Czech Republic (and a few metres into Austria and Slovakia) 4.10.07-10.10.07 <  >

A friend and I had been attempting for a while to finish all ČD’s passenger lines, while remaining more or less in step with what we’d each done (I’d started first so he’d done some catching up). At this point he’d just done two short trips at a time when I wasn’t able to be there for family reasons, so this was a mad dash round to make up the deficit before we did another joint venture. Inevitably, it didn’t quite work out that way!

Thursday 4.10.07

Off for a desperate week in Czech catching up on lines recently done by PR! Given that we’d allowed plenty of time, the punctual run to New Street on a CT 170 was inevitable… On after a McDonald’s breakfast (not that bad in fact) with a CT 323 to Birmingham Irrational and thence, a mere 15 minutes late, on BMIbaby’s 737 to PRG. The usual 119/A/C to Praha hl.n. where [as usual] ticket buying was greatly eased by having written it down beforehand!

854 021 'Lenka' stands at Mlada Boleslav hl.n. with R946, 1633 to Turnov on 4-10-07

The first planned train was made easily; 854 021 and an assortment of trailers forming R946, 1515 to Mlada Boleslav (and Turnov). No track as such, but a through move at Všetaty must have completed a connection somewhere. [I’d been into Všetaty before from both MB and Praha but didn’t note the platforms so it could have been either end!]

854 218 did the honours from MB to Česká Lípa – surprisingly it was slightly less well appointed than the (presumably) older 854 021. At Česká Lípa the Lovosice line trains go from a bay and unfortunately don’t connect with the other four routes!

A pleasant evening trundle down line 087 on 810 113 but it was all to no avail; we stood for over 20 minutes at Libĕšice waiting to cross the train from Lovosice. This was delayed (presumably) by the bustitution [due to moleworks] between Lovosice and Litomĕřice. Darkness fell after Horni Repcice so Litomĕřice to Horni Repcice is still to be done. A poor end to the bashing day, which also cost us our supper as we had insufficient time left in Litomĕřice.

Good effort by the train crew on the return which was also 20 minutes late leaving Litomĕřice, due to the bustitution. The gripper made sure which stops were required and thereafter it was eyeballs out, pausing only where there was a redcap, or a train to pass (Libĕšice again) or pax to pick up/set down. All good stuff, and only 10 late at Česká Lípa.

Hotel Olympia was 5 minutes walk or so, quite modern and with the sort of eccentric décor which has become quite familiar over the years! A very helpful bod arranged an early breakfast for us and sold us an ice cream, the kitchen having closed by now (thank you, ČD).

Friday 5.10.07

The old and the new meet at Benesov nad Ploucnici on 5-10-07. 810 587 was working Os 2632 from Rumburk; the 814 was Os 2604 Decin-Rumburk.

Early breakfast didn’t materialise, but we did manage to get some before hurtling out into the rain at 07:05-ish. 0722, R688, arrived late with an Ustí 749 and 3 coaches – departed 15 late so we baled out at Benešov rather than risk the 15 minute unbooked ‘connection’ at Děčín východ. R689 going the other way was also late (10 minutes, behind 753 352).

On to Česká Kamenice on an 814/914, then a rather decrepit but safely driven bus to Mlýny [luckily I’d done this bit before] where an 810 was waiting. This took us as far as Rybništĕ for an hour’s wait and a supermarket visit, before another 810 to Jedlová, and yet another to Česká Lípa. Faintness was setting in by then so we retired to the buffet for a swiftish Zlatopramen.

Onwards again, on the last of the five routes in and out of Česká Lípa, this time with an 854 on an Os to Liberec – a long and tedious ride on a grey day.

Very amiable food shop at Liberec, then a ‘guess where you’re going’ (as the bus driver didn’t appear to have heard of Tanvald) bustitution. This was a very short and annoying stretch of line 036 as far as Vesec u Liberce where another 834 was waiting. This took us as far as Smřzovka, arriving in the northernmost P3. The Josefův Důl 810 was in P1 so it obligingly crossed the layout to go north on the branch!

The weather had improved greatly by the time 810 470 took us up the very scenic branch from Smrzovka to Josefuv Dul where it's pictured on arrival as Os 26330 (or before departure as 26333, depending how you look at it...)

The JD branch is as scenic as you could ask for, and as the sun was out by now it was a real pleasure. The pub at JD looked very nice too but with a 3 minute turn round it wasn’t to be.

Back at Smřzovka we located the station buff, sorry, bistro, selling Konrad from Vratislavice, just outside Liberec. A friendly local who had a little English insisted on conversation (much to his credit, to be fair) and then bought us a Becherovka in the interests of international relations! He was delighted that I’d actually heard of Jan Becher.

We carried on via Tanvald to an autumnal Harrachov, where 843 009 waits to depart as Os 16420 to Tanvald - unusually comfortable transport for an Os train

We’d let one train go (from P2) on the basis that it didn’t work through to Harrachov, and virtue was – I thought – rewarded when the 854 on the planned 1157 arrived on P3. That dealt with Smřzovka very satisfactorily but sadly the train terminated at Tanvald and we had to go forward to Harrachov on another 854 from a few metres further along track 3…

Another excellent line, with gradients to be wondered at on an adhesion worked line. At Harrachov the buffet seems to be deceased – you’re quite a way from the town and all in all 20 minutes for some photos was quite sufficient.

Back down to Tanvald, stopping at the same spot and with 1750 to Praha (854 again) departing from the west end of P1, those few metres remain undone. Ah well. Pleasant enough run down to Železný Brod which for some reason I’d expected to be industrial but isn’t, at least round the station. Turnov next, a very smart looking station, and finally (from the gricing viewpoint) down to Bakov nad Jizerou mĕsto, where the junction with the line from Kopidlno was (mercifully) still clearly visible in fading daylight!

Slight anxiety with the connection at Všetaty as we were 14 late and the connection was 7 minutes, but we were assured it would be held and so it was. First class at last on to Nymburk on an Sp and again from Nymburk to Hradec Králové on an R which arrived close enough to time to persuade the Hotel Černigov to serve us an ‘after hours’ dinner at 220-something.

Saturday 6.10.07

The following day, Saturday 6-10-07, provided an opportunity to do freight only line 046 on the 'Primator Express'. 2-8-2T 423 0145 is seen here under the wires just after regaining the main line at Smirice.

Černigov managed to deal with 200 Germans from four (road) coaches and still give us a decent breakfast, after which we strolled across to the station for the 0903 kettlex to Jaroměř via Hněvčeves, line 046 and Smiřice. This went well with 2-8-2T 423 0185, until 2 or 3 km up line 046 when it slipped to a standstill, out of sand. Presumably supplies were delivered by road to the nearby crossing as we set off again after about 45 minutes delay, reaching Jaroměř without firther incident and in time for a swift Staropramen before R986, 1144 to Liberec formed of 843 006 and a couple of trailers.

Stará Paka was successfully negotiated, completing the layout there. The 5 minutes or so lateness was recovered by Liberec where the 4 minute connection to the southbound service was made with ease.

Back then to Turnov with 843 018, then a 50 minute sandwich and beer break before the long trudge to Hradec Králové via Libuň (track) and Ostroměř (not). The first part to Ostroměř was an 814; we elected for a change of scenery and decamped to 810 206 for the 26 minute trundle down to Chlumec nad Cidlinou.

A long day for us continued with a trip back to Liberec, then down to Pardubice via Jicin, Ostromer, Chlumec and Hradec Kralove, finishing up with stew and dumplings on IC 581 to Olomouc! Here 163 064 waits in one of the bay platforms at Hradec Kralove hl.n. with Os 5665, 18:05 to Pardubice.

The R to Hradec Králové turned up very promptly behind 150 026 and we ‘enjoyed’ a very hot first class coach to HK. Next train to Pardubice was the 1805 local which was standing in the bay platform 1a with 163 064.

Last train of the day provided our Saturday treat – goulash and dumplings with Gambrinus (pancakes and spinach with wine for Herself) in the restaurant car on IC581, 1914 from Pardubice to Olomouc. Thence by tram for three stops to U Domu, and the eponymous hotel which is a very pleasant little establishment in a side street right by the tram stop. The hooded monk in black robes standing at the corner didn’t put us off for a moment, honest. (Was he a fake? I thought so, nice hotel lady said not).

The day concluded at Svatováclavský Pivovar, a very modern (and rather bland) two storey brewpub just off the main square. I had the cooking lager (Vašek) which I thought pretty unspectacular though unusually bitter - H had the weissbier which was served with a slice of lemon. On a one-sip sample I thought it was excellent.

Sunday 7.10.07

Lewis on pole – missed the start while we had breakfast but saw him safely pitted on lap 14. Tenterhooks now… Meanwhile the pre-ordered breakfast was pleasant enough, the Amex card worked (unlike yesterday) and we set off to the station on the no 4 tram (40% surcharge for paying on the tram, discounted because I hadn’t got enough change).

R821, 0915 to Opava via Krnov, was the usual kart with the added attraction of two buses between Dětřichov nad Bystřicí and Valšov. Hopefully this is my last trip on the line but it would be quite nice to get end to end with no buses [although I’ve done the whole line with overlaps, I have I think been part bustituted every time!].

Due to the bustitution (which was expected, thanks to the Internet) we were 10 late but in the interests of breakfast I’d gambled that the connection would be held and it was, so off to Třemešná to find, to my enormous relief, 705 914 and its one coach waiting.

The previous night's move to Olomouc was to position us for another long day going out to Osoblaha and back to Brno. We'd been thwarted by late running at Sumperk in 2006 and loco failure at Tremesna earlier in 2007 so had to make a third attempt at CD's last narrow gauge line. We succeeded this time, and 705 914 took us to Osoblaha where the picture was taken (7-10-07).

The schedule’s fairly leisurely at 44 minutes for 20km and we arrived slightly early at Osoblaha. Nice line, with a good climb away from Třemešná but flattening out later on.

On arrival at Osoblaha we went unsuccessfully in search of a pub (46 minutes was too short to get right into town, have a beer and get back). However we encountered a shop which was in darkness but had its shutters back, and a notice which seemed to invite you to ring the bell. Being intelligent folk we weighed this up and voted it worth a punt. We were rewarded by the appearance of a friendly lady who sold us Radegast Extra/Premium/Whateverova at CZK17 the bottle. Well done the Telford Two.

Back to the station for 1250, the 1300 departure for Třemešná, and the 1348 departure therefrom, R883 Jeseník – Ostrava-Svinov worked by the inevitable kart. To be fair it reverses twice (Krnov and Opava Východ) but first class would be nice…

Quick visit, for about the 54 th time, to the Ostrava-Svinov buffet, where the staff was as loveable and cuddly as ever. The Radegast went down particularly well though, and made me feel slightly better about the vile, graffiti’d (as usual – why?) 460 016 working Os3314, 1545 to Přerov with its ‘limited number of bicycles conveyed’.

Oh, and Lewis had a tyre problem and now has it all to do in Brazil in two weeks time. Ah well. [Sadly, he didn’t. Kimi did.]

Meanwhile, 460 016 got us into Přerov on time, though it was a good thing I enquired where Os4080 was. It was in a bay (Kolej 0, eat your heart out Stockport – you’re not the first) at the west end of the station and we had only a 6 minute connection.

The local to Nezamyslice was a mere 2 minutes late despite crossing two trains on the way, and so the 6 minute connection on to R906 was assured (even if it hadn’t been 5 minutes or so late, a small miracle considering it had come from Jeseník).

R906 obligingly took the southern route into Brno via Chrlice as booked, thus completing the day’s track very satisfactorily. It remained only to get an extremely wedged no. 1 tram to Moravsky Namesti for the Hotel Continental, a comfortable enough ‘block of flats’ establishment.

Dinner (remarkably similar to yesterday’s) and unfiltered beer (excellent) were taken at Pegas, the minipivovar just down the road.

Monday 8.10.07

Hotel Continental’s breakfast didn’t officially start until 0700 which was a minor hitch, but we arrived at 0655 to find serried ranks of tables and a comprehensive buffet ready to go. Once the boss lady arrived the staff were drilled to perfection, standing to attention when not required, and racing to clear empty plates at the hint of a nod from the boss. All rather entertaining, and a nice breakfast to boot.

Off to the station by tram no. 1 (a less wedged three section artic this time) ready for EC71 to Břeclav. We elected to travel in the Czech 1 st which was in very much better condition than the adjacent German one.

Morning mist was much in evidence when we encountered Slovak 240 115 at Kuty the following morning (8-10-07). We'd started the day with a cross border trip to Slovakia from Breclav, returning to the Czech Republic and finishing off with another cross border line to Austria (and back).

Having escaped the local multilingual (so he believed) nutter at Břeclav we joined IC131 for a short foggy journey across the Slovak border to Kuty (another gap filled). The cheery lady gripper had no interest in selling us a ticket for the ZSSK bit so we had a few minutes free ride. At Kuty I did succeed in buying a ticket for the return, at a whole pound each. We then retired to the station buff where a coffee and 0.3l of Corgon set us back a further 60p.

Much better conditions prevail at Brno where 363 116 is waiting with R676 to Havlickuv Brod and Praha hl.n.

Back to Brno on EC174 in a much smarter DB 1st open, haulage provided by 350 017. After a fruitless search for bananas (ho, ho) 363 116 took us on to Havlíčkův Brod on R676. A fairly alarming trip in that extensive moleworks (with single line operation) between Tišnov and Žďár nad Sázavou, plus a bit of sloppy station work, had us 15 late away from Žďár with a 19 minute unbooked connection at Havlíčkův Brod. Fortunately things took a turn for the better and it was about 12 down at HB, giving us adequate time to locate Os14841, top and tailed by 253 053 at the Jihlava end and another 230 at the rear.

So the plan survived, and at Jihlava there was time to sample the excellent Ježek (Hedgehog) in the buff, buy tickets Šatov-Retz (CZK34 each) and acquire bananas and emergency Hedgehog for the afternoon. 750 143 took us to Okřisky on a Brno train, then it was 810s to Moravské Budějovice for the Jemnice branch. A fairly uninteresting meander to Jemnice on 810569 which worked through to Znojmo on the return. Obviously the physical connection was done, but not the main line throughout, though overlap was achieved.

At Znojmo it was on to 810 222 for a short hop to Šatov (Czech border grip) and Retz. For future reference – Retz has a buffet. There’s a striking high bridge over the valley as you leave Znojmo, and more vineyards than you could shake a wine bottle at.

On the return we were quickly able to locate Hotel/Penzion Bermuda (300m up the street opposite the station and it’s on the left just before the roundabout). We went for a wander round the town, ending up at a very posh new hotel where main meals, raspberries and ice cream, a beer and an ice cream cost CZK424 in total.

Tuesday 9.10.07

A plated but substantial breakfast at Penzion Bermuda, which doesn’t take credit cards CZK1300 double) and is 7 minutes walk from the station.

Mercifully the stopper to Břeclav was 842 014 with trailers, smartly away at 0855. 742 100 and 742 321 were noted at Znojmo depot, and 740 672/893 stabled at Hrušovany.

The next morning (9-10-07) we set off back to Breclav to do the line from Znojmo, pausing on the way back at Hrusovany, where 742 159 is pictured working Os 4510 Breclav - Znojmo. The two locos in the background are 740 893 (orange livery) and 740 672 in the blue and white CMNS livery.

Definitely a trudge to Břeclav – but hey, it’s inked in now! The station buffet seems to have moved up at least to the 1980s since my last visit, and a friendly bar lady served us Gambrinus. Even more of a trudge back, without the ink, but we did have loco haulage by 742 159 with three bogie trailers. A half hour break at Hrušovany looked grim, but the bothy contained another cheery old soul who sold Hostan (once Znojmo, now seemingly Starobrno but none the worse for that). Connections duly made, 809 232 took us down the short branch to Hevlín, where the pub by the level crossing was open and provided a final top-up of Starobrno and coffee before the afternoon ‘desert’.

After a quick jaunt to Hevlin (which has a very handy pub by the level crossing!) we made our way up to Brno, stopping off to do the Oslavany branch. Here 850 028 is seen at the rather nondescript termius at Oslavany. It has to be said that the day generally wasn't one of scenic delight - but hey, you have to do the track!

Back at Hrušovany the bothy was shut (good thing, probably) so we were straight on to 850 001, forming Os4411, 1332 to Brno. It’s a very boring part of the world at first but takes a turn for the better after Moravský Krumlov.

The Oslavany branch train was waiting at Moravské Bránice – 850 028 and (I’m almost sure) a trailer. The branch itself is quite scenic with a strange half-quarried ‘free standing’ hill at Oslavany. No time for exploration with a 3 minute turn round so we headed on to Brno with 028. Much delight when we crossed the layout to arrive on P1 at Moravské Bránice, thus getting the physical connection from the branch and continuous track on the main line as this was a through train.

Last phottable train of the day was R860, 1725 Brno - Ceske Budejovice. Here it's standing in the bay platform at Brno headed by another smartly turned out Goggle, 754 022. The following morning we returned from Havlickuv Brod where we stayed overnight, to Praha hl.n. in the relative comfort of R672.

Into Brno for a fairly lengthy refreshment stop before the last track of the trip. This was R860, 1725 Brno-České Budějovice, hauled by 754 022. The struggle over the hill is allowed for in the timings but we were delayed some 6 minutes in all by Os4815 which was in the single line section starting before Rosice, and then R661 Plzeň – Brno which we crossed at Kalice. Daylight was a serious concern with arrival booked at Okřišky at 1851, but in the event the skies cleared miraculously just after Studenec and the ‘one field’ rule lasted comfortably to Okřišky. A few minutes later it was, er, dark…

The late running caused further worries with the 5 minute connection at Jihlava. We arrived about 12 late and the connection was held – but instead of going from the bay where it arrived yesterday, it went from the main platforms. Which would have been OK, but in order to run the loco round, our Brno – České Bud train pulled up alongside the bay. Nobody seemed to know where the connecting train was, and the resulting scramble caused H a good deal of distress due to her cold. No long term harm done, thankfully, and we arrived 15 minutes or so late at Havlíčkův Brod to find a bus waiting outside which took us most of the way to the hotel. The hotel (Golden Lion) in the main square was absolutely excellent, spotless and tastefully restored. A nice dinner with dessert, beer (Bernard) and wine cost a tenner.

Wednesday 10.10.07

Wishing to avoid any repetition of last night’s assorted problems, we elected for breakfast (very nice too) at 0700 and a taxi (very very frightening) at 0730 for the 0758 to Praha hl.n. which, inevitably, was 13 minutes late! Still, we had a civilised start to the day.

Into Praha hl.n. still a few minutes late but with plenty of time before our flight so after a beer and a sandwich near P-Mas station we caught the 26 tram to its terminus and the 119 the rest of the way. Flight back to .uk was on time and VT and CT managed to get us to Shifnal on time, whence our son collected us.

Foiled again, by late running and moleworks. I wasn't going to let that rest, so took advantage of cheap late autumn fares to go back three weeks later and do those things which had been left undone!








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