Jump to content
zeljeznice.net

Roni

Članovi
  • Content Count

    557
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

0 Neutral
  1. Zdravo! Link to the video (please select high resolution): https://youtu.be/8dKyesaN99k Preview video screenshots: To the previous part of the series: Regional Rail Express - 14: Suceava (50 p.) http://www.railroadforums.com/forum/index.php?threads/regional-rail-express-14-suceava-50-p.14401 August 10 2019 The first summer holiday Saturday I took Railjet 133 "Gondoliere" and EuroCity 213 "Mimara" from Vienna via Villach to Ljubljana where I was greeted in style by GM-licensed engines. I had reserved a "room" on booking.com at Central Hotel - which turned out to be a "capsule" like known from hotels in Japan. Oh well, it was an adventure for a short night as on August 11 2019 Miško took me onto an early excursion. We visited the viaduct across the freeway near Vrhnika. Three international trains left Ljubljana that Sunday morning into this direction: LP 1824 to Trieste and Udine, RG 1605 Maribor - Koper with the first part of seasonal sleeper express "Istria" from Budapest and shortly after seven o'clock MV 481 "Opatija" to Rijeka here with through cars of EuroNight "Lisinski" from Munich in front and the second part of "Istria" at the rear. I spent a week on the beach at Opatija and continued to Zagreb on August 17 2019. That Saturday evening I caught this view of central square Trg bana Josipa Jelačića from Hotel Dubrovnik and later boarded B 821 towards Split. For the short night to Knin I had only booked a couchette berth online. Sleeper car was available, but not visible on the website. The photo part of the trip started beautifully at first light on August 18 2019 below Knin fortress with B 1204 "Adria" Budapest - Split. The catenary masts are relics of times when the Una railroad through Bosnia constituted the main line to Knin, nowadays trains take the detour into the Croatian Lika mountains. I climbed the fortress on Krka river offering fantastic panoramic views in the afternoon. Even on Sunday two freight trains almost met here, one hauled by these class 2062 GM twins in striking new HZ Cargo livery. Knin loco shed with engines that have seen better times in the background. I continued towards the Dalmatian coast early on August 19 2019. Pu 5501 Perković - Split consisted of a tilting intercity train equivalent to DB class 612. Its female conductor probably was used to more glamorous tasks than dispatching a train at stops like Brdašce ... ... where I got off. First, B 821 thundered up the steep grade (see video from minute 4:36), then "Adria" appeared delayed – however, the current timetable allowed enough slack for it to make up about 40 minutes on the Lika line, so it arrived relatively on time most days I spotted it. Pu 5503 took me to Split, where I checked into apartment "Eldin" – a cool and well equipped accommodation in an old stone building on a quiet side street only two minutes walk from station and bustling city center. I had the feeling it would be necessary, so I returned to the mountainside already by Pu 5526 at 11:37 to Kaštel Stari. They actually managed to introduce integrated traffic to avoid the Split traffic jams. International passengers arrived from Split airport by bus and took the railcar into the city. Some where unsure upon the sight if this was the proper train. Several things had changed - sadly the convenient Konzum supermarket near the station is gone, so you have to walk to the closest Tommy market some hundred yards downhill to get your cool drinks and ice cream. I marched to the distant semaphore signal and sat down in the shade of an umbrella. The feeling did not deceive: the regular afternoon freight dieseled uphill (on both days exactly 2 p.m. at Kaštel Stari). Again a desired GM in new colors - mission accomplished! Air traffic has significantly increased, planes are constantly landing now - a decade ago it only had been a handful each day. The sound for the scene: https://youtu.be/8dKyesaN99k?t=571 At 5:30 in the afternoon B 1205 "Adria" Split - Budapest was ready for its 6:30 p.m. departure. I repeated a horrible experience from 2009 - back then you climbed the campanile on stairs partly free in the air along the walls of the open construction, now you stay inside scaffolding in the center of the bell tower. I had to wait a bit as the amount of people on top was limited, but not too long. I reached the top shortly after six and took photos into all directions, time enough to get back down and film the departure from ground level. In the background, you can spot the ferry to Brač island. In front the current traffic jam always blocking the street past the bus station. "Split Metro" is supposed to alleviate the situation, consisting of new DMU 7023-001 commuting between main and Predgrađe stations through the city tunnel. B 1204 "Adria" arrived punctually on August 20 2019. I returned to Kaštel Stari and caught bus number 93 departing daily at 3:30 p.m. from the street in front of the church to the top of Malačka mountain. Soon, a freight train came downhill - I reversed its direction for the panorama. To the left a monument for war victims of Kaštela and a mountain inn (closed at the time). The panoramic picture in larger resolution: http://raildata.info/heck/adria1918x.jpg Until now, the tilting trains were running as locals reliably, exactly that afternoon they decided to switch to Swedish railcar plus bus replacement Kaštel Stari – Perković as these cannot cope with the steep grades. So, I had to wait for the desired object – "Adria" as next train uphill from Kaštel Stari. In mid August the light situation was tight, it came a few minutes late but finally appeared. And provided this unknown grand glint view at Sadine stop... Trogir city in the background, Drvenik Veli island and Sveti Andrija in the distance. A bush fire seemed to just have started near Plano. I walked down to the station and arrived fifteen minutes after sundown. The wait was longer than expected as ICN 523 showed up 40 minutes late. As it arrived, the station master herded all airport tourists from the railcar to the intercity - that's called customer service! Late morning on August 21 2019 I took a bus of Globtour Međugorje along the Makarska Riviera via Ploče to Mostar in Herzegovina region of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Croatian portion of the railroad near the port of Ploče along Neretva estuary offers lovely photo opportunities but sadly no passenger traffic. Mostar is known for its heat - it had had 107 degrees the days before, now only 100. I checked into a friendly cool private accommodation right across the street from the station. During an afternoon walk, I watched people cooling off in Neretva river, some doing the classic jump from the reconstructed old bridge giving the city its name, some from less scary heights. Next railroad photo opportunity: I took a cab 15 miles north on the main highway early next morning, August 22 2019, to abandoned railroad stop Drežnica Stara. The cab ride cost about 15 dollars per direction as prices still are moderate in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This time of year you could not count on sunlight for the first train passing through Neretva gorge. B 720 Čapljina - Sarajevo consisting of a ŽFBH (railroads of the federation Bosnia and Herzegovina) Talgo hauled by a class 441 electric appeared punctually at 7:02 a.m. Fish restaurant "Vidikovac" with its name giving viewpoint to the left, the confluence of Drežanka and Neretva to the right. A strong wind was reinforced by the narrow valley. A small road provided access to the river bank, so I could wait in quiet for B 723 Sarajevo - Čapljina which came by at 9:14 a.m. about half an hour delayed. 4x2 panorama. The railroad Sarajevo – Ploče was constructed by regauging and realigning the 2 ft 5 15⁄16 in Bosnian narrow gauge Narenta line from 1963 on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarajevo%E2%80%93Plo%C4%8De_railway Almost the same view in 1970 with railbuses on standard gauge and the narrow gauge bridge below before the river was dammed: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahnstrecke_Sarajevo%E2%80%93Plo%C4%8De#/media/Datei:NERETVA_RIVER_GORGE_BRIDGES.jpg The fish restaurant was opened, I sat down for a coffee and ordered the cab back to Mostar. The waiter told me I could access the panoramic rock. The wind almost blew me away, I just climbed the last of the huge steps as.... ... ... 441-912 in Turkish TCDD livery approached at 9:41 a.m. from Sarajevo! iPhone panoramic version. I waited for the taxi when at 9:54... could only be heard last second due to road noise. The freight trains probably had met at Drežnica station. Shortly afterwards I returned to Mostar. As the next train from Mostar only arrived before ten at night in Sarajevo during the summer season, I took the bus again. I was welcomed by my relatives with a proper meal and later walked through the city. Party into the sunset by "party tram". Morning mood along Miljacka river on August 23 2019. A few streetcars have been renumbered recently, #524 had been #261. The famous Holiday Inn had been revived as "Hotel Holiday". Viennese units only operated on line 4 from the railroad station out of the city. To the right former E class #550 (until 2018 Sarajevo #709, ex Vienna #4423, Lohner 1A522 / built in 1962) met an original Sarajevo Tatra K2YU (only the pantographs had been previously attached to the rear of the car). Here you can watch the proper trams in 1986 (featuring me ;0)): https://youtu.be/FIZAdv-EW7w?t=74 To the left as two-picture-panorama one of the classic TAM 80 (Tovarna avtomobilov Maribor) trucks also owned by city transport company GRAS which had passed the spot 5 minutes earlier. During Yugoslav times, these vehicles were omnipresent in various configurations - I rode the minibus edition several times as a child. The way to the railroad terminal led past the monstrous new US embassy equipped with giant satellite dishes which they somehow decided to place right into the city occupying a whole block between main street, hotels, university and station, armed guards and no-photography-signs around it. The sale for tickets to Bihać opened at 8 a.m., so I waited in line with people from Syria and Pakistan who were luckily treated in a friendly way by the ladies at the ticket counters. However, ticket sales still are very complicated with ŽFBH. The clerks are provided with computers, but they have to write everything by hand. And you have to consider restrictions like tickets only being sold at the departure station. As it was my turn to purchase mine to Banja Luka, I was told only tickets to Bihać were being sold, I should come back later... Originally I had planned to visit the Una line special scheduled for next day, but then decided to stay longer with my relatives in Sarajevo. In the afternoon of course I had to get ćevapi at the old Ottoman bazaar Baščaršija, the classic vanilla ice cream from "Egipat" also can't be missed. It is somehow caramelized, very sweet and I have not found an equivalent anywhere in the world. The taste has not changed since my childhood. Streetcar #523 (ex #258) did change - any working pantograph available is used. Now you had space to take pictures here, the evening before traffic almost stood still - probably also due to the Sarajevo Film Festival. A "whirling dervish" is depicted on the DÜWAG-built units from Konya (#556, ex Cologne #3624, ex Konya #128, built in 1963), on its side city names "Konya" and "Saraybosna" - the Ottoman name for Sarajevo, still common in Turkey today. I tried out the actually existing ŽFBH online ticketing service, so I only had to pick up the ticket from the information counter next day, August 24 2019. What you get is of course just another hand-written ticket. B 720 from Čapljina arrived one hour late at 9:29 a.m. What appeared as supposed Talgo B 712 Sarajevo - Banja Luka? An old "Olimpik Ekspres" EMU with full first class interior including turnable seating from yesteryear! I asked the conductor if this was not supposed to be a Talgo. He replied: "it's a Talgo service" - of course that could hardly be be noticed later apart from a moving train. A few locals complained about the "crate" they had to travel in. For me it was a beautiful experience, you could look out of the window at quite hot temperatures. We accumulated most of our delay right after leaving Sarajevo at Rajlovac where 441-913 hauling 25 minutes late B 715 Bihać - Sarajevo met us at 10:43 a.m. Who still remembers the year 2010 and the "f***in' little green tank engines" - as my British photo friends called them - at Kakanj? Soon afterwards the mining company had switched to another little green loco: Czech company CZ LOKO built 797.842 just departed mainline station Kakanj towards the coal mine terminal at Čatići. The crew greeted me in a friendly fashion. See: Steam in Bosnia 2010 - 2: Kakanj I - Hadzi, Puppies and the American (50 p.) http://railroadforums.com/forum/index.php?threads/steam-in-bosnia-2010-2-kakanj-i-hadzi-puppies-and-the-american-50-p.804 Steam in Bosnia 2010 - 3: Kakanj II - Over Night (50 p.) http://railroadforums.com/forum/index.php?threads/steam-in-bosnia-2010-3-kakanj-ii-over-night-50-p.876 Steam in Bosnia 2010 - 4: Kakanj III / Zenica I - Barbecue Saturday (50 p.) http://railroadforums.com/forum/index.php?threads/steam-in-bosnia-2010-4-kakanj-iii-zenica-i-barbecue-saturday-50-p.906 A cheerful chat at Zenica freight yard, one train towards Sarajevo conveyed two original GM-EMD 661s behind 441-912. At Doboj - first main station in the Republika Srpska (Serbian dominated part of Bosnia-Herzegovina) - we almost were 35 minutes delayed, but the line through Republika Srpska is in much better condition than its federation counterpart. So, our "Olimpik Ekspres" could exhibit what it was capable of and almost gained twenty minutes until Banja Luka. On the way, we sped past station masters with a nostalgic look in their eyes. This dauntless angler waved at me on the bridge across Vrbas river shortly before reaching the terminal. Image to the right: after arrival at Banja Luka, 35 years since its introduction as express Belgrade - Sarajevo to the Olympic Games. A memory on film from 1984 with me as passenger: https://youtu.be/fBRG2-_n9c4 Local trains into both directions waited for the connection, putnički voz 6405 Banja Luka - Doboj departed punctually at 3:27 p.m. on August 25 2019. B 713 returning to Sarajevo at 3:49 p.m. In the afternoon there were thunderstorm showers, but my Hotel Cezar was right in the vicinity, also grill restaurant "Obelix" offering quite tasty Banja Luka ćevapi (made in rows). The city center is located some distance from the station. That Sunday morning I had gone on an early excursion. PT 6401 already took me at 4:15 a.m. to Čelinac in the vicinity. I easily received printed tickets from the counter before departure. I sat down at the station until dawn broke, a freight train towards Doboj passed by in darkness. Subsequently, I walked to this spot on a bridge across Jošavka river. Punctually before sunrise, ŽFBH Talgo B 715 Bihać - Sarajevo showed up at 5:49 a.m. Of course the Serbian flag is a harsh contrast, but it constitutes progress that a ŽFBH train can even be encountered on this line. Equally punctual PT 6400 Doboj - Banja Luka approached at 6:11 a.m. hauled by a class 441 double header. The local roštilj opened at seven, I was welcomed and even invited to a morning coffee. Again on time to the minute, PT 6403 towards Doboj passed by at 7:49 a.m. I waited a bit at one end of Čelinac station - and it paid off: another orange meeting of classics, on a Sunday morning! Next, I boarded PT 6402 again conveying two 441s to Banja Luka. Over-the-top meeting of classics at Banja Luka. ŽRS still provide liveries closest to the original JŽ engines, only the cars received second hand formerly from the GDR have been repainted. The following morning I took a bus to Zagreb, then traveled on to Budapest and Cluj - where we will resume our series of Romanian regional express trains next time.
  2. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    Zdravo! Zadnji dio: October 27 2018 Mallets 442.56 and 440.008 shunted to the depot upon our arrival at 6 p.m. - two engines under steam are not a common sight here. In front of the campanile. We said goodbye to the railwaymen and their female boss. Apart from monetary compensation we gave them goody bags with items difficult to obtain in Eritrea. October 29 2018 The already shown city sightseeing tour followed on Sunday. I had to return to work Tuesday at noon, so a short stopover was planned. Thomas picked me up from the hotel in his car (of course an Opel) and took me to the airport Monday morning. The security officer confiscated the AA batteries from my sound recorder... however, they must have flown here somehow. The waiting hall featured TV-entertainment: first, a local war film, then dictatorship-TV with the benevolent ruler visiting a facility and meeting foreign dignitaries. The Flydubai 737-800 touched down slightly delayed, but the small airport worked efficiently - with a turnaround of just 45 minutes we took off on time at 8 a.m. Like the weeks before, thunderstorm-prone weather dominated the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf. We flew close to Mecca, but sadly the cloud cover extended all the way to the Emirates. At noon, we arrived at Dubai international airport terminal 2 further away from the city. The luggage had been checked through to Vienna, I just received my boarding pass for the next day. A friendly gentleman in traditional clothes welcomed me at immigration and asked if I came from Salzburg. It is probably one of few jobs only covered by people without recent immigration background. 85 percent of the population consists of immigrants, 25 percent claim to have Iranian roots – the Iranian coastline is just 60 miles away across the Gulf. I entered the bearable heat outside and took a taxi with a nice Indian driver to my Premier Inn for 35 dirham (8.50 €). That way I managed to check in efficiently - it is a comfortable stay if you need to get to the airport early next morning. The hotel shuttle bus departing every half hour took me to airport terminal 3 at 1:30 p.m. where you can change to the Dubai Metro. There still were four hours of available daylight to be used. My train approached in front of the Emirates Group headquarters, a plane was landing to the left. You could only take pictures through windows as platforms are secured by separate doors, no track is openly accessible. Terminal 3 consisting of several buildings connected underground - concourse A in the background - is the second largest structure in the world by floor space. Soon, we will pass the tallest building in the world since 2009, another to be constructed here soon. Metro Dubai Red Line was opened as first underground of the Emirates in 2009. It is 32.4 miles long - only 2.9 miles underground - and leads from Rashidiya district near the international airport to the port city of Jebel Ali already close to the border of Abu Dhabi Emirate. There, Al Maktoum International / Dubai-World Central Airport is under development, the new biggest airport in Dubai and the world - but not yet directly connected by Metro. You can easily call it a suburban railway as well. Trains are five-part driverless EMUs constructed by Japanese company Kinki Sharyō. "Gold class" and the women's compartment are located in the carriage at the south-western end of Red Line trains, so you can perfectly take images out of the other end during the afternoon. More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubai_Metro https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Line_(Dubai_Metro) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubai After half an hour, we have reached Burj Khalifa stop in downtown Dubai, the financial district in the background. The longest uninterrupted stretch of tracks leads to Noor Bank across Dubai Creek, leaving the skyscrapers behind. Nakheel ("palm trees") features a siding. In the background the next aggregation of skyscrapers around Dubai Internet City. I got off the train at DAMAC Properties after almost an hour-long ride. Some cooling drinks could be purchased - Dubai is one of the most expensive cities, but everyday shopping proves comparatively cheap. You cross the E11 motorway via a covered walkway to tram stop Dubai Marina. The line opened in 2014 is operated by Alstom Citadis class 402 units. Don't worry - it's not diesel, but APS II ground-level power supply only turned on if a vehicle completely covers that rail section. More info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubai_Tram https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground-level_power_supply Tram, bus and Metro in one view. My stop was Jumeirah Beach Residence 1, one of the biggest apartment and holiday resorts in the world. The line is only single track here, traffic negotiates the circle counter-clockwise. All stops are air-conditioned, trams offer a zone for women/families. I walked to the bridge across Dubai Marina in slightly humid heat. The Metro can be spotted in the background. Tourist tour boats resembling dhows came past. Of course plenty of modern yachts as well. School buses can be encountered quite often. After an hour at the Marina, I changed to the Metro back to the city at Jumeirah Lakes Towers / DMCC. View through a typical station. Train meeting at Nakheel. 2722.4 ft tall (without aerial) Burj Khalifa appeared past Internet City. Sheikh, take a look at the skyline. The long straight across Dubai Creek. Rush-hour approached - trains often operated at the interval of one station as you can spot in the distance. Notice Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel in the background - it will be of use later. I changed to the Green Line at BurJuman and took it two stops to historicising Al Ghubaiba station. The traditional "cooling towers" are replicas as well, but at least we find ourselves in the historic Al Shindagha quarter with guard tower (20th century) and A380 (21st century) to the left. You can quietly enjoy a shisha on the shore of Dubai Creek - an inlet of the Persian Gulf around Dubai. Proper dhows can still be found here, behind a swarm of water taxi called abras. I walked through the textile-souk, avoiding pushy vendors when possible. Back at the Creek, the promenade leads along the "Ruler's Court" - Al Farooq mosque behind it. The clouds above a rebuilt historical quarter indicate my weather luck in Dubai - it could have been entirely different. Through a middle-class residential area populated by Indians and Pakistanis I reached Al Fahidi station and took the Metro to BurJuman. View along Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Street towards downtown and ADCB (Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank) station. I asked the concierge at before mentioned Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel if the top floor could be accessed, the answer simply was: "yes". By the way, staying here is not that expensive, it would have been an option. A lady welcomed me at the top floor and showed me to the... swimming pool. You can discern the distinctive silhouette of the Burj Al Arab ("Tower of the Arabs") luxury hotel to the right along the coast, the tram also operates in that area. Panoramic view from the clouds near the airport to the left to the Persian Gulf sunset to the right. For soundtrack see video at minute 44:08: https://youtu.be/vBqI3qUHE2g?t=2648 The sun reflected in the skyscrapers downtown. You can see the dense Metro interval at each station. "Union House Flag" (dictatorship: check, giant flag: check) at the location where the United Arab Emirates had been founded in 1971: https://www.visitdubai.com/en/pois/union-house The artificial land in the background belongs to "the World". Of course I waited until city lights appeared. 492 ft tall "Dubai Frame" opened in 2018 was illuminated in changing colours - the domes behind it are part of the "Stargate" theme park. Zabeel mosque in the background, to the left the palace of the Emir's brother. Occasionally, princesses tend to flee from such in Dubai... B/W version to properly celebrate the light display. Next, I walked to ADCB station surprised by the crowds at rush-hour. Even with such dense intervals I managed to only just squeeze into the second train arriving. More passengers got off before we approached the airport. I bought something to eat, then took the hotel shuttle to my room. October 30 2018 After six o'clock in the morning I waited in front of the Premier Inn for the shuttle - what can you do to bridge the time? Railway photography! Metro station Terminal 3 just opposite the hotel, yet the bus had to take a fifteen minute detour to get across the motorway. Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPQ taxied past, a few A380s waited in the background. I procured a few things at the airport, then boarded the A380 punctually. Tuesday morning in October is not a busy time, so I had a row to myself. Making yourself comfortable was important as suddenly the captain announced: "Actually, we have been ready to push back for ten minutes, but due to the weather situation over the Gulf nothing is happening at the moment." Soon afterwards, a heavy shower went down over the airport and a flash of lightning could be seen above the airfield. We finally started taxiing one and a half hour later. The flight was convenient, only the landing at Vienna quite windy. The image below shows the final approach to runway 16 above the Danube viewed from the tail camera. Great weather conditions over Kurdistan: View of Lake Van, 13314 feet high Süphan Dağı to the left in front, Mount Ararat towering over the landscape at 16,854 ft in the background, both extinct volcanoes.
  3. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    Zdravo! Map of the mountain section: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrean_Railway#/media/File:Eritrean_Railway_Map_of_March,_1998.svg October 27 2018 Our double header consisting of Mallets 440.008 and 442.56 steamed out of tunnel 23 Saturday afternoon. The group subsequently changed to the other valley side. Out of tunnel 24, the train negotiated the curve I already had captured in the evening mist on the first full photo day. Of course once more with the nicest kids in the area. We continued to the entrance of long tunnel 27. I left a bag full of stationery here, so someone lucky may find it. Next, a highlight of the trip: several double header run-pasts through Devil's Gate. Yellow canisters everywhere. These "hats" are traditional covers for storage vessels. An ant trail led straight across the terrace in front of the house. The two Mallets thundered past again soon, things went more smoothly with twice (or rather four times) the power. Rolling back did not look bad as well. Perfect spotlight. A double Mallet panoramic view of Devil's Gate as good-bye. Next stop: 4-arch viaduct. News spread at a running pace. The first run-past. A bit further downhill for the second one. That way a dynamic panorama of the silhouette could be captured. Inside the passenger carriage with the train manager before the group boarded. The image is real, only a double exposure for the view outside to the left. The children living in the mountainside villages turned out to be "vertically mobile". The winner of my bag - perhaps he already has opened his own unofficial stationery shop in the meantime. Notice the F.S. inscription. We got off at the horseshoe curve where we had encountered the wedding party on the first afternoon of the trip. This time I climbed up the hill. It paid off... In the background to the right: the bridge on the lowest level towards Arbaroba where we had taken photos Friday morning. The whole curve. More mist came in. Leading to this gigantic spotlight mood. It was time to climb down again. Next spot: mountain range viewpoint. Through the forest, already with longer time exposure,... ... as I had planned a series of panning shots. Last stop at the kilometre 115 loop above Asmara. Time for a shadow-selfie as the train rolled back. Final run-past below the antennas. Downhill past the pond. Through the station yard gate. Where the local/global junior football team was waiting. Sunset with campanile. Arrival of the train. Next time, we say good-bye and start the journey home.
  4. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    October 27 2018 We started our second sunrise-attempt of the trip Saturday morning. We had learnt from our previous mistakes and departed Asmara earlier. Also, the tarpaulins stayed on the wagons and a few daredevils of the group sanded while our train steamed up the slippery grade. Made it: we reached our spot on the other side of the summit with smaller Mallet 440.008 just as the sun appeared at 6:18 a.m. We sanded the moist rails, still the loco only made it into the frame in its second attempt. I only discovered it later, but at the station in the darkness I had made the rookie mistake to set the focus to manual and not back to autofocus afterwards. Luckily, the setting allowed photos to be sharp up to about 70 mm. I changed to the forest side after several run-pasts. One final run past the huts. The others hiked uphill - I preferred this panoramic view, with yellow highlight of course. Antennas on the mountaintop and tour group erased. Subsequently, we moved to the forest-S-curve. I finally recognized the focussing error thanks to these flowers. Next stop: The curve with bridge where we had met the wedding party on the first afternoon of the trip. I removed power lines from some images. View down the valley with main road and railway line. We know the mountain in the background to the right from the morning at Arbaroba. A 4x1 portrait format panorama. The train reached my location in no time. I had to hurry for the second run-past... ... to get this view of the valley. The panoramic image in larger resolution can be found here: http://raildata.info/eritrea18/eri1426gr.jpg The whole section in one picture. Shortly before 8:30 a.m., we arrived at the 4-arch viaduct as last stop. Train in the distance: donkeys posing nicely. Train nearby: donkeys can only just be managed in position. Power lines removed from this 2x2 panorama. Shortly afterwards, we were told to walk to the buses as the loco was short on water. It steamed back to Asmara, while we puffed up the path to the main road at 7500 ft altitude. You can spot the water lorry in the background with... ... an old Mercedes truck, donkeys, yellow canisters... ... and? Bike commuters to the capital! I snapped shots from the bus of another Art Deco petrol station highlight: former Agip "laboratorio chimico". We took a short break at the hotel where I made sure the photos had turned out sharp. After lunch we returned to Shegerini. Who would have thought it after days of engine driver shortage and loco failures: the promised double header featuring 440.008 and - the supposedly faulty 442.56! All in all we encountered five engines under steam that trip. The train should have been two passenger carriages longer and should have departed from Arbaroba, but all in all I was pleasantly surprised. The local children also judged the situation partly happily, partly with scepticism. We rolled downhill to tunnel 23 for the first run-pasts. More double Mallet power next time!
  5. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    Zdravo! October 26 2018 442.55 steamed uphill from Arbaroba to Shegerini Friday before noon. Mallet in action. For the rest of the series, always remember this map including three levels of the line - four, if you count the other valley side: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrean_Railway#/media/File:Eritrean_Railway_Map_of_March,_1998.svg We have reached the mountainside below Shegerini on the lowest level close to the portal of tunnel 27. Tunnel 24 and the line from Arbaroba can be spotted to the right of the loco. In the upper left corner the monastery and Shegerini loop (station km 110,4) on the middle level. Devil's Gate (marked on the map "3 arch bridge" and "road overpass") is located behind the monastery. Tunnel 24 next to the engine, tunnel 28 to the left above at Shegerini. The train rolled back into tunnel 26 for several run-pasts. The little girl sadly did not have any shoes and probably soles like leather by now on such rocky terrain... This village is home to the nicest kids of the area - of course we supplied them with the desired pencils. First run-past below the monastery. Second run-past in best spotlight. A demonstration of the Mallet construction. The boy next to the neatly arranged shoes did not move the whole time and was fascinated by the train. A well-secured solar panel. We always had the boiler pressure gauge in view from the carriage. Sometimes it reached indicated 16 bars only to be squeezed down to 4 bars within a short period of time after which the engine had to take an extended pressure cooking break. Lunchtime at Shegerini. The locomotive was uncoupled. Two of us walked through tunnel 28... this awaits you on the other side! The loco steamed past Devil's Gate a few minutes later. The view from a little up the rocks is spectacular, but the ground below was being used as a public toilet due to the main road around the corner just out of sight. We moved to the road. The reason for the single engine: the already known water truck was able to refill the tank from the road overpass. A lost nakfa bill on the road was safely deposited in the well-protected donation box. As the water taking procedure was due to take a while, I walked uphill to explore the monastery. I reached the church - closed at the moment - past a few inhabited buildings. Relatively new terrace with view. Probably an Eritrean hot dog factory... The road overpass has had to endure some punishment. Water only filled one of the two tanks - and after a while it seemed like the level did not rise anymore. 442.55 returned downhill 45 minutes later. Walking on the highway, we caught it again at the station entrance next to an informative board. We took our buses to a viewpoint while the train was rolling down to the lowest level. It started uphill... Entering tunnel 26 - tunnel 22 and the bridge we had taken pictures of in the morning in the background. All three levels. Panorama consisting of several portrait-format photos. The train only made it this far before steam pressure had to be built up again. So, I changed position to a view of the long tunnel 27. The engine crew did not want to go further back a second time. Half an hour later, the train departed again. Wide angle with upper level and African mountain village. Steam hid the locomotive at the spot in front, so I chose this picture. The air was swarming with birds of prey, interestingly different species at each side of the mountain. I got hit by bird droppings from high altitude, and twice again at Asmara - this had to mean an incredibly auspicious trip! We took up position at a farmstead. View to bridge and main road on the other side of the valley. The sky had darkened as the train approached an hour later. No pumpkins being transported by pickup truck, just the good old yellow canisters. However, donkeys had not been replaced - see video here: https://youtu.be/vBqI3qUHE2g?t=1625 Panoramic view. Next, we moved to Devil's Gate. I comfortably took a seat closer to the tracks than usual. After one hour, already at almost 4 p.m., the engine steamed past us. Notice the landslide in front of the bridge. We spent the remaining hour of daylight bringing the train home. Some of us were busy during pressure build-up breaks and sanded the rails. Next time, the grand finale will be starting!
  6. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    October 26 2018 We returned by bus to Arbaroba at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning and encountered both Mallets 442.54 and .55 like we had left them Wednesday evening. 442.55 actually was under steam - the fourth active steam engine on our trip - and the rake had been brought uphill from Nefasit. 442.54 had pulled our train Tuesday and Wednesday. The lack of engine drivers also was solved: As one of two laid in hospital and the other one needed rest, a third driver who had been fired from railway employment due to some reasons was reactivated. Local transport. The name of the station Arbaroba constructed at a daring spot refers to tough times. In Tigrinya, "Arbi" means Friday and "Rebu-ah" Wednesday - both fasting days of the Coptic church, together called "Arbaroba". On the way to the first photo spot. The train steamed out of the station in the first sunrays at 6:52 a.m. Panoramic view including mosque turret peeking out from the lower right corner. The train rolled back. I climbed the hillside to the left for the second run-past. And was greeted by the little ones living here. View into the clouded valley on the other side. I had to virtually remove an electric pylon for the following panorama. The panorama in higher resolution: http://raildata.info/eritrea18/eri1216x.jpg View into the house. The train was rolling back again. I chose the road below the bridge for the third run-past. Stop of city bus line #29 Asmara (Square in front of Orthodox Enda Mariam Cathedral) - Arbaroba. The spectators enjoyed the spectacle. Replenishing the water tank of 442.55. When are we continuing? I met little "Pokémon" near the house and little "WhatsApp" at the station. We steamed uphill at 7:30 as clouds were gathering in the valley below. Next photo stop where the road met the railway. Five minutes train ride - and little "WhatsApp" had followed us with his mum on foot! Run-past through a double "S"-curve. Panoramic view after which I had to climb down some quite sharp rocks. We took our buses to the next viewpoint. The potential suburban train was approaching shortly before eight o'clock while the actual suburban bus #29 drove downhill to Arbaroba. Looks good with fog and sun - however, the train stalled at this spot and it would not be the last time that day. At the (mini) bus stop. Half an hour of boiling steam later, the loco finally managed to move. However, if you can take photos in a landscape like this every half an hour, you should not complain. The spectators enjoyed the spectacle. We already could look towards the monastery above Shegerini and the three levels of the line on the other side of the valley from the following spot. The train appeared at 9:13 a.m. Wonderful spotlight. The terraces visible everywhere were all cultivated during the Italian colonial era, nowadays almost nothing is grown here. You can also spot the remains of once mighty forests - the landscape has changed massively during the past century. The loco surprisingly made it to our spot in one go. As we rode the train, we could watch the boiler pressure sinking from 16 bar (indicated on the gauge, if correct) to about 4 bar in just 10 minutes. Afterwards, a break of at least fifteen minutes of steam boiling had to be taken. We moved to the side of the bridge featuring lovely specimens of Abyssinian euphorbia in view. Next, we got on the train...
  7. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    Zdravo! A few excerpts of Eritrean (railway) history: The current region of Eritrea appears in history as part of the Kingdom of Aksum, the name-giving capital Axum nowadays is situated in Ethiopia close to the Eritrean border and is supposed to house the Ark of the Covenant: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Aksum Later, Eritrea was occupied by the Ottomans: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habesh_Eyalet 1867-1868, the British expedition to Abyssinia against Emperor Téwodros (Theodor) II keeping British hostages took place: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Expedition_to_Abyssinia The first railway on the territory of modern Eritrea from the port of Zula - 30 miles south of the current terminal Massawa - 12 miles to the foot of the mountain range at Kumaile was constructed for the campaign. Second hand rails and rolling stock were shipped from Mumbai, from the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (now part of the Central Railway) and the Bombay, Baroda (Vadodara today) and Central India Railway (part of the Western Railway). The engineers built the tracks in Indian broad gauge, highly unusual on the African continent dominated by narrow gauges. An Italian explorer procured the Bay of Assab in 1869/70, the joint conquered territories around Asmara and Massawa were declared Italian colony in 1890: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Eritrea The name Eritrea is derived from the Red Sea (Greek "erythros" - red). 1 ft 11 5/8 in (600 mm) Decauville tracks were laid throughout Massawa port in 1885. The first 17 miles of the 3 ft 1 3/8 in (950 mm) mainline from Massawa to the fortress Sa'ati were completed in 1888 after only 5 months construction. They served the campaign against Ethiopia which culminated in an Italian defeat – also due to the fact no rail link to the highland plateau existed yet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Italo-Ethiopian_War During the mid-1890s, several routes were considered from Massawa via Ghinda and Keren to Kassala in eastern Sudan. As Ferdinando Martini - a railway-friendly civilian governor (1897-1906) - came to power and the capital was relocated to the until then insignificant village of Asmara, the construction of the mountain line finally began and reached Asmara in 1911. The railway was gradually extended until 1932, but the connection to the Sudanese Cape gauge network never completed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrean_Railway#Construction By the end of the 1930s, one of the longest cableways in the world was added parallel to the railway: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asmara-Massawa_Cableway Mussolini started his campaign against Ethiopia in 1935. The Italian troops were beaten at the Battle of Keren in 1941 and Eritrea fell under British control, one of the first Allied gains in WWII: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_East_Africa The British administration considered abandoning the deficient railway. But they were obligated to maintain state property, so operations continued. The UN decided in 1952 to make Eritrea an autonomous province of the Ethiopian Empire. Already in decades before the railway suffered bandit attacks. But as the Eritrean autonomy was gradually undermined, the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) formed in 1960 and an open armed independence struggle broke out. Later, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) split off the ELF and came out on top. Both groups are Marxist, the EPLF more Christian-dominated. The railway was hit by several acts of sabotage. The most spectacular was carried out in 1970 as rebels drove a Henschel diesel and two Littorina railcars down a gorge without passengers. Ultimately, rail operations stopped in 1975. In 1974, the Communist Derg overthrew the Ethiopian monarchy and stayed in power under Mengistu until 1991. The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front and the EPLF defeated the regime, Eritrean independence was declared in 1993. The People's Front for Democracy and Justice emerged from the EPLF and still is in charge under president Isayas Afewerki during the "change to democracy" – already lasting more than 25 years. The ELF still exists as opposition in exile. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrean_War_of_Independence Eritrea and Ethiopia again led war 1998 - 2000 due to border disagreements, the 2002 peace treaty only was accepted recently in July 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eritrean%E2%80%93Ethiopian_War After independence, the government soon decided to rebuild the entirely unusable railway. Regular suburban traffic around Massawa even was put into service the next year temporarily during a try-out phase. Consciously, they did not seek outside help but collected all materials available throughout the country. Only the Massawa - Asmara section could be rebuilt and was completed in 2004. Sadly, portions of the line have been destroyed during rainy seasons in recent years, including a large river bridge. The drive and spirit of independence soon was lost due to repressive dictatorial measures like forced labour, military service and a restricted economy - the railway future currently does not look very bright for Eritrea. October 28 2018 We return to the square in front of the Eritrean Orthodox cathedral in Asmara. A market had formed along the mosque. Wide range of available goods. Painted chair frames? No problem! Only few items are available in abundance. The modern standard city bus type. Fashion is valued, down to the AC/DC undies. An early decorated house in a city only founded during the 1880s. Someone is proud of his German second-hand Golf... Cars sporting the lightning badge of Opel are popular, too. Proper arcs of lightning could emerge here... a black-out hit our hotel practically every day around 6 p.m. - if you were unlucky, while standing under the shower. The hotel owned a backup generator but it took a while to kick in. One of the Art Deco mansions. Not sure if this statement is correct... In front of "Red Sea Building" and propaganda: who is it? Pushkin, of course, who had African ancestors: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/blackeuro/pushkinback.html An old Fiat 625. We visited the opera, sadly could not enter the theatre: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asmara%27s_Opera Cinema Capitol (built as Cinema Augustus in 1938) opposite the government compound is designed to resemble a roll of film. Another monumental cinema of the same era. A typical coffee ceremony is a must in the original coffee region - the plant Coffea arabica can be naturally found in Kaffa province of south-west Ethiopia. First, the beans are constantly flipped inside a pan and the aroma presented to the guests. Subsequently, the roasted beans are ground by hand and cooked mixed with spices like ginger. The result remotely reminded me of Indian chai without milk. The sign to the left puzzled us, a slight change in the Arabic text could explain the mistranslation. In Arabic, it says something like "palace police". To the right: finally one of the vehicles I had spotted several times during the week: Eritrean driving schools only use small old Fiats. Cinema Croce Rossa in the background. Slightly modified. The Ethiopian embassy had reopened in September 2018, also an Art Deco villa. A soldier - by coincidence an acquaintance of our guide - warned us not to walk around the corner towards the US embassy. A wedding convoy was preparing for departure in a side street, bride and groom of course again inside a Mercedes. The little ones followed Luwi and Alie on a pick-up load bed. Last point of visit before the rest of the group departed towards Keren: remains of the railway line there. Sadly, a part of the city has been built over it. That's why a reactivation of the line seems even more improbable than it does anyway. October 25 2018 We return to the depot Thursday afternoon. 440.008 was shunting... ... 202.008 and 010. A miracle happened: the workers managed to unblock the turntable. That way the class 440 could also get 442.56 in the back. It managed to cross the turntable. The parade was complete - the inscription on the column of the water crane said: "F.S. 1908". From left to right: 440.008, 202.008 and 442.56. We were lucky with the light around 4:30 p.m., a few minutes later thunderstorm clouds started to gather. Krupp engine 27D (built in 1957) approached from the diesel shed. The campanile in the background. The locomotive provided insight into its innards. It coupled to an auxiliary train wagon also constructed by Krupp, then loudly dieseled up the grade, still audible for some time: https://youtu.be/vBqI3qUHE2g?t=2584 Hopefully this will bode well for next morning... I skipped the night photo session to get some sleep - I am not too fond of artificially lit static pictures anyway. October 26 2018 Next day, we drove to the hotel during sunset - opportunity to capture evening impressions of city life. We will continue full steam ahead next time! :0)
  8. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    Hvala! October 25 2018 Thursday morning the giant African spurred tortoise constantly followed us while 202.008 was shunting. Christmas stars in nature, although brought to Africa as a decorative plant. Only 442.56 remained at the depot as both other class 442s were stranded at Arbaroba. The turntable was about to cause trouble as well. After the lunch visit to town - see previous report part - we returned to the station with administrative building at 3 p.m. The tortoise possessed stamina to no end. 440.008 known from the first days had been fired up. The turntable got jammed in a position blocking the track to the back of the depot and 442.56. 440.008 was also helped by water buckets. Busy sickle-grass-mowers. Two of the 34 Krupp goods wagons ordered in 1966. October 28 2018 We continue our sightseeing tour of the city Sunday morning. The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary - cathedral until 1995 - had been erected 1921–1923 in Lombard Romanesque style. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Our_Lady_of_the_Rosary,_Asmara One of the typical (former) information boards along Harnet Avenue. A mass was being celebrated inside the church. Selfie sticks have made it to Eritrea. Dubai duty-free seems to be one of the main supply sources for the black market, as I already had noticed on the flight here. We were let into the yard of the monastery also including a school. The 185 ft high campanile still is the tallest building in Asmara, sadly we could not climb it. Elements of the architecture are supposed to remind of the Big Ben tower. Market halls including fish market in the vicinity. View past the market towards the mosque. The Great Mosque of Asmara was ordered to be built in 1938 by Mussolini to please the population of Muslim belief, about 50 percent of residents. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Mosque_of_Asmara The square is framed by art deco buildings. Sadly, it remained locked as well. An industrious young man operated a car wash business around the market - of course using yellow canisters. Also note the improvised "Apple". Several wedding parties could be spotted that Sunday, bride and groom mostly riding Mercedes. We moved on towards Cinema Impero from 1937 - named after Mussolini's fictional "new Roman empire". The cinema still is active. The 2018 propaganda poster does not sound too optimistic, but at least it includes a picture of Delhi metro - for whatever obscure reason. Cinema hall or antique temple? Westward view along Harnet/"Freedom" Avenue. View east towards the station. The administration of Ma'ekel Region around Asmara to the right: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Region_(Eritrea) Yellow letterboxes carry the strange pseudo-English inscription "Posting Box". Yellow canisters are as multipurpose as it gets. Interesting assortment, but hardly anyone can afford shopping. We drove to the large lively square in front of the Eritrean Orthodox cathedral and behind the mosque. Old vehicle and colourful ladies. The parasols feature pictures of Jesus. Entrance to (E)Nda Mariam Cathedral built 1917-20: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enda_Mariam_Cathedral,_Asmara Left to right: Catholic church, mosque and gate of the Coptic cathedral. Not visible: the synagogue and Greek Orthodox church. Asmara truly is a melting pot of world religions. However, it cannot be forgotten that for example members of evangelical churches are being persecuted by the regime. Mosaics above the entrance had been added in 1938, at least showing African figures in Biblical scenes. This was a spot of Christian churches since the 7th century. The Ark of the Covenant is supposed to have been kept here in the 4th century BCE. Litophones. Let's rest a bit. We are about to visit a few more spots in Asmara next time, the final two days we will go full steam ahead again!
  9. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    October 25 2018 We return to the locomotive depot. 202.008 (former 202.108, Breda/Milano #2454, built in 1937) had taken water in the meantime and performed a few photo departures. Two class 202s with view towards the station and the Orthodox cathedral. These wagons just consisting of a frame around benches had been used in regular suburban services 1994-96 hauled by Drewry diesels through Massawa suburbs. The engine suffering from blocked pipes shunted each freight car separately before our desired wagon could be accessed. Meanwhile, people started to mow the grass by sickle - in fairness, we were two days ahead of schedule with our shed visit. Like on Cuba, the introduction of scythes could be a sensation here... We left the station and depot area on the tracks to the workshop and took up position on the opposite side of a pond. 202.008 soon pushed a refrigerator car up the grade... ...rolled back towards the station ... ... and steamed uphill once more. This football pitch was located on the other side of the track - the empty steel rack in the distance also had been stands. The town district around the station is named "Ferrobia" derived from Italian. The long-time president of Eritrea was born here. Very cute. A wall of cactuses and barbed wire has formed around the workshops. A traverser is located behind the workshops. However, it was so grown over, we had to abandon all hope using it. Electricity can be generated by steam. Inside the first workshop. You can spot 202.002 (in front to the right), 202.004 (in the background to the left) and 442.59 (behind to the right). 202.004 opposite 442.59. An even larger machine hall was located next door, many of the machines stayed covered, in a deep slumber. The traverser could theoretically be accessed through the gates. Next to known places you can also find stations on the nowadays abandoned part of the line: Keren (Italian version "Cheren") and Agordat. One tool in use... We shortly visited the hotel after the morning session, then met for lunch at another restaurant than usual as the garden restaurant was fully booked. The replacement restaurant had its upsides due to its vicinity to one of the main city sights. The former Fiat Tagliero petrol station had been completed in 1938 in the style of Futurism and is part of the Asmara UNESCO world heritage site. The "winged" building supposedly resembles an airplane taking off. During lunch we learnt that lineside photography would not be possible in the afternoon as well. So, we were invited for a coffee at Cinema/Café Roma. An old projector in the foreground. We could take a peek into the cinema hall. The TVs were tuned to CNN just reporting about the US mail bombs. The facade, viewed from the "forbidden" area around the government compound. We had plenty of time and drove to a market hall near the airport. Eggs arrive as fresh as they get... Point of interest here is another design petrol station. Next to it, a Fiat 418 Macchi articulated bus previously from Milan. The unofficial petrol station, obviously without health & safety advisor. The city stops quite suddenly, this road leads southwards to the Ethiopian border. One of the old DAF buses still in action. You could see more of them parked at the city transportation company yard on the road towards Massawa. In reality, Chinese King Long buses take the workload in urban traffic nowadays. We drove back to the centre. An urban donkey grazing on the pavement. Near our hotel, we visited the Alfa Romeo building. The whole elegant residential area is called "Alfa Romeo district". A British man emerged from one of the villas and told us he was one of only a handful of his compatriots living in Asmara including two diplomats. Old German cars on the way back to the station. The "street" towards the station. The station area had been occupied by truck companies from the 1980s to the 2000s, the railway was forced to reclaim the compound. Still, the access road is lined by parking lorries. A few Mercedes L 1113 can be encountered throughout Eritrea. The station building welcomed us to the afternoon photo session - Marx, Engels and Lenin still can be recognized on the walls. Next time, we will visit Asmara in more detail!
  10. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    October 24 2018 We drove uphill from Nefasit to Arbaroba by bus. You can see the abandoned station building of Lessa below. One steamer should be running uphill, its replacement downhill - but none could be spotted here. We actually met 442.55 - not encountered under steam yet - at Arbaroba. Take a closer look at the carriage as we will not see it again: it is the former governor's coach from 1913. During a 1952 visit it also had been used by Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. Since then, all passenger carriages have been converted to third class. Two locos under steam met at Arbaroba, 442.54 also was there. Don't rejoice too early: Bernd inspected 442.55 more closely and ascertained that both injectors were not working... So, there was a full station, but only full of defective engines - would we be able to do something lineside the next day? The following images from Asmara were taken on October 24, 25 and 29 2018. Our morning view in front of the Savannah International Hotel. On October 29 2018, we did a sightseeing tour of the city centre. The sign on the building is indicative of the state of the neighbouring country on the other side of the Red Sea. View along central Harnet (= "Freedom") Avenue. Bus stop in front of the Catholic Cathedral built 1921-23. We will go sightseeing in detail later. Reason for establishing the UNESCO world heritage site "Asmara: a Modernist City of Africa" in 2017: The uniform cityscape featuring many Art Deco-buildings from Italian colonial times. Amongst them several cinemas like Cinema Impero which had been erected in a late phase, 1937. The name relates to Mussolini's "new Roman Empire" which soon crumbled away. After the failed Italian invasion of Ethiopia, British led forces took Eritrea comparatively easily in 1941 - it was one of the first Allied gains in WWII. More about Asmara: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asmara These Christian posters on many walls remind me of Bulgaria. We collected some tour participants from Albergo Italia on October 25 2018 - I have shown the interior in the first report part. Subsequently, we arrived at the station and depot. This expected us: 0-4-0 shunting engine 202.008 - behind 202.010 - was being fired. We could not do anything lineside at least until noon. So, we preponed the program scheduled for Saturday morning. Both class 442s at Arbaroba were not serviceable. Sadly, also one of the only two engine drivers became sick and was hospitalized - they are not the youngest anymore... We were quickly running out of manpower and options, just engineers are allowed to fire locos. One option still was available, more about it later. A strange sight - even Bernd had not experienced anything like it on his world travels: taking water by bucket! The plate does not fit, it belongs to 202.004. Correctly it should say: 202.008 (ex 202.108, Breda/Milano #2454, built in 1937). Ural-loco #2 first hauled 202.010 out of the depot aided by muscle power. Asmara station is known to be home to a few giant African spurred tortoises. The animal chased tour members all over the compound throughout the day with astonishing speed and persistence. More about the third largest species of tortoise: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_spurred_tortoise 202.010 was shunted out of the way. The lady is the boss of the railway. Ural-loco #2 returned to pull 202.008 outside. The crew did not succeed without sanding, on the line somehow they neglected to do it. See video: https://youtu.be/vBqI3qUHE2g?t=2379 The shown tractive effort lets the 10-nakfa bill seem even more unrealistic: http://raildata.info/eritrea18/eri0110.jpg A water lorry already seen at Devil's Gate was in use. We learned that the depot water pump did not work either. Solutions like parking the truck on a nearby loading ramp or hiring a water pump were rejected. So, the workers formed this human chain - which only was viable for the smaller loco. The door of Ural-loco #2. Nice, but no help. The tortoise even set its sights on the lorry, making it wobble slightly via the wheels. The turntable in the foreground also was stuck. One of the very few young guys first spilled his wheelbarrow load, then continued after shovelling it back in. 442.56 in the background, which looked fine but supposedly did not work. Theoretically ready for departure – we will continue next time with an excursion to the workshops. We return to the city centre on October 29 2018 with a common sight. Many Eritreans, however, wore the standard plastic sandal - a model which I definitely owned at the beach in 1980s Yugoslavia. We parked the bus near the market hall. The synagogue erected in 1906 is the second-oldest religious building in Asmara after the Greek-Orthodox church. We were welcomed by the last remaining member of the local Jewish community which had formed because of economic opportunities in the new colony and as refuge from persecution in Europe. Eritrea had also been used by the British for internment camps for Jewish rebels in Palestine after WWII, prisoners included the later first Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir. The history of Jews in Eritrea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Eritrea Older Jewish communities existed around Ethiopia centuries before, most have emigrated to Israel nowadays: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_Israel BBC article about our host Samuel Cohen from 2006: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4955088.stm The imposing interior was illuminated. Merchants formed the core community in the early 20th century, land for religious purposes was provided by the city. Asmara has been built almost completely from scratch by the Italian colonial power, only villages existed in this area before. The Torah shrine housing two Torah scrolls was opened for us. Within one hour, we learned much about the history of the city. The gentleman had established small museums, one about Queen Elizabeth II. He viewed the current situation in Asmara positively, especially the new peace process which is based on the 2002 border agreement after the latest 1998-2000 war against Ethiopia. He also felt that Eritrea was a quiet country with all religions living together in harmony. He presented a picture showing the main religious leaders meeting with long-time president Isayas Afewerki (whom he always referred to as "His Excellency"). The repression of religious groups not belonging to the mainstream is common in Eritrea. Also, never forget these stats about the country: Rank 179/180 of the World Press Freedom Index 2018 Rank 151/167 of the Democracy Index 2017 Rank 180/187 on the index of GDP per capita 2017 The quick cooperation between Eritrea and Ethiopia after just a few months of peace is remarkable. Outside in the streets. An Art Deco building just opposite. More from Asmara next time!
  11. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    October 24 2018 Wednesday morning at Nefasit: What's the Eritrean national sport? Of course - cycling! Cyclists are such a common occurrence on the relatively well-paved main road Asmara - Massawa, this meeting did not have to be staged. Perfect shadow. A tough climb starts at the football pitch, with constant altitude training around 7000 ft. An Eritrean already wore the polka dot jersey during the Tour de France 2015. Road traffic is slightly more relaxed than in comparable countries - still, every help is welcome. Morning water run. We switched places with other group members for this view from above. A DAF 200-400 (developed from the Leyland Sherpa) in minibus service on the main road. Long distance traffic is the domain of modern buses (you need permits to travel to any other part of the country, the next checkpoint into this direction is situated before reaching Massawa), city bus line 29 operated from Asmara centre to Arbaroba with Chinese vehicles. New lorries - including the common ore tippers – also have all been imported from China. We returned to the station and boarded the train. The condition of 442.54 deteriorated constantly, a washout plug was leaking. That's why the crew only dared to take the goods wagons into the lovely landscape around tunnel 10. Female track workers in front of the slightly slant tunnel portal. Panorama during the first run-past. Then the ladies posed for us. Uphill towards Nefasit. A donkey raced the train. Peacefully grazing while the loco was rolling backwards... ... but as soon as it steamed uphill, the race was on again! See video from minute 10:50. Amidst the grove of surreal acacias - twice as wide as they are tall. Nefasit suburbs. Someone had found an alternative use for metal sleepers. Panoramic view into the mountains. We relaxed inside the uncoupled passenger carriage during lunch break in Nefasit. The blue lorry delivered coal for the loco. In the meantime, the decision had been made to exchange the engine. A replacement class 442 was supposed to have departed from Asmara. The omnipresent elephant bags. After 1 p.m., an obligatory photo session was scheduled. We walked towards the mosque - with photographic exchange. Camels (I know - dromedaries) and railway are a must in Eritrea! In the meantime, we heard that the other loco was supposed to have departed Asmara. The guys with guns and batons can't be missed. A Christian priest approaching from the Orthodox church. Those two did not own the camels themselves, they coincidentally passed by so we hired them as extras and paid them. The actual owner of the animals was wearing relatively unphotogenic T-shirt and shorts. After 3 p.m., we were notified that the replacement loco was departing Asmara now. 442.54 steamed uphill single engine. At least I could take this picture. The engineering future of Eritrea is secured (if he stays in the country - later, someone actually asked me if I would take them with me in my suitcase). In case you cannot afford a football - a stall nearby even offered one in Barça-design - just kick a stuffed sack. Our live savers this week - selling beer and other liquids on the train, some days providing sandwiches for lunch. Popcorn is a popular snack. Around four o'clock - after we had decided it was futile to wait for the replacement engine - we enjoyed a cup of Eritrean coffee (roasted with ginger). As the bus climbed towards Arbaroba, we were presented with a lovely wildlife surprise: Hamadryas baboons are native to the Horn of Africa and nearby tip of the Arabian Peninsula. More about these fascination primates: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamadryas_baboon We closed the windows as the the imposing male approached. What... ... if we could do something lineside the following day, you will learn next time! ;0)
  12. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    October 23 2018 We return to Nefasit station - at 5600 ft already in warmer climate - for a first run-past. Clouds were building up at the eastern mountain range, otherwise it was sunny. The Eritrean railway is not only interesting due to its spectacular mountain section, it also offers a densely packed microcosm - only 15 railway miles from Asmara - of various landscapes and cultures. Nefasit already partly reminded me of Sudan. Once more you can recognize the creative second life of sawn-off yellow canisters. The open-air barber still was busy behind the donkey. Voilà: the classic mosque-view. Experienced Eritrea-travellers told us that they never had seen the country in such full bloom (not metaphorically). Next, we boarded the train and rolled downhill towards Embatkalla, Ghinda and Massawa - none of which could be reached. A camel encounter at the northern end of Nefasit station (no worries, camel and train to come next time!). The little ones in bright green school uniforms greeted us happily - only one wanted more pencils. View into the valley at the end of which the main road Massawa - Asmara meets the rail line at a level crossing. Behind it lies tunnel #9 supposed to be flooded as track workers had told us. In the foreground once more yellow canisters in use, almost every shed seemed to be equipped with a satellite dish. I enjoyed the ride on the platform of the passenger carriage. And liked the landscape exceptionally well (no worries, more to come next time!). The train passed by a group of female track workers (no worries, more to come next time!). Tunnel #10 could be traversed without hindrance, then we crossed the main road and stopped in front of tunnel 9. A group explored the line further downhill on foot. Some small rocks and sand were strewn around the track obviously due to recent rains, but they did not pose any problems for the train to pass. We kicked aside whatever we came across. No obstructions could be found within tunnel 9. As we entered tunnel 8, we spotted a small section covered in mud, but it could have been cleared by shovel in a matter of hours. Thomas and the train master walked on towards Embatkalla to keep an eye out for further damage to the tracks. We let the train roll back to the entrance of temporarily blocked tunnel 8 and arranged run-pasts alone with the train crew - the command to depart was "andiamo!". The second spot - standing above tunnel 9 - invited a telephoto lens-compressed sandwich. Thomas returned and showed us pictures of the spot where the line actually was severely interrupted - washed out underneath with rails almost hanging in the air. Next, we steamed through tunnel 9. Yes! It's a photo charter through Africa! Subsequently, the engine had troubles departing uphill with lots of wheelslip, rolling back several times. At least we made it to the main road, then the ride was over for now. The vegetation here was significantly denser with some bushes carrying thorns like toothpicks. A Fiat 180 lorry hauled a container down to the port of Massawa. The loco had to depart on its own to take water at Nefasit. This image is an allegory for the current situation: A container being transported on the road along the railway which would be predestined for this kind of traffic. Maersk containers with donated tools already had been transported once by rail to Asmara. 442.54 steamed into the mountain landscape. We were left to stare at it - not that you could complain about the view. The crew notified us that they had to build the fire completely anew, apart from taking water. As the sun would definitely have disappeared by then, we boarded the buses which had joined us in the meantime. The road winds itself up the mountain in several switchbacks above Nefasit, here a view from the bus window towards the station and single loco. The road changes to the western side of the mountain ridge which the railway only reaches at Arbaroba. The Eritrean mountainous country simply is breathtakingly beautiful. October 24 2018 Next morning before 7:30 a.m., we curved downhill to Nefasit. As the town still was in the shade, we walked to the first photo spot after taking a group shot in front of the engine. The archangel Michael guards this Eritrean-Orthodox church. The sunlight crept into the valley during the first run-past. I had to virtually expose some of the drive wheels of the loco in the foreground. Panoramic view including church and mosque. In some pictures, I did the chore of removing satellite dishes - dozens in some cases. Rolling backwards past a decorated house. Biblical scenes in front of the church. Next, we captured the departure from the station standing on the opposite mountainside - also note the small red dots practising the national sport (no worries, more to come next time!). In the meantime, a donkey had taken up the sport of running on the tracks ahead of the train (no worries, more to come next time!). Panorama including football pitch and church to the right. Of course - yellow canisters also serve as flower pots! "Abu Salama - human life above all" can be read in Arabic on the famous dolphin picture. Behind it, an info board just in Tigrinya from the ministry of health and a brigade of road workers. "Abusalama" meaning "dolphin" is the name of the national condom brand. The subject is supposed to raise AIDS awareness. Background information about the origins of the name, the early Muslims and their migration to Abyssinia - then the Kingdom of Aksum, including the area of modern-day Eritrea - can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Migration_to_Abyssinia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Aksum https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Salama_Abd_Allah_ibn_Abd_al-Asad_al-Makhzumi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umm_Salama Next, we took up position on the road bridge (no worries, more to come next time! ;0)).
  13. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    Hvala! October 23 2018 On Tuesday morning, we arrived at Asmara station before seven o'clock. Our engine was one of the bigger, superheated 0-4+4-0T Mallets delivered in 1938 by Ansaldo from Genova. Locomotives like 442.54 (Ansaldo #1364) had been the main workhorses of the mountain line, we will see three of this class in action. The 442 is supposed to be able to pull a passenger carriage over the steep grades - so, we tried this one built in 1913 by Officine Meccaniche Milano, denoted as third class. However, 1st/2nd class and a Governor's coach also had been part of the same delivery, some of which still are serviceable and all converted to 3rd class. As soon as we steamed out of the station, wheelslip started. So: Plan B - walking to a first morning light photo spot. A goat/sheep herd, the railway workshops are visible in the background behind the pond. 442.54 passing the otherwise closed and guarded gate of the depot and station yard, to the left the campanile of the Catholic cathedral - of course we will visit everything later in detail. A panorama of the religious multitude in Asmara: the Eritrean Orthodox church on the hill to the left, the Catholic cathedral in the city centre, a mosque to the right. In the background the Eritrean Orthodox cathedral. A mountain panda at 7700 ft above the sea. We walked along the line... ... to the pond-reflection-spot. Shortly after a flydubai 737 had taken off back to its home-base above our heads, the class 442 also made it up the hill at decent speed! Due to economy of scarcity and authoritarian government the landscape mostly is unspoiled by plastic garbage. Finally, we could board the train and soon rolled downhill. We had a decent ride ahead of us, as the plan consisted of testing how far down the line we could make it. A Christian holiday was being celebrated near Shegerini - some impromptu stalls had cropped up along railway and road. Like this open air butcher - for the faint of heart I have only linked to the picture showing the remains of the cow: http://raildata.info/eritrea18/eri0517x.jpg In any case - nothing is being wasted. We stopped again below Shegerini. We walked to a panorama with church view. Voilà! Arrival at Arbaroba - the steam loco is loud! Once more the impossible water crane construction. The factory plate is mismatched: this one belongs to the last of the class, 442.60. Looking out of the passenger carriage towards the row of tunnels near the two-tunnel-view. Behind the mountain ridge lies Lessa passing loop, further on we will continue to Nefasit station. One more hike through tunnels. The curious tunnels #16, two of which exist, one has been added later. After passing Lessa, we stopped shortly for a track maintenance crew. Through a few more tunnels you reach the valley above Nefasit. The railway meets the main road Massawa - Asmara again. At the station you can spot Ural loco #1. Nefasit - already quite a bit warmer at 5600 ft - owes its existence entirely to the railway. The town includes mosques, a church (to the right out of frame) and the important monastery Debre Bizen nearby. Kids ran to the station in droves. Where they were kept in check by the adult railwaymen. Others looked on peacefully from the distance. The train shunted away. The engine returned alone... ... just like the consist rolling downhill. The last wagon barely made it far enough across the point. 442.54 in front of a freight car delivered by Krupp around the same time as the diesel locos. Pungent smoke. Steam action under a parted sky. In the meantime, the Ural loco departed towards Lessa hauling a track maintenance train. You can spot an open air barber in the background of the left image. In the right image, to the left, the concrete foundations of a pillar of the Asmara-Massawa Cableway can be seen. This 4th longest cableway ever built - about 46 miles in total - was being operated parallel to the railway. More about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asmara-Massawa_Cableway Some had been successful at the "You! Pencil!"-sport. Subsequently, the train pushed back for the first run-past. Another one followed at the mosque, then we continued as far down the line as it would let us - next time!
  14. Roni

    Eritrea 2018

    Svugdje u svijetu postoje pametni telefoni. Naravno nemaju najsiromašnijih ljudi, ali oni su definitivno veći osloboditelj ljudi od računala. Oni su jeftiniji i pružaju neposredan pristup svim informacijama... October 22 2018 We steamed uphill from the two-tunnel-view #13+14, see video: https://youtu.be/vBqI3qUHE2g?t=849 For this valley view past tunnel 18, we climbed up some nasty, sharp scree. Due to lack of wide-angle, this is a dynamic panorama captured in motion with one flatcar missing. Steam mushroom and mountain ridges. The line climbs uphill from the far-left background. The town down there is Ghinda. We will not reach it on this trip due to water damage along the line - next day we were going to explore how far the train could go. Third run-past with "sandwich". Another one rolling back at tunnel 20. Spotlight coming out of tunnel 19. And 20. The next run-past, viewed standing above tunnel 20. We continued to one of the rare forested areas below Arbaroba. Something was in the air... ... suddenly, we were in the fast-moving clouds: https://youtu.be/vBqI3qUHE2g?t=1013 A 1x2 portrait format tree panorama. It did not make sense to wait in the cool wind, so we took water at Arbaroba right away. It flows well here - in contrast to other spots - but the crew must single-handedly hold the water crane. Steam effect while oiling. The mountain line continues over this viaduct from Arbaroba towards Asmara. Our Italian colleague entertained the group of children. Someone has cunningly placed their blue bucket - in this arid region, you should grab every opportunity to get water. Watching like a hawk. After resolutely extinguishing the cinders, the spoils were carried home. Somebody had been creative. We captured the departure from Arbaroba, the main road Asmara - Massawa to the right. The clouds often were parting exactly here. We rumbled uphill inside the covered goods wagon, then the locomotive stopped to boil steam for fifteen minutes. As usual, children soon came in flocks. A couple of photographers used the break to walk to the other valley side. The engine struggled to gain traction within the tunnel. Definitely the nicest kids along the line. Flowery steam finale of the day. We boarded and went uphill to Shegerini. Newlyweds in front of tunnel 28 towards Devil's Gate. The omnipresent "elephant bags". Walking to the busses, suddenly a Daihatsu 1000 pickup came by and parked next to this load of fruits and the camels which had delivered it! BYOF* *bring your own food After a short bus ride, a landscape photo stop was decided on - with reason! Can the train be spotted? Yes, it can! To the left, right of the completely visible treetop below the mountain saddle. This has been part four - and just the first full photo day... next time, we will roll downhill to lower altitudes.
×
×
  • Create New...