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Category: Railways

This category contains are the railway related blogs.

Ode to the Railway museum!

Ode to the Railway museum!

For a question which I got via my network I had to do a little research of the signalling system in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during the thirties of last century (the inter-war period). The Orient-Express was in full operation and from Paris to Istanbul it passed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the person who contacted me need very specific details for a film production.

So the first step was the Serbian Railway museum close to my work here in Belgrade. I had been already many times there and it is an old style museum: when you enter you make a step back in time, but the step back in time is for free as the entrance is (still?) for free.


When the employees listened to me last week of what I needed to told me that they could and will help me. Today I went back and the lady was very friendly: she heard already about the story and her colleague, who is soon going to retire, would get the desired item for me: the “signalni pravilnik, važi od 1 aprila 1932 god.” (the signalling rule book, valid from 1 April 1932) from the “Državne Železnice Kraljevine Jugoslavije” (State Railways of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia). In 15 minutes I was done and had the whole book photographed.


Mission accomplished and I am very grateful to the kind help of the employees of the Serbian Railway museum. While chit-chatting with them they told me that due the split up (aka privatization) of the Serbian Railways the museum would most possible disappear on it is current location and current form. All alarm bells went off.


Why ? Because during the nighties of the last century the Netherlands was in full privatization mode: let’s privatize all government tasks, because the market could do it better! I am from a family where everybody worked for the Dutch railways and I worked there as well. I was part of the bigger (European) railway “family” which thus was privatized and after that it did not exist any more.


This did not happen only happened with the railways, but it also happened with the Dutch health care system, the post & telephony services (PTT) and many other government services. It seems this trend started now in Serbia and I personally think that it is not a good trend. Yes efficiency of course, but basic government services (health care, PTT, transport) should not be privatized. Back in the Netherlands more voices are against further privatization are even reverse it in some cases.

For Serbia it is easy, because they can learn from the mistakes they made in Western-Europe / European Union with privatizing basic government services.


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Tito ‘s railway

Tito ‘s railway

Last monday I traveled from Kraljevo (Serbia) to Podgorica (Montenegro) by train on one of the most scenic railways in Europe. The railway Belgrade-Bar was planned and created by Tito, who wanted a railway line form Belgrade to the Adriatic coast and he succeeded…

Here a poem….now I go to sleep and dream about it, I am back in the Netherlands…

Une voie que je n’ai pas rêvé

 De Beograd a Bar Tito voulait
créer un chemin de fer et il a eu succès.
Les voies croisent des rivières
et la vue est superbe.

Le paysage change au chaque virage
et au fin des nombreux tunnels.
Le paysage du Balkan semble de disparaitre
et être remplace lentement par le paysage de la cote Adriatique.

C’est une voie ferrée que je ne pouvais pas rêver
car c’est trop belle, trop magnifique.
C’est une voyage que je n’ai jamais eu dans mes rêves,
mais aujourd’hui’ hui le voyage n’ est pas une rêve, mais réalité.

Pozega (SRB)-Podgorica (MNE), le 1er juin 2009

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Balkan traveling and transport

Balkan traveling and transport

During this trip I traveled a lot. Let’s make it clear to you:
1.Sarajevo (BIH) to Kraljevo (SRB): by bus +/- 298 km
2. Kraljevo (SRB) to Skopje (MK): by bus and car: +/-340 km
3. Skopje (MK) to Kicevo (MK): by train: +/- 115 km
4. Kicevo (MK) to Kraljevo (SRB): by bus, train and bus 465 km
On Monday I will travel from Kraljevo (SRB) to Podgorica: by train +/-370km

That is a total of +/- 1588km !

I can write you that I am a spoiled Western citizen, because traveling on the Balkans cost you a lot of time and patience compared to the Netherlands, yes even with the NS (=Dutch Railways). Patience and a lot of time are both things I do not have now.

First of all there are borders which take a lot of time: first you need to be checked by the border police and customs of the country you are leaving, then you have to be checked by the border police and customs of the country you want to enter. I live in the Schengen area and I am not used to this procedures. I hate border crossings, on the other hand, it give some tension and give you a real feeling that you are traveling. Shortest time I waited at a border crossing was between Bosnia and Serbia with the damaged bus I was traveling in. Within 15 minutes I was in Serbia and I have to admit: that is efficiency 🙂

Second of all the public transport is slow: the bus stop almost every hour and make a lot of extra kilometers to go to a bus station in some boring town…Trains are also slow, but I like trains, so that is not a problem. For example: Skopje-Kicevo is around 115 kilometers and it takes 2 ½ hours….Ok the track is ascending. The maximum was my “famous” bus trip from Sarajevo to Kraljevo with a delay of 7 hours due the accident I had and the fact it broke down at the end….

Then some positive points, because of course there are some: First of all is that you see a lot. The roads I took were very beautiful, surrounded with a lot of nature and splendid mountains (which is mostly the cause that the transport is slow). Yes I can say that I saw a lot of beautiful things.

Second of all, people here are curious and they can see that I am not from the Balkans, but from some Western country (some say like Austria for example ;-). You get easily in contact if you want (and also if you do not want) and hear some interesting stories if they speak German,French or English. They offer you most of the time a drink or food and are mostly helpful. From Skopje to Kicevo for example I was allowed to sit by the train driver to make some nice pictures and I did (they will be online in a week).

Traveling gives me new inspiration and new ideas. It is also sometimes quite relaxing to not think a couple of hours until you have reached your destination and only look around you and enjoy what you see…. Then I finish this blog with a quote which you can find in the station of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NL): “Al reizend ervaart men het leven vreemder; overal anders en overal eender”. Free translation: while traveling you experience life differently; everywhere different, everywhere the same!

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