A disappearing legend. Class 350 locomotives left on last three routes

A class 350 locomotive. Credit: Czech RailwaysA class 350 locomotive. Credit: Czech Railways

Within a few years, they will disappear from Czech lines completely.

For decades, the legendary machines dominated traffic on the busy line between Prague, Brno and Bratislava. They carried trans-European expresses such as Balt–Orient, Pannonia, Hungaria and Metropol, but now their era is slowly coming to an end. The Slovak class 350 locomotives (nicknamed Gorila or Krysa/Rat) are now operating on only three pairs of daily services. Within a few years, they will disappear from Czech lines completely.

Originally labeled as class ES 499.0, the now designated class 350 locomotives operate one pair of trains each on the Bratislava–Prague, Budapest–Bohumin and Zilina–Prague routes today. In addition, they transport a pair of night trains between Bohumin and Slovakia.

The original class ES 499.0 for the Czechoslovak State Railways (ČSD) was built at the Skoda locomotive works in Plzeň due to the introduction of two different power supply systems in Czechoslovakia. It was the first Czech two-system locomotive for 3 kV DC power supply, which was used in the north of the country, and 25 kV 50 Hz AC power supply, which was used in the south of Czechoslovakia.

At the time of its production between 1973 and 1975, it was considered the most powerful four-axle multi-system locomotive in Europe thanks to its 4,000 kW output. Its design speed was 160 km/h. However, it could only use this speed from 2000 onwards after the modernisation of the railway corridors and the addition of a control system necessary for 160 km/h operation.

Trains regularly transported by class 350 (timetable 2022)

EC 284 Metropolitan Slovenská strela Bratislava – Břeclav (6:07) – Brno hl. n. (6:38) – Praha hl. n. (9:42)

EC 285 Metropolitan Slovenská strela Praha hl. n. (19:12) – Brno hl. n. (22:20) – Břeclav (22:52) – Bratislava

EC 220 Valašský expres Žilina – Vsetín (8:53) – Val. Meziříčí (9:11) – Olomouc (10:03) – Praha hl. n. (12:52)

EC 221 Valašský expres Praha hl. n. (15:02) – Olomouc (17:51) – Val. Meziříčí (18:44) – Vsetín (19:03) – Žilina

EC 130 Báthory Budapest – Břeclav (12:10) – Přerov (13:13) – Ostrava hl. n. (14:07) – Warszawa – Terespol

EC 131 Báthory Terespol – Warszawa – Ostrava hl. n. (13:52) – Přerov (14:45) – Břeclav (15:45) – Budapest

Tagy České dráhy class 350 locomotive Czech Railways
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