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Oravita – Anina railway

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A few words and some pictures about one of the most spectacular railway of Romania.


Oravita and Anina are two small towns, located in Caras-Severin county, in western Romania, close to the Serbian border.

In fact, Oravita is only 20 km away from Serbia.


Caras-Severin and Timis counties compose the historical region of Romania called Banat.

The easten part of Caras-Severin county is also known as “Mountain Banat”.


There is also a Banat region in Serbia, just opposite the Romanian region.

Before the First World War the whole Banat region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

After the war, in 1919, the region was divided between Romania (the Kingdom of Romania), Serbia (the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later Kingdom of Yugoslavia) and Hungary.

Romania received 18.900 square kilometers (apox. 2/3 of the region) and Serbia received 9.200 square kilometers.

Hungary received less than 1% of the region (around 280 square kilometers), located south of the Szeged (Seghedin) city.


Oravita and Anina are linked by a mountain railway, built by the Austrians between 1856 – 1863.


The reason of building a railway between Oravita and Anina was to transport the coal and latter the wood, from the Anina area to the Danube river.

From Oravita, there was another railway, which runs towards Iam, Bela Crvka (now in Serbia) and Bazias (now in Romania), on the Danube shore.

The Oravita – Bazias railway opened in 1854 is the oldest railway on the today Romanian territory.

Now is still in use only Oravita – Iam railway, and unfortunately the Bazias station don’t exist anymore.


The Oravita – Anina railway was open on 15.12.1863 for the freight trains and on 04.04.1869 for passenger trains.

The length of the railway is 33,4 km and the covered level difference in 339 m.

On the 33,4 km there are 143 bends (total length of the bends is 22.000 meters), meaning that aprox. 66% of the railway is bended.

Besides the 143 bends, there are bigger or smaller viaducts, longer or shorter tunnels, embankment dug straight into the rock or places on the edge of the cliffs.


An interesting fact: Alfred Nobel has patented the dynamite in 1867, 4 years after the opening of the railway.

So, all rock removal works were done with gun powder and pick-axe.


And one tragic event: Austrian architect Johann Ludwig Dollhoff-Dier killed himself in 1862, due to a 3 meters miscalculation on the vertical alignment of the longest tunnel of the railway.


Oravita – Anina railway is quite similar with the Semmering railway form Austria, between Gloggnitz (Lower Austria Land) and Murzzuschlag (Styria Land), over the Semmering Pass.

The Austrian railway is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List:


Due to the similarities with the Austrian railway, Oravita – Anina is named ‘'The Semmering of Banat”.


Regarding the railway itself, everything is particular.

Particular railway engines, particular railway wagons, particular engine drivers and even particular traffic rules, which are different from the rest of the Romanian railways.


If a engine driver has a break more than 6 months on this railway, on his return he will be monitored by a rail instructor at least two round trips.


Maximum train speed on this railway is 30 km/h, and this only on some sectors.


Oravita station, the oldest one from today Romania territory.




It was open in 1856 for the Oravita – Bazias railway.

Today, has more than 150 years of continuous rail service.


The street and the platform are not on the same level.

For this reason, there was an elevator inside the station.

Unfortunately, the whole station building now is closed and I don’t know if the elevator still exists.


The railway engine.




The two railway wagons of the train, built in 1930 and refurbished a few times.




Only wooden benches inside.




Nothing hi-tech in flushing the toilet.




And no liquid soap.





The train direction, with Oravita the main station.




Although the railway wagons are made in 1930, there is plenty of space for two bicycles.




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All the following pictures are made through the rear door of the second railway wagon.

Unfortunately, this was the only place available for taking pictures.


Leaving Oravita station.




Bent viaduct.




Straight viaduct.




Out of first tunnel.




Metallic viaduct.




Double line, near Lisava station.




The line was doubled in the ’70, in order to increase the daily train number.


Lisava station.




Some buildings, probably left over from the Hapsburg era.




Inside a tunnel.



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The train stops in Ciudanovita.




Regarding this place, there are many stories about the uranium mines.

The first mines were open after 1950, under the direct surveillance of the Soviet Union, which was also the destination country for the uranium.

Now, the uranium mines are closed and Ciudanovita is almost a ghost town, where, the few inhabitants left, still have problems with the radio-active environment.


Bend, straight into the rock.




Embankment on the edge of the cliff.




Another tunnel.




If I’m not wrong, this is the Jitin viaduct.








With its 37 meters high and 5 spans, it is the highest and longest viaduct of the railway.

The central part of the viaduct is made of metal. It was casted on site and then lifted with a pulleys.


Entering another tunnel.




The interior walls of the tunnel are made of shaped stones, maybe the work of the stonemasons brought by the Austrians from Friulia Region (now in Eastern Italy).




Out of the tunnel.




Tunnel without shaped stone interior walls.




More cuts, straight into the rock.






An open area.



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Garliste station.

With an old water pump, which was used to fill the boilers of the steam locomotives.




Another tunnel.




Open space again.




Short tunnel.




One side rock wall.




Out of the Garslite tunnel (the longest tunnel of the railway).




Viaduct near the tunnel.




Industrial ruins, near the entrance in Anina station (end of the line).






The train ride between Oravita and Anina will take about two hours (for 33 km).

Compared to the nowadays trains it is a long ride, but, given the scenery for sure it isn’t a boring one.


For some events (or on special request) there can be used a steam locomotive from Oravita depot. (not my picture)




Romanian train schedule with an English version.


Few more information about Oravita and Anina:


And the tourism portal of Caras-Severin county:


If there are any questions, please fell free to ask.

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