The completion of this route made it possible to construct another line to Krynica, which was opened in 1912, and to link this city to Kraków and Tarnów with a convenient railway line. Between 1984 and 1987, the line was electrified.
Sightseeing the Poprad Valley and its neighbouring areas in Slovakia by train be can an amazing tourist attraction.
Apart from the natural values of the region, which the line runs through, the structure itself is a great historical and engineering attraction.
The Trans-Carpathian Railway – 135 years of iron route No. 96!
This rail route linking Kraków with Presov’s railway line, running through Tarnów, Nowy Sącz, Stary Sącz, and Muszyna, was constructed between 1874 and 1876. It was commissioned on 18 August 1876, which is the birthday and name day of Franz Joseph I of Austria.
When launched, the line was 145-km long and was called the Tarnów-Leluchów Line. The completion of this route made it possible to construct another line to Krynica, which was opened in 1912, and to link this town to Kraków and Tarnów. This over 100-year-old line has its terminus in Krynica.
Several strategic bridges were constructed along the railway line from Kraków to Leluchów, as well as a tunnel near Żegiestów. The history of the tunnel’s construction is quite unique, and deserves more attention from the historians and promoters of local tourism.
From Stary Sącz to the border checkpoint near Muszyna, the railway line follows the Poprad Valley, and is still waiting for its picturesque values to be rediscovered. Not so long ago, it was possible to travel along this line straight from Kraków to Košice and Budapest, and even further to Bucharest. Today, to embark on such an adventure you have to change trains at Plaveč station, provided you are able to get there by local connection from Muszyna.
From 1984 to 1987, the line was electrified. Returning to Poprad-Valley sightseeing through the train windows can again become a great tourist attraction, worth taking into account on the Stary Sącz – Rytro – Piwniczna – Wierchomla – Żegiestów – Muszyna – Plaveč – Presov – Košice route.
And what is so special about the railway line itself? Engineering solutions adopted in the construction of bridges, the tunnel and the route’s course in the mountains.
Trains, while rolling along the railway line many a time cross rivers on steel bridges. Some of these are as old as the railway line itself, and make up a characteristic part of the landscape (also an audible one) of this part of the Carpathians.
The iron bridge on the Kamienica Nawojowska in Jamnica near Nowy Sącz.
Under Winna Góra (Wine Mountain) you will find the “Jacek” iron bridge on the Poprad, which has been recently rebuilt after post-flood damage.
The iron bridge on the Poprad in Muszyna.
The Żegiestów Tunnel
This tunnel was opened on 18.08.1876 as part of the new railway line from Nowy Sącz to Leluchów. The tunnel was designed and constructed by the High Committee of the Vienna Imperial-Royal Railway Construction Authority. It was blown up twice. The first time by the Polish Army in 1939, and the second, by the Germans in 1945. The history of its construction is very interesting. It was constructed by workers from Trieste (Italy). Having finished their work, many of them stayed in the vicinity, which is corroborated by the so-called Italian cemetery in Andrzejówka. The builders received help from local peasants, hired to remove soil and rocks from the tunnel pit. The construction of the Żegiestów took the lives of some 120 people, mainly those local hired workers.
The tunnel is 513 metres long, with an oval shape finished with stone voussoirs. Inside there are several emergency recesses. The arch of the tunnel is of 300 m in diameter and trains inside can move at a maximum of 60 km/h.
The picturesque sections of the Kraków-Košice railway line
This railway line runs wholly by the incredibly picturesque areas of the Małopolska and Prešov Regions, yet there are two sections which appear to be especially interesting. These are from Piwniczna to Muszyna, Leluchów and Plaveč (the meanders of the Poprad, steel bridges, the Żegiestów Tunnel, the Poprad River Gorge) and from Puste Pole to Lipany (an intriguing monadnock vista on the east, the winding railway line and the Torysa River Valley).
The relationship between the railway line and the valuable natural areas
After embarking from Kraków on a journey by the Trans-Carpathian railway you will have an opportunity to see many interesting places. Some of these are worth mentioning here, while the others will be included in our Carpathian Adventure Map. From the route you can easily travel to Ciężkowice, and there to the captivating natural history museum (it is located in a new building near the town square and is named after Krystyna and Włodzimierz Tomek; more information can be obtained by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Fossil Town Natural Reserve. In Stary Sącz you can go sightseeing round the city, visit the Poor Clares cloister, and stroll round the Poprad Landscape Park or go into the Pieniny or Gorce Mountains. It is best to start tours to the Beskid Sądecki or to the vicinity of Jarabina (the gorgeous Jarabińskie Priełomy Reserve) from Piwniczna. From this station you can cross the Poprad by bus or by foot, and also get to the road border crossing with Slovakia in Mniszek. From this place, by travelling to Kače village by the Poprad, you will enter into a rather obscure but very interesting tourist trail to Stará Ľubovňa (which ends near the castle). In Żegiestów it is worth taking a look at the meandering Poprad, which forms so-called “shovels” – a Slovakian and a Polish one. In Muszyna, you should take a tour (ca. 3-4 hours) around the unique nature reserve – the Linden Forest in Obrożyska with an area of ca. 100 ha., featuring a well-designed nature trail furnished with informational boards. From Muszyna (where you’re advised to stay for a few days) you can also get to a mofetta natural monument in Jastrzębik, and also to Czarna Młaka Lake – a natural monument which has been recently made open to the public. The town is also the perfect place for outings to the southern part of the Beskid Sądecki, i.e. into the Jaworzyna Krynicka Range and the Czerchowskie Mountains (the Polish part of Čergov). From Plaveč you can go to Stará Ľubovňa and Poprad, and then into the Tatra Mountains. While travelling from Plaveč to Prešov, you can enjoy the view of the Pieniny Klippen Belt on the east and the Torysa River Valley. You can alight at several stations before Prešov and go into Čergov, a high mountain range valuable from the natural point of view and offering unforgettable views.
There are many ways of making this journey! Write to us about your adventures on and around the Carpathian green railway line! Don’t forget to document your trip by taking photos and recording films or sounds.
d/ The route of the trail
The trail should be drawn along the existing railway line from Kraków to Prešov, marking these stations and halts – Tarnów, Ciężkowice, Nowy Sącz, Stary Sącz, Rytro, Piwniczna, Żegiestów, Andrzejówka, Muszyna, Leluchów, Plaveč, Puste Pole, Lipany, Prešov.
What’s more you should demonstrate the course of the railway lines – from Muszyna to Krynica, marking the Krynica Zdrój station and the course of the railway line: Plaveč – Stará Ľubovňa – Kežmarok – Poprad marking the stations in these towns.
On the marked route of the trail, sections of special natural value should also be indicated: Żegiestów Zdrój – Andrzejówka, the so-called “shovels”: Polish and Slovakian (the meandering Poprad) and the railway line section from the Puste Pole halt to the Lipany halt, to show the great arc of the railway line and the entrance to the Torysa River Valley.
Indicate railway bridges in Nowy Sącz, Stary Sącz, Piwniczna, Muszyna and Leluchów-Plaveč using short lines.
The Żegiestów Tunnel is an important linear marking.
Valuable natural areas around the railway line can be marked by making an inscription: the Pieniny Klippen Belt, Čergov, the Beskid Sądecki.
Also indicate the Ciężkowice town and add an inscription – a natural history museum – plus add a YouTube link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zo8vUSrdff4
k/ a list of key words: the Poprad River Valley, the Torysa, Franz Joseph I of Austria, Galicia, the Żegiestów Tunnel, the Pieniny Klippen Belt, a railway line, the Żegiestów shovel, a railway bridge, the natural history museum in Ciężkowice
l/ the type of trail: sightseeing, historical, technological