May 2018 will see the return of the popular Summer loco-hauled nostalgic train on the branch from Retz to Drosendorf, in the far north of Austria near to the border with the Czech Republic.
The “Reblaus Express”, as it is known, makes three round trips from Retz to Drosendorf (24.75 miles each way, and quite steeply-graded in places) each Saturday, Sunday and public holiday between April and October. These trains depart from Retz at 09:25, 13:25 and 16:25 and return from Drosendorf at 11:55, 14:55 and 17:55 (full timetable here).
The Reblaus Express actually began on Saturday 31st March 2018 and runs until the end of April with a diesel railcar, making just two round trips per day. However, from Tuesday 1st May 2018 (a public holiday) to Sunday 28th October 2018, loco-haulage and the full three-trip timetable will be the order of the day.
I am informed in mid-April 2018 that the motive power planned for the Reblaus Express during May and June 2018 is ex-ÖBB class 2143 diesel-hydraulic, 2143 070.
However, from July 2018, a Czech class 742 diesel-electric may take over. This has not yet been formally confirmed, however. Updated July 2018: this has not happened, and 2143 070 has continued in charge of the turn.
The above is a link to a video uploaded to YouTube by user Andreas Suck of 2143 070.
A single ticket costs €14 and a return (which acts as a day rover) is €19. Children under 6 are free and adults over 62 qualify for a concessionary rate. There is no UK rail staff travel privilege fare and Interrails etc are not valid. More detail can be found in a PDF here.
Retz lies just 3 miles from the Czech border, and is on the route from Wien to Znojmo, which sees an (electric) loco-hauled service to a roughly two-hour frequency. Wien to Retz is about an 80 minute journey.
Combining it with other haulage opportunities
This is not the only regular nostalgic train that operates in Austria this Summer. The “Nostalgieexpress Leiser Berge” (to be the subject of a separate article in the near future) operates also with ex-ÖBB class 2143 power and makes a round trip from Wien Praterstern (depart 09:14) to Ernstbrunn every Saturday between 5th May and 27th October.
You can have both locos on the same day, either as a (fairly long) day trip from Wien if you so wish, or as an interesting way to get from Wien to the Czech Republic. The “Nostalgieexpress Leiser Berge” can be caught from Wien Praterstern to Korneuburg (arrive 09:43), going forward after a bit of a wait on the 11:20 regional express to Retz (arrive 12:12), from where the “Reblaus-Express” can be taken to Drosendorf and back at 13:25, arriving back at Retz at 16:05 – sadly too late to get back to Korneuburg have a second run with the Ernstbrunn train back into the capital, but it does connect nicely onto a regional train across the border into the Czech Republic should you be moving on there.
Combining it with a family holiday
Clearly the shuttle nature of the operation lends itself quite nicely to permitting a day trip to one of the stations along the line; heading up on the first round trip, having a few hours there away from the trains and then returning on the Reblaus Express later.
The most obvious destination for this would be the end of the line at Drosendorf itself, a historic town and the only one in Austria with a fully-preserved city wall. As the town’s website itself states: “Drosendorf has all the ingredients you need to dream; a lot of nature and a bit of town, a castle and a river, sunny meadows and shady avenues, blooming gardens and wooded rocks. But also inns with beautiful terraces, solid accommodations and many ideas for the future“.
However, the train also makes stops at various other points along the way, many of which have merits of their own – check out this official PDF (in German) for some detail on this.