Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Šargan Eight - a short history of the winding railway

As I mentioned in the previous post, Mokra Gora is not only famous for Drvengrad, but first of all for the magnificent narrow-gauge railway - The Šargan Eight (Šarganska Osmica). The track of 8 is an absolute masterpiece of the railway engineering. 500 people worked under the construction and it was one of the most difficult to build railroads in Europe.
The history of the railway dates back to 1921, when joint Belgrade with Sarajevo, what was a part of the way to Dubrovnik. The 2nd half of 20th century brought the rapid development of the network of roads throughout the Europe changing forever the transport industry. The destiny of railroads, especially those slow and inefficient with a limited transport capacity was sealed. That's why the Šargan Eight was shut down in 1974. In 1998 thanks to local people and Serbian soldiers, the railway was revived on the line Mokra Gora - Šargan Vitasi. The connection to Višegrad was brung back in 2010.
Now some statistics: the crooked route creates "the eight" and cuts the Šargan mountains with 22 tunnels. The longest is 1660 m (I definitely dissuade from walking through, except when you have a torch or know the exact time when the train crosses the tunnel).
The length of the track is about 15 km whilst the train climbs up the level of 300 m and passes through 5 bridges from which the longest measures 50 m. 
One way ride takes 41 minutes and stop at 4 stations. The station of Golubići is the most interesting. The protagonists from E. Kusturica's Život je čudo lived right here. Unfortunately the building is locked but even through the window some of the stuff from the movie is still visible.
Highly recommended is to know the schedule of departures of the train to avoid running over in the longest tunnel or the laughter of passengers if by chance we hang washing on the station trees.
Šargan 8 leaves from Mokra Gora at 8.00, 10.30, 13.30 i 16.20 and the ticket price is 600 dinars (5,5 Euro).