The International Steam Pages

Steam in Bosnia 2018

Rob Pritchard reports on his latest visit (18th October 2018).

A full half-century after steam ended on BR, the Tuzla area in Bosnia still offers this as an everyday experience. Steve Newman (party leader), Andy Freyne and I spent a week there in late September/earlyOCtober 2018 when we saw six working locomotives divided equally between standard gauge and the traditional Bosnian760mm. All were ex-mainline tender locomotives except for one0-6-0T. We are grateful to Terry Wallace (who was unable to join us) for helping with the arrangements through his contact Majda Mujanović Babović.

Flights from the UK to Tuzla airport having ceased, this year's cheapest option was Dubrovnik in Croatia, 360km further away via predominantly twisting single-carriageway mountain roads. We broke the northbound drive by staying at Trebinje in Bosnia just across the border, viewing plinthed 83-056 beside the main road through the town on 28th September, and dipping into Serbia to spend the second night at Poega. The main problem in both these towns was identifying the hotel from its Cyrillic name which did not feature on the booking confirmation! We reached RMU Banovići's Hotel Zlača 5km up the trackbed of the former Konjuh Forestry Railway on 30th September and spent the remaining five nights there. Apart from Sarajevo's micro-climate of trapped wood smoke, the weather was mainly sunny but cold enough for good steam effects against a backdrop of autumn colours.

All three mining railways in the Tuzla area were pleasingly busy except while we were at Oskova until mid-afternoon on 1/10. We kept moving between them but there was no obvious pattern to train movements which seemed toOCcur as required. The following details include some cumulative summaries.​

Kreka Mines, ikulje (30/9, 2/10)

This is the least satisfactory steam location because the Kriegslok mostly works away from public reach at the headshunt while it propels the empties over the weighbridge and then repositions them ready for filling. Logic suggests it sometimes reaches the other end to assemble loaded trains but we did not witness that. If so, it would be photographable but it did not come closer than its stabling point and it was eventually identified from the tender number 33-503. The Tuzla - Doboj railway runs alongside but it is in clear view of the gatehouse.

Kreka Mines, Dubrave (29/9, 30/9, 1/10, 2/10, 3/10)

Here a public lane crosses the tracks converging on the headshunt. It is also possible to approach the limit of shunt on foot at the other end. A third vantage point is the outer conveyor belt bridge but only in dry weather. The FBH diesel arrives with empties, uncouples and returns to the other end to take a loaded train. The Kriegslok then draws the empties along a tree-lined headshunt, pushes them back across the weighbridge and repositions them for loading. Afterwards it tends to go straight to the other end to move half or full rakes of loaded wagons. Otherwise it stables almost out of sight near a small p.w. vehicle. Initially the working Kriegslok was 33-236 but we were told a changeover was due at 07.00 on 2ndOCtober. We managed to miss this but a mainline diesel probably towed 33-248 from Bukinje Works to be steamed at the mine and returned with 33-236. A steam locomotive was at Dubrave by 09.15 and it was definitely 33-248 at 14.15. Once at either mine the 2-10-0 is kept in steam continuously with the beneficial side effect of reducing thermal stress in the boiler. Shunting at Dubrave can be achieved with a steady pressure of 10 bar (140 psi) although the red line on the gauge is 16 bar (225 psi). 

Both crews were friendly and sought little or no reward. Suggested tips range from the requested pivo (beer) to 5 or 10 Bosnian marks each (1 = 2BAM) depending on the degree of co-operation. Remember a crew consists of driver, fireman and shunter. Restoran Boris on the main road is a convenient place to while away quiet periods with a beer, coffee or snack.

JP Elektroprivreda, Bukinje Works, Tuzla (1/10, 2/10)

We were only able to view from outside. This is the semi-independent works where the Kriegsloks, now in their mid-70s, are maintained and overhauled. Five remain active. The usual practice is to have one undergoing a leisurely overhaul, one receiving maintenance for which a fortnight is available, one spare and two at the mines. There is also a dump presumably still comprising 62-123, 62-376, 62-637, 62-368 and 33-216. The Metalna 12wD previously stored at the other side was not investigated.

33-248 was outside the two-road main building looking dead on 1/10 and 33-504 instead on 2/10. The former having reached Dubrave, 33-236 must have gone inside for maintenance leaving 33-064 as the one undergoing overhaul.

RMU Banovići, Grivice Mine (30/9)

This is the first opencast mine above Banovići, situated where the double-track760mm gauge railway from Oskova ends before continuing singly to Turija. 720-002 was in fume accompanied by loaded coal wagons. The driver, delighted by our interest, ran it up and down without being asked.

RMU Banovići, Banovići Works and Depot (1/10)

Entrance cost 15 on the spot including access to the narrow gauge lines at Oskova. There was no locomotive inside the main works. 720-002 (seen working the previous day) was in the diesel shed. 83-158 was in steam in the yard sporting a newly overhauled/repainted air brake controller in the cab. 25-30, 55-99 and 740-108 were dead. 25-29, 25-31, 25-32, 83-157 (presumed), 83-181 (per tender) and the MIN rail lorry were all derelict with half a Class 740/2 frame and what looked like a spare Class 740/1 cab also present.


83-158 was still in steam when seen from outside on 3/10 and 4/10. On 3rd it ran up and down a couple of times while 720-001 passed on the running line to complete its own class.

732-195 was in sole charge of standard gauge shunting. A gleaming new coat of paint and a healthy sound from the engine suggest the long-awaited overhaul has recently taken place. Yet again it was too dangerous to get close enough to read the ĐĐ works number.

62-125 was just inside the standard gauge shed with 19-12 behind it, except on the final day when both were outside. 62-125 then had a washout plug missing and the erosion of the coal dust between the rails suggested that at least one locomotive had recently been washed out. When examined three days earlier on 1/10, 19-12 had some minor fittings missing, presumably away for repair, and there was water on the floor below the injector overflow. 

62-677 remained derelict under the gantry beyond the shed with 144R 03 likewise in the yard.

On the narrow gauge, all three large diesels 740-107, 740-108 and 740-113 were active but never more than two at a time. The standard of maintenance of these machines is exceptional and has to be.

The principal narrow gauge shunter was 83-159 accompanied by 720-003 on lighter work and amazingly, also 25-30 with all three in use simultaneously on 2/10. The 83, which seems to be single-manned, is preferred for hauling loaded coal trains from the arrival yard and at least starting the discharge process. The 740s are allowed close enough to collect the empties directly.

Banovići museum compound (2/10, 3/10)

25-33 remains plinthed in good condition.

GIKIL Lukavac Coking Plant (2/10)

This appeared to be operating normally after recently reported operating difficulties. 732-127 emerged at 11.20 with a string of wagons.

RMU Đurđevik (2/10)

62-111 was still out of use. The branch to the main line is overgrown and probably impassable near the level crossing at ivinice.

Zavidovići (3/10)

A pleasant hour's drive took us to this small town where we found a760mm gauge 0-6-2T preserved under an awning complete with both works plates Krauss 4379/1901. It is inside the grounds of church-like building (actually the old Eissler & Ortlieb manager's villa) with a spectacular roof of green glazed tiles near the concrete island that passes for the standard gauge station.

Closing thought

Taking Serbia into account as well as Bosnia, by far the commonest steam, diesel or electric traction we encountered was the classic760mm gauge Class 83 0-8-2. This was introduced as long ago as 1903, only twenty-five years after the first tentative army field railway worked by 0-4-0WTs. We saw two derelict examples, two plinthed, two cosmetically restored, two at a tourist railway and two still in service. Could there be a better memorial to the Austro-Hungarian Empire?

Locomotive details mainly from published sources (standard gauge unless described otherwise)


0-6-0T OC koda  1912/1948
25-29 760mm gauge 0-6-0T OC ČKD 2529/1949
25-30  760mm gauge 0-6-0T OC ČKD 2530/1949
25-31  760mm gauge 0-6-0T OC ČKD 2531/1949
25-32  760mm gauge 0-6-0T OC ČKD 2532/1949
25-33 760mm gauge 0-6-0T OC ČKD 2533/1949
33-216 (ex-J) 2-10-0 OC DWM 641/1943
33-236 (ex-J) 2-10-0 OC Hen; 28142/1944
33-248 (ex-J) 2-10-0 OC MBA; 13830/1943
33-503 2-10-0 OC DWM 811/1944
33-504 2-10-0 OC Hen 28113/1943
55-99 760mm gauge 0-6-0T OC MĀVAG*; 5599/1947
62-111 (ex-J) 0-6-0T OC ĐĐ
62-123 (ex-J) 0-6-0T OC ĐĐ
62-125 (ex-J) 0-6-0T OC ĐĐ
62-368 0-6-0T OC ĐĐ 368
62-376 0-6-0T OC ĐĐ 376
62-637 0-6-0T OC ĐĐ 637
62-677 0-6-0T OC ĐĐ 677
83-056 (ex-J) 760mm gauge 0-8-2 OC Jung 3538/1923
83-157 (ex-J) 760mm gauge 0-8-2 OC ĐĐ 52/1948
83-158 (ex-J) 760mm gauge 0-8-2 OC ĐĐ 53/1948
83-159 (ex-J) 760mm gauge 0-8-2 OC ĐĐ 54/1948
83-181 (ex-J) 760mm gauge 0-8-2 OC ĐĐ 137/1949
144R 03 0-8-0 OC Fives Lille 5234/1954
720-001 760mm gauge BDH Banovići /c.1992
720-002 760mm gauge BDH Banovići /c.1992
720-003 760mm gauge BDH Banovići /c.2001
732-127 (ex-J?) CDH ĐĐ 826/1981
732-195 (ex-J?) CDH ĐĐ
740-107 (ex-J) 760mm gauge B-BDH ĐĐ 892/1971
740-108 (ex-J) 760mm gauge B-BDH ĐĐ; 893/1971
740-113 (ex-J) 760mm gauge B-BDH ĐĐ; 899/1971
740-2.... 760mm gauge B'BDH MIN /1987
760mm gauge 4wDRL MIN
4wDRL  (VW?)
[*definitely plated MAGYAR ĀLLAMI VAS-ACĒL ĒS GĒPGYĀRAK but with the wrong works number/date combination 5844/1949].


Rob Dickinson