Our sold out tour to Bosnia and Herzegovina (and Serbia) in Spring 2009 brought to light some alarming news, from 2009 Serbia is no longer a steam country and Bosnia-Herzegovina will loose its most interesting steam locos in the not too distant future as well.
On our tour we’ll put the focus on the 2-10-0 locomotives of the ‘Kriegslok’ class 33, the German class 52. The Kreka Coal Mines in Tuzla are trying to replace their steam locos with diesels. For the moment they don’t have the money to do it and have just overhauled another class 33. However, it’s high noon for the largest steam locomotives in daily use on the continent. Banovici want to purchase a diesel as well and expect their new baby to arrive by end of 2009. However, it’s possible to charter their steam loco for one day. They have two serviceable standard gauge steam locos, one class 62 and the Skoda built 0-6-0, 19 12.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina about a dozen steam locomotives are in daily use. That’s what we must call a stronghold of steam these days (in a world where some enthusiasts call four locos on a preserved line a ‘mega steam gala’ ...). These few locomotives belong to no less than five different classes on two gauges. So you’ll see more than just one class as it happens in China these days or cute but small locos as in Indonesia. You’ll see really big locos up to the 2-10-0 class 33. Most of the locos in use are ‘Kriegsloks’. The class 33 was intended to be in service for a maximum of five years but now the oldest loco of its class is already 66 years old. The other Kriegslok is the 0-6-0 tank engine class 62, originally known as USATC S100 class. This class was spread well over Europe, and a few examples even found their way to China. The concentration in the former Yugoslavia seemed to be exceptional high and this resulted in very similar locomotives being built by the local company Duro Dakovic after WWII. Only one of the original American constructs with bar frame is still serviceable, the others are all plate frame Duro Dakovic copies.
Besides photographically interesting mine backdrops, we’ll see steam trains in open, hilly countryside on the short stretches from the state railway stations to the mines. In addition we’ve chartered two trains in a most interesting countryside setting.
If everything works as planned we’ll see these classes in service:
In the afternoon the group meets at the airport of Sarajevo, hotel in Sarajevo
The full day is planned for an extensive visit to Kakanj (class 62). We’ve planned some night shots as well. Hotel in Kakanj
In the morning we’ll have another look to Kakanj to see trains on the line to the state railway. At noon we’ll continue by charter bus to Zenica (class 62), where we’ll take night shots with the wooden loading facility. Hotel in Zenica
In the morning we’ll wait until the daily train to the state railway returns (chimney first) to the mine. Afterwards we’ll continue to Banovici where we’ll visit the depot. In the afternoon we’ll take a charter freight train on the beautiful narrow gauge, probably hauled by 0-8-2 locomotive of class 83. Accommodation in the forestry hotel Banovici.
We’ll return to Banovici to take some pictures of the standard gauge locomotive They purchased a diesel locomotive already, but four our group they’ll use one of their steam locomotives. We asked them for using their unique class 19 today. In the narrow gauge station we’ll find either a class 25 (0-6-0) or a class 83 in use. Accommodation in the forestry hotel Banovici.
We continue to Tuzla and will visit all three places, where the class 33 (2-10-0) is still in use: Bukinje, Sikulje and Dubrave. Visit to the depot in Bukinje, where they carry out heavy overhauls themselves. Hotel in Lukavac
Today we’ll try to arrange a meeting of a class 62 from the soda factory and a class 33 from the mine Sikulje at the state railway station of Lukavac. In the afternoon we’ll arrange our visits according to the trains which are hauled by the class 33. Hotel in Lukavac
Today we’ve arranged a charter coal train with the class 33. We’ll travel in a freight car at the end of the train. Many runpasts and photo stops will be arranged. We choose the line Bosanska Bijela Zivinice for our charter train. In Zivinice a class 62 from the mine Durdevik will take over our train and haul it over the 3 miles long beautiful and steep line to the mine. There are plenty of opportunities and the gradient guarantees a hard working locomotive. Durdevik will not operate regular trains in April 2010, that why we arranged (and paid for) a charter train on this section as well. Hotel in Lukavac.
The whole day is dedicated to the class 33 again, which will probably see the last regular use in 2010. Hotel in Lukavac
In the morning we’ll take another look at the station at Lukavac to see when the regular train from the mine will go to the state railway. Later we’ll continue to the airport in Sarajevo for our individual return trips homewards
The coal mine at Breza uses the well known class 62. The locomotive is only active on a very short track. However, a typical industrial mine back drop and a pedestrian bridge over the yard offer some nice photographic opportunities. However, the light is a bit tricky. In the morning you can take some interesting back light shots. In April 2009 the steam locomotive was in need of repair, but by the end of 2009 it should be back to service.
The coal mine at Catici belongs to Rudnika Mrkog Uglia Kakanj. It was one of the most important coal suppliers of the former Yugoslavia. The remaining 62 class locomotives are also used on the one kilometre long connection to the state railway. The line passes over the river Bosna on a photogenic concrete bridge. The mine and the coal washery are busy sites. There are more than four trains each day to the state railway station. In Catici we have the chance to see one of the original American-built locomotives, 62 020.
The coal mine at Zenica is another location for the class 62. For several years now there have been discussions about closing the coal mine at Zenica. Up until now plans of closure haven’t materialised and we hope to find the mine in full operation.
The coal mine with its wooden loading facilities is very photogenic and a good place for night photography. Therefore we have planned some night shots here.
Tuzla is host to the administration of the Kreka power plant and their coal mines in the region. The loco depot is in Bukinje. Here we’ll see the last 2-10-0 German ‘Kriegsloks’ class 33 (DR 52) and some class 62 locos. The depot repairs all locos for the coal mines in Bukinje, Dubrave and Sikulje. These mines are close together, and we’ll visit all of them. Our special interest here is the class 33, of course. In Sikulje the class 33 locomotives returned to serve the state railway station after several years of shunting in the mine area only. This will give us special opportunities for interesting pictures. Of special interest is the departure at Lukavac with its 1930s style signal cabin. The departure order will be given by a flag from an employee at the signal box. There are also semaphores and semaphore distant signals on the short line to the mine.
Dubrave and Sikulie normally each use one “Kriegslok” class 33. The link from the mine in Dubrave to the state railway has some good potential, although trains run chimney first downhill and return tender first uphill. But the departure from Dubrave is always a sight and well worth recording on video as well.
Both mines, Sikulje and Dubrave, deliver about two trains per day to the state railway. The mine in Bukinje is much smaller and can fill only one train every three to five days. In Bukinje it’s more likely to see a class 62 instead of a 33.
In the depot of Bukinje they’ll carry out heavy overhauls. We do not know their overhaul schedule, but such repairs taking a long time, so chances are not too slim to see an overhaul there. Because they want to acquire two diesel locomotives it can not be guaranteed that there will still be a class 33 in regular use. They want to replace the steam locomotives in Dubrave and Sikulje, leaving only the shunting operations and the short line service in Bukije steam operated. However, they still have four serviceable locomotives of class 33 and will get a fifth from overhaul soon. So we can arrange something with money if everything else fails. Last but not least we have our charter train which will give us plenty of opportunities to get good shots from this class.
We have chartered a class 33 for a real coal freight train on the state railway. Several photo stops and runpasts will give you good opportunities for line shots. The lines around Tuzla are all photogenic, running through valleys and alongside small rivers. The area is densely populated and typical Bosnian houses can be found alongside the tracks. Anyhow, road access is limited and some photo locations require a bit of an extra effort to get to. We have hired the class 33 steam loco (2-10-0) for seven hours.
On the very scenic, double tracked narrow gauge line of Banovici we’ll experience another authentic, steam hauled train. We have chosen one of what is probably the most classic type of Bosnian narrow gauge locomotives: the famous class 83 (0-8-2). The line is steep and offers plenty of photogenic spots. It is also a highlight for video film makers.
Besides their narrow gauge steam locomotives, the coal mine administration of Banovici used to use standard gauge steam locomotives in Banovici, their interchange yard with the state railway. Mainly the class 62 is active in the washery, but with a of bit luck we’ll see the Skoda built class 19 (0-6-0T). They own a French class 144R (0-8-0T, Fives, Lille) as well, but this loco is currently out of use. At the moment they’re negotiating the purchase of a second hand diesel from Slovenia. The diesel should arrive by the end of 2009. To see steam on the standard gauge we’ll need to arrange (and pay) something.
The daily shunting operation in the narrow gauge part of the station (called Oskova) is usually done by a class 25 (Skoda built 0-6-0) or the last remaining class 83 (Slavonski Brod). The line service on the 760 mm narrow gauge is exclusively diesel with classes 720 (0-4-0) and 740 (4-4).
Durdevik uses only one loco of the common class 62 but the line as well as the mine are extraordinary beautiful for photography. The line leads about three miles to the state railway station. A once or twice a week-service will bring the locomotive down with loaded wagons and back with empties. We’ll try to change the departure times slightly, so that the shuttle to the state railway station will start after sunrise. They do it often in the morning just before sunrise. The mine is in best light in the morning, when the loco is usually very busy after bringing in a train of empties from Zivinice, the state railway station. The long trains are a real sight. You’ll probably never hear a class 62 working that hard anywhere else.
In the Soda Factory of Lukavac there is another class 62 in service, but the new owners do not issue any permits. So we’ll need to arrange for the loco to come out of the factory area to the state railway station, where we can photograph it freely. On the short spur from the factory to the station we can make some real line shots. The financial crisis has hit the soda factory hard and it’s not certain that their locomotive will be in use every day. They’ve also talked about diesels but at the moment they have no money to buy one.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is a secure and hassle free place for organised tours. Taking photographs of railways still causes some sceptical views from railway workers and local people. We have organised (and paid for) a permit for every site we want to go to. To avoid any difficulties we shall not take pictures at places where we have no permission. At most locations (which aren’t on our permission list) it’s possible to obtain a permit from the local staff. Please be patient if this procedure takes a few minutes of our precious time. At some locations the officials do not issue permits to foreigners. Please consider that any unauthorised pictures can cost the whole group a lot of time. It’s much better to follow the restrictions. The factories have agreed to show us their locomotives. Several times we’ve found that as soon as you can show an official permit they’ll open all doors for you and even arrange an extra movement with their locomotives.
For ethnic reasons, Bosnia-Herzegovina is separated into two parts. You’ll not realise the border between the two states, the Republic Srpska and the Bosnian-Croatian Federation.
The standard of the selected middle class hotels cannot be compared with central European standards. After two wars in recent years, the tourist infrastructure has not recovered completely. Investment for tourist purposes in remote and coal mining areas is not on the priority list. Please accept that not everything will be perfect. However, the supply of food is certain, quality and quantity are quite good. Vegetarian food is not common and might be difficult to get.
Although for visitors of many countries it’s possible to enter Bosnia-Herzegovina with a valid ID card we strongly recommend to take your passport with you. We need passports (and not ID cards) for the permits to visit some mines. In rare cases they even collect the passports when we enter the factories.
We are travelling in the Spring time. The weather can be anything from snow showers to deep blue sky and 25 degrees Centigrade. Please carry appropriate cloths with you to be prepared.
Our charter bus offers a local standard. Please be prepared that we’ll travel sometimes more than two hours to get from one to another steam location.
The tour is planned with the dedicated photographer and videographer in mind. Therefore we decided to use hotels close by the railways rather than first class resorts far away from any railway. In addition, we will use the daylight hours for photography rather than for substantial meals. It never hurts to carry a few snack foods along, just in case meals are delayed a little.
We will mainly visit regular steam sites. Sometimes we’ll hire a special train or pay for a special duty. At the sites with regular steam it might happen that we have to wait a bit longer to get our pictures. At several locations there are one or two serviceable locomotives only. So it may happen that we won't see the described locomotive or train. In this case we will try to find an adequate alternative site with interesting operations. However, we are at the edge of a steam free age, and no one can guarantee that we’ll see what we have planned and paid for. Be assured we will do everything possible to make things work. We cannot offer refunds if things go wrong. For our tour there is no insurance available against a steam loco failure.
Please bear in mind that accommodation and transportation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Serbia may fall short of EU and North American safety standards. Always use common sense when crossing roads and railway tracks. FarRail Tours cannot be held responsible and will not accept any liability whatsoever in the case of any accident, damage or delay. We suggest you take out a comprehensive overseas accident and health insurance policy.Registration period expires: 04/01/2010
Please note that the price for the flight to Sarajevo is not included in the tour price. Usually flight prices are higher the later you book them.
|64 Years On: 'Kriegsloks' in regular use
|20 to 36 participants
|Single room surcharge
|Registration Deadline: 04.01.2010
As flight prices vary by more than 200 %, depending on port of disembarkation and date of booking, we’ve not included the flight price in the tour price. Please indicate which flights we should book for you if required (airport and preferred airlines), and we’ll list the best connections for you. We recommend you book with Austrian Airlines. The last leg of your flight should be (connections are available from all major cities in Europe):
OS 757 Vienna 13.30 14.40 Sarajevo (Airbus A319)
OS 758 Sarajevo 15.25 16.45 Vienna (Fokker 70)
The price includes:
Not included are: