The railroad between Jesenice and Nova Gorica – known as the Bohinj Railway – takes travelers through Alpine valleys, past glacial lakes and deep forests, and through a long tunnel beneath the snow-capped peaks of the Julian Alps.
Built between 1900 and 1904, it was a major transportation undertaking designed to connect Vienna, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, along with the industrial heartland of Central Europe with the city of Trieste, the empire’s largest port. Authorities brought in about 15,000 workers from around Austria-Hungary. To build the 160-kilometer line, they had to excavate 28 tunnels, one of them six kilometers long, as well as a massive bridge over the Soča river near the town of Solkan. Destroyed during World War I but later rebuilt, the bridge still boasts the world’s longest stone arch. Because of the difficult terrain, no fewer than 65 bridges had to be constructed along the line.
In recent decades, the Bohinj Railway has faced declining traffic, which occasionally puts its long-term survival into question. However, it remains a functional rail link, and travelers can put their vehicles on a car shuttle train between Bohinj and the Soča River Valley, drastically cutting down on the traveling time between the two valleys.
From May to November, tourists can also board an old-fashioned steam train and travel back in time more than a hundred years. Not only can they observe the Alpine countryside from authentic old cars that could have come straight from an Agatha Christie novel, they can also observe showers of sparks from the locomotive when the train passes through the tunnels.
Source: RTVSLO.si | Jaka Bartolj
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