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
Tuesday 13th November 2007.
Wednesday 14th November 2007
Thursday 15th November 2007
Friday 16th November 2007
Saturday 17th November 2007
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.