SLOVAKIA: As part of ambitious plans to provide year-round passenger services on a 760 mm gauge former forestry railway, non-profit heritage organisation Čiernohronská Železnica has taken delivery of a fleet of electric railcars formerly used on Switzerland’s Waldenburgerbahn.
The Čierny Hron valley revitalisation project, which has the backing of the Banská Bystrica regional authority, includes modernisation and electrification of the 17 km line between Čierny Balog, Hronec and Podbrezová, which is claimed to be the only railway in the word to run alongside the pitch inside a football stadium.
Construction of an extension to ski resorts in the Chopok mountain foothills is also envisaged. Heritage steam services would be retained.
The Waldenburgerbahn was Switzerland’s only conventional 750 mm gauge passenger railway, and the seven BDe4/4 power cars and 10 Bt driving trailers built in 1985–93 were put up for sale as part of the rebuilding of the line to metre gauge which began this April.
The vehicles left the port of Basel on April 30 and traveled by boat via the Rhein-Main-Donau canal to Bratislava, where they were loaded on flat wagons on May 13 for the last leg of their journey to Hronec via Levice and Zvolen.
Waldenburgerbahn operator Baselland Transport sold the vehicles for a symbolic price of SFr80 000, as it was keen for them to find a new use, however delivery cost €250 000.
‘If year-round transport is introduced on the line in the public interest, it will ensure a continuous supply of money for the operation and maintenance of the railway’, said ČHŽ director Aleš Bílek. ‘In addition to quality transport, the region will gain several dozen permanent jobs. In this way, the railway will bring new opportunities not only for visitors, but also for people living in the region.’