Southeastwards '16 - 29: Single-Couchette to the Gorge (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:
Southeastwards '16-'18 - 28: Iași - Craiova (50 p.)și-craiova-50-p.13349

The video for this part:

August 5 2016

I carried my large backpack to the railroad grade crossing at Sălcuţa as sadly no baggage claim could be found at Craiova.

At least I had a spot in the shade which was passed by the occasional local vehicle.

Cattle and horses standing in the heat on the meadow towards the station.

R 9136 Calafat - Craiova was approaching punctually at 3:26 p.m.

820 475 hauled the local including a car in old light-blue livery. I could retire to read a book in the shade for two hours as R 9137 Craiova - Calafat was expected at 5:27... I assumed the same train would return. Mine back to Craiova was supposed to depart at 6:02. 5:30 went past and nothing came. So, the current spot was abandoned and I moved back to the station which I did not regret as...

... this appeared on the horizon...

... anticipated by these taxicabs! :0)

The train entering the loop track indicated a meeting with my train here. The commuters had to overcome another obstacle after a long, hot day.



Will Tupac take the horse cart?

Or should he walk?

R 9138 Băileşti - Craiova arrived almost punctually.

Sulzer-Malaxa-meeting under the triangle-shaped shadow of the station roof.

Back at Craiova before 7 p.m.





Softrans Hyperion highspeed-train number two, built and based at Craiova, arrived at quarter to nine. Why, do you ask, am I still sitting on the platform? The board in the foreground will give the answer!

Finally, at 9 p.m., 1 1/2 hours late IR 73 "Traianus" Budapest - Bucharest appeared. We will get more familiar with the catastrophic state of the line from the Iron Gate in another report part.

Two BDŽ through coaches were conveyed behind the loco, continuing as IR 481 "Bononia" to Golenţi and across the Bulgarian border and the Danube to Vidin and Sofia.

I entered the couchette car and was greeted by two couchette-mothers who at first seemed skeptical and overlooked my reservation but then quickly came to like me. I was shown to a six-berth compartment just for myself - single couchette, so to say.
If you think switching at Craiova could be accelerated to decrease the delay - hahahahahaha! The through cars were pushed back and forth, once parallel to the engine of IR 73 (see video at minute 21:50). Afterwards, we departed even more delayed.

August 6 2016

I checked the cell phone occasionally to gauge our progress, but the speed on the diesel line behind Segarcea also had deteriorated to a creeping rocking motion. Finally, at 12:05 a.m., Romanian border station Golenţi near Calafat was reached - our scheduled departure time after border checks would have been 11 p.m. MBV 481 should have arrived in Bulgarian Vidin on the other side of the Danube at 11:20, and exactly this minute at 12:05 our carrier train towards Sofia - BV 7627 - was supposed to depart. We had been hauled by its modernized CFR version, class 820, now the Bulgarian original of a Romanian-built engine BDŽ 55 165 pulled us across the Danube (see video at minute 22:01). Soon it became reality, the couchette-mums announced it throughout the coach: we are staying overnight at Vidin! BDŽ recently seems to have become an efficient railroad, so hour-long waiting was not possible for BV 7627. After passport control, I at least had a few hours of undisturbed sleep until BV 7621 left Vidin punctually for the capital at 5:55 a.m. It is no EuroNight, but at least the moms served me coffee - Bulgarians cannot live without.

Fitting sleeping car curtains for my single couchette compartment in morning sunlight.

Curving around near Oreshets with view of the western Balkan Mountains along the Serbian border.

Oblast Montana is reached at Brusartsi where a connecting local train for the branch line to Lom on the Danube was waiting.

The city of 50000 inhabitants Vratsa featured a massive concrete Communist-era station design common throughout Bulgaria. We were punctual to the minute at 8:48 a.m.

View towards Vrachanski Balkan.

Our train took the southern track of the triangular junction past Mezdra towards Sofia, thus avoiding Mezdra main station. That's why I decided to get off at Mezdra-yug (south). The couchette-moms were very concerned: how would the young boy find his way around there?

Well, for ordinary mortals they had a point - Mezdra-yug really is situated outside any settlement. However, I already had missed the planned morning photo session, and a quick look at the timetable showed I would be able to take up the excursion from here. At first, something came by from direction Sofia: International train MBV 460 "Romania" arrived shortly before 9:30 a.m. "Train" might an overstatement as only the last German Halberstadt-built car would continue from Bulgarian border station Ruse to Bucharest.

Some seemed more excited by the landscape than others.

The crowded express only stopped for this one lady with her shopping.

PV 20110 Gorna Oryahovitsa (dep. 5:25) - Sofia came for me even one minute early at 9:43...

... just to set me down in the Iskar Gorge within the Balkan Mountains just fifteen minutes later.

Cherepish halt solely had been installed to serve one Orthodox monastery.

I waited another fifteen minutes for KPV 20201 Sofia - Mezdra with which I would have arrived from the morning photo spots according to original plans.



Behind one of many Iskar River bridges, the line towards Mezdra disappears into the rock face.

I still had quite the program to endure, several miles on a mountainous road in 90-degree heat with full backpack for two weeks and of course fluids for the day.
Still, I walked into the "wrong" direction at first as this view could be found a few hundred yards towards Sofia.

BV 4611 "Dunav" (Danube) Ruse - Sofia with two squeaky clean cars behind 44 106 crossed the Iskar next to a road bridge.


I started the long hike by returning past Cherepish, through one of few gaps in the vegetation I spotted the only freight of the day on the bridge at the other end of the station.
The road follows a river bend which is cut short by the rail line. From the knee of the bend the next bridge and spot can be seen to the right in the distance.

The next train was only scheduled for 1 p.m., so I deposited my backpack hidden away from the road here and explored a little further. Two bridges follow each other in close succession, however, this is just the eastbound track so this spot would be ideal for a rear view of an EMU. With BDŽ currently procuring a new batch, there will probably be more possibilities here in the future.

BV 7622 Sofia - Vidin passed the first bridge punctually at 1:14 p.m., in the background you can spot the second, westbound track disappearing into a tunnel.

The full river bend panorama in larger resolution:


We continue our tour of the gorge.

Big aquatic bird in front of the backdrop of nature park Vrachanski Balkan.

No, I did not skip the second bridge - you can catch a glimpse back: BV 2613 Sofia - Varna crossed it once more punctual to the minute conveying light blue colored express cars.

More next time...
The shots in the gorge are spectacular but I admit the scenes that most caught my eye are the passengers getting off the local train on the ballast, as scene I would not expect in any part of Europe. Do the trains in Romania run with open doors like in India?

Thanks, guys! :)

The shots in the gorge are spectacular but I admit the scenes that most caught my eye are the passengers getting off the local train on the ballast, as scene I would not expect in any part of Europe. Do the trains in Romania run with open doors like in India?

Romania has to recover from the disastrous decade-long dictatorship until 1989, it was one of the most run-down economies behind the Iron Curtain next to Albania. So, to rebuild all this infrastructure to EU-standards takes a lot of time. Many lines have to be completely reconstructed and money is needed elsewhere.
As for the open doors: Of course they shouldn't, but especially with these old local trains things are seen more lax than elsewhere in Europe. With most other European railroads, doors are strictly locked while trains are in motion. The locks can only be released by passengers in emergencies, or when the train is stationary. 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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