The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

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Von Bock
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The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Von Bock » 29 Dec 2023 11:42

We often hear that one of the reasons it was so hard for Germany to invade the Soviet Union in World War II was because the Russians had a wider railroad gauge than that of most of the rest of Europe, making European rolling stock useless on Russian railways.

How did Germany resolve that problem? Did it capture enough Soviet rolling stock to use on Soviet railways? Did it build "trunk" lines in the Soviet Union to Stalingrad and other critical points on the European gauge? Or did it leave this problem mostly unresolved, thereby contributing to the German defeat?
In the entirety of WWII, Germany never lost a major battle they should have won and they won many battles they should have lost.

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Aida1
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Re: The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Aida1 » 29 Dec 2023 12:32

Given the amount of ussian rolling material that was destroyed or retreated east, the germans needed to adapt the rail gauge but this came to a provisional stop on the main waterways were rail bridges were destroyed so to the east of that transshipment on broad rail gauge waggons was necessary for weeks or months until the crossings were restored(Die deutsche Reichsbahn im Ostfeldzug 1939-1944 H Pottgiesser Vowinckel Verlag 1960 pp 28-29).
Until december 1941 15000 km of track was adapted(Pottgiesser p 29) .
I have ordered the book 'Schienenstrang nach Stalingrad' about the supply by rail of operation Blau so will come back on that specific subject after receiving the book.

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Aida1
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Re: The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Aida1 » 07 Feb 2024 14:38

As an illustration of what was involved in operating russian railroads by the german Army during the Stalingrad campaign an excerpt from Schienenstrang nach Stalingrad , Jens Freese Geramond 2003 pp 95-102 on the railroad Lichaja-Tschir(Stalingrad):
"On the rail sector between Lichaja and the railroad bridge over the Don at Tschir a wealth of broad gauge material was captured: 96 locomotives,588 G, 26 O, 91 K and 1283 other waggons.
Insofar as operational the railroad material was at first used on part of the lines in broad gauge exploitation.
So the 66 km long stretch Gratschi-Morosowskaja was already put in operation in broad gauge on 29 juli 1942 with 2 locomotives and 200 waggons, while the rebuilding of the bridge over the Zymla at km 180,9 was already finished on 3 august 1942, whereupon a shuttle operation could be conducted in broad gauge on the stretch Gratschi-Tshernyschkow. On the important bridge over the Donez at Belaja Kalitwa the clearing work started on 6 august 1942 , at the same time the works to restore the 7 small bridges behind Belaja Kalitwa were in full swing, also work was done on the bridge over the Tschir(km199,5).
Work was also done on rebuidling the railway stations, so the water installations of the stations Walkowo, Morosowskaja and Tschernyschkow could already go into operation on 5 august 1942.
While the motorised units of 6th Army advanced fast to the east,the works on the stretch were already in full swing:
12 august 1942 : start of the restoring of the part stretch Obliwskaja-Tschir
13 august 1942: taking into operation of the water installations in the railway stations Belaja Kalitwa, Schirnow,Mrosowskaja and Tschernyschkow.
15 august 1942: taking into operation of the broad gauge track between Belaja Kalitwa and Gratschi.
18 august 1942: Because the rebuilding of the railroad bridge over the Donez at Belaja Kalitwa would still take some time, the regauging was started on the part stretch Lichaja -bridge over the Donez, while at first on the further stretch, after repairing a few smaller bridges the broad gauge operation was broadened from Belaja Kalitwa to Gratschi.
22 august 1942: finishing the intersection at km 88 with 2 overtaking tracks on 22 august, also on this day in station Beskenzy a second overtaking track was finished.
23 august 1942: at 0.35h the railway station Ssurowikino was attacked by a german aircraft with bombs: 10 dead,10 badly wounded and 4 light wounded(5.Eisb.Pi.Rgt 4). On this day also the water station installation at station Ssurowikino was finished( high container 120 m3 , pumping installation 35 m3, 1 water crane).
24 august 1942: restoring the station water installation in railway station Repnaja( high container 35 m3, pomping installation 35 m3, 1 water crane).
26 august 1942: finishing of the regauging of the part stretch Lichaja-Donez bridge at Belaja Kalitwa and navigable in normal gauge, the part stretch Lichaja -Wasilewskij was transferred to the F.B.Abt 20 on 29 august 1942, which carried out the operation from now on. In station Obliwskaja the station water installation(high container 65 m3,pumping installation with a pump 40 m3 per hour , respectively 35 m3 per hour each , 2 water cranes) was restored."

to be continued

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Aida1
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Re: The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Aida1 » 08 Feb 2024 13:56

"The stretch between the bridge being rebuilt at Belaja Kalitwa and railway station Tschir was fully finished in broad gauge and since 11 september continuusly used in shuttle service.
....
On 14/15 september the soviet bombing attacks were also directed on Belaja Kalitwa and especially at the bridge building site on the Donez where also during the night work was continuously done under light from searchlights, in this there were at Eisb.Pi.Komp 75 and 6./Eisb.Pi.Regt 4 several dead and wounded, on the next day work during the night had to be even totally stopped temporarily . Soviet attacks could not stop the building of the bridge because already on 24 sptember the railway bridge over the donez was finished.....
On 23 and 24 september 1942 numerous russian air attacks were aimed at the whole stretch between Lichaja and Tschir , of which 16 bombing attacks against Tschir. The damage caused to the tracks was quickly undone.
After finishing the railway bridge over the Donez the regauging was started on 24 september 1942 and on 26 september 1942 at 1600h the regauging of the whole stretch until railway station Tschir(in total 259 km!)was finished despite these works suffering again and again from bombing attacks . ....
To the south of Rytschow the last railway station on the stretch of Lichaja before the destroyed Don bridge , beginning october a road bridge was finished over the Don. From railway station Rytschkow a road was laid over this bridge until station Loshki , the first railway station on the other side of the Don . Over this road flowed part of the suppies for the units of 6 Army in the area Stalingrad .
However the transshipment possibilities in station Rytschkow which had only been a halt were limited because of the low number of tracks , anyway this transport road was a relief for the station Tschir which was again and and again beset by russian bombing attacks. "

to be continued

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Re: The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Aida1 » 09 Feb 2024 21:35

"2 october 1942 : Start of the building of a new elevated tank(80 m3) in station Tazinskaja, in station Morosowskaja the rebuilding of the locomotive shed(10 booths).
3 October 1942 : Restoring of the water station system(elevated tank 100 m3, pump installation 40 m3/hour,3 water cranes)in station Tschir.
9 october 1942: Restoring the locomotive shed in station Lichaja, which had recieved a direct bombing hit in the night of 26/27 september 1942.
The difficulties the railway staff was confronted with is shown for example by a few days in october:
11 october 1942: collision of 2 trains between Tschernyschkow and Parchin, 5 dead , both loks damaged, track blocked for 15 hours.
12 october 1942: several air attacks on the sector between Morosowskaja and Tschernyschkow, blocking of the track for 6 hours, subsequently operation by pilot for 5 hours.
13 october 1942: collision of 2 trains, both locs damaged, 2 wounded, tracks blocked for 4 hours.
15 october 1942: The whole stretch Lichaja -Tschir is drivable with R 16(16 trains/day).
16 October 1942: blocking of the stretch between Morosowskaja and Bystrij by dropping of bombs by a german aircraft making an emergency landing, 11 hours operation by pilot between Ssrorokino and Dimitrijewka because of disrupted telephone communications.
17 october 1942: collision of 2 trains in station Walkowo , both locs derailed whereupon all tracks were blocked for 10 hours.
.........
27 october 1942: the whole stretch Lichaja-Tschir is drivable in normal gauge for RE 18(18 trains/day).
After the bombing attacks on the area Tschir had decreased , on 30 october 1942 the works for the restoring of the big railway bridge over the Don to the east of Tschir could be resumed.
In october the making winter-proof of all station water installations was also started on the stretch as winter was not long in coming.
31 october 1942: Finishing of a second overtaking track in station Lawrowo.
From 5 november all crossing points on a length of 196 km were in operation.
7 november 1942 : setting up a shuttle operation to relieve the road bridge between Rytschow and Lotschki whose performance was however only very low. Already 10 days later the shuttle operation over the Don had to be stopped because of ice....
In the week of 18 to 24 october there was very bad weather, the roads were not drivable by the columns , through this the arriving trains could not be offloaded . The consequence was a backlog which caused the parking of 28 trains on railway stations and crossing points on the stretch before the offloading stations.
11 november 1942: start of the operation of a field railway with a length of 6-8 km between Rytschow and the Don to relieve the road transport, for this a further transshipment of supply goods was necssary in Rytschow (normal gauge/small gauge), the transshipment on trucks or horse driven vehicles had to be done then at the Don."

to be continued

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Re: The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Aida1 » 10 Feb 2024 12:30

"...
30 october 1942: Finishing three tracks to the APL, to the AML and to the AVL in normal gauge in station Tschir. In railway station Lichaja a series of important building plans were executed to increase the capacity, so since 31 october 1942 a loc shed was in building with 6 booths.
3 november 1942: Finishing a further track to the AVL in station Tschir , already on the day after the connection track to the AML was lenghtened to 1200 m.
At the end of the week there was snow and temperature dropped to 13 under zero. The water stations Lichaja and Tschir failed . Empty trains to the west could therefore not be driven off and clogged the tracks.
13 november 1942:In station Ssurowikino a ramp with a length of 60 m was being built.
14 november 1942: Start of the building of 4 th to 6 th water crane in station Tschir.
18 november 1942: Start of the building of the second water tower in station Tschir.
21 november: Finishing the second water crane in station Walkowo

As a consequence of the encirclement of Stalingrad all building plans were stopped, especially in the area of the front of the normal gauge operation, that is between Obliwskaja and Rytschow because it would soon be a combat area."

Finished.

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Re: The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Aida1 » 10 Feb 2024 15:58

Some more detail on the regauging of the stretch Kalitwa-Tschir( Schienenstrang nach Stalingrad pp 25-27).

" On this day(18 september 1942) the quartermaster 6 th Army was at his chief for a presentation . In this the regauging of the stretch Kalitwa -Tschir was also mentioned which should be started immediately after the finishing of the Donez bridge at Belaja Kalitwa, after which the whole stretch Lichaja-Tschir would be drivable in normal gauge. However General Paulus ordered that the regauging should not at all take place before Stalingrad was taken care off; he would personally determine the timing for the regauging. The grounds for this decision of the commander of 6 th Army are not known. Maybe the uncertainty about further attacks of the red army, which could bring some Army corps of 6 th Army in difficulties, in addition the ammo consumption in the fight for Stalingrad was already very high, so that the danger existed that during the regauging work, an interruption in the moving up of supply would be caused and through this the railway track would not be available anymore as a transport means to cover the necessary ammo quantities. Clearly, General Paulus had no idea on the duration of the regauging work after whose conclusion a faster and increased supply would be expected.
The Bv.Tr.O who had already announced the regauging a few days before maintained also on 19 september that the regauging would happen the 22 nd september. The Oberquartiermeister protested against this in the sense of his commander, whereupon the regauging was postponed.
On 21 september orders from the Generalquartiermeister of the OKH and the Heeresgruppe B came in according to which it was intended to bridge the time of the blocking of the stretch during the regauging, by making available additional high volume transport capacity. After approval by the chief of the general staff OKH the start of the regauging work was fixed on 25 sptember 1942. The fuel situation was further tight , only the most necessary supply drives were possible on 21 september. With regard to the impending blocking of the stretch, the inflow of trains was increased through which the fuel situation improved. The planned timing was maintained, at which it was assured by the higher command that in case of unforseen events or a special deficiency in any case 200 to ammo daily could be moved in to 6 th Army by air. "

to be continued
Last edited by Aida1 on 11 Feb 2024 12:34, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Aida1 » 11 Feb 2024 12:34

"To the surprise of the command the expected russian attack for 24 september 1942 on the old attack spot on both sides of station Kotluban did not happen, on the contrary the attack expected based on statements by defectors to the east of 16. Pz div happened at 1600h and caused a high german outlay of ammo .Therefore,for the next day ammo supply by air was announced, the landing place was Beskowatka.
The last trains were transshipped in Belaja Kalitwa, thereby the regauging could start as planned on 25 september 1942. Already one day later the stretch Lichaja was drivable throughout in normal track.
It was a great performance of the railway engineers to regauge a 225 km stretch in such a short time... Now the trains could drive from the Reich to Tschir , from here it was just 100 km to Woronopowo in the area Stalingrad.
The regauging work was done paralell at the same time on a multitude of track sectors , at which at first only the tracks and transit tracks in the railway stations and the crossing places were regauged. Through this the stretch was first throughout drivable. Subsequently the other tracks were worked.
As a consequence the companies 4,6,7 and 10 of Kw.Tr.Rgt 602 were transferred from Forchstadt to Tschir wich now became the operation front of the railway stretch, the III/Kw.Trsp.Rgt 602 was subordinated to the Kw.trsp.Rgt 984 to which was already allocated the Kw.Trsp.Abt 653. ....
The finishing of the road bridge over the Don to the south of Rytschkow was expected in the beginning of october, in this context a road from Tschir over this bridge to railway station Loshki at the start of the broad gauge track to Stalingrad was scouted , to bring by high volumn transport columns the supply goods which had arrived by rail in station Tschir , to Loshki from where the further transport by rail would be done to Karpowskaja, near which there was a supply base.The timeconsuming twice transshipment was necessary because hard work was still done on restoring the long railway bridge over the Don between Rytschow and Loshski. "

finished

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Re: The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Aida1 » 12 Feb 2024 17:52

Railroads in the area Stalingrad(Schienenstrang nach Stalingrad pp 109-112)

"On 11 september work was already done on the stretch between the Don bridge and the station Woroponowo. Already on the next day the station water installation in station Karpowskaja was restored and operational. Except for two rail way bridges (1,2 km to the northeast of Ljapischew and 0,7 km to the southwest of Karpowskaja) on whose restoring work was still done, the stretch between the railway bridge over the Don and Woroponowo was restored and drivable. The russians had obviously noticed the restoring of the railway stretch of the Don to Stalingrad and so already on 20 september, there were several air attacks on station Loshki at which 1 man of 5./Eisb.Pi.Rgt 4 was wounded. On 22 september 1942 the water station installation(1 high water container 75 m3, 1 pump 65 m3/h , 2 water cranes)of station Kriwomusginskaja was operational again but already on the next day there was a setback when the passge 11,9 km to the east of Kriwomusginskaja was blown up by partisans. On 25 september on the 45 km long stretch Karpowskaja-Woroponowo the shuttle operation in broad gauge was taken up by F.B.Abt 20. The stretch sector before that could not be used because on 26 september 1942 10 km to the northeast of Ljapitschew a mine laid by partisans detonated which caused a crater with a diameter of 4 m and a length of 40 m.Even when the restoring work started immediately , for this forces had to be pulled in which were lacking at other places for the rebuilding. "

to be continued

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Re: The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Aida1 » 14 Feb 2024 16:53

"To increase the performance of the one track broad gauge stretch crossing points were created at km 300,3 between Ljapitschew and Kumowka(distance 14,7 km)and at km 325,8 between Kriwomusginskaja and Prduboj(distance 12,5 km) with each time two overtaking tracks of 650 m each ,which were being built on 30 september 1942.
The railway station Stalingrad-Wostotschnij was already visited by a scouting troop of 8./Eisb.Pi.Rgt 4 after the terrain had been cleared of sharpshooters and several prisoners were brought in. On this day also the operation was taken over by FEKdo.3 on the partial stretches Woroponowo-Gumrak , Gumrak-Rasguljajewka and Woroponowo-Sadowaja. On 3 october 1942 the passage 11,9 km to the northeast of Kriwomusginskaja was restored and by this the stretch between the railway over the Don or more precisely between Loshki and Woroponowo was throughout drivable in broad gauge in shuttle operation, also the stretch Donskaja-Kriwomusginskaja. At first the truck columns crossed the Don by ferry at Kalatsch on the Don , already soon the engineers had built several pontoon bridges over the Don and ultimately a fixed road bridge was available. On the other shore the supply vehicles were offloaded in station Donskaja. From there the supplies were further transported by rail to Woroponowo and Gumrak. Additional loading tracks were laid in station Loshki then a further road crossing over the Don could be used near the destroyed railway bridge on whose rebuilding was worked.
By this the supplies arriving in Tschir were loaded on trucks which in the beginning were brought over the Don by pontoon ferries and subsequently offloaded in station Loshki. Later they crossed the Don by a road bridge built by army engineers. From Loshki the further transport then happened by rail. A cumbersome procedure , which at roads softened by strong rain and at ice on the Don would lead to a bottleneck. Therefore a cable railway was also considered to cross the Don at Tschir and Kalatsch on the Don.
Because the insufficient number of operational broad gauge locomotives and other operational deficiencies, on the mentioned stretches only 4 to 5 trains daily could be driven , partially with only a weight of 250 to. On 9 october the rebuilding work in station Woroponowo had to be interrupted because of artillery fire. The operations on the broad gauge stretch between the Don bridge and Woroponowo which had been put in operation until now, had to be interrupted again on 14 october when a mine with a timer laid by partisans exploded to the west of Kriwomusginskaja. The damages caused to the tracks were repaired within 10 hours. To this were added track blockages because of derailments."

to be continued
Last edited by Aida1 on 15 Feb 2024 16:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The different rail gauge in the Soviet Union, what effect did it have?

Post by Aida1 » 15 Feb 2024 16:31

"An improvement of the situation started with the provisional restoring of the water station installation(water tower 75 m3, pump 40 m3/h , 2 water cranes) in station Karpowskaja. Because of the low performance of the stretch and disruptions of the stretch the supply trains could not be brought forward smoothly, so that part of the supply goods had to be transported to Gumrak by truck again. On the 1st november 1942 came the order to scout the building of a field railway from a railway station between Kriwomusginskaja on the stretch Lichaja-Stalingrad and Peskowatka. To improve the traffic situation, the building of a second cable railway over the Don at Kalatsch was started , the planned field railway should be connected to this cable railway at Kalatsch. By these measures one hoped for a relief of the stretch Loshki-Stalingrad because the supply goods for Peskowatka could then be brought from Tschir by trucks of the truck columns to the cable railway at Kalatsch where the transshipment from cable railway to field railway could happen on the eastern shore.
.......
On 30 september 1942 the making winter-proof of the water towers in the railway stations Ljapischew, Karpowskaja and Kriwomusginskaja was already done. In station Woroponowo the water station was provisionally repaired, the damaged water tower still needed to be repaired , 4 water cranes were necessary in the railway station...
The mentioned measures were executed , respectively planned with regard to the quick regauging of the whole broad gauge stretch which would be due beginning december 1942 with the expected putting into operation of the big railway bridge over the Don at Tschir. By this a throughout normal gauge operation on the whole 360 km stretch Lichaja-Woroponowo (Stalingrad)would have been possible. But it should not come to this anymore by the soon starting tactical situation.
Until then the supply goods had to be transshipped from rail to road and then again to rail, in which the further transport to Stalingrad happened on broad gauge track.
One had indeed captured a number of russian broad gauge locomotives in the area Stalingrad but the necessary workshops for maintenance of the steam locomotives were lacking. The repair shops had been fully destroyed by german bombing attacks. The consequence was that not many broad gauge locomotives could be operated and these broke down little by little. ...
The low perormance of the locomotives on the stretch Lishka-Woroponowo-Gumrak allowed only the transport of short supply trains so that soon rail trucks had to be used as traction means whose pull was even less than that of the still available broad gauge locomotives. There were therefore high expectations from the finishing of the Don bridge at Tschir whose putting into operation would have considerably improved the supply situation of 6 th Army."

finished

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