Capital Punishment - A Weekend in Praha

03 - 06 June 2005

Report by Duncan Cotterill


After a week of night shifts I needed to go somewhere to relax, enjoy a few beers and phot some trains. Scouring the net for cheap airfares drew a blank. Then the idea of an inclusive short break occurred to me. There were some reasonable prices on flight plus hotel deals to Praha, somewhere I'm usually put off staying by the inflated prices. A quick check of the diagrams revealed quite a few interesting workings around Praha at weekends including 749s on most Cercany trains and a smattering of 141 turns, including some expresses, not to mention all the other loco hauled trains with classes 150, 151, 162, 163, 350, 362, 363, 371 etc. Decision made!

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


Friday 03 June 2005

It was a beautiful day in Praha when I finally got there, 40 minutes late in spite of not using Heathrow where I had been seriously delayed on the last couple of trips. There was still time to spend a couple of hours photographing at Hlavni Nadrazi in glorious late afternoon light before making my way to the hotel, situated in a charming tower block estate in the northern suburbs. Little did I know that the best of the trip was already over.

Saturday 04 June 2005

The good weather didn't last long. It started raining around 06:30 and continued until 16:30. On the railway front, Os 9203 had 151 008 instead of the booked 141 and R942 produced a noisy 751 133.

After trying a few shots in the gloom at Hlavni Nadrazi, I decided the day would be better spent looking for photspots. Seven hours spent riding to Cercany and Dobris confirmed my suspicion that there weren't many good spots on either line.

Back in Praha, the clouds were breaking and by 18:00 the sky was completely clear. An hour's photography in crystal clear light at Hlavni Nadrazi made up for the rest of the day. The highlight was getting 751 133 departing on R1441 (ex Tanvald).

Sunday 05 June 2005

The forecast was for another dismal day with near continuous rain. For once, it didn't turn out as bad as predicted and there were actually a few sunny intervals between the showers. First stop was Hlavni Nadrazi where 350 017 obligingly posed in the optimum position on EC136 during a break in the clouds.

When the sun got too head on at Hlavni Nadrazi, I moved to Praha Klanovice on the main line to Kolin. While most Czech stations are infested with poles and tall, unsightly lampposts, the few that there are at Klanovice are rapidly disappearing into the encroaching forest. Even the electrification masts are rust coloured and blend nicely with the background. There wasn't a huge amount of action but a few trains did coincide with sunny breaks.

By the time I got back at Hlavni Nadrazi, the sky had clouded over completely again.

Monday 06 June 2005

Yet another gloomy day but this time without the sunny breaks. Once again, a visit to Hlavni Nadrazi kicked things off. The big surprise of the morning was seeing 749 140 on R851 (ex Chomutov) and Sp1890 (to Rakovnik). This loco was an old friend from my visits to Karlovy Vary - Kadan and may be the only member of the class to have an amplifier fitted instead of a silencer. It must have sounded great climbing the "Semmering" on Sp1890.

Another midday visit to Klanovice produced the only sunny shot of the day but most of the time there was spent sheltering from a two hour long torrential downpour.

Then it was back to Masarykovo and off to the airport for the flight home.


Although the weather was cloudy most of the time, the quality of the light when the sun did appear was exceptional. The sheer volume of workings through Hlavni Nadrazi meant that I still got a few decent shots in spite of the weather. However it was hard work at times. Praha hl n is a very photogenic station and the variety of locomotive types and liveries makes it a rewarding photographic location. I didn’t do particularly well on the 141 or 749 workings but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

Had the weather been better, there were a number of other locations I could have visited but the chances of a sunny break coinciding with a train on a sparsely trafficked line were virtually nil. The only sensible option was to stay where the action was. I suppose I’ll have to go back and try again sometime.