Orient-Express 8: Alasehir Market Day (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

To the previous part of the series:
Orient-Express 7: Steam in the Aegean Region (50 p. + 1 v.)

To the video of the trip:

Detailed TCDD rail map (Attention - 12.9 MB):

September 24 2013

At 6:30 we had breakfast, again I only packed in some sesame bread roll pieces. We were travelling with full luggage that day, but my roommate knew a taxi stand around the corner, and so we reached the station comfortably. After seven o'clock the first shop in that area opened, so I managed to replenish my water supplies.

A proper TCDD-Dodge in front of Usak station.

Historical view of Usak and current timetable of Izmir - Ankara Mavi Tren in the waiting room. Apart from that, passenger traffic increased significantly over the past years, two pairs of "Ekspres Usak" Izmir - Usak by day, two more commuter trains to Alasehir, and an express pair to Konya.
The current regional timetable can be downloaded here: http://www.tcdd.gov.tr/Upload/Files/ContentFiles/2010/bolgesel/alsancakusak.pdf

Slowly the loco crew assembled, the tour participants were also fully accounted for around departure time at 7:30. This morning's question was: "Where is our train?" - really, our composition could nowhere be spotted...

At first nothing was happening, then DE24210 with long freight conveying one sleeper coach appeared coming from Afyon. The train came to a halt a few yards past a level crossing, then reversed to clear the path, for example to school.

Past the level crossing towards Alasehir a long line of disused steamers stood stabled. These definitely were supposed to stay there as a rail crane with wooden structure had been parked literally on top of the first loco. With Dg53752 and Karabük I explored the graveyard: here Prussian G10 55043 (BMAG / 1924), followed by 46223 - an American USATC S200 "Middle East" class which had been delivered in 1943 - , as well as more Kriegsloks and other classes. During WWII all factions competed over the transportation network of neutral Turkey, that's why war locomotives from all sides can be found here.

Some time later the freight train vacated track #1, finally steam action at 8:30.


Ah, the solution: our rake had been hidden on the backmost track behind the goods shed! The loco had lost its smokebox-decoration over night. At 9 we finally departed, today a kind of transfer to Alasehir was planned, but also some nice motifs were waiting. Our destination was located almost at sealevel, so we would partly descend steeply, that's why usually trains were running with the smokebox into the other direction.

Behind Usak the line was running relatively straight, only before Inay we had the first photo stop. Garbage dumps belong to typical countryside scenery, as is already known from operational steam time reports. ;-)

At Inay we found a typical Anatolian village affected by rural exodus. About half the houses seemed derelict, the other half had been fitted with 21st century technology like solar panels. During waiting time a Renault 12 "Toros" produced until the year 2000 by Oyak Renault - so still omnipresent - passed by, this vehicle even still carried old black license plates.

Of course I could not leave without pantaloons-portrait.

We found nice landscape in front of Ahmetler, once more I extended the freight part of the train.

Our "auxiliary train" conveying an additional coach still being painted, we would be able to use it later.

Ali helped himself to a ride, but almost missed the train at the station as we had a much shorter and more direct path on foot.

Our place for lunch breaks the next three days: Esme. We always had to let 31619 Usak-Express Izmir Alsancak - Usak pass here. As you can see: not only train services had been multiplied, demand also increased proportionally - and daytime services often ran punctually.

After a melody played on the conductor's whistle DE24306 accelerated loudly under Pielstick-engine-thunder out of the station. The station master wearing a red cap had received a new PC from the train crew and was just carrying its box to safety.

During the break we sat down in front of a snack stall, the owners seemed to be a little overwhelmed by our order. Due to minor digestion issues I only ordered c(h)ips, the others a full menu. Lastly we received everything in time, afterwards the neighbouring supermarket was paid a visit. At the station we observed the goings-on before we continued at 2 o'clock.

At Esme "sub-village" our train was admired by a couple of locals, while the donkey-population seemed unimpressed.

A second run in the nice rocky landscape, these images were taken by EOS 450D, I was filming here.

And a third position a bit further back behind a cutting.

From Alasehir the line offered three larger bridges, here number 3 behind Güneyköy, the least spectacular, I will show pictures of it in the next report. Before reaching it the train exited Tünel number 17.

We move to bridge number 2 crossing a valley in the mountains. Once again we stopped in front of it and walked across - something I was not very keen on, but it was always managed without major falls. The line was steeply going downhill here, I will show closer photos of the bridge only in later reports from the uphill rides. This afternoon I was fascinated by the hamlet on this hilltop.

Modern times already had reached the mountains.

But in this view no item dating from recent decades can be spotted... in the stable you could clearly hear bleeting, but the animals had been hidden away, as I noticed at other spots as well.

Amidst the remote mountain scenery actually a single track station was located - Türkmentepe. The departure, in the background once again bridge number 2.

The rather spectacularly situated Tünel 12.

Protective netting had been attached to the rock faces in recent years.

Arrived at Tünel number 2 and bridge number 1 - now we really had walked across all bridges, you always had to keep on the metal panels to the sides.

The train rolled once across the structure already located at the edge of the mountain range above the plain of Alasehir.

Suddenly we were quickly called back, by radio we had been ordered to clear the line.

So, we boarded the carriage behind the diesel loco and met DE33026 hauling a freight at Konaklar. Above all we had to clear the mountain section for the following Usak Express. Concerning express trains TCDD did not leave any leeway. As long as they had not passed, the line could not be obstructed, as we would learn more often over the following days.

The break was used for steam loco maintenance.

Village life at Konaklar.

At Gümüscay, a place with its own railway halt, we had reached the plain of Alasehir where almost exclusively wine grapes were cultivated. However, grapes were mainly used for direct consumption, to produce grape sirup Pekmez or like here to dry as raisins.

At 17:30 we managed one more photo stop at Killik station surrounded by wineyards, I was standing on an irrigation canal.

This lady of course was the top motif together with shepherd dog offspring - a large sheep herd could be seen in the stable nearby. Note the simple lighting solution: just tie a slat to a telegraph pole, lead a cord there and hang up two energy-saving light bulbs - voilà!

Entering Alasehir we passed an extremely busy market hall - market day! Even experienced Turkey travellers confirmed hardly ever to have seen such a crowd - almost Indian conditions predominated. After we had fought our way to the hotel with heavy luggage - it takes time to get used to vehicle drivers not breaking when steering towards you, relying on you to jump out of the way in time - I had to throw myself back into the hubbub despite fatigue... our hotel was located directly next to one of several market halls.



Some horse-drawn vehicles passed by.

At first I approached the nearby level crossing, the evening meeting of two Usak-Express trains was scheduled.

On the horizon DE24379 appeared hauling 31621 from Izmir.

These lovely old manual barriers were only lowered when 31620 double-headed by class DE24000 approached quickly. In the background to the right you can spot the turntable and a market.

Into the other direction it was even more extreme, cranking only started when the train already had departed - it was not possible any other way with such impatient road traffic.

I continued to the section of market where almost exclusively farmers, often whole families, were offering their products directly.


The Mediterranean is not far.

So, shoe salesman is a risky job... ;-)
In the background you can see the entrance to our hotel Sahin.

The glamourous fruit and vegetable hall.


With a lemon as a present and more than 500 photos on the memory card I returned to the hotel...

Until next time! :)

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