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News 08 Jun 17

Bosnians' Beloved Train to the South Departs Again

Sarajevans are now able to travel to the south by train again, more than a year after the line was closed for reconstruction – although the route will no longer reach the Croatian coast.

Igor Spaic
BIRN
Sarajevo
 
 The Sarajevo-Ploce railway line is the oldest in the country. Photo: BIRN.

Bosnians on Thursday again boarded the southbound train from Sarajevo, bringing back memories of past summertime trips to the exquisite Croatian coast - although the train no longer travels to the Croatian port of Ploce, as it used to do.

The train is back in style after reconstruction work on the line, however, with modern Talgo wagons on a par with European standards - faster, more comfortable, and even boasting wi-fi.

But reality will hit nostalgic passengers when it stops in Capljina, at the border with Croatia.

Only the Bosnian part of the old line is in use; according to Al Jazeera, the connection onwards was discontinued because it is unprofitable for Croatian Railways.

In Capljina, two buses will be waiting for those travelling to the Croatian coast – one for Ploce, and the other for the coastal town of Makarska.

The Sarajevo-Ploce railway line is the oldest in the country.

Its construction began in the late 19th Century, when Bosnia was under Austro-Hungarian rule.

The last time it was renovated prior to the recent work was more than four decades ago, and trains often had to limit their speed along certain sections to some 20 kilometres per hour.

But nobody complained, as the route was revered for its beauty, both by locals and tourists.

Passengers would travel along the picturesque Neretva valley, overlooking the clear green river running through the mountains covered with untamed forest.

Faruk Handzar, a Sarajevan in his 50s, told BIRN that he first took the Sarajevo-Ploce train when he was 15 years old to travel to the coast with friends, and kept using it each year until it stopped running when the war in Bosnia began in 1992. It reopened after the war but then closed for reconstruction in 2015.

“I can't wait to board this train again and revisit my youth,” Handzar said.

He said that his 19-year-old son is also keen to take the train this year for the first time in his life, and to experience how his father went to the Croatian coast back when he was the same age.

Handzar says it was a pity that the train does not travel all the way to Ploce anymore.

“But at least it is something,” he added.

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