Harzer Schmalspurbahnen


Harzer Schmalspurbahnen

The "Harzer Schmalspurbahn" (former "Harzquerbahn", Nickname "Quirl", in English: the Harz narrow gauge railway) is a network of RailGauge|1 gauge railway in the Harz mountains, in central Germany. It connects the principle cities of Wernigerode, Nordhausen and Quedlinburg and several smaller towns in the area with about 140 kilometers of track, much of which is steeply graded and picturesque. The most popular destination on the network is the Brocken, an old East German listening post on top of the tallest peak in the Harz mountains, accessed by a spiral railway line, the Brockenbahn. The railway is notable for running a significant number of its trains with steam haulage, mostly employing 1950s vintage 2-10-2 tank locomotives, hauling traditional open balcony bogie carriages. The network is currently operated by Harzer Schmalspurbahnen GmbH company, whose members are chiefly the various local authorities whose territories it serves.

Lines

The network can be divided into four principal lines, though all are interconnected and run as one network. The lines are the Harzquerbahn. the Brockenbahn and the Selketalbahn. The Harzquerbahn links Wernigerode (the network's headquarters) to Nordhausen, the largest city in the region. The Brockenbahn branches off the Harzquerbahn at Drei Annen Hohne and runs to the top of the Brocken. The Selketalbahn branches off the Harzquerbahn at Eisfelder Talmühle, and runs to Quedlinburg, with branches to serve Hasselfelde and Harzgerode.

The Brockenbahn served the soviet listening post at the summit of the Brocken during the cold war, and for this reason it was not generally open to the public. Since the end of the cold war, this has no longer been the case. Because of the relatively short journey time from Drei Annen Hohne, and more generally from Wernigerode, as well as the steep gradients which tax the locomotive fleet and the fine views from the summit, this is the most popular route with tourists, and the service on this line is the most frequent on the network, with exclusive steam haulage.

The Harzquerbahn serves as an important link between the two important cities of Wernigerode and Nordhausen. At Nordhausen, facilities exist to mount standard gauge goods wagons on narrow gauge transporter bogies so that goods waggons from the DB network as a whole can access the HSB. At the southern end of this line, south from Ilfeld Neanderklinik, Combino dual mode electric and diesel trams on Nordhausen's line 10 make use of the line as far as the tram stop in Bahnhofplatz. A journey between Nordhausen and Wernigerode requires (in the summer 2007 timetable) a change at either Eisfelder Talmühle or Drei Annen Hohne; one trip each way per day can be made entirely by steam, a second partly by steam, while the remaining two workings are diesel railcars. There is only one steam working per day from Nordhausen.

The Selketalbahn has the least traffic on the network, although both of the active goods sidings on the network are on this line. The most important of these is a quarry near Eisfelder Talmühle, but there is also a link to a mill near Silberhütte with signs of recent use (as of summer 2007). This line features two branches: from Stiege to Hasselfelde, and from Alexisbad to Harzgerode. The main line reverses at Stiege, and a loop is provided so that locomotive hauled trains can reverse without having to run the locomotive round the train. Steam passenger trains over this line are more restricted (one diagram on weekdays, two at weekends in the summer 2007 timetable), working from Quedlinburg via Gernrode to Alexisbad and sometimes on to Harzgerode (one visit per day on weekdays, two at weekends) or Stiege and Hasselfelde (one visit per day). There is no scheduled steam between Stiege and Eisfelder Talmühle (summer 2007).

Rolling Stock

The network is notable for its significant use of steam locomotives. This is primarily as a result of lack of investment during the period the line was in Deutsche Reichsbahn ownership, between 1945 and 1993. The mainstay of the steam locomotive fleet is a stud of 17 2-10-2 tank locomotives, built during the 1950s (apart from the prototype), although several older types do remain, including three 0-4-4-0 T mallet compound articulated locomotives. The steam locomotives are assisted by a fleet of diesel railcars which operate to a greater or lesser degree on most lines to supplement the steam services for the benefit of the local population.

Further reading

* Speakman, Fleur and Colin, (1994), "Walking in the Harz mountains - including walks from the Harz narrow gauge railway", Cicerone Press, Milnthorpe, Cumbria, ISBN 1-85284-149-4.

External links

*HSB Website (most pages are in German only) [http://www.hsb-wr.de/]

* [http://www.hsb-wr.de/hsb_barrierefrei/hsb/lokinfos/home_e.htm Information about HSB locomotives (in English) from the HSB web site, accessed 4 February, 2007]


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