The 76cm gauge railways of Yugoslavia

Uskotracne (76-centimetarske) pruge bivse Jugoslavije

The Steinbeis railway in 1965 by Charlie Lewis
More on the Steinbeis Railway on this link

Refer to Timetable 69 for station and service details

The 400km network of the Steinbeisbahn (its original name) served a well-forested plateau - a karst region, characterised by deep glacially-carved gorges, limestone sinkholes, caves and lakes.

If ever a Shangri-La for railway enthusiasts existed, it must have been Srnetica, the three-way junction at the heart of the Steinbeis Railway. From here lines radiated to Prijedor on the standard gauge to Zagreb, to Jajce on the narrow gauge to Sarajevo and, via legendary Drvar, to Knin on the standard gauge to Split on the Dalmatian coast.  An area only reachable by dirt roads meant that transport was animal power or train.  When the railway was abandoned in 1975, hardship to many thousands was caused - probably greater in value than the savings achieved by destroying the region's transport infrastructure.

The locomotive fleet was as varied as the landscape, with over a hundred locomotives of twenty-five different classes in ten different wheel arrangements in service at one time or another.  As late as 1965 there was still considerable variety and I was fortunate to see UNRRA 0-8-0s, modern post-war 0-10-0's by Skoda, classic Steinbeis 0-10-0's and an assortment of Mallet tanks.  What struck me at the time was how busy the system was and how well patronised the passenger and mixed trains were, as can be seen from the photographs. 

This is Srnetica, junction for Jajce, Prijedor and Licka Kaldrma.  After the Second World War, thirty four H K Porter 0-8-0s were delivered to Yugoslavia for the 76cm lines. By the time I got to travel on the Steinbeis in August 1965 the UNRRA's seemed to be the predominant power on passenger trains. On the right is No. 23 with the recently arrived 07:00 Prijedor - Licka Kaldrma while on the left is the train's opposite number, about to depart with No. 20 in charge.  Incidentally, UNRRA stands for United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

The 73-class 2-6-2s could be fast locomotives and, having chased one on the winding road from Travnik to the standard-gauge interchange at Lasva, I can confirm that they were lively indeed.  This was the only picture we managed of this freight being brought down from Jajce where there was an end-on connection with the Steinbeis system. Note the well-maintained permanent way, clean engine and long train.

The 900 metre-high Komar Pass between Travnik and Donji Vakuf was reached by long racked ramps from either side. It was the main obstacle to traffic from western Bosnia, including the region served by the Steinbeis system. This pair of 97s were bringing a string of empties up the eastern approach to the two kilometre-long summit tunnel.

Another banked freight with 97s top and tail, emerges from the summit tunnel of the
Komar Pass, in August 1965.

Bound for the Steinbeis, the 05:42 daily passenger departure from Jajce with 0-4-4-0 Mallet No. 90-006 in charge, storming across the wooden trestle at the western end of town. Almost seven hours and 106 kilometres later she would reach Srnetica. The three-axle radial van dated back to the 1880s.

The Steinbeis railway in 1965 by Charlie Lewis - page 2

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