Thursday, 24 February 2011
The Czechs are busy upgrading their railway system. The latest development has been this swanky yellow replacement for the little train on the line from Ceske Budejovice to the Sumava via my home station of Horice Na Sumave. And very nice it is too. My only grouse with it is that for some stations like Hodnov which serves Olsina Lake you have to make a request stop. I found myself hurtling towards Hodnov without the means to attract the conductor who was clearly ensconced in the nice warm cab chatting with the driver. I ended up pressing the button by the door several times which seemed to do the trick. The conductor came out in time to speak with me only when I had dismounted (maybe I pressed the wrong button). But then this is only problem if you board at a station without a ticket office. The advantage was he was too late to collect the fare!
The other major change that is coming is the upgrading of the line between Prague and Ceske Budejovice. The change will mean the line can take high-speed trains, which will in turn cut the travel time to South Bohemia. Sadly part of this upgrading has been the installation of large concrete sound-proofing screens to protect houses along the route from the increased noise. I say sadly because one of the joys of the route was looking at the villages and into people's orchards and gardens.Now all you see is the corregated concrete wedges.
The new trains will replace what my nieces refered to as "Harry Potter" trains, with their individual compartments. These could be a blessing and a curse - a blessing because they afforded some privacy, a curse because if you were unlucky to get in one with someone with body odour there was nowhere to go and if you opened the window you could almost bet your fellow travellers would close it again! Meanwhile I have stopped using the Prague train, the Student Agency Coach is currently faster and delivers me direct to Cesky Krumlov and at the moment because of the works on the line you may start your journey on a train, but you usually end up being transfered on to a coach and back again.We'll see whether the new fast trains can tempt me back.