The International Steam Pages

Narrow Gauge Steam in Romania 2015

Kevin Hoggett reports on a joint PTG / LCGB trip in September/October 2015.

We’re just back from a tour of Romanian narrow gauge railways (with PTG/LCGB) so I thought you may like some notes on the situation. We visited several locations as follows:

1. Brad-Cricior + workshops.

We had a photo hopper train with Resita 0-8-0T no.5. A lot of stuff at the works, steam diesel and electric locos, the remains of the Jersey railway Sentinel railcar, Surprise was the electric and diesel locos from the Mariazellerbahn – one was being restored, and some days later, we found it on display at Viseu de Sus.

2. The fledgling preserved line at Cormandel, near Sibiu

They had hired 764-243, MAVAG 2832 of 1911 and a coach from Cricior to run their first trains on a 4 km section. Very enthusiastic, but lots to do before regular trains run.

3. Comandau

764-243 had been transported in for a photo run on the remaining 7km of line – in very bad state, can’t last much longer. Lots of derelict stock, in the shed were 763-247, the 4-6-0T & 2 0-8-0T’s + one diesel – we had to look through the broken windows, they said no one had a key.

4. Covasna

About 3km of track left up to the foot of the incline on which irregular tourist trains run. 764-243 had been transported down and ran here with 2x 4-wheel coaches. The incline has almost returned to nature – pity, especially since its Unesco listed.

5. Moldavita

A fairly regular tourist operation here on 10km of line restored by CFI. 2x locos in steam, 764-431, Resita 1957, pulled our passenger train & 764-404R, Reghin 1984 a photo freight.

6. Viseu de Sus,

The tourist service is a huge success, in summer it runs every day, sometimes as many as five trains. This time of year, one train is sufficient 4 days a week, but we saw 2 extra coaches added to satisfy demand. “new”, relatively modern coaches with large picture windows have been obtained from Switzerland and form the mainstay for these services which run to Paltin, where a large picnic site has been constructed. Viseu is now a strange combination of working wood yard and preserved station, with plinthed locos including 763 193, the Krauss 0-6-0T which was recently listed as working. 764-449 “Ioana” was working the tourist train. Our group (only 14 of us) had 2 charter trains – a mixed with one coach (for us) with 764-421 “Elvetia”, Resita 1959, and a train of empty bogies and van with 764-408 ‘Cozia 1” Reghin 1987. Mainly for photo run pasts. They told us that the daily timber production train is sometimes steam hauled in winter, when the steam locos have a better grip than the diesels or if they have cash problems to buy diesel fuel: wood for the steam locos is free! So working steam is not quite dead, and on the first night there we had proof: Half of the group elected to stay in a loggers cabin in the forest overnight, while the other half preferred to return to Viseu with Cozia 1 and van. On the way down, just as it was getting dark, we pulled into Glimboaca, 16km from Viseu. There had been a message on the radio to take three loaded bogie-pairs down to Viseu! Meanwhile, some of the passengers had hitched a lift on a passing draissine (Mercedes minibus on rails), so the three of us who stuck with steam had the honour of riding a real revenue earning steam hauled freight, not done specially for enthusiasts! This was magic! I have enclosed a photo, taken just before total dark set in, of Cozia 1 with this authentic train waiting to leave. At Viseu, Cozia 1 stopped before the shed, uncoupled and went on the side. The loaded wagons then ran by gravity into the timber yard. Next morning, they took us back up the line in a Ford Transit draissine, including a trip right to the end on the Ukraine border. The southern line, which branches off at a triangle junction about 10km from Viseu is now disused.

Rob Dickinson