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Children's Railways of the former USSR – Past and Present

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Unfortunately, I don't speak English. And I can't update English version of my site on a regular basis.


фото из журнала 50-х годов
Opened: July 6, 1936
Length: 2 kms (ring)
It is located in the Globy park (formerly Chkalovskiy park)
1 station: Pionerskaya (Pioneer). There were originally 2 stations: Komsomolskaya and Pioneerskaya (formerly Zhovtenya), and 1 platform beside the depot (Imeni Chkalova)
Civil Engineering works: 2 tunnels, one crossing
Rolling stock: 2 diesel locomotives TU2-134, TU2-172, Pafawag coaches, 2- and 4-axle coaches built by DVRZ; formerly: steam locomotives YuP-3-01 and YuP-4-95 (series 159)
Phone: +38 (0562) 33-08-60
Chief: Mr. Yury Dmitrievich Tikhiy


On July 6, 1936, the second children's railway in the USSR was opened - the "Stalin" (nowadays: Pridnyeprovskaya) Small Railway. According to eyewitnesses' accounts, it made a more serious impression in comparison with the first ChRW - in Tbilisi.

The main line, a ring about 2 km long, surrounded a pond and various attractions in the Chkalova park (now renamed the Globy park). One of the park's avenues ran across the middle of the pond, on a trestle bridge. Tunnels through which the ChRW passed were constructed through the abutments of this bridge. Children carried out most of the design and exploration work involved in the construction of the line.

Track plan

There were two stations on the line - "Zhovtenya" (after the war it was renamed "Pionerskaya") and "Komsomolskaya", and also one intermediate platform - at the depot, Chkalova, which the fast trains passed without stopping. All the stations had wooden buildings.

The general shortage of narrow-gauge steam locomotives characteristic of the USSR in the 1930s had an effect on this Children's Railway. It was not possible to receive a mass-produced steam locomotive for ChRW. A really unique solution for this situation was the construction of a steam locomotive by the forces from improvised means. The Dnepropetrovsk locomotive-repair factory assembled a steam locomotive from whatever it was possible to find: the boiler was taken from a broad-gauge steam shunting locomotive, and other parts came from a carriage (except for the frame), steam engines and a driving mechanism from any narrow-gauge loco. Steam engine was named YuP-3-01 "Yuniy Pioneer" ("Young Pioneer").

Because the radius of the curves on the road designed by children was small, it was necessary to equip the locomotive with a leading axle uncharacteristic of domestic narrow-gauge steam locomotives - without it the steam locomotive easily became derailed on curves. As non-standard dimensions were adopted for structures at the design stage, it was also necessary to truncate the steam locomotive's chimney, otherwise the steam locomotive simply could not pass through the tunnels.

Although in those days it was a little bit easier to obtain carriages than steam locomotives, because of their non-standard dimensions they also had to be built under the special project. Little wooden two-axle cars were constructed by voluntary labour on Saturdays at the Dnepropetrovsk coach-repair factory. (Two of them can still be seen on the Dnepropetrovsk ChRW).

2-axial coach. foto made in the 1957

At the Children's Railway some other hobby groups were active, including an amateur short-wave radio station and a meteorological station located near the depot.

But during the war the line was almost completely destroyed. The rails were removed and taken away, both stations burned down, all that was left of the depot was a box. Only the tunnels escaped unscathed. Fortunately, there was not time to take the rolling stock far away, and it was returned to the ChRW after the war.

Restoration of the line began in October, 1944, right after Dnepropetrovsk was cleared. Mostly it was necessary to build all anew. But despite of complications with building materials and labour (in wartime!), the works advanced very quickly, and the first trains started running again already in October, 29, 1944!

In 1947-49 year the new stone station building for station Pioneer and six brick buildings for semaphore signal posts were erected. It is interesting that all six posts were not numbered, but carried names of pioneers-heroes - Oleg Koshevoy, Zoya Kosmodem'yanskaya, Kostya Kravchuk, Lisa Chaikina, Shura Chekalin and Pavlik Morozov.

In the first post-war years the line had two steam locomotives - pre-war YuP-3-01 and a steam locomotive from a series of 159 constructed by the Podolsk factory. The data is inconsistent, its number could have been either 495 or 95. And that, and other details, is somewhat doubtful. On the ChRW the steam locomotive carried the number YuP-4-95.

Unfortunately, we have no authentic data on the destiny of steam locomotive YuP-3-01. Only from reports dating from the years 1953-54 it is known about the existence of two steam locomotives on Dnepropetrovsk ChRW. The second steam locomotive, YuP-4-95, was used until 1991. In 1995 it was sold to the Ukrainian travel company "Dzherelo" which organises journeys in historic vehicles.

The coach stock consists of several two-axle coaches of pre-war construction. In 1954 the line received 5 partly soft-class 36-seat coaches constructed by the Dnepropetrovsk coach-repair factory. They were in use up to the end of the 1970s.

Coach constructed by DVRZ. 1957

The presence of electric lighting and central heating of coaches by steam from a locomotive allowed the children's railway to maintain operation all year round. Indeed, in the middle of the 1950s the Dnepropetrovsk ChRW was unique in not closing down during the winter.

After reception in 1958 of the first (TU2-172), and in 1972 of the second (TU2-134) type TU2 diesel locomotive and several Pafawag coaches, the steam locomotive and old cars were used mainly in winter, and they stood in the two-track depot in the summer. As the old coaches had different types of coupling devices from the new ones, the diesel locomotives were equipped with both types - chains beside a central buffer (for new cars) and a central screw coupler with two side buffers (for the old ones). Both types of coupling can be seen in the photo below.

foto by V.Putnik

Up to the end of the 1950s, safe movement of trains on the line was ensured by using the electric token ring system (EZhS). To enable fast trains to pass the platform at the Depot station "Chkalova" without stopping there, a mechanical staff catcher designed by engineer Nosonenko on was mounted on a steam locomotive. Color-light signals at stations were operated manually, by means of toggle - switches which were not connected to other signaling devices in any way.

In 1957 relay semi-automatic block system (PAB) was mounted on the line, and till 1960 both systems were used alternately: on one trip - EZhS, on the next - the PAB. Since 1960, the Dnepropetrovsk ChRW no longer uses the electrically-released baton systems, and prior to the beginning of the 1970s EZhS equipment was used only as a visual aid.

At the end of the 1980s or the beginning of the 1990s reconstruction of the depot began. According to the project the old building depot would be demolished, and a new one constructed in its place. Unfortunately, because of the fragmentation of the USSR and the crisis that followed, funding for the work stopped practically right after completion of the first stage of reconstruction - demolition of the old building. Since then all rolling stock has been kept in the open air.

In 2001 the Dnepropetrovsk architects produced a project for the new depot. More precisely, for the whole training-health improving complex to take the place of the former depot (see photogallery 3). A complex including the existing depot with workshops, the big educational building, a summer cafe and accommodation for the training-improving organizations. The Children's Railway line should pass through a tunnel under the central part of the building. Now the project is at the stage of selection of the contractors.

Besides, the ChRW management plans to have the old coaches renovated, after which the four-axle coaches will be used for transporting passengers to their destination, and the two-axle coaches will only be museum-pieces. This decision is connected with the fact that, compared with the four-axle coaches with bogies, two-axle coaches fit badly in curves of small radius and consequently become derailed very frequently.


The following material was used in the preparation of this account:
  • Materials from Dnepropetrovsk ChRW archive
  • Report on the activity of the Stalin Small Rly, 1953-54
  • Report: "The operational Experience all year round, Stalin Small Rly, 1955"
  • "The Stalin Small Rly, 1936-1951" - picture album
  • "Pridnyeprovskaya Small Rly, 1936-1971"- picture album
  • materials of the Central museum of a railway transportation (St.Perersburg)
  • materials from A.K.Filippov and P.A.Strelkov's private archive
  • materials from S.V.Dorozhkov's private archive
  • materials from N.A.Ermolaev's private archive
  • materials from RGAKFD archive
  • Magazine "Locotrans", № 2, 1999
  • Magazine "Tehnika Molodezhi", № 11, 1978
  • Newspaper "Gudok", August 2, 2000
  • Yandex of quotation
    Rambler's Top100 Service

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