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