Czech Miscellany

26 April - 03 May 2009

Report by Duncan Cotterill


This week long photographic trip to the Czech Republic followed on from a five day visit to the Allgäubahn in southern Germany (report here). It had been a whole year since my last visit to CDland and, as usual, quite a few operations had changed in the meantime, not all for the worse either. This trip combined some of the new opportunities with return visits to a few old favourites and filling in some gaps in my photographic coverage.

I covered the Jesenik - Zabreh line with its class 749s and 751s and old railcars, the newly electrified Letohrad - Lichkov line, the electrified main line through Ceska Trebova, the lines from Liberec to Zawidow and Ceska Lipa and finally the Zdice - Protivin line.

Sun 26 April 2009

The journey by car from Burglengenfeld, north of Regensburg, to Jablonne nad Orlici, on the Letohrad to Lichkov line, took well under five hours and, being a Sunday morning, even the run around the Praha ring road was pretty painless. After checking into the Hotel Filipinum in Jablonne, I made my way across to Bohdikov, near Ruda nad Moravou on the Sumperk – Jesenik line, for an afternoon of class 749 action. All the expected 749 workings produced with 749246/257/259 all being seen (see below). One of the two booked class 831 workings turned up with an 810 instead but the other had 831105. The weather was gloriously sunny for most of the afternoon but then clouded up suddenly towards the end of the day. Of note was the progress with electrification of the Zabreh na Morave to Sumperk line. Postrelmov and Bludov stations and the line in between had been poled already, although wiring was still to take place.

Loco Train Details
749246 R906 14:38 Jesenik - Brno
749259 R905 13:18 Brno - Jesenik
749257 Sp1704 15:45 Jesenik - Olomouc
831105 Os3615 16:04 Sumperk - Jesenik

Mon 27 April 2009

Apart from the 749s, the other main reason for my visit to the area was to have a look at the newly electrified line from Letohrad to Lichkov and on to Miedzylesie across the border in Poland. This line was a favourite in diesel days when it hosted double headed class 751s on heavy cross-border freights and I wondered how its photo locations had survived electrification. As usual, the answer was mixed. Some places are still very good but others have been ruined and more are rapidly disappearing back into the undergrowth that was cleared immediately prior to electrification work commencing.

The freights are now booked for CD Cargo class 130s and a PKP class EU07 electric works the two daily pairs of Praha – Wroclaw passengers. One aspect that is much improved is the number of trains worth photographing. In addition to the freights and international passengers, the local passenger service is now largely loco hauled with class 111s on most trains but class 163s appearing on a few weekday workings and more at weekends. There are still 810s around but they only work a handful of trains.

The whole day was spent at various locations on the line but the weather was very mixed with a lot of high cloud in the middle of the day. All the passenger trains ran with the expected type of motive power but the actual locos on the one of the 111 turns changed early in the day when photogenic orange liveried 111032 was replaced by drab green 111019. Freight traffic was fairly light but it was a Monday so only to be expected. The mid morning northbound and the two midday southbounds failed to show. Only the early morning southbound, the mid afternoon northbound and early evening southbound ran, all worked by 130012.

Loco Train Details
111032 Os20002 07:05 Lichkov - Usti n/O
130012 46796/7 Miedzylesie - Ceska Trebova Goods
111028 Os20004 08:26 Lichkov - Usti n/O
111019 Sp1909 08:39 Usti n/O - Lichkov
EU07-539 R250 06:25 Wroclaw - Praha
EU07-539 R251 07:11 Praha - Wroclaw
111028 Os20005 10:45 Usti n/O - Lichkov
111019 Os20010 13:57 Lichkov - Usti n/O
163085 Sp1905 13:27 Pardubice - Lichkov
130012 44258/9 Ceska Trebova - Miedzylesie Goods
111028 Os15079 14:45 Usti n/O - Jablonne n/O
111019 Os20011 15:45 Usti n/O - Lichkov
163085 Sp1908 16:36 Lichkov - Letohrad
EU07-539 R252 14:25 Wroclaw - Praha
130012 44256/7 Miedzylesie - Ceska Trebova Goods
111019 Os20012 18:04 Lichkov - Usti n/O
163085 Os20013 18:45 Usti n/O - Lichkov

Tue 28 April 2009

The day started with another visit to Table 292, this time to the area between Hanusovice and Ostruzna. As well as the morning parade of class 749 hauled passengers, with 749246/259/264 this time, there was also a southbound freight to photograph, hauled by 751149. This train is new this year and it was running well ahead of schedule, avoiding the long booked wait at Horni Lipova and getting a clear run through to Hanusovice. The northbound freight that had been the highlight of the morning’s photography for several years, no longer runs.

Loco Train Details
749246 R903 05:15 Brno hl.n. - Jesenik
751149 Mn83234 Lipova Lazne - Hanusovice Goods
749259 R904 08:32 Jesenik - Brno hl.n.
749264 R909 07:18 Brno hl.n. - Jesenik

After the last loco hauled trains had gone, I moved on to Tatenice on the electrified Ceska Trebova – Zabreh na Morave main line. This is a minor station sandwiched between two tunnels on the section of line that was extensively rebuilt a few years ago. The eastbound platform provides a good vantage point from which to photograph westbound trains emerging from the short eastern tunnel. The expected mixture of 151s and 162s were seen on expresses with 163s on local passengers and 130s and 163s on freights. The old formation can be seen nearby, indeed the station car park is built on the old trackbed.

Loco Train Details
151008 EC118 06:53 Krakow Gl. - Praha hl.n
130011   WB Goods
163036   WB Goods
151027 EC115 10:09 Praha hl.n. - Warszawa Wschodnia
151011 Ex526 10:14 Luhacovice - Praha hl.n.
162046 R624 10:50 Vesetin - Praha hl.n.
163244 Os3308 10:15 Bohumin - Ceska Trebova
130004   WB Goods
162053 EC234 07:28 Zvolen - Praha hl.n.

After a few trains, I moved to the other side of Ceska Trebova and spent a couple of hours at Parnik, where the freight lines rejoin the passenger lines north (west) of Ceska Trebova. Activity was frenetic with no less than 25 trains, 24 of them hauled, photographed in 100 minutes. And that’s only the trains photographed, there were a few more that went unrecorded. It was a struggle to keep up with the action at times, before I’d worked out what I’d just photographed and written it down, the next train was on its way. The variety here was much greater than at Tatenice with trains to and from Brno added to the mix. The local passengers were 163 hauled and the majority of freights had 130s or 163s but there was also a 122 on a westbound goods. The volume of express passenger traffic seems greatly increased from previous years and it was good to see a few 150s back on proper express passengers where they belong, working alongside the 151s and 162s. Austrian 1216s and Slovak 350s on EC trains also added to the variety, as did the occasional 362 or 363 on Brno services.

Loco Train Details
163258 Sp1856 14:13 Svitavy - Hradec Kralove hl.n.
163006   EB Containers
162011 R629 12:40 Praha hl.n. - Horni Lidec
130038   EB Cement
350001 EC170 09:28 Budapest - Berlin
163217 Os5045 14:29 Chocen - Ceska Trebova
122036   WB Goods
680001 SC505 13:23 Praha hl.n. - Ostrava hl.n.
150224 Ex525 13:09 Praha hl.n. - Luhacovice
130029   EB Car Carriers
150202 EC120 08:39 Kosice - Praha hl.n.
363110 Sp1970 13:44 Brno hl.n. - Pardubice hl.n.
162039 R704 12:14 Luhacovice - Praha hl.n.
1216236 EC173 06:14 Hamburg Alt. - Wien Südbf.
130004   WB Coal
130012   EB Goods
163073 Os5023 14:21 Prelouc - Ceska Trebova
163009   WB Goods
1216240 EC74 12:58 Wien Südbf. - Praha-Holesovice
362xxx R873 13:40 Praha hl.n. - Brno hl.n.
151004 EC119 14:09 Praha hl.n. - Krakow Gl.
151007 EC114 09:13 Warszawa Wschodnia - Praha hl.n.
130006   EB Goods
363056 R874 14:44 Brno hl.n. - Praha hl.n.
350014 EC277 14:30 Praha-Holesovice Bratislava

I finished the day with a session on the Lichkov line east of Letohrad getting a 163, an EU07, a 130 and a 111 heading south one after the other. A good end to an excellent day with near perfect weather and lots of trains.

Loco Train Details
163088 Sp1908

16:36 Lichkov - Letohrad

EU07-477 R252 14:25 Wroclaw Gl. - Praha hl.n.
130011 44256/7 Miedzylesie - Ceska Trebova Goods
111030 Os20012 18:04 Lichkov - Usti nad Orlici
EU07-477 R253 14:53 Praha Smichov - Wroclaw Gl.

Wed 29 April 2009

It was time to move on and the overcast weather seemed to emphasise the point. I drove to Raspenava, north of Liberec, via Cerveny Kostelec on the Hradec Kralove – Trutnov line. The weather was still dire at Cerveny Kostelec, so I watched two trains pass before moving on. Ironically, both trains had very photogenic engines.

Loco Train Details
754050 R849 06:11 Praha hl.n. - Trutnov hl.n.
750285 R848 08:41 Trutnov hl.n. - Praha hl.n.

After checking in to the Hotel Zamecek at Raspenava, it was time to see what was happening on the Liberec – Zawidow line. The local passengers were 3-car 814s as expected but it was the freights that interested me, in particular whether there were still any class 753s around. Both north and southbound midday freights turned up but with class 742s on the front, a pair heading north and a single going south. Not good news.

Loco Train Details
742317+742316 Rn44202 Liberec - Zawidow Goods
742214 Pn44201 Zawidow - Liberec Goods

Next destination was Novina on the Liberec – Ceska Lipa line, where there has been a resurgence of loco hauled passenger trains this year. In fact, there are more loco hauled passenger trains now than for quite a few years with two class 750s on fast trains and, in theory a class 714 on local trains. By now the sky was clearing and most trains passed in sun. 750160 and 750258 covered the fast trains but the 714 turn was covered by a class 810.

Loco Train Details
750160 R1161

13:27 Usti nad Labem - Liberec

750160 R1166 16:27 Liberec - Usti nad Labem
810311 Os6612 16:44 Liberec - Ceska Lipa (vice 714)
750258 R1163 15:27 Usti nad Labem - Liberec

Thu 30 April 2009

I decided to give the 753s another chance to appear on the Zawidow freights but they didn’t show again. However there was a pair of class 750s on the northbound car train, first time I’ve seen that happen. The 750s returned south on the regular midday freight. The midday northbound freight and late afternoon return were hauled by the same pair of class 742s that were out the previous day. Any thoughts I might have had of going elsewhere to find something more interesting were scuppered by the weather. By midday, a huge thunderstorm had built up over Liberec and the sky was black to the south all afternoon, with periodic flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder. During this period, the area between Raspenava and Frydlant was close to the northern edge of the thundercloud and occasionally the sun broke through. Surprisingly, every freight coincided with a sunny period.

Loco Train Details
750277+750103 Pn47214

Mlada Boleslav - Zawidow Cars

742317+742316 Rn44202 Liberec - Zawidow Goods
750103+750277 Pn44201 Zawidow - Liberec Goods
742316+742317 Pn44203 Zawidow - Liberec Goods

Fri 01 May 2009

A gloriously sunny day with just a little afternoon cloud. The whole day was spent on the Liberec – Ceska Lipa line, mostly in the Novina and Krizany areas, although I did venture further west on occasion. 750160 and 750258 were working the fast passengers but the 714 turn was covered by 742115 hauling a single 053 trailer, a distinct improvement on the 810. The third fast passenger diagram was worked by class 843 railcars with a couple of class 854s covering the majority of locals.

Loco Train Details
750160 R1155 07:27 Usti nad Labem - Liberec
750160 R1160 10:27 Liberec - Usti nad Labem
742115 Os6606 10:44 Liberec - Ceska Lipa
750258 R1157 09:27 Usti nad Labem - Liberec
750258 R1162 12:27 Liberec - Usti nad Labem
742115 Os6609 13:39 Ceska Lipa - Usti nad Labem
750160 R1161 13:27 Usti nad Labem - Liberec
750258 R1163 15:27 Usti nad Labem - Liberec
750160 R1166 16:27 Liberec - Usti nad Labem
742115 Os6612 16:44 Liberec - Ceska Lipa

Sat 02 May 2009

Another day on the Liberec – Ceska Lipa line and another day of near perfect weather. The usual suspects, 750160, 750258 and 742115 all appeared as expected. This time, I concentrated on the west end of the line, between Jablonne pod Jestedem and Ceska Lipa, covering several locations that had been on my want list for a number of years.

Loco Train Details
750258 R1155 07:27 Usti nad Labem - Liberec
750160 R1157 09:27 Usti nad Labem - Liberec
750258 R1160 10:27 Liberec - Usti nad Labem
742115 Os6606 10:44 Liberec - Ceska Lipa
750160 R1162 12:27 Liberec - Usti nad Labem
742115 Os6609 13:39 Ceska Lipa - Usti nad Labem
750258 R1161 13:27 Usti nad Labem - Liberec
750160 R1163 15:27 Usti nad Labem - Liberec
750258 R1166 16:27 Liberec - Usti nad Labem

In the early evening, I drove south to Pribram, south west of Praha and stayed the night at the Hotel Modry Hrozen in the middle of the old town. Saturday evening road traffic wasn’t as light as on Sunday morning and I discovered once more why I hate driving anywhere near Praha.

Sun 03 May 2009

My intention was to see if the line from Zdice, via Pribram and Pisek to Protivin had any photographic potential. Since the December 2008 timetable change, this route has a 2-hourly diesel hauled service, linking Praha with Ceske Budejovice. The through trains are worked by Praha based class 749 diesels, but usually only on two coaches.

I had travelled the line on a steam special nine years ago and don’t remember being too impressed then. Although the scenery is very pleasant, the line is impossibly overgrown for the vast majority of its length. I did find one good spot near Rejkovice and there has clearly been a lot of recent vegetation clearance at the far northern end of the line, where it’s now too wide open for good photographs of two coach trains (You just can’t please some people!). By lunchtime, I was getting fed up of not finding any worthwhile photo positions.

Loco Train Details
749146 R1245 07:08 Ceske Budejovice - Praha
749011 R1246 09:41 Praha - Ceske Budejovice
749181 R1247 09:08 Ceske Budejovice - Praha

It was time to continue south-westwards to the Klatovy – Zelezna Ruda line, another route with loco hauled trains, this time hauled by class 754 diesels on longer rakes. Again, I found it impossibly overgrown wherever I looked.

Loco Train Details
754006 Os7501 15:24 Zelezna Ruda-Alzbetin - Plzen

Both these lines are fairly remote from roads much of the way so a trip over each line by train would be necessary before they are declared total write-offs but neither looks promising. As it had clouded up, I called it a day and continued over the border into Germany, staying the night at Plattling before returning to München airport and then the UK the following morning.


Every year seems to bring changes to the Czech scene, one line sees a big reduction in the number of loco hauled trains but haulage increases on other routes. While it appears that CD would like to dramatically reduce the number of diesel hauled passengers, there just aren’t the DMUs and railcars available to replace them. Putting railcars on one service just means more loco hauled trains elsewhere. Diagramming is a lot tighter than it was a few years ago and there isn’t much scope for squeezing more miles out of the existing railcar fleet. With investment money tight it will be interesting to see where things go from here.

Now that the regions are getting involved in franchising local services, they can insist on the provision of high quality rolling stock, hence the use of class 814s and 854s on local services around Liberec. Those 854s might have otherwise been employed on the Usti – Liberec fast trains that are currently worked by the 750s.

On the freight side, the recession may be having an effect but I didn’t really notice it. Traffic has always fluctuated on any given line but the levels seen everywhere appeared fairly average to me.

I was disappointed not to see any 753s in use on the Liberec – Zawidow line but their survival at Liberec long after their withdrawal elsewhere had been remarkable anyway. It would have been good if they could have lasted until the rebuilt class 753.7 were ready to replace them but that now looks unlikely. I certainly intend to return to Liberec when the 753.7s take over.

There was little sign of new liveries anywhere during my trip. I did see a 742 in CD Cargo blue on the Rokytnice nad Jizerou branch while driving from Cerveny Kostelec to Raspenava but that was it, period. Even at Ceska Trebova, everything seen was in traditional colours with Slovak 350001 in red and 350014 in blue and white the most daring colours schemes seen. I could definitely have done with some more red or blue engines as the green liveries couldn’t compete with the fabulous spring greens that make a trip at this time of year so rewarding photographically. I shouldn’t complain though. Overall, it was a very rewarding trip with sunshine far more often than not.

Despite the changes, the Czech Republic is still a very rewarding and hassle free destination for railway photography. It won't be another year before I go back.