The Rise and Decline of Communist Czechoslovakia’s Railway Sector

$75.00 / €63.00 / £54.00
Publication date: 
256 pages, 22 tables, 56 figures

Once the pride of interwar Czechoslovakia, and key during the forced industrialization of the Stalinist period, during the 1970s and 1980s the Czechoslovak railway sector showed the symptoms of the political tiredness and economic exhaustion of the Soviet Bloc. This book examines the failure of central economic planning through the lens of this national transport system.

Based on the presentation of its history and on the detailed scrutiny of the actors, institutions, internal mechanisms, and conditions of the railway sector, the analysis reveals the identities of the real stakeholders in the state administration. This case shows how the country was governed by Communist Party institutions and government ministries, and how developments in the transportation sector—like in every sector—reflected their priorities. Numerous tables with selected statistics underscore the economic analysis and black and white photos offer a glimpse on the technical base of the railway sector.

The book is filled with enlightening comparisons of the Czechoslovak transportation industry with its counterparts in the whole Eastern Bloc. Integration into the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) of the Bloc could have been an asset, yet the records have more to say about conflicts than cooperation.


1. Introduction 

2. Rail Transport in Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1970

3. Actors and Institutions of Policy-Making for the Railway Sector

4. The Internal Mechanisms of the Railway Sector 

5. Conditions in the Railway Sector

6. Conclusion 


“By making use of extensive archival resources, Tomáš Nigrin examines the role, challenges, struggles, and decline of railways in a centrally planned economy. Far from offering a romanticized history of railways, Nigrin traces the part that polity, policy, and politics played in the decline in rail transport in Czechoslovakia. In addition, his book contributes to the understanding of how the centrally planned economy worked with regards to a nationwide sector such as the Czechoslovak State Railways.”