The Czech Republic has one the most dense rail networks in the whole of Europe. One of the very few benefits of over forty years of communist rule is that nearly all of it is still in existence and in use. Unlike in the UK, where over a third of the rail network was made redundant in the 1960s by Dr. Beeching, no one in the Czech Republic ever saw any part of their rail network as being ‘uneconomic’ and therefore needing to be closed down.
On Friday 28th June during our recent holiday in the Orlické hory, we walked around fourteen kilometres from our hotel in Rícky v Orlických horách, all along a waymarked footpath which follows the valley of the Rícka and Zdobnice rivers. At the end of our walk, we arrived in the village of Slatina nad Zdobnici. How did we get back to our hotel without retracing our steps? By a wonderful combination of train and bus.
At the western end of Slatina nad Zdobnici is the village railway station. Here it is in all its glory 🙂 Yes, there is grass growing on the platform and between the railway tracks. But trains still run regularly along the line and a clear timetable was on display. We had a bit of a wait as we had missed the previous train by about fifteen minutes. But right on time, the 14.37 service to Rokytnice v Orlických horách, duly arrived.
As on many branch lines of the Czech rail network, the service was provided by a single diesel rail car. Each one has a name and the one we travelled on was called ‘Verunka’. As the station at Slatina is unmanned, the procedure is to buy your ticket from the guard, once you are on board. Here is ours for the grand sum of 34 Kc – £1.12 at current exchange rates. And yes, that is for the two of us – £0.56 each! The ticket also declares the distance to be travelled – nine kilometres.
When we reached Rokytnice v Orlických horách, which is also the end of the line, we could have virtually straight-away caught a bus from outside the station, all the way back to Rícky v Orlických horách. Instead, we walked a short distance to Penzion Rampušák in the centre of the town, in order to have a well-deserved late lunch and do a little supermarket shopping. But at 17.13, right outside the supermarket, along came the next local bus service, to take us the six kilometres back to Rícky, also for the grand sum of 34 Kc. The joys of Czech public transport – regular, efficient and remarkably cheap!