A curiosity amongst HŽ’s fleet is class 2062 locomotive 2062 045. This loco – the former JŽ 664 001 – has not truly been “seen” by anyone for nearly three decades, having been hidden beneath a veritable suit of armour since 1991.
The 1980s, following the death of Marshal Tito, were changing political times in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Considered by some to have always been an unnatural cluster of nations populated by very disparate people of different ethnicities only held together by the glue of Tito in the role of “benevolent dictator”, his death resulted in increasing unrest. This culminated in Yugoslavia’s constituent republics pulling in different directions, and June 1991 saw the first two – Croatia and Slovenia – declare their independence. The response from the Yugoslav government to this was to mobilise the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) in an attempt to keep the union together by force. This led to outright war – in Slovenia’s case, the Ten Day War; but in Croatia’s, largely because of the very different ethnic situation there, it was to last for over four years, result in over 20,000 deaths and cause huge repercussions on many levels that remain evident today.
The armoured train(s)
As 1991 progressed and tensions increased, the nascently-independent Croatia quickly set in motion plans to create three “oklopni vlakovi” (“armoured trains”) to be able to fight the JNA in a mobile manner – one based in Novska, one based in Osijek (using shunter 2132 049 which is now in the railway museum in Zagreb and retains its armour plating) and one in Split. It’s the latter which we will concern ourselves with in this brief article.
HŽ and the Brodosplit shipyard in Split devised plans to create a train comprised of a diesel locomotive and two four-axle “series G” wagons. Less than three months elapsed between conception and completion, with the work largely improvised; no formal drawings ever existed.
The wagons were completely rebuilt from the solebar up, whereas the locomotive was not fundamentally rebuilt but instead clad completely in bullet and grenade-proof armour. The loco type selected was a class 664 General Motors 2,200hp diesel-electric; a highly reliable and durable design that had, over the previous 18 years, proven itself a master of the mountainous railways in the region. Anecdotally, 664 001 was considered the “best” 664 in the area, and therefore it was the “weapon of choice” for such an important role. Given the fact that the method of operation of the armoured train was to roll into an area of combat, fire the guns and then – once it had attracted maximum attention to itself – make a full power high-speed getaway to safety, the insistence on a particularly reliable and strong example of the class is perhaps hardly surprising!
Under the renumbering scheme implemented after Croatian independence, 664 001 became 2062 045, however it is not clear whether it has actually ever carried this number on the bodyside. It certainly hasn’t on the armour, but it could do beneath it.
The completed armoured train was put before the Croatian top brass on 31st January 1992. However, it only ever made one test run from Split. The reasons given in various written sources for that seem vague and in some cases contradictory, but a common theme is that the weight of the armour and – more importantly – the armaments conveyed upon the train made the axle loading excessive. It has otherwise never moved under its own power – and, as such, “Split’s best 664” has not been used in anger for nearly 30 years – realistically it never will again.
The train (loco plus two wagons) is now in the collection of the Croatian Railway Museum, but remains at Split-Predgrade. At various points over the last five years or so, suggestions have been made that it will be put on formal display as a tourist attraction or historical exhibition in Split, but this does not appear to be materialising any time soon.