Lokalbahn (Local Line / Heritage Railways)

Lokalbahn (Local Line / Heritage Railways)

A Lokalbahn or Localbahnis a secondary railway line worked by local trains serving rural areas ("local line" in English), typically in Austria and the south German states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Lokalbahnen appeared at the end of the 19th century before the use of cars became widespread.

Lokalbahn Development

Because the construction and operation of main line railways was not always covered by their income, simpler solutions were sought. As early as 1865 the engineering conference of the Union of German Railway Administrations (Verein Deutscher Eisenbahnverwaltungen) had set out the principles for secondary lines. These were enshrined in law in 1878 with the Railway Act for German Railways of Secondary Importance (Bahnordnung für deutsche Eisenbahnen untergeordneter Bedeutung).

Lokalbahn Bavaria

By the 1880s, the Bavarian main line network was largely completed and attention now turned to its expansion into the hinterland. On 21 April 1884 the first Bavarian Lokalbahn (also spelt Localbahn) law was passed. This was based on the premise that funding for land purchase and construction would be a local affair, although earthworks would be paid for by the state. However, the state would also take the profit.

To make them viable, the Lokalbahnen were to be built and operated as simply as possible. Structures too were to be simple. This led to the widespread use of standard buildings and structures; nevertheless branch lines and their stations still retained a lot of individual character based on the region and local material available for construction.

The real boom period for branch line construction in Bavaria was from 1894 to 1910, a time when more than half of all branch lines were completed. The average time to build was four years and the construction cost per kilometre worked out at about one fifth that of main lines.

The Lokalbahnen in Bavaria were built to standard gauge and, initially, an axle load of just 10 tons.

Lokalbahn Characteristics

A Lokalbahn line typically began at a station on the main line and ran, as a branch line, to the next largest town. On the lowland plateaus of Bavaria, for example, many market towns and other towns were linked to the railway network by Lokalbahnen.

In keeping with their secondary status and simplified regulations the following simplifications were made to improve their economy compare with the main lines:
  • lower axle loads, narrower rail gauges (in some areas) and lower speeds
  • fewer regulations, simpler signalling
  • Mixed train operations (passenger coaches and goods wagons in one train)
From the 1950s, increasing bus and car traffic led to the closure of branch lines, including numerous lines built as Lokalbahnen. Several routes continue to be operated today as heritage railways. Sometimes lines that are still referred to today as Lokalbahnen have been upgraded into modern modes of transportation and local means of public transport. In Vienna, the Badner Bahn still carries its Lokalbahn designation, despite operationally being a modern tram-train line.

Lokalbahn Rolling Stock

Lokalbahn Goods Vans

Between 1884 and 1906, over 250 lightweight goods vans were built for the Lokalbahnen. They were designated as class GwL and had open end-platforms at both ends and either hinged or sliding doors in the centre of the side walls. On either side of the side doors were windows.

Lokalbahn Light Trains

The following coaches and wagons were intended for operation with the light twin-axled 'motor locomotives' (Motorlokomotiven) such as the Glaskasten. The coaches were built between 1905 and 1911 and were unsuitable for military transport. They had open end-platforms with Lokalbahn steps and open gangways. The coaches were equipped with a screw brake on the end-platform, Westinghouse brakes, paraffin lamps and steam heating.

Lokalbahn Coaches for Light Trains (1905–1911)
(from 1893)
Coach numbers
[note 1]
Manufacturer Quantity Years of
Coach numbers
by class
Toilets Length over buffers
499 BL 23004, 23005 Rathgeber 2 1907 BL Bay 07 9626, 9627 2 ¾ 1 9.024 5.000 For services to the state spa of Bad Brückenau
523 BCL 20048-20071 Rathgeber 24 1905 BCL Bay 05
CL Bay 05
CL Bay 05/20
9693, 9694
[note 2]
2 / 1 ¾ 1 8.904 5.000  
568 CL 20643-20787
[note 2]
Rathgeber 17 1906–1911 CL Bay 06a 9556-9874
[note 2]
3 ¾ 1 8.834 5.000  
569 CL 20628-20795
[note 2]
Rathgeber 74 1905–1911 CL Bay 05a   2 ¼
Sliding door compartment
1 8.834 5.000  
570 CL 20655-20782
[note 2]
Rathgeber 75 1906–1911 CL Bay 06b   2 ¼
Guard's compartment
1 8.834 5.000  
605 PPostL 21046-21053 Rathgeber 8 1905/06 PwPost Bay 05 9504-9602
[note 2]
B / P / KV
[note 3]
8.374 4.500  
606 PPostL 21054-21132 Rathgeber
79 1906–1909 PwPost Bay 06 9603-9890
[note 2]
B / P
[note 3]
  9.239 5.000 Two coaches were delivered to the Palatine network, Sheet No. 221


[note 3] [note 2] [note 1]

^ Jump up to:a b Numbers based on the scheme in use from 1893.
^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Not all numbers; for details see the coach design sheet (Wagenblatt).
^ Jump up to:a b c B = letters compartment / P = packets compartment

Rail Holidays
Rail Vacations
Luxury Trains
Luxury Tours
International Trains
International Tours
home www.Rail-Pass.com Rail-Pass & Train Tickets & International Rail Holidays Hotel Booking & Hotel Reservations & Hotel Accomodation B&B Booking & B&B Reservations & B&B Accommodation Hostel Booking & Youth Hostel Reservations & Hostel Accommodation Chalet Rental & Holiday Homes & Vacation Homes Ski Pass Booking & Ski Pass Reservations & Ski Lift Pass Flight Tickets & Airline Reservations & Flight Booking Ferry Tickets & Ferry Booking & Ferry Reservations Car Rental Booking & Car Hire Reservations Excursions & Days Out & Day Trips & Theme Parks Rail Pass Booking & Rail Pass Reservations & Eurail & Interrail Rail Tickets & Rail Reservations & International Train Tickets Weekend Trips & Weekend Breaks & Weekend Away  Travel Insurance & Business Travel Insurance Eurotunnel Tickets & Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Reservations