Kirnitzschtal tramway

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Kirnitzschtal tramway
Kirnitzschtalbahn am Beuthenfall (02-2).jpg
Cars at the Beuthenfall stop
TypeElectric tramway
LocaleSaxony, Germany
TerminiBad Schandau
Lichtenhain Waterfall
Stations9 including 2 termini
Line length7.9 km (4.9 mi)
Number of tracksSingle track with passing loops
Track gauge1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge
Electrification600 V DC overhead line
Route diagram
0.0 Bad Schandau Hotel Lindenhof
(closed in 1969)
Bad Schandau Forellenbrücke
(closed in 1969)
0.4 Bad Schandau Stadtpark
Bad Schandau Pflanzengarten
to depot
Depot loop
(near Ostrau)
Ostrauer Mühle (Zeltplatz)
(near Altendorf)
Mittelndorfer Mühle
Schneider loop
Nasser Grund
7.5 Beuthenfall
8.3 Lichtenhainer Wasserfall

The Kirnitzschtal tramway, also known as the Kirnitzschtalbahn (Kirnitzsch Valley Tramway), is an electric 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. The line is principally a tourist service, being the only tramway to serve a National Park in Germany, and uses historical rolling stock built between 1925 and 1968.[1][2][3][4]

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.[3][4][5]


The last stop, at the Lichtenhain Waterfall, around 1910.
The tramway in 1992

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.[6][7]

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.[6][7]

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 five motorcars and six 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.[6][7][8]

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.[6][7]

The line took over five motor cars 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. In 1984, four trailers built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik in the 1960s were acquired, and these were joined by two similar motor cars in 1992, two motor cars and two trailers in 1995 and a final motor car in 2007. These vehicles came from various East German cities, and are collectively known as Gothawagen.[7][8]

The Kirnitzschtal tramway was reconstructed from 1985 to 1990. The very serious flooding of the Elbe in 2002 caused services to be suspended as the line's Bad Schandau terminus, along with the rest of the town, was under 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) of flood water. Reconstruction of the Kirnitzschtal road, together with extensive track replacement, again caused suspension in 2003.[6][7][9]

On August 7, 2010, heavy flooding in the Kirnitzschtal caused damage to both the line and its vehicles. The depot was flooded to the height of the tram floors, causing damage to the cars motors, gears and axles. The line did not operate again until Easter 2011, and when it reopened it was curtailed to Beuthenfall by the need to rebuild a retaining wall on the approach to Lichtenhain Waterfall terminus. This last section did not reopen until December 2012.[10]


The depot of the Kirnitzschtal Tramway.
Car 2 at the Forsthaus stop, close to the village of Mittelndorf.

The line is 7.9 kilometres (4.9 mi) long, of metre gauge, electrified at 600 volts DC on the overhead line system, and uses four wheeled motor coaches and trailers. It has seven stopping points in addition to the two termini. The single track line 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.[2][3][4][11]

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, eastbound, lane of the S165 Kirnitzschtalstrasse road. Thus westbound trams heading towards Bad Schandau travel against the normal flow of road traffic, requiring heightened attention from both tram and road vehicle drivers. Although some of the line's 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.[8]

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. The winter timetable is typically operated by a single Gothawagen motor car operating on its own, whilst the summer timetable requires three such motor cars, each pulling one or two matching trailers. Additional public trips are operated on selected days using the line's older rolling stock, which is also available for private charter.[8][12][13]

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.[3][14]

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.[3][12][15]

Rolling stock[edit]

View into the driving cab of a tram
Image Numbers Type Date Notes
Kirnitzschtal - Sächsische Schweiz 04.JPG 1-4,6 Gothawagen motor car 1957-1960 Acquired from various East German tram systems at various times. Cars 1-2 were acquired from the Plauen tramway in 1992, 3 from Plauen in 1995, 4 from the Zwickau tramway in 1995 and 6 from the Jena tramway via Radeburg in 2007. These cars, together with matching trailers 21 to 26, provide the main service on the line.[8][9]
Tram 5 Lichtenhainer Wasserfall Kirnitzschtalbahn.jpg 5 MAN motor car 1928 Built for the Kirnitzschtal tramway as one of the class of motor cars that provided the main service on the line from 1928 to the 1970s, when they were replaced by Erfurter motor cars. Car 5 was finally retired on March 31, 1979, but was restored to working condition on 28 May 1983 to celebrate the line's 85th anniversary, and is now used for special services.[8][16]
OVPS KTB 8.jpg 8 Erfurter motor car 1938 Built for use on the Erfurt tramway, where it was used until 1968. It was then acquired and rebuilt for use on the Lockwitztal tramway. When that line closed in 1977, car 8 and four other ex-Erfurt cars were acquired by the Kirnitzschtal line, where they provided the main motor car service until replaced by Gothawagen motor cars in the 1990s. The only Erfurter car still on the Kirnitzschtal line, it is now used for special services.[8][16]
Lockwitztalbahn tram 9 (Bautzen Motorwagen).jpg 9 Bautzen motor car 1925 Built for use on the Lockwitztal tramway. The car was restored in 1976 for the 70th anniversary of the Lockwitztal line, but after the line closed the following year it was slated for scrapping. At the last minute this was avoided and the car was transferred to the Kirnitzschtal in 1979. It is now used for special services.[8][16]
12 MAN trailer 1928 Built for the Kirnitzschtal tramway as one of the class of trailers that provided the main service on the line from 1928 to the 1980s, when they were replaced by Gothawagen trailers. Car 12 was restored to working order in 1991, and is now used for special services hauled by matching motor car 5.[8][16]
Saxon Switzerland tram.jpg 21-26 Gothawagen trailer 1963-1968 Cars 21-24 were acquired and rebuilt in 1984 using bodies from the standard gauge Leipzig tramway married with metre gauge trucks from the Halle tramway. Cars 25-26 were acquired from Zwickau in 1995. These cars, hauled by matching motor cars 1 to 4 and 6, provide the main service on the line.[8][7][9]


During 2008, motor car 5 and trailer 12 were used in the filming of The Reader, based on Bernhard Schlink's novel of the same name. Filming took place both on the Görlitz tramway and on the Kirnitzschtal line. During filming on the Kirnitzschtal line, the actress Kate Winslet acted as the conductress of the tram set.[9]


  1. ^ "Die historische Kirnitzschtalbahn" (in German). OVPS. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
  2. ^ a b "Kirnitzschtalbahn" (in German). OVPS. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Kirnitzschtalbahn" (in German). VVO. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  4. ^ a b c Eisenbahnatlas Deutschland. Verlag Schweers + Wall GmbH. 2010. pp. 72–73. ISBN 978-3-89494-139-0.
  5. ^ "Oberelbische Verkehrsgesellschaft Pirna Sebnitz mbH" (in German). OVPS. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  6. ^ a b c d e Kirnitzschtalbahn, Retrieved on February 20, 2009.[citation needed]
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Geschichte bis 1989" [History to 1989] (in German). OVPS. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Bad Schandau Tramway Network". Retrieved 2015-02-17. External link in |work= (help)
  9. ^ a b c d "Geschichte ab 1989" [History from 1989] (in German). OVPS. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
  10. ^ "Hochwasser im Kirnitzschtal" [Floods in Kirnitzschtal] (in German). OVPS. Retrieved 2015-02-19.
  11. ^ "Gleisplan der Kirnitzschtalbahn" [Track plan of the Kirnitzschtalbahn] (PDF). (in German). Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  12. ^ a b "Tarife und Fahrplan" [Tariffs and timetable] (in German). OVPS. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  13. ^ "Sonderfahrten und mehr" [Trips and more] (in German). OVPS. Retrieved 2015-02-19.
  14. ^ "Umweltschutz (Environmental Protection)" (in German). OVPS. Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  15. ^ "Bus - 241 - Pirna - Königstein - Bad Schandau - Hinterhermsdorf" (PDF). OVPS. Retrieved 2015-02-17.
  16. ^ a b c d "Unsere Fahrzeuge" [Our Vehicles] (in German). OVPS. Retrieved 2015-02-19.


  1. Mißbach, Helmut K. (2004). Sächsische Überlandstraßenbahnen seit 1898 (in German). Stuttgart: Transpress Verlag. ISBN 3-613-71243-1.

External links[edit]