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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.

Leningrad 1965-1990

Length: 3.1 kms
3 stations: Pionerskaya (fromerly Zoopark), Ozernaya, Yuniy
Signaling: On the open line: semi-automatic relay block; at stations: points and signals controlled by keys
Rolling stock: 3 diesel locomotives (5 in the 1980s), 10 carriages (details see below)

In 1965, the October Small Railway (MOZD) was cut back, by closing the section between Kirovskaya and Zoopark. And a serious accident occured at the end of the 1964 season. After the line was closed, six young railwaymen together with the instructor were riding back to Kirovskaya in a light motor trolley. But the barriers at the level-crossings were no longer in operation. Just near Zoopark, where the line crosses the 2nd Nikitinskaya street, the light motor trolley was crushed under the wheels of a truck. The four young railwaymen and the instructor were killed. As the investigation showed, the driver of the "Tatra" truck obeyed all the rules while traversing the unguarded crossing, and could not have seen the light motor trolley approaching… In the opinion of the first generation of MOZD pupils, the main reason for this tragic loss of quality of preparation of the young railwaymen was that the management of the line had changed.

At first the idea was to close down the line competely, but then it was decided merely to shorten it, as it was planned to begin building the "Commandant" air station on some of the territory. As a result, the MOZD has been only 3.1 km long since 1965. It then had three stations: Pionerskaya (formerly known as the Zoopark - but it was renamed in 1969, probably it became a shame that the zoo had never been constructed there), Yuniy and Ozernaya. The kilometrage was marked from the base station - Ozernaya - where both winter storage and overnight maintenance of the rolling stock took place. The stations were equipped with points and signals controlled by key, with locking on the Melent'eva system. (The locking probably existed until 1965.)

track plan, 1965
track plan caption: If you want to see how the track layout at a station evolved, put the cursor on its name and click Ozernaya station Yuniy passing-track Pionerskaya station

Pionerskaya and Yuniy each had two low passenger platforms, while Ozernaya had only one. The station buildings were typical suburban pavilions constructed in glass and concrete, similar to those of many station buildings on the lines around St.Petersburg. At Pionerskaya and Yuniy, these buildings housed the signals control-room - working premises of the station attendant (control-panel, relay signaling equipment, the train routing equipment, dispatching telecommunication and locomotive radio communication etc.). And also a waiting-room for passengers in which for some reason there was always a tennis table occupying almost all the space.

At Ozernaya the station building was somewhat bigger, as it included accommodation for planning work (in the space occupied by the waiting-room at other stations ) and offices for the chief of the line and for the chiefs of shifts were attached to the same typical building. At this station the signals control-room was combined with No. 2 signal-box. There were two signal-boxes at each station. In the No. 1 signal-box at Ozernaya there was also a local traffic controller whose duties included reception of bell signals from the station staff and preparing the train diagrams. At Ozernaya there was a fuelling station for diesel locomotives (on the reversing triangle for the steam locomotives, which had been dismantled at the beginning of the 1990s) and a gantry for loading locomotives and cars onto broad-gauge waggons (this was dismantled in 1996). This loading-bay with a short section of narrow-gauge track on top stood under the gantry which, from the inscription on a board "..Z.D"., belonged to the line.

The length of the routes was: about 1 km between Pionerskaya and Yuniy, and about 1,5 km between Youth and Lake. The routes were protected by a semi-automatic block system. Colour-light signals were installed at stations and between them. Three level crossings on the line were equipped with barriers and posts for keepers. Two were located close to Yuniy station (on both sides). At one of them - where the line crossed Novosel'kovskaya street obliquely - the road traffic was quite intense, and when faced with the closed barrier some "irresponsible" drivers would start to swear; however, nobody tried to go round the barrier. The second level-crossing - "right-angle" - traversed Main street which, contrary to its name, consisted of a narrow, seldom used path. The third level-crossing did not last very long; it was where the line crossed the even more indistinct Poklonnogorskaya street, half-way between Pionerskaya and Yuniy, and it was soon removed.

Two trains each consisting of five cars - known as "Pioneer" and "Skazka" ("Fairy tale") - ran simultaneously. The train left Ozernaya along an avenue among wooden small houses known as Ozerkovsky prospekt (in pre-revolutionary St.Petersburg's suburbs it was customary to give such impressive names to undistinguished roads). Then left into a grove in which the main sight was two "pagan idols" that someone had cut out of wood and painted. Turning left again, we come out of the grove in a rather long straight line, and after passing over the "oblique" level-crossing at once we are stopped at Yuniy, near to a huge field of sunflowers. Three minutes later the train in the opposite direction approaches and the two train crews do their best to communicate as they pass. Now the other train has left Ozernaya and we can continue our journey. We go over the "right-angle" level-crossing, between wooden single-storey houses, among which was a remarkable house which is no longer present - an old folks's home. The old people liked standing on its balconies to wave their hands at the passengers. After one left turning movement and one long rightone (almost an arc), we arrive at Pionerskaya. There the train waits about 25 minutes while the locomotive "runs around" it.

Some of the passengers watch the operations of uncoupling and coupling-up again, others take the chance to visit the shop and some leave the station altogther - local residents frequently used the MOZD as a local transport service. After a toot on the whistle, off we go back again…

In total 8 pairs of trains were scheduled daily. The train numbers ran from 6301/6302 up to 6315/6316 (on the numbering adopted on the suburban railway ). The first train was due to leave from Ozernaya at 10:40; the last left at 15:31 and came back at 16:20. And the allocations varied - one day "Pioneer" was the first to leave, the next day it was "Skazka".

The first four pairs of duties were each worked by a pair of crews, the last four had another two crews. Only 4 crews worked on any day. Target - Sunday, Monday. On Tuesday, which was the day of preventive maintenance, the first two pairs of trains were cancelled and for work there were all 4 crews. The season began somewhere in the last days of May (as the schools were still in session), and it closed on 29-31 August. During the winter, all studies were only of operating theory.

The trainees had a 4-year course on the MOZD. The instructor came to schools for the first 2 years of training, and in winter the young railwaymen went to the MOZD management at Ligovsky prosopekt, 42/44 (the well-known "Pertsov house" - Petersburgers will understand! Long after Kirovskaya was closed, the management remained in the wooden house in the Staraya Derevnya (Old Village), near to the former station, and all studies were carried out at schools. Only right at the end of the 1960s did the management move out of this more or less spacious apartment). After the trainee drivers had completed their training and passed a promotion examination, they received the Certificate entitling them to drive a diesel locomotive, exactly the same as for an adult. In each speciality, the best people came to light as a result of annual competitions. The winners in these competitions were awarded prizes - for example, trips on other children's railways.

In those years the Small October railway had the following rolling stock:

  • Diesel locomotives TU3-001 and TU3-002, supplied from Panevezhis depot where they were maintained since 1957. TU3-001 worked on the MOZD till 1989, then was removed from operation and since 1996 has been stored in reserve at Zelenogorsk. TU3-002, which long stood in locomotive depot TCh-12 (Leningrad - Finnish station) until 1985, was bought as scrap metal for 30'000 roubles and since 1992 has been at a museum railway in Estonia
  • Diesel locomotive TU2-167 (in reserve, in case of failure of a TU3)
  • Diesel locomotives TU2-060 and TU2-191 (they appeared in 1981-83)
  • 10 Pafawag coaches grouped in 2 trainset of 5 cars - "Pioneer" (blue) and "Skazka" (green). All were removed from operation in 1987. There was one Pafawag coach (similar to that from "Skazka") - which now stands without bogies at Ozernaya, and is used as a warehouse. Other cars have been disposed of - one was transferred to "Lenfilm"; two were planned to be used as a coach - hotel (!) at Leningrad Vitebsky station.
  • 11 PV51 coaches were received directly from the Demichovsky factory in 1988, one of these cars was later removed from operation

At the end of the 1980s the MOZD planned to operate steam traction again. The question of constructing a reversing triangle at Pioneer was considered, and steam locomotive Gr-319 was delivered to Vapnjarka depot on locomotive depot TCh-12 (Leningrad - Finnish station). But, before it had reached the children's railway only 9 kilometers away, the steam locomotive was bought up by an Estonian museum railway. It now stands together with TU3-002 in Lavassaare.

The very first diesel locomotive put in to service in the USSR, TU3-001 at Ozernaya station on the October Small Railway. It is seen before being sent to the reserve stock base in Zelenogorsk
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