Travel in Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia
WILSON STATION at Prague is the largest passenger station in Czechoslovakia. The above illustration, taken from behind the terminus, shows that part of the building which accommodates trains arriving from the east and north of Czechoslovakia.
AN important effect of the war of 1914-
Czechoslovakia is a country in the heart of Europe, and extends from west to east for a distance of about 620 miles, in the form, roughly, of a wedge, with the narrow end to the east. The greatest width of the wedge is some 160 miles, and the narrowest thirty-
Although Czechoslovakia was founded as late as October 28, 1918, ten days after independence had been proclaimed, part of it, the Czech portion, was founded as the State of Bohemia over a thousand years ago. The republic is inhabited by people of various races -
Before the war of 1914-
In 1919 the Czechoslovak State Railways took over 3,424 locomotives, rather more than half the Austrian locomotive stud of 1913, and added another 674 when it acquired certain private railways. The latest returns give the following figures: 7,230 locomotives, 34 electric locomotives, 420 motor rail-
Because of the hilly nature of much of the country only 22 per cent of the lines are on level ground; 22 per cent of the lines have gradients of between 1 in 100 and 1 in 40, while the remainder are between level and 1 in 100.
THE MAIN LINES of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia are shown here, together with those of Hungary. In Czechoslovakia there are altogether some 8,400 miles of track. The Hungarian State lines have some 4,800 miles in operation. Yugoslavia has some 4,400 miles of standard gauge and 1,940 miles of narrow-
Of the principal traffic coal products, including coke, occupy the first place, accounting for more than 38 per cent. About half of the lines have the character of mountain railways. For the purposes of building, maintenance, and inspection, the permanent way is divided into 126 track-
The maintenance centres are under the control of station-
The network of lines in Bohemia and Moravia-
In the west the country is industrial, and has the traffic conditions of industrial areas, while the east is mainly agricultural. The west contains the famous spas of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) and Marianske Lazne (Marienbad). There are also a number of other spas in this district, which is on the southern slopes of the Ore Mountains in northwest Bohemia. Jachymov (St. Joachimsthal) is a new spa which is being developed. In Moravia there are spas at the foot of the Beskids; there are also spas in Silesia and Slovakia. The springs of sulphurous water are warm in Slovakia and cold in Moravia.
Karlovy Vary, some seventy miles from Prague, has been famous for hundreds of years. In the season special luxury trains converge upon it from Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Vienna, and through carriages run from Warsaw, Bucharest, Budapest, and Belgrade.
The main line from Berlin and Dresden enters the country at Podmokly (Bodenbach), which is eighty miles from the capital, and follows the valley of the Elbe. At Usti Nad Labem the River Bela joins the Elbe. Near Lovosice the Elbe takes a big bend; the railway does not follow this, but goes on, crossing another river, the Ohre, and regains the Elbe at Roudnice. It now follows the Elbe through a fertile plain to Dolni Berkovice, where it leaves the Elbe, and gains the River Vltava beyond Vranany. The Vltava is the river that flows through Prague.
ON THE RIVER ELBE. A view of Decin, an important industrial town in the north of Bohemia. Decin is a big transhipment station for river transport to the northern ports, and both the railway and river combine here to serve the home industries.
The line continues along the valley, and at Kralupy is joined by a branch from the anthracite coal-
On the other bank of the Elbe is the line which connects with the route to Dresden and Berlin. This line runs from Decin, parallel with Podmokly, and is nearly four miles longer. It follows the Elbe after the other line has left the river, and does not leave it until reaching Neratovice, where it climbs towards the watershed of the Vltava, and enters Prague after describing a long curve.
Cheb, lying close to the German frontier, is reached by trains from Paris and Nurnberg. It is 138 miles west of Prague, and is the junction for a number of lines, including those to the two famous spas of Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne, which are respectively north-
A Link with Germany
The line from Cheb through Karlovy Vary to Prague is 150 miles long. It follows the River Ohre, passes through Karlovy Vary, and leaves the Ohre after Zatec. It gains Prague after passing a region of coal-
Plzen has another outlet to Germany by way of Furth, on the German side of the frontier, this line being fifty miles long, and tapping a region of coalmines and glassworks.
A line from Ceske Velenice, south of the capital and on the Austrian border, goes to Prague, entering the country and pro-
Bratislava (Pressburg), with a population of 143,000, is the capital of Slovakia and a port on the River Danube. It lies close to the borders of Austria and Hungary. A section of the railway runs near the border from Breclav, which is north of Bratislava, to Szob, a Hungarian town to the southeast of Bratislava. On the Czechoslovak side of the boundary is the station of Parkan. The line leaves the Danube and climbs to an upland plain; part of the line is on the route of the “Orient Express” between Vienna and Budapest.
The next link northward is the line from Breclav through the second largest city in the country, Brno (Brunn), with a pop-
THE TRANSHIPMENT STATION of Usti-
Kosice, in the east, is a city of 70,000 inhabitants, and an important railway centre. A line goes east to Kralovo, and another goes west to the mountain resorts of the Tatras. One section ends at Liptovsky Sv. Mikulas, and another goes on farther to Bohumin, on the Polish-
The lines from Bohumin east to Kosice and farther east to Jasina, at the thin edge of the wedge formed by the country, are being used to open up tourist traffic in northern Slovakia and the east of the country, the centre for the section of the railways being Kosice.
Zilina, commercial centre of the northern part of central Slovakia, is the starting point for the tour, and the train goes along the valley of the Vah. Tourists take narrow-
it has been made accessible. New paths have been opened up not only in the mountains, but also in the wooded districts of the centre of the country. There are the mountain chains which form the frontiers: in the southwest the Bohemian forest, in the northwest the Ore Mountains, in the north the Giant Mountains, the Beskids, and the Carpathians. The central hills include the country of the Bohemian-
In the Carpathians
The great forests of the Carpathians in the east of the country are only just being penetrated, and the district is old-
Yet in the western part of the country there are industrial cities, the products of which are sent to the ends of the earth. Pilsener lager, for instance, is famous, and in recent years the Bata shoe factories at Zlin have achieved international renown not only for their wares, but also for a system of industrialization which is to Europe what the Ford system is to the United States. The Skoda works, which produce steam and electric locomotives at Plzen, have long been famous, and the glass-
A private company operates the Tatra Railway in the High Tatras, connecting with the State Railways at Poprad Vel’ka, and for Stary Smokovec and on to Strbske Pleso and for Tatranska Lomnica. From Stary Smokovec a funicular railway over a mile long goes up to a hotel, and a toboggan run has been made alongside the track. The railway owns the hotel which is the starting point for tours in the mountains.
The railways of the State are divided into the following seven divisions: Prague, Plzen, Hradec Kralove (east of Prague), Brno, Olomouc (north of Brno), Bratislava, and Kosice. The largest passenger station in the country is the Wilson Station at Prague, which was named after President Wilson.
IN BELGRADE. A view of the locomotive depot and of a new turn-
The first railway to be built after the State began its programme of improvement was a line twenty-
Although the country is far from the sea, there are two international waterways, the Danube and the Elbe, and the river ports are busy. The railways send goods at reduced rates to these towns, and the goods are loaded into barges and other craft and taken to Hamburg, on the Baltic, or down the Danube to the Black Sea.
Prague is little more than a day’s journey from London; the express service by way of Ostend takes twenty-
AN ENGINE ROUND-
YUGOSLAVIA is also a most interesting country, and is a land of many contrasts, having the colour of the Near East and the travelling comforts of the West. It is the country of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, or South Slavs, and came into being as a result of the war. The area is about 94,200 square miles, and the population in 1931 was 13,934,000.
Yugoslavia comprises the former kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro, large areas of what was once Austria-
Belgrade, or Beograd, now a city of 291,700 people, is the fine capital arisen above the battered ruins which were left after the war. The greater part of the city is new, and it is the railway centre of southeastern Europe. Belgrade has been for centuries a vital point on the highway between Europe and Asia. Its history has been stormy, and for a long time it was in the hands of the Turks. The name means the “White City”; it is situated at the confluence of the River Save or Sava and the great waterway of the Danube. Another important river in the country is the Drave or Drava, also a tributary of the Danube.
The nine districts, or Banovinas, into which, tor administrative purposes, the country is divided, are as follows: Dunavska (Danube) Banovina, with its seat of administration at Novi Sad, including the Vojvodina up to the Slavonian frontier and north-
The Dravska (Drave) Banovina (headquarters Ljubljana) forms the north-
A RAILWAY TERMINUS AT BELGRADE, the capital of Yugoslavia. Belgrade constitutes the chief railway centre of south-
Because Yugoslavia has been formed out of several countries, the railways taken over after the war were of mixed origin; much has been done to unify them. The main lines are of standard gauge, but tracks of three gauges -
As about four of every five persons in the country derive their livelihood from the soil, being peasant farmers, Yugoslavia is not an industrial country. But the country is in process of change, as much of the Oriental aspect has become westernized in the last few years.
The Austrians built most of the lines in the country. In what was formerly Serbia, the main line from Belgrade to Nish was built in 1884, and other lines were built later. The railway from Nish to Salonika -
From England to Yugoslavia, the traveller has a variety of routes, of which that followed by the “Simplon-
Entering Yugoslavia from the northwest and north are a number of lines which lead to Zagreb (previously known as Agram), the former capital of Croatia, and the second city in the country. Its population is 206,000, which is not much less than that of the capital. Zagreb is on the border of Western and Eastern Europe. It is the capital of the Savska Banovina.
The State Railways are divided into five divisions or districts: Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana (west of Zagreb), Sarajevo (in the centre of the country), and Subotica, north of Belgrade.
Ljubljana (Laibach) is the main-
Zagreb has railway connexions with all parts of the country, for it is not only on the main line of the Yugoslav system, but it is also a junction for the lines that come down from Hungary to the Adriatic ports of Trieste, Susak, and Split.
Brod, a station on the main line to Belgrade, is the junction for the line that goes south to the coast, terminating at Dubrovnik (Ragusa). On this line is Sarajevo, junction for a branch that runs east, joining the main line between Belgrade and Nish, and having various spur lines.
From Vinkovci, on the main line, a branch goes north to Subotica, where it joins the main line from Budapest to Belgrade, used by the “Orient Express” and other international trains. The Yugoslav main line meets the Budapest-
When the country came into being the railway administration did not have to alter the whole direction of traffic as had some other newly-
Dubrovnik (Ragusa), which is linked by rail with the trunk line, is one of the most beautiful cities of the Adriatic, and was at one time a tiny state which became known as the Slav Athens, with a culture of its own, so far advanced that slave-
EXPRESS TANK ENGINE in service on the Czechoslovak State lines between Prague and Budejovice. The cylinders measure 23 in by 28 in and the diameter of the driving wheels is 5 ft 2 in. The working pressure of this 2-
Sarajevo was once the capital of the Moslems of Bosnia, and is now the capital of the Drinska Banovina, and the centre of one of the five railway divisions. The city lies 1,762 ft above sea-
The line through Mostar from Dubrovnik to Sarajevo affords views of beautiful country. The line running east from Sarajevo through Visegrad and Uzice winds through some amazing gorges, the engineering work being among the most difficult tasks of construction undertaken by Yugoslavia. From Lasva, on the line from Sarajevo to the main-
Jajce, on the branch from Lasva, was once the seat of the old Bosnian kings. A river rushes through the town and falls in a cascade called the Pliva Falls. Banja Luka, which is a Moslem town, is claimed by some people to be the burial place of St. Luke. It is the commercial centre of the district.
Some of these narrow-
BUILT FOR HEAVY PASSENGER SERVICE in Czechoslovakia. This 2-
One reduction is particularly interesting as it has been introduced to attract honeymoon couples. Newly-
Split (Spalato), the terminus of the line from Susak and Zagreb, is famous for the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and is busy and prosperous. Plitvice, on this line, is the centre for the lovely lakes of Plitvice. These are formed by the River Korana widening into a chain of lakes which descend by a series of limestone terraces to a deep gorge. Trains leave Split for Zagreb on this standard gauge line, with through carriages for Vienna, Prague, Cracow, and Bucharest. Split is thus in contact with the heart of Europe. The journey to Zagreb is through lovely scenery.
The line is joined at Ogulin by one from Susak, which is the port adjacent to Fiume. Fiume is Italian territory; Susak has been developed, and the Italian port has declined. Susak enables the Yugoslavs to send their produce by a standard gauge track to a port in their own territory, where it can be shipped in vessels of their nationality. It also provides Austria and Hungary with a port as an alternative to Trieste and Fiume, should they wish to avoid shipping goods through an Italian port.
Such a patchwork of contrasts in scenery, religion, and history is Yugoslavia that the question of railway communications and the improvement of the travelling facilities is of an importance outside the realm of economics.
This part of Europe is a land of communities which have separate individualities. But the provision of cheap railway transport enabling once-
Main Trunk Line
Entering the country from the northwest by the main trunk line, the traveller is in a mountainous district, which was formerly Austrian, bordering on the Tirol and the Venetian Alps. This is the land of the Slovenes, whose language differs from the Serbo-
industries are iron and steel, textiles, paper, leather, and timber. There are also coal and lead mines.
The next province or Banovina through which the trunk line passes is that of Savska, with its fine city of Zagreb. The people are Croats, and this part of the country was long under the domination of the Hungarians. Slavonia, which lies to the east of it, was also under Hungary, and is a fairly level, well-
The railways played an important part in the history of the Balkans in the troublesome period before the war of 1914-
SEVERAL INTERNATIONAL EXPRESSES serve Yugoslavia. These include the “Simplon-
[From part 46 published 13 December 1935]
You can read more on Czechoslovakian electrification in the chapter “Electrification in Europe” ; and you can read more on “Austria’s Rail Transport”, “The Orient Express” and “Poland’s Main Lines” on this website.