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After 60 Years, Children’s Railway in Kardzhali Continues to Bring Joy to Kids and Parents

After a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictive measures, the children’s railway in Kardzhali will be operational again in a few days, said Raid Idriz, manager of the municipal enterprise which maintains the facility.
He explained that the locomotive and the railway line had to undergo some repairs, but have passed their tests and will be ready for their first young passengers before June 1.
The children’s railway in Kardzhali is one of the emblems of the city, and has held the interest of both parents and children for 60 years. “Opened on September 30, 1962, the children’s railway of Kardzhali started with a full team, just like a real railway station, and part of the staff were students,” recalled the first station manager and longtime BTA correspondent Peter Bakalov. He was then in the 7th grade and together with several other classmates he was trained by a professional employee of the Kardzhali railway station. “I will never forget it – in the summer of 1962 a tailor came and took our measurements. They made uniforms for us, like the ones employees at the railway station had, for each child, according to their position”, said Bakalov. The tickets looked just like the real ones at the time (pink cardboard), there was a metal machine that punched them with the date and time of the trip,” he recalled.
Bakalov said that the train composition of the children’s railway had 6 passenger cars, in which conductors rode together with the passengers to monitor safety. The locomotive, passenger cars and rails were repurposed mining equipment from the closed mines for precious metals near the village of Stremtsi in Kardzhali. “The mayor at that time was Petko Kalchev, deemed the most successful mayor in the 110-year history of Kardzhali “, said Bakalov. He recalled the grand opening ceremony with guests from all over the country.
The children’s railway of Kardzhali worked with its full team of students for a year or two, after which the young people grew up and moved on. After that, the railway was serviced only by the locomotive driver and the ticket clerk. In spring and autumn, it was open on weekends and holidays, and in summer – daily.
The children’s railway has not operated constantly. After a break of nearly 8 years, in 2006 it was opened to the children of Kardzhali once again. The municipal administration recalled that the re-opening was a promise kept by Kardzhali Mayor Hassan Azis. At that time, nearly BNG 70,000 were invested in the repair of the tunnel and the locomotive.
In 2022, the children’s railway will operate on weekends and holidays, and in case of interest from citizens it may open on weekdays as well, but after working hours. 
 There is one more operating children’s railway in Bulgaria in Plovdiv.