Bulgaria 2017 (part 1)

Another of the customary trips to Bulgaria; two trips this year (at least) so this will be Part One featuring the Varna and Pirdop areas. As a general note, it is getting harder and harder to see 87s working on their own as the previously semi-reliable BZK workings are now dominated by ex-Romanian Class 40 junk (the fleet of which has grown considerably over the past year) and the Bulmarket trains are quite unreliable. In fact, the rules in Bulgaria say that the more powerful loco is required to be on the front of the train when under power which means the 5000hp Class 87 will always be relegated to second place.


A typical Bulgarian scene as 44151 arrives at Sindel with BV9620 0915 Varna-Ruse, unusually with a pristine rake of stock! 12.06.17


That’s more like it, a careworn 45149 along with a tatty rake of stock come clattering round the corner into Sindel with BV2612 1035 Varna-Sofia.


BDZ ‘big diesel’ 07106 seems a trifle overpowered for the two coach load it has in the rear as it stands at Devnya working KPV28204 1615 Varna-Dobrich. These powerful diesels are the only ETH fitted diesel engines that BDZ have on their books so its a case of them or nothing! 12.06.17


To release a DMU for other duties, one of the Varna-Dobrich and Dobrich-Kardam diagrams has gone over to loco haulage – how long for is unknown. 55206 and a single coach depart from Beloslav with KPV28206 1850 Varna-Dobrich. This train arrived in to Varna with 55195 in charge. 12.06.17


The driver looks back to check that the whole of his train is inside as 45163 arrives into the yard at Sindel with an empty box working off the line from Karnobat. 13.06.17



85001, 86004, 85004 and 87025 bring a tank train from Ruse into Sindel. 85001 (ex 86701 and 86205) and 85004 (ex 86235) along with 87025 form part of the sizeable fleet of ex BR traction that Bulmarket currently employ. The ex-86s were renubered, initially to Class 87/7 and then to Class 85, to avoid a clash with the Bulgarian (actually ex Danish) Class 86 ‘EA’ locos. 13.06.17


87025 at Sindel after the other three locos were detached and run round to the other end of the train. ‘Borderer’ was detached and ran light to Varna to pick up another rake of tanks. 13.06.17


The crew from DB Cargo EA 86015 take a breather with the crew from BDZ 46037 at Karnobat. The EA is heading the train from Chelopech (near Pirdop) to Burgas with product for export.


On to Pirdop now where the invasion of GFR 40 (let’s just refer to them as junk) continues. 87 activity was minimal with the majority of trains hauled by or topped by the junk. It was mainly limited to shunting activity in some rather attractive lighting conditions. 87026 is seen here being retrieved from the stabling line to go become the inside loco on the evening Pirdop-Burgas departure. 14.06.17


87012, still looking good and slightly workstained is retrieved from the stabling line. The two locos pictures here went on to work the first departure for Razdelna conveying a rake of loaded sulphuric acid tanks. 14.06.17


As part of the same renumbering scheme mentioned above with the Bulmarket Class 85’s, the Class 92 fleet employed by DB Cargo Bulgaria has been reclassified as Class 88 and 88030 stands at Pirdop having arrived from Chelopech quarry. Since the bulk Burgas-Pirdop copper ore train has gone over to BZK, these locos don’t have any regular booked work so it is quite difficult to see them. They still do appear on the Chelopech/Pirdop-Burgas loaded wagons occasionally, but not solidly. Indeed ‘Ashford’ was sent back into the sidings shortly after this photo was taken. 14.06.17


Unfortunately not quite what it seems, 87019 is pan up at Pirdop, but only to undertake a shunt manouvre into the station area. After being brought out of the sidings earlier in the day during a mega shunt, it was promptly put back again after this! 15.06.17


It was left to the last minute to catch something ‘interesting’. Unusually worked by a pair of 87s with the junk dead on the rear, 30580 arrives into Pirdop with 87004 and 87003 in charge. The driver seemed happy (as did we)! 15.06.17


87020 has tended to be one of the more elusive machines in the last 5 years, not really appearing much. Looking rather worse for wear with peeling paint on the bodysides, it stands in the departure roads at Pirdop waiting to leave on a train for Serbia as the tail loco behind 87003 and 87004. 15.06.17


On its first working after 8 years out of traffic, 44120 stands at Iskar with BV1621 Sofia-Dimitrovgrad which it worked to Plovdiv. 46208 was tucked inside as insurance. Note despite the UIC numbering taking hold of the fleet, this loco hasn’t succumbed as yet despite the repaint and works attention – NB as of a week later, the UIC numbers had been fitted. 16.06.17


Bulgaria 2016

Off to the East again in search of 87’s…

First day in Varna; the morning Ruse was, naturally, headed by some 40junk with 87003 inside so was duly ignored. That left 87004 and a rake of cargowaggons on site. These disappeared early afternoon.


44126 clatters into Beloslav with a late morning train for Varna. 23/05/16

Something we’ve seen previously but only once with an 87 on the front; the evening Bulmarket path seems to run every day, producing an EA on the first day (naturally in full sun) then when an 87 produces the weather is bilge. Nevertheless, a welcome sight as 87025 runs in with a short rake of tanks from the Ruse line before running round and heading towards Karnobat. The whole run round procedure was completed in a matter of minutes – as usual (for BG) it would put the UK to shame!



Next day and there was nothing at Raz other than 87004 and a rake of cereal wagons (parked separately) and no sign of any movement. On speaking to the staff, 004 wasn’t due off until the afternoon (we guessed the same path as yesterday). Further research indicated it was a public holiday so putting 2+2 together guessed there would be no Ruse train today. To the beach (naturally after a shot of 004 in the early morning sun).


Returning early afternoon, 87004 was now hooked up to the wagons so looking good for a departure. Britannia seen here looking workstained and faded before departure with the famous cereal train for Nova Zagora. Compare it to THIS PHOTO shortly after arrival in Bulgaria in 2010.


A couple of days later, 92025 and 92030 stabled at Pirdop awaiting departure for Burgas. As the line between Koprivishtitsa and Iganovo was shut, the train was travelling the long way round via Plovdiv (R/R). Note 92030 (having lost its Ashford nameplates when it left the UK) has now gained stick on letters in the old style since it arrived in BG! 26/05/16


44001 nips through light engine, heading round to the depot, after bringing in an arrival in from the Plovdiv direction. It would later go out on a departure for Burgas, although the trains were terminating short at Koprivshtitsa for an autobus forward. 28/05/16


45173 arrives into Sofia with train BV20202, the 0500 departure from Ruse. To the left of the loco is a Class 41 loco which has been permanently wired to the overheads to act as a shore supply. 28/05/16


They aren’t all as pristine as that however! Veteran 43309, bearing many battle scars, arrives into Sofia with a train from Dupnitsa. 28/05/16


Class 61 electric locos are still out working with four of them observed on passenger trains. 61012 arrives at Sofia from Blagoevgrad. 28/05/16


44001 passes 87012 at Pirdop, the bent skoda (known locally as ‘banana’ on account of its livery, arrives with a train from Koprivshtitsa while the passengers came from Burgas via bus!


Having passed through on a train from Sofia earlier in the day, we decided to return to see whether there had been any movement.  87007 was still in the same position but staff were in attendance so we stayed around to see what happened. 28/05/16


87019 ran in light, we presume from Poduyane as it was observed there earlier in the day, and was attached to the front of 87026 to form the evening departure for Dimitrovgrad (and on to Serbia). 28/05/16



87007 leaving with a short rake of tanks up the Mezdra line. 28/05/16


43510 and 44068 arrive into Iskar with a train from Plovdiv (and probably Turkey via Dimitrovgrad). 28/05/16


After last nights activities with 87s, I decided to back to the new favourite spot. On arrival 87019, 87026 and 87012 were parked up.


87026 and 87012 were put on the sharp end of a train of boxes while 87019 was run around to the rear, just visible in the photo below. 29/05/16


After some mass shunting (and avoiding the clouds floating about), 87026 and 87012 depart with a lengthy train for Dimitrovgrad (Serbia). 87019 was on the rear. 29/05/16


Bulgaria 2015 (part 1)

The first of hopefully two trips to Bulgaria this year, with this one primarily about seeing as many of the 87s out there as possible. Unfortunately much of the BZK freight runs at night, and with limited gen on timings, it was a bit of a gamble as to what we would see.


^ The morning of the first day was spent at Ilyantsi where 87006 was stabled for most of the morning. A GFR 40 on hire to BZK arrived (far left of picture) to pick it up and take it to Pirdop. Seen here being shunted out of the yard.


^ After arrival from Sofia, 87022 was the tail loco on 30581 to Razdelna. Sidelined last year after a fire when a member of the crew was attempting to defrost the air system, it was repaired and received a full repaint into GBRF blue livery. 21/04/15


^ The second day didn’t start off particularly nice weather-wise as can be seen by the picture of 87004 with 87010 shortly after being detached from 30584 from Razdelna. 22/04/15


^ The weather did steadily improve as can be seen by the picture of 92034 waiting for the off from Pirdop to pick up a train of wagons from a nearby quarry. The 92 works the train for the haulage capacity, diesel locos being insufficient. 22/04/15


^ Some of the native traction now; 44001 leaves Klisura with 3621 Sofia-Burgas. Only two of these type exist (44001 and 44002) and were refurbished in the 1990’s at Koncar works, being basically a modernised version of the traditional Skoda Bulgarian passenger engines. 23/04/15


^ 87013 was part of the final batch of locos transferred over to Bulgaria – accompanying 87004 and 87014. Unfortunately, of the three, 87014 was never accepted into traffic and survives as a spares loco at Podujane works in Sofia having donated its transformer to 87010. 87013 – along with 87010 and 87007 as tail loco – arrives into Pirdop with 30580 from Razdelna. Tail loco was 87007. 23/04/15


^ Immediately after arrival, 87013 was detached and run onto the front of another trainload of tanks which left shortly after. Seen here with partner 87010 and also 87028 as the tail loco on the next departure. 23/04/15


^ 87007 was detached from the rear and this begun the mother of all shunts! 23/04/15


^ 87007 collected 87028 from the other set of tanks, then collected 87010 from the tanks that had just arrived from Razdelna…


^ …before dumping the other two locos out of the way and then running back to be attached to the rear of the formed up departure. 87028 can be seen on the right hand side waiting to be shunted. 23/04/15


^ 87012 has been the first of the class, since arrival, to be fully overhauled. One of the first pair of locos to be exported in 2007, it went to Craiova in Romania for attention and much to everyone’s surprise, was repainted in full Network SouthEast livery. It is seen here on arrival from Podujane depot behind 87003. 23/04/15


^ 87012 and 87003 joined 87010 and 87028 waiting to be shunted into the stabling siding, alongside 87006 also waiting to be shunted. 23/04/15


^ 87007 went out as tail loco on 30580 to Razdelna behind a 40 with an UID 87 inside. 23/04/15


^ Just outside Pirdop for the morning Burgas arrival and the driver winds 44100 up for the run to Anton and onward to Karlovo with BV30111, the 0545 from Sofia.


^ 87033 and 87029 at Pirdop the next morning. 87033 arrived as tail loco from Razdelna with 30582. 87029 arrived shortly after with train 30584 and both were shunted out of the way on top of some junk and a rake of tanks from Serbia. 24/04/15


87007 arrives with 30580 which was formed of a full rake of tanks, but unusually one loco was on the front. 24/04/15


^ After arriving with 30580 from Razdelna 87007 was shunted straight round on top of 87029 to form 30587, seen here heading up the incline out of Pirdop. At this time of day the sun is virtually head on but with a pair of 87’s on the front, it was a shot that couldn’t be missed…


^ …and bringing up the rear as tailgunner was 87033. 24/04/15

All in all, over the 5 days in Bulgaria all of the operational BZK 87s were seen, with only 87012 not under power. We didn’t see any Bulmarket locos this time however.

Back in September…

Bulgaria 2014

Time for the annual pilgrimage to Bulgaria. In addition to the 87s which went over in the late 2000’s for private operator BZK, 3 Class 92’s went over in 2012/2013 and can now be found working freights for DB Schenker and finally and most recently, 4 more 87’s went over to work for private operator Bulmarket with the last two, 87009 and 87025 only entering traffic in early 2014.


Quick wrong side of the sun shot from a passing train; 87012 at Karlovo with a Pirdop bound tank train. 87003 was on the rear. 11/05/14

87010_029_Sindel Looking absolutely filthy and consequently not doing the photo any good, 87010 and 87029 pass through Sindel with the daily Razdelna-Ruse freight working. 12/05/14


A day later, and it was the turn of 87012, 87013 and 87003 on the Razdelna-Ruse trip which only had 1 wagon in the consist. That’s 15,000hp for just 1 wagon – almost DRS standards. 13/05/14

87025_Sindel As the light starts to die, 87025 (the most recently returned to traffic) stands at Sindel on the rear of a tank train heading for – we assume – Ruse. This one, along with the other three operated by Bulmarket are notable in the fact they are fitted with two pantographs which has necessitated the removal of the fire supression system. Hopefully this doesn’t mean if one catches fire, it is game over! 13/05/14

92027_Razdelna 92027 stands at Razdelna having brought in a train of empty box wagons for loading at Varna docks. Seems this was the first visit of a 92 here as it was attracting quite a bit of interest from the BZK and BDZ staff based here. This one hasn’t had the snowploughs fitted that the other two have had. 14/05/14

87023_VarnaSp 87023_VarnaSp-2 87023 was one of the two Europhoenix liveried locos exported which have retained their livery, albeit with Bulmarket branding added. Velocity stands at Varna Spirka next to an ex-Danish ‘EA’ (also operated by Bulmarket) which are numbered in the 860xx series – so there’s a Class 86 and 87 sat together. 14/05/14

87019_Pirdop On to Pirdop now, on paper at least, the base for the BZK 87 fleet. Still carrying its pseudo-LNWR black livery which is looking a little worn now, 87019 stands in a brief burst of sunshine with an ex-DB 232 diesel for company. 87019, along with 87012, was one of the first two to be exported from the UK, being accepted into traffic in June 2007. The others soon followed. 16/05/14

92034_Pirdop Also at Pirdop was 92034, doing a bit of shunting prior to heading down the line towards Sofia to pick up a rake of box wagons loaded with quarried product. 92034 was the first of the three 92’s exported to Bulgaria and unlike the other two that were exported to Romania which were quickly repainted in DB livery, these three are all in near to ex UK condition. Only the top headlight, snowploughs an DB sticker on the front end gives it away. 16/05/14

92034-87034-87004_Zlaticha 92034 stands at Zlatitsa. A track machine (that can just be seen in the picture of 87019 at Pirdop) had failed in the section between Pirdop and here necessitating a rescue mission by 92034 87034 and 87004. The 87s had come  light engine from the Sofia direction. Not sure if this is the first time that an 87 and 92 have worked together in Bulgaria, but I certainly haven’t seen any pictures of it! 16/05/14

87034-87004_Zlaticha The former William Shakespeare and the current Britannia shunt the demic track machine onto another road at Zlatitsa before continuing on their journey to Pirdop. 16/05/14

Early morning sortie before the flight home sees 61012 and 61007 (which had powered also) on arrival at Sofia Central with the 0505 Kulata-Sofia. 17/05/14.

Ex-pats in Bulgaria

Bulgaria 2013 and a selection of British locomotives enjoying the sunshine. 87026_Burgas 87026 stands in the yard at Burgas with a trainload of vans waiting for a late evening departure for Pirdop. 87006_Burgas 87006 and 87007 (with some Romanian Class 40 junk) stand in the sidings adjacent to Burgas after working in overnight on trains from Pirdop. 87017_Ruse 87017 ‘Iron Duke’ – only just recently arrived in Bulgaria – prepares for departure from Ruse with a departure for Varna Spirka. 87023 ‘Velocity’ was tail loco. 92027_Burgas 92027 stands in the yard at Burgas. In essentially British condition, the only visible differences are the addition of wing mirrors, removal of the ETS jumpers and the DB stickers. 92034_025_Burgas 92034 was the first Class 92 exported to Bulgaria and spent a number of weeks on test around the Burgas area. They are predominantly used on the Burgas-Pirdop circuit taking imported raw product to the copper works.

HG Wells


Not long reinstated after 5 years of storage, 92002 HG Wells stands at Crewe with a light engine move (0A06) from Crewe IEMD to Wembley yard. 92015, some 66 and 90036 are in tow.


GBRailfreight, after takeover by Europorte in 2010, found themselves with access to electric traction in the form of a fleet of Class 92s. They were slowly brought into traffic and one of the first duties was to and from Trafford Park on the daily service from and to Felixstowe.

This was previously worked by a Class 66 throughout but diverting the train via London enabled the use of electric traction between Ipswich and Trafford Park.

92043 is seen below passing Gatley with 4L18 Trafford Park-Felixstowe on 8th July 2013.




92029 leads 92037, 92001 and 92019 on 0A06 Crewe IEMD-Wembley taking 92001 on the first stage of its long journey to Romania. Not quite sure what the bloke on the right with no shoes is about…