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Today's route: Doboj - Šamac - Slavonski Šamac (Croatia) - Šamac (Bosnia) - Doboj - Podlugovi - Vareš - Podlugovi - via goods lines to Alipašin Most - Sarajevo.
This morning's principal target was the cross-border route between Šamac and Slavonski Šamac, which only sees two train pairs per day, and these all run over the border at night. Trains 6540/6543 are the normal morning service trains on the Šamac line, and we just took one coach of this over the border to Slavonski Šamac in the Šamac layover time. We were not allowed out of the train at Slavonski Šamac, so no border formalities were required, and no photographs were allowed there. The section of track between Doboj and Grapska, the junction for Šamac, appears to be the only true section of useable double-track in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and is "right-hand running" [though "double-track" between Doboj and Zenice, only the easternmost track was in use; some work on the other track was in progress, however, and it appeared to be just about useable - and was wired throughout]. After lunch in a cafe in Doboj we visited the offices of BHŽJK [Bosansko Hercegovačka Željeznička Javna Korporacija], which is the umbrella organisation that co-ordinates ŽRS and ŽFBH activities, and without whose help the trip would not have been possible. There were some interesting maps on the office walls, along with a full set of timetable graphs for the whole of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Some photographs of these were taken for later reference. We then took service train 397 as far as Podlugovi - this train, formed of the "other" set of stock from that used on 397 last Friday, was made up of four refurbished HŽ and ŽFBH coaches, including a buffet trolley. The driver of the 661 enthusiastically made up time on both the ascent and descent of the steeply-graded branch to Vareš: this saw passenger services until 1991 but now only sees freight traffic - though the works at Vareš did not look to be a good generator of traffic. A freight train had reportedly failed at Alipašin outside Sarajevo, which delayed a EMU local service then us in turn at Semizovac. We were due to run via the triangle avoiding Sarajevo but instead ran via the goods lines: these run via the yard at Rajlovac and a completely separate alignment as far as Alipašin Most, but this was still a small disappointment. The Hotel Grand is visible from the station but is about ten minutes walk by road: there is a "footpath" across the eastern end of the platforms that forms a useful if slightly hazardous shortcut.