Some Foreign Lines
The Harz Narrow gauge Railway
More than a million passengers a year and not only for the railway enthusiasts, enjoy this steam railway. Anyone who likes train travel, beautiful scenery and history will love the Harz Narrow Gauge (1 m) Railways. It takes you through the beautiful picturesque scenery of the Harz: it’s hills and mountains, forests and meadows. A trip on a steam train is a delightful experience.
This 132km integrated gauge railway network the largest in Europe is served by 25 steam trains and 10 diesel locomotives who have to tackle gradients of 40% and curves as tight as 60 meters in radius. Most locomotives date back to 1950. They connect the principal cities of Wernigerode, Nordhausen and Quedlinburg and several smaller towns in the area. The first train ran from Wernigerode to Schierke on 20th June 1898.
As industries collapsed much of the freight traffic was lost. There are now few through passenger trains on the 2 main lines. The main attraction is now on the nostalgic tourist attraction of steam operated regular service and special trains, especially on the economically vital Brockenbahn branch. Trains run at peak times all the year round to the summit, even in winter though the snow.
There are three services:
The Trans-Harz Railway Line:
Crosses the Harz Mountains from north to south. On the 60km track passengers are treated to a kaleidoscopic journey through nature.
The Selke Valley Railway Line:
Is the most romantic track of the whole narrow gauge network and has long been an open secret among nature lovers.
The Brocken Railway Line:
In July 1992 public rail service was resumed to the legendary Brocken. Climbing up there is a hard work for the 700 HP steam powered locomotives.
(Tip: it is worth buying the HarzCard if you plan to do the Brocken trip combined with other activities)
The present day narrow gauge network emerged as a result of the merger of originally separate railway lines which belonged to two different railway companies:
In 1887 the first narrow gauge line in the Harz, from Gernrode to Mägdesprung, was opened. It was owned by the Gernrode-Harzgerode Railway Company (Gernrode-Harzgeroder Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft) or GHE. In the years that followed the line was extended and the network enlarged. The GHE network included the railway lines from Gernrode to Harzgerode, Hasselfelde and Eisfelder Talmühle. Because the line followed a section of the valley of a small river, the Selke, it was also nicknamed the Selke Valley Railway (Selketalbahn); another pet name was the Anhalt Harz Railway (Anhaltische Harzbahn).
In 1896 a second railway company was entered into the commercial register who wanted to build a narrow gauge railway through the Harz. On 22 December 1898 the Nordhausen-Wernigerode Railway Company (Nordhausen-Wernigeroder Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft) or NWE opened special services on the line from Wernigerode to the Brocken (Brocken Railway), the so-called Trans-Harz Railway (Harzquerbahn) from Wernigerode via Drei Annen Hohne to Nordhausen was fully opened to traffic on 27 March 1899.
The GHE and NWE were subordinated to the Deutsche Reichsbahn in East Germany on 1 April 1949.