FolkestoneJack's Tracks

The last leg

Posted in Karakuyu, Turkey by folkestonejack on October 18, 2014

We left the all too familiar surroundings of Gümüşgün just after 1pm, bound once again for Karakuyu (our third visit during the tour).

On this occasion we were following a freight train rather than delaying one. At our next stop, Keçiborlu, we had to wait twenty minutes for the freight train ahead of us to reach Karakuyu and clear the section before we could proceed. The stop provided a good opportunity to wander and explore the surroundings of the station. It wasn’t too long before some local lads turned up to watch our steam locomotive, albeit being dragged backwards by a diesel!

A brief encounter with Keçiborlu

A brief encounter with Keçiborlu

On the run to Karakuyu we had the opportunity to try a few runpasts with some trees offering a wonderful display of autumnal gold, though the morning’s blue skies and guarantee of sun were now long gone. The sun co-operated just long enough to give us the shots we wanted and we re-boarded for the run through to Karakuyu, passing the wildly overgrown remains of Capali at 2.42pm, before reaching our destination ten minutes later.

The weather was clearly on the turn now, with black clouds in the distance threatening much worse conditions. We spent barely half an hour at Karakuyu, noting the presence of DE 36 005 dropping ballast, before heading back. In the short time we had spent in the station our diesel had been re-positioned to the middle of the consist which must have looked rather odd to any onlooker but suited our needs.

Quick turnaround at Karakuyu

Quick turnaround at Karakuyu

At 3.45pm we stopped at a rural location complete with concrete irrigation canals and beautifully sunlit trees against a rapidly darkening sky. The rain was almost upon us, but we just managed to squeak the runpast in with the very last of the sun’s rays after some particularly speedy work by our tour organiser.

Much credit needs to go to the crew for this shot – it had been the plan to hold a barbeque at Karakuyu but they had been reluctantly persuaded to carry on a little longer whilst we still had the sun, despite their initial pleas that they were so hungry that they couldn’t work any more. Thank you all for delivering a superb photographic opportunity!

Racing the clouds

Racing the clouds

We reached the notorious 401km marker (the scene of yesterday’s long picnic) at 4pm, with the rain just moments away. It turned out to be the perfect spot for another firebox barbeque and we were pleased not to be on the lineside when the rain started hammering down. After an hour at this location we set off again on our return journey to Isparta.

On the return journey the remaining stations were reeled off in quick succession with only brief stops at Bozanonu and the hillside just beyond to delay us. By this point the tour felt like it was on its last legs with just eight photographers left from the original party to clamber out for a last runpast (our one day trippers were sensibly settled inside the carriage and weren’t about to move for a photo in the fading light). We finally made it back into Isparta at 6.48pm.

Our arrival at Isparta signalled the end of my travels by steam through Turkey. I made some hurried farewells and jumped in a taxi for the short drive across town to the Otogar (coach station). My hopes for a speedy departure to Antalya were soon dashed – the next coach was not due to leave until 8pm, giving me an hour to grab some food and kill time looking around the astonishing number of rose-product shops around the terminal.

The domestic transport networks of Turkey are quite fascinating and unlike anything I have seen anywhere else – frequent connections can be made across the country by coach and plane, depending on whether speed us of the essence. It is not difficult to see why it has been difficult for Turkish Railways to compete with their current set up, but with high speed rail there is the chance of carving out a market. It remains to be seen what effect this will have on the rather excellent domestic transport options and the existing sleeper trains in the country, both of which make this an easy country to get around.

The journey south to Antalya took two hours and fifteen minutes, followed by a short tram ride from the Otogar to the old town. I checked in to my hotel at 11pm and collapsed in my ridiculously over-sized room. Time to sleep well!

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For a few Dinars more

Posted in Dinar, Karakuyu, Turkey by folkestonejack on October 17, 2014

The scene that awaited us at Dinar station in the morning lifted our hearts – our kriegslok was sitting in the platform and seemed to be in much better health than when we left her. We were not alone in our appreciation for the locomotive, with quite a number of straggling schoolkids having made a detour on their way to school in order to get a selfie with the locomotive and the historic green carriages.

Steam returns to Dinar

Steam returns to Dinar

The town secured its place on the railway map of Anatolia in 1889, following the extension of the line operated by the Oriental Railway Company between Izmir and Aydin. The staff at Dinar are justifiably proud of their connection to railway history (the stretch between Izmir and Seydiköy was the first to open within the footprint of present-day Turkey) with many reminders of this illustrious history on display at the station (a plinthed steam locomotive from 1928, a model of a steam locomotive, a small railway museum and some historic remnants from the ORC on the platform). It seemed perfect to add a working steam locomotive to this picture, if only for a little while.

Dinar is not likely to be on any tourist itinerary, although its position on a major crossroads on the route to Antalya means that it is never short of traffic. It is sadly more likely to be remembered as the epicentre of an earthquake in October 1995 that killed 94 people and left many more injured or homeless. Our visit was too fleeting to appreciate the changes to the town since then, but our trip into the surrounding hills demonstrated the considerable natural beauty offered by the area.

Into the hills

Into the hills

After departing Dinar at 8.55am we made our way towards Karakuyu with just two carriages and a wagon, stopping frequently for runpasts. The scenery was quite superb throughout and delivered more opportunities than we could possibly take. The dilemma of which spot to choose was exacerbated by the limited time in each location, which was certainly a good thing – it seems that the more time you give some photographers, the more they doubt the position they have chosen, prompting a good impression of a headless chicken. I have been guilty of this in the past, but these days tend to stick to my spot for better or worse!

A beautiful setting for a steam tour

A beautiful setting for a steam tour

The last shots of the morning came from the tunnel mouth at the 388km mark, which included the unusual and entirely unexpected sight of a colony of bats emerging from the tunnel along with the locomotive.

Our train arrived at Karakuyu station at 12.18pm where we found DE36 002 dropping ballast for collection. After taking a ride around the loop we headed on to Isparta, stopping not long after Karakuyu for a runpast at a particularly delightful spot of marsh.

TCDD 56548 at Karakuyu station

TCDD 56548 at Karakuyu station

The next stop, just beyond Capali at the 401km point, was not so welcome. TCDD 56548 was once again beset by problems with the air pump. The diesel returned with the service car and the crew got to work, sadly to little reward from the recalcitrant pump.

The three hour stop gave us ample opportunity for a barbeque, with the meat cooked on a shovel in the firebox. I particularly liked the confidence and finesse with which salt was sprinkled on top, as if to say that this was the way any good chef would choose to cook if they could!

Time for a picnic

Time for a picnic

At 5.07pm we set off again, with diesel assistance, reaching Gümüşgün at 5.46pm. DE36 004 was waiting there with a freight, presumably held up by our unexpected stop. After this we contnued on to Goltas (6.12pm), with its vast cement works, the former junction station of Bozanonu (6.18pm) and finally Isparta (6.40pm). Our run in had given us a tantalising glimpse of the beauty of the branch line and left us all hoping that our loco could could deliver something special for our last day.

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Steaming beyond Sandikli

Posted in Karakuyu, Sandikli, Turkey by folkestonejack on October 14, 2014

After spending a little time at Tinaztepe we set off on our journey south, passing through Kocatepe (1.18pm) and Cigiltepe (1.30pm) before making it to Sandikli (2pm) where we took a late lunch stop. It was impressive to see a working water column here, given that in so many countries the infrastructure from steam days has rusted away or been removed long ago.

TCDD 56 548 at Sandikli

TCDD 56 548 at Sandikli

The news of the arrival of Turkey’s only working steam locomotive soon attracted the attention of the local kids and a couple of gentlemen from the media, who gathered a few reluctant photographers (including me) to pose awkwardly for a shot to be used in a story for their paper. Who could have anticipated that my 15 minutes of fame lay in the Afyon Gazette!?

Our stop at Sandikli also cleared the line for two freight trains that passed through in the direction of Afyon (the first just after our arrival and the second at 3pm precisely). The freights were notable for their use of GE PowerHaul PH37ACai diesel locomotives, a new class of locomotive which only began to roll off the production line relatively recently.

Old (1943) meets new (2014) at Sandikli

Old (1943) meets new (2014) at Sandikli

Tülomsas are building 20 locomotives of this type for Turkish Railways and another 30 for export (under a strategic partnership with General Electric). The first examples in Turkey had somewhat disappeared from view, so it was fascinating to see that they all had 70 (Afyon) allocations and are being used on this stretch of line. It makes much sense from a testing perspective as any failures here would have a low impact, given the light traffic we have seen.

DE36002 passes DE24295 at Sandikli

DE36002 passes DE24295 at Sandikli

After departing from Sandikli (3.47pm) we continued our journey south, passing through some stunning and quite deserted landscapes before reaching Ekinova (4.15pm) and the Karakuyu loop (5.05pm). The sun was about to drop below the hillside so the time for photography was rapidly running out. Nevertheless, we managed four runpasts on the loop before the light finally disappeared.

The spot for our runpasts, a rock cutting next to a quarry on the loop, looked stunning bathed in golden light but the location was not without its challenges, notably a strong wind which blew the smoke in all sorts of undesirable directions. On one of the runpasts the smoke even managed to mask the locomotive entirely to the grumbles of the assembled photographers! Nevertheless, I think we all managed to get something out of the location.

A runpast on the Karakuyu Loop

A runpast on the Karakuyu Loop

From the loop we made the short run into Karakuyu station at 5.40pm, where another DE36 hauled freight was waiting for us to clear the line (DE36004 this time). After a brief stop we began the final leg of our journey to Burdur at 6pm, passing through Capali (6.11pm), Keciborlu (6.32pm) and Gümüşgün (6.50pm) before reaching Burdur at 7.30pm.

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