FolkestoneJack's Tracks

More Mokra

Posted in Mokra Gora, Serbia, Šargan by folkestonejack on October 22, 2011

Our second day at Mokra Gora saw no improvement in the weather. In fact, if anything it looked a whole heap wetter as we arrived at Šargan in our coach. It is no wonder that the english translation of Mokra Gora is wet mountain!

The plan for the morning was to run chimney first in the opposite direction to yesterday, starting out from Šargan at 9.25am and arriving at Mokra Gora around midday. Figuring that I wouldn’t be back this way again I continued to take photographs at every runpast but the numbers were dwindling with each stop. I suspect that the most sensible place to be was in the warmth of the carriage.

Our two days on the Šargan 8 provided plenty of scenic locations but after a while they blended into a familiar pattern of rocky outcrops, forest and the occasional young evergreen tree as foreground interest… luckily, the scenery on the afternoon run across the border would be quite different.

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Steam on the Šargan Eight

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

After a week of beautiful weather it was quite a shock to see the miserable mix of rain and grey skies that awaited us this morning, even though we knew it was coming.

A wet morning in Mokra Gora

Our charter train, hauled by 83-173, left Mokra Gora at 9am and made for the border. The idea was that the train would work back to Mokra Gora with numerous photostops along the way. The weather conditions were not at all promising – no light, low hanging mist, grey skies and persistant rain. As with any charter you have to work with what you are given so we still trooped out to take the shots, though Bernd was probably quite right when he described these as “Pictures the world doesn’t need!”

The first photo-stop of the morning on the line between the border and Mokra Gora

Morning mist on the line to Mokra Gora

At 11.30am we stopped for a leisurely lunch (a tasty and hot bowl of soup from the restaurant at Mokra Gora was the perfect prescription!) before resuming at 1.30pm. In the afternoon we took the line from Mokra Gora to Šargan, again making numerous photostops until reaching Šargan about 4pmish. It was quite a disorientating journey once you started on the figure of eight – I easily found myself losing all sense of direction, though to be fair my sense of direction is woeful under normal circumstances!

83-173 emerges from a short tunnel on the line to Mokra Gora

83-173 crosses a bridge en-route to Šargan

The journey along the line had impressed upon us the scale of construction around the line which presents a rather disneyfied version of the Serbian countryside, particularly around each of the stations. I’m sure that is a necessary evil for the future survival of the line as a tourist attraction. An authentic but dead railway isn’t much use to anyone…

Šargan

Šargan Station

Although the day was fairly dismal it had been surprisingly enjoyable, which was in no small part down to the company of Andy and Charles throughout the trip. Terrible jokes and a shared sense of the madness of photography in such conditions certainly have their part to play in staying sane on a trip like this!

83-173 and other locomotives on the Šargan 8

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

Our locomotive for the few days we would spend on the 760mm narrow gauge lines around Mokra Gora was to be class 83 locomotive 83-173 which was built in the Đuro Đaković factory in 1949.

83 173 was built in 1949

83 173 had problems a short while before our tour started so the engineers from Lapovo had to come to Mokra Gora to fix this locomotive which in turn delayed the test run of the class 33 loco a little. I began to realise just how risky the entire trip had been – with no alternative locomotives available in any of the locations that we visited. In many ways, things could have turned out alot worse!

83 173 in steam on the Šargan 8

The other loco in service during our visit was a diesel, L45H-098, which was used to haul regular passenger services including a school run. The range of locomotives and rolling stock on the line is quite varied, which is in no small part down to the donations made by the Serbian narrow gauge museum. In our travels on and around the system we saw:

  • Diesel L45H-096 (Bucharest, 1987) in the workshop at Šargan
  • Diesel 745-097 under cover at Mokra Gora.
  • 0-8-2 Steam locomotive 83-052 (Jung, 1923) under cover at Šargan
  • 0-6-0T Steam locomotive 25-27 (ČKD, 1949) under cover at Šargan
  • 0-6-0WT Steam locomotive “Elza“(Budapest, 1913) which was a gift to the railway from Zrenjanin sugar factory, under cover at Mokra Gora
  • 0-8-0T Steam locomotive M.I.M.C. 764-427 (Reşiţa, 1956) plinthed near Mokra Gora
  • 0-6-0 Steam locomotive 19-126 (Henschel, 1923) plinthed at Dobrun
  • Snowplough 990-100 plinthed at Šargan

Apart from these, there were a few locomotives around the system that we didn’t catch sight of including one locomotive from the 600mm gauge forest railway.

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.