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Home / 2003 / Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia - August/September 2003 / 28 August 2003 33

Today's route: Bus from Tuzla hotel to Tuzla station; Tuzla - Živinice - Caparde - Zvornik Novi - Brasina (Serbia); Brasina - Zvornik Grad - Brasina - Šabac (all three sides of triangle) - Ruma (to depot for fuel and repairs) - Inđija - Beograd - Beograd Dunav - Pančevački most; Pančevački most - Rakovica; bus to hotel
Highlight of today and of the whole trip was the traversal of the line between Tuzla and Zvornik. Planned as part of a new through standard gauge route between Beograd and Tuzla (and probably Sarajevo), this was the only section to get anything like completed before the war broke out in 1991 (a tunnel mouth and a half-finished viaduct are visible at Valjevo, on the Beograd - Požega line, from where the route was to head for Zvornik). Damaged in the war, it has been restored for use mainly by military traffic, and ours was almost certainly the first civilian passenger train over the route. It has a distinctly unfinished air about it, with almost no working signalling at the crossing loops, some of which were not even completed. Most of the station buildings were incomplete or damaged. Very few maps show the line at all, and most of those that do show it wrongly as running into the end of the branch at Zvornik Grad. In fact, a freight-only branch from Rasputnica Donja Borina was built in about 1978 to serve a large works over the river at Zvornik Novi, and the line from Tuzla runs into the station there. At Zvornik Grad the line ends by the roadside in what is effectively the town high street, and extension would clearly be impossible; there are no station buildings (the last block post is at Zvornik) and the limit of train operation is probably set by the location of parked vehicles. Note that the last 53km of the branch only sees one train pair per day. There was a useful roadside bar at Brasina to help while away the crossing time, but it presumably doesn't get much railway business unless passengers prefer 79 minutes there to travelling the whole branch: the round trip from Ruma takes 6 hours 26 minutes! The stop at Loznica fabrika was reputedly to see some industrial steam in action, but there were only two cold fireless locos there. Time saved, which was well spent by going round the triangle at Šabac - some maps do not make it clear that a reversal is required here for the passenger trains, or that there is an avoiding line for the freights to Zvornik Novi. At Ruma participants had a hard decision to make: go to the bar for another beer, or stay on the railcar for a ride to the depot (no prizes for guessing what I did): refuelling was interesting as the fuel pump was on the wrong side, so cans and a funnel were used... the railcar then went into a shed for some attention to its cooling system. The shed area itself was home to a number of 341s, 441s and 461s. The run to Beograd was punctuated by running via the triangle at Inđija, not particularly hard to do but it saves the need to do Inđija to Ruma on a local train. Note that the Inđija avoiding line is much gentler and longer than is shown on many maps, though the alignment of the original sharp curve is still visible. At the south end of the triangle, and on to Nova Pazova, some new construction has been halted - there is a part-finished flying junction - and several separate alignments around what may have been intended as a new set of yards. Finally, to cover for the fact that the trip 2 years ago travelled over the Beograd Dunav line in darkness, this was repeated in daylight - this route is used only by the Beograd - Bucureşti Nord through workings, trains 260 and 261. A peculiar shunt into the platform at Pančevački most enabled an end-on connection into a specially-held local service to Rakovica and the bus to the hotel.