CZ/SK verze

Historical Window: The First Railway in Slovakia Was Pulled by Horses!

Historical Window: The First Railway in Slovakia Was Pulled by Horses!
photo: Facebook / Railways of Slovak Republic (ŽSR) / Public Domain/Contemporary illustration of the horse-drawn railway in Bratislava
08 / 04 / 2024

From Bratislava to Trnava in 3 hours? Unimaginable today, but in the past, it was an express mode of transport.

Although only a stop and one building have survived from it today, the Bratislava-Svätý Jur railway line is the oldest railway in Slovakia. Built in the former Hungary, the railway was driven by horse traction. The animal railway ran from Bratislava to Trnava, and its initial section Bratislava-Svätý Jur was opened on 27.9.1840, reports Železničné.info.

According to Bratislavský kraj, the very first horse-drawn railway on our continent was created in the years 1828-1831 and led precisely from Prague to the towns of Lány and Bruska. At the initiative of the Viennese financier Rothschild, a steam railway called Ferdinand's Northern Railway was built, which led from Vienna to Prague. Subsequently, discussions began about connecting Bratislava to this railway line, but the construction vision immediately ran into several problems.

First of all, several owners refused to grant permission for construction, and some of them demanded high compensation. They also had to deal with technical difficulties in the form of the swamps of Švátojurá Šúr. Despite the complications, the railway was completed in the fall of 1840. The track was 15.5 km long, and the rails consisted of long square beams on which iron plates were nailed. Already a month later, two trains a day, consisting of two wagons, were regularly dispatched.

It Served Only 30 Years

Only in the first four months of its operation, the railway transported up to 26,668 passengers. The journey from Bratislava to Trnava took approximately three hours, which was very fast by former standards. As for the animal team, it varied depending on the purpose of transportation. Fast-running horses were intended for passenger transport, and horses of the Styrian breed for freight purposes. Along the entire length of the route, about fifty horses were ready at the stations, either on standby or in reserve. Their schedule was subject to strict rules. The animals could run a maximum of 40 kilometers per day, and after two weeks of work, they earned two days off, writes Seredsity.

However, not everything lasts forever, and technological progress began in the 1850s to consider the conversion of the railway into a steam locomotive. However, due to insufficient funds, the owning company was forced to sell it. The operation was officially terminated after 30 years on October 10, 1872. Today, almost nothing has been preserved from it except for the historical building of the horse railway in Bratislava and a few illustrations. The building is located at the intersection of Krížná and Legionárská streets and is mainly used for cultural and educational purposes.