Monday 5 August 2013

Soligen and Wuppertal Part 2 by Roger Davies

Following the recent article from Roger Davies covering his visit to Soligen, we continue with his trip on the Schweberbahn overhead railway

Schweberbahn and trolleybus below
Taking leave of 59 and its crew we crossed the road to the Wuppertal Schweberbahn at its Vohwinkel terminus. This unique structure is the oldest suspended railway in the world opening on 1 March 1901 and is 8.3 miles long. 6.2 miles are 39 feet above the river Wupper, and 2.1 miles 26 feet above streets.

 Schweberbahn over a road.
It was designed by Eugen Lunden of Cologne who hoped to sell the concept to Berlin and was also intended to show what could be done with locally produced steel. Whilst a lot of original industry has gone, it has been replaced and it must be said the structure fits well with its surroundings.

The 27 cars with a capacity of about 175 dating from 1977 carry 82,000 passengers a day on an around 5 minute service. 31 higher capacity cars are on order from Vossloh Keipe for next year and it is hoped to increase the frequency. It has an enviable safety record, its most famous incident taking place in 1950 when a baby elephant being used for publicity purposes by the Althof circus leapt out of the schweberbahnwagen into the river sustaining only minor injuries. It was named “Tuffi” thereafter which means something like skydiver in Italian. 

We hired the 1901Kaiserwagen for our hour’s round trip accompanied by beer and sandwiches which must be one of the great transport experiences. The vehicle is named that as it was used on a test run on October 24 1900 carrying Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Both places deserve a visit from the transport affectionado.

Vohwinkel depot.
 Schweberbahn over the river.
Schweberbahn over a road

 Thanks to Roger Davies for this article and pictures.  All pictures © Roger Davies.