Bregenz Forest Railway (Narrow-Gauge)

Bregenz Forest Railway (Narrow-Gauge)

The Bregenz Forest Railway or Bregenzerwaldbahn, known colloquially as the Wälderbahn or Wälderbähnle, is an Austrian narrow gauge railway with a track gauge of 760 mm (2 ft 5+15/16 in), the so-called Bosnian gauge. It runs through the state of Vorarlberg and from 1902 to 1983 linked Bregenz on Lake Constance with Bezau in the Bregenz Forest on a 35.33 kilometre long railway line. Today only a 5.01 kilometre long section is still worked as a heritage railway. The remaining line has been closed and largely lifted.

Bregenz Forest Railway Heritage Railway

In 1985 the Bregenz Forest Railway Society (Verein Bregenzerwaldbahn-Museumsbahn) was founded in order to at least preserve sections of the line and to operate it as a heritage railway. The original vehicles had, however, all been transported away, which is why operations began in 1987 only with the help of rolling stock procured from other lines, including a regauged trailer car from the Stubai Valley Railway. The line was opened from Bezau as far as Schwarzenberg station. The first powered vehicle was a lorry converted to a railbus. Several small diesel locomotives and other wagons from the Stubai Valley Railway were procured the following year and a further section of line to the Bersbuch station was reactivated.

The first steam locomotive at the museum railway arrived in the early 1990s - the former 798.101 "Nicki S." - on loan when it had become superfluous as a result of the closure of the Jagst Valley Railway. In 1993, the U.25 was renovated to become the first operational steam locomotive - a "Class U" - from the original Bregenz Forest Railway. In 2001 it was followed by a second steam engine, the Uh. The passenger coaches required were built on the chassis of goods wagons. The 1999 Pentecost flood destroyed the Sporenegg bridge and it was rebuilt in June 2000. The 2005 European floods caused further damage to the trackbed, and flooding of Bezau station. This was repaired within a few weeks.

Today the museum railway services operate on the remaining section of line from Bezau to Schwarzenberg. An extension to Andelsbuch, or even beyond that to Egg, was considered. However, in October 2004, the line had to be shortened by 1.1 kilometres (and a new Schwarzenberg terminus built), because the line between Schwarzenberg and Bersbuch was given up in favour of a road expansion project. Furthermore, the Railway Society had to forfeit land at the Bezau station for the building of a supermarket. As a replacement for the locomotive shed, a new vehicle and workshop hall was built and, in place of a set of points, a sector table was built at the end of the line in order to make optimum use of the remaining space.

Bregenz Forest Railway Technical

Line Length: 35.33 km (21.95 mi)
Track Gauge: 760 mm (2 ft 5+15/16 in)

Bregenz Forest Railway Route Map Legend

0.00 Bregenz

Junction with the Vorarlberg Railway 398 m (AA)

1.09 Vorkloster 400 m above sea level (AA)
1.82 Rieden tunnel (212 m)
2.62 Rieden
4.70 Kennelbach 422 m above sea level (AA)
8.43 Fluh(ab 1937)
9.15 Rickenbach tunnel (86 m)

Rickenbach bridge, steel

9.60 Wirtatobel loading point (from 1920)
10.18 Langen-Buch(until 1977)
12.33 Rotach tunnel (123 m)

Rotach bridge, steel

13.64 Doren-Sulzberg 456 m above sea level (AA)
15.02 Weißachbrücke(ab 1904)

Weißach bridge, steel

18.18 Langenegg-Krumbach 468 m above sea level (AA)
18.72 Oberlangenegg(until 1957)
19.73 Pommerngraben loading point (until 1930)
20.74 Lingenau-Hittisau 506 m above sea level (AA)
23.45 Egg 553 m above sea level (AA)
24.75 Unterbach 578 m above sea level (AA)
26.75 Andelsbuch 615 m above sea level (AA)
27.90 Bezegg 618 m above sea level (AA)
29.30 Bersbuch 633 m above sea level (AA)
30.32 Schwarzenberg 636 m above sea level (AA)
31.73 Sporenegg bridge; steel; 68 m
33.56 Reuthe 625 m above sea level (AA)
34.27 Through truss bridge over the Bregenzerach; steel
34.37 Grebenbach bridge
35.33 Bezau 642 m above sea level (AA)

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