FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Burdurm

Posted in Burdur, Turkey by folkestonejack on October 16, 2014

The group assembled at 7.30am in readiness for an early departure, although some mischievous souls started running a book on when we would actually leave. Sadly, the joke was on us when even the wildest of the predictions turned out to be too early – the air pump was yet again proving to be problematic. Whilst we waited for news we settled down in the station’s Büfe, rather delightfully mis-translated as ‘sideboard’ on the english language signs!

One small compensation for our extended stay in Burdur was that we got to see a mini-diesel gala as the station-pilot got to work shunting container wagons in the yard.

Burdur station pilot 18 108

Burdur station pilot 18 108

The station pilot here, 18 108, is one of a handful of survivors from a small class of 20 diesel locomotives. To put some context on the numbers, these light-axle load locomotives were ordered at the same time (in 1968) as the class 24 diesels, of which some 418 were eventually built. The pilot had been well hidden amongst the lines of containers yesterday, but today it was busy at work shunting around the crane and loading point.

The plates on the side of DE 18 108

The plates on the side of DE 18 108

In the meantime the crew took the air pump apart, cleaned out all the gunge and re-assembled it. A former engineer in Izmir instructed the crew on everything they could do, but the air pump still failed to co-operate. Finally, it was agreed that an expert in air pumps would have to make the journey from the Usak museum depot (some 5-6 hours away) with the necessary spare parts. The hope is that they can get it working for the run tomorrow.

In any tour that relies on a single engine you are taking a risk, but it seemed like a good risk to take at the outset – this locomotive ought to be good for another ten years. In recent years she has received new wheels, a new firebox and a new boiler (from Meiningen) so it was disappointing that after all that the air pump let us down (the first time that anything like this has happened in the tours run here over the last seven years).

I had to remind myself that even a newbuild like Tornado had contended with similar problems – in April 2013 she suffered from a high profile failure of a new air pump whilst working a tour and had to be rescued by diesel (her second air pump had failed previously and was already awaiting repair). Maybe the problem on our trip will have a positive result if the museum depot acknowledges the need to overhaul a second locomotive.

Blocked in!

Blocked in!

At 2pm we were finally ready to leave with a plan for a few runpasts (albeit with the diesel atached to provide air pressure whilst the air pump was out of action) but then DE36 002 arrived with a freight, blocking the line out!

We eventually departed Burdur, under diesel power, at 3.55pm. In the run to Dinar we managed three runpasts. Although the set up for the runpasts was not the most ideal, it was still a pleasure to be back at the lineside taking photographs. There is only so much diesel excitement that anyone can take in Burdur yard…

On our way to Dinar

On our way to Dinar

Our train finally reached Dinar at 6.40pm and we made the short transfer to our hotel by minibus. Soon after we ate at one of the oddest restaurants of the trip – it was perfectly fine but opened out onto the forecourt of a petrol station, complete with the occasional waft of petrol fumes through the unshuttered sides! A strange end to a strange day – one that I suspect most of us are happy to say farewell to. I hope that tomorrow brings us better fortune.

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Whistle while you work

Posted in Burdur, Gümüşgün, Turkey by folkestonejack on October 15, 2014

Our arrival in Burdur after dark gave us little chance to assess the opportunities of this short branch line but this was something that we intended to remedy today. The station itself was neat and tidy, despite the absence of passengers, with a plinthed loco standing on guard outside (57020).

The line no longer sees passenger traffic but that doesn’t mean that it is dead. On our return to the station it was clear that the railway line plays a significant part in the industrial operations here and this must have been a factor in the survival of the line up to now. In contrast, the nearby branch line to Eğirdir has closed despite the great efforts to capitalise on its vast tourist potential. Nevertheless, the writing must be on the wall for branch lines like this as Turkey’s railway modernisation project rolls out across the country.

Burdur in the soft light of morning

Burdur in the soft light of morning

After a little festival of shunting the composition of our train was altered to better reflect the sort of train that you might have expected to see on this branch in the 1970s/80s with the intention of taking three coaches and a single coal wagon up the branch line and on to Isparta. However, the plan was already unravelling…

The door to the engine shed had been altered since the last time our steam locomotive had visited Burdur and when it was backed into the shed the whistle was knocked off. Now, none of us had any great love for the ear-splitting whistel of 56548 but we couldn’t operate without the ability to sound a warning at the numerous crossings up and down the line.

57020 plinthed at Burdur

57020 plinthed at Burdur

The solution to this unexpected problem was right in front of us, as we soon began to appreciate with complete astonishment when a member of the crew clambered up onto the plinthed loco with a wrench. It was a noble sacrifice by 57020 to keep one of her brethen running! It is not the first time that 57020 has made such a donation – the same plinthed locomotive seems to have donated a buffer on a previous trip. Maybe if you come back in a decade, a few more donations on, you might find 56548 on the plinth and 57020 on the rails…

The repairs and adjustments were finally completed by 11am. I had not appreciated just how pleased I would be to hear the ear-splitting sound of a Turkish steam whistle again, but it was a joyous and painful moment all at once! We departed Burdur at 11.06am, just two and a half hours later than planned, and began our run up the line. The locomotive ran tender-first, which was not untypical of the operation here in steam days. After a couple of run pasts we reached Gümüşgün at 12.18pm.

Up the branch to Gümüşgün

Up the branch to Gümüşgün

At Gümüşgün the crew quickly demonstrated that Burdur had alot to learn about shunting festivals, proceeding to shunt the wagon and carriages one by one! Standing on the sidelines it was hard to work out quite what was going on, but it eventually transpired that we were either waiting for a freight to pass us – or that it was waiting two stops down the line for us to pass it. Mexican stand off anyone?

Thankfully, it was a beautiful day to laze around – albeit reluctantly! At 2pm DE36 002 arrived with a westbound freight train, passing a couple of derailed container wagons, followed half an hour later by a Burdur-bound freight in the hands of DE36 005. Yet, still we didn’t move – there was clearly more to this stop than just a case of supremely polite train pathing.

DE 36 005 at Gümüşgün

DE 36 005 at Gümüşgün

It soon became apparent that the cause of our lengthy stop was an erratic air pump which the crew were trying to fix with spare parts from the service car. The work was successfully completed by 3.30pm, but in the meantime we attended a hastily re-located surprise birthday party for a 70 year old railway engineer. It was a delightful occasion that only the most flint-hearted soul could have failed to be warmed by.

56548 back up and running

56548 back up and running

As we no longer had sufficient time to reach Isparta a new plan was hatched – we would head back to Burdur and try some run pasts on the branch line. This proved to be a good call as it delivered up some wonderful opportunities for sunset shots and allowed me to make a couple of attempts at contre-jour shots from the opposite side of the track. In spite of the frustations from earlier in the day, it was a truly glorious final hour.

Against the light

Against the light

Funnily enough, we were still just about in sight of Gümüşgün when the sun finally dipped below the mountains, but as another photographer remarked, it’s not the distance you travel but the work that you deliver in that time which counts. Never has a truer word been spoken.

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