 33-236 receiving minor repairs and 33-503 partly stripped for heavy overhaul. Also inside the workshops were 62123 and 62368 receiving minor attention. A third Kriegslok 33-504 was derelict outside.
We then moved on to nearby Mramor Lignite Mine where 62637 in black livery was busy shunting the sidings.
Next up was Sikulje Lignite Mine with 33216 in black livery busy positioning coal wagons beneath the loading bunkers and making up a train for despatch behind diesel 661 305 which arrived from the national network.
Finally, we called in at Dubrave Mine where 33248 in black livery was in steam. Each of the four mines is busy enough to require a daily steam allocation to make up trains for despatch via the national network.
Two Kriegsloks are known to have been scrapped - 33501 and 33505 and 62378 is also believed to have been disposed of.
At lunchtime, we paid a visit to the loco shed of the nearby Lukavac Soda Factory. 62638 in green livery was in steam shunting chemical tank wagons and 62644 was in the sidings cold, but serviceable. The shed is located within a fan of sidings outside the gates of the factory. By special arrangement, a Belgian diesel from the nearby Boris Kidric Aluminium Factory dragged a Belgian built eight coupled tank 13 (Energie of 1952) from that factory into the sidings of the Lukavac soda factory for photographs. 13 has been used as a stationary boiler in recent years, but its current appearance suggests it no longer serves that purpose. We did not visit the Aluminium Factory, but it is known to have another Energie loco - 12 and once had an allocation of three class 62s.
That evening we crossed the border into Serbia (Yugoslavia).
Most of the class 62 locomotives carry worksplates, but many are illegible having been painted over many times in the past or never stamped in the first place.