Text and photo: Ing. Zdeněk Bauer, Železničář
magazine no.7 year
The only cog railway in Romania was built like the last cog railway in former Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, in the years 1908-1909. It should serve mainly for the industrial purposes, it means for the transport of raw material (coal, different non-iron ore and wood) to processing industry in Hungary. The railway from Subcetate (former Váralja-Hátszeg) on the north-south railway Simeria-Filiasi (now electrified) to Caransebes on the main railway Timisoara-Bucharest (partially in electric service) is 77 km long and it is constituted from two parts with the different principle of service. While the western part, Caransebes-Boutari (former Bauczár) is a standard adhesive railway with the fair passenger and freight transport frequency (today in diesel service) the eastern part Boutari-Subcetate is rather the technical-historical attraction then transport resource. The transport frequency is given by two pairs passenger trains (one in day, one within night). There is no freight transport with the exception, that the passenger trains are signed as "Mixt", it means, from time to time the freight car is hanged at the end. The railway from Boutari rise 10 km up to 700 m altitude to Portile de Fier pas (Iron Gate - the second one with this name in Romania), where the locomotion is coupled to the other end of the train, to be always on the lower end of the train. After the quarter-hour break the train runs 9 km to Sarmisegetuza, where until Subcetate (21 km) is the railway plain, but serviced by cog locomotives only. In this section runs the only pair of the freight trains. The passenger train in the opposite direction recouples the locomotion twice: From Subcetate to Sarmisegetuza looks the train regularly, the locomotion is in the front of it. After arrival to Sarmisegetuza goes the locomotion to the end of the train (it has 20 minutes for this), then pushes the train onto the top, there goes to the front of the train again, and hauls down to the end station. There turns on the turntable. This turning is, in the matter of fact, unnecessary and not common on cog railways , however the turntables in both end stations are still used. The cog is not used on whole rising section, but on the sections with maximum rising only. The maximum rising is 25 promile on adhesive section and 50 promile on cog section. The maximum velocity is 40 km/h on adhesive section and 12 km/h on cog section.
For the new railway were in 1908 shipped 7 new locomotives from Floridsdorf. The Locomotives, today signed as series 40, are very similar to Czechoslovak 404.0 - only the water tanks are prolonged to the level of chimney and due to wheel organization 1'D1' it was possible to place the cog engine between the 1. and the 2. driving axis. All seven locomotives are operational, however only two of them are in the servis in the same time. They are very nice engines, well serviced, and probably the only locomotives on standard gauge heated by coal. The view on polished cog locomotive with the white outlined red wheels and with the brass stripes on the chimney (that cannot be thought appart at CFR ), how it is slowly puffing uphill, this view was for sure the greatest experience from journey to Romania.
The railway Boutari-Subcetate was never the developed one. It remains only the not important local railway, and its existence is rather anachronism. The whole 40 km long railway is accompanied by nice road and the bus connection is good. The trip with the train is 3 hours long in the best event and 3:28 in the worst one - it means cca 11,5 km/h average speed. Despite of this the train is not so empty, but probably 2 or 3 passenger cariage would quite enough. It is evidently the question of short time, when the railway will be canceled or the traffic will overtake the motor carriages. We can only recomend to all railway history and steam locomotive fans to stop here on the way to Black Sea and admire this unique piece. By the way, the railway accompany the ancient rome road and in Sarmisegetuza the ruins of rome buldings can be admired. The pretty camping is also there.