Cars of the Kirnitzschtal Tramway at the Beuthenfall stop
|Line length:||7.9 km (before 1969: 8.3 km)|
|Track gauge:||1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in)|
|Voltage:||600 V AC|
The Kirnitzschtal Tramway, also known as the Kirnitzschtalbahn (Kirnitzsch Valley Tramway), is a tramway in Saxony, Germany. The line runs through the valley of the Kirnitzsch river in Saxon Switzerland, from the town of Bad Schandau up to the Lichtenhain Waterfall, in the municipality of Sebnitz, and is principally a tourist service.
The line is 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) long, of metre gauge, electrified at 600 volts DC on the overhead line system, and uses four wheeled motor coaches and trailers. A recent innovation is the installation of solar cells on the roof for the depot, which contribute approximately 20% of the necessary electricity for the system operation.
The line is operated by the Oberelbische Verkehrsgesellschaft Pirna Sebnitz mbH (OVPS), which translates to the Upper Elbe Public Transport Company Pirna Sebnitz Ltd. This company also operates local bus services in the area around and between Pirna and Sebnitz, together with boat services on the Elbe river.
The first plans for the line were introduced in 1893. These were for a tramway from Bad Schandau to Rainwiese (now Mezní Louka in the Czech Republic). The decision on the form of propulsion to use was controversial, with both steam locomotives or electric traction proposed. However steam propulsion proved uneconomic, and electrification was selected. This required the construction of an additional power plant.
The line opened from Bad Schandau as far as the Lichtenhain Waterfall on Saturday, May 28, 1898. The first service was delayed by 45 minutes when the car derailed on its maiden trip. The line was operated a tourist service from the beginning, with service from May to October. In the opening year 80,000 passengers rode the line. The remainder of the line to Rainweise was never built for economic reasons.
The initial vehicle fleet comprised six enclosed motorcars and six trailers, which were built by Busch in Bautzen. During the night of July 26, 1927, fire destroyed the depot and the entire fleet. Traffic was restored on August 12 and continued until October 31 using cars borrowed from the Lößnitz Tramway. In 1928, a new fleet of motorcars and trailers built by MAN were put into service and the Lößnitz Tramway cars were returned to Radebeul. However a works car from the Lößnitz Tramway remained on the Kirnitzschtal tramway until 1954, over 20 years after the other borrowed cars had been scrapped. It was transferred to the Lockwitztal Tramway, where it remained in regular transport service until 1968.
On June 23, 1969, the line was truncated by approximately 350 metres (1,150 ft) at the Bad Schandau end, because of increasing traffic congestion in the town. The former terminus at the Hotel Lindenhof, and the intermediate stop at Forellenbrücke were abandoned, and replaced by a new terminus at Stadtpark. A month later, on July 21, one of the line's motor cars overturned and all passengers suffered injuries.
The line took over five motorcars from the Lockwitztal Tramway in 1977, after the closure of that line. These vehicles were built between 1938 and 1944 for the tramway of Erfurt, and are thus called Erfurter. The Kirnitzschtal Tramway was reconstructed from 1985 to 1990, and again in 2003 to 2004. The Erfurter were replaced by Gothawagen purchased from Plauen and Zwickau, which were modernized in the 1990s. An additional Gothawagen motorcar was acquired from Jena in 2007.
At eight kilometers in length, the Kirnitzschtal Tramway is the smallest tramway enterprise in Saxony. The line is single track, and has two passing loops, one at the depot and the other between the Forsthaus and Nasser Grund stops. Loops also exist at both termini, to enable the motorcars to run around their trailers.
The line is unusual in that it is mostly "gutter running", a type of track layout once common on rural tramways in Germany. In the case of the Kirnitzschtal Tramway, the track is laid in the southern lane of the road, which is the right hand lane when heading towards the waterfall. Thus trams heading towards Bad Schandau travel against the normal flow of road traffic, requiring heightened attention from both tram and road vehicle drivers. Although the tramcars are double ended, only the doors on the south side are used, as all the stops are on the south side of the road.
Currently the line operates throughout the year. In the winter months it operates every 70 minutes, whilst in the summer months it operates every half hour. Although OVPS is a member of the Verkehrsverbund Oberelbe (VVO), that organisation's common fare structure does not apply to the Kirnitzschtal Tramway, reflecting its predominantly tourist nature. The line is paralleled throughout by OVPS bus route 241, which runs from Pirna to Hinterhermsdorf every two hours and accepts VVO fares.
The regional plan for Oberes Elbtal/Osterzgebirge states:
- "The Kirnitzschtalbahn is considered as an historically important means of transport for the development of parts of Saxon Switzerland and beyond the present termination points at the Elbe and at the Neumann mill."
This regional plan entry shows that the Kirnitzschtalbahn plays an important role in the tourism in Bad Schandau. An extension is unlikely, but the Kirnitzschtalbahn will remain an important part of the region.
- "Die historische Kirnitzschtalbahn" (in German). OVPS. Retrieved 2009-04-21.[dead link]
- "Umweltschutz (Environmental Protection)" (in German). OVPS. Retrieved 2009-02-20.[dead link]
- "Oberelbische Verkehrsgesellschaft Pirna Sebnitz mbH" (in German). OVPS. Retrieved 2009-02-25.[dead link]
- "Tram - Bad Schandau - Lichtenhainer Wasserfall". VVO. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
- "Bus - 241 - Pirna - Königstein - Bad Schandau - Hinterhermsdorf". VVO. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of February 20, 2009 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of August 24, 2006 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kirnitzschtalbahn.|
- Official web site of the OVPS (in German)
- Kirnitzschtalbahn page from Kirnitzschtal web portal (in German)
- Unofficial web pages describing the tramway (in German)
- Web site about the tramway (in English)
- Track plan of the tramway