Byelorussia

Druja

During WW1 German troops built a field railway from Dukštas, in present-day Lithuania (on the Vilnius - Pskov main line), to the town of Druja, on the Daugava River in present-day Byelorussia. The 600mm gauge line had a length of 94 km.

After the WW1 the railway found itself in the Polish Wilna region. The Polish state railways PKP took over the Druja - Dukštas line and regauged it to 750mm in 1932.

The Wilna region has become part of the Soviet Union after the Second World War. The MPS took over the narrow gauge railway. The large part of the line was on Belarusian territory; the last 20 km was situated in the Soviet Republic of Lithuania. Druja MPD was in Byelorussia.

Originally, the town of Druja was connected to the railway system by the narrow gauge line only. This line led to Lithuania, whereas the town of Druja is Belarusian. Soon after the Second World War a new broad gauge line was constructed, giving Druja a direct link to the Belarusian broad gauge railway network as well.

For a number of years Druja could be reached both by narrow gauge as by broad gauge train. In 1960 there was only one daily train pair on both lines. The narrow gauge train for Dukštas left Druja in the morning and returned in the evening. This timetable made the service very inadequate for inhabitants of the villages along the line, travelling to the town of Druja, because they could not return the same day.


The 1960 timetable.

In 1965 the MPS closed the last 30 km of the line, across the Lithuanian border, between Opsa and Dukštas. On Lithuanian territory, 16 km of the line has remained in use as an industrial (peat?) railway until the 1970s.

On Belarusian territory, the approximately 65 km long Druja - Opsa narrow gauge line remained open. But not for long; in 1967 or 1968 the Druja narrow gauge system closed completely.

After the PKP regauged the line to 750mm in 1932, class Wp29 steam locos have been used. The Wp29's have continued to work on the system after the MPS took over the system in 1944. But also other types of steam locos worked from Druja MPD.

In 1961/1962 class TU2s were allocated to Druja. The diesels replaced most of the steam engines. In 1962 also Pafawag class 3Aw passenger coaches were introduced.

It is not known exactly which TU2s worked on the Druja system. One of the diesels might have been TU2-113. It has turned up on the relatively nearby Minsk pioneer railway in the late 1960s i.e. around the time of closure of the Druja system. Noticeably, also a number of Druja's passenger coaches has turned up on the Minsk pioneer railway.

Rudensk

The little town of Rudensk is situated a few dozen kilometres southeast of Minsk. It is the starting point of a peat railway. The once 111 km long line runs in westerly direction. It opened in 1929.

The peat railway used to have an unknown number of class TU2 diesel engines. This is remarkable, because the TU2's high axle-load of 8 ton principally does not make it suitable for light peat railways. The TU2s worked in Rudensk for an unknown period of time and have gradually been taken out of service.

Nowadays the network has shrunken to a length of 40 km. Six or seven light class TU6 and TU8 diesel engines are in use.

Minsk pioneer railway

The pioneer railway in the capitol of Belorossia opened on 9 July 1955. The line is 4 km long. The main station is called Zaslonovo. It has an enourmous station building, which looks like an old palace.

Originally a steam engine 159-232 worked on the railway. Probably in 1967, but not later than 1969, diesel engine TU2-113 came to Minsk, probably from Druja. In addition TU2-010 was acquired from Estonia in 1971. It has been in service until 1994.

The pioneer railway opens the season on 1 May. It works on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The trains are composed of half a dozen class PV51 passenger coaches.

Today normally class TU7 diesels are used. The old TU2-113 is still operational, but it is standing on reserve. It is painted in an orange livery. Since the diesel locomotives always run in the same direction, its rear cab is scalded by steel sheets to prevent vandalism.


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