Diesel Freights

27 September - 09 October 2005

Report by Duncan Cotterill


Where do you go in the Czech Republic to photograph heavy diesel hauled freights these days? If you don't want to photograph under the wires and aren't that keen on pairs of 742s coupled cab to cab, there aren't that many lines to choose from. I decided to concentrate on two routes leading to the Polish border; Letohrad - Lichkov - Miedzylesie and Turnov - Liberec - Frydlant - Zawidow as both had reasonable levels of traffic, interesting locos and ran through pleasant scenery with good photographic possibilities.

I flew from Heathrow to Praha and back with CSA and travelled around by rail using a first class Sitove Jizdenky ticket, staying in Jablonne nad Orlici and Liberec.

As with all photographic endeavours, the weather was as crucial to the success of the trip as the trains or the locations. The first four days were totally overcast apart from a single, brief gap in the clouds that miraculously coincided with the departure of R757 from Hanusovice on the Wednesday. From late afternoon Friday until late morning Saturday was largely clear and there was another break during Saturday afternoon. After that, the weather closed in again for another two days of total gloom. I was beginning to wish I'd stayed at home when everything suddenly changed and the last six days were largely sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky.

Praha to Letohrad

27 September 2005

After arriving at Praha on Monday evening and staying in the city overnight (see below for hotel info), I set off for Usti nad Orlici on R243, the 08:10 Praha to Zilina with 162 018 on the front. Little of interest was noted on the journey apart from a 750 at Kolin, on what was probably R812 to Ceska Lipa, and Viamont 741 502 & 741 503 stabled at Prelouc.

At Usti nad Orlici 111 032, a regular performer on the Letohrad shuttles, was waiting with Os15063. Unusually 111 019 was the other loco in use on the day and 111 018 was also seen working the shuttles later in the week.

At Letohrad things went horribly wrong. For the journey on to Jablonne nad Orlici, where I planned to stay, I joined the third coach of what turned out to be a two coach train. My trailer remained stubbornly in the station while the rest of the train disappeared over the horizon. Dohhh!

Letohrad - Lichkov Area

27 September - 02 October 2005

Passenger Workings

Everything appeared to run with the booked traction during my stay although individual locos often didn't stay in diagram from one day to the next. All the Os trains east of Letohrad were 810 worked with the exception of Sunday's Os20031 and Os20000, which were worked by 749 256 as booked. The only regular daylight loco hauled passengers were R756 and R757, which were 749 worked except for one day when a 750 turned up. Locos seen were 749 008/019/254 and 750 312. R754 and R753 were both seen on Tuesday at Letohrad with 749 260.

At Tyniste nad Orlici on Tuesday, 714 212 was seen on Os5118 and 714 201 was on Os5101. Further east, at Hanusovice, 749 248 was on R905 on Thursday. Also at Hanusovice, Os 3609 was worked by 831 234 on Wednesday and 831 105 on Thursday and Os3611 was 831 105 on Sunday.

Freight Workings

Freights generally ran as expected and close to the booked times. Pn49004, the 07:00 from Miedzylesie, appeared to be the least reliable, turning up only twice out of the four times I expected to see it. It may just have been a habitual early runner and passed before sunrise. Rn44255, Pn47279/Nex42207, Rn44265, Pn44256, Pn47274, Pn44260 all ran reliably. See Bahnfuhrer for booked times and dates. Nex42204/5 wasn't seen on the Wednesday. That could have been because it was a public holiday or maybe it was just running very late. 751 236 + 751 038, 751 080 + 751 104 and 751 137 + 751 176 were the usual performers but 749 240 + 749 253 turned up on Rn44265 one day.

The Letohrad - Dolni Lipka & v.v. pick up goods Mn83329 and Mn83330 operated as expected . 742 220 was the usual loco but 742 186 appeared on the Saturday.

On a number of occasions I visited or passed through the Hanusovice area, usually after getting fed up being rained on at Lichkov. Train Pn61141 (10:09 ex Zabreh) was seen on Wednesday with 751 338, Thursday with 751 052 and Sunday with 751 041, waiting to go forward to Pisecna, north of Jesenik as Mn81761. Pn61141 isn't supposed to run on Sundays but the loco and train appeared from somewhere between 11:30 and 14:30. 751 338 was seen on Mn81820 on the line from Lipova Lazne to Javornik on Thursday. Most of the Sumperk 751s appear to carry an attractive dark blue and red livery which makes a nice change from the standard red/grey.

Local trips around Hanusovice were worked by 731 024 on Wednesday and Thursday and 731 027 on Sunday.

The Zabreh nad Morave - Ceska Trebova Main Line Upgrading

On Thursday 29 September the weather was so bad that it wasn't worth considering photography, so the opportunity was taken to do some travelling including the main line from Zabreh to Ceska Trebova which is in the process of being upgraded. This is a big job with a new alignment through the Hostejn gorge involving many new tunnels and bridges to replace the original curvaceous route, Additionally, a completely new double track line is under construction to replace the grade separated route between Rudoltice v Cechach and Trebovice v Cechach.

East of Hostejn work on the new tunnels continues and appears far from completion but the third tunnel between Hostejn and Krasikov looked to be finished and tracklaying work had just started. Further west, remarkable progress had been made on the Rudoltice to Trebovice section in the 10 weeks since my previous visit. The old main line was completely out of use with the track lifted and overhead removed already and all trains used what will become the new westbound line. Tracklaying work was well advanced on the eastbound line.

Instead of the 771 in use on my last visit, the Rudoltice banker was a more mundane 130 042. Passenger trains seen were the usual mix of 163s on Os trains, 162s on Rs and 151s on ICs and ECs. Virtually every freight seen was 163 hauled with very few of the older locos in evidence. 721 152 was stabled at Ceska Trebova station and an un-numbered but freshly painted 781 was on shed.

Letohrad to Liberec

03 October 2005

I took the 06:21 railcar from Jablonne nad Orlici to Letohrad, continuing west on Sp1906 to Pardubice behind 163 067. Ninety minutes at Pardubice waiting for R680 passed quickly watching the arrivals and departures including 770 036 dragging Os5006 backwards out of an electrically dead platform. 130 038 hauled R680 to Jaromer where 750 358 took over. 750 162 was stabled at Jaromer, presumably waiting to take R743 to Mezimesti.

At Zelezny Brod, disaster struck; Autobusy Doprava to Turnov for 842 021 forward to Liberec, banked by an 810. This state of affairs was to persist for at least a week so the one guaranteed pair of loco hauled trains between Turnov and Liberec would be a crappy 842 while I was around. Brilliant! 749 146 was stabled at Turnov but as it was a DKV Praha loco, it probably wasn't going my way anytime soon.

Liberec Area

03 to 09 October 2005

Passenger Workings

With the blockade between Turnov and Zelezny Brod, things were definitely not operating normally or even consistently. Trains between Turnov and Liberec were a mixture of 810 and 842 units with no loco haulage and no 854s. Timekeeping was appalling with northbound trains often running 30 or 40 minutes late and disrupting onward connections from Liberec. On the line north to Frydlant v Cechach virtually everything was 810 on Thursday but on Friday and Saturday, many trains were worked by 842s and Saturday's Os6308 and Os6313 produced a very welcome 749 244 on three coaches. To the west, on the Ceska Lipa line, operations were near normal with 810s on locals and 843s on fast trains and R690, R697, R694 and R691 loco hauled as expected. The difference was that 749 258 worked all the hauled trains every day, no bad thing as it is probably Liberec's smartest 749.

On Tuesday, Os6112 to Ceska Lipa was formed of a 742 hauling a single 053 trailer and Os5423 to Semily (Turnov) was an 810 and trailer piloted by 742 342. Thursday's Os6307 from Frydlant had superpower in the form of 753 141 and 753 211 piloting an 810 and trailers.
Away from Liberec itself, 750 401 was seen at Ceska Lipa on Monday with what was probably Sp1814 to Rumburk. There was another blockade between Ceska Lipa and Bakov so things weren't operating normally there either. At Jedlova, 750 061 was working Sp1817.

Freight Workings

The area's main freight flow, between Nymburk and Zawidow, was relatively unaffected by the engineering work east of Turnov. North of Liberec, the traffic pattern was much more predictable than on my previous trip. Trains Rn44206, Rn44212 and Rn44211 appeared to run regularly but apart from the odd pick up goods, they were the only workings seen. The only day spent south of Liberec was very disappointing and produced only one freight, Pn64300, and no loco hauled passengers of course. Three pairs of 753s were active and covered all the above freight workings between them; 753 060 + 753 073, 753 141 + 753 211 and 753 229 + 753 263. The last two were working singly earlier in the week but were paired up by the weekend. Occasionally a class 742 or 743 would act as banker and on Sunday Rn44206, a monster of a train, left Liberec with 753 229 + 753 263 on the front and 753 060 + 753 073 pushing.

The Frydlant area pick up goods trains were worked by 743 002 on Thursday in place of the booked 742. The Liberec - Mnisek pick ups seemed to operate infrequently but had 753 229 on Tuesday, the only occasion I actually saw the train run. The Turnov - Rychnov pick ups didn't run on Tuesday, the only day I spent on that line. On the Ceska Lipa line, the Liberec - Jablonne v Podjestedi pick ups seemed more reliable runners and were seen on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Monday train was worked by 749 244 with 753 263 appearing on Wednesday and Friday.

Liberec - Praha

09 October 2005

I returned to Praha via Ceska Lipa and Lovosice as it enabled me to get a shot of R697 on Novina Viaduct before heading for the airport. The service on the direct route via Turnov is so slow and infrequent that the pleasant cross country trundle via Ceska Lipa was a better option. Needless to say, it was 810s all the way to Lovosice.

My train back to Praha, R777 was being worked by the pendolino sets over the summer but not today. Instead, I had the privelege of 150 013 on the front of a set of proper coaches. Much better! The only sighting of note was north of Kralupy where we crossed OKD 753 711 and a classmate heading north on coal hoppers. There were plenty of 751s on Kralupy shed but many were in such a poor state it was difficult to know if they were in traffic or not.


This trip was hard going. The Letohrad - Lichkov line was relatively busy with 4 - 6 freights, a pair of pick up goods and a pair of hauled passengers every day but very little decent light to photograph them. Fortunately, the few, short, sunny periods coincided with some of the heaviest traffic. On the other hand, the light was fabulous at Liberec but trains were few and far between. The days I spent on the Turnov and Ceska Lipa lines each produced only one decent shot. The Frydlant line was better but all the daylight action was concentrated into a short spell between 12:00 and 15:00, severely limiting the number of locations that were suitable. The 08:09 freight from Liberec passed the scenic locations before the sun got over the hills. Having said that, I'm very pleased with what I got. My previous trips to the Liberec area have suffered from bad or indifferent weather so to get a few days of good light was a real bonus. Another visit to Lichkov and the Hanusovice area will definitely be required though.

It was notable how few active locos there were in the Liberec area. Apart from the usual motley collection of 742s and 743s, there were only the six 753s and two 749s. There were a pair of 750s on the depot that looked as if they were probably useable but they were parked next to the buffers on the wrong side of a very dumped looking 749. No active looking 751 were seen.

Hotel Details

Praha - Hotel Krystal

J.Martiho 2/407, Praha 6. Tel +420 224 990 833.

The hotel is situated on the main drag from the airport to the city centre, opposite the distinctive Olympus building and very close to Praha-Veleslavin station (Table 120). Tram routes 20 and 26 go past the hotel. It's midway between the Nad Dzbanem and Nadrazi Veleslavin stops. If coming from the airport take the 119 bus and change to the tram at Divoka Sarka. From the city centre, take the metro to Dejvicka and change to the tram there. I paid Kc1200 per night for a single including breakfast but the hotel prices appear to vary from week to week. It's a huge impersonal sort of place but the rooms are quite comfortable and the price isn't as inflated as most Praha hotels. English and German spoken.

Jablonne nad Orlici - Hotel Filipinum

ul. Aloise Hanue 141, 561 64 Jablonne nad Orlici, Tel: +420 465 641 888, Fax: +420 465 641 888,
Web: www.filipinum.cz, e-mail: hotel@filipinum.cz

This is one of the best Czech hotels I've stayed in, on a par with the Korado in Ceska Trebova or the U Beranka in Nachod. From the station, turn right, cross the level crossing and continue up the hill into town. Stay on the main road going past the town square, round a couple of bends and you'll find the hotel on the left near the top of the straight. It's about 10 minutes walk from the station. Price Kc1000 per night for a single including breakfast. English and German spoken.

Liberec - Hotel Imperial

trida 1. maje 29, 460 02 Liberec, Tel: +420 048 2710020, Fax: +420 048 2710063,
Web: http://imperial.lbc.cz, e-mail: info@imperial.lbc.cz

From the station's main entrance, cross the road and continue down the hill towards the town centre (the street the trams run down). The hotel is on the right, less than 5 minutes walk from the station. Although the décor is still rooted in the communist era, it's a comfortable hotel and very convenient for the station. Price Kc800 per night for a single including breakfast. English and German spoken.