The European Railway Picture Gallery

Picture of the Month - June 2003


Digital photo by Marco van Uden (m.van.uden@worldonline.nl)
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OSE Diakopto-Kalavrita line (Greece)

The Greek railway network consists of standard gauge lines, a large network of meter gauge lines (mainly on the Peloponnesos peninsula) and two lines of even narrower gauge. The best known of these is the 750mm gauge line between Diakopto and Kalavrita on the Peloponnesos.
This line runs from Diakopto (between Korinthos and Patras) at sea level to Kalavrita in the mountains through a beautiful gorge. There are several rack sections, with inclines reaching 12% (1 in 8). Several steam locomotives were built especially for this line of which one is still operational, one is plinthed in Diakopto and several more are dumped near the station of Diakopto. In 1958 three rather uncommon diesel trainsets were delivered. These consist of a central car with diesel engine and generator, enclosed by two passenger cars. One of these is a motor car (with side rods for driving the wheels!), the other one is a driving trailer. In 1976 three very similar trainsets were delivered. These 6 still operate all trains on the line.
The depot is located very close to the station at Diakopto. Diakopto only has one station, with meter gauge tracks and one 750mm track for the Diakopto-Kalavrita line. On the line are a few stations where trains can cross, but the present timetable (up to May 2003) can be handled by just one trainset. However, I've seen sets 3001, 3004 and 3006 in service. At Kalavrita is a small shed but this seemed to be empty when I visited the line.
As there are only 4 return trips a day (and the trains are very popular with tourists), reservations for these local trains are compulsory and trains are often sold out. As the trainsets visit the depot in between runs and the condition of the track is not very good, (large) delays are quite common. The meter gauge trains on the Peloponnesos network do not wait for connections, so it is very well possible that you have to wait for up to a few hours at Diakopto.
But all of this is not very important, as the run is extremely beautiful. The landscape is breathtaking and overwhelming. And of course these strange trains are very interesting too! There is only one problem: Since 18 May 2003 the line is closed for one year for upgrading. Hopefully this will be finished before the Olympic Games next year in Greece. There are also plans to replace the existing trainsets with new ones, but I have heard of no orders yet.

In the picture you can see trainset 3004 leaving the station of Kalavrita towards Diakopto on 11 May 2003. The last train of the day leaves at 17:00. As this train was fully booked we had to spend the night in Kalavrita. This is no problem in spring or autumn, as many people come here for hiking in summer and skiing in winter.

Text by Marco van Uden


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