One grey and overcast August day last year I took a New York Times journalist and photographer to Seifhennersdorf, a town in Sachsen, Germany, that is less than 2 kilometres from the border to Czechia. The town features in the resulting piece in the Times about my #CrossBorderRail project.
The town is an international rail oddity – its rail line goes first into Czechia (to Varnsdorf) and then back into Germany to Zittau. In other words you can only access it by train through Czechia. Only for the past eight years even that has not been possible, as a damaged level crossing meant it was not possible for trains to make the short journey from Varnsdorf Pivovar Kocour, the final station in Czechia, to Seifhennersdorf.
On that day last year, as I picked my way through bushes on the platform in front of the grandiose station building that had nevertheless fallen into ruin, windows boarded up, it was a sorry scene. You can find more of my pictures from Seifhennersdorf on Flickr here.
But even among the gloom, it was clear that re-establishing the rail connection here would not be hard. All it needed was for the problematic level crossing to be repaired. It made it into my Top 20 proposals for things that needed fixing as a result.
So it was then with great joy that I read a press release from Die Länderbahn, the operator of the Trilex trains that run in the region, that from Sunday 11th June regular trains will run again to Seifhennersdorf. Better still, some of those trains will start in Liberec in Czechia, run through a sliver of Poland to then enter Germany at Zittau, before going back into Czechia at Varnsdorf, and then back into Germany at Seifhennersdorf. That’s proper cross border rail!
Happy to celebrate some good news I have managed to change my plans (I was meant to be at the Belgium-Netherlands border on 9th June!) and make it to Seifhennersdorf instead – because there is a small event to welcome the re-opening of the line at 10:00 on Friday 9th June at Seifhennersdorf station. There will also be a kind of test ride, but numbers for that are limited – so if you would like to come along for that then please contact the press team of Die Länderbahn.
I will personally travelling to Seifhennersdorf on 9th June from Berlin – with a rather unpleasant 05:35 departure from Berlin Ostbahnhof (RE 2 to Cottbus). But if you’re keen to celebrate some good #CrossBorderRail news then do come along! At lunchtime I will then depart westwards via Dresden towards Frankfurt (Main) and Saarbrücken.
It’s good to be able to report some good news for once!
And now some bad news – someone set fire to the old station building in Seifhennersdorf overnight – see the news report here. I assume this will not prevent the line re-opening as passengers were not going to access the building anyway.