►► One of the few bright spots in the Balkans: New Russian-made diesel multiple units from Metrovagonmash are being introduced on some routes around Belgrade. This unit, one of the first new trains in Serbia for 30 years, was being tested in August ◀◀
A new winter timetable was introduced in Britain this week, at the same time as similar changes were taking place throughout Europe.
One of the sad changes was the withdrawal of the Peace Train from Sarajevo to Belgrade.
When the rail link from Sarajevo to Belgrade reopened in 2009, the daily train was seen as a symbol of a new spirit in the Balkan region.
It set off from Bosnia late morning, crossed Croatia in the afternoon, and delivered its passengers in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, in time for supper.
According to Hidden Europe, the train had three carriages. In the middle was a Serbian coach, with a Bosnian carriage on either side.
Each of those two Bosnian carriages was provided by a different Bosnian entity. The blue-and-yellow carriage represented the Muslim-Croat Federation while the silver carriage represented the Serb portion of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
For three years, this train travelled through the Balkans, reminding all who saw it that Bosnia is still a divided country.
In 2011 there were plans to introduce new Spanish rolling stock on the route. Press releases from Bosnia announced that Talgo trains would be serving the routes from Sarajevo to both Belgrade to Budapest but the trains never came.
Now the Peace Train to Belgrade has been withdrawn, and, the service to Budapest also slips quietly from the schedules this weekend.
Hidden Europe declares: "Too bad! The region deserves better."
The European Union has pumped lots of money into the region but sadly much of it has been wasted on road building. It is time for international leaders to wake up to the fact that fewer people are now using cars. The time is ripe for rail investment.
If only for its symbolism, the Peace Train should be reinstated.
Read more at Hidden Europe