Harz Mountain Railway,Germany.

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
1,822
I first visited the Harzquerbahn in 1973 when it was 100% steam.

Before I went I had to pre book hotel accommodation in the towns I wished to visit through an East German travel agency in London called Berolina Travel.

Normally westerners were put up in large Inter-hotels in big cities but I managed to get in what was basically a pub in Wernigerode. The main attraction today, the Brockenbahn, was then severed by the border and trains ran only as far as Schierke on the border.

They wouldn't sell me ticket to there though because I hadn't got the right papers. I did travel to Nordhausen and back keeping my camera well out of sight when we passed close to the barbed wire south of Drei Annan Hohne.
I gather, from a report made in Communist times, that the Brockenbahn was actually all in East Germany; but ran close by, and right to, the border. The Brocken summit was just within East Germany; on it was a military installation concerned with radar etc, manned by Soviet troops. Public rail services ran along the branch as far as Schierke: beyond and to the summit, there was military traffic only. Only people living in the immediate vicinity, were allowed to travel Drei Annen Hohne -- Schierke.

I also visited the Selketalbahn which then had not yet been reconnected to the Harzbahn. It also started at Gernrode not Quedlingburg as it does today. Traffic here was largely in the hands of the six 0-4-4-0 mallets 99.5901-5906 which were more interesting than the large 2-10-2 tanks on the Harz.

I did return to the GDR in 1985 when the line had been extended to Stiege and have visited it several times since the Berlin Wall collapsed.

The extension to Stiege, by the way, was built to facilitate the running of coal trains from Nordhausen to a newly built power station at Silberhutte. Doubleheaded 2-10-2 tanks could be seen on these.

During my 1973 trip to the GDR I visited a number of other narrow gauge lines, most, but not all, of which still exist today. When I returned home my parents were pleased to see me as they thought I was going to get arrested and/or shot over there.

I never had any problems photographing trains in the GDR, except in the border areas, unlike when I was in Czechoslovakia.
I envy your described travels -- I've rather missed out on the eastern German narrow gauge, of which I've done only the Harz system, on two separate visits; and the 750mm line Freital-Hainsberg -- Kurort Kipsdorf (had to forfeit the uppermost few kilometres of that one). I would have loved to experience the 600mm gauge around Friedland, about 150 km north of Berlin. In GDR days there remained only a couple of lines of this system, which had formerly been intricate and much more extensive; post-1945, the majority of it was dismantled, and track and stock sent to the Soviet Union. The surviving couple of lines were abandoned about 1970.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

30907

Established Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
8,685
Location
Airedale
I’ve also been planning on visiting this railway for a long time, and maybe I might actually manage to do it next year, so I’ll be keeping an eye on this thread too.
Some thoughts:
Wernigerode-Brocken is busy most of the year with coachloads of tourists, and the weather on the top notoriously unpredictable (as you might expect). The rest of the network is pretty quiet (and I prefer it).
If short of time I would do Wernigerode-Brocken-Eisfelder Talmuehle-Quedlinburg on a day return (it's valid).
Your tourist tax gives you free bus travel over a wide area, and allows you to link the two ends.
Quedlinburg is IMO the more interesting town for tourism, and where I stayed most recently, but of course Wernigerode has the main shed.
Halberstadt is historic and untouristy and has a small tram network, one rural section only running at weekends, while Nordhausen was a pioneer in bimode trams which run over the HSB.
 

Cowley

Established Member
Associate Staff
General Discussion
Joined
15 Apr 2016
Messages
8,001
Location
Devon
Some thoughts:
Wernigerode-Brocken is busy most of the year with coachloads of tourists, and the weather on the top notoriously unpredictable (as you might expect). The rest of the network is pretty quiet (and I prefer it).
If short of time I would do Wernigerode-Brocken-Eisfelder Talmuehle-Quedlinburg on a day return (it's valid).
Your tourist tax gives you free bus travel over a wide area, and allows you to link the two ends.
Quedlinburg is IMO the more interesting town for tourism, and where I stayed most recently, but of course Wernigerode has the main shed.
Halberstadt is historic and untouristy and has a small tram network, one rural section only running at weekends, while Nordhausen was a pioneer in bimode trams which run over the HSB.
Great info 30907 thanks for that.
 

iainbhx

Member
Joined
8 Jul 2014
Messages
179
I was reading about this railway just the other day, as it happens.

I'd be interested in going there at some point, probably next year, so if anyone has any tips for visiting this railway, that would be great to hear.
I visited two years ago.

There's an absolute bargain of a regional ticket which allows travel on the HSB, local DB lines and the buses. It doesn't let you do the Brocken.

I was staying in Quedlinburg, which if you like old towns is worth a day in itself at the Zum Bär on the Marketplace, the breakfast buffet is very good and I enjoyed an evening meal there as well (roast boar - massive portions). I got the train to Eisfelder Talmühle - which turned out to be an old DR railbus which was great, then down to Nordhausen and then back to Eisfelder Talmühle, steam to Drei Annen Hohne and steam to Wernigerode and DB back to Quedlinburg - a very enjoyable day.

I intend to go back in a couple of years and do the branches.
 

30907

Established Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
8,685
Location
Airedale
I visited two years ago.

There's an absolute bargain of a regional ticket which allows travel on the HSB, local DB lines and the buses. It doesn't let you do the Brocken.
It was ridiculously good, but the English language page hasnt been corrected to show that since last year you effectively only get one trip on the HSB. This is the German version: https://hvb-harz.de/fahrscheine-preise/
Seconded about Quedlinburg - the Zum Baer is where we stayed too.
 

Meole

Member
Joined
28 Oct 2018
Messages
225
There are of course several other German NG operations featuring daily steam service well worth visiting as well.
 

blackfive460

Member
Joined
23 Jun 2010
Messages
659
and Racing Roland in Ruegen
...and the Mollibahn from Bad Doberan which is easy to combine with a visit to Rügen then there's
Zittauer Schmalspurbahn from Zittau and the Fichtelbergbahn from Cranzahl both fairly easy to combine with a visit to Dresden.
All well worth doing but none are quite like the Harz network!
 

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
1,822
and Racing Roland in Ruegen
(I must be at a loose end)... this line's "pet name" -- "Rasender Roland" in German -- is involved with some mildly-interesting wordplay. "Rasender Roland" can indeed mean "Racing Roland" (classic ironic local name -- like many " ***** Flyers" in our own country -- for markedly un-speedy local branch or light railway). Also, I gather that -- should one want to keep the culture-vultures happy -- it has an alternative meaning of "Raging Roland"; which is the German version of the title of the 16th-century Italian poet Ariosto's work Orlando Furioso -- which I understand is heavy and impressive stuff if Europe's literature / poetry is your thing. This business is touched on in the thread on the UK Rail Discussion sub-forum, "Local folk monikers for lines (was Fenny Compton etc. ...)", commenced 21 / 1 / 2019.
 

yorkie

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
6 Jun 2005
Messages
47,600
Location
Yorkshire
Based on today's experience I would so far not recommend doing this railway, though I will reserve complete judgement until our trip has finished, but is not good so far.

We were part way through our itinerary when all trains were cancelled. We were told a tree was on the line. However there was no attempt to operate trains on sections of line that were unaffected. Not only that, but they stranded us. We were told there was no ticket acceptance on Abellio trains to get back to Wernigerode.

I can understand that things can go wrong but the lack of alternatives in place doesn't seem acceptable to me.

To make things worse the Abellio ticket machine didn't give us the full amount of change, so our overall experience of visiting this region is poor so far. Let's hope things improve.

Edit: after having to pay again to get back to Wernigerode, we found the ticket office shut and these signs on the door:
sign1.jpg
Werte Kunden, Aus bertrieblichen Grunden ist unsere Verkaufsstelle leider GESCHLOSSEN
sign2.jpg
WERTE KUNDEN, DER ZUGVERKER IST FUR HEUTE WITTERUNGSBEDINGT EINGESTELLT
Which appears to mean there are no staff there and no trains running (presumably for the rest of the day).
 
Last edited:

DavidGrain

Member
Joined
29 Dec 2017
Messages
922
I have had a few days on the Harz in 1998 and 2014 staying both times in Wernigerode. There were more steam trains on my first visit than on the second, particularly on the Selketelbahn. In my second visit we had a break down at Alexisbad but that gave us the chance to visit the Harzgerode branch which had not been on our schedule but lost us the chance to walk around the very interesting town of Quedlinburg which had been our plan.

Our second trip included a Sunday which I had hoped would allow us to travel on the Rübeland Bahn but that line was not running that day so we had an interesting day in Wernigerode Castle. I am not sure of the status of the Rübeland Bahn but if it is operational it would be just a bus ride away from Wernigerode and worth including in a trip to the Harz.
 

30907

Established Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
8,685
Location
Airedale
Based on today's experience I would so far not recommend doing this railway, though I will reserve complete judgement until our trip has finished, but is not good so far.

We were part way through our itinerary when all trains were cancelled. We were told a tree was on the line. However there was no attempt to operate trains on sections of line that were unaffected. Not only that, but they stranded us. We were told there was no ticket acceptance on Abellio trains to get back to Wernigerode.

I can understand that things can go wrong but the lack of alternatives in place doesn't seem acceptable to me.

To make things worse the Abellio ticket machine didn't give us the full amount of change, so our overall experience of visiting this region is poor so far. Let's hope things improve.

Edit: after having to pay again to get back to Wernigerode, we found the ticket office shut and these signs on the door:
View attachment 74006

View attachment 74007


Which appears to mean there are no staff there and no trains running (presumably for the rest of the day).
Correct. And online ticket sales for tomorrow are suspended according to the website.

Presume you will request a refund tomorrow?
And your Guest Card (if you are staying in Wenigerode or Quedlinburg) should give you free bus travel, not that it's ever so useful on a Sunday...
As for ticket acceptance, the HSB is not part of the national network. I doubt TfW would let you use a Festiniog ticket to get from Porthmadog to Blaenau (OK a much greater distance, but it's the best example I can think of.
 

shredder1

Established Member
Joined
23 Nov 2016
Messages
1,974
Location
North Manchester
What a great shame Yorkie, I`ve had a few good visits over the years, but know they had some bad weather last week, but still your tickets could have been honoured under the cirumstances
 

DavidGrain

Member
Joined
29 Dec 2017
Messages
922
Just a historical note. There was a South Harz line which ran across the border between GDR and GFR but this got severed and the two separate parts were not viable and were closed. I did spot the point at which the Südharz line crossed the Harzquerbahn which is now a cycle path.
 

ChiefPlanner

Established Member
Joined
6 Sep 2011
Messages
5,906
Location
Herts
We had an amazing journey in deep snow and blizzards some years ago - could not get to the Brocken - so we set off back to Wernigerode and failed in a very awkward spot - the guard gamely went forward to protect and we were rescued by another steam loco detached from a train at Drei Anne Honen and further assisted by one of their plough fitted diesels , we got an instant full refund on arrival. I sent an email thanking them. Conditions that day were really poor , but they made an excellent effort to run services.
 

philthetube

Established Member
Joined
5 Jan 2016
Messages
2,044
to anyone killing time in the area the model village at Wernigerode is really worth a visit, it is a totally different thing from the English ones, thousands of hours work involved. can be reached by bus from the centre.

It also has a model of trains on the Brocken.
 

eastwestdivide

Established Member
Joined
17 Aug 2009
Messages
1,849
Many thanks. I was searching for Rubelandbahn and only Wikipedia came up. Should have tried Rue.....I have very limited knowledge of German.
I just searched for Rübeland Bahn, copying those 2 words from your post (and retaining the umlauted U) - about 3rd or 4th result.
 

matt

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Global Moderator
Joined
30 Jun 2005
Messages
6,683
Location
Rugby
A better result today with a full service running including to Brocken.

Edit: Maybe not. Doing Nordhausen to Wernigerode via a bus :(
 
Last edited:

Calthrop

Established Member
Joined
6 Dec 2015
Messages
1,822
Just a historical note. There was a South Harz line which ran across the border between GDR and GFR but this got severed and the two separate parts were not viable and were closed. I did spot the point at which the Südharz line crossed the Harzquerbahn which is now a cycle path.
Amplifying a little, if I might: the metre-gauge Suedharz Eisenbahn (I can't do umlauts; must resort to the old-fashioned "e immediately following the letter" equivalent) comprised in its up-to-1945 status, a 24 km. south -- north route from Walkenried (junction with standard gauge), to Braunlage; and an 8 km. west -- east line from Brunnenbachsmuehle a little way south of Braunlage, connecting with the Nordhausen -- Wernigerode line at Sorge, and terminating a little further east at Tanne. As per @DavidGrain above: drawing of the inter-zonal boundary in 1945 severed the Tanne line just east of Brunnenbachsmuehle -- this line east of the "Iron Curtain" frontier was closed and lifted long ago; no source available to me tells exactly when -- possibly even in the mid / late 1940s, when many lesser rail lines in the Soviet Zone of Germany were dismantled, with rails and other scrap taken away for use in the USSR. Walkenried -- Braunlage, all (just) in West Germany, remained in traffic, still as the privately-owned Suedharz Eisenbahn, until withdrawal of passenger services in 1962 and freight in 1963.

In times past, there were meeting points with break of gauge, between the overall Harz metre-gauge system of which the Suedharz was, at "peak", part; and the standard-gauge Ruebelandbahn, as featured upthread. The Ruebelandbahn, whose western end is now Elbingerode / Hornberg, formerly ran some ten kilometres further, to an "end-on" meeting-point, albeit different gauges, with the Suedharz at Tanne; with also a short branch diverging near Elbingerode, running the few kilometres to Drei Annen Hohne, junction of the Nordhausen -- Wernigerode line and the Brocken branch. It's hard not to feel a pang of regret at what a wonderfully neat complex of heritage railways on two gauges, all this might make, had the various parts survived with track down until today: but that has not been the way of the world in Europe for many decades past -- and events in 1945 and shortly after, were the reverse of helpful.
 

DavidGrain

Member
Joined
29 Dec 2017
Messages
922
Having read, between my two trips to the Harz that the Rübelandbahn had previously run to Drie Annen Hohne, I went looking for traces of it on my last trip there.
The blocked off pedestrian subway under the Hartz tracks to the Rübelandbahn station. The hotel on the opposite side of the road from the Harz station can be seen.
IMG_1259 Small.JPG
The building that I believe to be the station building for the Rübelandbahn shown in a state of decay.
IMG_1260 Small.JPG
 

Top