Chiatura – Sachkhere via Bus and Train

Chiatura is a place that is famous for the fact that there are many cable cars throughout the city. Now that the cable cars from the soviet era are not operational anymore you might be wondering if you should still go. Let me ask you another question: Are you curious about a city where public transport includes cable cars? Are you interested in a former miner city full of soviet-style high-rise buildings in a super hilly area?

Soviet era high-rise buildings and abandoned cable car station
The new cable cars – shiny and safe!

If you answered yes and ended up in Chiatura, you might be wondering where to go next. If you want to go east or nord, this article might help you. I arrived in Chiatura around noon from Kutaisi by mashrutka, after stopping at Katshki pillar and was headed towards Tbilisi. Thus I decided to continue to Sachkhere and sleep there for one night, to continue to Gori and Tbilisi by mashrutka the next day. But how to get there?

How to take a Minibus

One way is to take another mashrutka (Minibus). They depart from the bus stop next to the Cultural Center of Chiatura (GMaps/OSM) (there is another bus stop at the central cable car station, you can also ask there). The buses appearently go every 30 minutes with the last bus departing at 18:00.

Busstop in Chiatura (Image courtesy: Google Maps)

I personally do not like mashrutkas that much as the roads are super bumby and the cars rather small and old and not too comfortable. Moreover I am a train enthusiast and thus wanted to take the electric commuter train that starts in Kutaisi and ends in Sachkere. This is about all the information the official Georgian Railway website gives you about this train. The stations Chiatura and Sachkhere do not exist on their online ticketing platform and Google Maps features the stations but no train schedule.

So do you want to know when the train goes? We asked many locals and even they did not know. You are introduced to classified information now.

How to take the train

My train departed at 18:26 from Chiatura Station (GMaps/OSM) and arrived at 19:05 in Sachkhere (which matches the time reported by Georgian Railways). Make sure to be there before that.

The train ride costs 1 GEL. Make sure to have a matching coin on you, because the only way to buy a ticket is a small machine in the train that only accepts coins.

Chiatura train station. No ticket office. No shop. Just a train station.

Why you should take the train

Of course the train is much more spacious than the minibuses and next to that don’t pass through bumpy roads, so the ride is generally much more comfortable than a minibus. It also looks much cooler

To be fair it also belongs in the “so rusty it should not be operational anymore” category. But the inside looks much better!

My main excitement stems from something else though. Because the train tracks are also used for transporting goods from the many mines that are still operational or were once, you pass directly by them. If you are interested in abandoned looking but still operated soviet era mines and buildings, trucks that are so rusty you expect them to fall apart every moment and curious antique constructions that extract, process or transport gravel and other materials you should go.

Stunning view on soviet era mines and lovely train honks. The speed is close to maximum speed throughout the ride.

You should note however that the train speed feels like 10 km/h. On the positive side, you definitely have time to experience the stunning hilly scenery around you with lush greens and said mines in the valley. Since there are cows running around and other animals and cars crossing the rails at times (plus no security measurements, traffic lights whatsoever) the train also honks a lot throughout the ride (at least once at every station).

Another video, to spoil your expectations completely.

Side note: I was told by some locals that the train departs at 7pm. Given that the train departs twice daily and this is the last departure, that is a bit problematic. Luckily I had in mind to arrive early and caught the train (running).

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