FolkestoneJack's Tracks

A cookery lesson at Tinaztepe

Posted in Afyon, Tinaztepe, Turkey by folkestonejack on October 14, 2014

The train departed from Afyon at 9.09am precisely, retracing the steps we had taken last night as far as the junction to the west of the city. From this point, we took the line south and crossed over the top of a motorway. The whistles of our locomotive were soon matched by honking from lorries on the road below us, demonstrating once again the extraordinary reactions that a steam locomotive elicits here.

We reached the first station on the line, Tinaztepe, at 9.50am. In front of us we could see a small, but beautifully maintained station with a huge pile of sugar beet in the yard. At one time the steam hauled sugar beet trains drew railway enthusiasts and photographers out here in the autumn, but that is a scene long consigned to history.

Sugar beet at Tinaztepe

Sugar beet at Tinaztepe

One of the crew took a few of the sugar beet back to the train, clambered up onto the locomotive and placed them in the steam dome – the largest pressure cooker you will ever see! Needless to say, those of us looking up at the spectacle were simply astonished at this demonstration. It is a long way from the art of a fry up on the shovel, but quite fascinating to witness.

We left Tinaztepe behind just after 10am and spent the rest of the morning enjoying a series of runpasts on the line to Kocatepe, without ever getting as far as the next station. The conditions were decent enough, but improved in late morning with the re-appearance of the sun. It was certainly an interesting stretch of line with some great vantage points from the hillside. Once our morning’s work was done we rolled back down to Tinaztepe, arriving at 12.25pm. In the time we had been gone the farmer had sensibly collected his harvest, saving it from any more ravenous railwaymen roaming the area!

The view towards Tinaztepe

The view towards Tinaztepe

It was hard to avoid noticing how little rail traffic we had seen since arriving yesterday, despite this being a significant railway junction. Passenger traffic in the area seemed incredibly light, with just one railbus leaving Afyon in the hour or two we spent milling around before departing (a service to Eskişehir). Aside from this, the only other movement we saw was a double-headed diesel freight bound for the Syrian border.

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Steam to Afyon

Posted in Afyon, Banaz, Dumlupinar, Turkey by folkestonejack on October 13, 2014

An old gentleman wandered down the platform at Banaz, shaking the hand of everyone he came across, a broad grin on his face. This might seem odd under any other circumstance, but faced with a steam locomotive stirring into life, particularly the last one left working in the country, who is to say that isn’t the most natural response!? I, for one, never cease to tire of the sight.

Morning steam at Oturak

Morning steam at Oturak

After spending a little while hanging around the station, we began our day’s travel at 9.54am and reached our first stop, Oturak, at 10.24. The sun had broken through by this point and was beginning to deliver a beautiful morning, illuminating our locomotive and the autumnal backdrop wonderfully. It was one of those locations with so many delightful possibilities that our merry band of photographers were soon scrabbling around to get the very best out of the moment. I hope I did it some justice!

The next leg of our journey took us into the countryside around Dumlupinar, a place which holds special significance in Turkish history as it was here that the last, decisive, battle in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922) was fought. That victory, on August 30th 1922, is still celebrated as a national holiday to this day. The railway line was the main supply route of the Greek forces and one of the first actions of the Turkish cavalry was to cut this channel of communication. Today, the countryside is so peaceful that it is hard to imagine that so much blood was shed here.

Steam to Dumlupinar

Steam to Dumlupinar

We took our time here, with runpasts around the tunnel and at the summit, before making it to Dumlupinar station itself at 12.04pm. Although it feels like a relatively sleepy line, there are signs of substantial investment in the railways here with huge piles of sleepers and ballast. After getting permission to proceed, we departed at 12.27pm.

Our kriegslok might have be the last operative steam locomotive in Turkey, but it was certainly delivering everything we could have hoped for photographically with a storming run over the summit and a terrific impression of a volcano.

Steam locomotive or volcano!?

Steam locomotive or volcano!?

Our onward journey took us through Kizilcakoy (12.35pm) and on to Yildirim Kemal (12.47pm) where we had an extended stop and a series of four runpasts utilising the scenic station and water column. This must have made a bewildering sight for a couple of locals, who sat watching the madness of all this unfold from their viewpoint on the sidelines.

After leaving Yildirim Kemal at 1.50pm we were treated to a series of runpasts on a rather scenic stretch of track leading up to a grand curve. The last stop in the sequence offered the tempting combination of a flock of sheep in the foreground, but the sheepdogs had other ideas, shepherding the flock away from any viable shot. Nevertheless, the shepherd offered an irresistible alternative for some members of the group. It was one of those locations with an incredible array of possibilities and only one runpast to use them on. How to choose!?

Beyond Yildirim Kemal

Beyond Yildirim Kemal

The afternoon continued to offer some wonderful photographic opportunities, especially when the sun re-appeared to illuminate the autumn foliage. Our onward journey took us through Bal-Mahmoud (4.30pm) and then on to the outskirts of Afyon, where we made the most of the setting sun to capture the glint.

Across golden fields...

Across golden fields…

About twenty minutes after leaving this spot we reached Afyon station (6.12pm), having been treated to a distant view of the fortress rock on the way in. Our merry band of photographers clambered out of the vintage carriages and formed a suitcase wheeling convoy to a nearby hotel, ready for a welcome spot of rest and relaxation. It had been a good day’s work and very satisfying with it!

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