Bulgarian steam giant in action

A RECENT special train in Bulgaria saw one of Europe’s most unusual steam locos in action – a 2-12-4 tank engine.

Bulgarian State railways (BDZ) bought 20 of the huge 2-12-4Ts in two batches: 12 two-cylinder locos in 1931 from Polish builder H Cegielski (Nos. 4.501- 4.512) and another eight three-cylinder versions during the Second World War, delivered (Nos. 46.13-46.20) by Berliner Maschinenbau (formerly Schwarzkopff); with nine axles and weighing up to 155 tonnes these are the largest standard gauge tank engines ever built.

BDZ 2-12-4T No. 46.03 (Cegielski 203/1931) at Kremikovtsi on April 13 with a charter organised by UK firm PTG. This loco was delivered numbered 4.503 and renumbered to 46.03 in 1936. KEVIN HOGGETT

BDZ used the locos for heavy freight, in particular coal trains between Pernik and Sofia. The entire class was withdrawn in 1975 and two were assigned to the museum collection in 1979, operational No. 46.03, along with No. 46.13 – the first of the German built three-cylinder locos.

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The fact the locos are unique, coupled with growth in
rail-based holidays in Bulgaria, led BDZ to agree to restore 46.03 back to working order, which was completed in 2015.

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