The Košice–Bohumín Railway
The Košice–Bohumín Railway
IV – The Košice–Bohumín Railway
The Cieszyn Silesia region constituted an important junction of transport routes located on the borders of a few countries. In fact, through the town of Teschen (Cieszyn) ran important transportation routes, such as the road connecting Vienna with Cracow or an equally important connection between Silesia and Hungary (Slovakia) leading through Jablunkov Pass. The good economic situation in the second half of the 19th century entailed also intensive development of railway transportation, which had a significant impact on the entire area of Cieszyn Silesia. The most important railway route that ran through this area was the Košice–Bohumín Railway (the so-called KBD), connecting, as the name suggests, Bohumín and Košice. It also constituted one of the most important connections between the western and eastern part of the Habsburg Monarchy (from 1867 Austria-Hungary) and was the first railway in Upper Hungary (Slovakia).
After approving the final form of the KBD in 1864, two years later concession for its construction was granted to entrepreneurs headed by a Belgian company set up by the Riche brothers from Brussels and the Hungarian Chancellor, Antal Forgách. The actual construction works began in August 1867 from building the route from Bohumín to Teschen (Cieszyn). This section of 32 km was eventually opened on 5th May 1869. The transfer of the concession to the English-Austrian Bank accelerated the construction works. The second, 70-kilometer-long section from Teschen to Žilina together with Jablunkov Tunnel was opened on 8th January 1870, and the construction of the entire route ended on 18th March 1872 once the railway line was successfully extended to Košice. It was divided into the Silesian part (also known as Austrian) on the section from Bohumín to Čadca (64 km), where the majority of goods and passenger transport took place, and the Hungarian part (304.6 km). In this way the Košice–Bohumín Railway became an important element in the Austro-Hungarian railway network. It was a continuation of the Northern Railway extended to Bohumín in 1847 and it was followed by new mining and metallurgical companies as well as gradually built local routes of Cieszyn Silesia. The railway was private until 1921 when the majority of its stock was bought by Czechoslovakia.
The number of railway users grew at a fast pace – in the period before the outbreak of World War I around five million people travelled on this route, and the train station in Teschen was the place with the highest number of travellers in the entire Railway. However, it was goods transport that was of the utmost importance, especially the transportation of coal and metal ores.
The original station of the Košice–Bohumín Railway company in the left-bank part of the town was located west of the rail line, near Jablunkov road, on the so-called Kamieniec. Also the operational management of the Silesian part of the company moved to the railway station building in 1873. In 1887-1888 on the other, eastern side of the rail line, the Northern Railway constructed its own train station building for the purposes of Kojetín – Bielsko-Biała route. The building of the train station was then used by both companies, which led to the establishment of a new central railway station complex. The author of the Teschen train station design was architect Anton Dachler. Teschen train station and the equivalent building made of similar material in Bielsko-Biała were the only structures designed by that architect that were actually implemented. From the architectural point of view the train station in Teschen belonged to a group of representative train stations made of facing brick wall and constituted a good example of construction on the former Northern Railway route in the last twenty years of the 19th century.
The strategic importance of Košice–Bohumín Railway was most evident during World War I, and especially after it ended, when the 20-year-long dispute arose among the newly established countries – Czechoslovakia and Poland – about state affiliation of Cieszyn Silesia. Incorporating the entire route into their land had become one of the main goals for both countries, especially for Czechoslovakia, as KBD was the only complete connection of Czech territories with Slovakia and was a key element for the functioning of the young republic. The significance of the train station is also reflected in the fact that soon after the new town was formed and before its official name was agreed on, the name Cieszyn-Train Station (Teschen-Bahnhof) had been used.
The building of the train station became a venue for greeting prominent guests arriving in Teschen (Cieszyn). It was the case especially between 1915-1917 when Teschen was the headquarters of the general staff of the Austro-Hungarian army and high ranking military officers and government officials, also from other countries, would stay or stop here. The most important visitors included Franz Joseph I, Charles I of Austria, Wilhelm II German Emperor and Ferdinand I of Bulgaria.
The train station also witnessed arrivals of less official guests. For example, at the beginning of August 1906 Teschen was visited by the famous Buffalo Bill during his tour across Europe with the popular group of performers Wild West, and on 24th February 1921 writer Ludvík Aškenazy, whose wife, Leonie Mann, was a daughter of German writer Heinrich Mann, was reputedly born here.
View of the train station and Dworcowa Street during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
A colourful postcard depicting the train station during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (H 17090/2,Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
The Teschen train station constituted an important military installation. The illustration shows Archduke Friedrich Habsburg with a group of Prussian officers at the exit for militaries. (G 167, Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
The railway station witnessed many transports of troops to the Eastern Front. The illustration presents a ceremonious departure in the presence of Commander in Chief Friedrich Habsburg and Chief of the General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian army Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf. (F 2707, Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
Bulgarian czar Ferdinand II arriving at the General Staff headquarters in Teschen on 2nd November 1916. (H 11025/3, Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
The train station in Český Těšín in the period of the First Czechoslovak Republic. (G 1750, Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
Illustration showing a restaurant on the platform from the period of the First Czechoslovak Republic. (H 17190/1, Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
Flooded train station during the great flood of May 1940. (G 315, Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
Construction of an underpass as part of train station reconstruction between 1962-1963. (H 22926, Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
Downed railway electric traction in Český Těšín along the Olza River during the flood in 1970. (H 14922b, Muzeum Těšínska Collection)
A Soviet tank in front of the train station building during the occupation in August 1968. (Muzeum Těšínska Collection 50)