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The Rodope Narrow-gauge Railway

Beautiful autumn scenery and loud diesel sound in Bulgaria.

The BDŽ 300  014 seen  picture

The BDŽ 300 014 seen between Belovo and Septemvri on the bridge of the river Maritsa (Марица)

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Tags: BDZ Desiro Bulgária

Most people don't know much about Bulgaria or the Bulgarian Railways. The first line opened in 1864, when the area was very much a part of the Ottoman Empire, and ran between the Romanian border of Ruse and the seaside city of Varna. Currently over 70% of the railways are electrified, main lines are often double track and conditions are relatively favourable.

The BDŽ 43 535-1 seen  photo

The BDŽ 43 535-1 seen between Kostenets and Belovo

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Tags: Belovo Kostenets 591 BDZ-Plechac Bulgária

The BDŽ 43  535-1 and  photo

The BDŽ 43 535-1 and the 46 235 seen at Septemvri

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Tags: Septemvri Септември 591 592 BDZ-ASEA Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Septemvri and Pamporovo

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Tags: Pamporovo Пампорово Septemvri Септември 592 Henschel Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony Bulgária

In most countries narrow-gauge railways have changed a lot in the past fifty years. In many cases they have completely dissappeared (like in Bosnia or partly in Austria and Romania ), or have become entirely tourist railways (like in Hungary ), or have become more tram-like, rapid-transit systems with electrification and modern multiple units (like in most of Switzerland ). However the Septemvri-Dobrinishte railway remained as it was many years ago, mostly locally used, being the connection of an enclosed area to the world, and only attracting a few tourists of the daring type. Organizing a trip here was rather complicated though. I don't know many people who are at least interested in it, and some of them are repelled by the fact that only five trains run a day, presumably extremely limiting the photo opportunities. Finally I managed to get the people on this trip and I can tell you in advance that going to Septemvri and going that part of the year was our best decision!

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Tsepina and Pamporovo

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Tags: Tsepina Цепина Marko Nikolov Марко Николов 592 Henschel Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony Bulgária

As opposed to Romania, where speed limits even on electrified mainlines may be as low as 20 to 40 km/h Bulgarian railways have quite good speeds with trains mostly travelling as fast as the terrain allows for. The narrow-gauge trains also reach a speed of about 60 km/h, and they maintain it along most of the route, but they can't do that in the gorges and loops, making the 125 km journey last about five hours. Trains were mostly punctual, this photo was the only one we took because trains were delayed (actually it allowed us one or two additional photos than we planned).

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Marko Nikolov and Tsepina

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Tags: Tsepina Цепина Marko Nikolov Марко Николов 592 Henschel Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony Bulgária

It is hard to tell which is the most spectacular part of the railway, especially since during this trip we didn't have the chance to travel on the railway, but the gorge of the Chepinska river between Varvara and Dolene is certainly in the top. This first section of the railway between Sarambey and Ladzhene (now Septemvri and a part of Velingrad) immediately had to face this challenging terrain after the few kilometre long stretch on the grassland of the Upper Thrakian Plain, meaning that when the military decided that a railway was needed in this part of Bulgarian during the First World War they had to wait until 1920 until the construction could actually start and until 1926 for the first section to start operating. A short extension to Chepino (the current Velingrad Yug) was opened in 1927 and the now-dismantled branch to Pazardzhik in 1928. The further opening dates were 1937 for Chepino-Yakoruda, 1939 for Yakoruda-Belitsa, 1943 for Belitsa-Bansko and 1945 for Bansko-Dobrinishte. The rest of the planned railway to Golch Deltsev was never constructed.

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen at Kostandovo

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Tags: Kostandovo Костандово 592 Henschel Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony Bulgária

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Velingrad and Velingrad jug

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Tags: Velingrad-Jug Велинград-Юг Velingrad Велинград 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75 008-3 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 008-3 seen between Ostrets and Velingrad jug

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Tags: Ostrets Острец Velingrad-Jug Велинград-Юг 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Velingrad jug and Ostrets

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Tags: Ostrets Острец Velingrad-Jug Велинград-Юг 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Avramovo and Smolevo

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Tags: Smolevo Смолево Avramovo Аврамово 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Smolevo and Cherna Mesta

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Tags: 35. alagút Cherna Mesta Черна Места Smolevo Смолево 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The Pomaks make up the majority of Cherna Mesta, a muslim ethnic group with strong turc ancestry. The train is already on its Southern ramp, past Avramovo from where it rejoins the road and follows a mild descent in the ever widening valley of the Mesta river, but first has to pass two spirals to lengthen the path of descent.

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Smolevo and Cherna Mesta

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Tags: 35. alagút Cherna Mesta Черна Места Smolevo Смолево 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen at Yakoruda

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Tags: Yakoruda Якоруда 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen at Yakoruda

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Tags: Yakoruda Якоруда 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

Zil lorry at Yakoruda photo

Zil lorry at Yakoruda

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Tags: Bulgaria

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen at Yakoruda

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Tags: Yakoruda Якоруда 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Yurukovo and Daganovo

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Tags: Daganovo Дагоново Yurukovo Юруково 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between General Kovachev and Belitsa

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Tags: Guliyna Banya Гулийна баня General Kovachev Генерал Ковачев 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Razlog and Bansko

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Tags: Bansko Банско Razlog Разлог 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Razlog and Bansko

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Tags: Bansko Банско Razlog Разлог 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Sveti Georgi and Dobrinishte

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Tags: Dobrinishte Добринище Sveti Georgi Свети Георги 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Sveti Georgi and Dobrinishte

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Tags: Dobrinishte Добринище Sveti Georgi Свети Георги 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen at Dobrinishte

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Tags: Dobrinishte Добринище 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen at Dobrinishte

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Tags: Dobrinishte Добринище 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen at Sveti Georgi

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Tags: Sveti Georgi Свети Георги 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen at Sveti Georgi

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Tags: Sveti Georgi Свети Георги 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  005-9 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen between Sveti Georgi and Bansko

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Tags: Sveti Georgi Свети Георги Bansko Банско 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Sveti Georgi and Dobrinishte

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Tags: Dobrinishte Добринище Sveti Georgi Свети Георги 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen at Dobrinishte

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Tags: Dobrinishte Добринище 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen at Dobrinishte

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Tags: Dobrinishte Добринище 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 82 01 seen at  photo

The BDŽ 82 01 seen at Bansko

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Tags: Bansko Банско 592 narrow Bulgária szobormozdony

The BDŽ 82 01 seen at  photo

The BDŽ 82 01 seen at Bansko

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Tags: Bansko Банско 592 narrow Bulgária szobormozdony

The BDŽ 504  76 seen a photo

The BDŽ 504 76 seen at Bansko

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Tags: Bansko Банско 592 narrow Bulgária

The BDŽ 82 01 seen at  picture

The BDŽ 82 01 seen at Bansko

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Tags: Bansko Банско 592 keskeny Bulgária szobormozdony

The BDŽ 82 01 seen at  photo

The BDŽ 82 01 seen at Bansko

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Tags: Bansko Банско 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 82 01 seen at  picture

The BDŽ 82 01 seen at Bansko

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Tags: Bansko Банско 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Razlog and Guliyna Banya

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Tags: Razlog Разлог Guliyna Banya Гулийна баня 592 Henschel Bulgária Balkán kisvasút dízelmozdony

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Smolevo and Cherna Mesta

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Tags: 35. alagút Cherna Mesta Черна Места Smolevo Смолево 592 Henschel Bulgária dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Cherna Mesta and Yakoruda

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Tags: Yakoruda Якоруда Cherna Mesta Черна Места 592 Henschel Bulgária dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Yakoruda and Yurukovo

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Tags: Yurukovo Юруково Yakoruda Якоруда 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Yurukovo and Daganovo

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Tags: Daganovo Дагоново Yurukovo Юруково 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Guliyna Banya and Razlog

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Tags: Razlog Разлог Guliyna Banya Гулийна баня 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Bansko and Sveti Georgi

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Tags: Sveti Georgi Свети Георги Bansko Банско 592 Henschel Bulgária dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Bansko and Sveti Georgi

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Tags: Sveti Georgi Свети Георги Bansko Банско 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75  006-7 seen photo

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen at Dobrinishte

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Tags: Dobrinishte Добринище 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 77 002-4 seen  picture

The BDŽ 77 002-4 seen between Smolevo and Cherna Mesta

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Tags: 34. alagút Cherna Mesta Черна Места Smolevo Смолево 592 Faur Bulgária hurokforduló

The BDŽ 75 008-3 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 008-3 seen between Cherna Mesta and Smolevo

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Tags: 35. alagút 34. alagút Cherna Mesta Черна Места Smolevo Смолево 592 Henschel Balkán dízelmozdony kisvasút hurokforduló Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 008-3 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 008-3 seen at Avramovo

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Tags: Avramovo Аврамово 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 008-3 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 008-3 seen between Ostrets and Velingrad yug

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Tags: Ostrets Острец Velingrad-Jug Велинград-Юг 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 008-3 at Ve photo

The BDŽ 75 008-3 at Velingrad station

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Tags: Velingrad Велинград 592 Henschel Balkán dízelmozdony kisvasút Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 008-3 at Ve photo

The BDŽ 75 008-3 at Velingrad station

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Tags: Velingrad Велинград 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ narrow-gauge t photo

The BDŽ narrow-gauge tamper machine at Velingrad

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Tags: Velingrad Велинград 592 narrow Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen at Velingrad station in the evening

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Tags: Velingrad Велинград 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen at Avramovo

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Tags: Avramovo Аврамово 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 77 002-4 FAUR  photo

The BDŽ 77 002-4 FAUR locomotive seen at Yakoruda at a starry night

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Tags: Yakoruda Якоруда 592 Faur Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen at Yurukovo on a starry night

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Tags: Yurukovo Юруково 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen at Bansko

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Tags: Bansko Банско 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 005-9 seen at Bansko

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Tags: Bansko Банско 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen between Velingrad and Kostandovo

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Tags: Velingrad Велинград Kostandovo Костандово 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 006-7 seen between Tsepina and Dolene

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Tags: Chepinska Dolene Долене Tsepina Цепина 592 Henschel dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán Bulgária

If you enjoy the pictures and would like to be part of a community interested in Mountain Railways, join us at our new Facebook group! I hope to develop it into a colourful international group for learning about viaducts, tunnels and astonishing landscapes from all around the world.

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen between Tsepina and Marko Nikolov

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Tags: Tsepina Цепина Marko Nikolov Марко Николов 592 Henschel kisvasút dízelmozdony Bulgária Balkán

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen  picture

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen between Tsepina and Marko Nikolov

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Tags: Tsepina Цепина Marko Nikolov Марко Николов 592 Henschel Bulgária dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen between Pamporovo and Septemvri

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Tags: Pamporovo Пампорово Septemvri Септември 592 Henschel Bulgária dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán

The BDŽ 44 130-0 seen  photo

The BDŽ 44 130-0 seen at Septemvri

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Tags: Septemvri Септември 591 592 BDZ-Plechac Bulgária

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen at Septemvri

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Tags: Septemvri Септември 591 592 Henschel Bulgária dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen  photo

The BDŽ 75 004-2 seen at Septemvri

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Tags: Septemvri Септември 591 592 Henschel Bulgária dízelmozdony kisvasút Balkán

In extra trains you can enc photo

In extra trains you can encounter a buffet car

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Tags: narrow Bulgária ASEA

The BDŽ 71 002-0 seen  picture

The BDŽ 71 002-0 seen at Septemvri

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Tags: Septemvri Септември 591 592 TU7 Bulgária

The best known product of the Kambarka Engineering Works of the Soviet Union is an interesting piece of equipment at the Septemvri to Dobrinishte Rodope Narrow-gauge Railway as it shunts with the passenger cars. Similar locomotives operate at many other Eastern railway, I have photos from Berehovo where, I believe, they never entered service after delivery:

The BDŽ 71 002-0 seen  photo

The BDŽ 71 002-0 seen at Septemvri

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Tags: Septemvri Септември 591 592 TU7 Bulgária

An unidentified BDŽ 44 picture

An unidentified BDŽ 44 seen between Vlado Trichkov and Kurilo

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Tags: Vlado Trichkov Kurilo 590 BDZ-Plehács Bulgária

An unidentified BDŽ 44 picture

An unidentified BDŽ 44 seen between Kurilo and Vlado Trichkov

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Tags: Vlado Trichkov Kurilo 590 BDZ-Plehács Bulgária

The BDŽ 30 023 seen be photo

The BDŽ 30 023 seen between Svoge and Thompson

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Tags: Svoge Thompson 590 BDZ Desiro Bulgária

The BDŽ 44 082 seen be picture

The BDŽ 44 082 seen between Svoge and Thompson

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Tags: Svoge Thompson 590 BDZ-Plehács Bulgária

The BDŽ 0432  120 seen picture

The BDŽ 0432 120 seen between Montana and Bojchinovci

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Tags: Montana Bojchinovci 518 BDZ Elektricska Bulgária

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