Ship transport at Brno reservoir

The Ship Transport Centre is the smallest of the transport operations within the Brno public transport system, but this does not make it any less important. Quite the opposite in fact – enjoying a short cruise has been a popular pastime among the people of Brno since 1946, meaning that our ships have been enticing people to the water for 67 sailing seasons now (with the exception of 2009, when the water was drained from the reservoir for cleaning purposes).
At the time of writing (November 2013), the ships are resting in dry docks while the staff at the centre work the “second season”. The captains have hung up their marvellous uniforms, pulled on some overalls and together with maintenance staff are getting the ships ready for 2014. Or they are taking the holiday time they have no chance of enjoying in the summer.
The fleet in Brno consists of 5 new twin-deck ships – Vienna, Dallas, Stuttgart, Leipzig and Utrecht – delivered progressively in 2010 to 2012, and one historic ship – the single-deck Brno, a ship that was originally built in 1949 and that has been reconstructed two times since.
The boarding area in Bystrc has also undergone considerable change, now providing comfortable facilities for employees and offering visitors a modern marina complex.
The 2013 sailing season ended on 13th October. Floating facilities (pontoons and gangplanks) were then removed from the sailing route by the end of October, taken from the water and stored on the shores, before the ships themselves were towed away. The next step is to dismantle batteries, put ships into winter storage and prepare maintenance and repair work on individual vessels. Apart from this, floating facilities and transitional walkways must also be treated. The stairways at individual berths are also checked before the next season gets underway. Safety of operation is, of course, a priority.
Books could be written about ship transport in Brno. Indeed one high-quality book, mapping out a detailed history from the very beginning, was published in 2006 to mark a jubilee. We, however, will just remind you of a few interesting facts, more from behind the scenes, where passengers do not usually venture, even though open days are occasionally organised for the general public.
Before we move on to some more pictures, a few figures. Below is a brief summary of the numbers of passengers carried by ship transport in Brno in recent years:
  • 2010 ...... 179 291
  • 2011 ...... 223 979
  • 2012 ...... 222 205
  • 2013 ...... 167 082
When ships are in operation, the charge cables are connected to the charging devices every evening after anchoring at the quay in Bystrc, allowing the batteries to charge so that the ship is able to handle the designated route the very next day.
Once the sailing season is over, the ships are transferred from the water to dry land. The winch is able to pull 75 tons.
The ships must then be carefully cleaned of reservoir deposits, particularly below the submersion line, before further maintenance and painting can proceed.
The batteries are removed from the area beneath the lower deck and stored in the battery storage room, where they are kept in working condition until spring.
The final ship takes with it the pontoons and gangplanks from all stops along the route and transports them to the quay in Bystrc.
There are rails, winches, cables, pulleys and special undercarriages to help make it easier to handle ships in the Ship Transport Complex.
Regular winter maintenance is carried out in the hangar and the condition of the ships is carefully checked.
The ships are given a fresh coat of paint before the coming season and pontoons and gangplanks are repaired.
Batteries must naturally be returned to the innards of the ships and secured in place.
After all the necessary work has been done, the ships are launched into the water a few days before the season begins. Pontoons and gangplanks are returned to individual ports of call.
Everything must be ready for the ceremonial beginning of the season – captains in uniform and sailors in striped t-shirts.
Perfect preparation makes sure that regular service is then a routine matter. Captain Gabriel Kovács at the helm.
Special events for the public, particularly popular with children, are held regularly on our ships. This year, for example, we had a children’s day, the Battle of Midway and the traditional school report day.
We also welcomed some interesting personalities on board in 2013. Czech Television hired the Brno and Utrecht ships, with director Filip Renč shooting a film here for three days with Czech stars Simona Stašová and Pavel Kříž in the lead roles. Dallas II, meanwhile, was used as a birthday surprise on which to celebrate opera singer Magdalena Kožená’s 40th birthday. On top of that, we had the honour of welcoming on board delegates at a symposium of the most prominent judges in Europe.
Martin Ecler is head of ship transport at Brno Public Transport Authority. In addition to leading his staff, Mr. Ecler is in charge of plenty of the paperwork that surrounds ship operation, watched over by (among other) the State Shipping Authority.
Mrs Kateřina Volfová, meanwhile, is the economist, cost accountant and sole administration employee at the ship transport centre. You might also have seen her behind the wheel of a trolley bus!
In addition to regular timetabled sailings, of course, ships can be hired for private functions, such as celebrations or parties.
All that remains now is for ship transport in Brno to look forward to the next sailing season. We will let you know about what is new for next year in plenty of time.