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The most beautiful railways in the world: Prague Semmering

The most beautiful railways in the world: Prague Semmering
photo: Cestujeme Českem ( most beautiful railways in the world: Prague Semmering
20 / 11 / 2021

The nickname "Prague Semmering" is a section of the line from Smíchov to Jinonice, which has earned a name originating from the Semmering roller coaster in Austria due to its hilly character. It boasts a pair of listed technical pillars - railway viaducts, a brisk ascent around the Zlíchov hill, and, above all, a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape.

In the years 1868 to 1872, the company Buštěhradská dráha had a section connecting the then known  Smíchov Common Railway Station and Hostivice built primarily for the needs of freight transport. The period between 1870 and 1872 belonged to the construction of viaducts crossing the Prokop Valley. The operation for freight transport, especially the transport of timber from Lány's forests and Kladno coal, started on July 3, 1872, and in September of the same year, passenger trains also started running on the line. However, commuter train traffic proved so weak that it ended in 1879.

Nonetheless, this does not mean that the track was not successful, on the contrary. Under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it had to oppose efforts to nationalize for its profitability. After 1918, there was an unexpected turnaround, when traffic density almost tripled, and so at one time, the second runway was even considered. Before that happened, the density of traffic dropped so much that at one point there were even plans of canceling the track. Unexpectedly, this prevented the floods of 2002, during which it served to transport freight and even replaced the Prague metro for a short period.

The Prague Semmering, 8 kilometers long and with deep cuts and viaducts, overcomes the height difference of 93 meters. First, it gradually ascends from Smíchov railway station to cross the Prokop Valley along two stone viaducts, which still represent a high-quality and aesthetic work, and the company invited Italian stonemasons to the construction. The first viaduct also features decorative elements, it has seven arches with a lattice field, the second has five arches. Outside the viaducts, the builders had to deal with several deep cuts and tear them out into the rocks. There are records according to which about 1,200 workers worked on the construction site with the help of mere handcarts, railcars, wheels, spades, shovels, and several horse carriers.

At present, passengers can take a trip on the Prague M 262.0 motorbike, which runs all year round on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays from Prague's main railway station. Apart from the motorbike, the S65 line can be used on weekdays and weekends.