A non-profit organisation “Siaurojo Geležinkelio Klubas” (SGK), formed by a group of Lithuanian railway enthusiasts, has bought a narrow gauge line in Lietuva (Lithuania). The line is over 100 km in length, of 750mm gauge, and runs from the city of Panevėžys north to the historic town of Biržai via Joniškelis. The line comprises several lines opened at various dates (1916, 1922, 1938) some of which had been 600mm before 1938.
The SGK lines originally formed the northern part of an extensive 750mm gauge network based on Panevėžys. The existing tourist railway from Panevėžys to Rubikiai known as ASG or Siaurukas was also part of this system though was opened some years earlier in 1901 extending through Utena and Švenčioneliai, terminating at Berezvech (now called Glubokoye or Hlybokaye) in Belarus.
The SGK line was offered for sale by Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) in November 2014, and was sold recently for the nominal sum of 60 Euros. The sale comprised only the track and infrastructure although SGK already owns some rolling stock. No doubt large amounts of money will be required to restore the branch which was closed on 1 July 1996. The track is heavily overgrown and includes trees growing between the rails, with no doubt many rotten sleepers. The new owner of the line aims to run tourist trains and create a technical museum, and is said to be looking for foreign partners.
Railbaltic.eu hopes to publish further details in future issues, and in the meantime we wish those in charge all the best for this ambitious project.
Information from NERHT (New Europe Railway Heritage Trust), an organization based in London which was set up after the collapse of the Soviet Union to advise tourist railways in the newly independent countries.