Following the success of the week spent in Praha last year and looking at Czech railways it was decided that this year we would be based in Ostrava. During the afternoon of Saturday 3rd June 8 RCTS members assembled on Platform 2 of Ostrava hl.n. station, four travelling overland by rail, three flying into various airports and then continuing their journey by rail and one driving from the UK. Whist observing we saw a brand new Slovakian six car Stadler Kiss EMU, in fact the numbers were printed on card and stuck in the window (561-102), and Regiojet Pesa Elf2 2-car EMU (1654-007) and a Pesa Hydrogen Locomotive (920-000). These were then marshalled into a siding beyond the station with some other locos and they were there until the Wednesday. After a few hours of train spotting it was time to make our way to the two hotels that we were using for the week. This meant boarding a train on platform 5 or 6 for the three minute journey to Ostrava-Stodolni and then a short walk. We would certainly get to know Stodolni station during the week. Then it was into the centre to find something to eat. In the main square there was a music festival taking place, but we did manage to find a restaurant that could accept all of us. Food choices ranged from Goulash, Viener Schnitzels and Pork Knuckles. We were certainly spoilt for choice and made were very welcome. In fact we visited the establishment on two other occasions during the week, but steered clear of the very large pork knuckles.
During the week we used the “Czech One Ticket” which allowed us to use any operator, costing £85 first class for the week.
The objective for the Sunday was to see and ride on the only narrow gauge operated by CD (České dráhy). Travelling north east from Ostrava hl.n., via Ostrava Svinov and Opava we arrived at Třemešná ve Slezsku and transferred to the narrow gauge (750mm) for the ride to Osoblaha. Arriving at 12.15 after a 50 minute, 20km journey through wonderful countryside. Some of the party took the opportunity to walk across the border into Poland, not a major hike. The return journey started at 13.45 to Opava východ where we changed trains for a ride to Hlučín and travelled to the end of another branch line. Then it was the same trip back from Hlučín to Opava východ and on to Ostrava hl.n. and Stodolni.
Monday 5th the early risers took the opportunity to watch trams for an hour or so before catching the 09.30 from Stodolni to look at some branch lines to the south of Ostrava to Frýdlant nad Ostravici, with our final destination for the first part of the day being Horní Lideč . During the journey we had our one and only bus replacement of the week, Veřovice to Valašské Meziříčí , some 30 minutes. Thanks to Steve for noticing that we could have been affected later in the week, but careful changing of days resolved the issue. Our journey continued to Fulnek by now familiar rail bus. Then it was time to go to return to Ostrava hl.n. and Stodolni for our evening meal.
The following day we set off from Ostrava hl.n. for the short trip to Bohumín, which has a depot which was certainly worth spending some time at the station as quite a bit of freight was to be seen. After this it was back on a train to Mosty u Jablunkova and Český Těšín where we spent some time train watching. Then it on to Ostrava Svinov via Ostrava Kunčice to finish off the day at this busy station. After that it was back to Stodolni, you’ve guessed it, to have an evening meal.
Wednesday 7th saw the group heading south aiming for Břeclav. Our journey took us via Hranice na Moravě, Přerov and Staré Město u Uh.Hrad. before it was time to board the usual rail bus class 811/814 to travel the branch line to Hodonín via Veselí n.Moravou. A short change then it was about an hour to Zaječí where we changed to a class 660 to take us onto Břeclav. This gave us a chance to catch our breath and spend the first part of the afternoon train watching and eating our lunch. Břeclav is a busy station as it is at the junction for traffic coming up from Praha, Berlin, Budapest and Wien. It also carries out maintenance work on the locos. After a couple of hours it was the direct route back to Ostrava hl.n..
Thursday and Friday were the two days that had to be changed as mentioned earlier. This meant that today (Thursday) we were heading for Olomouc on the east of Czechia. It was a train journey of some 75 minutes that included a change of trains at Hranice na Moravě before arriving at Olomouc about 15 minutes late. The plan was to train spot at the station and tram spot, you could do both by selecting where you stood on platform 2. After about two hours it was time to travel on to Červenka and further to Prostějov hl.n.. We continued to the end of the branch line, Dzbel, where after a 15 minute stop it was time to retrace our journey. The interesting part of the journey was that the train crew changed three times in the hour or so we were on the train, the driver was the same throughout. We then returned to Olomouc for our evening meal, a Chinese dinner which always seems to feature on Steve’s Tours, this time it was a bit different, on the 18th floor of the Allianz insurance building, located opposite the station. The views were exceptional of the city and the customary group photograph taken.
On Friday, our journey started at Stodolni and on to where a change of trains at Oprava východ, took us via Krnov and Bruntál to the end of the branch at Rýmarov. On the opposite side to the station buildings here was a loading platform which was being used for timber logs. From Rýmarov it was an hour back to Bruntál and yet another change of trains to take us to Olomouc via Valšov. The afternoon was spent on Olomouc station, some of the time sheltering from a thunderstorm, one very close indeed, instantaneous that made several people jump. Our meal that evening was in the city, but it did give us the opportunity to take various rides on the trams.
Saturday, our last full day of the tour, the group made our longest single journey of the week, 2 hours 15 minutes to the city of Brno, actually arriving 4 minutes early. Brno is the second largest city after Praha and also the second largest tram system. Some took the opportunity to check out the railway scene in and around Brno, including staying on the Regiojet to Kralovo Pole and returning on one of the new units. This gave us the opportunity to have a brief look at the yard between Brno-Maloměřice and Brno-Židenice, Zinewoe, Královo Pole and Lesna before returning to Brno Hln. The rest of the time was shared between train and tram spotting until our return train departed at 14.22. Several of the new Regional EMUs were seen in their Pink JML livery. A change at Břeclav before arriving at Ostrava hl.n. and onwards to Stodolni.
The trip had a very international feel about it having seen trains from Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Poland and even Bulgaria in our travels.
As is customary on one of Steve’s Tours the whole group assembled at the restaurant that we first used on the previous Saturday. It did give the group the opportunity to firstly thank Matthew for being the chief restaurant finder for the week and a grand job he did. Secondly, everyone expressed their heartfelt thanks to Steve for all his planning and organisation that made it such a great week. For those of us that had been on previous tours it was just as we expected, a fabulous trip enjoyed by all. Each member of the group asked him about next year’s trip and hoping it was to be the Czech Republic again.