Kahlenbergbahn - The 1st Austrian Cog Railway (Historic Railway) - B

Kahlenbergbahn - The 1st Austrian Cog Railway (Historic Cog Railway) - B

Kahlenbergbahn Creeping End to the Railway

In the late summer of 1914, after the first lost battles in Galicia and the associated fears of a Russian invasion for the capital of the Reich, the area around the rack railway was used as a military base. The Stephaniewarte had until 1916 as an observation post to the k.k. be handed over to the bridgehead command. However, the operation of the railway was not discontinued, although three locomotives (Nos. 4 to 6) had to be supplied in 1915 for scrap metal extraction for war purposes. As a result, the railway only had three locomotives at its disposal, and the number of passenger coaches had also been reduced from 1902. Even before the war, the maintenance of the superstructure and vehicles was reduced to a minimum with a view to possible modernization.

After the war, a lack of coal forced operations to stop for 268 days in 1919. The increasingly neglected maintenance of the route and the outdated vehicles also caused problems for the railway. In 1920, operations could be maintained from May 23rd to September 20th thanks to the improved supply of coal. On August 22, as a result of a broken rail above the Krapfenwaldl station, a passenger car and the locomotive of a three-car train derailed, nobody was injured. By order of the authorities, the track on the mountain side that was being used was then closed and only single track was used. The closed second track was then dismantled in sections for the purpose of obtaining spare parts.

In 1921, the KEG planned to increase the share capital to 12 million crowns by issuing new shares. This year there was a final upswing, more trains were run than in the previous year. However, the operating deficit of the railway did not decrease due to the expensive steam operation and the poor condition of the facilities. On November 26, 1921, the last passenger train drove up the Kahlenberg, the water transport was maintained rather reluctantly until spring 1922.

The company seemed to have lost interest in the severely loss-making railway operations and preferred to concentrate on its properties on the mountain. She had to be reminded several times by the authorities of her operating obligation and the start of operations in the spring of 1922, which she only reluctantly complied with. The water transports were also stopped and the KEG tried to wriggle out of its obligation in this regard through legal maneuvers.

Since the staff refused to agree to the increase in daily working hours from 9 to 12 hours at the end of March 1922, the management was forced to dismiss almost all employees. This caused the loss of almost the entire railway staff and thus the de facto end of operations. This was also an ideal pretext to demonstrate to the authorities that it was impossible to start operations.

In the aftermath, the remainder of the line was also exposed to theft of sleepers and rails. On May 16, 1923, the concession for the railway was finally declared expired. As a result, the remainder of the railway, which had become the property of the Republic of Austria, was removed and all vehicles scrapped.

The Kahlenberg railway company called itself System Rigi as a result of the end of the Bahn Kahlenberg AG and concentrated entirely on its properties and real estate. In 1934 the majority of shares were taken over by the City of Vienna. This was one of the reasons why the Wiener Höhenstraße included part of the railway line.

In 1933, as part of a Kahlenberg project, consideration was given to building a new car access road in place of the rack railway. Accompanied by the construction of contemporary power lines, the street was intended to open up a 500-room circular hotel designed in the spirit of large American hotel buildings.

Kahlenbergbahn Leftovers

The Nussdorf reception building of the Kahlenbergbahn has been preserved to this day. It is a listed building, along with the historic toilet facilities, and houses the Zur Rack Railway restaurant. The building is surrounded by the turning loop of tram line D.

The railway line has largely been preserved as a road (with the names Cogwheel Railway Road, Unterer Schreiberweg and Wiener Höhenstraße) and as a forest road at the vineyard north of the Krapfenwaldl. Likewise the uppermost section, which serves as an access road to the ORF transmitter Kahlenberg. There, the Stephaniewarte is reminiscent of the former cog railway.

Kahlenbergbahn Vehicles

The vehicles on the Kahlenberg Railway were essentially the same as those on the Schwabenberg Cog Railway, which also opened in Budapest (Ofen) in 1874.

Kahlenbergbahn Locomotives

The railway was operated exclusively with steam locomotives. The six locomotives were built by Maschinenfabrik Winterthur and delivered in 1874, they were the first cogwheel locomotives in Europe with a horizontal boiler. This was supplied by John Fowler & Co. in Leeds, England. Based on the example of the locomotives of the Rigi Railway, the drive was exclusively on the drive gear. The wheels, which were designed as loosely rotating disc wheels, were only used to guide the locomotive on the rails.

The locomotives were equipped with three independent braking systems:
  • Brake gear on the rear (uphill) axle
  • Band brake on the countershaft of the gear drive
  • Riggenbach counter-pressure brake - when traveling downhill, the steam flowing into the steam cylinder brakes the drive gear
  • As is usual with cog railways, the locomotive was always on the valley side of the train. A special feature of the Kahlenbergbahn was that the locomotives stood with the driver's cab facing the train, so they pushed the train backwards up the mountain.
During their more than 40 years of operation, the machines were rebuilt several times, including additional water tanks under the cab floor. In 1909/1910 the locomotives received 1-3 new boilers from the company St. Jaschka & Sohn in Vienna Meidling.

Locomotives of the Kahlenbergbahn
  Manufacturer's Number Serial number Design Delivery Remarks
1 SLM/Winterthur 15 2z n2t January 1874 1910 new boiler
2 SLM/Winterthur 16 2z n2t March 1874 1909 new boiler with steam collector
3 SLM/Winterthur 17 2z n2t April 1874 1910 new boiler
4 SLM/Winterthur 18 2z n2t April 1874 1915
5 SLM/Winterthur 19 2z n2t May 1874 1915
6 SLM/Winterthur 20 2z n2t May 1874 1915

Kahlenbergbahn Passenger Carriages

The Kahlenbergbahn originally had 18 passenger carriages, which were supplied by the Hernalser Waggonfabrik in Vienna. Eight cars also had first-class compartments with leather seats, 10 cars were intended as pure second class. The wagons with 54 seats were 9,280 mm long, 3,1200 mm wide and had an axle base of 4,200 mm, and weighed 5 tons. In the summer they drove with open side walls, during the winter windows were installed. From 1902, the wagons received steam heating for winter operation.

In addition, there were four gondolas (wheel base 3,000 mm, payload 4,500 kg) and two tank cars for supplying the Kahlenberg with water (tank capacity 6 m3). In 1898 a small rack and pinion lubrication truck was purchased.

Trains with a maximum of three cars were driven. The carriages were equipped with hand brakes that acted on a brake gear, so they were manned by brakemen while driving. In 1896, the KEG persuaded the authorities that only one brake per train had to be used.

A replica of a passenger car - but without a chassis - is now on the square in front of the Kahlenberg church. This replica contains a small exhibition of images of the rack railway inside, but this is currently (2018) not open to the public. The Schwabenbergbahn in Budapest still has a restored identical wagon from 1874.

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