FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Steamless in Sofia

Posted in Bulgaria, Sofia by folkestonejack on May 14, 2016

Our steam tour was to begin with a relatively limited photographic session with the express locomotive 05.01 moving around under steam at Sofia Depot. However, this proved to be more limited than anyone expected…

05.01 outside the shed at Sofia Depot

05.01 outside the shed at Sofia Depot

When we turned up at the depot we were delighted to see 05.01 basking in the sun but it soon became clear that there was a problem with the locomotive and that she couldn’t move under her own steam. Instead, a diesel shunter was called in to move the locomotive into photo positions on the turntable and on the line from the shed.

The locomotive had not seen use for nine months before our visit and was working fine when they steamed it up two days before our visit for a test run. It was only when they moved it into position today that they found that they couldn’t close the regulator. Once they finally got it shut they didn’t dare open it again.

05.01 on the turntable at Sofia Depot

05.01 on the turntable at Sofia Depot

In all honesty, 05.01 wasn’t ever going to do that much in the confines of Sofia Depot so if we have some bad luck on our tour I would much rather it was here than on the longer runs we will be making over the next five days! Besides, there was plenty of diesel and electric locomotives to be photographed around the depot along with some other steam survivors lurking inside and outside the shed.

The most amusing moment of the day came towards the end of the vist when 05.01 was positioned on the line from the shed. The skies had been darkening during our visit but now came the crack of thunder and the opening of the heavens. Everyone took shelter as best they could, but then the sun came out illuminating 05.01 beautifully despite the rain continuing to lash down. You could see everyone grappling with the dilemma – do you get drenched to get the shot or do you stay in the safety of shelter? Sooner or later most of us cracked and made a mad dash for it…

After the rain

After the rain

Despite the disappointment of not having 05.01 move under her own steam it was still a delight to see this mighty engine up close. The class 05 steam locomotives were originally commissioned by Bulgarian State Railways (BDŽ) as part of a plan in the 1930s to build a fleet suited to the requirements of the network and the lower quality coal available in the country. The class 05 locomotives were the fastest steam locomotives to be developed in the history of the Bulgarian railways, principally intended to haul fast and light expresses across flat country.

Five class 05 locomotives (originally designated 07 class) were eventually built by the German manufacturer Krupp and delivered in 1941 with the factory numbers 2459-2463. All five locomotives survived the war and were mainly used by BDŽ on express and passenger trains between Stara Zagora and Burgas. The locomotives were retired in the 1970s, but 05.01 (factory number 2459) was brought to Sofia in 2002 for restoration and returned to operational status in 2010.

01.23 in the shed at Sofia Depot

01.23 in the shed at Sofia Depot

Inside the shed we could see 01.23, an express locomotive built at SLM Winterthur locomotive factory, Switzerland, in 1935. The locomotive was saved for preservation in 1979 as the last of her class and has since been restored. At the moment she is in the works for an assessment of her boiler after a lengthy spell in operation.

The three steam locomotives located immediately outside the shed were 26.26, 36.10 and 48.04 with a fourth engine heavily camouflaged by vegetation on the far side of the turntable.

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