• Franz Josef Railway: Prague to Vienna

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of Canada and the United States.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of Canada and the United States.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by Jeff Smith
 
A leisurely stroll across Central Europe: The Guardian
Rail route of the month: along the Franz Josef railway from Prague to Vienna

The classic rail route from Prague to Vienna through southern Bohemia was relegated to secondary status in the 1970s, but today it still offers one of the most engaging railway journeys in central Europe. Never ones to rush, my partner and I decided earlier this month to travel the length of the Emperor Franz Joseph Railway by slow trains.

We could, of course, have just hopped on one of the fast Railjet services which dash from Prague to Vienna via Brno in little more than four hours. But we were keen to travel through an out-of-the-way region of southern Bohemia by recreating a Habsburg-era slow travel experience.

Cast back to 1873, and Vienna was hosting the World Fair while celebrating 25 years of Emperor Franz Joseph’s reign. The newly opened railway from Bohemia to the Austrian capital was named after the monarch, and this route was well used by travellers from Prague to Vienna intent on visiting the World Fair before it closed on 31 October 1873. In those days, there were four direct trains each day running the length of the Franz Joseph Railway from Prague to Vienna, the fastest being a daytime express with first-class carriages, taking nine hours, and the slowest an overnight train that took 18 hours for a leisurely ride between the two cities.
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