International passenger

trains in 20th Century Europe

International passenger trains in 20th Century Europe

Up to 1914

Up to 1914, it was a regional capital in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its domain was the territory of Bohemia and Moravia. In that time its international traffic was limited to links with the German Empire most of which emanated from Wien.  The main route for this traffic crossed the German border at Děčín, thence to Dresden, Leipzig and Berlin.

Some German traffic was catered for from Praha to Frankfurt/M and München via the western Bohemian border crossings at Cheb and Fürth im Walde. However the main international traffic focussed on the spa town of Karlovy Vary in Western Bohemia which enjoyed through  trains to Paris and to Ostend but none of these trains ventured to Praha.

Karlovy Vary originated trains to Berlin through Chomutov and Děčín and also it was responsible for trains reaching as far afield as Bucureşti, Warszawa and Volochisk on the Austro Hungarian/Russian border.– all these trains were routed through Praha to Bohumin and then via Katowice to Warszawa or via Kraków and Lviv. Volochisk was now on the Russian-Polish border and ceased to have connections in a westward direction

South and east of Praha the majority of traffic led to Wien. Czech passengers for international stations beyond Wien did not enjoy though services and as such needed to change there. Some trains between Berlin and Wien also bypassed Praha. Praha did not possess any through trains to Balkan or Italian destinations and none to France or North West Europe. This was to change.


The change of status of Praha to a capital city following the Peace Treaties forged in Paris 1918-20 opened up a new range of international connections and these remained in force up to the annexation of the Sudetenland by Germany and their subsequent invasion in 1939.

With the fragmentation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, new borders demarcated the Czech nation. Czechoslovakia comprised Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia and Ruthenia and now had new borders with Austria, Hungary, Poland and Romania. Bearing in mind the radial nature of international routes from Wien there was little connectivity on an east-west axis. The new Czech state now needed such an axis

Praha also gained a new route to Bucureşti via Košice and Oradea using the new common frontier between Czechoslovakia and Romania at Halmei. By taking the route from Brno through Kúty to Bratislava trains from Praha could now access Budapest by avoiding Wien.

Spa traffic from Karlovy Vary still targetted Warszawa and Bucureşti but in the latter case, the route changed to run via Budapest instead of Lviv. Likewise Paris and Ostend maintained luxury trains to Karlovy Vary. Berlin remained connected to Karlovy Vary via Děčín. For a time, Praha enjoyed a through service to Athenai and later Istanbul via Budapest and Beograd. This train started in Berlin.

The main routes from Praha to Wien now crossed an international border Gmünd or Břeclav. This did not change.

The Treaty of St Germain contained provisions for connecting Czechoslovakia with the Adriatic at Trieste through České-Budějovice, Linz, Villach, Tarvisio or Jesenice. Praha found itself served by trains to Roma and Trieste by this route

B2-3: Praha as a rail hub

to 1939

Balt Orient routes

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