The only cave with a double track railway
For 140 years, the Postojna Cave, as the only cave in the world, offers a unique and adventurous ride with a special train, which will take you into the cave, under spectacular underground arches, which are embellished with chandellier look-alike stalactites, through a beautiful subterranean world full of playful limestone sculptures.
From 300 metres of accessible routes in 1818, a visitor today can enjoy the tour of 5 km through tunnels and passages which takes about an hour and a half. The tour begins at the entrance platform of this unique cave railway, where particularly in the summer you can feel a lively bustle otherwise typical of the biggest train stations in the world. This is where 3.7 km long railway tracks begin.
For many years visitors could only explore the cave on foot. In 1857, when the Emperor and Empress visited the cave, special sedan chairs were made for Empress Elisabeth and her ladies-in-waiting for this occasion. The sedan chairs were not used at the time, however it was from then on possible for other wealthy visitors to rent them.
That was also the time when the region around Postojna rapidly modernised. In 1857 the railway connected Postojna with Vienna and Trieste and the world around. The following year a number of visitors almost doubled and a year later it rose dramatically. A large number of visitors which increased every year prompted the cave management to start thinking about changes and other solutions which would make it possible to reach the most beautiful parts of the cave. For instance, a geographer, karstologist and a pioneer of modern speleology, Anton Schmidl, proposed riding donkeys be used.
The man who is to a great extent responsible for such rise of tourism in Postojna is a man from Selška dolina valley, a Slovenian national awakener, Anton Globočnik pl. Sorodolski, who in 1863 became the district governor of Postojna and consequently also the Chairman of the Cave Board. During his long career, he was responsible for numerous novelties introduced in the Cave, which improved the good reputation of the Cave with its growing offer. He was also the inititator of the cave railway.
... to one-track...
In 1872 the first tracks which led to the Great mountain (previously known as Calvary) were laid. These enabled transport of little two-seater carriages which were pushed by the cave guides. However, the small man-powered railway could not cope with the large numbers of visitors. The idea of introducing machines instead of man-power was planned during the WW1, however, it was only realized in 1924. A year before the whole railway system in the cave had been renovated. The first locomotive Montania no. 803 is today kept in the Notranjska Museum of Postojna, while the other locomotive Montania S-10, no. 2004 is exhibited on the platform in front of the entrance.
In 1928 at the entrance to the cave, a new administration building, today known as Jamski dvorec Mansion, was built. It comprised of a restaurant, a guest reception room and also a new railway stop where visitors who chose to view the cave from the train could board. However, those visitors who wanted to explore the cave on foot used the main entrance, which today is used as an exit. This system was in use until 1963.
...and two-track loop railway
In time it became apparent that the old petrol locomotives were no longer suitable for their purpose. Their exhaust fumes created some sort of fog in the cave and thus reduced visibility. In 1957, to mark the formal opening of a new tourist season, their role was taken over by new battery-powered locomotives. Throughout these years, visitor numbers were constantly on the increase, and with the growing number of visitors the pre-war single-track railway, with just two sidings along the whole line, on which only three locomotives could run simultaneously, was becoming a real bottleneck.
On June 20, 1964, there was a formal opening of the two-track line with a loop near the entrance to the cave and a terminus at the end of the line on the foot of the Great Mountain, known as the Calvary station. In 1968, the second stage was completed with the construction of the loop to the Concert Hall. The two-track loop line enabled uniterrupted transport of numerous visitors, who visited the cave in the following decades.
Source: Postojnska jama