FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Kolomiya to Ternopol

Posted in Chortkov, Kolomiya, Ternopol, Ukraine by folkestonejack on February 22, 2008

The final day of the tour dawned, but more poignantly than that, this was also to be the last day of steam hauled charter passenger trains on the Ukrainian mainline. To that end, the consist for the final day was somewhat unusual – featuring six locomotives (four steam locomotives and two diesels). The information about the fate of the steam locomotives was a little confused, ranging from a cutter’s torch in a scrapyard to preservation in a museum at Donetsk. I really hope it was the latter.

L 2-10-0 5141 at Kostrytzevka

Su 2-6-2 251-86 and L 2-10-0 5141 double head at Kostrytzevka

Our route to Ternopol took us to a viaduct over the Dnestr at Kostrytzevka, which was used for two rather haphazardly organized runpasts (we were all instructed to re-board when news of the second runpast came through…). I dashed up the hillside but was too late for the shot I intended.

Once the runpasts were completed we re-joined the train and made our way across the viaduct. From the comfort of our coaches we could see a few intrepid photographers standing in the bitter cold of the Dnestr. After going to such lengths I hope they were rewarded with a good shot!

Intrepid photographers in the Dnestr

After heading away from the Dnestr we made stops at a field north of Torske for a runpast with all 6 locos (which I captured very badly on a video which can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pMzWEi4f1k) and then at a field somewhere else with the diesels detached (I didn’t catch the name of any stations that we passed to have even the slightest clue where this was!).

Su 251-86 leads a runpast in a field somewhere between Torske and Chortkov

Em 735-72 in a field somewhere between Torske and Chortkov

In the early afternoon we arrived at Chortkov for a water stop and to allow a local train to cross, followed by a false start which would turn out to be the last opportunity of the day to get some photographs in daylight. The platform was packed with passengers waiting for the local service though it was difficult to tell which was the stranger sight to them – the hundreds of mad foreigners or the sudden appearance of four steam locomotives!

DR1A diesel multiple unit at Chortkov

The water stop attracted plenty of attention from those locals (both two legged and four legged!) still around after the service train had departed. It was noticeable that they still had a working water crane here and I wondered how long ago steam had disappeared from these parts, or whether this was only still here for the benefit of charter railtours like ours.

The Su and L took water at Chortkov watched by an attentive local audience

Apart from the work going on around the steam locomotives our lengthy stop held few attractions besides people watching and a wander round the yard (with highlights such as a snowplough to check out!). Finally, we got our last false departure and then clambered back on the train around 3.20pm. Our onward journey took us beyond sunset and into darkness.

Su 2-6-2 251-86 in steam at Chortkov

Our arrival at Ternopil was heralded with much whistling, hooting and blaring of horns so it was just as well that it was early evening! It was an appropriate way to end the steam hauled section of our railtour. The steam locomotives departed around 7pm and we left Ternopil behind at 8.20pm with ‘electric thrust’ (which generated enough power for us to have fully working light in our compartments for the first and last time on the tour!). Our run through the night would take us from Ternopil back to Kyiv with a scheduled arrival time of 8.44am.

Ternopil Station

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Rakhov to Kolomiya

Posted in Delyatin, Kolomiya, Rakhov, Tatariv, Ukraine, Voronenko, Yasinya by folkestonejack on February 21, 2008

After our early start to the day at Berlibash we returned to familiar territory at Rakhov around 9.15am and spent a little while here before retracing the route back to Kolomiya. The combination of light snow and grey skies made the place seem gloomier than it had in the fading light of the previous day. Nevertheless, the view across the valley as we headed north was quite spectacular even under such poor conditions. The river that ran through it looked as though it had a series of icebergs floating midstream, though I’m sure it was just a series of small snowy islands!

The station at Rakhov

Turntable at Rakhov

We retraced our steps to Yasinya by late morning where we discovered a wonderfully rural scene with cockerels wandering amongst the tracks and a family carving the carcass of a pig stretched out on a wooden rack in the open air. At times it felt like you were stepping back into time, particularly with some of the local traffic – a horse pulling a wooden cart that looked like it had stepped out of the middle ages or on another occasion, pulling a sleigh. The area provided a wonderful landscape of wooden cottages, wonderful wooden hay stores and animal shelters. The 21st century wasn’t entirely absent though – many of the cottages had sprouted satellite dishes!

2M62 at Yasinya

Em 0-10-0 and Er 0-10-0 double header

In the early afternoon we enjoyed a false departure and two run pasts at Voronenko, which I thought was a great spot. In particular, the sight of the L in steam within a snowy landscape bordered by forest somehow seemed very appropriate. We waited a little for a regular passenger service to cross here which gave me a little chance to explore. At the station there was a small sobering memorial which I assume recorded those who gave their lives during the Second World War.

Em 0-10-0 735-72 and Er 0-10-0 797-86 at Voronenko

D1 diesel multiple unit at Voronenko

L class steam locomotive 5141 at Voronenko

Another couple of runpasts took place at Tatariv, with the L once again the star of the show. I thought she looked superb heading straight towards us in the wintry landscape with the mountains in the distance.

L class steam locomotive 5141 approaches Tatariv

Our next stop came at Delyatin which we reached just after 3pm. After a 40 minute wait we photographed a false start and then re-boarded for a real departure at about 4pm. In the time that we were stationary a number of local children came out to look at the locomotives. It reminded me how lucky I am – although I am too young to have seen steam in day-to-day use in the UK I have at least had the chance to experience steam on charters like this, which will be an option that will finish here in the Ukraine with this trip.

Em 0-10-0 735-72 is observed by local children at Delyatin

Our return to Kolomiya should have been the end to the day’s travels, but there was now a problem with the supply of water for the carriages on the train. It was proposed that the train would leave Kolomiya after 10pm and head to Ivano-Frankovsk to collect water and recharge the batteries before returning to Kolomiya ready for the morning start – quite an exercise in time and logistics. However, in the end a way to resolve the problem was found using a standpipe. Overnight the train was shunted back and forth so that each carriage could be filled with water from the standpipe. I defy anyone to sleep under those conditions!

Sunset at Kolomiya

Kolomiya to Rakhov

Posted in Delyatin, Kolomiya, Rakhov, Tatariv, Ukraine, Yaremcha, Yasinya by folkestonejack on February 20, 2008

The early morning light provided a lovely glint on the engines as they were coaled and readied in the depot at Kolomiya before our departure. Today we would be taking a triple header of the Em, Er and L from Kolomiya into the Carpathian mountains for what would undoubtedly be the most scenic territory of the trip.

Em 735-72 on the turntable at Kolomiya in the early morning light

In order to create the best photographic opportunities freight wagons and box cars would be placed immediately behind the three steam locomotives, followed by three restaurant cars for the international contingent and then two diesels to ‘assist’ where required. After our departure a second diesel hauled train would depart with our restaurant cars, overtaking us midway. And so, it began…

We had made it to Delyatin by late morning and proceeded to get some shots around the station. There were a couple of rather wonderful posters on a nearby building which I couldn’t resist photographing and then found a good spot to see a false start from the triple header (after a local passenger service had first passed through). Somewhere amidst all this a rather surprised local engaged me in a conversation of sorts and after managing to communicate that I was from England shook hands… I have to admit that if this had been my village I too would have been rather overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of over a hundred foreigners!

Ukranian Railway Posters

D1 diesel multiple unit at Delyatin

L 5141 at the front of the triple headed train at Delyatin

We clambered back into our carriages around midday and continued our journey south to Yaremcha where we stopped for a half hour break which allowed the pursuing diesel to overtake us with the sleeping cars. I took a little wander into the neighbourhood and checked out a relatively modern orthodox church and a striking war memorial. In more than one place there were signs of construction work and those that had been here a decade earlier remarked just how much had changed. After a pleasant walk I returned to the trackside ready to capture the false departure and then re-boarded the train.

Orthodox church at Yaremcha

Triple header at Yaremcha

You may be wondering whether 120+ photographers managed to avoid getting in each others shots. Truth be told the answer is no – it’s sometimes impossible given the terrain, but I think it all the more remarkable that we managed successfully more often than not. On those occasions where I had to give in I chose to capture the madness of the moment, as at Tatariv where I got a shot showing the photoline as they took their own shots of the triple-header passing through.

The photoline at Tatariv

The line provided some incredible views across a series of remarkable bridges and viaducts as we got deeper into the Carpathians, delivering what I expected to be the best photo spots of the entire trip. Indeed, when we made our way up the hillside we found that we weren’t alone in reaching this conclusion – some dedicated Ukrainian railway photographers were already in position waiting. I had to admire their tenacity having seen them valiantly chasing the train in cars that looked far from suited to the task!

L 5141 in the Carpathians

Triple header in the Carpathians

The hills are alive... with railway photographers!

The final stop before our day was run came at Yasinya. I took a moment to capture the scene as everyone spilled out of the train in readiness for the last runpast of the day. Once the three locos had performed for us we re-boarded and carried on to our destination – Rakhov – arriving in the last light of the day.

Yasinya

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