Czech Spring

24 - 25 March & 10 - 11 April 2011

Report by Duncan Cotterill


This report covers a few days photography in the Czech Republic on the way to and from Slovakia in late March and early April 2011. My aim was to cover a couple of diesel worked lines where I’d struggled to get satisfactory pictures in previous years; Brno - Uherske Hradiste and Stare Mesto u Uherskeho Hradiste - Luhacovice. I also spent a few hours on the busy, electrified, Praha - Pardubice - Ceska Trebova main line on the final day. Travel was by air to Praha and then by hire car.

This section of the report summarises what was seen. For train by train details with loco numbers etc, go to the Day by Day pages. Details of the Slovakian part of the trip can be found here.

Line 340 Brno - Uherske Hradiste

(24 - 25 March)

This line is the last double track, diesel-worked main line in the Czech Republic but isn’t particularly busy these days. Most passenger services are worked by railcars of classes 842 and 854 but there are also a number of loco hauled trains, particularly during the peak hours. Most of these are worked by Brno based class 754 diesels, many of which still carry attractive liveries despite the introduction of the new blue and grey livery. A class 714 is booked to work a couple of short distance trains.

There’s very little freight traffic on the line and I didn’t see any freights during my visit.

As I’ve noted before, the biggest problem with photographing the line is the timing of the loco hauled trains, most of which run at the wrong time for the light at the best locations. Arguably the service is a little better this year, with more early afternoon trains running east of Nesovice, where the scenic bit starts, and then returning to Brno. There’s also an earlier eastbound on a Friday afternoon. Mornings are still useless with the last loco hauled train passing through the scenic section before 08:00.

Unlike my last couple of visits to the line, the weather was more cooperative this time with wall-to-wall sunshine on Thursday 25th when I spent the whole afternoon on the line, east of Brankovice, finishing off with some glints near Krizanovice at sunset. I also spent a short time on the line near Krizanovice at sunset on the afternoon of Friday 26th.

Line 341 Stare Mesto - Luhacovice

(25 March and 10 April)

This year’s timetable combines the service on the Luhacovice branch (formerly table 346) with the main line from Stare Mesto to Vlarsky prusmyk (table 341), which makes sense as the premier trains on the route are the fast trains from Praha and Olomouc to Luhacovice, hauled by class 754 diesels from Stare Mesto u Uherskeho Hradiste to Luhacovice.

Apart from the fast trains, there are also a handful of loco hauled services from Stare Mesto or Brno to Bojkovice and Bylnice but these generally run too early or too late to be of any interest for photography. The remaining passenger services on the line are worked by railbuses of classes 810 or 814 or class 842 railcars. I was fortunate to find 742.100 working one of the railcar diagrams on 10 April.

There are no through freight services on the line, just a weekdays only pick-up goods to Bojkovice and back, which wasn’t seen.

My previous attempt to photograph this line was scuppered by poor weather and a lack of trains due to an engineering occupation between Ujezdec u Luhacovic and Luhacovice. This time the weather was much better with hazy sunshine on 25 March and bright sunshine on 10 April. The trains also ran as expected. There are a number of excellent locations at the top of the branch, between Polichno and Luhacovice, where the light is good in the morning and late afternoon. In the middle of the day, the best shots are on the east-west section of the main line between Vesky and Uhersky Brod.

Line 010 Praha - Pardubice - Ceska Trebova

(11 April)

The electrified east-west main line through Pardubice carries heavy passenger traffic and a fair amount of freight and there was hardly a dull moment during the four hours or so I spent east of Pardubice-Opocinek on 11 April. Examples of almost every class of DC or dual-system electric loco used by CD or CD Cargo were seen along with ZSSK 350s and ÖBB 1216s. More specifically classes 150, 151, 162, 163, 350, 362, 380 and 1216 were noted on 29 passenger trains and classes 122, 123, 130 and 163 were seen on 11 freights, all during a period of 4 hours and 8 minutes. That doesn’t include the hourly class 471 EMUs on local services that take the total up to 48 trains or almost one every five minutes!

The scenery around Pardubice isn’t very exciting but there are some pleasant spots for photography around Opocinek and the frequency of services and variety of traction makes it well worth a visit.

Comments and Conclusions

While the main objective of the trip was photography in Slovakia, it was very satisfying to finally get some of the shots I’d been attempting for years in the Brno area and on the Luhacovice line. There are still more shots to get so it certainly won’t be my last visit to this area.