Slovakia upgrades rack railway in High Tatras
Slovak rail infrastructure manager Železnice Slovenskej republiky (ŽSR) has started the reconstruction of the Štrbské Pleso – Štrba rack railway in the High Tatras. The works will carry out by early February 2021. Afterwards, the new hybrid trains will be introduced on the mountainous railway.
ŽSR began the modernisation works of the Štrbské Pleso – Štrba rack railway on Monday, 6 July. This project is valued at around 20 million euros. It includes the reconstruction of railway superstructure (rails, sleepers and fastening systems) and substructure (track ballast and other components) as well as the replacement of five rack turnouts and the construction of a brand new switch without a rack. The passenger platforms at all three stations (Štrba, Štrbské Pleso and Tatranský Lieskovec) will be upgraded.
It is the second reconstruction of the Slovak famous mountainous line since its opening in 1896. The railway was modernised 50 years ago when it was electrified. A key focus for this time is the infrastructure itself. Therefore, the 4.6-kilometre rack line will be closed for the train traffic in the next seven months. For this period, Slovak national railway operator ZSSK will replace trains with special bus connections.
Waiting for new trains
In 2018 ZSSK purchased five two-car hybrid trains of GTW type from Stadler Rail. They will be able to run by both rack and conventional tracks of Tatra Electric Railway network. The massive reconstruction of the Štrbské Pleso – Štrba rack railway is caused by the necessity to introduce these new vehicles on the mountainous railway. “This upgrade is needed to ensure higher track capacity and trouble-free operation of our new Swiss hybrid units, which we will gradually deploy here,” CEO of ZSSK Filip Hlubocký said.
It is worth to remind that the rack line is currently served by three Class 405.95 two-car trainsets. They were produced approximately 50 years ago by the Swiss company SLM (in 1998 its rack division became a part of Stadler Rail).