FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Mokra Gora and the Šargan 8

Posted in Mokra Gora, Serbia, Šargan by folkestonejack on October 21, 2011

Our arrival at Mokra Gora late last night gave us little chance to get a good feel for the place, but in the morning light we could see the remarkable set up from the windows of the station hotel which sits at one end of the platform. The range of buildings in the station complex includes a ticket office, restaurant and hotel – with many more buildings under construction around the site. It is clearly a major tourist draw in the region, but it is also a quite remarkable achievement of re-construction.

A class 83 0-8-2 locomotive on the 760 mm gauge line at Mokra Gora

The narrow gauge line was opened in 1925 and is remarkable for its track layout. In order to get from Mokra Gora to Šargan in a straight line would have involved a 70% ascent that would only have been possible for a rack railway or something similar. Instead the track was built in the shape of a figure of 8, rising at a steady gradient of 18% through the mountainous terrain. This much is evident to the eye at some viewpoints where you can see three levels of the line at once. This unique feature gives the line its name of “Šargan Eight” today.

The Sargan Eight

In its heyday you could have travelled from Belgrade to Sarajevo by narrow gauge train. It must have been one of the greatest rail journeys in the world at the time, particularly in the Serbian mountains and on the long stretches of line running alongside the Bosnian river valleys. Anywhere else and it would have been made a major tourist attraction but instead the line was closed in 1974.

Most services today are hauled by diesels: L45H-098 on a passenger service at Mokra Gora

The reconstruction of the line between Šargan and Mokra Gora began in 1999 and the first train ran out of Šargan in 2003. After this section of the line re-opened work continued on a further cross-border extension to Visegrad in Bosnia. The inaugural train on the line to Visegrad ran in September 2011. It is incredibly impressive to see the amount of work that has taken place – and is still going on.

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