Forestry railways in Russia

Alapaevsk

The Alapaevsk forestry railway is the most extended narrow gauge network of the Russian Federation. The first line into the forests east of the Ural Mountain Range was built in 1898 already. In the following decades more and more branch lines were build. Finally the network reached an extension of approximately 620 km. The forestry railway is connected to the broad gauge network in Alapaevsk, 120 km east of Nižnij Tagil.

The depot is situated in the station called Krasnaja-2 (Red-2), about 2,5 km from the Alapaevsk railway station, in an uncultivated area on the outskirts of the town. There is a large and complete workshop, which can do all major repairs itself. The workshop also repairs locomotives from other narrow gauge lines in the area.

The railway was the main - if not the only - means of transportation in this area and operated both passenger and freight trains. Especially in the 1970s and 1980s the forestry railway flourished. Yearly over 1 million tons of freight was transported and the passenger trains were composed of up to seven coaches.

Almost all kinds of steam locomotives have run on the extensive system, amongst which the classes GR, 157, Kc and VP. In 1957-1959 also twelve TU2s came into service on the forestry railway. They had running numbers TU2-008, 114, 153, 162, 163, 166, 169, 181, 207, 212, 249 and 258. Two of them (TU2-207 and 212) originate form the Beloretzk metallurgical combine. TU2-008 is believed to have been obtained from the Shilda system.

TU2-114 has turned up on the Tashkent pioneer railway in 1964 already. It is unclear if it ever worked in Alapaevsk.

In the 1970s many modern class TU4's, TU6's and TU7's were allocated to Alapaevsk. By 1981 no steam locomotives were running and from the twelve TU2s assigned to Alapaevsk only six were used anymore. The remaining six class TU2s were taken out of service the next year.

In 1982 some TU2s were diverted to other railways. TU2-088 went to the Orenburg pioneer railway, TU2-166 to Gajvoron and TU2-211 might have gone to Atbasar. Finally TU2-169 became a monument in Alapaevsk.


TU2-169 seen here as a monument at the depot in Summer 2004.
Photo: Michael Friedrich.

A number of other TU2s were simply dumped at the depot, where they have stood for many years. The last one was scrapped sixteen years later, in 1998. One TU2 was turned into what seems to be a snow plow of some kind. One of its cabs has been removed and the plow was mounted between the bogies.


This unknown TU2 - now in use as a snowplow of some kind - was spotted at the depot in Alapaevsk in Summer 2004.
Photo: Michael Friedrich.

A large part of the forestry railway network (ca. 300 km) has survived until now. Many lines are still in service for both passenger and freight traffic. The passenger train on the main line to the north runs at night. In 2004 it was composed of 7 class PV51 coaches, amongst which 2 through coaches, each serving 2 branch lines. The passenegr service is well frequented. Since the 1990s the freight volumes have dropped dramatically. Nowadays yearly only 15.000 tons of timer are transported.

Eight class TU4 and TU7 diesel locomotives are used to haul the trains. In contrast to other forestry railways, the Alapaevsk system is operated by an independent railway company, owned by the regional communuities.

More pictures of the Alapaevks forestry railway can be found on the homepage of Sergeij Bolashenko.

Apšeronsk

This forestry railway was probably the most spectacular one using TU2s. The line is situated in the fast west of the Caucasian Mountains, on the Krasnodar Edge. The starting point of then line is the broad gauge station of Apšeronsk, 70 kilometres southwest of the city of Krasnodar. From here a 26-km long line was opened to Cernigovskaje in 1937. Later the line was extended through the valley of the River Pšekha to Otdalennij (km 47). Also a branch line was opened from Novie Poljanie via the magnificent Guam Gorge to Lago-Naki (km 42). The network was used for passenger and freight traffic.

After the Second World War different war reparation type steam locomotives worked on the network. There used to be class GR's, VP-2's and VP-4's. Around 1959 all these locos were taken out of service. An unknown number of TU2s, amongst which TU2-168 and TU2-177, replaced them. Their identity could only be determined, because in 1974 they were transferred to the Ukraine (Gaivoron respectively Mikhailovka). The other TU2s have remained unnoticed by the outside world. In 1985 they have been replaced by new diesel engines TU7A-2496 and TU7-2632.

In 2002 the Apšeronsk - Novie Poljanie - Cernigovskaja - Otdalennij line was still open. In 1998 the track was renewed. There is one daily passenger train pair on the whole line and two additional on the southern section between Cernigovskoje and Otdalennij. The branch line closed in several stages; the last part (Guamka - Mezmaja) has remained open until 2000.

Andoma

The Andoma forestry railway was probably the most northern narrow gauge system using class TU2 diesel locomotives. The railway is situated in the Archangelsk oblast, halfway Moscow and Murmansk respectively halfway St.Petersburg and Archangelsk. The system is isolated from the broad gauge railway network. In 1965 the system was operated by the North-Western council for the national economy.

The forestry railway was opened in 1954. It ran from Sorokopolja via Perevalka ('transhipment') to Andomskij Pogost and had a length of 54 km. An interesting feature of the line is the approximately 60-m long wooden bridge over the Andoma River near Sorokopolja.

The railway has used four TU2s with numbers TU2-161, 187, 190 and 193. Possibly they have run here since they have been delivered in 1958, though this could not be confirmed. TU2-187 was taken out of service in 1983 and might have been transferred away to the St.Petersburg pioneer railway afterwards (not confirmed!). The faith of the other TU2s is unknown. Also TU4s and TU7s have worked on the system.

By 2001 the Andoma forestry railway was still in used and managed by the 'Andomales' company. By then only the section Sorokopolja - Perevalka was used (i.e. the train did not come in Andomskij Pogost). In 2001 freight trains ran to Perevalka several times a day. There was also a passenger service. The passenger train for Perevalka left the station of Nižnij Sklod (2 km west of Sorokopolja) at 6:05 and 17:00. By 2006 the railway had almost completely been closed and dismantled. Only 500 meters of tracks remain in Sorokopolja; the question is when this last section will be closed as well.

Omutninsk

The Omutninsk forestry railway is situated in the Kirov oblast. It runs from Omutninsk via Vasilyevskij to Cernaja Holutnica (km 122) and further into the forests. The first section of the network was built in 1937.

In 1959 the forestry railway received a batch of three class TU2s with numbers TU2-198, TU2-253 and TU2-254. Further nothing is known about these engines. Maybe they have worked here until the railway was closed in 1996?

Vyksa

The town of Vyksa is situated 500 km east of Moscow. Here a large sawmill is operational, which used to operate an extensive forestry railway system. The Vyksa or Vyksunskij forestry railway opened up the rich timber resources in the Ermišinskij province in the Rjazan oblast.

The heavily branched system once had a length of more than 300 km. The main line of the system was Vyksa - Vilja - Unor - Dimara - Kurikha. It was approximately 130 km long and ran in south-westerly direction. On this line a public passenger service existed. The forestry railway was probably the only means of public transportation in the region. In the 1970s there were 2-3 train passenger pairs a day, which were composed of 10-12 modern passenger coaches (class PV40 or PV51).

Probably especially for this passenger service the Vyksa forestry railway had strong diesel locomotives in stock. Known engines are the Kaluga-built TU2-185 and TU3-025 from CKD. Both engines have run on the Uren forestry railway, until they were transmitted to Vyksa in 1960. It may not be ruled out that also other TU2's or TU3's have worked in Vyksa.

In the 1970s light class TU6 diesel engines started to work on the system. They replaced the last steam locomotives and eventually also the heavier diesels. TU2-185 was dumped in 1982; the TU3 had been taken out of service four years earlier already. Both locos have been cut.

Nowadays this forestry railway does not exist anymore. The dismantling started in the early 1990s. More and more lines closed and in 2002-2003 traffic has ended completely. In 2003 the tracks were being lifted.

Verhnij-Ufalej

Apart from a 750mm-gaue industrial system for the local nickel industry, there also used to be a forestry railway in the town of Verhnij-Ufalej, in the Cheljabinsk oblast. This forestry railway used TU2-256.


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