The BZK Pirdop Acid Tank Trains
Probably best known, and with good reason, of the BZK Traffic and the main driver for the sevens being in Bulgaria in the first place, are daily trains between Pirdop and Razdelna. They serve the massive Aurubis Bulgaria facility at Pirdop, where the Copper Smelter and Refinery feeds a large yard and is probably the largest generator of railfreight in Bulgaria.
The ‘tanks’ are trains that export the near million tonnes of Sulphuric Acid produced in the copper refining process as a by-product which is largely exported via Port of Varna West. The terminal for this is visible from the Varna Mainline in a low level area below Poveljanovo station. The trains work from Pirdop to the BZK Yard at Razdelna where the rakes are split and tripped into the port by a local shunter for unloading. The wagons are four axle tank wagons, according to the panels ‘Zacns’ if that means anything to you, and when ex-works are bright white which quickly becomes a dull white or grey.
Rakes of 25-35 wagons are common, and generally three locos are used, two on the front and one on the back. Sadly, CFR 40s are usually the first of the three due to crew preference on cab conditions (its a long and slow slog to Razdelna) and in particular the first eastbound out of Pirdop seems to be nailed on for a 40 leading. Usually there is then a ‘seven’ inside, and another on the rear. Inside and tail locos will usually be pan up, but only crewed and powering – there is no use of multiple working – over the sections where the gradients require the extra power. Additionals locos may be tagged on either end for balancing or transfer purposes and daft lash ups on six on the front have been known! It really is worth saying that a Pirdop deckchair session may well end up with a procession of 40s leading the trains, although you can always just pretend the banker was singly working I suppose… The loaded trains can be around 3000T and run to 80km/h (50mph) maximum speed.
Traffic levels seem to have a base of two trips daily, but seems to be fairly dependent on industrial demand – there is significant storage available at both Pirdop and Port of Varna – and there are claimed to be 300 wagons in the fleet. Also, the works still has complete shutdown holidays, but when these are varies year-on-year, when the tank trains do not run for weeks. There are times quoted for three trips, but these are certainly best treated as a guide.
In addition to the regular Razdelna workings, there are other workings (believed to be occasional) to places that at least include Iskar, Vidin and Blagoevgrad as well as into Serbia (and beyond) which can either be tripped on other workings or as bulk trains. Next to no further info though I’m afraid.
Pirdop acid tanks booked workings (times as of 2016 timetable)
|BZK|| Eastbound (loaded)
|DTV 30581||18.25 Pirdop – Razdelna (03.32)|
|DTV 30583||20.10 Pirdop – Razdelna (04.13)||Booked to contain Burgas portion|
|DTV 30587||16.55 Pirdop – Razdelna (02.44)|
|DTV 30580||04.50 Razdelna – Pirdop (11.37)||Nearly always retimed for engineering works|
|DTV 30582||19.58 Razdelna – Pirdop (05.10)|
|TCB20321||23.00 Razdelna – Pirdop (07.25)||Booked to contain Burgas portion|
All trains run via table 300/301 and Karnobat, subject to engineering work.