Narrow gauge (760 mm) railway Visegrad – Vardiste was a part of the once famous “Eastern railway” (German “Bosnische Ostbahn“, also known as line „Sarajevo – Ostgrenze“, or line Sarajevo-eastern border), which was built by Austro-Hungary in the period from 1903. to the 1906. thus linking Eastern Bosnia to Sarajevo and with the rest of Austria-Hungary monarchy. With the price of 75 million gold crowns (450 thousand gold crowns per kilometre) it was one of the most expensive railways in the world built by that time. If we recalculate all the costs of railway building we will come to the incredible price of 1 kilogram of pure gold for each meter of railway. Construction of this line was solely motivated by strategic importance, as Višegrad was located on the border between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.
First train composition passed through the picturesque valley of the river Rzav on 4th July 1906. from Sarajevo to Dobrun, and on the August the 1st, same year, a part of the railway to Vardiste was opened. After the end of World War I construction works started to continue this line from Vardiste to Užice in Serbia, and the route was officially opened on January 25th 1925.
Since then, the railway had high priority for this region, and was an extremely important link between Bosnia and Serbia for full 49 years. Unfortunately, in 1974. under the pretext of unprofitability of the government, they decided to close railway line Uzice – Visegrad. In 1978. line Visegrad – Sarajevo was closed as well. The rails were removed and the route was left to oblivion.
After the closing of the railway narrow gauge railroad between Visegrad and Uzice in the daily journal “Politika” in Belgrade, a text about the closing was published on March 3th in 1974. Interesting fact is that even then, in the article, they gave a suggestion that part of this line should be transformed into a unique tourist attraction, interesting for tourists all around the world. However, it took thirty years to put this idea into practise.
On the initiative of a group of citizens of Mokra Gora in 2003. part of this railroad was reconstructed for tourist purposes, from Mokra Gora to Vitasi station, known as “The Sargan Eight,” and on the same year the Republic of Srpska Railways, decided to approach to reconstruction of the railway line from Mokra Gora to Visegrad.
In the period from 2004. to 2006. railroad from Vardiste to Dobrun was finished, and by 2008. the railroad was set to the tunnel Glogova, just 1.7 km from the railway station in Visegrad. After that, work on the restoration of the railway was temporarily suspended, due to the necessary infrastructure works at the entrance of Visegrad.
During the 2009th and 2010th The Municipality of Visegrad funded extensive infrastructure works that were a prerequisite for the completion of the reconstruction of the railway. After that, during August 2010. began the installation of the rail to Visegrad in length of 1700 meters. At the beginning of 2010. The Government of the Republic of Srpska financed the purchase of the train station building in Visegrad.
The first ”Ćiro” festive composition, after restoring the railway arrived from Mokra Gora to Visegrad, on August 28th 2010. with the presence of numerous guests, media representatives and several thousands of citizens of Visegrad and surrounding municipalities.
However, to activate the regular traffic of a tourist train, additional infrastructure works are necessary. In the future it is planned to complete the reconstruction of the station building and decorating station plateau along with the locomotive turnover, stokehold and the other necessary facilities. During March 2011. installation of additional tracks at the Visegrad station were finished, and the railway was given permit for traffic.
Only available train rides, from Mokra Gora to Visegrad, are special charter rides for tourist groups.
For more info, prices and reservations visit Serbian railways website here.