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Iconic Czechoslovak bullet train goes on display after restoration


Prague, Czech Republic – The legendary Czechoslovak bullet train known as the Slovak Arrow (Slovenská Strela) has been restored to its former glory after years of renovation.

Last week, hundreds of fans gathered in the town of Prerov, in Moravia, to bear witness to the restored Slovak Arrow, Czechoslovakia’s bullet train that went into operation in 1936 to connect Prague and Bratislava, via Brno, in less than four and a half hours.

The culmination of the First Czechoslovak Republic‘s ambitious railway modernisation program and a symbol of unity between the Czech and Slovak people in the interwar period, the bullet train stopped running from 1939 to 1945. After the war, it was sometimes used as a ministerial and governmental train, and carried Czechoslovak representatives to the Nuremberg trials, in Germany.

Some 70 years would have to go by before its speed could be matched and surpassed by a Pendolino train.

“This train is a national cultural monument, which enjoys the highest level of protection for cultural heritage in the Czech Republic,” Jiri Strecha, coordinator of the restoration works, told Radio Prague last year. “That puts it in the same category as, say, the crown jewels or Karlstejn Castle.”

Last week, the renovated high-speed red-coloured train made its first ride from Prerov to Koprivnice, south of Ostrava, where it will be on display in a glass pavilion specially built for this purpose as part of the Tatra Technical Museum. The two-year restoration, which paid special attention to conserving historical details as accurately as possible, is said to have cost around 118 million Kc (including 80 million in EU subsidies).

This autumn, visitors will be able to visit a special exhibition dedicated to the Slovak Arrow, while regular rides on the historical gem might also be planned.

“I must say that the construction engineers did a really great job,” said conductor Marek Riha last week. “The journey was very smooth because the coach has a very good suspension system.”

Manufactured by Tatra, the Slovak Arrow uses a ground-breaking electro-mechanical transmission developed by “Moravian Edison” Josef Sousedik, while its exterior and interior design are the brainchild of Czech architect Vladimir Gregr.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.