Jan Cihak arrived in Sarajevo for the first time in 2006 from the Czech Republic as a typical tourist with a backpack. He quickly “figured out” that Sarajevo is a city that takes over a man and does not let go, and he crowned his two loves, the one towards Sarajevo and the other towards the means of public transport, with a book about trams and trolleybuses.
Although he is not working in the transport sector, Jan Cihak says that railway, railway traffic and electric urban transport are his hobby to which he gladly pays his attention.
Jan speaks and understands the languages of South Slavic people excellently, and he said the he returns to Sarajevo because he drank too much water from the fountain in front of the Bey’s mosque.
“The atmosphere of the city and something special in the air are the reason why I started to try to learn the language of the citizens of Sarajevo. So I started to read more and explore about the history of the city and its citizens. Since 2006, I am coming more frequently every year because of my contacts in Sarajevo and sometimes it happens that I say ‘hello, how are you’, on every street corner,” said Jan.
“In fact, back in 2010, I came to the gate of depot to ask if I can make a few photos of trams that were parked inside. Then appeared Ms Kadic, spokeswoman of GRAS, and presented a purple monograph published by the GRAS. The book was very interesting but it didn’t give the answers to the questions I had in my head. Since I’m a very curious person, I started to investigate literature in libraries, old documents in archives and old daily newspapers. At first, I wrote only several articles, especially for fans of the German tram, and then I was contacted by representatives of Austrian publishing house Bahnmedien.at. They suggested to expand my former texts and to make a book out of it. The book was bilingual, in German and English language, in order to be available to a greater number of readers. This was an offer that I could not refuse,” explained Jan.
Sarajevo public transport is very much connected with the Czech Republic. Czechoslovak trams are running on Sarajevo’s rails from 1967.
“I was very surprised when I found out that Sarajevo had trolleybuses already in 1939! That means that Sarajevo was much more advanced than Zagreb or Belgrade! Unfortunately, project of trolleybus traffic fell because of political reasons,” said Jan.
“Favorite Sarajevo urban legend says that Sarajevo was the first city with a tram. That is nonsense. Dozens of cities all over the Europe and the world had horse and electric tram transportation before Sarajevo. Sarajevo was the fourth city of Austria-Hungary with an electric tram. However, Sarajevo was in deed the first city in the world with narrow gauge electric locomotive, which was driving wagons from the former train station on Dolac Malta to the Ferhadija Street,” explained Jan, adding that electrification of the railway from Bascarsija to Ilidza was proposed already in the late 19th century, which means that the idea of an electric railway transport from Ilidza to Bascarsija is over 100 years old.
Sarajevo trolley buses, according to Jan’s research, are “child” of a great legend, the director of Energoinvest and the Mayor of Sarajevo, Mr. Emerik Blum, who according to Jan, deserves much more space in BH publicity.
(Source: N. Novalic/Klix.ba)