October 10, 2015
The train whistle was heard once more on the Hârtibaciu valley during the weekend of 26-27 September. An old steam locomotive and a passenger carriage disturbed the tranquility of the valley between Cornățel and Hosman, for the first time in 14 years, surprising both locals and tourists as well as wildlife and livestock.
Bearing the name of "Days of Mocănița", the event was orchestrated by the volunteers of Friends of the Mocănița Association, with the approval of the railway tennant and precious help from their British friends of SARUK. The train ran at intervals of one hour, sometimes often to cope with the afflux of passengers, on a 3.2km section of track starting at Cornățel station towards Hosman, for which the volunteers have been working hard over the last six months to upgrade. Hundreds of sleepers have been replaced, the railway was deforested and sprayed with herbicide, fishplate bolts were tightened or replaced at tens of joints, a bridge has been refurbished, while in Cornățel the turnouts were repaired, the inspection pit was rebuilt and the station building front was restored - all by volunteer labor. Volunteers from Germany and UK formed a veritable team with the Romanians, a true family of the Mocănița. While the young displayed energy and enthusiasm, the elder brought knowledge and calm, a perfect recipe for getting the job done right!
The steam locomotive, built in 1911 at Budapest, and the carriage, also of Hungarian origins, were offered by Calea Ferată Îngustă SRL, to the delight of passengers and photographers. It rained almost continuously during the two days, but that didn't stop hundreds of tourists, Romanians and foreigners altogether, from assaulting the station at Cornățel, the locals saying that never before has the station been so crowded.
The volunteers also organized a reception to which they invited local and county officials, from the Ministry of Transport, the UK Ambassador, as well as European guests. The association has constantly been supported over time by FEDECRAIL - the European Federation of Museum and Tourist Railways, which now held its council meeting in Sibiu to coincide with our steam event, thus strengthening its support for the Sibiu-Agnita railway restoration project. Speeches were given by Mihai Blotor - president of Friends of the Mocănița Association as organizer, Valentin Aldea - mayor of Roșia commune as host, Paul Brummell - UK ambassador and David Morgan - chairman of FEDECRAIL, all of which advocated towards greater political support for the project, resolve the legal issues of the railway and, finally, reopen the railway for the economic benefit of the entire area. The speeches were followed by open discussions between attendees and a train ride, during which all, including skeptics, were convinced that the railway can be reopened, even by volunteer labor only. Upon return, they were invited to see a photo exhibition which the volunteers put together inside the water tower, depicting preparation works for the Days of Mocănița.
The event was a great success, despite adverse weather the participation was way over estimates, which gives us faith and energy to repeat the event next year. This would not have been possible without the boundless involvement of Romanian and British volunteers, each conscientiously assuming their roles, from train master, ticket or souvenir salesman, photo exhibition guide, to locomotive fueling responsible or track inspector. Credit also goes to volunteers who rectified the final track issues the night before the event or on Sunday morning, after the first day of operation. Financial support came from the Sibiu County Council, Keep Giving Foundation, Schenker Romtrans, Sibiu Community Foundation, Pentalog and Knud Ve Erin, as well as numerous generous individuals who craved to see the little train running again on the Hârtibaciu valley. We thank you all!
August 12, 2015
Works on the line are continuing on the Sibiu-Agnita narrow gauge railway. The volunteers have today finished replacing sleepers on the worst section of track - the 500 meters outside Cornățel station towards Hosman, which includes the longest bridge on this section. From now on progress will be faster for the next 1.5km, up to the next bridge.
The line is being repaired to allow operation of a steam train over the weekend 26-27 September to mark the Days of Mocănița and 105 years since its opening, while the distance of travel depends solely on how much will the volunteers manage to repair. If you wish to help you can always join them each Monday and Wednesday afternoon at 18:30 or on Saturdays when they are working at Agnita to restore a passenger carriage for the event. Furthermore, they will hold a working camp daily during the week before the event to furbish up the final details.
June 7, 2015
Between 31 May and 5 June the station at Cornățel was livelier than usual, the reason being a work camp organizaed by the local volunteers and our British friends from SARUK, in cooperation with Track Systems UK.
Over 6 days Romanian, British and German volunteers were mowing and spraying herbicide on the station sidings, repairing turnouts, replacing worn sleepers under turnouts and running line towards Hosman, scraping peeling old paint off a metal bridge and repainting it, clearing shrubs off a length of track, recovering and transporting two lengths of rail and inspecting all bridges between Cornățel and Hosman.
If for the British volunteers this was just another week of railway work, albeit in a much torrid climate than they were accustomed with, for us Romanians it was a real training internship. The Brits showed us where and how to replace sleepers, how to tamp ballast under sleepers and how to level the track and taught us tips to keep us safe and make work easier. They also donated protection gear and tools, amongst which two brand new jacks.
While boys were playing with sleepers, the girls got their hands dirty of rust and paint scraping and then painting the metal bridge just outside the station. Three young German girls formed the core of the bridge team during the whole week, their devotion and diligence having been appreciated by all participants, by the end of the week they even formed a musical band together with our girls, named "The Bridge Girls" :)
We couldn't do much about the scorching sun and warmth, but we tried hard to offer our guests a most pleasant experience. We thereby thank our lady volunteers and the Tompa and Câmpean families for the peasant-style lunches on the line, Bebe from the Syndicat Gourmet restaurant in Sibiu for the pot stew, polenta and salads served in the coolness of the water tower, Gabriel and Andreea Sârbu from Hosman for the delicious stew served in their garden and Cioran family of the Bio Haus B&B in Nucet for logistic support and the magical potions which refreshed us every day.
Saying goodbye was hard, but not before digging out the level crossing on the Vurpăr branch and passing over with our draisine for the first time in 16 years, as well as a draisine ride towards Hosman and back. It's been incredibly tiring but equally beautiful, we lerned a lot and formed new friendships, while the majority of our guests promissed to return in September to lend a hand just before our event and see the outcome of their work - a steam train running on the line. Until then the task of track repairs and carriage refurbishment falls onto our shoulders.
May 30, 2015
60 runners, volunteers on our railway and others, have ran today the 21km semi-marathon, 4km cross, 2x10km relay and children's races at the fourth edition of the Semi-marathon and Cross Sibiu for our project titled "Steam train on the Hârtibaciu valley".
Weeks of training culminated in today's run through the city's historic center for the cross, further up to the Village Museum for the semi-marathon and the Main Square for the children.
We thus participated for the third time to the biggest event in Sibiu aimed at drawing funds for projects and causes from within the local community, coordinated by the Sibiu Community Foundation, this time alongside other 21 projects. We ran so that we can celebrate the Days of Mocănița in September, which requires the repair of 7km of railway and a passenger carriage, renting a steam locomotive and organizing the event.
Mocănița's runners were encouraged by 72 supporters and thanks to them we raised 118% of the proposed amount, meaning a total of 8257 lei promissed. A big Thank You to all runners, supporters and organizers - thanks to you the little train will return to the Hârtibaciu valley!
May 25, 2015
The volunteers are presently working on a project to repair 7km of track between Cornățel station and Hosman halt, in order to operate a steam train for the Days of Mocănița in September. One of their task is to to replace worn sleepers, in this respect having ordered 300 new narrow gauge sleepers and 23 special sleepers for bridges and turnouts, which have been delivered today.
Made out of beech wood and impregnated in creozot, the sleepers were manufactured by SC Pamirco SRL in Mănăștiur, Timiș county and transported to Sibiu by Schenker Romtrans. Today, thanks to trasnport and maneuvering logistics sponsored by Unimat construction material company, they've been unloaded at Cornățel, where our volunteers, some first timers, mobilized and stacked them under shelter.
The sleepers will be installed starting the first week of June, when our volunteers are organizing a work camp on the line together with a group of British experts coming over to help and teach. The camp is opened to any one, those who wish to join are asked to contact the "Prietenii Mocăniței" association.
May 7, 2015Not available in English
April 18, 2015
The rain didn't scare them. Mocăniţa's volunteers have mounted today the first railway station billboard that was made last year by the Mioritics association.
The panel has a trilingual (Romanian, English and German) description of Cornăţel railway station and on the other side a description of Mocăniţa and it's historical monuments together with old photos of the station.There's one for each railway station anlong the Hârtibaciu valley.
So whether you come by bus, by bike or by private car to Cornăţel, now you can read Mocăniţa's history and take selfies with the new information panel located between the bus and off-road parking.
We thank our volunteers for their work and we also thank the mayor for his quick approval for placing this panel. And of course, our thanks also goes to the "Mioritics association" for providing us the panels.
March 26, 2015
Between March 16-23 four young volunteers of the "Prietenii Mocăniței" association were in the UK to steal... craft!
They followed an invitation of their friends from SARUK - the UK branch of the aforementioned association - to learn through practice the basics of railway work (exchange sleepers, align tracks and raise the outer rail in curves, tamp ballast etc.) as well as carriage maintainance. For three days they joined the group of local volunteers of the most famous narrow gauge railway in the UK - Ffestiniog Railway in Wales - and worked side by side to renew a section of track.
They also visited the rolling stock maintenance and repair workshops where even today new steam locomotives are built after century-old designs, as well as replicas of long gone passenger carriages. A visit was paid to the local railway museum where three Romanian built narrow gauge diesel locomotives are on display, of a class which dissapeared completely back home. Riding the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland railways was a delight, demonstrating what can be done by volunteeering alone, backed by political support both at local and regional levels. Both railways were abandoned shortly after the Second World War and Welsh Highland railway lost its rails and bridges, but thanks to the efforts of volunteers they are back in operation today, attracting thousands of tourists each year and bringing an important contribution to local budgets.
While it was snowing and cold back home in Sibiu, the four enjoyed sunny weather in Wales and a clear solar eclipse with 90% coverage of the sun. While the stars were aligning the Romanians spoke with Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM and Parliamentary candidate Liz Saville-Roberts, as well as representatives of Welsh narrow gauge railways, demonstrating once more that the civilization, culture and education of Romanians are far from what's being advertised in the British media these days.
The knowledge accumulated during their visit will help the Romanian volunteers as early as next month, when they will start upgrading a section of track onto which they plan to operate a steam train in 26-27 September to celebrate the Days of Mocănița. They are thankful to their hosts for the warm welcoming and an unforgettable experience.
February 27, 2015Not available in English