The grass is greener…

by

slb_2

Narrow gauge transporter wagons in Austria

(Click to see this photo, and others, on the SLB Pinzgauer Lokalbahn website.)

The 760mm gauge Pinzgauer Lokalbahn runs from Zell am See to Krimml in Austria. It still operates timetabled passenger services, as well as regular freight services, and steam-hauled tourist trains in the summer months.

In the late 1990s, Polish transport economist Juliusz Engelhard, who believed that narrow gauge railways had no future as transport undertakings, pressed PKP to divest themselves of their n.g. lines by the end of the decade. Thanks to Mr Engelhard – today the Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Infrastructure responsible for rail – only the Smigiel, Kalisz, Przeworsk and Pleszew Railways narrow gauge railways, survive precariously as lines that are operated primarily as transport rather than tourist undertakings. But, with Poland’s Kafkaesque regulations and greedy local authorities, even the tourist-only railways are far from secure. Meanwhile just over the border…

zittau

Bertsdorf Station on the Zittau Railway.

(Click to see this photo, and others, on the Schmalspur-Modell-Forum discussion group)

Zittau, which is situated in what was once East Germany, is only a couple of miles away from the Polish border, but its 750 mm gauge railway line, the Zittauer Schmalspurbahn could be 1,000 miles away. When Deutsche Bahn, the state railway operator, announced that the line was due to close in 1998, the local authorities at parish, town and county level combined togeher to form the Sächsisch Oberlausitzer Eisenbahn Gesellschaft (SOEG) to act as the custodian and operator of the railway. As the picture shows, with the help of funding from the local authorities, the SOEG maintain the track in tip top condition. There is also an active support society, the Interessenverband Zittauer Schmalspurbahnen (IZS).

Perhaps SKPL should seriously consider taking its most difficult local authorities on a short trip to East Germany?

More information:

  • Zittau Railway history – IZS website
  • Zittau Railway – SOEG website (short video of Bertsdorf Station before the track was remodelled)
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2 Responses to “The grass is greener…”

  1. Andy in Germany Says:

    Meanwhile over on the Harz, one line has been extended and another is running modern low floor hybrid tram/trains.

  2. Robert Hall Says:

    Site linked to, re Zittau Railway’s history, is most interesting. I had not realised that this 750mm system was absorbed into the Saxon State Railways in 1906: had imagined its remaining independent for a good while longer.

    I gather that in the system’s independent days as the Zittau – Oybin – Jonsdorfer Eisenbahn, it was the butt of one of those jokes which the passengers of local railways made, worldwide — adapting the initials of the railway which served them, to imply that its service was less than perfectly efficient. Here, ZOJE (as above) was said to stand for “Zug Ohne Jede Eile” — train which absolutely does not hurry.

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