FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The last leg

Posted in Karakuyu, Turkey by folkestonejack on October 18, 2014

We left the all too familiar surroundings of Gümüşgün just after 1pm, bound once again for Karakuyu (our third visit during the tour).

On this occasion we were following a freight train rather than delaying one. At our next stop, Keçiborlu, we had to wait twenty minutes for the freight train ahead of us to reach Karakuyu and clear the section before we could proceed. The stop provided a good opportunity to wander and explore the surroundings of the station. It wasn’t too long before some local lads turned up to watch our steam locomotive, albeit being dragged backwards by a diesel!

A brief encounter with Keçiborlu

A brief encounter with Keçiborlu

On the run to Karakuyu we had the opportunity to try a few runpasts with some trees offering a wonderful display of autumnal gold, though the morning’s blue skies and guarantee of sun were now long gone. The sun co-operated just long enough to give us the shots we wanted and we re-boarded for the run through to Karakuyu, passing the wildly overgrown remains of Capali at 2.42pm, before reaching our destination ten minutes later.

The weather was clearly on the turn now, with black clouds in the distance threatening much worse conditions. We spent barely half an hour at Karakuyu, noting the presence of DE 36 005 dropping ballast, before heading back. In the short time we had spent in the station our diesel had been re-positioned to the middle of the consist which must have looked rather odd to any onlooker but suited our needs.

Quick turnaround at Karakuyu

Quick turnaround at Karakuyu

At 3.45pm we stopped at a rural location complete with concrete irrigation canals and beautifully sunlit trees against a rapidly darkening sky. The rain was almost upon us, but we just managed to squeak the runpast in with the very last of the sun’s rays after some particularly speedy work by our tour organiser.

Much credit needs to go to the crew for this shot – it had been the plan to hold a barbeque at Karakuyu but they had been reluctantly persuaded to carry on a little longer whilst we still had the sun, despite their initial pleas that they were so hungry that they couldn’t work any more. Thank you all for delivering a superb photographic opportunity!

Racing the clouds

Racing the clouds

We reached the notorious 401km marker (the scene of yesterday’s long picnic) at 4pm, with the rain just moments away. It turned out to be the perfect spot for another firebox barbeque and we were pleased not to be on the lineside when the rain started hammering down. After an hour at this location we set off again on our return journey to Isparta.

On the return journey the remaining stations were reeled off in quick succession with only brief stops at Bozanonu and the hillside just beyond to delay us. By this point the tour felt like it was on its last legs with just eight photographers left from the original party to clamber out for a last runpast (our one day trippers were sensibly settled inside the carriage and weren’t about to move for a photo in the fading light). We finally made it back into Isparta at 6.48pm.

Our arrival at Isparta signalled the end of my travels by steam through Turkey. I made some hurried farewells and jumped in a taxi for the short drive across town to the Otogar (coach station). My hopes for a speedy departure to Antalya were soon dashed – the next coach was not due to leave until 8pm, giving me an hour to grab some food and kill time looking around the astonishing number of rose-product shops around the terminal.

The domestic transport networks of Turkey are quite fascinating and unlike anything I have seen anywhere else – frequent connections can be made across the country by coach and plane, depending on whether speed us of the essence. It is not difficult to see why it has been difficult for Turkish Railways to compete with their current set up, but with high speed rail there is the chance of carving out a market. It remains to be seen what effect this will have on the rather excellent domestic transport options and the existing sleeper trains in the country, both of which make this an easy country to get around.

The journey south to Antalya took two hours and fifteen minutes, followed by a short tram ride from the Otogar to the old town. I checked in to my hotel at 11pm and collapsed in my ridiculously over-sized room. Time to sleep well!

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