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INDEPENDENT: Tito's Blue Train revives a rose-tinted view of the dictator's Communist rule

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  • D.Mitrovic
    http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/story.jsp?story=597149 THE INDEPENDENT (London, UK) 01 January 2005 Tito s Blue Train revives a rose-tinted view of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2005
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      http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/story.jsp?story=597149

      THE INDEPENDENT (London, UK)
      01 January 2005

      Tito's Blue Train revives a rose-tinted view of the
      dictator's Communist rule

      By Vesna Peric Zimonjic in Belgrade

      For a quarter of a century, it was kept in an engine
      shed in Belgrade, gathering dust. Since the death of
      its celebrated former owner in 1980, "Marshal" Josip
      Broz Tito, the Blue Train, with its oak-panelled
      interiors, velvet carpets and sumptuous leather
      armchairs, has been redundant.

      It made its last journey on the day of the former
      leader's funeral, carrying his body to Belgrade for
      burial. From then on, it was forgotten.

      But many of those who lived during the Communist era
      under Tito's rule are starting to look back on the
      regime with fond memories. And yesterday, for the
      first time in 25 years, the Blue Train was put, quite
      literally, back on track. A hundred and fifty
      visitors, caught up in a wave of nostalgia, climbed
      aboard the train, which carried Tito more than 400,000
      miles around Europe as he negotiated, made deals, or
      simply relaxed.

      "It's a chance for people to see a train which was
      closed to the public during a period of our history,
      to imagine how things were then," explained Vesna
      Vukasovic of the Belgrade Rail Company. "Many people
      would like to go back to Tito's times a little."

      The five-hour-long journey from Belgrade to Vrnjacka
      Banja, 130 miles south-east of the Serbian capital,
      costs about £15. Passengers can enjoy the luxury of
      Tito's private quarters, peek into his wood-panelled
      study, have meals in the dictator's dining room or
      simply rest in one of the sleeping cars which can
      accommodate up to 90 guests. They can even talk to a
      Tito impersonator, a Serbian actor.

      From the yellow velvet curtains draping the windows
      and pale green chairs to the1950s ashtrays and books,
      everything in the Blue Train screams post-Second World
      War Communism, in particular the inky blue walls that
      gave the train its nickname. These remain exactly the
      same as when it was built by Yugoslav engineers in the
      1950s. "I wish there were more tours like this," the
      train's engineer, Radomir Starcevic, 48, told The
      Independent. "It's not only that you remember nice
      things because they happened when you were young. Life
      was good and so very different then."

      Mr Starcevic echoes the feelings of millions of people
      in Serbia, old enough to remember life under Tito, and
      who believe life under the dictator was incomparably
      better than today. For them, Communism meant peace,
      good salaries, free travel and economic success. The
      Blue Train, which played host to the Queen and the
      late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, will remind
      them of their glory days.


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