Saturday, December 24, 2011

Old Electric Locomotive at Busteni Train Station

  The third train station that I visited in the spring of 2011 in the Prahova Valley, that had a full size locomotive exhibited next to it was the station of Busteni. At Sinaia I have seen the CFR 230.039 steam locomotive and the permanent miniature railroad exhibition. At Predeal I have had the chance to take a few shots of the CFR 50.497 steamer. Busteni had reserved its own surprise for me, but I must say it was a little different from the others. It was a small and visibly very old electric locomotive exhibited right next to the station building, together with a small flat train car. The loco and the car were both nicely restored ad they were placed on a narrow gauge (700 mm) piece of track. The 700 mm gauge was used widely in Romania for industrial purposes and the small car behind the locomotive also had an industrial feel but at the moment I did not know anything about the locomotive or the car. However, I have noticed that it looked a lot like the electric locomotive exhibited in the Dej Triaj collection.

  When I looked up the little electric locomotive on the web I found out that it had quite an interesting history and it played a very important part in the existence itself of the town of Busteni itself. It seems that the small mountain town was originally built around the wood industry, to be more specific, around the industry of producing paper. In 1882 the two sons of a Lutheran priest who lived in the nearby town of Rasnov, Carol and Samuel Schiel have realized the potential value of the immense quantity of living wood found in the area and have founded founded a paper mill. The demand for cellulose and paper was high and the business had quickly flourished. The wood had been brought down from the mountains with a funicular (cliff railway), but that was not enough to efficiently transport the materials, so in a matter of a few years, in 1894 the first industrial railway of the Prahova Valley had been constructed. It was a narrow gauge (700 mm) line of only 6.2 km length used to transport logs. At the beginning steam locomotives were used to pull the trains, but the owners were concerned about the fire hazard, so shortly after, in 1899, the people of Busteni became acquainted with a new type of locomotive, one that probably seemed a miracle at the time, an electric one. It was built by the Orenstein & Koppel factories from Berlin and it was used for a very long time to transport wood and paper.

  Unfortunately the story of the paper mill does not have a happy ending. By 1928 most of the forest had been cut and the business started to decline. In 1948 it was all nationalized and in 1966 the funicular and the whole railway line was abandoned. A small portion of it, which linked the two main parts of the factory located on the two sides of the main road was kept until about 2003. That is when the electric train worked for the last time. The story of the small electric locomotive ends in an equally sad manner. In 1990 it was transported to Bucuresti, from where it disappeared (probably stolen, sold or melted) and nobody knows anything about it since then.

  Luckily the first electric locomotive bought by the Schiel brothers was not the only one. In 1907 and 1913 they have purchased two more similar locos from AEG Berlin. The youngest one is the electric locomotive that is currently exhibited at the Busteni train station. It was placed there at the end of 2010, during the celebration of 50 years since the first standard gauge electrified railway section was built in Romania, between Brasov and Predeal. The loco was build on the 1st of July, 1913 in Berlin. with a length of 5.7 m, it weghts just 3.5 tons. It works with 250V and it generates 50 HP. It too was abandoned for a while. You can see a picture of it rusting in the yard of the paper mill here. But at least the story of this locomotive has a happy ending, as it has been restored and is now exhibited and can be admired and photographed at the Busteni train station, here:

  I have found a good video which illustrates the way the small electric locomotives worked inside the paper mill:

ID: Unknown
Wheel arrangement: Bo-Bo
Wheel diameter: 730 mm
Length: 5700 mm
Width: 1200 mm
Weight: 3.5 t
Voltage: 250V
Power: 50 HP
Gauge: 700 mm
Location: Busteni, Romania (railway station)

The history of Busteni, of the paper mill and of the narrow gauge railway at
The history of the Busteni paper mill at
The electric locomotives of the Busteni paper mill at
Electric locomotive "1" at Dej Triaj train depot

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