FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Chernovtsy to Kolomiya

Posted in Chernovtsy, Kolomiya, Ukraine by folkestonejack on February 19, 2008

In the early afternoon we began our run to Kolomiya from Chernovtsy, which delivered up a few fields, stations and a bridge across the river Prut before the light finally disappeared. Once we reached Kolomiya we had the opportunity to enjoy a night shoot at the depot, which I really hadn’t come equipped for – nevertheless, it was nice to soak up the atmosphere of a loco on the turntable in the dark, illuminated only by the shed lights.

The Em and Er head a runpast over the river Prut



Posted in Chernovtsy, Ukraine, Vazkovtsy, Viznitsa by folkestonejack on February 19, 2008

In the early hours of the morning, around 4.35am, our train rolled out of the sidings at Chernovtsy to take us 102km to the south east in the direction of the Romanian border. I expect that few of us slept through moments like these with all the jolting involved but there was something satisying about being on the move again. Our destination today was Viznitsa, or rather it was the starting point for the real attraction – a morning of runpasts on the branch line.

Up to this point we had seen only the slightest layers of snow, but now we got this in abundance – if anything, too much! Our breakfast was served at 7am but like kids most of us really just wanted to be outside in the snow taking photographs of the star of our show – the L class steam locomotive that had been attached to our train in the early hours and which would haul us back to Chernovtsy by midday (before continuing on to Kolomiya in the afternoon).

L 5141 at Viznitsa

The L class were large and powerful freight locomotives built in their thousands in the post-war world of the 1940s and 50s. As many were produced it was not surprising that a number have survived into preservation in the Ukraine and Russia. Indeed, I have already seen static examples at the railway museums in St Petersburg and Moscow. Today, I would go one step better and see one in steam. I was really looking forward to this.

L 5141 on the Viznitsa branch line in a blizzard

We departed from Viznitsa at 8am, and made two runpats early on – one from a field and the second from the roadside a quarter of an hour later. The conditions were pretty diabolical as far as photography went. We had progressed from the pretty snow at Viznitsa to a full blizzard, which is reflected in the photographs. In some you can barely make out the locomotive amidst the blizzard! Thankfully it had eased off by the next stop, at a level crossing, around 9.40am.

L 5141 at a level crossing on the Viznitsa branch line

After the excitement we got back onboard and carried on to Vazkovtsy which proved a particularly atmospheric spot with a picturesque station, loading bays and level crossing (which in turn delivered a number of horse drawn carts!). This location saw a false start and a runpast, which are illustrated in the sequence below. In between all this a local passenger train passed through (we had to wait for this to cross our train as the branch line was single tracked).

L 5141 outside the loading bays at Vazkovtsy

L 5141 with Vazkovtsy station in the background

L 5141 runs past the level crossing at Vazkovtsy

L 5141 steams past our position at Vazkovtsy

At 11.05 we were once again back on board for the run back in to Chernovtsy, arriving just before midday. The schedule gave us an hour here before we would continue our journey on to Kolomiya.

L 5141 at at Chernovtsy

Whistle-stop tour of Chernovtsy

Posted in Chernovtsy, Ukraine by folkestonejack on February 18, 2008

After leaving the depot at Chernovtsy our guides took us on a tour of the city by coach, pointing out the many architectural sights and monuments (including a plinthed Soviet T-34/76 tank). Unfortunately, it was not possible to get any decent shots from the coach but we did get a chance to get off at the end of the tour to take shots of the distinctive buildings at the University of Chernovtsy.

I couldn’t give you an accurate list of the sights that we got fleeting glances of from the bus, but I believe we saw the Soviet war memorial, Chernovtsy Theatre and Shevchenko statue. I’m not sure whether we saw St. Nicholas Cathedral, though it’s slightly academic because even if I did I couldn’t have appreciated quite how distinctive the building looked with its twisted turrets.

It was a pity that we didn’t more time to explore the city, but with a trip like this it’s always difficult to squeeze in. The buildings will still be around in years to come, but the steam locomotives might not be.

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Chernovtsy depot

Posted in Chernovtsy, Ukraine by folkestonejack on February 18, 2008

A short visit had been arranged to Chernovtsy depot. I think the intention was for this to be orderly guided visit, but it largely descended into a mass invasion into every corner of the yard…

Ivano-Frankovsk to Chernovtsy

Posted in Chernovtsy, Ivano-Frankovsk, Ukraine by folkestonejack on February 18, 2008

The day began with an 8am departure from Ivano-Frankovsk and a series of runpasts carried us through the day. Our timetables gave us a rough idea of where and when these would take place but there were plenty of deviations from the plan, so you always had to keep an ear out for an unexpected blast of the whistles signalling a runpast (usually accompanied by quizzical looks at whoever was around, as if to say did I just hear what I think I heard!?).

2M62 at Ivano-Frankovsk

Passenger service topped by a M62 and tailed by a 2M62

The locations for our runpasts included stations, fields and a bridge. The latter were, it seemed, the most carefully organised as bridges and tunnels are still regarded as strategic targets and special permission had to be requested by the company organising the railtour for us to be able to take photographs. You could see the importance attached to these locations as they were usually guarded – the set up varied as we made our way across the Ukraine but typically included guard huts, barbed wire and armed guards.

2M62U on a bridge over the Prut

Er 0-10-0 797 86 on the line between Kolomiya and Chernovtsy

Our lunch was just coming to an end as we arrived in Chernovtsy and the stop-start jolting that this involved seemed to have been perfectly timed to cause chaos as the waitresses tried to pour out coffee! Suitably refreshed we headed out to see the locomotives against the backdrop of the rather grand looking station, before boarding buses that would take us to Chernovtsy depot for a visit.

Er class locomotive 797-86 in the grand surroundings of Chernovtsy Station

Er class locomotive 797-86 sits in the platform at Chernovtsy