Banat’s Semmering – the first mountain railroad in Romania

The Romanian Semmering (in the South – Western region called Banat) is the smaller brother of the original Semmering railroad in Austria. Our Semmering links the towns of Anina and Oravița and crosses the Anina Mountains. We also have to mention that it is the second mountain railroad built in Europe.

Brief useful information:

Date: 17th of April 2016
Distance: 33 km
Duration: 1h 50min
Schedule: Oravița (leaves at 11.15) – Anina (arrives at 13.05) – break in Anina – Anina (leaves at 13.30) – Oravița (arrives at 15.20), 7 days/week
Tickets: CFR offices (National Railroad Company = CFR) or in the train station in Oravița or Anina, 10 lei/pers, 4 lei extra with a guaranteed seat included
Photos: the best place is the last wagon. You can open the door but do hold on. The windows in the wagons open slightly, but not enough
 
The best place to explore the area: Vechea Moară (The Old Mill)
 
Our “base” was in Sasca Montană at the Old Mill. It’s the ideal place to explore this beautiful area in the Banat region. From here you can explore the spectacular Nera Gorges or the beautiful Văioaga and Beușnița waterfalls or the amazing Ochiul Bei lake. This accommodation is very nice, clean and beautiful. They only have 3 rooms and a a restaurant ready with good food! 🙂
 
Off from Oravița through tunnels, high stone walls and valleys
 
From Sasca Montană we arrive in Oravița. We found the train station and started to search for this touristic train. When we finally found it we were surprised to see how many tourists were waiting in the wagons. We were inspired to get tickets with seats included. Otherwise it would be a lottery to find a seat especially during the weekends.
 
Especially for this scenic train ride we bought tickets in the last wagon. Why? Because it should have been the perfect place for taking pictures. We soon discovered that the windows were opening slightly, not enough to stick my head out the window and see what I’m taking pictures of.
 
At 11.15 sharp this fantastic train starts moving from Oravița towards Anina. At first I was pretty bummed that I didn’t have a proper shooting position but someone with initiative opened the door in the last wagon and I soon occupied it and shot some nice pictures of this amazing train route in the Anina Mountains.

The first part of the train ride is in the low lands and is not so spectacular, but don’t worry, you’ll soon get what you came here for 🙂 The mountainous part start at the 6th km or 18 minutes after leaving Oravița. Soon we enter the first in the series of very narrow tunnels along this railroad.
This area is very wild and we were lucky enough to be here in the perfect moment for the rebirth of nature, in spring. The forest’s raw green combined with the coppery – coloured leaves left over from autumn make up for a very scenic ride 🙂

We soon cross the Jitin Viaduct, the longest one on this railroad. It’s 131 m long (photo above). It crosses a wide and deep valley and we were quite amazed by the engineering and hard work needed to build this spectacular railroad.
The railroad between Oravița and Anina was built after superior quality coal was discovered in the area in 1790. They needed to transport the coal to the Danube in the South and from there they loaded it on to ships.

The railroad was finished in 1863 for transporting merchandise and in 1869 passengers were also able to use it. This railroad, also known as the Banat’s Semmering, is the first mountain railroad in Romania and has been functional for the past 150 years!
The railroad is 33.8 km long, it has 134 curves, 14 tunnels and 10 viaducts. Beside all these there a lot of areas where the railroad is carved between high and narrow stone walls. The scenery and the greatness of the construction itself are astonishing and will surely leave you with great memories 🙂

It’s known as Banat’s Semmering due to the techniques used for building it and the very though terrain. The Gârliște Tunnel is 660 m long and is one of the narrowest in Romania.
Oravița train station is at +216 m altitude, while Anina train station is at +557 m altitude which translates to a level difference of 339 m! This railroad is a milestone in the engineering of that time and is a unique place you can visit in Romania.

The best time to come here is in spring and in autumn in order to avoid the heat and to admire nature in its most saturated and raw colours 🙂
We reach Anina train station after 1PM and we are surprised to see many, many people here. We found out that there was a nice music festival in Anina in the previous day and one of the bands that played there decided to take this train ride back to Oravița and hold a concert in the train! 🙂

We Singing Colors is the name of the band and they are really great. They actually sang for almost 2 hours which is how long it takes the train to go from Anina to Oravița. It was a very nice surprise and we everybody had a lot of fun with them. Good music, happy people and a fantastic scenery! This is how it was for us on Banat’s Semmering. You have to go and experience it for yourselves! 🙂
Banat’s Semmering railroad route:

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