Nonument 02: The Pioneer Railway
The Nonument Group’s second action took place in Ljubljana on the location of the former Pioneer Railway that operated between 1948 and 1954. On 25 May 2019, an artistic intervention revived the children’s railway that almost completely disappeared from the city and public memory. The idea for children’s railways, or pioneer railways as they were called at the time, originated in the USSR and spread quickly over the Eastern Bloc, from China to Cuba. Children’s railways are fully operational smaller-scale railways that “have a track gauge of at least 600 mm and can carry full size narrow gauge rolling stock.” They are a peculiar kind of extracurricular institutions: children perform all the jobs, except for the train driving, under the supervision of adult railway workers. Ljubljana’s railway was built by Yugoslav youth brigades between March and June 1948. Initially, it was very popular, but the public quickly lost interest, so it was finally closed down in 1954. While the rail tracks were removed almost immediately, some of the train stations along the line remained in place for many years after the railway ceased to operate, but were mostly left to decay or were repurposed and renovated. Nevertheless, one can still find some remains along the former children’s railway line. Part of the line is now a bicycle lane, and an eager observer can spot some of the remaining marker stones along the way.