The transformation of the Thaya Valley Railway (Thayatalbahn) into the borderless Thaya cycle route
In 1870, for the first time, steam-powered trains of the Franz-Joseph Railways rattled and clattered along between Vienna and Plzeň through the heart of the Waldviertel. Several cities pushed to be included along the route of the regional railway. In 1891 the first partial section from Schwarzenau was completed, thanks to the involvement of the Waidhofen town authorities. Next, the attention turned to closing the gap between Waidhofen/Thaya and Telč.
On the 21 June 1903, the Thaya Valley Railway connection between Waidhofen and Slavonice was given a festive opening. Thus a link was created between the Franz-Josef Railways and the Bohemian-Moravian Transversal Railways. Cross-border rail travel started off smoothly enough. But after the First World War, the national boundaries became state borders and Slavonice/Zlabings turned into a border station. After the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany, the German Reichsbahn became the operator of the Thaya Valley Railway.
With the end of the war in 1945, the cross-border service came to a full stop. In 1951 the rail tracks between Fratres and the border were removed. Until 2010, freight trains on the Austrian side still plied the tracks up to Waidhofen an der Thaya. The plans for the transformation of the train tracks to a cycle route were successfully implemented in 2017, and 114 years after the opening of the Thaya Valley Railway, the borderless Thaya stretch was brought to life as a first rate bicycle route. Along the Iron Curtain Trail it passes through the areas north of Waldkirchen, namely Schaditz and Gilgenberg.