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Narrow Gauge Railways in Romania
Romania once had an extensive system of narrow-gauge railways.
Many are still in situ but are either disused or see limited tourist trains.



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Final days of the Târgu Mutres system:
CFR 764.159 0-8-0T (U.23 August 525/49) & 'Duna' '764.053 (Chrzanow 1995/48)
depart from Pogoceaua Lac for Mihesu de Câmpie in June 1995



This page contains information about the once extensive, narrow gauge railway systems of Romania including the line from Sibiu to Agnita, that originally extended to Sighisoara, and is now the subject of a preservation project. You will also find useful links to other sites and some excellent photo galleries.

Until recent years Romania was home to a variety of CFR narrow gauge (760 mm) railways operating passenger and freight services deep into remote and beautiful countryside. All have closed to regular passenger services though some are still in situ and have been retained with a view to operating heritage services. Trains trundled at a snails pace along the Aries Valley through the heart of the Apuseni mountains, over the rolling highlands north of Targu Mures and even pottered across the rich farmland around Satu Mare. They were a lifeline and a way of life but they were alos excruciatingly slow, with trains on the lines to Lechinta taking almost all day to cover a distance that can now be driven in little over an hour. Steam was slowly replaced by diesel but even then they couldn't compete with the buses, and more recently the motor car. Some lines staggered on into the 1990s and beyond but mainly where they supported industry such as the mineral mines of the Aries Valley, or connected with once extensive foresty systems such as those near Sighetu Marmatiei or Campu Cetatii near Sovata.

Railway tours including tours of systems with special or historic vehicles for groups of enthusiasts can sometimes be organised through our recommended agents. It is also possible to visit the Sibiu-Agnita project and to see some of the original locomotives at the Sibiu Museum. In some cases all that now remains is a plinthed locomotive in a park such as in Sighisoara, Satu Mare and in Cluj Napoca.

Preserved at the Sibiu Railway Museum is CFR 388.002,
built by Wiener Neustadt in 1896 for the Taraczvölgy railway,
it worked between Sighisoara and Sibiu until 1975





Narrow Gauge in Romania


CFR
NARROW GAUGE


Târgu Mures System
Turda-Abrud
Sibiu-Agnita


PRESERVED STEAM &
RAILWAY MUSEUMS


Sibiu Museum
Resita Museum
Subcetate
Locomotive Lists


FORESTRY RAILWAYS



Viseu de Sus
Moldovita
Covasna-Comandau


INDUSTRIAL LINES



Hunedoara
Brad - Criscior
Sotanga & Fieni (near Targoviste)
Govora (Near Ramnicu Valcea)
Lonea (Petrosani area)
Mining Railways of the Rodna Mountains
Turda Cement


RAILWAYS TODAY



Scenic Railways
Branch Lines
Diesels & Electrics


TRAMWAYS



Timisoara & Museum
Arad & Pâncota
Sibiu - Rasinari
Oradea, Cluj, Botosani, Iasi
Resita, Craiova, Ploiesti, Braila
Bucharest, Galati





Târgu Mures

Târgu Mures - Sovata (84.4km)
Band - Mihesu de Câmpie (27.7km)
Târgu Mures - Band - Lechinta (90.4km)

The future of this extensive system is uncertain. The last remaining scheduled passenger service ceased in 1998 but the tracks were left in situ, and the narrow gauge depot and workshops have remained open and steam locomotives and refurbished carriages have been retained for special trains. CFR presently refer to the system as a heritage railway and two trains have, in theory, been fully refurbished for tourist services.
LATEST (2014): a limited tourist service is operating from Sovata and there is also a project to run trains on a section of line near Teaca on the Lechinta branch.


Several enthusiasts trains had operated as far as Band and to Sovata in 2001 and there was still an option to repair and reopen the line as far as Mihesu de Câmpie if demand increased. The line to Lechinta was becoming overgrown and derelict with lines of abandoned bogie wagons rusting on sidings, however track repairs were carried out during 2002. There have been tourist trains since then and even suggestions of introducing a railcar passenger service following Austrian examples. There was flood damage on the Sovata line in Spring 2002 and its future is uncertain, especially now that most of the stock and motive power has been removed from Târgu Mures.


CFR Px48 'Duna' 764.053 (Chrzanow 1995/48)
with a special train crossing a track near Berghia
in the Band Hills (June 1995)

Note: Photograph at the head of the page depicts CFR 764.159 0-8-0T
U.23 August 525/49) and Px48 'Duna' 764.053 (Chrzanow 1995/48)
crossing the Mures with special train in June, 1995.


The lines to the north are especially interesting as they climb some 300m up through hay meadows into the remote Band hills, before descending to Band. Similar gradients are encounted on both lines leaving Band. The 1984 CFR timetables shows that the time taken to reach Lechinta from Târgu Mures was just over 4 hours 30 minutes! By this time trains were hauled by L45H diesels. The southern line to the spa town of Sovata originally continued for an extra 8.2km ro Praid (closed 1975). This was the only CFR line which had a direct connection to a CFF forestry line, at Câmpul Cetatii.


CFR Px48 'Duna' 764.053 (Chrzanow 1995/48)
with a special train passes a farm near Râciu between Band and Teaca
on the branch to Lechinta (June 1995)

Steam was used regularly into the 1970s as a large fleet of U.23 August L45H diesels took over freight and passenger services. There were still 18 L45Hs at Târgu Mures in 1995, many out of use, but this number had been seriosly reduced by the end of the decade after passenger services ended. Steam locomotives were still used until recent years as train heating units dragged behind the diesels. The more recent steam engines had included part of a batch of ten unusual short wheelbase 0-8-0Ts (764.051-160) built by U.23 August in 1949, based on an earlier Schwarzkopf design of 1923, and a batch of relatively powerful 0-8-0 tender locomotives (764.201-9) also built by U.23 August in 1949. 764.159 was still working tourist trains in the late 1990s but has subsequently been reported at Marub, Brasov, 764.153 is now at Dej, while tender locomotive 764.206 is still deteriorating at the depot and 764.203, supposed earmarked for preservation here, is now in France. A pair of Chrzanow Px48 "Duna" type locomotives 764.053 and 764.056 arrived in the 1990s; the former is presently preserved with U23A diesel 87.0041 for hauling tourist trains with fully refurbished carriages though the location of these varies.

CFR 764.159 0-8-0T (U.23 August 525/49) and Px48 'Duna' 764.053 (Chrzanow 1995/48)
climb towards Finate on the line to Mihesu de Câmpie (June 1995)



TÂRGU MURES: CFR 764.159 0-8-0T (U.23 August 525/49) and Px48 'Duna' 764.053 (Chrzanow 1995/48) descend from the Band Hills towards Band with a special train (June 1995) / Chrzanow Px48 "Duna" type locomotive 764.053 at Târgu Mures / CFR 764.159 (U.23 August 525/49), an 0-8-0T based on earlier Schwartkopf locomotives, at Mihesu de Câmpie





Sibiu - Agnita (Hartbachtalbahn)

Sighisoara - Agnita (47km) - closed 1965
Sibiu - Cornatel - Agnita (62km)
Cornatel - Vurpar (13km)

This line was originally constructed between 1898 and 1910 to create a link across Saxon Transylvania between the Târnave and Olt valleys. The line from Agnita onwards to Sighisoara was closed in 1965; daily passenger service on the remaining 62km section finally ended at the end of 2001, though a freight working to a landfill site near Cornatel continued for some time and the 2002 timetable still advertised a 2 hour 40 minutes daily service in each direction. A Px48 "Duna" locomotive from Turda, which was restored in 2003 at Cluj for tourist services but the prices quoted by CFR-SFT for special trains were extortionate and it wasn't used.



There have been bids to preserve the line and there is presently a project for the regeneration of the railway for sustainable economic rural development with the support of the Mihai Eminescu Trust and British Enthusiasts. This project is gaining momerntum and approval was given in 2007 for the project to go ahead. The first demonstration train operated on a 2km stretch of track from Agnita in September 2010. Further reviews have been made and work is still progressing, albeit slowly, though pressure is being exerted for the city council in Sibiu to become involved.



CFR 764.155 0-8-0T (U.23 August 521/49)
departs Agnita with a special mixed train in June 1995


Two steam locomotives had been retained for special trains, 764.155 (0-8-0T, U.23 August, 1949) and 764.206 (0-8-0, U.23 August, 1949) but their present status is uncertain. 764.206 was fully restored into working order as recently as 1995 but was looking worse for wear and semi-derelict (Gypsies have removed copper and useful parts from locomotives) . Sadly, it was neither moved to the nearby lock-up depot nor the museum. Other original historic locos may be seen at the Sibiu museum. It is certainly hoped that the current proposal to reopen the line will succeed. The location is ideal, offering a scenic line from the historic city of Sibiu, where there is already a railway museum.

CFR 764.155 0-8-0T (U.23 August 521/49) at the saxon village of Altina (Alzen)
with a special mixed train in June 1995



This railway has seen some interesting motive power, including the first three locomotives which were Wiener Neustadt 3896-3898 of 1896, were 0-6-0s with 2-axle tenders subsequently numbered 388.001-003 and given the names 'Apor', 'Szentágota', and 'Segesvár'. These ancient locomotives survived until the 1960s when 388.002 was plinthed at Sighisoara and subsequently moved to the Sibiu museum. Four similar Wiener Neustadt locomotives were later acquired from the Taraczvölgyi railway and the Maramures Salt railway. They were withdrawn in the 1970s and two have survived, 389.001 (Wiener Neustadt 3061/1985) at Sibiu Museum, and 1-3554 (Wiener Neustadt 3554/1891) which is plinthed at Brasov depot. There was also a Maffei 0-8-0T from Maramures, a batch of Budapest 0-8-0Ts (1909) and a mixture of secondhand Budapest, Borsig, Schwartzkopf and Resita locomotives. The Borsig, an 0-6-2T of 1908 from a Kiev company is preserved at Sibiu. Three of the U.23 August 0-8-0Ts came to Sibiu and were latterly used as heating units behind the ubiquitous L45H diesels, and five of the larger tender locomotives also saw service. Two of the latter are preserved, 764.201 in Sibiu, and 764.202 in Italy.


CFR 764.155 0-8-0T (U.23 August 521/49) at Nocrich
with a special mixed train in June 1995




SIBIU-AGNITA:
CFR 764.155 0-8-0T (U.23 August 521/49) amidst hay meadows near Benesti with a special mixed train in June 1995 / Preserved at the Sibiu Railway Museum is 388.002, built by Wiener Neustadt in 1896 for the Taraczvölgy railway, which worked between Sighisoara and Sibiu - it s seen here at Sighisoara before transfer to the museum. / The final trains on the remaining section to Agnita were hauled by standard 23 August L45H diesels (CFR class 87). This daily service was the last remaining scheduled passenger train on the CFR narrow gauge.



Useful Links Sibiu-Agnita

Click on the following links for further information about the Sibiu - Agnita railway and news regarding preservatoion progress:

Sibiu- Agnita - Official website
Spurfilm - Another good website with a useful route map





Turda - Abrud (Aries Valley)

This scenic railway, extending some 94 km through the beautiful Aries valley south of the Apuseni Mountains, was openbed in 1912. Its current status is uncertain although the tracks are in situ. In 1985 there were three mixed trains in each direction and the journey time took just over six hours - by 1995 there were only two but the journey was an hour shorter! There are several viaducts and tunnels, and the also short spurs serving mine workings. Renewed talks to reopen the line for tourists by the Cluj county administration took place in 2002 but the current plans remain uncertain and the working steam locomotive 764.052 has apparently been transferred to Sibiu.



The original stock comprised Budapest type 70 (MÁV class 490) 0-8-0Ts, supplemented by more of them in 1912, 1914 and 1942, amnay of them surviving until 1974 when the new L45H diesels were being introduced. A couple of the Chrzanow Px48 "Duna" type locomotives, three of the 1949 U.23 August 0-8-0Ts and a pair of ex CFF locomotives have also been used on this railway. The Px48s survived and 764.052 was retained for tourist services in the 1990s with a rake of specially refurbished carriages. It was renovated again in 2003 but is apparently now being transferred to Sibiu-Agnita.


CFR Px48 'Duna' 764.052 (Chrzanow 1994/48) with a special train departing Ocolisel
in the Aries valley in June 1995.



A special tourist train was operated by Georg Hocevar over the upper section of the line during autumn 2010.


CFR Px48 'Duna' 764.053 (Chrzanow 1995/48) with a special train
at Salciua in the Aries Valley with the Trascau Mountains (June 1995)







Alba Iulia - Zlatna

This 38km line which climbed the Valea Ampoiului was opened in 1896 and was regauged as standard gauge in 1984. There was also a 5km extension to the gold and iron mines of Valea Dosului which closed in 1984. The original motive power comprised four StEG 0-6-2Ts built in 1895 and subsequently numbered 395.001-004. Three survived until 1975 together with a rare Weitzer (Arad) 0-6-2T of 1897. Sadly it didn't survive. A secondhand Krauss (Linz) 0-6-2T of 1890 was luckier, going to the Omaha Zoo Railway in the USA in 1974. 3-4 of the U.23 August 0-8-0 tender locomotives were used here in the early 1970s together with three Resita 0-8-0Ts from industry (CFI).




Odobesti (Vrancea)

This 23km line extended from the wine-growing village of Odobesti, in Vrancea, to Burca in the Valea Putnei. It was originally opened with 600mm gauge by the Germans in the First World War as part of their Heeresfeldbahnen, was regauged as 760mm by CFR after 1918 and closed in 1977. Motive power was steam throughout its history and included O&K and Budapest, and ex CFF Resita 0-8-0Ts, and also U.23 August tender locomotuve 764.205 of 1949 (now at Sibiu). An ex CFI Resita 764.414 is plinthed at Tecucu, while ex CFF Resita 764.392 is plinthed at Galati.




Satu Mare

The final section of this once extensive system closed in the 1990s. The first line opened in 1893 from Ghilvaci via Ardud to Ardusat (67.4km). It was cut back cut back to Ardud in 1976, and the remaining 18km closed in 1993. Other lines and branches were Ardusat - Somcuta Mare (17km, closed 1972), Satu Mare - Bixad (51.6km, reguaged to standard in 1988), and Satu Mare - Ardud (27.7km, closed 1975). The most recent locomotives included ten Polish Px48s (Chrzanow 1948), 0-8-0 tender locomotives 764.050-059 known in Romania as the 'Duna', and a handful of tank locomotives built by Schwartkopf, U.23 August, Resita and Budapest. One Resita locomotve 764.001 is in the open air museum at Resita while a number of the 'Duna's have seen service on other railways. Two of them are preserved in parks in Cluj, and another in the park opposite the station in Satu Mare.




Sighetu Marmatiei (Maramures)

The Maramures system was extensive, climbing some 70km northwards along the Mara valley, towards the Gutai Pass. It became a CFF forestry line in 1948 but a passenger service continued until closure in 1976 when the trackbed became a cycle track. Two of the diesels and some of the stock was transferred to CFF Viseu de Sus.





Further Reading

"Eastern European Narrow Gauge" Keith Chester (Locomotives International, 1994)
"The Railways of Romania" Chris Bailey (Locomotives International, 2002)
"Wälder und Dampf I & II" Hans Hufnagel - the last days of the Romanian Forestry locomotives
"Eastern European Narrow Gauge" Keith Chester
"History of Steam Locomotives & Railkways of the Banat" Dan Perianu (Editural Timpul Resita, 2000)
- Romanian, English summary - includes Resita works lists
"European Traction - 1 Romania" Dale W. Fickés (Rail Europe)







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