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Stranded: Czech railways 10-hour delay almost causes a riot

Overhead line failure caused a number of trains in Moravia (eastern Czechia) to be delayed by eight to ten hours. Furious passengers reported that they received little to no assistance from the employees of the Czech state railways (České dráhy), leading the desperate stranded tourists almost to the point of mutiny.

A traction line in Brandýs nad Orlicí in the Czech region of Moravia broke down in the morning of Saturday, August 6, causing massive delays, exasperating an obstruction caused by a train derailment earlier that morning. Substitute bus services were provided to some of the passengers, but not enough to get all of them to their destination.

Michal Kavalčík, a well-known Czech musician, comedian, and radio personality, reported on the dissatisfaction of his fellow travellers. Instead of providing assistance to the disgruntled passengers, the train conductors called the police on them.

What was probably the most exasperating, was the train staff’s refusal to provide the passengers with any information. Not just as to when the train will continue on its route, but even refusing to tell them what went wrong. The replacement transport that České dráhy provided was also insufficient.

“Send us some more buses so we can get to Moravia. Three buses arrived for the train, from which 800 people got off. We would need about three more to get to Česká Třebová,” wrote Kavalčík in an Instagram post.

The passengers were so furious that they were on the brink of starting a riot. Instead of reassuring them or providing them with assistance, the employees of the Czech railways called the police on the mutinous crowd.

According to the passengers, whose train got stuck in Nádraží Ústí nad Orlicí (some 8.5 km from Brandýs nad Orlicí as the crow flies) the delay almost caused a riot. Their train was scheduled to arrive in Prague by 8am in the morning, but by 1pm the passengers had just about enough of being stranded in the middle of picturesque nowhere in Moravia.

The Czech railways have failed to provide replacement transportation for them, and have not provided them with water or other provisions. Perhaps more frustratingly, the employees of the České dráhy were not candid with the passengers about the reason for the delay.

“[The] staff [were] basically hiding from us for most of the time, lying to us and showing absolutely no initiative whatsoever for all these hours,” said Zuza, another passenger.

“Train arrival delayed by 600 minutes”. Photo: Yann Montagnana

Being left stranded in the middle of nowhere is frustrating enough. Having no food or water is another thing. Imagine what happened when the toilet paper inevitably ran out…

The only assistance rendered were the Czech police called in by the train staff to quell the inevitable mutiny of the disgruntled passengers.

The train carried tourists and commuters. Including families with children.

When the police were called they were confronted by some of the passengers.

“A Czech old lady couldn’t care less about the cops nor running trains close by – she lived through communism I bet, two young local cops wouldn’t scare her nor do anything against her,” wrote Yann, one of the tourists caught in the midst of it.

He also said that the situation that emerged was dangerous for the life and limb of the people caught in the midst of it, citing the presence of children and the elderly. He was incensed by the fact that the only emergency called to arrive on the spot were the police.

“[I]t’s a miracle [no one] got hurt. We can thank ourselves for patience and self-control. Saying all of this still feels unreal to be honest.”

To add insult to the passengers’ injury, a train arrived to collect the railway employees around 2.30 pm. They were jeered by the passengers, who shouted “shame!” and “employee of the month!” at them.


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