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The latest narrow-gauge diesel locomotives TU - can’t be executed, can they be pardoned?

The latest narrow-gauge diesel locomotives TU - can’t be executed, can they be pardoned?
In the 80s, although not as active as before, the narrow-gauge railway (NGR), and, consequently, the diesel locomotives built for it, were in demand in the national economy of the USSR. These workers transported timber, ore from mines, peat and delivered shift workers to rotational camps. To lay a narrow-gauge railway, you do not need to equip a complex infrastructure: it is enough to make a small embankment. Although they often did without it: sleepers with rails were laid directly on the wetland.

Today, UZhD is used only in logging, enterprises and children's railways. In the first case, wood is removed from areas to which the route was laid many years ago. Some modern businessmen are confident that in the future the railway will not be needed. However, there is also an opposite opinion. Moreover, there are facts: the “narrow-gauge” railway is still actively used in some places today – that is, it generates profit. Even laying a road parallel to the railway does not help: in the fall and spring the dirt road becomes muddy and you have to wait until winter or summer.

Последние узкоколейные тепловозы ТУ – казнить нельзя, помиловать?Classic railway: there is no embankment, sleepers are almost invisible and everything is in the forest. Photo: YouTube.com

Plus an example: a diesel locomotive on a narrow-gauge railway is capable of transporting 14 couplings at a time, each of which contains 16 cubic meters of timber. Using trucks will cost more and take longer. Simple arithmetic! Which narrow gauge diesel locomotives are still in operation? First of all, these are machines of the TU series. The last of them were produced in the 80s and even in the 2000s.


The diesel locomotive was designed and manufactured in Udmurtia, the city of Kambarsk at the plant of the same name. By the end of the 60s, there was a need to replace obsolete narrow-gauge diesel locomotives of the TU2 and TU4 brands (TU3, produced in Czechoslovakia, continued to be used). However, the TU5 that replaced the “oldies” turned out to be unreliable. TU6 had already been produced since 1964 and was replaced by the more powerful TU6A (1973). However, it was a vehicle for performing shunting work and transporting small loads. That's why TU1971 first appeared in 7.

Leaving the depot for work. Photo: YouTube.com

Many people called this model a “railroad tractor,” meaning the simplicity and reliability of the design. And in appearance it resembled an agricultural machine with a 1D12-400 diesel engine placed in front. The same engine was installed on Soviet trucks MAZ-530, MAZ-525 and some diesel locomotives on a normal track. The power unit is paired with a hydraulic transmission type UGP-400/201. The trolleys receive torque through gearboxes (one on each axle). The diesel locomotive was constantly improved and, finally, all modernization options were combined into the “restyling” model TU7A, released in 1986. However, in 1996, production at KMZ stopped due to the difficult economic situation.

Second birth

TU7A began to be produced again by the Kambarsky plant in 2001. Now the locomotives were equipped with the Yaroslavl YaMZ-238 diesel engine, which worked in conjunction with an automatic transmission (!) under the symbol GMP 851-2, produced for trucks and produced in Kazan.

In the TU7A cockpit. Photo: YouTube.com

It turned out to be a kind of car on rails. But the story of the model does not end there. In 2014, by order of Russian Railways, a locomotive was manufactured under the symbol TU7A-3367 in a new building.

This model is available on the official KMZ website and, apparently, is available for order.

Also, at the request of the Kuchuksulfat company, a diesel locomotive TU-2020A-7 was built in 3373. The last number indicates the total number of cars produced.


The locomotive has been developed since 1982 by the Kambarsky plant. The first “pilot” batch of diesel locomotives was put into operation in 1987. The test results were positive and, starting next year, mass production began.

Hard worker TU8 in the forest. Photo: YouTube.com

The machine is somewhat versatile: it can be placed on a track width from 600 to 1067 mm. Technical characteristics of TU8:

✅ full service weight (with sand and fuel) – 16 t
✅ power unit – YaMZ-236M with a capacity of 180 hp. With.
✅ length, width, height – 8,525, 2, and 3,495 m
✅ average speed - 42 km / h
✅ smallest turning radius – 40 m
✅ traction force – up to 5,3 tf

The model is distinguished by an increased glass area in the driver's cab. Sound-absorbing materials are used for finishing inside: the noise level does not exceed the value required by international requirements.

TU8 travels backwards with passenger cars. Photo: YouTube.com

In 1992, production of TU8 was stopped, but resumed in 2016. The locomotive still appears today on the plant’s official website in the “Products” section. It is known that by 2022, at least 543 TU8 vehicles would leave the factory gates. Some of them were exported to Vietnam. Today, approximately 90 locomotives of this brand are in operation. They mainly carry cargo. For example, in the Nizhny Novgorod (Peshelansky gypsum plant), Kirov (Kobrin railway, "Maiskles") region.


Stop! Someone will say, where is TU9? Yes, there was such a locomotive, but it can be considered a production locomotive conditionally: in 1993, 4 copies were produced. And then, specifically for use in underground workings during the construction of the Irganay hydroelectric power station (Dagestan). The car was distinguished by its low height, long length and exhaust gas neutralization system. Subsequently, these machines were not produced. Therefore, we switch to the latest narrow-gauge locomotive TU10.

The letter “K” recalls the locomotive’s own name. Photo: YouTube.com

Its second name is “Hummingbird”. And this is no coincidence - the diesel locomotive was specially designed for operation on children's railways. Officially (as stated by the manufacturer) - for transporting technical personnel and passengers along the railway. Many people call this model a “railroad bus.”

Inside, it's almost like being on a bus! Photo: YouTube.com

There is some truth: the locomotive actually uses some components from this type of public transport. Serial production started in 2010, and a total of 32 cars were produced.


They are immediately visible: firstly, this is the design. The locomotive is completely different from its angular predecessors: it has rounded shapes, a large windshield, and two driver's cabins (front and rear). Optics – LED. Other technical characteristics:

✅ diesel YaMZ-6563.10, producing 230 “horses”
✅ final drive (hydromechanics) – VOITH D864, DIWA 3E
✅ length, width, height - 10,2, 2,45 and 3,55 m
✅ speed - 50 km / h

The locomotive is controlled using microprocessors. On board there is a radio station, a fire extinguishing system and a special device (like “black boxes” on airplanes) that records the parameters of the locomotive while moving. The cabin is equipped with climate control, which provides conditioning of the air entering the cabin.


During testing of the car number “001”, some shortcomings were revealed. Among them are low compressor performance and ineffective ventilation of the engine compartment.

After modifications, TU10 is again waiting for little passengers Photo: YouTube.com

The main drive unit, unified with the bus unit, also presented “surprises”. The cooling system was also overheating. The shortcomings were promptly eliminated and all 32 machines today operate on children's railways, for which they were intended.

Are there any prospects for technology for ultra-highway railways?

Today, the only enterprise producing locomotives for the narrow gauge railway is the Kambarsky plant, founded in 1760 by Demidov. Judging by the official website, products are produced and sold: including “traction and rolling stock” for UZD and regular gauge tracks. In the latter case, the power of the locomotives is limited to 400 hp. With. If there is a demand for diesel locomotives for narrow-gauge railways, then there is also a supply. This means that it is still too early to give up on the railway.


Photos used: https://youtube.com

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