pirmdiena, 2014. gada 30. jūnijs

Travelling by train

Many of my posts will start with something like "So, we went by train to..."

Well, what do you expect from a daughter of a guy who studied locomotive and train car technology at university... "Thou shalt not travel by coach or drive a car" was sort of the 11th commandment in my family.

It's not as limiting as it might seem because, believe it or not, Czech Republic has the densest net of railways in relation to number of inhabitants in the world. And, believe it or not, most of them are still active.

If you talk to some Czechs, they will probably complain about the company that runs some 98% of the sevices: České dráhy, "Czech Railways". This is one of our national sports - apart from ice hockey, football and chatting in pubs. Personally, I'm just into ice hockey. Because while it's true that services used to be pretty bad in 1990's, it's also equally true that in the past few years, the Czech Railways seem to be doing a good job. So - don't be afraid to travel by train. It offers a wide range of experiences: from hyper-modern (well, it's not TGV or Shinkanzen, but who needs them, anyway - you would cross the Czech Republic in two hours in them)

moderately modern

old (some very nice, some too lacking in hydraulics to be comfortable)

to historical.

Your best bet for planning a journey - not only by train - is www.idos.cz. It can be switched to English in the lower right-hand corner, and then you just enter the name of the towns from and to which you want to go. Switch to "Trains" or "Buses" under "Timetables", or choose a combination of the two.
When the service is found, it also shows the distance in kilometres and the price. If you don't have a discount card, the first price listed is for you. Whenever you're sure you'll go back the same way on the same or the next day, ask for a return ticket because it automatically comes with a discount. It's "zpáteční lístek" in Czech. Also, two people can ask for a group ticket because it comes with a discount, too - "skupinový lístek". The more people travel together, the bigger discount they get. It's "skupinový lístek pro 2, 3, 4 osoby / pro 5, 6, 7.... osob".
If you click on the number of the train or coach in idos.cz (it's on the right hand side and usually looks like "727257 205" or "Os 4722" or "EC 153" or "R 869"), a list of the stops, times of arrival and distances in kilometres appear.

Here are some abbreviations you could need explanations for:

ž(el). st. - železniční stanice - railway station
IDS JMK - Integrated Transport System of the South Moravian Region
ROPID - Integrated public transport of the Prague region
MHD - any Municipal Public Transport (=trams, buses, trolleybuses, metro)
Os - osobní vlak - a slow train, passenger train, commuter train
Sp - spěšný vlak - a train that goes faster than a passenger train and stops in fewer towns, but isn't an express
R - rychlík - an express
Ex - expres - also an express :-)
EC, IC - EuroCity, InterCity - inter-state expresses, usually with modern and comfortable interiors (the ticket price is the same)
SC - SuperCity - super-fast and super-modern trains (the ticket price is higher)

And here are some of the words you could need to understand in trains and railway stations:
Cílová stanice - destination
Přes - via
Nástupiště - platform
Kolej - track
(The timetables in railway stations usually list the platform first and the track second. Basically, only the platform number is important to know.)
Zpoždění - delay
Vlak nejede - This train isn't going today.
Náhradní doprava - substitute transport. This means that the passengers buy their tickets as usual, only they will board a bus standing in front of the railway station building. It stops at all the railway stations the train was supposed to stop at, only of course it takes the roads, not the railway tracks.

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