Nearly 18 years after war stopped it in its tracks, the train service between Belgrade and Sarajevo has resumed.
It was one of the victims of the wars that erupted as Yugoslavia fell apart. The authorities concede the railway line has been re-established for political rather than for commercial reasons, to try to restore ties between Serbia and Bosnia. Passenger Edim Hadziomerovic said he had mixed feelings: “I have to travel to Mostar almost twice a week, so for me as a older person the train means a lot, you know how it is to travel by bus. At the same time I am sad and joyful.” Another traveller, Franciska Wicker, commented: “I am touched. I feel that it’s some kind of historic moment, even though it doesn’t look like it because there are no signs. It’s only a lot of journalists and not a lot of travellers but it feels special somehow.” A far cry from its previous grandeur, the new train had just three carriages: Guard Braco Dzaji, who has worked on the railways for more than 30 years was nostalgic: “In the past you couldn’t move inside the corridors. We used to have 12 or 13 coaches, 500 to 600 passengers.” The journey now takes two hours longer than did it before due to the many new borders between Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and dilapidated tracks worn out by war, neglect and poverty.