Bosnia Real & Charter Steam Tour October 2018
A Linesiding with John Tour
14 October
The tour is now over and it has been succesful beyond any reasonable expectation with superb weather, more steam than we expected and our itinerary which was revised to avoid clashing with the other group in town worked out to our advantage. The report for 8-13 October are available below the itinerary and I will also add some photos from the post tour trip to Mostar for just 3 of the group. The weather continues to be kind to us.
This is the current 'final' itinerary for the tour:

08.10. Monday
- Travel from Sarajevo to Banovici 
- Oskova shunt
- hotel dinner

09.10. Tuesday 
- early morning Oskova shunt
- visit to some non steam locations (Tuzla town tour) or some plinthed locos around Tuzla, or both.
- Tuzla town visit, outdoor sports bar and Tuzla Brewery bier keller

10.10. Wednesday 
- Banovici work shop
- Full line charter 
- Night shots
- hotel or Banovici company restaurant dinner

11.10. Thursday
- Bukinje Work shop
- Dubrave visit
- Šikulje visit
- hotel dinner

12.10. Friday
- Šikulje visit 
- Dubrave visit
- Etno restaurant

13.10. Saturday
- Full line NG charter
- Banovici SG charter (probably in the morning)
- transfer to Sarajevo late afternoon/early evening (2hrs 20min)
- dinner at our hotel, the Hotel Grand (as we may arrive quite late)

14.10 Sunday
- individual transfers to the airport for flights home

and for those with later flights:
- morning guided tour of Sarajevo with lunch
- extended checkout to allow for shower and change before flights

- Mostar Extension group leave by train early morning for Mostar
8 October 2018
We arrived at Oskova to find another group's bus at the high level at Oskova and 3 locos in steam down below. Two of them were the two steamable standard gauge shunters (normally spare to the diesel) and the class 62 (local USA tank) on the left is now steamable but the class 19 on the right is still the preferred reserve loco. (This updated 9 Oct - on 9 Oct 19-12 was doing all the work which included dragging 62-125 around. The other loco was 25-30 from the top level (narrow gauge). This was down there on the dual guage track that is used to take an sg loco on a ng flatbed truck to the Banovici workshop as required. We understand that the two class 83 were up the line, one on a charter and the other in steam as decoration. At the moment, the all-black 83-158 is the stronger loco and was on the charter. The green/black 83-159 can just about move itself.

The two sg locos were waiting for the diesel to remove the wagons behind them. The class 25 ng loco was moved for our benefit and eventually made its way back to its normal home on the top level. In this process, a number of nice shots were had. At the top, we had two runpasts with some loaded coal wagons before calling it a day.

Click on this text box for photos from 8 October.
The crew of 25-30 wait for permission to cross from the line down to the standard gauge low level onto the main line and return to the Oskova narrow gauge stabling point while a woman picks up coal. A timeless scene - 8 October 2018 late afternoon.
9 October 2018
We counted 5 locos in steam today at Oskova - 3 on the narrow gauge and 2 on the standard gauge although 2 were not healthy and had been steamed even though they were not up to pulling trains. With the focus on real working steam, we ourselves would have gone for one ng loco shunting the washery turn about with a diesel, one sg loco substituting for the diesel that normal does the shunt under the washery during its roughly 11 day maintainance and one ng loco for a line charter. We would not have planned all this in the same morning or afternoon so we were faced with a surfeit of locos and choices of what to photograph. Two of the locos did not work - the green tendered 83-159 was dragged back to Banovici by a diesel and the class 62-125 sat there in steam unless moved around by the class 19. 83-158 was working the ng shunt, 19-12 substituted for the sg diesel and 25-30 was spare loco on the narrow gauge.

The washery stopped during the unloading with 83-158 so we went down to the lower level to observe 19-12 shunting. We returned to see 83-158 complete unloading and return to go on the stabling point for shift change.

The other group had an sg charter train booked to Oskova and when we arrived at Zevince, the barriers near the road junction at Zevince closed and we got to see 33-503 on its way to Oskova with a charter coal train. So ended the steam part of a very interesting day. We also stopped at Zevince station and saw a diesel hauled coal train heading out on the branch into Republik Srbska to the east - the first time I've seen a train on that line.

We headed for Tuzla to catch up on beer and wi-fi at the Sports Bar and sausage and black beer at the Tuzla Brewery Bier Keller.

For photos of 9 October click on this text box.

10 October 2018

It was a misty start to the day but it was clearing as we entered the Banovici Workshops from the railway entrance. All of the working fleet were 'on shed' with 83-158 and 83-159 lined up and 25-30 and 55-99 on separate tracks. After their exertions for the other tour group we understand that their status was: 25-30 in need of minor repair, 55-99 not serviceable (not in steam for the tour), 83-158 the only remaining working loco, 83-159 had been in steam for the other tour but was not able to haul a train.

We had a bus ride over the hill to Lake Modrac taking in the aerial ropeway from the quarry on top of the hill to the soda factory (around 10 km away) and lunch in Lukavac.

We had 83-158 for our charter and we may well have it again for our second charter on Saturday unless 25-30 is repaired in time.

All the locos on the works meant that the Oskova shunt was definitely not a steam shunt on 10 October. I remain uncertain how often steam shunts on the Oskova ng line to the washery and if this is still a regular 'real steam' working.

Following the charter, we arranged night shots with 83-158 at Oskova before finshing for the day.

For photos of 10 October click on this text box.

11 October 2018

With the other group now departed, we had the area to ourselves and we were granted permission to visit Bukinje, Dubrave and Sikulje - something that has been denied us while they were around (and signed permission was only received on 10 October!). This resulted in an annoying change to our itinerary but something I think eventually worked in our favour (see the above daily report for how we seem to have come out the winners at Banovici as a result).

We headed for Bukinje and found 33-504 parked outside the shed cooling down prior to a service. We understand that it failed on the charters on Sunday or Monday. It had been rather crudely painted (or oiled with thick black engine oil) and had had its Kreka ownership signs on the cab removed to make it more like a Yugoslav mainline loco. I hope it can be quickly returned to service. In the works were 33-064 (long-term repair) and 33-236 (active repair). The line up of class 62 tanks and the dumped class 33 were unchanged and the strange armoured(?) diesel was still on the other side of the shed.

We moved on the Dubrave where there was a production halt and track repairs going on. The local 'jobsworth' gave us a hard time before we were eventually allowed in. 33-248 was in steam and shuffled around a bit for us but no real work was available and no real photo opportunties presented themselves so we left after a short while hoping to do better tomorrow.

We arrived at Sikulje hoping not to have the same result but were extemely happy with the speedy access, some real work going on and a very cooperative crew who did a great job to add a few extras for us. It resulted in a great afternoon in full sunshine and with sunset shots to boot. The fact that a few tyres maybe found their way into the firebox added to the black smoke effects. 33-503 was the loco in use and it had also been tarted up and had its company logos removed. This was the loco we had seen on the charter train to Oskova on Tuesday.

I was expecting to account for 6 class 33 but we only saw 5 (33-064, 236, 248, 503, 504). Checking back to the 2016 and 2015 reports only these 5 were seen so I must be mistaken about 6 class 33s.

For photos of 11 October click on this text box.

12 October 2018

Today we did the reverse of Thursday with Sikulje in the morning and Dubrave in the afternoon. We arrived at Sikulje in the mist around 9 am and the crew performed a few false shunts prior to the arrival of the sun and the diesel with the empties. There then followed a shunt of fulls and empties until roughly 12:30 when work was over for that session with the diesel waiting to depart on the fulls and the steam loco parked up on its stabling point.

After lunch we headed for Dubrave to coincide with a shunt of the empties which had just arrived and then a movement of the full wagons as the first step in building up the next full train for the mainline diesel. Then the loco went to stable and we left to get packed and ready for our evening out at the Etno restaurant.

The locos in use at Sikulje and Dubrave were as yesterday.

On our way the the Hotel Zlaca we popped in to Oskova to find 83-158 attached to a train for the washery. While this does not prove that steam is used regularly on the shunt, it does show that when steam is being readied for a charter the next day, it will be used on the shunt. However, when there are no charters, we still can't be sure that steam is regularly used.

For photos of 12 October click on this text box.

13 October 2018

We finished the tour with a ng full-line charter with 83-158 and a different consist and a bit of augmented shunting on the standard gauge with 62-125 which (it turns out) can move itself and several wagons most energetically. Around 16:00 we drove to Sarajevo to end the tour with a final dinner at the Hotel Grand.

For photos of 13 October click on this text box.

14-16 October 2018

Mostar and nearby area

We travelled down on the early morning Talgo train to Mostar. It takes around 2 hours and the specatular bit is before Konjic where you spend around 30 minutes descending to the lake with tunnels, bridges and s-bends.

Our 'pansion' is close to the historic bridge and we had lunch with a view of the bridge. Dario will join us later today after giving our Japanese sub-group and guided tour of Sarajevo before their evening flight home.

For photos of 14-16 October click on this text box.