No. 137: Trolleys of Prague, Czech Repulic


Over Christmas week I took the family skiing in Slovakia.  It was a 13-hour drive from Germany to the Tatras National Park in Slovakia, so we stopped halfway–in Prague, Czech Republic–to enjoy a nice evening at the Prague Christmas markets.

My son has been to Prague several times and told me all about the trolleys there.  I’m not much of a trolley fan but I was pleasantly surprised.  We stayed in a cool Air B&B on the east side of the river, overlooking the Charles Bridge, and on the morning of the 24th I got up early and walked to a little square called Malostamske Nameste to take a few “snaps”.

According to Wiki, the Prague tramway network is the largest such network in the Czech Republic, consisting of 88.5 miles of track, 931 trams and 25 daytime routes.  It was the variety of cars that caught my eye.  There are all types running–old and new–and hundreds of them.  I only railfanned (“trolley-fanned”?) for an hour and there were too many trains to count.

I took the photo below as my wife was driving into the city on the 23rd.  Driving in Prague is a nerve-wracking experience and she didn’t drive for much longer.  I’ll talk a bit more on that later.  Look at the death grip she’s got on that wheel!


Below.  I snapped a work train near our parking garage on the evening of the 23rd.


Below.  Here’s the square at Malostamske Nameste, where I was able to go on the morning of the 24th to do some proper railfanning.  This is one of the closest stops to the Charles Bridge and it’s a popular, busy stop.  If you care about car types, this is a “Modernized” Tatra T-3 according to Wikipedia.


Below.  This is an older Tatra T-3 type.  I like these cars–they seemed to be the most plentiful on the day.


Below.  Cars came to Malostamske Nameste about every five minutes.  I rarely saw mixed consists, but here is an older and newer Tatra T-3 lashed together.


Below.  These are the newest cars, made by Skoda.  I’m sure they are quiet and comfortable, and efficient, but they are also boring and un-inspirational.


As an aside, I was in Luxembourg City a few weeks earlier and took a tram into the city, again to visit a Christmas market.  Here, below, is a photo of the modern cars there.  They’re clean and comfortable, but where’s the appeal???


Back to Prague.  Here are two older cars going around the corner.  You’ve gotta really pay attention when walking and driving in the city.  There are cars, pedestrians, bikes and trolleys everywhere.  Before turning any direction you need to check over your left shoulder to make sure there’s not a tram overtaking you.


Just around the corner was a cool pass-through with the trolley on the far left, a vehicle tunnel at center, and a pedestrian walkway at right.


Below.  Here’s an old T-3 coming through the tunnel.  Yep, that’s gantry track!


Here’s the station signal.  Semaphore rules–horizontal means stop, and “forty-five” means go.  The stonework along the tracks has a cool factor of 100%.


Track is clean and well-maintained.


Midway through the morning, an old museum train came rumbling around the corner.  It was running on a regular train route.


The crew was dressed in period uniforms and using old-style conductor procedures.  This fellow was having a grand time with all the riders.  All the tourists wanted to take a snap with him, especially all the old Chinese tourists.  He was all smiles.  Also note behind the museum cars–one of the modern Skodas has caught up to the museum cars, but there are no riders.  Everybody wanted to ride the old cars.


Off they go…


Meanwhile the parade continued.  Below: The older and the new.


Here’s a view on the other side of the pass-through.  This is one of 94 Tatra KT8s on the system.  This train is heading away from us.  Note the signal at right indicating stop.


My family had a nice time in Prague, and the railfanning was a blast.  I’ll catch up on freight car modeling in the next post.


Blessings to you and your families!  – John G

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