Confirmed programme – for details CLICK ON LINKS BELOW
We are pleased to be able to re-launch this “Classic Traction” tour – originally planned a year ago – in a more concise, and cheaper form. It mainly uses a charter train, drawn by former British Rail electric locomotives of classes 86 and 87, run by the independent company “Bulmarket”, on the standard gauge, and operating on an itinerary which should still provide close to 500 kms of haulage by these iconic locomotives. On the scenic 760mm narrow gauge line from Septemvri to Velingrad, we take a service train hauled by one of the Henschel diesels which have operated this line since they were introduced in 1965, and which are now gradually to be replaced. Click here for more information on them.
There will be depot visits in all the key locations, specifically Sofia, Septemvri depot, Septemvri wagon works, Stara Zagora, Plovdiv, and the Transport University in Sofia (Todor Kableshkov) and perhaps most interestingly, a visit to the extensive Maritza Iztok mining complex, where we will spend some hours, including riding a charter train using Maritza Iztok’s own locomotive(s).
On the narrow gauge – a section of the scenic Rhodope Mountain line from Septemvri to Velingrad – we will be using a service train, for which we have requested one of the Henschel diesel locomotives which date from 1965 and which have dominated services up until now – they are gradually to be replaced by modern power.
The tour price includes en-suite accommodation on a twin-share basis (single rooms subject to availability at the supplement mentioned above) in 3/4 star hotels on dinner, bed and breakfast basis, with lunch boxes provided daily; travel by service and charter trains as per the itinerary, and the tour will be fully escorted both by local tour escorts and by a British railway enthusiast tour director.
Click on this link for the full “Classic Traction” tour itinerary.
On the steam front, Bulgaria continues to amaze us, adding steam engines to their heritage fleet, of which this tour intends to take full advantage, operating them on mostly lightly-trafficked and non-electrified lines, in what we hope will be warm, sunny late Spring weather! However chartering historic steam locomotives, even in former Eastern European countries, is an expensive business, which is why our negotiations for this part of the tour are not yet complete.
One highlight of the trip will be the use of the narrow gauge 2-10-2 tank, 609.76, on part of the mountainous Septemvri system.
Another highlight may be 2-12-4T 46.03 nicknamed “mother bear” because of its size, on the route Radomir – Kyustendil – Gyueshevo. It is currently under repair but should easily be ready for our trip next May – recently completed is 0-8-0 26.26, a Prussian G7 looking splendid; other performers will be 2-8-2 01.23 or 4-8-2 03.12, with ex-DR Class 42 16.27 “on the subs. bench” only because it is probably more of interest to German enthusiasts than British.
As always, ample time will be allowed for photo-stops and run-pasts, which will be managed by Bulgarian enthusiast-guides like Assen Stoyanov – who managed the British 2011 tour, and who has kindly agreed to lead our tour again this year – very familiar with the topography of the Bulgarian railways, and have excellent communications with the loco. drivers, who are also experienced in operating this type of tour.
The exact tour price is still to be calculated and will be confirmed a.s.a.p., but it will include half-board (dinner, bed and breakfast) en-suite accommodation in 3/4 Star hotels on a twin share basis, and lunch boxes daily. Single room supplement also t.b.a. The tour will be fully escorted throughout as mentioned above.
A German group visited Bulgaria in October 2022 with considerable success, and we expect our late Spring 2024 tour – in both its versions – to be even more memorable!
Please keep an eye on these pages which will be updated as news comes in – preliminary detailed itineraries for both versions of the tour can be found below left. There is also a booking/ registration form, which enables you to secure your place, and prompts us to keep you updated as to progress of the tour; or you can simply email us on email@example.com
Click here for the full Steam Tour itinerary (provisional at this stage)
Click here for the full Classic Traction tour itinerary
Click here for Reservation/Booking Form
Photo credits: ex-BR Class 86 and 87 electric locos – Chris Milner; Bulmarket; Maritza Iztok EL2 No. 125 – Chris West; Henschel diesel at Yakoruda on 76cm Rhodope mountain line – V.C.K.Allen