Wednesday, November 04, 2015

A Morning at Prague's Main Train Station, Part 1

My wife and I visited Vienna and Prague this fall. We spent 6 days in Vienna and 6 days in Prague and thoroughly enjoyed both cities. After seeing the main train station ("hlavní nádraží") in Prague, and Tom Gatermann's great photos of the rail traffic around the station, I wanted to spend some time there. I negotiated with my wife and we agreed that I could spend a few hours one morning. On October 4th I woke up early and left the hotel just after 6 AM so I could walk the 15 minutes or so to the station while the sun rose.

On the way to the station, I captured a tram. See Trams of Prague for more!
Prague tram 8513

Once I reached the southwest end of the station I spotted someone hard at work cleaning the windows of a CityElefant train. These are electric multiple-unit (EMU) trains produced by Škoda for suburban use.
CityElefant 471 069-5 in Praha
Here's a view of the area. I spent most of my time at the southwest end, on Vinohradská street, although I did go up Španělská for a side view of the station.

See the "Me!" at bottom right of the map for where I stood for most of these photos.

This was my early view from Vinohradská street. You can see that the sun was up but not cresting the ridge east of the station.
Prague station area
Under Vinohradská there are three tunnels. All of these were used while I was there.
Tunnels under Vinohradská
 The photo below was taken later in the morning when there was more light.
Coming out of a tunnel under Vinohradská
The action was often fast and furious with trains arriving and departing all the time. From my vantage point I could often see trains on the other (northwest) end of the station but I couldn't really photograph them, given that it was a good half a kilometre away. I'm not going to post every train I saw - there were too many - but I want to provide a flavour of the rail traffic I saw.

Here's an overview of the entire station, at 7:24 AM.

Note the original station at left (preserved), the enclosed glass train shed, and the three covered platforms at right. There are a lot of tracks here!

Here's a view looking back at Vinohradská and the National Museum (Národní muzeum), and a train going into the tunnels.

I used my telephoto lens to get a closer view of a few trains at the station. Note the complex web of towers and electrical wire to serve the trains.

Given the low light available, I had to use a slow shutter speed - around 1/25s. That's too slow to freeze a train, so I resorted to panning. Here's a few pans I took.

I like how the train cars are so different

Speaking of catenary wire... I'd hate to be an electrician here!

Wires, wires everywhere
 I think all of the "50" signs are speed limit signs, 50 km/hr. In rural areas the trains don't seem to slow down through the rural stations. I can recall blowing through some small towns at track speed, which surprised me.
Czech trains in Prague
A CityElefant train on the move.
CityElefant in Prague
Czech Railways 150 209-5 is another Škoda locomotive. It's a 3000V DC locomotive capable of 140 km/hr (87 MPH).
Czech Railways 150 209-5 in Praha
That's probably enough locomotive photos for now! In the next post I will finish up my morning railfanning at the main Prague train station. It will include a diesel switcher and a couple of electric switcher locomotives!

PS - for your amusement... when I was shooting trams in Prague, I was photobombed...
Photobombed by a nun. Now I've seen everything.
Move on to part 2


DaveM said...

As for being photobombed, I'd thought you'd have none of it. :)


Steve Boyko said...

@DaveM - I'll try not to make a habit of it.