Viseu de Sus after Reconstruction

Private tour: Romania 26.09. – 02.10.2009

photo: Bernd Seiler

This tour is a special event which is not only focussed on the railway and their steam trains. We’ll see a lot more than just steam trains!

Yes, they still exist, narrow gauge logging railways in Europe, or rather, it exists again: Viseu de Sus in Romania.

The “Water Valley Railway“ (Wassertalbahn) was almost completely destroyed by a flood shortly after our last visit in June 2008. The situation seemed hopeless. However, at the moment the reconstruction is in full swing (FarRail Tours donated some money towards the work). In October 2008 the line reached kilometer 16 and it looks as though there’ll be more than 35 km of the line restored by autumn 2009 - provided there’s not another weather disaster to spoil the progress of reconstruction.

Normally diesel locomotives are used and the steam locomotives only provide a back up but, with a little help, a steam loco can be substituted on the regular logging train. For several days in autumn we’ll bring back steam to the forests and valleys of Viseu de Sus and its logging line. By using one of the diesel railcars we’ll be able to chase a train and maximise our efforts to get good pictures along the way and on otherwise inaccessible parts of the railway.

A main feature of this trip will be a night in the mountains. We’ll visit a forestry log cabin and go to where they cut the timber. The logs will be brought to the railway by horses and probably loaded by hand. This is no longer the usual operation, but it’s how it was decades ago. So our focus is not only on the line and the steam trains, but also we’ll take videos and photographs of the logging activities from the forest to the sawmills, including a visit to the impressive yard in Viseu.

photo: Bernd Seiler

photo: Bernd Seiler

As all the equipment at Viseu de Sus runs with almost no regular maintenance, the use of a particular steam locomotive cannot be guaranteed. But we can count on the talent and improvisation of the local crew, and we hope to be able to see all engines running.

At some points the reconstruction of the line looks a little improvised rather than being a solid rebuild. The future of the line not only depends on weather conditions but also on political willingness. After the destruction many voices were demanding the replacement of the railway with a road. The majority in Viseu de Sus and Valea Scradei prefer a road only because a road would offer access to the forest for everyone, which means for illegal loggers and timber thieves. They hope to improve their income by selling stolen wood. It’s hard to convince them that even though every other valley in Romania has got a road already, still most of the families live in poverty despite the robbery of whatever they can find. Long term strategies for the improvement of their lives seem not to be a strong point of the locals. Short term profit instead is the only desire. The results can already be seen in the Novat valley where the railway line won’t be rebuilt because there are private forests which will probably not exist in a few years. They cut what they can as fast as they can. Their heavy forestry machinery is oiling the river in this nature protection zone and then they leave the former forest after they’ve destroyed all the trees. A railway would only disturb the rush of man made demolition.

For how long such events like ours will be possible in the Romanian forest is not certain. Even some of the railway employees don’t like our tours. We don’t even know whether the railway will be operable in Autumn 2009. A new thunderstorm could not spoil all attempts to rebuild the line, it could easily be the final end for the line. That’s why we’re calling this tour a private tour. If you want to see this fascinating railway you should go there earlier rather than later, and you should reserve your seat soon. All our other tours to Romania have been sold out.

photo: Bernd Seiler



It is recommended you fly from Budapest to Cluj Napoca. We can book this flight for you (in October prices from Budapest were below 160 Pounds).




Meeting point is the airport of Cluj Napoca in Romania, which is served by several European airlines (for example Austrian), flights can be booked by FarRail Tours on request. Transfer by charter bus to Viseu de Sus. (approx. 4 hrs.). Accommodation in lovely family run pensions close to the steam depot in Viseu de Sus.


Today is Sunday, so there is no normal logging train on the line. This means we’ll have the line to ourselves and all the time we need, to get some good shots of our own logging train, delivering empty wagons to the mountains. We’ll not return tonight, but instead sleep in forest houses above Faina.


In the morning we’ll go further up with our train as far as possible. After some more photographs we’ll head for a place where the logs are being cut. We’ll follow the route of the logs from the forest to the railway line where we have planned a loading process by horses and manpower. In the afternoon and evening we’ll return to Viseu de Sus with a loaded train.

Accommodation in private pensions in Viseu de Sus (and all the rest of the tour)


Visit to the yard in Viseu de Sus, if permitted we’ll make a visit to one of the little sawmills near Viseu, where they still use the traditional way to cut the logs. Early afternoon we’ll have a short charter train towards Novat with either 763 193 (0-6-0, Krauss Munich) or 764 211 (0-4-0, Orenstein & Koppel)


We’ll follow a steam hauled train into the mountains. A special photo stop at the tunnels near Botizu will be allowed, otherwise this train is a real train and can’t stop for photographs and videos very often. However, some good pictures will be possible as the train stops several times on the way where we can get off and walk a bit forward and await the train at a nice position. Afternoon/evening return to Viseu de Sus.


We’ll follow another steam hauled train in the mountains, probably by railcar. Afternoon/evening return to Viseu de Sus.


Bus transfer to Cluj Napoca airport and return flight


photo: Bernd Seiler

Line description and tour details

On this tour we’ll visit a place where logs come from. This requires some walking through the forest or recently deforested areas. At this time it is not possible to say where this will be or how far we need to walk to get to the logging site. Just be prepared for a walk of perhaps up to three miles.

The narrow gauge forest railway of Viseu de Sus is the last remaining one in Romania. Besides diesel engines, steam locomotives are still employed, mostly the Resita-build 0-8-0T or their Reghin-build counterparts. Besides them two more interesting steam locomotives are in running condition. One of them was the 0-8-0 Orenstein & Koppel-built tank locomotive 764 211 and the other is 763 193, an 0-6-0 tank engine with an inside frame build by Krauss in Munich. It came to Viseu de Sus from the forest railway at Moldovita after it closed. Steam is not used on a regular basis any more, but still kept as spare to diesel. We’ll replace diesel with steam on some of the trains.

photo: Bernd Seiler

Everything about the tour is unpredictable. Please expect delays, shortage of wagons and couplings for the wagons, derailments, inaccurate or no information and so on. We’ll try to sort all these things out in advance, but experience tells us to expect nothing to be ready as we have asked. So it will be the same as on our last trips, we’ll need to arrange things on the spot, try to get the wagons we want and find the best opportunities together with the local railway staff.

photo: Robert Turner

The main line starts in Viseu de Sus at the 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. Both lines offered plenty of opportunities for good pictures. We’ll see what remains after the floods in July 2008. On the main line there are three tunnels just after one another.

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 was worked by steam locomotives exclusively. In Spring 2008 only two conventional working passenger coaches existed, with one of them painted blue and one yellow.

re-railing in Botizu, photo: Robert Turner

re-railment in Botizu, photo: Robert Turner

During our visit the tourist season will have ended already. This means that the daily tourist train to Faina, hauled by steam, will run only by chance.

At the intermediate stations, with unplanned stops (to raise steam pressure or get one of the log bogies on the right 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.

Travelling in Veseu. photo: Sebastian Trolle

On one of the following days we may charter the diesel railcar. With the help of the railcar we’ll follow the steam powered train. As there are lots of stops along the line, we can use it to get ahead of the train to a good photo stop and wait there for the train to pass. Afterwards, the railcar will pick us up and soon the steam train will be in sight again. This is possible as on the forest railway the minimum distance between trains is governed by sight not by signals. The big advantage of the otherwise rather expensive railcar is that the train doesn’t have to stop for us. Stopping the train would delay the journey to such an extent that the return of the loaded logging train would probably be in the dark. Besides that, it is more realistic for all of you taking video shots to have the train disappear into woods rather than have it stop right beside you. After the train, with its sounds and sights, has passed, there is still time to listen to the quiet sounds of the small river nearby and the faint whistle of the train. The use of the railcar has its advantages also for the photographers. We will have more time to get to the photo spots far away from the tracks (we will be able to get to many more locations than just those at trackside as compared to the time we would have if we were travelling on the train). This is why we chose this more expensive, but by far the most efficient method, of chasing the train.

photo: Bernd Seiler


Small Print

Romania is a new member in the European Union. This has brought a lot of change to the country. But in the small villages along the line we can still experience the traditional Romania and its hospitality. Serious crime is almost unheard of; our accommodation is family run and has warm showers and good food. The night spent in the mountains is in basic accommodation which is clean with basic cold washing facilities. It’s not certain that the lavatories in the building will be finished by 2009, so we may need to use the outside lavatories. We’ll stay in big, simple rooms.

The use of a specific engine cannot be promised. We will use steam engines for the regular trains depending on their availability. As the company is running the engines and the rest of the rolling stock without proper maintenance, we don’t know if in Autumn 2009 there will be as many operational steam engines as was the case in 2008. If none of them is in working condition, we reserve the right to cancel the tour at short notice. But this situation, we feel, is rather unlikely and we’ll do our best to keep the tour running as planned. The engines build by Resita and Reghin seem to be almost “indestructible”, so the local workshop should be able to solve any problems.

photo: Bernd Seiler

On this tour we have planned several events which can’t be guaranteed in any respect. Neither the horses nor the manual loading process, the number of wagons or a specific locomotive can be guaranteed. So this is a special tour, a private tour where you can come along and just see what happens.

There are sufficient power supplies for charging batteries. Electric power can’t be guaranteed on our night in the mountains. There is no cell phone signal in the forests (luckily).

photo: Bernd Seiler

Health: no problems exist concerning your health. The water from the numerous springs along the line 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 this operating railroad. 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.

For this tour you will need a valid passport. A visa for citizens of the European Union is not necessary. For citizens of other countries please ask the local Romanian embassy for details.

You’ll need almost no money in local currency. Beverages in the private pensions need to be paid, otherwise you just need £15 if you want to take the opportunity of having coffee and beer aboard the train. This £15 would cover the drinks on the train for all day. Please expect that there won’t be coffee on the train on every day, especially the second day.

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, not necessarily to sample the local food, bars or nightclubs.

Please remember that the hotels, 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. FarRail Tours cannot be held responsible for any accidents.

photo: Bernd Seiler

photo: Bernd Seiler

Registration period ends: 25.07.2009



Viseu de Sus after Reconstruction From 10 participants £1.040
26.09. – 02.10.2009 Single room supplement £82

Minimum number of participants: 10
Maximum number of participants: 20

The price includes:

Not included are:

As a service to our UK-based clients FarRail Tours accepts and will continue to accept payments made out in Pound Sterling until further notice. However, please note that from January 28, 2009, all prices quoted in Pound Sterling are indicative only and are subject to change without prior notice. This measure was taken by FarRail Tours due to the unprecedented volatility in the international foreign exchange markets and its impact on the valuation of the Pound Sterling versus other major currencies, namely the Euro as FarRail Tours' accounting currency.

Viseu de Sus, photo: Robert Truner


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