Archive for the ‘Serbia and Montenegro’ Category

A Serb Sortie, May 2016

I’m still working through the Bulgarian photos, so as this is likely to be of interest to those interested in proper GMs, here is the quick visit we had to Serbia mid trip.


To general surprise, the 2016 timetable has seen the reinstatement of the second Sofia-Belgrade train pair, largely it seems on the basis of the Sofia-Moscow through coach requiring a diversion away from Ukraine following events there. This daytime service has not run for about five years due to a claimed shortage of working diesels in Serbia.

We therefore planned a day to cover this as an out and back move from Sofia, hoping to score 2×661. There were a couple of things that could prevent this – dud 661152, ZS kicking out a 621 shunted vice 661, or the entire move going west due to border riots. BDZ held up their end of the bargain by providing one of Plovdiv’s finest skoda’s in 44169 (and its many dents) rather than a 46 and we headed west. Even I know that if you are going from Sofia to Moscow that is totally the wrong direction!

BDZ-44169-Sf

44169 Sofia

With load three being the RZD bed wagon and two Serb open aircons, at Dimitrovgrad we heard the 661 backing on whilst the Serbs were doing a much quicker border grip than the Bulgarians had done at Kalotina. Beyond Dimitrovgrad the feared “Serb Stagger” was nowhere to be seen and we were soon rolling into Pirot just a few minutes down.

ZS-661112-Pirot

661112 at Pirot. This GM works from Dimitrovgrad to Nis, for a ZS electric forward

On paper we had a plus 75 (plus late running) and with a few Serb pennies left over from previous trips took a quick wander into town to buy some ice cream, noting some absolutely hellfire old vehicles plying the roads. A truly heritage Bedford lorry where the metal poles to hold a load in had busted and been replaced by some twigs being the favourite! Being British we then decamped to the hotel opposite the station which had a decent selection of local beers and more importantly seats in the sun!

We wandered back to the station just before the booked 1424 departure, which naturally came and went with no train. We settled in the sun and with little noise other than birds and a few lizards storming around the ballast time easily ticked away before’that’ JZ GM horn in the distance meant that the train was coming about 45 down it wasn’t a shunter!

ZS-661154-Pirot

661154 brings the 0735 Belgrade – Sofia into Pirot

This time the stock was 2 declassified fresh air FKs so we grabbed an empty compo and enjoyed the run back to Dimitrovgrad again at a decent pace. 44169 was again waiting after the Serbs had done a brief handover. Sadly there were no 87s here as it’d be nice to see one in Serbia, where they do work regularly.

ZS-661154-DmZS

661154 at Dimitrovgrad (ZS) having been put straight onto a freight off MBV491. Proper railway operating!

We sat for what seemed an age at Kalotina as the Bulgarians did their passport grip in the midst of a thunderstorm, our quick return raising more of a chuckle than suspicion. Eventually back on the move and waiting for a Desiro beyond Dragoman we rolled into Sofia just over an hour down.

However, it does seem the overnight will be withdrawn in December 2016 leaving just the daytime trains however this is far better for bashing purposes so to us at least is a great improvement and allows a fairly easy 661 bash, probably now the last stand of these EMD Veterans apart from some limited work in Macedonia.

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Balkans April 2014

A weekend around the Balkans leading up to the Kosovo Mercia Tour;

  • Flew to Podgorica with Ryanair for 24 hours in Montenegro
  • Day train over the stunning Bar to Belgrade line then a day in Belgrade
  • Belgrade to Skopje for a couple of 661s
  • Skopje to Kosovo for the charter in Kosovo and back to Macedonia
  • Indirect route home via Skopje-Charleroi flight and Eurostar

 

Belgrade and Bulgaria, March 2013

With BDZ looking like 2013 may be a year of change, we took a hastily arranged trip to Bulgaria in early March. Due to flight ching issues we flew to Belgrade, picking up my first ZS engines in the process with a couple of ned leaps and then 661152 from Nis to Dimitrovgrad on D293 to Sofia. The couchette reservation for this was easily sorted at Belgrade in no time at all and I was surprised with ZS timekeeping and Serbia in general beating expectations, admittedly only a flying visit though.

We spent three days in the Sofia area picking up winning BDZ electrics, with Cargo sectorisation in full swing we picked up a few things on the wihlist and got lucky falling into a few photos of BZK’s 87007, 87026 & 87029 all working freight trains. The only other ‘seven’ viewed was a quick glance of 87025 on Poduyane Depot still in faded VT livery as it awaits overhaul for Bulmarket.

The last day we went for a spin on the, as ever, superb Narrow Gauge then played the vice-DMU lottery at Plovdiv – as usual luck for winners was out as 07032 declined to come out and play. We then flew back from Plovdiv “Airport” which is barely deserving of the title!