The youngest residents of Irshava not always can recall the name of this elderly, but respectable lady. Although for their grandparents, the narrow gauge called Antsya was well known, nowadays, a trip by the historic train is a real curiosity. But now, they have such opportunity – a special flight in support of the revolutionary events in the country has been arranged! And the train will go to the west – towards Europe…
The train of the only active narrow gauge railway in Transcarpathia is also called the Carpathian tram – it connects small stations, and also has a considerable social role. The transport was given a woman’s name – Antsya – long time ago. One of the passengers – Vitaliy – says: "The name was given not by one person, but by a lot of people. Antsya of Kushnytsya… A good name! The train was running not only to Irshava, but also to Beregovo and Vynogradiv. And this narrow gauge should be preserved. Because, as they say, it is antique!".
The track is already ready for its favourite train. The head of the station is waiting to block traffic specifically for Antsya. Just as his ancestors did 100 years ago. By the way, the arrow switches are preserved from those times.
As a true professional,Vasyl Tomesh, the head of the station "Irshava" does not express special sentiments to Antsya. After all, the train has official status. "Passenger train number 6604. Antsya is a colloquial name." Do they like Antsya here? "They do, but it has low speed – 15 kilometers per hour."
Denis Dobra, the main proponent of Antsya, enthusiast, who, in fact, still keeps the railway alive, complains: "Yes, unfortunately, it rarely runs to Irshava. Today we’re going by a special train to Khmilnyk. It is a junction station. We’re going with national and European Union symbols to support our Euromaidan. We are going very slowly, I think it’s appropriate – passing Irshava, Kamyanske – and let people see the flags, see that we support the protest. And also rejoice about Antsya…".
"It’s a shame that the train runs rarely, because Antsya has problems with funding and now only one locomotive is working… It is called Antsya of Kushnytsya, because it used to run to another village in Irshava district – to Kushnytsya."
Despite the low speed, Antsya has a strategic importance for local people – because it is not easy to get from Irshava to Khmilnyk and nearby villages by bus. In addition, proponents emphasize, one of the four operating narrow gauges in Ukraine has promising tourist potential. For example, in neighboring Hungary, there are about fifty such small railroads. In order to attract tourists, first Antsya should be fixed up – the initiator of travels by the old train says…
"At present, the technical condition of the train, as you can see, is such that does not allow to invite tourists. It should be improved. We are preparing to March, to the wine tour, and I think that we will repair cars and locomotive!", – Denis Dobra says.
At the stop near Khmilnyk, there is an old railway bridge. People here call it a piece of France. Because the crossing was made the same year that the Eiffel Tower was built – in 1884…
The station agent Arpad Tomesh admits: "Of course we’re all happy. As long as the narrow-gauge railway works, our families live, get paid, and everything else… Do I believe in its prospects? – Yes! If the schedules are changed and the train is fixed up!".
For now Antsya comes in Khmelnik without any schedule – whenever there is an opportunity to run the locomotive.
At the station, its "heart", according to the old tradition, is filled with water, so that after a short rest at the quiet station, which knows no other running trains, Antsya would depart to the terminal station – Vynogradiv. With hopes for new trips…
You can read about the history of Borzhava narrow-gauge railway, known as Antsya, in the article on its 105th anniversary.
See more pictures in the photo report at this link.