FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Farewell to Bosnia-Herzegovina

Posted in Bosnia by folkestonejack on April 10, 2010

Awoke to a wet and miserable morning… perhaps someone was trying to help me to re-adjust to UK weather!

Our final encounter with Bosnian steam came at Lukavac where we saw a kriegslok arrive light engine from Sikulje to collect some empty wagons, departing chimney first from Lukavac exchange yard. Afterwards the increasingly heavy rain and the lack of any scheduled workings in the near future prompted the decision to start our journey back to Sarajevo a couple of hours early.

It was an interesting journey which sometimes followed the route of a long closed narrow gauge line (with a stop midway at a rather strange cafe with stuffed deers and wild cats leaping from the walls). On this road into Sarajevo canton you could certainly see plenty of visible signs of the civil war – burn out buildings, buildings battered with shell holes (sometimes patched up with new bricks) and buildings pockmarked with bullet holes – as well as plentiful red signs warning of minefields. Traffic was reasonably good until the outskirts of the city itself. As we were somewhat early we headed to the Hotel Hollywood at Ilidza (after dropping a few people off) for a buffet lunch before heading to the airport to check in.

The flight home via Vienna was fairly smooth with good connections but the journey from Heathrow to South london was anything but. Weekend engineering work resulted in a journey involving three tube trains, two buses and one train. In fact it took longer to get from Heathrow to South London than it did from Sarajevo to Heathrow! I struggled to understand what was going on (with posters contradicting the correct advice given by staff on the ground) so goodness knows how tourists arriving at Heathrow managed… still, I got home in the end.

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The perfect ending

Posted in Bosnia, Lukavac by folkestonejack on April 9, 2010

At the end of the day we had perfect light for a red/cream diesel passenger railcar passing through and a final daylight working by kriegslok 33-503 from Lukavac to Sikulje (which was collecting empty wagons deposited by a class 661 GM diesel a little earlier). A perfect end to the day.

33-503 at Lukavac

33-503 at Lukavac

In the evening we enjoyed a final group meal followed by countless beers and shots of slipovich. As the numbers thinned out the tables of English and German speakers merged and we had something of an anglo-german summit to solve Europe’s problems. Sadly we all had sufficient beers that the answers had vanished by the next morning…

More photos of Steam around Tuzla
More photos of Bosnian diesel and electric locomotives

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Through the mist…

Posted in Bosnia, Dubrave, Lukavac, Sikulje by folkestonejack on April 9, 2010

The lake at Lukavac was entirely shrouded in fog when I stepped out of the hotel this morning and much of the surrounding area was equally affected, as was Dubrave where we turned up with minutes to spare before the departure of a scheduled freight working. I ran around doing my best headless chicken impression to get some shots in the atmospheric conditions before joining everyone at the bridge to get a good viewpoint for the departure. It was one of the most memorable moments of the trip and I hope that some of that comes across in the video footage I took…

After leaving Dubrave behind we headed to Sikulje, the last of the colliery systems which use class 33 steam locomotives. We spent some time here watching movements around the yard before heading down the line to get some shots as it departed. Later we carried on to Bukinje for a final visit.

In the afternoon we had some time to kill as there were no steam hauled freight workings scheduled until late afternoon/early evening. It was a warm day so a few of us spent some time sitting around on the kerbside drinking bottles of Bosnian beer…

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Photo-freight from Bosanska Bijela to Durdevik

Posted in Bosanska Bijela, Bosnia, Durdevik, Spionica by folkestonejack on April 8, 2010

One of the highlights of the trip to Bosnia was a photo-freight charter on the line from Bosanska Bijela to Durdevik, hauled by a class 33 as far as Zivinice where a class 62 locomotive would take over for the final stretch.

An early start brought us to Bosanska Bijela at first light and the setting was truly atmospheric. All it needed now was a steam locomotive to complete the picture… which arrived 20 minutes late. It was worth waiting for as the glint on 33-504 as it steamed through Bosanska Bijela looked wonderful.

33-504 at Bosanska-Bijela

33-504 at Bosanska-Bijela

Our accomodation for the day was a box car attached to the end of the line of wagons. It was an interesting way to travel but any thought of hearing the steam locomotive work was dashed by the noisy clankety-clank sound of the wagons and box car on the rails. Not that it mattered, as we saw enough of the locomotive during our photo stops.

Our travel compartment for the day...

At Spionica we stopped in the station and the locomotive ran back for a number of runpasts, arrival shots and false departures… for one of these, I walked across a field to a ridge affording a panoramic view. After a while we were joined by our leader, Bernd, who told us that we had crossed a possible minefield! That’s probably a risk too far, even for a good photograph…

Skirting a possible minefield...

Skirting a possible minefield...

Apparently two sticks at either end marked it as uncleared land, though it didn’t have one of the skull and cross-bones signs that we had seen in other places indicating known minefields.

Spionica was a beautiful place to stop and provided seemingly endless opportunities for shots – at the signal box, uinside the box, across the fields, looking down from the hillside, and so on…

A kriegslok at Spionica

A kriegslok at Spionica

Haystacks at Spionica

Haystacks at Spionica

At Duboki Potok we stopped at the station and the locomotive was soon swamped by local school kids so clearly even in a country where a few steam locomotives operate it’s still a relatively rare occurence to see a steam locomotive (unless you happen to be living in or around Bukinje). From here, we re-boarded our coach to get us to a spot in the Tinja valley where we could see 33-504 power through. My camcorder was having something of a bad day so I didn’t get much footage, but what I did get gives a good sense of what workhorses these kriegsloks were…

The afternoon saw us stop a few more times to get shots of 33-504 at work and it was lucky that we had such good weather. It would have been dreadful to be trying to get these shots in the murky weather that we had only a day or two back.

33-504 on the photo-freight

33-504 on the photo-freight

At Bos. Poljana we stopped to allow a diesel hauled freight to overtake us and this afforded an opportunity to escape the box car once more and stretch our legs.

33-504 at Bos. Poljana

33-504 at Bos. Poljana

On the run from Bos. Poljana to Zivinice I had a chance to join a few others on the footplate. Strangely enough, it’s something I’ve never done before and a kriegslok seemed like a hell of a place to get a first taste. I was quite astonished to see the fireman wedge a huge slab of coal in the firebox door, push it in with a shovel and then break it up inside the firebox using a metal rod. Not quite sure why it wasn’t broken up first, but never mind…

The run to Zivinice saw us pass a number of crossings and through a tunnel. It was incredible to get a feel for the speed, the smokiness/darkness of the cab once inside the tunnel and the intense heat when the firebox door is opened. It was an awesome experience which I won’t forget. Thanks to Simon for suggesting I try that… it will certainly give me something to talk about with my father (who was a fireman and driver on steam locomotives in BR days) when I get back!

At Zivinice we had some time to kill as the class 62 locomotive that was supposed to take over had experienced some difficulties on the way there, necessitating a repair en route! However, it did arrive eventually and we were able to continue the final few kilometres to Durdevik mine.

62-111 at Durdevik

62-111 at Durdevik

More photos from the Photo-freight: Bosanska Bijela to Durdevik

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Ljubace

Posted in Bosnia, Ljubace by folkestonejack on April 7, 2010

In the afternoon we returned to Ljubace where we once again saw the delivery of loaded wagons and collection of empty wagons by a class 33 locomotive (33-236).

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Real steam – all permutations possible!

Posted in Bosnia, Lukavac by folkestonejack on April 7, 2010

The Soda Factory at Lukavac has an operational class 62 but the owners of the factory do not allow visits. However, they did agree to bring out their locomotive with a chimney first run on the short distance to Lukavac exchange yard. Everyone lined up ready to get the shot but sometimes, things don’t quite work out as you might expect…

62 from Lukavac Soda Factory

62 from Lukavac Soda Factory

The class 62 locomotive appeared pushing a single tank into the exchange yard, making the most impossible target to photograph head on (though a little better from the side, as can be seen from my shot above, although it’s still not the most photogenic arrangement!). One to chalk up as a lost cause…

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Bukinje in motion

Posted in Bosnia, Bukinje by folkestonejack on April 7, 2010

I captured a selection of movements on video from Bukinje which I combined in a single clip for youtube which hopefully gives something of the atmosphere of the place…

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A delivery for the powerplant

Posted in Bosnia, Bukinje by folkestonejack on April 7, 2010

After a sumptuous breakfast we started our day at Bukinje under much improved conditions. The murk of the previous day was now long gone and replaced by blue skies. In these circumstances we were able to savour the sight of a class 33 locomotive shunting and making a number of false departures before it headed off to the power plant.

Bukinje departure

Bukinje departure

After 33-504 headed off into the distance we moved on to Dubrave, Ljubace and Lukavac to capture various steam and diesel movements before returning to Bukinje where we spent some time staring up at the sky wondering if the clouds would favour us by moving clear of the sun. And they did.

It is a fascinating place… quite apart from the delights of the shed and working steam, there are also a number of locomotives stored outside in various conditions. One of these had a plate showing that it was manufactured in Poznan in Poland.

Made in Posen

Made in Posen

Further on, there was a monorail system which seemed a remarkable kit in its own right, with the most bizarre looking vehicles – though I haven’t got any photographs or video of this.

From one track to another

From one track to another

After such a good day’s photography we returned to the hotel but returned to Bukinje later for a night shoot. All in all, it’s incredible to think how much we managed to pack into a single day… and how enjoyable that has been.

More photos of steam from around Tuzla

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Aerial ropeway – Lukavac

Posted in Bosnia, Lukavac by folkestonejack on April 6, 2010

In the early evening I took a wander along the shore to see the aerial ropeway which crosses the artificial lake with loaded wagons filled with raw materials. The roadway along the lakeside passes underneath the ropeway and there was a net strung across the road to catch any stray calcite that escaped the wagons. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything like it. Incredibly impressive.

The photographs don’t come anywhere near conveying the size, load or speed of these wagons but it’s the best I can do…

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Kriegsloks!

Posted in Bosnia, Bukinje, Dubrave, Ljubace by folkestonejack on April 6, 2010

A quick glance out of the window in the morning told me all I needed to know… this was no day to be outside taking photographs. The rain was absolutely pissing down and it was suddenly all too obvious how the forest could be so lush and green!

We drove to Bukinje depot on the outskirts of Tuzla where the yard was almost underwater, such was the deluge. A few shunting movements were arranged with their class 62 locomotive and you can see how wet the conditions were from the rapidly growing swamp…

Bukinje underwater!

Bukinje underwater!

It was lucky that there so much to see and keep us inside the shed, where a class 33 locomotive (the German class 52) was undergoing a heavy overhaul. A quite remarkable sight for 2010 in a world where the steam locomotive is now almost extinct outside of preservation. The staff in the shed were incredibly friendly and rightly proud of their kriegsloks (war locomotives) which had been re-patriated from the Russian front.

Kriegslok from Dubrave

Kriegslok from Dubrave

In the afternoon the rain eased off and we got our first real taste of a kriegslok in action at a level crossing outside Dubrave. The sight and sound was truly superb. Later, we got a second helping at Ljubace where a diesel from the state railway had delivered some wagons which were then collected by a kriegslok.

At the end of the day we headed to the Hotel Senad od Bosne located on the shores of an artificial lake at Lukavac. It was a superb base for the final four days of our tour with great food and plentiful draughts of Tuzlanska.

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Skoda

Posted in Banovici, Bosnia by folkestonejack on April 5, 2010

A visit to the interchange yard at Banovici in Bosnia gave us the spectacle of Skoda built steam locomotive 19-12 (0-6-0T) shunting. The Skoda is now only maintained as a backup to their diesel but that’s still quite impressive in the 21st century. A French class 144R (0-8-0T) was dumped out of use in a nearby siding.

The sun held out for as long as it needed to… disappearing just after we got our final shots. The heavens opened shortly after and the rain continued all night.

More photos of Standard gauge steam at Banovici

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Derailed

Posted in Banovici, Bosnia by folkestonejack on April 5, 2010

The double track narrow gauge line (760mm) at Banovici in Bosnia is home to a class 25 (0-6-0) steam locomotive and a class 83 (0-8-2) steam locomotive, used mainly for shunting operations and as back-up to the class 720 and 740 diesels which haul most freight trains here.

A derailment had occurred just outside Oskova station and we walked out to take a look. A class 83 (0-8-2) steam locomotive had been sent out with an engineering train and a number of individuals were in the process of re-railing the wagon as we arrived. After all the charters and arranged runpasts there was no doubting this was 100% real.

More photos of Narrow gauge steam at Banovici

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Narrow gauge steam at Banovici

Posted in Banovici, Bosnia by folkestonejack on April 4, 2010

After leaving Zenica we headed by road to the narrow gauge line at Oskova which turned out to be a good two hour slog through heavy traffic.

To our surprise we found our arrival at Oskova being filmed by a television crew who were putting a piece together about plans to rebuild the forestry line as a tourist attraction. It seems like a good strategy to counter the likely end of the coal line and the area is certainly scenic enough to bring in the tourists (as indeed it already is). In aid of this we joined a diesel hauled train using some newly converted tourist coaches – snacking on bread, ćevapi and beer – on a run to Banovici and back again.

The afternoon saw us take a photo-freight charter from Oskova to Grivice with a class 83 (0-8-2) narrow gauge steam locomotive. It was certainly an experience – sitting on wooden planks in a wagon at the back of the charter and jumping out at various points to get our shots. Quite mad but good fun.

After our day on the line ended we headed for the forestry hotel Zlaća at Banovici. A hearty meal in the evening followed up by plenty of Tuzlanski and Sarajevski beer plus the odd slipovich was enough to send me to a sound night’s sleep!

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Zenica in daylight

Posted in Bosnia, Zenica by folkestonejack on April 4, 2010

A morning at Zenica afforded us the chance to see the class 62 locomotive at the wooden loading facility in daylight. Our luck was continuing to hold – production at the mine had only recently re-started and prior to today the mine had been without a working steam locomotive (they had borrowed a diesel from the nearby steel works to tide them over).

I can’t believe there are many more photogenic spots in the world to photograph steam than this place. It was a delight to watch once again…

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A night at the mine

Posted in Bosnia, Zenica by folkestonejack on April 3, 2010

In late-afternoon we set off for the mine at Zenica where we found another class 62 locomotive under repair in their shed. It has to be said that this place almost feels like an industrial theme park such is the air of antiquity that the wooden loading facility evokes and it’s almost inconceivable that it is actually a fully operational mine.

Having mentally preparing myself for a sequence of communist-era hotels I was rather taken aback by the relative luxury of the four star Hotel Zenica and the somewhat grand affair that awaited us at dinner.

Once night had fallen we returned to the mine for a night shoot that would have given the shivers to any health and safety inspector in the UK. We stood around in the dark as the USA tank shunted around us with a set of wagons, throwing up sparks everywhere and laying a trail of glowing cinders. An utterly amazing spectacle to witness in the 21st century.

62-633 at Zenica

62-633 at Zenica

After some frantic photography the shoot finished around 11.15pm at which point we swapped our historic surroundings for all the luxuries of the modern world.

More photos from Zenica

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Through the mists of time…

Posted in Bosnia, Kakanj by folkestonejack on April 3, 2010

A misty start to the day in Kakanj, brightening up as the day progressed.

The crew had only a little scheduled work when we arrived so three runpasts over the bridge were arranged for our benefit and were topped by later real movements. This gave plenty of opportunities to photograph the bridge from every conceivable angle from the fringes of a football match at the riverside stadium to the lapping waters of the Bosna. The day rounded off with the rather incredible sight of a herd of sheep being herded across the railway bridge after the train had passed… a real touch of local colour.

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Kakanj

Posted in Bosnia, Kakanj by folkestonejack on April 2, 2010

A desperately slow crawl out of Sarajevo followed by the freedom of the motorway brought us to the Catici mine at Kakanj in search of two dinosaurs from the steam age. The mine at Catici is home to two operational USA tanks: 62-020 and 62-366. The pedigree of 62-020 was particularly impressive, being the last working USA tank built in the states (at the Davenport factory).

It has to be said that the welcome we received from the crew here created a wonderful atmosphere in which to wander round taking photographs. Not even a downpour at midday could extinguish that.

62 020 at Catici

62 020 at Catici

In the evening I took part in my first night shoot and was rather surprised to find how much I enjoyed the experience, experimenting with the settings and trying to refine the shots I was taking. I had no idea that taking photographs of a stationary locomotive could be so much fun. Nevertheless I have a long way to go to match the inspiring photos I saw from other members of the group.

As the shoot drew to a close the heavens opened. It seems luck was on our side and surely that has to be a good omen for this tour!

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Dentists and dinosaurs

Posted in Bosnia, Sarajevo by folkestonejack on April 1, 2010

The first night on the tour brought us to the Hotel Hollywood in  Ilidza. The hotel was quite comfortable but had a bizarre line of offers for dental treatment, ranging from check ups to amputation of the dental pulp. Not my idea of a good way to start a holiday…

As we had some time to kill before our evening meal I checked out the surroundings, which included the last stop on the tram line from the old town. The trams take a loop here and head back. In the middle of all this is the rather bizarre sight of two dinosaurs fighting on a tram chassis! It seems somewhat appropriate, given the dinosaurs we are seeking out on this trip.

Dinosaurs at Ilidza

All in all, it has been a good beginning – catching up with familiar faces from previous trips and recalling mad moments from the past. I’m sure there will be the odd anecdote or two to tell at the end of the trip.

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Steam in Bosnia

Posted in Bosnia, Sarajevo by folkestonejack on April 1, 2010

Ok, so I’ve spent a few days mooching around Sarajevo – enjoying the friendly welcome, educating myself in the museums and taking in the city from every viewpoint – but it’s time now for the real purpose of my visit…

I am joining a trip organised by Bernd Seiler of FarRail Tours to see (and photograph) the last working steam locomotives in Bosnia. I’ve been on two tours with FarRail to China and been incredibly impressed by the set-up so I think I am well and truly hooked now.

One reason that I am looking forward to see ‘real steam’ in Europe is that I have never seen that in my own lifetime back home in the UK. I have to say that I am not  particularly skilled with a camera but I find it fascinating to go on a tour with so many experienced photographers – listening,  learning and (hopefully) improving.

I hope to end up with some photos and video footage that I can feel satisfied with (and which remind me of the experience). However, there is always a nagging worry that in trying to do both I could end up doing neither well… leaving me with mediocre video and mediocre photos!

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