Sunday, July 28, 2019

Žilina, Bohumín, Oświęcim

Today I'm leaving Slovakia and heading north to Poland.
Bratislava main station in the morning. Not only passenger trains are operating here.
383 104 Vectron MS
Mercedes Benz cars on board the freight train
The first train is R 603 "PSS Lišiak"
Traveling on Railway line 120 Bratislava - Žilina. The section Bratislava - Púchov (including the station) has a power supply system of 25kV 50Hz  AC, while the Púchov - Žilina section has the supply system of 3kV DC. According to ŽSR plans, be switched in 2022. [2] After the reconstruction, all sections of the Bratislava - Žilina - Košice line will be electrified by an alternating system of 25kV by 2022.

From Wikipedia: "In 2014, the modernization of the line in the Považská Teplá - Žilina track section began with a loading station. The section Považská Teplá - Žilina is 22 702 m long (of which 4 100 m is in a new position) and contains 50 613 m new rails, 44 switches, 5 new subways for passengers and the public, 7 new bridges and 13 113 m noise protection walls. After refurbishment, the maximum speed will be increased to 120-160 km / h for conventional trains, trains with tilting trains will be able to run at higher speeds thanks to the European Train Control System (ETCS)."

My train has arrived at Žilina station
Žilina railway station serves the city and municipality of Žilina, seat of the Žilina Region, northern Slovakia. Opened in 1871, the station is an important railway junction between the Bratislava–Žilina railway and the Košice–Žilina railway, both of which form part of Slovakia's main east-west rail corridor. It is also a junction for two other lines. (Wikipedia)

The station building is decorated with stained glass windows
Trolleybus outside the station

The mountain ahead is called Malý Kriváň (1671m), part of the Malá Fatra mountain range in the Western Carpathians in the north-west of Central Slovakia. In the geomorphological system, it is a part of the Fatra-Tatra Area.

ZSSK class 131 is a two-part 3kV DC locomotive designed for heavy freight transport on slopingly demanding lines between the Silesian-Moravian-Slovak border and eastern Slovakia. It was made by the Pilsen company Skoda (type Skoda 58E ) in the years 1980 - 1982 in the number of 50 pairs. (Wikipedia)
ZSSK Class 721 shunting locomotive

My next train is R 344 "Fatra"
The train is arriving from Banská Bystrica, which requires a diesel locomotive as the railway to Zilina is not electrified.
ŽSSK Class 754, manufactured by ČKD in the '70s
Class 754 was used between Banská Bystrica - Žilina, so now it is replaced with...
...ZSSK Class 361, which will haul this train for the trip Žilina - Ostrava-Svinov
Class 361
1st class coach
2nd class coach with compartments
All compartments were full except one, which was locked for the staff
The lock for the staff compartment
The train is now taking line 127 Žilina–Čadca–Svrčinovec zastávka–Mosty u Jablunkova (ČD) (part of the Košice–Bohumín Railway)

After crossing the border, the railway continues as line 320 Bohumín - Čadca. Ahead is one of the Jablunkov tunnels reconstructed in 2013

ČD Class 471

Český Těšín is a town in the Karviná District, Moravian-Silesian Region of the Czech Republic. The town is commonly known in the region as just Těšín (Polish: Cieszyn). It lies on the west bank of the Olza river, in the heart of the historical region of Cieszyn Silesia. Until the 1920 division of the region between Poland and Czechoslovakia, it was just a western suburb of the town of Teschen, which after the division fell to Poland as Cieszyn. The combined population of the Czech and Polish parts of the city is around 60,000 (25,000 in Těšín, 35,000 in Cieszyn). (Wikipedia)

Railway to Cieszyna, Poland. Unfortunately, I could not find a good train connection for my further journey to Poland here.

Modernization undergoing

Arriving at Bohumin

Books to read at the station, just like in Sweden

Bohumin station is connecting important lines in Czechia, Slovakia, and Poland.

PKP class EU07

CD Class 151, Škoda 65Em

Leo Express is terminating here

Coaches from different railway companies can be seen here

PKP Class EP09
My next train will be EC 115 "Cracovia". There is an interesting operation undergoing here in Bohumin. Two of the coaches (seen here) from train EC 130 "Báthory" are disconnected and attached to the train heading to Krakow, while the coaches from EC 115 are attached to EC 130 for the journey to Warszawa. The whole process is supposed to take about 40 min, but it was longer than that this time.

3 coaches from EC 115 are disconnected for further journey to Warszawa.
It is hot on the train, but onboard there is cold beer. My destination today is Oświęcim as I'm planning to visit the Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. Considering the fact that prisoners were transported by train, I should not complain about the heat onboard the train.
Crossing the border to Poland

The train is delayed

Arriving to Oświęcim

PKP Class EN71

After leaving the luggage in the hotel, I'm heading straight to the museum, as I have booked a time slot for a visit - which is a requirement
From Wikipedia: "The Auschwitz concentration camp (Konzentrationslager Auschwitz) was a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II and the Holocaust. It consisted of Auschwitz I, the main camp (Stammlager) in Oświęcim; Auschwitz II–Birkenau, a concentration and extermination camp in Brzezinka three kilometers away; Auschwitz III–Monowitz, a labor camp in Monowice created to staff an IG Farben synthetic-rubber factory; and dozens of other subcamps."
Gate to Auschwitz I, with its Arbeit macht frei sign ("work sets you free")
From Wikipedia: "An exhibition opened in Auschwitz I in 1955, displaying prisoner mug shots; hair, suitcases, and shoes taken from murdered prisoners; canisters of Zyklon B pellets; and other objects related to the killings. UNESCO added the camp to its list of World Heritage Sites in 1979. All the museum's directors were, until 1990, former Auschwitz prisoners. Visitors to the site have increased from 492,500 in 2001, to over one million in 2009, to two million in 2016."
It is, of course, a very sad place to visit, and when it is summer and nice weather - it is not easy at first to realize all the horrors that took place here... Probably better to come here in the Autumn.

The map of the location

From Auschwitz I there is a free shuttle bus to Auschwitz II - Birkenau

Auschwitz II Birkenau is a much larger complex than the Auschwitz I, the rail tracks are still in place
The main gate

From Wikipedia: "The victories of Operation Barbarossa in the summer and fall of 1941 against Hitler's new enemy, the Soviet Union, led to dramatic changes in Nazi anti-Jewish ideology and the profile of prisoners brought to Auschwitz. Construction on Auschwitz II-Birkenau began in October 1941 to ease congestion at the main camp. The initial plan was that Auschwitz II would consist of four sectors (Bauabschnitte I–IV), each consisting of six subcamps (such as BIIa, BIIb) with their own gates and fences; sector BI was initially a quarantine camp. The overall capacity was to be 200,000. The chief of construction was SS-Sturmbannführer Karl Bischoff, an architect appointed by SS-Gruppenführer Heinz Kamler, an engineer. The first two sectors were completed, but the construction of BIII, begun in 1943, was stopped in April 1944, and the plan for BIV was abandoned.

The prisoners were forced to live in the barracks as they were being built; in addition to working, they faced long roll calls at night. As a result, most prisoners in BIb (the men's camp) in the early months died within a few weeks of hypothermia, starvation or exhaustion. An initial contingent of 10,000 Soviet prisoners of war arrived at Auschwitz I in October 1941, but by March 1942 only 945 were still alive, and these were transferred to Birkenau, where most of them had died by May."

Hopefully, nobody will ever use these tracks again

On my way from the museum to the hotel
Oświęcim is a town in the Lesser Poland (Polish: Małopolska) province of southern Poland, situated 50 km west of Kraków, near the confluence of the Vistula (Wisła) and Soła rivers.
Life goes on...

Beetroot soup

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