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Date: 03/19/24 04:15
Back from Slovenia
Author: 86235

I spent four days last week in Slovenia, specifically on the single track electrified (3kV DC) line that descends from the Karst of Istria - a limestone plateau - to the port of Koper. In a funny way Koper today performs the same function as Trieste did pre-1918, as the main port for imports and exports from the countries that formed the Austro-Hungarian Empire - Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and, of course, Slovenia itself. At Prešnica the Koper branch leaves the former Austrian Southern Railway (Österreichische Südbahn) line down the Istrian peninsula to Pula. In 31 kms it descends just over 1500' feet to sea level. Koper itself was only developed as a major port in the 1950s, by the post-war Yugoslav government (between the wars Istria was controlled by Italy), the railway being completed in 1967, and electrified in 1975.

There is an astonishing variety of traffic; motor vehicles (both ways), grain, tank cars, imported iron ore and what looked like coke for Voestalpine steelworks in Linz, coil steel exports from US Steel Košice in Slovakia and intermodal, lots of intermodal, the latter up to a maximum 42 40' platforms. Loaded trains ascending to Prešnica are often banked, which adds light engine movements into the mix. Barely an hour goes by without a train movement of some kind or another. 

Motive power is quite varied, all electric, SŽ's class 363 'nez cassé' C-C and class 541 Siemens Taurus plus OBB class 1216 Taurus and 1293 Vectrons as well as Vectrons from Metrans and leasing company LTE and Railpool. Passenger trains are in the hands of relatively new Flirt EMUs, although the pre-dawn departure from Koper and after dark arrival may very well be loco hauled as it carries a through carriage during the summer from Budapest.

I stayed in a guesthouse (Kamniti Rob) in the small village of Podpeč which the railway bisects on its climb up/down the plateau. From Podpeč you can see trains ascending from the valley floor, less notice for descending trains, although all trains use their two tone horns which can be very useful, although sometimes its difficult to work out where the horn is coming from as the echo reverberates around the valley!

To give you an idea of volumes this is what I saw on Thursday when I spent almost all the time round Podpeč, Zanigrad and Dol pri Hrastovljah, until the end of the afternoon. It's not all the trains that ran, because in driving and then walking too and from locations like Zanigrad I certainly missed a few and / or light engines. But it gives you an idea of how busy the line is. Eastbound trains are going up hill, westbound down to Koper

Podpeč
07:26 SŽ 363 019 Intermodal eastbound then back to the guesthouse for breakfast
08:33 SŽ 541 001 & another light engine westbound
Zanigrad (by foot)
09:42 SŽ 541 019 light engine westbound
09:48 OBB 1293 039 light engine westbound
09:56 LTE 193 958 light engine westbound
10:03 Metrans 383 434-8 light engine westbound
10:22 OBB 1293 051 intermodal westbound
10:32 SŽ 541 009 RCA cargowaggons westbound
11:14 SŽ 541 019 banking an eastbound intermodal (a 363 was up front)
Back at the car I drove down into the valley, this is quite a few miles as you thread your way down through three of four villages before you reach the valley bottom. I definitely missed at least one Koper bound train.

Near Hrastovlje
12:09 OBB 1293 on box wagons eastbound (it was banked by another 1293 so I assume they were loaded)
12:18 SŽ 541 on tank wagons eastbound. It too was banked, by a Metrans class 383 Vectron.

Zanigrad (by car)
12:55 LTE class 193 light engine westbound
13:01 OBB 1293 light engine westbound
13:14 Metrans 383 light engine westbound
13:52 OBB 1293 039 & SŽ 541 double heading loaded Innofreight open containers for Voestalpine 541 021 was banking.
14:04 Railpool 6193 103 ZSSK coil steel carriers (from USS Košice) westbound

Dol pri Hrastovljah
15:02 SŽ 541 002 (in Innofreight wrap) on empty flat wagons eastbound
15:17 SŽ 363 004 box wagons westbound
15:52 SŽ 363 035 loaded rails westbound
From here I headed east a few miles to between Crnotiče and Prešnica as I thought the light would be good for a westbound, and so it proved

Crnotiče
16:33 SŽ 363 002 intermodal westbound

And that was that, I went off to find a supermarket for my dinner, which I ate in Podpeč overlooking the valley and seeing and hearing more trains in the dying light of the day. 

It's a splendid railway in a very pleasant country, my first real visit to Slovenia, my only previous experience was in 2007, driving from Italy to Croatia which necessitates about 35 minutes driving across Slovenia!

But be warned this railway is soon to be superseded by a new line, which the Slovenes and EU are building, mostly in tunnel. It's supposed to be completed in 2026 after which I presume the existing line will probably be abandoned, turned into a bike trail maybe?

If anyone's interested the rest of my pictures are here
https://nick86235.smugmug.com/Trains/2024/Slovenia-2024-Climbing-the-Karst/i-NVzJnSc

1: An OBB Siemens Taurus on empty car carriers reaching the top of the climb at Crnotiče
2: An SŽ Taurus (class 541) between the junction at Presnica and Crnotiče
3: SŽ Taurus in Innofreight wrap on SUVs for export passding through Podpeč



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/24 12:52 by 86235.








Date: 03/19/24 04:20
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: 86235

Three more, this time all SŽ's characterful French built class 363s

4: Uphill through Podpec
5: Downhill from Zanigrad
6: Emerging from Dol Tunnel

 








Date: 03/19/24 05:00
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: ATSF5669

This is an amazing album of pictures!  What beautiful country and great railroading action.  You did an excellent job of capturing it!  Thank you for taking the time to post these from a country I'll probably never get to see.  It is always fascinating to see examples of railroading from another part of the globe.  It helps realize the magnitude of each of our economies and the diversity in moving tonnage.

Jerry
ATSF5669



Date: 03/19/24 06:05
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: cjvrr

Incredible photos!   I liked those in your link too.   Beautiful area.



Date: 03/19/24 12:03
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: NMlurker

I love these! The first one is spectacular. Nice variety of freight and locos.



Date: 03/19/24 12:13
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: GPutz

Nick,  Thanks for this beautiful set of pictures.  Gerry



Date: 03/19/24 12:48
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: exhaustED

Really excellent shots Nick! Great locos and vistas.



Date: 03/19/24 17:59
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: mexrail

Do a search on YT for Solvenia trains.  There are many excellent videos taken from the locomotive showing this line from Ljubljana to the port of Koper.

Mexrail



Date: 03/19/24 20:18
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: dwatry

Nick - Very nice set of photos in a beautiful location!  With any luck I'll be able to see this line in May/June later this year. 



Date: 03/20/24 03:56
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: 86235

dwatry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Nick - Very nice set of photos in a beautiful
> location!  With any luck I'll be able to see this
> line in May/June later this year. 

Thanks Duncan (and everyone else), it's a really special stretch of railway, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.



Date: 03/20/24 08:30
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: King_Coal

I've heard Slovenia was a beautiful country and your fine photos provide evidence of this.



Date: 04/04/24 07:20
Re: Back from Slovenia
Author: GN1969

Slovenia is the hidden gem of Europe.

The new line referred to is actually a second track; as said, it will be mostly in tunnel.

still some EMDs in the country. A G16, some G22 and G26 models.



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