Winter Steam in Vișeu de Sus and Moldovița

Steam on Foresty Lines in Romania: 9/02 – 14/02/2019

Steam in Romania: Viseu de Sus

Powder snow, sun and a steam train, steaming uphill through a fairy tale countryside – that’s what we’re going for to Romania in February. Whether we’ll have luck with the weather or not is unpredictable but it’s always worth the try.

We've planned to visit two forestry lines in northern Romania, Viseu de Sus and Moldovita. If you want to book this tour you should be clear about the challenge of winter time in the Carpathians. The tour could easily fail due to poor weather conditions. Once I was in the Carpathians in April and it was impossible to pass through the snow by train ... However, In Viseu, the chances are very good that we will manage to run all the way up the mountains because the line is in daily use and, hence, is kept clear. But a flood in October could easily wash away the line, as has happened already twice this century. In Moldovita, we'll need to see how many people we can afford to pay, to clear the line by hand. It all depends on the depth of the winter and how large a group we are, but you should keep in mind that Moldovita may fail. There can be no guarantees, as usual. But if everything comes together as planned, it will be a fantastic opportunity to see and experience steam trains in winter.

We'll try to arrange our trains as authentically as possible – as always. In Viseu we overhauled (better to say we rebuilt it from scratch) the four wheel tender, and we’ll also have the authentic logging wagons we need for a really nice looking train. The new name plates will be removed from the locomotives we’re using.

Steam in Romania: Moldovita

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Itinerary

Date

Itinerary

09.02.

We meet at the airport of Cluj Napoca around 15.00 hrs (flights with Lufthansa from Munich). We can book the flight for you if required. Bus transfer to Viseu (about four hours), accommodation in a private pension near the depot of the forest line in Viseu de Sus

10.02.

In the morning (ca. 7.30 hrs) we steam uphill into the mountains. Today is Sunday, so we don’t need to worry about regular trains and have all the time we need for photo stops and runpasts. Our train consists of a Resita locomotive, a special tender, a passenger coach and several empty trucks, just as the normal train used to be, many years ago. Accommodation in a guesthouse in the mountains in Faina.

11.02.

In the morning we go further up with our train, as far as possible. In the afternoon, we return to Viseu de Sus, probably with a loaded train. As this is now a normal production train, we don’t expect many photo stops. In the best case we can count on three to five possible pictures of the loaded train. Accommodation in a private pension in Viseu de Sus

12.02.

We follow the regular diesel trains with a steam hauled train into the mountains. We go to Cozia, maybe only to Delta Novat so we will be back to Viseu de Sus not too late. Today we need to work around all the scheduled diesel trains and railcars and adjust our running times around them. However, some good pictures will be possible as the train stops several times on the way and we can get off and walk a bit forward and wait for the train at a good position. In the late afternoon we’ll go by charter bus to Moldovita. Accommodation in Moldovita.

13.02.

At sunrise (if there is one) we run a charter train on the rebuilt line as far as it is clear of snow. We’re using logging trucks and two vans. We use an authentic Resita loco. In the afternoon/evening, charter bus transfer to a hotel in Cluj Napoca, arrival late in the evening.

14.02.

Individual transport to the airport and return flight home. The flight can be booked by FarRail Tours if needed.

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Line description and tour details

The narrow gauge forest railway of Vișeu de Sus is the last remaining one in operation in Romania. Besides the diesels, steam locomotives are still serviceable, mostly the Resita built 0-8-0T or their Reghin built counterparts. Besides these, the 0-8-0 Orenstein & Koppel built tank locomotive, 764 211 is available. Steam is not used for logging trains any more but is still used for tourist trains.

Steam in Romania: Viseu de Sus

Steam in Romania: Viseu de Sus

The main line starts in Viseu de Sus at the large sawmill and runs steadily uphill for 43 km to Coman at the Ukrainian border. There was also a branch line to the east, into the Novat valley, which is now demolished. The main line offers plenty of opportunities for good pictures, there are three tunnels very close together (always in the shade).

Not only is the landscape something special, the trains in themselves are also noteworthy. We will try to make up authentic trains, as they ran in the eighties, when the line belonged to the state run forestry railway CFF (Caile Ferate Forestiere) and when it was worked by steam locomotives exclusively. Besides locomotive, tender and passenger coach, we’ll carry several empty trucks for the logs uphill to the loading points. Sometimes there are forestry tractors or other machinery that have to be brought up into the forest. This equipment is carried by the railway as well.

At the intermediate stations, during unplanned stops (to raise steam pressure or get one of the log bogies on the track again) and stops for taking on water, we will have the opportunity to take pictures of the train and its surroundings. Lots of shunting activity can be seen as they leave the log bogies at the loading points. In addition we’ve planned some runpasts along the line.

Steam in Romania: Viseu de Sus

Steam in Romania: Viseu de Sus

While we try to sort out everything in advance, experience tells us to expect the unexpected. However, things usually work out in a very satisfactory way. So it will be the same as on our previous trips: we’ll need to arrange things on the spot, and work out the best opportunities together with the local railway staff, who will be as helpful as they can be.

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Moldovița was a really nice forestry line. In its last years of operation they used a Resita (764 449) and the 0-6-0 inside frame 763 193 locomotive from Krauss/Munich. The small engine was not only the main attraction of the line, it also was amazing what this little, 50hp engine was able to pull and push uphill over the steep gradients of this line. It’s a little miracle that this unique engine survived as a plinthed loco in Viseu.

The forestry line was closed and abandoned under doubtful conditions. However, because of a few railway enthusiasts, in particular Georg Hocevar, the remains were preserved and, with the help of other railway enthusiasts, a part of the lower section of the line was refurbished. The length of the line was reduced to two kilometres just before they started to save and preserve it. Now they have rebuilt the first eleven kilometres.

Steam in Romania: Moldovita

Steam in Romania: Moldovita

We’ll make a visit to the depot where our loco will be fired. Along the line we’ll pass several old-style wooden houses. The parallel road has been partly paved in recent years, but we hope this sign of modernisation will be hidden by a layer of snow. We’ll use an authentic Resita loco in Moldovita.

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Small Print

Romania is a new member of the European Union. This has brought a lot of change to the country but in the small villages along the lines we can still experience the traditional Romania and its hospitality. Serious crime is almost unheard of; our accommodations are either family run or nice basic lower to middle class hotels and all offer a warm shower and reasonable, good food. The night spent in the mountains is in forestry accommodation, which is quite clean. The quality of the two houses is different. We’ll stay in big, simple rooms with several beds. There are no single or double rooms available for this night. You can charge your batteries here, and in one of the houses occasional hot showers are available. Please carry sufficient spare batteries with you, even if we have the chance to charge them.

Steam in Romania: Moldovita

The use of a specific locomotive cannot be promised on any line we’ll visit. In Viseu we'll use steam engines for our trains depending on their availability. At this moment we don’t know which steam locomotives will be operational in February 2018. The engines built by Resita and Reghin seem to be almost “indestructible”, so the local workshop should be able to solve any problems. We’ll always try to find alternatives if something goes wrong. However, in the case that they can’t deliver what is ordered and paid for, it’s very unlikely that there will be any kind of a refund.

There is no cell phone signal in the forests (luckily).

Health: no problems exist concerning your health, just stay away from bears ... The water from the numerous springs along the line in Viseu can be drunk without a problem. Even the small streams just above the first village have clear and drinkable water. The only serious health risk is if you are not careful around an operating railway. Jumping up or down from moving trains is not allowed in Viseu de Sus. Getting on or off, and travelling on the train is at your own risk, so take care along the railway. Wear good sturdy shoes, suitable for the possibility of snow.

For this tour you will need a valid passport, EU citizens only a valid ID card. A visa for citizens of the European Union is not necessary. For citizens of other countries please contact your local Romanian Embassy for details.

Steam in Romania: Viseu de Sus

You’ll need little money in local currency. Food, some of which is not included in the tour price already, and beverages are quite cheap.

The tour is planned with the dedicated photographer and video filmmaker in mind. The itinerary is designed for those who think it more important to get the perfect shot than to sample the local food, bars or nightclubs.

Please remember that the accommodation, buses and the forest railway itself do not necessarily conform to current EU-standards. That’s exactly one of the reasons why we are going there. Safety and environmental standards are still not fully developed so a word of warning: Please beware of the dangers in and around the railway and other modes of transportation. An accident and health insurance policy covering foreign countries is absolutely essential. Neither FarRail Tours nor the railways can be held responsible for any accidents, delays etc.

Steam in Romania: Viseu de Sus

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Price

Romania
Winter Fairy Tale in Viseu and Moldovita 20 to 24 participants £780
09.02.2019 – 14.02.2019 Single room surcharge £90
Registration Deadline: 02.11.2018

The price includes:

Not included are:

Steam in Romania: Viseu de Sus

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