Steam in the Ukrainian Carpathians

Ukraine 25.02. - 09.03.2006

This tour is cancelled due to lack of interest.

L 3535 and Er 797-86 near Wilin

Ukraine is a spectacular place for watching and photographic steam locomotives in a beautiful wintry landscape. This is a wonderful opportunity to broaden your railway travel experiences and add to your collections of photos and videos in a country that is changing very rapidly. We will see big mainline steam power at its best and some charming narrow gauge and branch line operations as well.

Ukraine is the largest country of Europe. Ever since the new government took over, economic development has changed dramatically. Inevitably, the railway, with its huge deficit, will be affected in the near future. Lines will be closed, passenger trains will be cancelled and some staff will be dismissed. The narrow gauge lines seem to have no chance of survival for very much longer. Before it is too late, we wanted to offer a trip to a wide variety of lines with different steam locomotives on the front of chartered freight trains. From the many possible locations we picked the most scenic parts of the Carpathian Mountains in the south-western corner of the country.

We decided to visit Ukraine in the last weeks of winter. This will offer the possibility of real winter steam in the mountains as well as days that are long enough to have sufficient time for photography and video filming.

We ordered the following steam locomotives, which represent some of classic Soviet-era steam power: CY (SU, 2-6-2), Ýa (Ea, 0-10-0), Ýì (Em, 0-10-0), Ýp (Er, 0-10-0), Ë (L, 2-10-0), CO17 (SO17, 2-10-0), ÔÄ20 (FD20, 2-10-2), œ („Soft letter“, 0-4-0 Tank) and ÃÐ (GR, 0-8-0, 750 mm). This is an exciting range of locomotives that will provide many great photo opportunities and a lot of variety. Many of these locomotives were widely used in the Soviet bloc so it is an excellent chance to see engines that once ran in many parts of the Soviet Union.


Date Itinerary
Meeting point in Berlin at the railway station Berlin-Lichtenberg at 20.30 hrs. At 21.45 hrs we'll depart on the overnight express "Kaschtan" ("Chestnut") D345/D30.
26.02.2006 At the border station Jagodin (Ukraine) you can watch the boogie exchange under our coach as we switch track gauges. From Jagodin to Korosten our train will be hauled by a 2M62U from the depot Kowel. We'll arrive in Kowel at 16.10 hrs. Our Ukrainian guide team will receive us at the platform. At the station you may take a pictures of the plinthed SU 253-25 before we'll head to our hotel.
Hotel in Kowel
27.02.2006 Today we'll explore the south-western part of the Ukrainian Railway. Our steam hauled charter freight train is pulled by a freight locomotive class Er. On its way from Kowel to Lwow via Vladimir-Volinski we'll arrange several runpasts and photo stops.
If we'll cross other trains we'll get information from the train attendant, so everyone will have a chance to make some shots of the regular trains as well. In the late evening we'll reach Lwow.
Hotel in Lwow.
28.02.2006 Lwow, the former Lemberg, is a very scenic city. You can still feel the charm of the former Galician capital. So we'll stay a full day in this beautiful site.
In the morning we'll take a look into the railway's workshops of Lwow. In the late morning a visit to that tram depot is planned. With their historic tram we'll undertake a sightseeing tour through Lwow.
In the afternoon we'll visit the children's railway of Lwow. This narrow gauge line uses one the last serviceable TU3 diesel loco of the former Soviet Union. In the evening we'll return to steam. In the depot of Lwow we'll take a look on our two steam locos for the next day. A photo shooting after dusk will give us the chance to capture the full flair of a steam loco in a winter night.
Hotel in Lwow
01.03.2006 Today we'll head into the Carpathian Mountains.
In the morning we'll leave Lwow with a freight, hauled by an Er. As there are many exciting photo positions along the line we'll make many runpasts. In Dolina we'll shunt an interesting, short local freight. With this local freight we'll go to Vygoda - where there is the well known Ukrainian forestry system. If the snow and the track permit, we'll travel a short part of the line with the diesel loco pulling a typical logging train. As the steam loco class GR is not permitted on this line due to their axle load we'll use the regular diesel locomotive.
On the broad gauge we'll continue with our steam train from Dolina to Iwano-Frankowsk. This city, the former Stanislau, is well known to students of locomotive history. It was an important place for the railways in the last century because of the large workshop for steam locomotives. The workshop is still in place, but their only use these days is to overhaul small diesel locomotives.
Hotel in Iwano-Frankowsk
02.03.2006 The most scenic line in our program, the line from Deljatin to Rachow will be managed by a double header: the classes L and Eu will haul our freight train. Narrow valleys, high viaducts, tunnels and nice villages will form the backdrops for our train. Once again we'll have several spectacular runpasts and false departures with our train. When we reach Rachow a charter bus will bring us to Beregowo, where we'll stay overnight in a hotel.
03.03.2006 Close to the border of Hungary and Rumania we'll have a steam charter on the rural 750 mm narrow gauge line.
After a visit to the depot of Beregowo we'll head for Irschawa. Our German built steam loco GR 286 will haul an authentic mixed train. On the section Beregowo - Chmelnik there is no public traffic any more, so we'll have plenty of time for several nice runpasts. This section survived only because of it's the connection to the narrow gauge depot in Beregowo.
Once we arrive in Irschawa we'll continue tender first via Chmelnik to Winogradowo. In Winogradowo we'll take a nicely shaped, scheduled diesel railcar class D1 to Tereschwa where our charter bus is waiting for us.
Hotel in Rachow
04.03.2006 Another double-header! Ea 2026 and one of the modern class L locomotives will bring our freight train to Kolomeja. This line leads through the mountains and offers plenty of photographic opportunities.
In the evening we'll arrive in Kolomeja. Beside different diesel railcars Kolomeja hosts some steam locomotives. We'll arrange a night parade of the steam locos in front of the photogenic roundhouse.
Hotel in Kolomeja
05.03.2006 Early Morning we'll watch the small 0-4-0 locomotive "Soft Sign" (no transcription for this character available) while it is shunting our freight special. After the little engine finishes its job a SO 17 will take over the train and bring it to Chertkow. In Chertkow we'll visit the depot.
In the early afternoon we'll leave Chertkow behind a passenger train locomotive of class SU. We'll have the well-known hotel train, which is - unfortunately - in blue livery. So from this afternoon black and white photography is recommended. Doe to bureaucracy and unwilling organizer in the Ukraine it was not possible to get some green coaches from Moldavia or Russia over the border. Everything seems to be painted blue and yellow in the Ukraine as these are their national colours. We wanted to offer several passenger train locomotives as well, but not with a blue train. So we reduced the passenger train part to a minimum. Our passenger will go as far as Chemelnitzki. Dinner and overnight aboard our hotel train. Overnight we'll continue - diesel hauled - to Rudnitza.
06.03.2006 On the narrow gauge line from Rudnitza to Gajworon we have another opportunity to breath the "good old railway" atmosphere. The Babelsberg-built (Germany) steam locomotive, GR 280, will haul one of the typical narrow gauge trains.
Overnight we'll continue to Christionowka in our hotel train.
07.03.2006 We'll start the new day with a visit to the "steam" depot of In Christionwka. We expect locomotives of the classes SU, SO 17 and FD 20, a massive 2-10-2 similar to a Chinese QJ, in the depot. Hereafter the mighty FD 20 will haul a last charter freight train to Zwetkowo. As always, several photo stops are planned along the line. In Zwetkowo there is still one of the strategic reserve bases. We'll take a look at the different steam locos, which are still in place.
From Zwetkowo to Kiev we'll have a regular overnight train hauled by modern traction.
08.03.2006 Our early arrival in Kiev allows us to have a breakfast and take a shower before we'll board our train D29/D344 to Berlin-Lichtenberg.
09.03.2006 Arrival in Berlin-Lichtenberg at 7.30 hrs.


Our special trains

Due to modernization and making the trains Ukrainian instead of Russian there are no green coaches available in the whole country that are able to operate over state railway lines. A loan from Russia or Moldavia was refused because of too much paperwork, our Ukrainian partner said. We reduced those parts of the program using passenger coaches to a minimum and offer mainly more authentic freight trains. We expect to have an “emergency” diesel loco at the end of our train. We’ll drop this loco as far as it is necessary to get it out of sight and sound (for videographers) for our runpasts.

All runpasts are organised that way that still photographers as well as video filmmakers will get good results. Just in case we’ll repeat runpasts.

Our lines are mostly scenic lines in the areas around or in the Carpathian Mountains. On the non-electrified lines there a many good positions possible for both, stills and video. Our train compositions will be changed every day. Although we ordered the oldest available wagons there will be hardly any non-boogie wagons. Even in the last days of steam the railways nearly always used semi-modern, large freight cars with boogies.

We are not able to guarantee the use of specific locomotives, although we have been assured they will run by our Ukrainian partners.

GR 280 near Ocipowka (to the right: broad gauge)



Ukraine is the largest European country. For several years the economic situation has been improving rapidly. Anyhow, some of the areas we’ll visit still look untouched by modern developments. The railway is changing its shape quickly. Several interesting diesel and electric classes of locomotives have already disappeared, further electrification is going ahead and stations as well as the rolling stock are going to be modernised. Many branch lines, which are operating a loss to the railway, will be closed in the nearest future. The narrow gauge line of (Gajworon) - Berschad - Rudnitza network will have only a limited time left. So it seems to be high noon for arranging a visit to the Ukraine.

A positive aspect of the modernisation is that many lines nowadays allow a higher speed than several years ago. So we’ll be able to manage longer distances within one day than ever before. This will give us the opportunity to see more of the railway as well as taking more pictures of our trains.

Near Waronenka

We booked medium class hotels. In rural areas these may be rather modest, but in small cities you haven’t any other choice. Anyhow, our Ukrainian partner assured us that the hotels are well heated and will have a hot shower as well as private facilities.

Crime is not the big problem as you might get the impression from various reports in the western press and broadcast. If you follow the normal rules for travelling around, you have nothing to fear. Change money in authorised offices („Obmen Valut“), do not show around what valuable things you carry with you, and avoid certain sectors of large cities by night. Of course, your passport should be carried on your person, not let it in a case, and be sure not to leave anything without someone watching it, at places like restaurants if you’re going to the restroom.

We’ll have a person on the tour who can serve as a first medical aid attendant if necessary. If you need special tablets you should carry a sufficient number with you.

The Ukrainian cuisine is very tasty and offers a large variety of dishes. The only problem might be the coffee, which is mostly instant coffee (Nestlé). You can always bring a little special coffee with you.

For many countries there is no need to obtain a visa any more. But, these regulations can be changed without advance notice. You have to carry a valid passport with you (and it should not expire within six months after entering the Ukraine).

Important Notice: This tour requires expenses of several ten of thousands of Euros for the special trains. So it can only run if there are sufficient registrations before the registration period ends. The tour will be confirmed or cancelled up to two weeks after the registration period ends.

Registration period ends on December 5th, 2005

If the tour is confirmed, you may register later if there are still seats.



Steam in the Ukrainian Carpathians 22 and more participants 2.300 Euro
25.02. - 09.03.2006 Single room supplement

260 Euro

Minimum number of participants: 22
Maximum number of participants: 35

The price includes:

Not included are:

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