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Septemvri–Dobrinishte narrow-gauge line


The Septemvri–Dobrinishte narrow-gauge line Bulgarian: теснолинейка Септември – Добринище, tesnolineyka Septemvri–Dobrinishte is the only operating 760 mm 2 ft 5 15⁄16 in narrow-gauge line in Bulgaria It is operated by Bulgarian State Railways BDŽ The line is actively used with four passenger trains running the length of the line in each direction per day The journey takes five hours through the valleys and gorges between Rila and Rhodopes

The route leads from Septemvri on the mainline Sofia–Plovdiv to Dobrinishte, passing Velingrad, Yakoruda, Razlog and Bansko, linking the western part of the Upper Thracian Plain with the Western Rhodopes, Rila and Pirin mountains Due to the characteristics of the route through the mountains, the narrow-gauge line Septemvri–Dobrinishte is also known as the Alpine railway in the Balkans Avramovo station, situated at 1267 meters above the sea, is the highest station in the Balkans

The railway was built in several stages between 1921 and 1945 with total length of 125 km 78 miles The Varvara–Pazardzhik branch line, which was closed in 2002, was 166 km 103 miles long

Contents

  • 1 History
  • 2 Route description
    • 21 Septemvri–Velingrad
    • 22 Velingrad–Yakoruda
    • 23 Yakoruda–Dobrinishte
  • 3 Traffic and rolling stock
  • 4 Gallery
  • 5 References
  • 6 Further reading
  • 7 External links

Historyedit

Septemvri–Dobrinishte narrow-gauge line building, km 13+500, 1920's

The idea for a railway, serving the Rhodope Mountains dating from 1915, when three possible paths are represented In 1916 due to military reasons during WWI, the army wanted to link the town of Nevrokop now Gotse Delchev to the railway network and started surveying the first section from Sarambey now Septemvri to Ladzhene now part of Velingrad However, when the war ended, the work was stopped

In 1920, the surveying resumed, followed by construction in 1921 In the hard years after the war, the progress was poor, with work done primarily by hand The track reached Ladzhene in 1926, and the section opened Aug 1, 1926 with three trains per week in each direction The next short section to Chepino now Velingrad south was completed on June 3, 1927

When Sarambey became the starting point of the line, the population of Pazardzhik feared their town would be away from the traffic and requested a branch of the new railway, which was completed and opened on Oct 27, 1928 This path was chosen to be the main and the railway became Pazardzhik - Chepino with a branch from Varvara - Pazardzhik - Sarambey This period is short and the section remains a branch until its closing in 2002 Now the track to Pazardzhik is removed

Construction of the hardest section, Chepino–Yakoruda continued up to 1937, when on 12th Dec it was opened for temporary service The final opening was Jul 30, 1939, together with the section Yakoruda–Belitsa

The final sections Belitsa–Bansko and Bansko–Dobrinishte are opened on Mar 3, 1943 and Dec 9, 1945, and the plan for railway to Gotse Delchev had been stopped

Route descriptionedit

Septemvri–Velingradedit

This first part is 39 km long It starts at Septemvri, where it meets the standard-gauge railway line Sofia–Plovdiv After almost straight 6 km long section in the plain, the route reaches station Varvara, the former junction with the removed branch to Pazardzhik Then the route passes the river Chepinska also known as Elidere and the road to Velingrad onto a steel bridge and continues on the left eastern bank of the river As a part of the road widening work, the bridge has to be destroyed and replaced with new one

Approaching tunnel Nr 2

Along the gorge, the line passes stops Marko Nikolov ex Mineral baths, Tsepina ex Dorkovo, the river again and the road at manually operated level crossing, to reach station Dolene, where it continues in the opposite direction on the other side of the valley, climbing 246 m level displacement to drainage divide Chukata and station Kostandovo 801 m ASL in 109 km Here is the maximum slope of the route of 32 ‰ After passing this station, the route declines to Velingrad valley

In the beginning there are also stops Milevi skali at km 175 between Tsepina and Dolene and Dryanov dol between Dolene and Kostandovo In the period of heavy traffic in 60s and 70s, Dryanov dol is extended with passing loop and becomes a station, but then it is completely closed, together with Milevi skali Tsepina also had been station with passing loop and sidings, removed in 2003

All 10 tunnels on this part of the railway are between Marko Nikolov and Dolene In April 1928 as a result of the Chirpan earthquake M68, a huge amount of rocks collapses over the track at km 117 A new tunnel Nr 2 is constructed to avoid the low radius curves of the temporary track around the collapse The abandoned old tunnel is still existing next to the new one It is visible from the road, but not from the train The open track between tunnels Nr 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 is now covered to prevent another rock collapses on the route

Velingrad–Yakorudaedit

Sveta Petka–Avramovo route map The track overpasses itself at the first spiral

This is the hardest section of Septemvri–Dobrinishte railway It is 45 km long and all four spirals, 25 remaining tunnels and the highest railway station on the Balkans are here Beginning from Velingrad, through Velingrad south stop, the line starts to climb along the right side of river Ablanitsa, heading Ostrets stop and station Tsvetino A few kilometers after Tsvetino, the route turns to the right through the valley of the small river Lyuta reka, reaching the former station, now minor stop Sveta Petka

Here the route starts climbing 224 m in 98 km distance to station Avramovo, which is the highest railway station on the Balkans at 1267 m above sea level Just after Tunnel Nr 16, the track passes a stone arch bridge over the river and begins its four-level way on the north side of the valley through 16 tunnels, two spirals and one 180° turn The line passes under itself two times in tunnels Nr 18 and 24 In this section, the train changes its traveling direction 6 times The average incline is 30 ‰ The climbing ends at station Avramovo just after tunnel Nr 32, which is the longest one – 315 m

This highest point is followed by steep and long descent in the valley of river Dreshtenets After the Smolevo stop, the line turns at the third spiral, passing under itself in tunnel Nr 34 Just after the spiral, the route overpasses the river and the road on a stone arch viaduct, followed by the fourth spiral around a natural hill, where is the last tunnel Nr 35 Reaching Cherna Mesta stop, the track continues to Yakoruda through the valley of river Mesta

Sveta Petka and Cherna Mesta are former stations, which have had passing loops and sidings Between Sveta Petka and Avramovo there is also a closed stop for the nearby village Pashovo

Yakoruda–Dobrinishteedit

Passenger train heading Septemvri on the longest bridge near Guliyna banya

The last part of the railway has much better parameters, because most of the route is traced for standard-gauge railway, which had been planned to replace the narrow-gauge track in future After stops Yurukovo and Dagonovo, the line passes station Belitsa and continues to General Kovachev stop, where it leaves the valley of river Mesta and heading Razlog through the valley of smaller river, named Iztok In his end, the track passes the longest bridge over the river – 58 m long stone viaduct with four arches It is followed by Guliyna banya stop and after this point the railway continues in the Razlog plain and reaches its final station Dobrinishte through Razlog and Bansko

60976 at tourist train

In Razlog there had been a small branch, serving some industry near the town It is source of the last freight traffic until 2003, when closed and removed

Diesel locomotive of the narrow-gauge railway

Traffic and rolling stockedit

List of locomotives
Fleet no Delivery Status
60976 1949 in service
75 002 1966 out of service
75 004 1966 in service
75 005 1966 out of service
75 006 1966 in service
75 008 1966 in service
75 009 1966 out of service
77 002 1988 in service
77 005 1988 in service
77 008 1988 in service
77 009 1988 in service
Note: the missing numbers are scrapped or sold

The first rolling stock is brought from the other narrow-gauge railway Cherven bryag–Oryahovo now closed, which is already built in 1926 Operation of the section Sarambey - Ladzhene begins with four small steam engines 0-6-2T, UIC class C1′ n2vPt of the 176 – 1076 series They can haul 3–5 cars in the main slopes In this period there is one pair of mixed trains and two pairs of freight trains per day In 1928 there is a delivery of four steam engines of the 50076 series 0-10-0T, E h2Gt and in 1931 two more engines of the same class The first five engines of the 60076 series 2-10-2T, 1′E1′ h2Gt are delivered in 1940 and the other 10 ones in 1949–1950

In the 60s and 70s the traffic is too busy for the steam engines, so in 1965 and 1966 ten diesel engines are delivered from Henschel AG They are working as class 75 and are still in service now Most of the steam engines are then brought in Cherven bryag As an example, in these years there had been more than 10 trains passenger, freight and mixed daily in each direction

Ten engines of class 77 are delivered in 1988 from 23 August Works of Bucharest, Romania, but five of them are sold to RFIRT now YCF, Argentina in 1996 Before this delivery, some engines class 76 also had been working on the Septemvri–Dobrinishte railway while the others are based on the Cherven bryag–Oryahovo railway

Steam locomotive 60976 is the only preserved in working condition and used for tourist trains

Since 2003 there is only passenger service with three trains per day in each direction As of 2016, there are now four trains running the entire length of the line each day The current plan can be found on the website of Bulgarian State Railways

In 1982, Bulgarian industry ordered 10 narrow-gauge shunting diesels of Soviet locomotive class ТУ7 TU7E BDŽ class 81 from the Russian Kambarka Engineering Works

Galleryedit

Referencesedit

  • Deyanov, D "80 years of narrow-gauge railway Septemvri–Velingrad", Railway transport magazine in Bulgarian, Vol 7-8, 2006 ISSN 1310-683X
  • Deyanov, D Railway network in Bulgaria 1866–1975 in Bulgarian, Sofia 2005, ISBN 954-9364-05-4
  • Deyanov D, Deyanov S Locomotives of Bulgarian state railways in Bulgarian, Sofia 2008, ISBN 978-954-12-0150-3

Further readingedit

  • Paul Engelbert: Schmalspurig durch Bulgarien, Verlag Stenvalls, Malmö 2002, ISBN 91-7266-155-0
  • Rudolf Heym: 125 Kilometer auf schmaler Spur, Lok-Magazin 4/2008, ISSN 0458-1822

External linksedit

  • The Rhodope Narrow Gauge: Website with up-to-date information on timetable, fares etc English
  • Gallery of photos from a journey on the Septemvri–Dobrinishte line in German
  • Bulgaria - TU7E series 81 БДЖ
  • Wyprawa koleją z Septemvri do DObriniszte Poland
  • Trains portal
  • Bulgaria portal


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    Septemvri–Dobrinishte narrow-gauge line beatiful post thanks!

    29.10.2014


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