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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

The Train that doesn't Go Very Far (at least in recent years) - But Where? (Updated with Results)

Updated: Jun 30, 2022

KesterTester77 - By coincidence, following on from the news post about the landslide that has severed services via the normal route between Budapest, Bratislava and Prague - here's another about a train that's not about to move any time soon.

Photo: This engine rather looks as if it might have been built for a wild-west film set, though I'm sure it is, or was, a genuine, working locomotive back in its day. But where?

I came across this forlorn-looking locomotive and short train in 2009, driving down the main street of its host town. My guess is that it had been on this spot for at least 20 (and probably a few more) years, and was already in desperate need of some TLC.

Now you may think that - unless you are a train freak - you will not be able to sleuth the answer to this one - but I will give more clues on Tuesday if, as I assume, this Tester really will test most readers. (Honestly, it would test me if I didn't know the answer.)

Well, ok, as I'm a softee - he's an extra clue right away. It may have been here for 20 years or more, but in truth, it's a wonder it even survived through those years in one piece, as, more or less, it has done.

OK, over to you. Please use the site messaging system or an email to let me know your guess, and kindly write KT77 in your answer - so I don't miss it. (The EU Competition Office is impossibly strict about this, and could take my licence away if I make a mistake.)

Oh, and you can still enter KT76 for a day or two more - please don't leave the semi-nude gardener unattended, she may feel she is losing her youthful beauty and start getting depressed.

I trust you are having a good weekend.


Hmmmm. This is far more difficult than I first imagined - I mean to help super sleuthers without giving it away entirely.

Here's a starter - the engine shown was built in Floridsdorf, a former industrial suburb of Vienna.

And as in many places during the 19th century, the railway was important factor in the development of the town, except here it had both positive and damaging effects - yes, it brought far better communications and commercial possibilities, but then a spark from one of the locomotives - possibly the one shown here - caused a fire which devastated the town.

In truth, my first idea for a clue was to point to the mountains in the background of this piccie. I'm not sure if the one illustrated is the larger (and more famous) of the two just to the north of the town, but it is renowned- at least locally - for its cheese.

It is also a tourist attraction and ski centre, although when I was there, it had only just started recovering from the region's last internecine conflict. (Well, it was internecine to outsiders - the locals probably didn't consider it thus.)

But here's some good news - the locomotive looks much more loved today - having been restored, at least cosmetically, for some cultural commemorations in 2015 celebrating the 100th year of the arrival in the town of a local poet. (He'd been in prison, and was subject to house arrest. Obviously, I can't give his name.)

I think that's a nice package of clues. Let's see if they act as an effective catalyst to generate some responses :)


Well, I tried to give clues so that this tester did not mean you had to be a railway buff to get anywhere, but that didn't seem to help very much.

Steve Soley, always one to have a crack, sent in one word – "Borzsony" he wrote – meaning the Börzsöny hills nort of Budapest abutting the Slovak border, where there were a number of narrow gauge railways built for the timber industry (and now acting as “nostalgia” attractions).

Good try, Steve, but this one's a bit further away from the Hungarian capital.

Brian Bartram, who certainly is a railfan (I've known him since I was 7) wrote in to say: “I think it is in old Yugoslavia, possibly in Bosnia, maybe in Sarejevo area.”

Ah! This is much more like it, but not really Sarajevo, Bart – although it depends what you think the Sarajevo area is exactly, I suppose.

Hubert “Poirot” Warsmann also knows a bit about trains, and went about things in his typical methodical way. “KT 77 tough one in the absence of definitive clues. At this stage, narrow gauge + Germanic look of the engine (it reminds me of the kkStB U, but that was a tank engine) would point me to Habsburg lands. I would say possibly one of these mining towns in BIH?

Let's see the clues during the week,” he wrote.

We also had a missive from Owen Brison, writing in from Lisbon.

“I've no real idea about Central / Eastern Europe, which is where I assume it to be, but the fact that your comment about its survival is meant to be a clue might indicate that the location had seen fighting in the 20 years or so before 2009. Ex- Yugoslavia?”

Good start, Owen!

“The loco looks a bit "Orenstein & Koppel", though a bit bigger than their usual product and unusual in having a tender. And the lookouts in the spectacle plate are not in the usual oval O&K style. With a pair of inclined inside cylinders it is presumably a rack loco although the boiler looks horizontal. All "mod cons" with a turbogenerator. Possibly from a very hard water area with that white shield over what is presumably the outlet of a blowdown valve.”

[Note for non-experts, a rack railway is one with a toothed rail in the middle of the tracks, used when climbing steep hills, as in what is, in my opinion, the mis-termed the 'cog-wheel' railway in the Buda hills.]

Owen was clearly working hard on this, 'sleuthing up steam' as it were, as he wrote again a day or two later (possibly after I put up more clues).

“Hi Kester, Travnik (Bosnia Herzegovina)? The link below gives a photo of 97 036 as restored and mentions the poet. Needless to say, this is the result of Googling, etc., as I have no personal knowledge of the area,” he admitted.

IMAGE: The photos sent in by Owen Brison - not sure when taken, I'd guess around 1970. JZ stands for Yugoslav State Railways.

Bill of The Flour Mill is not only a railfan, he overhauls real steam locomotives in his works in the Forest of Dean, in western England, near the Welsh border - and he also cares for them in Sibiu, Romania.

He enthusiastically wrote in (actually, he was first to write in): “Kester, just saw this - and I feel I have to reply. It is clearly Yugoslavian (JZ on tender) and almost certainly a rack locomotive (four cylinders, two steeply inclined in the middle) and two separate steam pipes visible.

From this to Google and class 97 0-6-0, presumably 97.036. Don't have time to research further, and of course I've only briefly been in Bosnia, but this must be it.....”

Well, from that we can see that this venerable locomotive has been given an overhaul, and one that might be more than mere cosmetic.

And, as this site reveals, the engine is known locally as "Ćiro" . It states: "During the period of the First World War, the old train was used on daily basis and represented the most important traffic link from Travnik to the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Travnik was behind the front lines and was not exposed to direct combat. The town was a military garrison of the Austro-Hungarian army and the old train was used for transportation of soldiers and officers, wounded soldiers, while the military equipment, weapons and ammunition were brought in and dispatched. The old train also brought civilians to Travnik, and with them came the news from the fronts, new political ideas, information about social events in the rest of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and other European countries."

Hubert also wrote in again: “So looks like I was on the right track, so to speak. This is Travnik, home town to Ivo Andrić!” (Ivo is the celebrated local poet.)

It is indeed Travnik, a town I stopped in one October Saturday in 2009. In fact it was October 17 and the day, as football fans may remember, of the so-called famous/infamous “Beach Ball Goal” - see:

I watched this match on TV with Denis, a local, in the Oniks, a very friendly pension-restaurant, in Travnik.

I was there to try to get a tourism story for the FT's Bosnia-Hercegovina special report. I had been up the nearby mountain of Vlasic, which had been a ski-resort before the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia. And while there was a fair bit of rebuilding going on, I couldn't find any owner to talk to for the potential story. That meant I had to go to Jajce in desperation for a story on the Sunday. (See KesterTester65, posted on February 10.)

THE DRAW: So only three to go into the EU-approved Black Woolly Draw Hat.

And the winner, hoping he is ready for the adulation and celebrity status that comes with this achievement… number 1, Bill of the Flour Mill!

Congratulations Bill, that's two beers you owe me once you can get past the fans that will surely be gathering soon around your garden gate!

And congrats to Owen and Hubert and others who 'had a crack' at this one.

Now, don't forget to study KesterTester78 – I have added some more clues and will probably need to add another in the next day or two to help people along.

Till then, stay safe and avoid the worst of the heat wave that is engulfing us here in central Europe.

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