FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The last steam train in the Taurus mountains

Posted in Çiftehan, Turkey by folkestonejack on September 11, 2015

The last few hours of our tour brought us back to the impressively rocky landscape between Pozanti and Gümüş which continued to offer so many different perspectives that we were all kept very busy, with the odd spot of rock climbing to get to a more impressive shot. I was glad to see blue skies and sun make an appearance – a fitting end to what will most likely be the last steam hauled train in the Taurus mountains after around 100 years of steam action here.

TCDD 56 548: Last steam locomotive in the Taurus mountains?

TCDD 56 548: Last steam locomotive in the Taurus mountains?

Quite apart from the fact that this is the last operational steam locomotive on the main line and that the electrification will deter future photographers, it is quite clear that this line is far busier than anyone expected and it is very difficult to fit a steam charter in between all the service trains. I can’t see TCDD agreeing to a repeat in the future even were it desirable! To adapt the familiar saying, the clock has been sat at a minute to midnight throughout our tour…

The crew of twelve railwaymen on our tour have to be applauded for all the hard work they have put in, with some pretty tough working conditions – even on a cold day the footplate can be a fearsomely hot place of work, but in temperatures of 40+ degrees it must be hellish. The crew have come from across the Turkish network and this is a real change from their day jobs (for example driving diesel multiple units on commuter services) and they enjoy this tremendously.

After we leave the crew have the job of getting the train back to Izmir and this will take three days, including one overnight shift (the stretch of track between Konya and Karaman is closed in the daytime for engineering works, but opens at 11pm each night to let freight services through). It certainly puts our more relaxed journeys home into perspective!

TCDD 56 548 steams through the rocky landscape between Çiftehan and Gümüş

TCDD 56 548 steams through the rocky landscape between Çiftehan and Gümüş

Most of the participants on the tour were catching trains from Çiftehan and heading home via Adana and Kayseri respectively. A few guys were sticking around to photograph diesels on the line (quite rightly pointing out that it was the last chance to photograph diesels in the mountains before electrification spoils the beauty of the line). They were sure that no photographers had ever taken shots of diesels between some of these tunnels and were determined to capture this before electrification. It sounded like a brave endeavour and I hope they succeed.

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