FolkestoneJack's Tracks


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