If you travel to Viseu de Sus to visit the Mocanita train, you will most likely need a place to sleep. There are plenty of hotels and pensions in town for that, but recently a much more interesting possibility has become available: to spend your night(s) on the Carpatia Express. In case you wonder what that is, its the name of the standard gauge train found in the yard of the Mocanita train station, here:
Carpatia Express is a train made up of the CFR 150.216 locomotive and 3 passnger cars, in which tourists can sleep. Well, actually, to be more specific, only two of the train cars are for sleeping, the third one is a restaurant car. It is the first ever hotel train in Romania and it is open since the spring of 2011.
Carpatia Express has a total of 20 compartments, each with two beds and toilet. The price for one night is 59 RON (13-14 Euro) for one bed or 75 RON (about 17 euro) for the whole compartment (and breakfast is included). The hotel train has heating, so it is open all year.
The locomotive of the Carpatia Express is CFR 150.216, one of the 282 steam locomotives of the CFR 150.000 series built by Uzinele Domeniilor Resita and Uzinele Nicolae Malaxa (Uzinele "23 August") Bucuresti between 1946 and 1960. These were powerful locomotives built after the Second World War for the purpose of pulling heavy freight trains. They were designed almost entirely based on the German BR 50 locomotives, with some modifications like the Cosmovici double fueling system (they could burn both coal and crude oil). The locomotives of the 150.000 series were the last type of standard gauge steam locomotive produced in Romania. Although not so many were built (282), quite a few have survived and some of them can even be seen exhibited today (others have not been so lucky and are slowly being eaten by rust somewhere).
CFR 150.216 was built by Uzinele Domeniilor Resita in 1958. It served at Targu Mures when it was active. A few years ago it was moved to Razboieni. Some pictures from that time show it in a really bad shape, but since then it has been restored and nicely repainted, so now it's the pride of the Carpatia Express train.
Facts: ID: CFR 150.216 Wheel arrangement: 2-10-0 Leading Wheel diamater: 850 mm Driving wheel diameter: 1400 mm Axle load: 15.3 t Weight (without tender): 86.9 t Length over buffers: 22940 mm Power: 1723 HP Top speed: 80 km/h Built: 1958 Builder: Uzinele Domeniilor Resita Gauge: Standard (1435 mm) Location: Viseu De Sus, Romania (CFF Viseu de Sus Mocanita Train Station)
The three train cars of Carpatia Express have been restored recently too, repainted in their original colors, so on the outside they look the same way as when they were produced in the German Democratic Republic. On the inside, however, they are more comfortable than they were during their service time.
Only one special cog railway (rack railway) line ever existed in Romania, between Caransebeş and Subcetate (in Hunedoara county). It was built in 1908 to connect the Petroşani region of the country, where coal existed, to the Resiţa region, rich in metals. The part of the line stretching from Boutari (Băuţar) to Zeicani was too steep for conventional locomotives, so it was fitted with a rack running between the tracks and special cog locomotives were bought for transporting the raw materials on it.
These locomotives were considered to be very advanced technologically at the time when they were built. They possessed two 4-cylinder engines, one for the normal, adhesive wheels and one for the cog-wheels. These two engines could operate simultaneously and the non-cog engine could also work by itself.They always rode in the front of the train, so they needed to be turned around at the ends of the line. for this purpose two manual turntables were used, so the heavy machines were turned using human power. you can see an example of this in the movie "Steam in Roumania 1969". The top speed of the rack locos was 40 km/h on normal sections and 12 km/h on rack sections.
ID: CFR 40.005
Wheel arrangement: 2-8-2cog
Builder: Wiener Lokomotivfabriks AG (Floridsdorf)
Top speed: 40 km/h on normal sections, 12 km/h on cog sections
Finding a good place to spend the New Year's Eve is never easy... and this year was no exception. I had no idea where I will spend it for just a month before the end of the year, when a clever person came up with a great idea: let's spend the New Year's Eve on the Mocanita train, at Viseu de Sus! And so we did...
This was not the first time I visited the Mocanita of Viseu de Sus. I've been on it before, in 2009, as I have wrote about it here. Mocanita is a nickname for the small narrow gauge (760 mm) Romanian forest railway. The one at Viseu de Sus, in the Vaser Valley, to be more specific, is said to be the last remaining forest railway which operates steam trains regularly for the purpose of transporting logs. It is also the only steam line in Romania on which people can travel a reasonable distance (about 21 kilometers). Recently, as a result of some people's noble effort to rehabilitate some of Romania's Mocanita lines, small portions of other Romanian narrow gauge lines have been restored. I heard that it's possible to travel with the Mocanita between Brad and Criscior and also at Moldovita. Still, the Mocanita of the Vaser Valley remains the most important one in the country. It runs from the station at Viseu de Sus to Paltin and back with tourists and further into the thick forest for the purpose of transporting raw wood, in places where man can go only by the means of this train, as there are no roads in the wild forest. The steam locomotives employed on the line belong to the once wide-spread 764.000 series. The little steam route received quite a blow in 2008, when an unexpected flood devastated the tracks, even trapping some tourists in the woods. But, with the work of locals and with the help of the Swiss foundation "Hilfe für die Wassertalbahn", the line was quickly restored and visitors can enjoy it again.
The Mocanita of the Vasser Valley takes tourists into the forest regularly from May to September, but on special occasions like Christmas, the New Year's Eve and Easter, there are special trains which allows people to visit the Vaser Valley steam line in winter and even at night. This is the combination we aimed for: a train ride in the snow on the last night of 2011. We were very enthusiastic about the idea as soon as we came up with it. I quickly called CFF Viseu de Sus and I received a positive answer: there were still available places. But there was a problem: the trip to and from Viseu de Sus was more than an easy drive, especially when you are tired after being up on the New Year's Eve. So we needed some place to sleep before and after the event itself. I started calling hotels and pensions at Viseu de Sus and around it... but they all gave me the same answer: they were fully booked for that period. I called at least 50 of them, but no luck. The situation was looking bad... it seemed that we will not be able to spend the New Year's Eve on the Mocanita train because we could not find a place to sleep. Others have booked rooms starting from September and we only woke up at the end of November.
When all hope seemed to be lost, a very friendly lady from a hotel directed me to one of her friends, who also owned a hotel. She also had all rooms booked, but she was very kind and she convinced her brother to take us in. I quickly made reservations for the rooms and for the train too and so we were set to go!
The New Year's Eve train was scheduled to leave the station of Viseu de Sus at 19:00. When we arrived there we found out that there were many tourists (150-200 persons according to my count), so not one, but two trains were prepared, pulled by the famous little steamers, CFF Viseu de Sus 764.421 "Elvetia" and CFF Viseu de Sus 764.221 "Mariuta". The first one was scheduled to leave at 19:00 and the second one at 19:10. Most people got on the first one and it became a little crowded, so we chose the second one, pulled by "Mariuta".
The cost of the New Year's Eve train ride was a lot higher than the usual cost of such a trip, 175 RON (about 40 Euro) for a person, but the train ride itself was not the only thing we got for that money: along with the train ticket we received vouchers for warm food, warm drinks and cold drinks and even a Mocanita calendar for 2012 as a small attention from the organizers. But, as we were about to soon find out, the price included even some other "free" food and fireworks!
As Romanian trains usually are, ours was late from start too, we only left the station of Viseu de Sus before 19:30, but it was no problem really, we were all there to relax and enjoy the ride.
The first nice surprise on the train was that the cars were fitted with stoves (burning wood, of course), so it was nice and warm inside. We dressed in thick clothes because we knew that at the end station, at Paltin, it would be cold, but in the train cars we could take off most of them. The second nice surprise, not long after we started moving, was a small shot of palinca (palinka), a strong (about 50-60 degrees) traditional Romanian/Hungarian drink made from prunes.
After about one our of travel we made a 10-20 minutes stop at Novat, were the organizers were already waiting for us with music, a nice cold plate of food (which was "for free") and drinks. So we were all in a good mood already. One more hour on the train and we arrived to Paltin. The train is traveling really slowly, at an average speed of about 10 km/h, for several reasons: the tracks are not in the greatest shape, the locos have a max speed of 15 km/h ("Mariuta") and 30 km/h ("Elvetia") and also because people travel on the train to see the forest, not to rush through it.
When we arrived to Paltin, the party was already starting. There were small torches all around the place, wooden shelters were you could get food and drinks, gas burners to get warm by, music and a huge campfire. The warm food we received was on a plate that contained about 4 different kind of meat, bread and the usual auxiliary stuff. I confess, I was quite afraid of what kind of food they would give us, people in that region are used to fat meat, but I must congratulate the organizers, the chicken, the sausages, the mici, everything was delicious! So we ate and drank, we moved around, we watched the fire and some of us even spent time taking photos with tripods. The only thing the organizers did not pay attention to was to leave the steam locomotives near the campfire so the tourists could take photos of them. Unfortunately they sat in the dark so it was really difficult to get some shots, even with a tripod.
The final nice surprise was the show of fireworks. It was a lot more than we expected. They were many and colorful and beautiful. The forest echoed with the sound of explosions as the amazing lights lit up the sky above us. And so, without even noticing, we slipped into the year 2012. Too bad I did not manage to take some photos of the fireworks, but at that point I was too busy enjoying the whole thing :)
We stayed at Paltin for about two more hours after that. Some people ate stuffed cabbages (also "for free"), some danced. Around 2:00 both trains and the auxiliary rail cars headed back for Viseu de Sus. We arrived there around 4:00 AM, very tired but with some nice memories of the Mocanita ride :)
I have known for a long time that there is a beautiful steam locomotive exhibited at the train station of Brasov. Unfortunately when I was in Brasov I was usually just travelling through, so for years I did not get a chance to see the locomotive... until the spring of 2011, when I went there with the clear purpose to take some shots of the magnificent CFR 150.1114. It is on display right behind the station, so if you go there, you really cannot miss it:
This is not the first locomotive of the CFR 150.1000 series or of the 150.000 series that I have written about before. For detailed history about the locos 150.1101-150.1123 please read my article bout CFR 150.1123 at Dej Triaj Depot, but I also recommend taking a look at CFR 150.1105 at Sibiu steam locomotive museum and CFR 150.105 at Dej Triaj Depot. Note, however that the 150.1100 and 150.100 series are quite different. Also the locomotives 150.1101-150.1123 (including the 150.1114 at the Brasov train station) were not really built for CFR, they arrived to Romania as war prey and they are German locos. The 150.1114 is actually a steam locomotive of type DR 50.
Being exhibited in the train station of one of the most important cities of Romania, CFR 150.1114 is quite well known. Even H0 scale copies of it exist. Here are a few videos about the CFR 150.1114 model:
CFR 150.1114 is well-maintained and nicely painted. The poeople who travel through the Brasov train station really do have something to see there:
The third train station that I visited in the spring of 2011 in the Prahova Valley, that had a full size locomotive exhibited next to it was the station of Busteni. At Sinaia I have seen the CFR 230.039 steam locomotive and the permanent miniature railroad exhibition. At Predeal I have had the chance to take a few shots of the CFR 50.497 steamer. Busteni had reserved its own surprise for me, but I must say it was a little different from the others. It was a small and visibly very old electric locomotive exhibited right next to the station building, together with a small flat train car. The loco and the car were both nicely restored ad they were placed on a narrow gauge (700 mm) piece of track. The 700 mm gauge was used widely in Romania for industrial purposes and the small car behind the locomotive also had an industrial feel but at the moment I did not know anything about the locomotive or the car. However, I have noticed that it looked a lot like the electric locomotive exhibited in the Dej Triaj collection.
When I looked up the little electric locomotive on the web I found out that it had quite an interesting history and it played a very important part in the existence itself of the town of Busteni itself. It seems that the small mountain town was originally built around the wood industry, to be more specific, around the industry of producing paper. In 1882 the two sons of a Lutheran priest who lived in the nearby town of Rasnov, Carol and Samuel Schiel have realized the potential value of the immense quantity of living wood found in the area and have founded founded a paper mill. The demand for cellulose and paper was high and the business had quickly flourished. The wood had been brought down from the mountains with a funicular (cliff railway), but that was not enough to efficiently transport the materials, so in a matter of a few years, in 1894 the first industrial railway of the Prahova Valley had been constructed. It was a narrow gauge (700 mm) line of only 6.2 km length used to transport logs. At the beginning steam locomotives were used to pull the trains, but the owners were concerned about the fire hazard, so shortly after, in 1899, the people of Busteni became acquainted with a new type of locomotive, one that probably seemed a miracle at the time, an electric one. It was built by the Orenstein & Koppel factories from Berlin and it was used for a very long time to transport wood and paper.
Unfortunately the story of the paper mill does not have a happy ending. By 1928 most of the forest had been cut and the business started to decline. In 1948 it was all nationalized and in 1966 the funicular and the whole railway line was abandoned. A small portion of it, which linked the two main parts of the factory located on the two sides of the main road was kept until about 2003. That is when the electric train worked for the last time. The story of the small electric locomotive ends in an equally sad manner. In 1990 it was transported to Bucuresti, from where it disappeared (probably stolen, sold or melted) and nobody knows anything about it since then.
Luckily the first electric locomotive bought by the Schiel brothers was not the only one. In 1907 and 1913 they have purchased two more similar locos from AEG Berlin. The youngest one is the electric locomotive that is currently exhibited at the Busteni train station. It was placed there at the end of 2010, during the celebration of 50 years since the first standard gaugeelectrified railway section was built in Romania, between Brasov and Predeal. The loco was build on the 1st of July, 1913 in Berlin. with a length of 5.7 m, it weghts just 3.5 tons. It works with 250V and it generates 50 HP. It too was abandoned for a while. You can see a picture of it rusting in the yard of the paper mill here. But at least the story of this locomotive has a happy ending, as it has been restored and is now exhibited and can be admired and photographed at the Busteni train station, here:
I have found a good video which illustrates the way the small electric locomotives worked inside the paper mill:
Facts: ID: Unknown Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo Wheel diameter: 730 mm Length: 5700 mm Width: 1200 mm Weight: 3.5 t Voltage: 250V Power: 50 HP Gauge: 700 mm Location: Busteni, Romania (railway station)
The Prahova Valley is a beautfiul place in Romania and it's worth visiting it regardless if you're a train fan or not. However, if you are one, you'll find some nice surprises in almost every train station along the valley. I already wrote about the CFR 230.039 steam locomotive at the Sinaia train station and about the permanent miniature railroad exhibition hosted there. Now it's time to look at the train station of Predeal, where another real steam locomotive is preserved, and not just any steamer, but one that was famous in its own time and is an important part of the history of the Romanian State Railways. Predeal is a small mountain resort, a great place to spend your holidays, but if you're more interested in seeing the mentioned steam locomotive, you should have no problem finding the train station, located here:
The locomotive exhibited just behind the station is the CFR 50.497. It was retired at the end of the 20th century, after a long service. In it's last years of activity it was used for maneuvers in train depots, as steam locomotive traction in Romania was mostly replaced by diesel and electric traction around 1970. After its retirement, CFR 50.497 was kept for a while in the Sibiu steam locomotive museum and a few years ago it has been moved to Predeal and exhibited behind the train station. Unfortunately, as you can see from the images, it is not in great shape anymore, the weather has imprinted its destructive effects on it already...
CFR 50.497 belongs to the 50.100 series of CFR locomotives, not to the 50.000 series, as one may suspect. There are considerable differences between the two types. The 50.100 series is one that had an important role in the Romanian railway transportation in the 20th century. In the first part of the century Romania's railway system was expanding and there was an increasing need for powerful locomotives. The CFR also tried to standardize the locomotives and their parts as much as possible in order to minimize the problems induced by the fact that their earlier locomotives came from many different builders and many different countries and they were difficult to manage. The locomotives of the 40.000 series were an important step towards achieving these two goals (powerful engines that could handle the increasing traffic volume and that were also standard types), but there was one important problem with them: they were very heavy (17.2 t axle load) and the country's lines were in a bad shape, they could not handle the wight. So CFR looked for an alternative solution of locomotives that could handle all kinds of traffic (passenger, freight, mixed) and were light enough for the existing railway system. So was the 50.100 series born. At first these locos were imported from foreign builders. The first order was placed in 1920 and the German locomotive factories delivered a total of 804 such machines. In fact the locomotives of type 50.100 are a copy of the Prussian G 10 design. The G 10 had been a successful type of steam locomotive used for cargo hauling for quite a few years before the first CFR 50.100 loco has started running. It proved to be a reliable machine with good performance achievements and it was also lightweight, that is why CFR decided to adept the design, but the 50.100 locomotives were a bit different from the G 10 engines. Obviously the parts were standardized and they were fitted with the famous crude oil burning system developed by George Cosmovici.
With a top speed of 60 km/h, the 50.100 series was considered a general purpose design and these engines were used for pulling just about any kind of standard gauge trains. At the beginning of the 20th century Romania's rolling stock came mostly from foreign builders. But CFR wished to break free from this dependence and in 1927 a law was brought which encouraged the country's own locomotive factories to build their own machines for CFR. So, beginning with this year, CFR bought the Borsig license for the G 10 and the two main Romanian railway manufacturers, Uzinele Domeniilor Resita and Uzinele Nicolae Malaxa Bucuresti started building the engines. Actually, the first 50.100 steam locomotive, the 50.243, was built a little bit earlier at Resita, it was delivered on the 14th September 1926 and it was named "Regele Ferdinand" after the Romanian king. The first engine of the same type left the Malaxa factories two years later, on the 28th of December 1928. It's number was 50.340 and it too was named after a Romanian king, "Regele Mihai". In 1936 an improved subtype was ordered, with a top sepped of 70 km/h, but due to the soon arriving war, only 10 were actually built, numbered 50.1001 to 50.1010.
The 50.100 locomotive was probably the most wide spread steam engine ever used by the CFR. In the Second World War it transported most of the Romanian troops, before and after the war it transported just about anything. Some engines were still used in the 1990's for maneuvers inside train depots. Many such steam locomotives existed and they played an important role in the Romanian transportation of the 20th century. Surprisingly only two were truly preserved, the 50.378 in the Resita steam locomotive museum and the 50.497 at the Predeal train station. A few more are left to rust in different corners of the country...
Facts: ID: CFR 50.497 Wheel arrangement: 0-10-0 Length over buffers: 18912 mm Height: 4250 mm Wheel diameter: 1400 mm Axle load: 15.4 t Top speed: 60 km/h Built: 1930 Builder: Uzinele Nicolae Malaxa, Bucuresti Gauge: Standard (1435 mm) Location: Predeal, Romania (train station)
As I wrote earlier, this spring I had the opportunity to visit Sinaia, a quiet small town in the center of Romania, which has many things to see and that includes some eye candy for the railroad enthusiasts too. Those who are into railway modeling will be thrilled by the permanent miniature railroad exhibition hosted in the building of the train station, but those who are more into real, full size locomotives, will not be disappointed either because just behind the station there is a beautiful steam locomotive on display, the CFR 230.039.
The 230.00 series of CFR locomotives includes machines of type Prussian P8 (KPEV, 2C-h2), which is considered to be one of the most successful and beautiful types of German steam locomotives. Their construction began in 1906 in the Schwartzkopff factories, also known as Berliner Maschinenbau. They were elegant, simple, fast and economical engines which were also relatively easy to drive. Most of them were employed in passenger hauling.
The first locomotives of the CFR 230.000 series have arrived to Romania as war prey after the First World War and their exploitation began in 1919. CFR has also acquisitioned 131 more from several German locomotive builders. The first lot was ordered in 1920 and they arrived to the country in 1921. Seeing that they were so fit for the conditions of the Romanian lines and they had proved very efficient in pulling passenger and mail cars, the Romanian locomotive factories started building them too from 1932 onward. Until the year 1940 several were built, 139 by the "Uzinile Domeniilor" factory from Resita and 91 more by the "Uzinele Nicolae Malaxa" in Bucuresti. The fact that together they have built a total of 230 locomotives for the 230.000 series is just a coincidence. The engines built in Romania were technically updated and they were able to use not just coal as fuel, but also crude oil. Romania did not have much coal, but there was plenty of crude oil in the country, so this double fuel system, developed by George Cosmovici, was applied to many types of Romanian steam locomotives. These locos served the Romanian State Railways for many decades, the last of them being retired in the 1980's.
Unfortunately not many of them have been preserved, only about 10 (but that's quite a lot compared to how many other types of Romanian steam locomotives have been barbarically melted). I previously wrote about the CFR 230.299 located in the Dej Triaj collectionhere and here.
Facts: ID: CFR 230.039 Wheel arrangement: 4-6-0 Driving wheel diameter: 1750 mm Leading wheel diameter: 1000 mm Length over buffers: 18.49 m (with tender) Axle load: 17.2 t Own weight: 76.3 t (without tender) Max weight: 137.9 t Number of cylinders: 2 Cylinder diameter: 575 mm Boiler pressure: 12 bar Power: 1300 HP (868 kW) Top speed: originally 100 km/h, plates state 60 km/h Built: 1907 Builder: AG Vulcan Gauge: Standard (1435 mm) Location: Sinaia, Romania (train station)