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Railway Days in the Regions Spread Joy, Admiration and Understanding

The last two Saturdays in September were marked by more Railway Day celebrations in the regions…

On this occasion, ČD let passengers into its operational areas and provided a range of special journeys, presentations of rail vehicles and an entertaining accompanying programme at the stations. The event attracted the attention of thousands of people, in particular families with children and ubiquitous photographers.

There were many ways to celebrate, but the idea remained the same. Whether or not you’d already visited Railway Day in Moravia or western Bohemia, an atmosphere of sincere interest in the world on rails prevailed everywhere. There was something for lovers of steam, electric and combustion engines, as well as models and even excursions to places of interest for tourists.

Česká Třebová

In Česká Třebová, celebrations took place on Saturday, 21 September, with the theme of modern rail vehicles. ČD boasted its RegioPanter, unit which “skipped over” to Česká Třebová from its regular service on the Pardubice – Jaroměř line. You could take a ride on the RegioSpider around the premises of the depot. Every hour, special Regionova trains ran between the station and the DKV facility, carrying interested people to the classification yard as well, where ČD Cargo employees demonstrated the automatic shifting of trains from signal box 015, and to the entrance station by signal box 014. At “number 19”, the Fire Rescue Service of the Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC) offered a tour of their technical equipment.

Dny železnice v krajích šířily radost, obdiv a poznáníYou might be surprised how many obvious enthusiasts with a thirst for discovery were “roaming” among the wrecks of vehicles, in particular of classes 753, 451, 470 and 851 units, in the so-called locomotive cemetery. In the ÚTK building, there were model railways on display (Association of Friends of Railway Modelling and Railways from Choceň), and you could try out your own strength and learn that steering the controller of an electric locomotive is quite demanding. Among the other outdoor attractions was the opportunity to tour an EDK 1000 rail crane, one of the largest in the Czech Republic. And almost no one missed out on a ride on a special carriage pulled by a BN 60 engine and driven by Mr Ačo from the local Railway Association on a track nicknamed Baraba. A diesel 810 ran as well, in place of the originally planned Žehlička.

The Česká Třebová Railway Day, to the preparation of which also contributed the Operational Circuit of the SŽDC and KCOD Pardubice, was attended by ČD’s CEO, Dalibor Zelený, who arrived aboard a shuttle train. Chief DKV station master Jiří Slezák, as well as former Pardubice Regional Governor Radko Martínek and the town’s mayor, Jaroslav Zedník, explained the details of certain workstations to Mr Zelený.

Jindřichův Hradec

On the same day in Jindřichův Hradec, railway fans young and old were able to see all the important locomotive series of ČD Cargo’s České Budějovice Operational Unit. All five exhibited engines, led by the class 749 Bardotka arrived at the celebration in the company’s new corporate colours. Other intriguing members of the convoy were the modernised class 230 Laminátka and the hybrid shunting Žehlička with electric as well as diesel traction. Children were excited about the model locomotives of a garden railway brought by Otakar Prokeš. A faithfully executed T 47.022 diesel engine and a functional small steam locomotive carried children around an open area in trailer carriages.

The Kobylky amateur theatre troupe from Jihlava staged two successful performances of railway fable The Secret Key from a freight wagon. “One of the members of the theatre troupe is dispatcher Libor Kocina. Among the members of the music group which played after lunch is another dispatcher, Milan Rakušan,” station supervisor František Šinko, one of the festivities’ organisers, informed us.

“In front of the station building, there was a smaller pedal draisine on loan from the Pošumavská jižní dráha railway which was operated by our cashiers. A large historic human-powered draisine was graciously lent by Mr Zahrádka from Čachrov. Moreover, a diesel draisine was in operation on the neighbouring narrow-gauge track. Anyone who wanted to ride the tracks could use our Regionova, which ran between the station and signal box no. 4, where it was possible to view the interlacing of a narrow-gauge and standard-gauge track,” added KCOD České Budějovice’s director, Jiří Kafka.

Prague

The centre of the Railway Day celebrations in Prague on 21 September was the Braník station, where interested visitors viewed the display of vehicles despite the gloomy and sometimes even rainy weather. Children waited impatiently in queues for the opportunity to have a seat at the control station of a modern class 380 electric locomotive, and there was also great interest in rides on a draisine. The organisers had to shout constantly in order to avoid possible collisions with approaching visitors.

Probably the most successful attraction, however, was the aerial platform of the railway fire brigade, from which one could see all around – and the line was longest here. Railway Day also included extraordinary trains: the historic diesel Hurvínek, a nostalgic train pulled by the steam-powered Čtyřkolák, and the class 854 railcar. At Prague Main Station, as in previous years, passengers could have a look at the transport office (in full operation!) and view a theatre performance of The Most Locomotivey Locomotive in the culture hall.

Zastávka u Brna

Not even the very cold Saturday morning of 28 September deterred several hundred people from riding a steam train pulled by Šlechtična 475.101 from Brno Main Station to Zastávka u Brna. Here, not only Railway Day was celebrated, but also Health Day and Mining Day. In the train of historic carriages from the 1940s and 1950s, there was also a compartment for transporting bicycles. Some cyclists disembarked earlier and arrived at the destination via nearby municipalities where an accompanying programme was underway. There was also a free bus service running between all the places where festivities had been organised.

Anyone who wanted to, for example, could head to Babice for the Goulash Fest and then ride some two kilometres aboard a narrow-gauge train to the Museum of Industrial Railways. “In Rosice, near Brno, people could visit a chateau with a costumed guide, and the chateau garden was open as well. Military enthusiasts were definitely intrigued by a tour of an atomic bomb shelter, military vehicles and model aircraft. In the Cristal House of Culture there was a juggling competitions and an exposition of the Mighty Shake dancing school,” adds Michal Teplík from KCOD Brno.

At Zastávka u Brna, competitions for children had been prepared, as well as an inflatable jumping castle and rides in a traffic park. Parents could go to nearby traditional fair organised in the Workers’ House and sample e.g. pig-sticking specialties or have a look at an exhibition of local fruits and vegetables. And those interested in industrial archaeology visited a permanent exhibition on the history of the mining town of Zastávka.

Plasy

On the last Saturday in September, Railway Day was also celebrated at the station in Plasy on the line from Plzeň to Žatec. “We always select locations which are easy for visitors to get to, and which offer sufficient space. We also try not to neglect any corner of our region. Plasy not only meets these criteria, however; there are also two more reasons for the choice of this site. The first is excellent cooperation on the part of the local government, which participated in organising Railway Day. Seoond, we can’t overlook the 140th anniversary of line no. 160 from Plzeň to Žatec,” says KCOD’s director, Plzeň Vladimír Kostelný, describing the factors which influenced the choice of venue for the festivities.

Live music for all generations (from Heligonka to a group nicknamed Slepá kolej to the Michal Šindelářeth Trio) made for a good atmosphere. The main feature of the event was a special train from Kaznějov pulled by 114-year-old steam locomotive 310.072, nicknamed Kafemlejnek, which then travelled a total of three times from Plasy to Mladotice and return, demonstrating that even an engine from the century before last still has enough steam. In Plasy, it crossed paths – symbolically, so to speak – with class 844 RegioShark units. The meeting of historic and modern vehicles demonstrated the progress which the railway has made since the 1890s.

Martin Navrátil, Martin Harák, Petr Horálek, Václav Rubeš

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