My trip was inspired after reading about the railways of the Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania in Today‘s Railways Europe a UK magazine you maybe familiar with. My friend and travel companion Andy and I were interested in seeing and travelling behind the huge Russian/Lithuanian locomotives and therefore planned a trip from Poland to Lithuania via the Kaliningrad
Oblast hopefully travelling behind a mixture of M62, TEP60, TEP70 and TEP70BS locomotives.Our planned itinerary took us from Tczew in Poland behind PKP loco SU46.004 to the border station of Mamonovo where RZD standard guage loco M62-1475 continued to Kaliningrad with our 2 coach train. The following morning we left Kaliningrad for Vilnius this time our train was powered by one of the huge TEP70-0517 locomotives which worked as far as Nesterov where it was replaced by an LG locomotive Tep60.923 a very noisy/impressive engine which continued to Vilnius before itself being replaced by BCh TEP70BS-008 for the journey onwards to Minsk.After our overnight stay in Vilnius we travelled out to Kaisiadorys behind TEP70BS-003 hoping that perhaps the train back to Vilnius might be powered by one of the new ER20 locomotives as we had read reports of these freight engines working the occasional passenger train but it wasn’t to be as the train arrived behind TEP70BS-004 which we took back to Vilnius.Due to permanent way (track) work which involved single line working our arrial back at Vilnius was some 25 minutes late where we encountered our first real problem of the trip.We were intending to catch the train back to Kaunus 1 for a bus to the airport for our flight home but alas the train was cancelled fortunately we were able to catch a bus getting to the airport with an hour to spare.There were no real negatives on our trip apart from the cancelled train, a couple of options we feel would maybe improve travel in the Baltic States would be a daytime travel option to ride in open style coaches for better all round vision as compared to the restricted view within compartments and secondly an interrail style rover ticket avoiding the need to purchase individual tickets for every trip.
Overall the trip was a complete success we managed to travel behind 4 different types of locomotive we were able to take photographs without any problems the trains and stations were spotlessy clean and despite what some travel guides would have you believe everyone we met was friendly and helpful including staff and customs officers, the hotels and food were excellent. We would recommend a visit to Lithuania and the Kaliningrad Oblast (Russia) to anyone out there who maybe considering such a trip in the future.
Doug Weston (United Kingdom)