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A short afternoon trip to the Kirnitzsch Valley

We didn't spend all day in Dresden, but we tried out how the Saxon people had have a rest around here, throughout the last centuries. One of the beloved targets for tourists and for the people around Dresden is the near Elbsandsteingebirge (Elbe-Sand Rocky Mountains???), for which territory two Swiss painters gave the name Saxon Switzerland (Sächsische Schweiz), especially since the steamboat- (in 1837) and the railway traffic (in 1851) appeared here. Its centre is the town Bad Schandau with 4000 inhabitants, not far from the Czech Republic border.

We arrive at Bad Schandau by train (to mislead you, this is another train heading back towards Dresden), consisting double decker coaches which were made in the early nineties in Görlitz, they are a bit thighter, more uncomfortable than the ones being built nowadays. But the town lies on the other bank of the Elbe, so we either have to take the ferry or cross the bridge nearby. From there starts another tramway route into the Kirnitzsch [pronounce: Keernich] Valley with a length of 8 kilometres, a single track, metre-gauge line, namely the Kirnitzschtalbahn (Kirnitzsch-Valley Railway). The buildings started in 1897 with an unhidden aim to be a touristic line. The first tram started its journey on 28th May 1898 at 12 o'clock.

Although this is a touristic kind of tramway, it couldn't manage to run always, sometimes fate struck: for example in the 1927 fire the depot with all of the tramcars destroyed (one year later it was operating again), then, beginning in 1969, the operation stood still again for three years of rebuilding. Of course, the 2002 floods had an impact to the line: although the Kirnitzsch itelf was not flooded but the river Elbe made it swell backwards, the lower section of the line became under water. The cars there were managed to be rescued in time, even the track was only damaged indirectly, not because of the flood, but because of the high-pressure water-jet by which they cleaned up the mess after the flood went by, and it washed out the covering elements of the track. And as you can see, there are lost rails also in town. But let's take a look at those buildings at the background!
Source: Strassenbahnen zu Ulbrichts Zeiten *
Yes, it's right, until the 1969 rebuildings the trams used to come here, a good kilometre longer than today. They said: the tramway was obstructing the car traffic! (It is worth looking at the picture how much car traffic can be seen around there...)

So we have to take a walk along the Kirnitzsch stream til the lower end station. We can see immediately the Gothaer trailer car no. 25 having a sunbath...

...and the passing motor car no. 1. Sometimes in small tramway companies like this one, they give the same numbers to tramcars of different generations, so this means this Gothaer car is already the fourth or fifth tramcar generation which carries the same no. 1. (today this Gothaer car is the no. 1., years before, until 1993 when the Gothaers arrived here, another car was the no. 1., and so on...). The Gothaer motor cars and trailers which run as scheduled trains today, arrived here between 1993 and 1995 from Plauen.

On-board cleaner and cushioned seats. Gothaer DeLuxe :-)

Driver's cabin.

The characteristic ventilation windows of the Gothaer cars: the two on the sides are opening outwards and they are segmented in two parts, while the middle one tilts inside.

Insomuch the line has single tracks, there are two passes along the way: the lower one at the depot/workshop and the higher one here at Schneiderweiche stop, to enable the trams to pass each other in the two directions.

And yet another tram is coming from the Lichtenhainer Wasserfall (~waterfall), a motor car with two trailers.

The safety locking of the line sections is not other than the good old wooden stick: the driver which takes the stick with himself has the running rights for the next section, the drivers meet to change sticks for each section. The stick is also useful to push the door-opening button on the outside :-) (left). The drivers can have a chat (right), the timetables are not so busy. :-)

We reach the other end station. These have no loop tracks so they have to go round the trailer(s) by the motor car to change direction. They uncouple the motor car which is not a hard work for one, thanks to the Scharfenberg type central couplers...

...and the trailer waits...

...until they couple the motor car to the other end. Well, I haven't made any photos about the Waterfall itself, because they only let the flush every thirty minutes for only a short while, otherwise only a few drops flow down. The one who looks at the trams, misses it.

The obligatory photo at the same place where the trams turn in front of the waterfall, in the usual picture-postcard setup. We let this tram go and we also take a walk downwards, then we wait for the next tram. During the walk I see an 8,1 kilometre-stone which is another evidence that the track used to be longer than today.

Walky, walky, walky, then we met the motor car+trailer+trailer train no. 2+26+21...

...which we'll wait for when it's coming back, we'll take it to the depot/workshop. Finally I recognized that only the motor cars are bi-directional with doors on each side, the trailers were built as one-directionals but they can use them here because the platforms of the stops are always on one side.

We take a walk again in the small town then we take the train back to Dresden along the Elbe valley.

* The photo is from the book entitled Strassenbahnen zu Ulbrichts Zeiten / Trams in der DDR: Die 60er Jahre in Farbe, published by GeraMond (C) 2002

To Continue: the 100 year old tramway in Halberstadt >>>

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