Industrial Narrow Gauge Railways
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Brown Coal Industry
Czech Republic
Gauge : 900mm 
Status : Ceased in March 2003

A network of 900mm tracks which served the brown coal industry around the area of Sokalov.

(Click on images for full size picture)
In the far west of the Czech Republic, around the large town of Sokalov, large scale brown coal mining operations still continue. Pits are still served by standard gauge and also 900mm gauge railways. The above photograph shows just a small section of Medard Pit, which was the last pit in this area to be worked by narrow gauge.  
The narrow gauge brown coal systems here are similar to those which operated in the former East Germany. The locos are all built to an identical 64 tonne design by ZVIL, between 1956 and 1965. Until just a couple of years ago there was over 250km of 900mm track, and up to 40 locos in use. When these pictures were taken in 1998 with the narrow gauge operations considerably reduced, large numbers of locomotives were out of use.  
The locos have current collectors offset to one side, as well as on the top, and this is to allow the top loading of the wagons down in the pit. To facilitate this the overhead wires are moved over to one side. The photograph here shows No.309, waiting to back down to the excavator. The train consists of side tipping wagons, specifically used for shifting overburdon.  
Down in the pit, the brown coal is excavated by huge machines. This photograph shows the largest of these, weighing 1,000 tonnes. There are just two of these in existance. The other example is in the now disused Marie Pit, and and will probably be broken up on site.
A huge arm with a large cutting wheel sweeps around in a large arc against the coal face. The coal or overburdon is then conveyed across the other side of the machine onto an elevator arm and down into the waiting wagons.  
There are two main workshops for the 900mm gauge. One is for the overhead electric locos, and has apparently been outsourced to an independant firm. The other workshops look after the diesel locos, and a small 4 wheel Kladno diesel No.1, is used as the works shunter.
There are approx 35 of these 200hp 4 wheel diesels. They are used on non electrified track and on maintenance tasks.
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Steve Thomason 2004
Upgraded site relaunched 1st January 2004

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Industrial Narrow Gauge Railways