Liberec 753s

18 - 22 May 2005

Report by Duncan Cotterill


The last concentration of class 753 diesels is at Liberec, where they work freights on the Nymburk - Mlada Boleslav - Turnov - Liberec - Frydlant v C - Zawidow route. I'd had little luck photographing these trains in the past but had managed to get a couple of decent shots on the previous trip. That left me eager for more, so it was back to Liberec at the first opportunity.

Details of locos and workings observed can be seen on the sightings page.

London-Praha-Turnov-Liberec-Raspenava Wednesday 18 May 2005

The trip started with another SNAFU at Heathrow which resulted in a 30 minute late arrival at Praha and put paid to any ideas of taking a scenic route to Liberec. In spite of catching a bus to Zlicin within a few minutes of leaving the terminal, it was 12:20 before I got to Hlavni Nadrazi, just as the last of my potential options left. After buying the obligatory first class Sitove Jizdenky, I filled in the time waiting for the next direct service to Turnov with a trip to Praha Vrsovice where the train originated. The journey from Praha to Mlada Boleslav must be one of the most tedious in the Czech Republic with very little of railway or scenic interest to occupy the time. Two hours to cover the 102 km to Turnov is seriously slow but at least from Mlada Boleslav onwards there's some decent scenery and, with a bit of luck, some 753s to look out for.

Liberec - Frydlant Area Thursday 19 May 2005

Instead of staying all four nights in Raspenava as planned, I ended up spending the first night at Hejnice on the Bily Potok branch as the hotel in Raspenava was full. It's a great shame that this line sees so few locos as there are some very pleasant photo positions along its 6 km length. The Frydlant trip engine must get as far as Hejnice occasionally as there was a part unloaded coal wagon in the loop there. The timber yard at Bily Potok appeared to be defunct. After exploring the Bily Potok and Cernousy lines early in the morning, the rest of the day was spent on the section between Raspenava and Frydlant photographing freights. There appeared to be a shortage of serviceable 753s as a pair of 743s was in use and the Frydlant trip engine was even commandeered to work an afternoon Liberec - Zawidow goods. Apart from a cloudy period mid morning, the weather was sunny all day. No prizes for guessing the precise timing of the worst light.

Friday 20 May 2005

A gloriously sunny day but only three of the booked freights ran. All were 753 worked but none produced an acceptable photo, one was missed while changing location, one was a single wagon and the third came during the day's only cloudy period. Thankfully 742 454 was more cooperative and produced three very acceptable pictures on the pick up freights.

Saturday 21 May 2005

Another predominantly sunny day. This time I managed a couple of decent shots of 753s. Against all the odds, it was the matched pair of lightning stripes that came at the best time and in the best light. However hard you try, it just goes to show that you can't get it wrong all the time.

Sunday 22 May 2005

Although the forecast was for cloud and rain, there was a bit of sunshine first thing. That persuaded me to stay north of Liberec for a few hours and have another go at the morning freights. A bonus was getting 750 388 on Os 6309, not that it came in decent light. The thickest darkest cloud of the whole morning was reserved for the ten minutes when both north and southbound freights passed, both hauled by pairs of 753s.

Oldrichov - Liberec - Decin - Praha - London Sunday 22 May 2005

After riding to Cernousy and back to fill in a bit of time, I took R694 from Liberec to Usti nad Labem, with 749 213 doing the honours to Decin. There was some sort of event going on at Decin hl n with a number of locos on display and an ancient M131 railcar giving rides. From Usti, it was on to Praha hl n on R671. The journey from Liberec to Usti and on to Praha was the only time on the trip that any of the trains used had first class accommodation but as both were extremely crowded in second, it was well worth the extra five quid for a first class ticket. From Praha Hlavni, it was back to the airport and home.


For those interested, the passenger trains on the Liberec - Frydlant v C were a mixture of 810, 842 and 854 units as expected. Services from Raspenava to Bily Potok and Frydlant to Cernousy and Jindrichovice were all operated by 810s.

This trip was never going to be easy. Photographing freights is always a hit and miss activity and, in spite of generally good weather, I still didn't get many satisfactory shots. However, it's probably improved my collection of quality 753 shots by 50% so I'm not complaining. It was hard work and very frustrating at times so I'll probably have a go at something more predictable next. The Liberec area could be back on the agenda in the autumn if the 753s are still around.