Bulgarian Traction Guide
Part 2: BDZ Electrics
Bulgaria has seemingly never really done train building (or maintaining, some might say) with the result that nearly all of the locos are types that can be found in other countries. This isn’t intended to be an entirely serious page, but a brief rundown on what can be found in deepest Bulgaria. A note on numbering – Bulgaria changed from ‘pre-TOPS’ in 1988 with, basically a change from four (43-01) to five (43001) digit running numbers whilst 43R was split out into classes 44 & 45. In short, if you like old and real electrics there backbone is still heritage skoda designs with 1960s ancestry…
Class 43’0 (43’5)
The oldest type of Skoda electric still in mainstream service, the 56 Class 43s date from 1971 as Skoda 64E. Very similar, if not identical, to CD 242s, they were all renumbered (well, bar some early scrappers) from 430xx to 435xx when re-geared for freight duties which they are now the mainstay of with BDZ-Cargo. The locos which passed to passenger are now out of use.
These are a right fudge! Basically, they are a number of early crash damaged electrics of series 41-45 banged together into ten working locos sometime in the 1980s. They were then outshopped as 43-xxxx with the running number being a year of a signifcant Bulgarian historical event!! They changed that for 43301-43310 but there is little to no information on what most of the locos previously were, and may well have been new build with some recovered innards. 307, 309 & 310 remain in service, with 309 working off Plovdiv for passenger.
Class 44 & 45
Technically two types of Skoda electrics, but banged in together as the difference is in gearing and a number of locos have switched between 44 and 45 numbering, presumably after bogie swaps which makes them fairly interchangable – the lower top speed of a 45 doesn’t make much odds in BG! Built in batches numbering carried on from the 43s with 43R-57 through 43R-205 in pre-tops numbers between 1975 and 1984. Again, similar to CD 242s and equally rateable as they pop, bang and roar across Bulgaria, working most passenger trains although sadly now sectorised. A handful have moved to Cargo and many are out of service, around sixty remain as active passenger locos with appearances varying between ex-works and something off a a scrapline. The scraplines themselves sadly get longer every now and then as a poorly maintained Skoda cooks itself… Blue pair 44001 / 002 were bent by Koncar and make none of the characterful noises, thankfully plans to rebuild many more were abandoned on finance grounds! A number have now been sold on to private operators in both Bulgaria and Czech/Slovakia.
Some of the thousand odd Electroputere Co-Co LDE5100 built, the 46’s are simple export versions of their many Romanian cousins. BDZ originally had 45 of them, but again many are out of service. Three were re-geared to 100mph as 461xx, the value of this is probably shown that these went to Cargo! The passenger fleet is all Koncar rebuilds as 462xx and carry an attractive blue and yellow livery, but again due to funding issues a number are part completed or out of service. Generally found on Burgas services and, seemingly wastefully, local Sofia out and back workings on the Pirdop and Pernik lines. At 6800hp again somewhat wasted on Bulgarian routes and loads these days. Murmurs that the Koncar 46’2 program will be finished appear from time to time but I don’t think BDZ will have the pennies any time soon.
Single cab nonsense! Technically BDZ’s most modern electrics, 20 Skoda single cabs (a AC version of CD 111s, with the more modern control systems than CD210s) were delivered in 1996, having been built in 1992 but subject to financial wrangling after the fall of communism. Used for yard shunts, trip workings and light passenger work they have been hit by a loss of work and a number are now out of use. Most of the serviceable examples passed to passenger and can usually be found around Sofia and down Table 500, with workings reported in waves and troughs. Managed to get into double figures for them, so they do work eventually!
Withdrawn Old Tat
41127 is at the north end of Sofia station where it takes the 25kv overheads and rectifies them for the north end shore supplies to each platform. Don’t know a great deal about this first class of BDZ Skodas, originally 41 of them from 1962-63, the first had been written off in 1965 (fire) with the last survivors seemingly withdrawn in 1994.
More old skodas, this time 90 built between 1963 and 1970 in classic laminátka ‘Goldfish’ form as 42’0s in original form, the majority later moving to 42’1 when rebuilt with more modern cabs as per 41-45s. The last operating ‘goldfish’ 42081 went down the barbecue in 2012, other remaining ones are plinted or on a scrap line. Of the rebuilds, 42184 flits in and out of service, but is obviously Cargo sector. Presumably near identical to Czech/Slovak 230s/or 240s.
Some absolute devices re-built from two section mining locos. Now dumped on Stara Zagora depot and painted in all over light blue. You won’t miss them if they are outside.