Rail bike is not a new thing but I did not know about it. Everything started when I found an old photo of a rail bike made back in the 1920s or 1930s somewhere the USA. Then I did a bit more research and found a lot more on the subject.
People have been exploring the abandoned railroads on rail bikes all over the world using home made vehicles for decades now. And there are even tours on abandoned railroads in US, Japan, Europe…
Railroads in Croatia
Croatia has a very dated railroad network but there are not so many completely abandoned railroads. One, with very low traffic , is the Zadar to Knin railroad passing through some of the most beautiful parts of North Dalmatia.
This railroad was completed in 1967.
It was a major achievement for local authorities as it was a long awaited reliable modern connection between Knin and Zadar. Many people found jobs in these cities and commuted daily.
The railroad was not in service during the war of the 90s and trains resumed connecting Knin and Zadar only in 1995. But, everything had changed as the region is depopulated and industry in both Zadar and Knin is virtually gone. Some old footage in the video below.
Rail Bike in Dalmatia
But, if we cannot ride the train, we can raid the railroad bike! My friend, inventor Zoran Maksan loved the idea and started working on his railroad bike. Few trips were needed to measure and test the vehicle.
But, he finally has it. While this was not the final version, we surely had a lot of fun riding it! See it in the video below.
The area is very scenic and the number of tunnels and some fantastic views would make it a great train destination. We decided for a test ride near Ostrovica. I wrote about it a while back and a new article – and video – will be out this year. The article is here: https://secretcroatia.blog/2010/06/10/hiking-the-secret-dalmatia-way/
Tourist Train Zadar to Knin
Recently, I have been developing a tourist train – not rail bike – concept and even pitched it to the government as there will be money from EU for the recovery. The train on this rarely used railroad would connect Zadar and Knin with developing various destinations en route. So, while both cities would be great end points that can be enjoyed, the true value would be in thematically developing the small villages en route. So, Škabrnja for food and fruits like maraška, Nadin for wines and visiting the hilltop fortress, Benkovac for history with possibilities of seeing Asseria, Đevrske for cycling… and so on and so on… The entire region can be repopulated with fantastic value for year round tourism.
In any case, here is the video for our rail bike adventure