From: Praha-Holesovice to Olomouc hl.n (hl.n = main stations)
Date: 29 July 2007
Journey Time: 2hr 20mins (10 mins late)
Fare: 364 Kc (return) + 200 reservation (one way)
Route Number: SC 507
Stations: (Olomouc Main)
High speed in Czech Republic! Its not TGV or ICE or Shinkansen, but it is as fast as most high-speed in the UK. Its the “flag ship” service that Czech Railways are running between Prague, the Eastern City of Ostrava, Bratislava and Vienna – one day the plan is to also do Dresden. It took long enough for the service to start up, and then for the first few months its was faltering somewhat. Now its busy and starting to see an increase in the number of passengers taking the premium trip, this time it was me.
Firstly, I have been on ICE varieties in Germany, and taken the CISAlpino from Switzerland, so I can compare some of the European offerings. I have to say I was impressed. It is very well looked after, the seating is comfortable, it runs quietly, smoothly, everything you’d expect from a premium, flag-ship service. In short, I was impressed.
One thing to note is that the SuperCity Pendolino runs, as with most of its class, on normal track (read more here). Czech Railways is just coming out of the misery and neglect that was the communist system, so on the whole the track system between Prague and Olomouc is modern. I counted seven sections that needed upgrading – this included a long section between Brandys and Ceska Trebova that will take a few years to get sorted out, plus the whole of Prague. The other five sections were simply inconveniently slowing the speed down. There were also five sections undergoing upgrade. By my wild calculations (huge approximations) once the whole line is finished it would shave at least 30mins off the journey time. The one thing you feel is that the driver (and the unit itself) wants to let it go, and the slower sections impeded the consistency of speed.
Things will change and this flagship service will probably grow enough in demand to suffice the investment in further Pendolino units. I’d love to see a Plzen to Ostrava route, right across Czech Republic, and why not. This is worth a go if you need to travel to the destinations and want to break away from the bone shakers that make up the current services.
(For some mad reason I forgot to get a picture of Prague Holesovice. Its not the greatest construction to photograph)
23 Nov 2007 – Update – It looks like they have taken 5 minutes off the journey time.. somewhere.