Interregional East '16-'18 - 24: Moldova, Bukovina, Čmelák, Sulzer (50 p.) is a free online Railroad Discussion Forum and Railroad Photo Gallery for railroaders, railfans, model railroaders and anyone else who is interested in railroads. We cover a wide variety of topics, including freight trains, passenger and commuter railroads, rail news and information, tourist railroads, railway museums and railroad history.


Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
Jewish East '18 - 23: Snow-covered Chișinău (50 p.)șinău-50-p.13202

What previously happened:
Smoking East '03-'16 - 21: Goodbye from Chernivtsi (50 p.)

The videos for this part:

March 21 2018

Chișinău station was erected in 1870 by architect Henry Lonsky. The first train arrived in summer 1871 from Odessa, providing a vital rail connection from the province of Bessarabia to the rest of the Russian Empire. In 1873, the westward line was completed to Cornești, in 1875 to Ungheni and via an Eiffel-designed bridge across Prut River to Romania - this was the direction we were about to travel.
Shortly after the line had been completed, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro gained their independence from the Ottoman Empire during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

More about the station in Romanian:șinău

in Russian:Кишинёв_(станция)

Timetables outside were not correct.

Inside, express times displayed were accurate, although some trains did not run every day (times changed since end of March, see ).

The platform had been constructed in 2003. ChME3-4167 pulled our train to platform 1, I took some cell phone pictures.

Steamer Er-85-63 built in 1950 at Cegielski, Poznań, Poland, had been in service on the line to Ungheni until the late 1960s.

The ChME3-switcher had moved away, time for our express loco!

... ChME3e-6779, which is going to become a familiar sight. :0)

Our express 105B towards Bucharest was complete, I boarded the car past a joking provodnik and entered our overheated "kupe"-type compartment.

In the morning of the same day - after capturing the 2TE10L near Pruncul - we drove westwards along Ghidighici reservoir on the R1. Within villages you had to evade potholes, between settlements a new stretch of road offered two lanes but just one was relatively clean of snow - only daredevil Moldovan drivers overtook on the snowy center lane. We found a grade crossing and a spot to park behind Străşeni station. The train was due to arrive, the grade crossing keeper peaked out of his container from time to time, then some voice sounded from the loudspeaker...

... and at 8:40 a.m., express 106B from Bucharest was approaching.




It passed slowly through Străşeni station. These barriers were operated manually, but mostly you could spot automated signals along the mainline.

March 20 2018

On Tuesday I caught 106B near our hotel, ChME3e-6779 was accelerating out of Visterniceni station. Also note the partly wooden industrial structure in the background.


Race against a KAMAZ truck.

March 21 2018

Welcome to the Calea Ferată din Moldova / Zheleznaja doroga Moldovy kupe. I did not think that I would see another GE Genesis again that soon - and in Moldova. ;-)

ONE of our very "simple" tickets Chișinău - Iași (distance about 75 miles / overall traveling time: 5 1/2 hours).

Along Ghidighici reservoir.

March 19 2018

The first afternoon, we already had visited the Străşeni-side end of the lake. Not many spots were reachable in the snow, here train 105B in front of vineyards.



This is the same composition we were about to take two days later.



March 21 2018

Travel through wintery-melancholic Moldova.

After two hours, we had covered the 60 miles to Ungheni, the rest of the 5 1/2 hours to Iași was mostly spent at the two border stations of Ungheni. After a proper rail-cruise around the gauge-changing facility, we arrived at the other platform of Ungheni station where a standard gauge GM-modernized Romanian Sulzer took over.
At least some entertainment was on offer while waiting: first, a doctor came by and asked if we were feeling well. Then, a Soviet-style interrogation followed by the border officers: Who would only stay two days in Moldova? You have been to Ukraine (two years ago)? Very suspect! The customs officer had to search the bigger of our suitcases, poking a screwdriver with changeable head into it several times. Then he was satisfied. After a while he returned, slightly worried: did we see the head of his screwdriver? No, not on the floor, not on the benches - it is not here. Later during the trip, at Timișoara, I managed to unpack the suitcase completely for the first time - and what did I find at its bottom? Yes, I had unwillingly taken the Moldovan customs screwdriver head as souvenir!

We crossed Prut River in the darkness (we already it know from this series in the Carpathians and at Chernivtsi), then reached the Romanian border station Ungheni Prut where 54 minutes were scheduled for border controls. The train changed number to Interregio 401 of Romanian CFR. We finally arrived at icy Iași with ten minutes delay.

A standard gauge 2nd class coach had come from Moldova behind the GM which quickly was changed for an electric engine. I did not get the chance to take a picture of its front and also slipped on ice on the platform - to the entertainment of some railroad workers
We quickly pulled our suitcases to nearby Hotel Arnia which already had convinced me in summer 2016. Luckily, sidewalks are being cleared of snow in Romania, so they did not become ice-skating rinks.

August 3 2016

In last evening light and about 80 degrees more than on the previous photos, I captured a former Stuttgart GT4 streetcar in front of Iași main station. In the background the late 19th century customs house, the border between Romania and Russia only was a few miles away at Ungheni at the time.

The Principality of Moldavia - or Moldova in Romanian - was formed during the 14th and 15th centuries, named after the River Moldova. It included the regions of Bukovina (today partly Ukraine, partly Romania), the current Romanian region Moldova around Iași as well as the current Republic of Moldova without "Transnistria".
Southwest of it lay the Principality of Wallachia - nowadays the southern part of Romania with its capital Bucharest - , to the west Transylvania. In the 16th century, Moldavia became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1774/1775, the Ottoman ruler gave the Bukovina with Chernivtsi (now Ukraine) and Suceava (now Romania) to the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy. The region which correlates with the modern Republic of Moldova was given to Russia in 1812 and became part of the province of Bessarabia. The Principality of Wallachia joined the current Romanian region of Moldova in 1859, the first capital until 1861 became Iași. In 1861, the Principality of Romania with capital Bucharest was declared, completely independent from the Ottoman Empire since 1878, from 1881 Kingdom of Romania.
After WWI, Romania gained the current Republic of Moldava without "Transnistria", Transylvania and the whole of Bukovina. During WWII, the nowadays Ukrainian part of Bukovina and the modern Republic of Moldova fell to the Soviet Union, the latter formed the Soviet Republic of Moldova together with "Transnistria". After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, this became the root of the "Transnistrian" conflict between a Romanian and a Russian orientation of the country which decades later still remains unsolved and frozen, with the easternmost part of Moldova a republic only recognized by Russia. The different points of view can be seen in the names alone: the Romanian-centered view "Transnistria" and the own name "Pridnestrovia": situated across the Nistru, or this side of the Dnestr - of course meaning the same river.

More about the Principality of Moldavia:


August 4 2016

I went on an early excursion from Iași in summer and winter, Sulzer 60-1160 still unspoiled by UIC-number on the front switched to take over train 1062 to Ungheni.

I was about to board this train, more about it in following report parts.

August 3 2016

We jump to the capital of Ukrainian Bukovina, Chernivtsi. At the end of report part 21, I had boarded train 959 to Vadul Siret departing at 9:25. Thomas also had made it to the bridge across the railroad as the Čmelák (nickname of these Czech-built locomotives), in this case ChME3-3084, hauled me to the Romanian border.

Photo (c) Thomas Wünsch

We reached Ukrainian border station Vadul Siret after eleven. The train stopped on the four-rail dual-gauge track 1 in front of the local train station building.



Where is the international station? Here it is!

I waited as only passenger inside the completely oversized, ostentatious building. Staff walking by looked at me with surprise - What? A passenger? Here? IR 384 from Suceava arrived punctually at 12:55 behind a Sulzer on track 2. While the class 60 reversed around the train, me and actually another passenger were led through the customs corridor and were allowed to take a seat in a car after depositing our passports. Before departure, the passports were returned to us. Romanian CFR train personnel still was missing... shortly before the scheduled time, everyone appeared out of the village carrying full plastic bags - it looked like a profitable Ukraine-run! ;-)
We have seen the lumber train departing Chernivtsi, now already missing one of the leading 2M62s.

The line still crosses a bit of Ukraine, partly on four-rail dual-gauge track, partly on separate tracks. Nothing stops at these local halts anymore.

Our IR 381 Vadul Siret - Bucharest met IR 380 Bucharest - Vadul Siret at the Romanian border station Vicşani.

An empty freight towards Ukraine stood ready. Below the window, I heard a minute-long loud argument between a CFR Marfă- and an Ukrainian worker. I did not dare to poke the head out of the window.

We reached transshipment station Dorneşti shortly after 3 o'clock. Broad gauge ends here, a loaded freight train in the background. One of the GFR (Grup Feroviar Român) Sulzers probably had returned to its country of origin from Poland, judging by the shape of its head lamps.

Broad gauge loading terminal to the right.

We were cleared for departure, GFR 60-1504 was switching some freight cars.

Summer ride through Romanian Bukovina.

We reached the start of electrification at Suceava Nord.

Suceava Nord station - actually Gara Ițcani at the place of same name. None of the Suceava stations is situated inside city limits - and the site features an additional curiosity: Suceava Nord had been built in 1871 as border station of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the other Suceava station had been the border post of a different monarchy.

The building is in need of renovation, this winter a cab driver claimed it was completely closed - which of course is not true for rail operations.


I finally reached Suceava station at 3:48 p.m. - originally it had been called Gara Burdujeni, also after a suburb. It had been erected in 1902 as border station of the Kingdom of Romania, in contrast to Suceava Nord it was renovated in 2006.

Sulzer 60-1318 had hauled IR 381 from Vadul Siret, now an electric engine took over for the rest of the journey to Bucharest. In the current timetable, locos are already changed at Suceava Nord. In total, the train connection for the 50 miles from Chernivtsi took more than six hours - so it is just something for railroad enthusiasts.

Next, will take a closer look at Suceava - it had been the capital of the Principality of Moldavia for 200 years during the Middle Ages, nowadays it is the main town of Romanian Bukovina. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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