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

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Zaporizhzhya (Zaporozhie)

Solemn opening of the second part of ChRW. foto from D.Sutyagin's archive. 1975
Small Pridneprovskaya railway, named in honour of the Hero of Soviet Union, cosmonaut P.Popovich
May 19, 1972
Length of the main line: 8.6 kms
Full operational length: 9.4 kms
1 station and 7 passenger halts
Engineering works: a tunnel 80 m in length
Rolling stock: diesel locomotives TU7A-3108, TU2-136, TU2-144, PV51 type coaches, 2 freight platform;
formerly the line had steam locomotive Kp-4-456, diesel locomotive TU2-077, 10 Pafawag coaches
Address: UKRAINE 69118, Lunacharskogo street, 1
Phone: +38 (0612) 64-27-02 (chief), 64-29-34 (attendant)
General Manager: KOZAK, Raisa Alekseevna

The idea of creating the Zaporozhye ChRly originated in July, 1971 in the komsomol of the Zaporozhye Electric locomotive repair factory. At the end of October of the same year the city komsomol youth team for construction of the line was created and work on it began.

In the presence of a big crowd, the solemn opening ceremony of the Zaporozhye children's railway was held on May 19, 1972. At that time it consisted of about 3.45 kms of line, 2 stations and one train. One of the original stations - Zhovtnevaja (which commemorates the October Revolution) - still exists, the second station was located where the halt whose name commemorates the 30 Let Pobedy (30th anniversary of Victory) now stands. Both terminal stations were dead-ended with two tracks. After hauling a train into the terminal station, its locomotive was uncoupled and ran round it via the second track. Then it reversed so it could be attached at the other end of the train, ready for departure on the return journey.

There was a two-track section (where the station 'Yunye Chapaevtsi' now stands) which had two platforms and was used to enable trains to pass in those days when two trains were running at the same time.

Sporitvnaya station. foto by D.Sutyagin. middle of 1980s

The ChRW was not very conveniently located - it is in an industrial zone close to the railway station Zaporozhye-1, and near to the Zaporozhye car factory (ZAZ) and the Zaporozhye radio valve factory. But even that did not prevent it from quickly becoming a popular place of recreation.

At the beginning of the 1975 season the line was reconstructed. The track layout was extended in the form of a ring 8.6 kilometres long. The station Zhovtnevaja remained a dead-end, and the second track and the second platform at the Sportivnaya station were removed. Construction of 5 more intermediate halts began (work on all the new halts was completed only by May, 1976). Now trains depart from station Zhovtnevaja and after proceeding along the ring around the rowing lake, come back to it 35 minutes later.

Later, at the end of the 1980s new names were given to most of the halts on the Zaporozhye ChRW; standard but featureless names such as Komsomolskaya and Pionerskaya weres replaced by original ones honouring the pioneers - heroes who protected the nearby Hortitsa island during the World War II. However, the names of the stations Zhovtnevaja, 30 Let Pobedy and Obelisk halt have not been changed.

Along the banks of the lake are very good beaches and all summer the trains of the Children's Railway are arranged to carry the townspeople to them. In days when rowing competitions were held, a train ran between the two freight sidings to deliver the rowing equipment of sportsmen to the lakeside.

At the time when the line was first opened, it had one type TU2 diesel locomotive, 5 Pafawag carriages and the steam locomotive Kp-4-456, presented by the Zaporozhye electric locomotive repair factory. In 1974 the rolling stock collection was expanded to include one more type TU2 diesel locomotive, five carriages and two freight sidings. Operation with the steam locomotive continued until 1975. Then the locomotive stood in a semi-vandalised condition for some years in a siding near the depot. Finally, in 1979 the restored Kp-4-456 was installed on a pedestal in from of one entrance to the station Zhovtnevaja.

Two train-sets were assembled, each consisting of 5 Polish Pafawag carriages. One of them (red) was called the Pioneer, and the second (dark blue) the Orlenok (Eaglet). They were hauled by the diesel locomotives TU2-077 (red), TU2-136 (blue and claret), or TU2-144 (sky-blue). On holidays both trains ran simultaneously. They passed on parallel tracks near the Pionerskaya halt, which always caused special delight, both among the passengers, and among the young railwaymen.

Steam engine Kp4 as a monument. foto by D.Sutyagin. middle of 1980s

In the years 1983-84, USSR-built PV51 carriages replaced those made by Pafawag, which had become worn-out. Shortly afterwards the ChRW's depot received the bright orange diesel locomotive TU7A-3108 which still hauls trains today.

At the end of the 1980s when construction of the Yuzhny city district began, the local authority's plans to close the ChRW started to ripen, but enthusiasts managed to defend the object of their affection. In the middle of the 1990s an embankment on which the highway to the Yuzhny city district passed was cut off at the site of one of two level crossings. The tunnel through which the ChRW trains pass was constructed under the route of a motorway.

At the halts known as Sportivnaya and 30 Let Pobedy there are capital constructions which to my memory were never used and always stood with metal sheets instead of windows. At other platforms ferro-concrete canopies of a bizarre form were erected. Since the time when the ChRW was opened, a building at the station Zhovtnevaja houses a waiting room, office accommodations and class-rooms.

In the years 1981-82, a well-equipped educational building in which young railwaymen are trained to specialities was constructed near the station; during their leisure they can enjoy a drink or be engaged in railway modelling, or play in an orchestra, a vocal-instrumental ensemble.

Visitors to the station Zhovtnevaja should not miss the ajacent nature corner which would be more correctly called a small zoo. It is the only zoo in Zaporozhye; it even has a bear, a tiger and some exotic birds, eg an ostrich, emu and a flamingo.

In 1982 the line was awarded with the Lenin komsomol prize for excellent work. Much of the credit for this achievement is due to R.A.Kozak, who has been the chief of the line from the time it opened until today.

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