Summer Fun: Rides at the Children's Railway
Very many people, having heard the words "Children's Railway", immediately imagine a toy-railway with tiny locos and wagons, which they used to play with together with the daddy or elder brother. The railway which had been assembled on the floor in the room and on which the train had endlessly been travelling in a circle till the strict mum sent you to bed. Pleasant memories…
However, the Children's Railway is an absolutely different thing. It is a real railway, narrow-gauge though, with real wagons and locomotives. "Then, why is it "Children's?", you might ask. Because it is operated by the schoolchildren, 9-15 years old, who under supervision of the grown-up instructors drive trains, work as traffic controllers, assistants to station-masters, guards and conductors.
Generally speaking, Children's Railway is an extracurricular educational institution, where teenagers learn railway professions. This phenomenon originated in the USSR and was greatly developed in Soviet times. The world's first children's railway was opened Moscow, in Gorky Park in 1932. It was closed till the end of 30ies and completely forgotten. On June 24, 1935 in Georgia in Tbilisi (former Tiflis) was opened Children’s Railway, which is officially considered world’s first. Later were opened Children’s Railways in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan Ukraine. At the breakup of the USSR, 52 children's railways existed in the country. Today many Children's Railways are still functioning in post-Soviet states, Eastern European countries Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Poland and China.
Tracks with a length of several kilometres and with no connection to the main railway network are specially built for the. As a rule, these railways are not of special transport significance and are used as amusements as well as for the transportation of the passengers in the city parks and recreation areas. Nevertheless, Children's Railways is a good training and from one third to half of the pupils devote their lives to the railways.
In Ukraine Children’s Railways were built in Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kiev, Lutsk, Rivne, Zaporizhia and
In Western Ukraine’s capital construction of the children's railway began at the initiative of the management of the mainline "Lvov railway", with the support of city and regional authorities. The trust "Dorprojekt Lvov Rly" was engaged to design the line and whole construction of the line took place very rapidly, using a national construction method. The work took advantage of the presence of the remains of an earlier narrow-gauge railway built during the Austria-Hungary period in the park, which is located on the site of the so-called East fair. Even now at stations of the Children's Railway it is possible to see Austrian switch mechanisms dating from the beginning of the 20th century with very unusual (compared with those of Russian and Soviet railways) switch blades and switch mechanism without weight. When the line was opened on November 8, 1951, it was 1.85 km long and had three stations – “Komsomolskaya”, “Pionerskaya” and “Dityache Mistechko” (Children's town). In the beginning of the 1960s a locomotive depot with three tracks and well-equipped workshops was constructed at Komsomolskaya station.
In 1976, in connection with reconstruction of Stryjskaya street, the station “Detsky Gorodok” and the adjoining tracks were dismantled. This reduced the length of the children's railway to 1.2 km. In our opinion, the decision to truncate the children's railway was a little bit hasty and rash. Even after enlargement, Stryjskaya street still passes ten meters from the "Children's Railway’s", former embankment, and the park avenue that has been built on just this embankment is clearly visible from the buffer stop at “Sonjachna” station. Probably, it would have been possible to devise a compromise proposal allowing both the street to be enlarged, and the original length of the "Children's Railway", to be saved, if the desire to do so had been sufficient.
After the break-up of the former USSR, the "Children's Railway", stations Komsomolskaya and Pionerskaya were renamed as Parkova (Park) and Sonjachna (Solar).
In the first years of operation of the children's railway the available rolling stock consisted of one steam locomotive Kch4-027, four two-axle wooden passenger coaches and three freight cars.
At the end of the 1960s - the beginning of 1970s the line's rolling stock was updated - the Children's Railway, then received new all-metal Pafawag coaches and diesel locomotives TU2-087, TU3-039 and TU3-040. On the children's line diesel locomotive TU2-087 has received a rather unusual paint-scheme based on the standard livery of the first releases of type VL8 broad-gauge electric locomotives.
In the 1989 diesel locomotive TU3-040 was written off, and today TU3-039 remains the only diesel locomotive of this series which is still in operation in the territory of the former USSR. Realizing the uniqueness of this machine, the management of the children's railway pays special attention of its safety. Now TU3-039 is used only exceptionally - on holidays and on special occasions. For hauling trains TU2-087 is generally used.
Today Lviv’s Children’s Railway is truly one big summer attraction in the park, and is operating from the 1st Sunday of May to the last Sunday of September. During summer Lviv’s Children’s Railway is operating on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12.00 till 17.00 (lunch break from 14.00 till 15.00). Ticket prices: 6 UAH for adults and 3 UAH for children.
Lviv’s Children’s Railway’s address: Ukraine, Lvov, Ivan Franko's street, 156, Tel.: +38 (032) 276-44-20
For more information, please visit www.ldz-lviv.at.ua