July 2, 2018

HISTORY OF SUSTAINABLE MOBILITY IN BOHINJ

The development of traffic goes hand in hand with the development of tourism in Bohinj.

Even in the old days, the people of Bohinj cared about sustainable mobility.

The Arrival of the Railway

“The new Alpine railway broadened horizons to the outside world in many ways – exposing numerous secret natural beauties, real local gems that were previously unknown, as Bohinj was so far away from the rest of the world and often a place hard to get to. Without a doubt, the real gem of all natural beauties is the magnificent Bohinj, a town surrounded by impressive mountain peaks hiding the mysterious fairytale. Nevertheless, the iron steam horse connecting nearby regions was on its own mission – it dug through mountain walls, moved around the riverbeds of torrents and precipices and blazed its trail into the fairyland of the Slovenian Switzerland,”

Wochein, an illustrated touristic leaflet, 1907, page 1

The heir presumptive Franz Ferdinand of Austria attended the grand opening of the Jesenice-Trieste railway on June 19, 1906. Four days later the route was serviced by four passenger trains per day in both directions, marking the start of a regular traffic connection. The construction of the Bohinj railway (Jesenice-Trieste section) in 1906 can easily be described as the big breakthrough for the development of tourism in Bohinj. Bohinj became more accessible and therefore more interesting for tourists, but this also paved the way for the development of tourism activities in Bohinj. It simply cannot be a coincidence that the next year the Tourism Association of Bohinj was established which in many ways represents the start of organised tourism in Bohinj.

New Possibilities, New Offer and New Ideas

In winter of 1909–1910, the state railway directorate of Trieste organised special Sunday and holiday trips from Trieste. Tickets were sold at a bargain price. There were often more than 1000 Trieste residents on that train. One saw the arrival of local carriage rides (called fijakarji). Upon the request of the Provincial Association, the district authority of the town of Radovljica requested that carriages ought to be registered and a fee for carriage rides ought to be implemented.

The first omnibus (the then name for a bus) with capacity for 10 passengers was on a regular route to Bohinj after the construction of the tunnel. In the summer of 1911, an agreement was reached with the Public Works Ministry to organise rides with omnibuses to Lake Bohinj. For a rather different and a neater experience from Ribčev Laz to Ukanc one could embark on the Bogomila boat round trip that took passengers from the St John the Baptist Church to Ukanc.

A Train Ride to Mt Triglav

Soon after the opening of the route, in the initial phases of enthusiasm, the idea arose to build a train connection to Mt Triglav. In 1907 Fritz Steiner, PhD in Engineering, and the engineer M. Klodič (his alias was Mountaineer) together produced a plan in two versions. In both cases, the starting point was the railway station in Bohinjska Bistrica. According to one version, a road was to be redirected north of the Sava river on the ex-narrow-gauge railway route behind the St John the Baptist Church via Uskovnica to Velo polje. At first, a cableway was to be constructed to the top of Mt Triglav.

According to the other version, a narrow-gauge adhesive route from Bohinjska Bistrica railway station to the Voje valley was planned. From there a rack railway via Velo polje and Kredarica near the top of Mt Triglav was to be constructed. Rack railways were then already built in other Alpine countries. The railway section between Kredarica and Mt Triglav peak was to be built mostly underground. In July 1907, the ministry for railway infrastructure awarded Steiner a concession to start activities related with technical preparatory work. Luckily, the project never reached its daylight, as there was probably no money for it.

Bohinjska Bistrica-Ukanc (Zlatorog) Narrow Guage Military Railway

In spring and summer of 1915, long queues of horse-drawn wagons were on their way from Bohinjska Bistrica to Zlatorog and Ukanc. The horse-drawn wagons were only an interim solution – although many were employed and many horses were drawn, the effect was simply too small.

This was the reason for the start of the construction of the Bohinjska Bistrica-Ukanc military horse-drawn tram (Pferdefeldbahn) on October 6, 1915. The narrow-gauge railway was built in 1915 by the Austro-Hungarian army (8th railway division from the railway regiment). The tracks were put down on the southern rim of the existing road. It was 13km long, 60cm wide with a 6% incline. All the tracks together with 5 emergency stops were 15.7km long. The capacity of the track was 200t daily. The transporting activity started late in the autumn of 1915.

In 1917, in the fourth year of the ongoing war, there was an extreme lack of horses and horse feed. The Command decided to electrify the rails. A new electric power plant was built in the vicinity of Savica. Power lines with aluminium wires were installed from the electric power plant to the railway station in Bohinjska Bistrica. The electrification of the military railway was an ongoing project from April 30 until July 27, 1917. A total of 5 trains, 2 of them were postal trains, ran daily to Ukanc (Zlatorog) and back. A one-way ride lasted 2 hours. The Austro-Hungarian military managed the railway until November 4, 1918.

Tourists were transported by the narrow-gauge railway another two years after the war, but then, in 1920, it was torn down. The train wreckage of the ex-railway connection to Ukanc is still at the bottom of Lake Bohinj covered in silt, where a derailed military freight train ended up in 1917.

Source: The book of BOHINJ: 1914–1918 between the front and the outskirts (by Tomaž Budkovič).

 

Early Development and Protection of Nature

Two years after the railway put Bohinj on the map in 1918, at the time of the national fight between Slovenes and Germans, Albin Belar, a Slovene scientist, naturalist and seismologist, suggested securing the valley of the Triglav lakes. This would have been the first secured area in today’s Europe. Even though the commission gave a sign of approval, the idea was never realised. But in 1924, when the Alpine Conservation Park was formed, a part of today’s Triglav National Park – the area around the vicinity of Mt Triglav and the valley of the Triglav lakes – was secured. In 1961 the park was renamed Triglav National Park and can be classified as one of the oldest parks in Europe.

Transport Back in the Day and Today

Today, one can take a bus from Bohinj to Lesce in less than 40 minutes. The ride would have been considerably longer almost sixty years ago. The omnibus departed from Bohinjska Bistrica at 5:45 am and reached its destination – Lesce railway station – at 8:30 am. The cost of the ride with no luggage was 2 crowns. The distance from Bohinjska Bistrica to Zlatorog was also rather long for an omnibus that set off from Bohinjska Bistrica, for example, at 2:10 pm and arrived at Zlatorog at 3:40 pm.

Soft mobility today

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