The International Steam Pages

Steam in the former Yugoslavia 2007

This report covers visits by Tim Murray (immediately below) and James Waite.


Monday 12th November 2007
Visited Breza coal mine late morning. 62 in steam and wagons loading. Told nothing would move until 5pm to 6pm
Visited Catici coal mine in afternoon. 62 went off light to exchange sidings and brought back a set of empties.
Weather cold, dull and a bit of rain drove to spend night at hotel in forest at Banovici. We made this our base until Friday as all other places are accessible from here.

Tuesday 13th November 2007.
Cold clear frosty morning. At Banovici the standard gauge was being shunted by a 62; the narrow gauge by an 83. Got some good early morning shots and then moved onto Lukavac. Arrived at about 10.15am just as the soda factory 62 was pulling a train of containers from the exchange sidings to the works in brilliant weather. Then it retired to its stabling point. Ascertained that the 33 at Sikulje was not bringing in its fulls TF until about 4pm, so visited other sites for recky. Arrived back at 3.45 as the 33 came in with its fulls. It then ran around and went back CF with set of empties. The Dubrave 33 was not due to move its loaded train to the exchange sidings until 5.30pm. Visited Durdevik mine and saw 62 being lit up. Told that it would go to the exchange siding in the morning at 5.30am!

Wednesday 14th November 2007
Called in at Durdevik at about 6.30am to be told that the loco would probably move at about 7.30am. Went to the exchange loop and found that a set of fulls from Banovici was having problems with the brakes on the diesel. It finally sorted things out at about 8.45am. Drove back to Durdevik and found that the 62 had some minor injector problems. Finally it set off at about 9.30am and arrived at exchange loop at about 9.45am. Then followed the highlight of the trip. It ran back to the mine with a set of empties in perfect light. It had such a struggle that we were able to get 5 shots of it and this is the most scenic line in the area.
In the afternoon the light went and we returned to dull cold weather. Saw 33 at Sikulje at same time.

Thursday 15th November 2007
Weather dull and cold. Decided to concentrate on Banovici and got the 83 and 62 shunting. In the afternoon saw the 33 shunting at Dubrave but not due to go to exchange until 5.30pm. Returned to Banovici to find the other 83 there light engine and they swapped them over for shunting at about 4.30pm.

Friday 16th November 2007
Weather dull and cold. Joined the Far Rail charter from Banovici with two 83s and empties up to the far mine. Many run pasts and then came back TF with a set of fulls.


Saturday 17th November 2007
Vreoci . Weather dull and cold but with 3inches of snow. Both 62s were shunting and, as it was a Saturday, one 62 took fulls up to the exchange sidings and returned with empties at 13.30. One of the narrow gauge 53 decauvilles has been moved to the yard area and was sat on an overhead maintenance wagon.

Overall plenty to see but, at this time of year, a lot can run after dark although you can get a couple of good runs if the weather plays ball. The countries are still cheap and both Belgrade and Sarajevo are interesting cities with trams.

James Waite reports on a November 2007 visit:

Friday 9 November

Arrived Belgrade airport at noon, picked up the hire car and were at Kostolac by 2.00pm. Greeted by the genial Mr. Milosevic who had forewarned us by letter that the railway had not started operating for the winter but we were welcome to look round the shed after being entertained to coffee. The shed is undergoing repair. Much of the roof has been recovered and the upper part of the building painted pale blue - a great change from its previous dilapidated condition. The rendering on the bottom part was being refurbished while we were there. There's now a large painting of one of the locos on one of the end walls of the shed. Inside no's 9, 13 and 12 were in the running shed polished up for the FarRail group visit two days later. No. 14 was in the repair shop and no. 10 was dumped outside in the same position as when I was last there two years ago. Spent the night at the Hotel Obrenovac, near Vreoci. Very friendly people but it's a totally unreformed communist-era large hotel, falling apart at the seams, almost literally in some places and urgently in need of a makeover. We were the only people in the restaurant for both supper and breakfast. The door of our room was almost impossible to open, the aircon had died and we had a choice of roasting with their overactive central heating or opening the window, listening to the roar of the traffic outside and letting in the pollution from the town's two power stations. Didn't sleep well!

Saturday 10 November

Joined the FarRail group at Vreoci mainly for the planned steaming of no. 53-017, the last serviceable Decauville on the 900mm gauge system. The loco had been brought down to Vreoci from its usual shed at Rudovci but efforts to steam it and overnight repairs were in vain. No's 62-117 and 62-635 were in steam and shunting the standard gauge yard. 

It is said that that standard gauge steam is due to finish here in June 2008. We went up to Rudovci mid-morning where 53-018 had been pulled out of the shed (by electric loco no. 7, built in 1942, 11 years before the Decauvilles and believed to be the oldest electric loco in Serbia). 

Back to Vreoci for some more photography of the 62's at midday after which we left the group and set off for Bosnia. Found 83-182 (Šuro Šacović 138/1948) preserved at Lajkovac, a few km south of Vreoci, by the road to Valjevo. Took the wrong turning at Valjevo (no signposting, or maybe it was just bad map reading!) and ended up on the mountain road to Usice high above the snow line at over 1,000m up. Quite spectacular sunset here, the most interesting photos of the trip! Reached Banovici around 7.00pm and called in at the standard gauge yard for a quick look at 62-125 shunting. Were invited up into the cab where we stayed for well over an hour. Intrigued to see a whisp of steam up in the narrow gauge yard as we were setting off. Reached the excellent Hotel Zlaca in the forest about 9.55pm, just in time for supper before the restaurant closed at 10.00pm. The food, and indeed the whole hotel, were as good as ever.

Sunday 11 November.

Up at dawn to visit the narrow gauge yard. Delighted to find 83-158 shunting the yard, so the report  that steam operation has finished here needs amending! Long coffee break in the control room. 

The ng currently works on a 24 hours/7 days a week basis, regularly with steam. 

Around 9.00am left for Bukinje to pick up our permits for the Tuzla area (we'd set this up in advance, essential if you're there at a weekend as the office isn't manned). No. 62-637 in steam and no. 33-216 cold, but looking serviceable, outside the shed. Several other locos dumped. The chap looking after the site didn't have the key to the shed so we couldn't go in. Moved on to Dubrave colliery where no. 33-248 was shunting - nicely cleaned and looking good. Back to Banovici for some photography early afternoon and a footplate trip on 83-158 before returning to Bukinje around 3.00pm - nothing had moved since the morning. Drove back to Obrenovac arriving early evening. We had a fellow diner this time, a room whose door opened and aircon which worked but the latter complained so loudly we eventually opted for the traffic noise and the product of the power stations instead. Apparently the power stations supply heating to the town - I fancy they must have a surplus!

Monday 12 November

Belgrade must have some of the worst morning rush hour traffic in Europe. Eventually got to the MPD to see the three preserved locos used for the summer excursions there before heading back to the airport.

Rob Dickinson