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From Lambach to Gmunden: travelling on the local lines of the Stern & Hafferl company

I owe many thanks to the Stern und Hafferl Verkehrsgesellschaft m.b.H. and Mr. Ing. Helmut Zwirchmayr to make this site

You can find a few branchlines, local railways west from Linz which are operated by the Stern & Hafferl company. Despite the many small, new companies which have spread over the last few years, mainly in Germany, this is a private railway with a long history. The engineers Josef Stern and Franz Hafferl had led a railway building company in the region since the late Nineteenth Century.

One of the lines departs just outside the Linz main railway station, this is LILO, short for Linzer Lokalbahn, or the Linz Local Railways. The picture above has been taken on my previous journey, way to the Transrapid test track, a type GTW 2/6 low floor articulated motor car, built by ADTranz/Stadler/Fiat-SIG, can be seen on it, at the western terminus of the LILO in Neumarkt-Kallham station.

After our tramway journey in Linz we were heading to Gmunden. Of course, you can do it in the regular Linz - Attnang-Puchheim - Gmunden direction but a railwayfan always seeks for a "delicacy" even it's a detour. Lambach is the station on the Linz-Salzburg line which the Inter- and Eurocity trains are simply diverted from, but if someone goes by regional train, can transfer to another Stern & Hafferl line, the Vorchdorferbahn. It has been running since 1903. Unfortunately a bad surprise came immediately: InterRail tickets are not valid on any private railways in Austria, although the timetables mark these trains with the same R letter which usually stands for the Regional passenger trains of the Federal Railways ÖBB. We didn't have time for a photo either, our transfer was quick, the train departed a few moments later.

We purchased our 4 Euro tickets to Gmunden, thank God it wasn't so expensive. Well, I didn't know anything about the vehicles until a reply mail arrived on post from Stern & Hafferl, with a lots of letters and numbers inside, answering to an e-mail of mine. This is how I came to know that this four-axle, second class electric motor car, number 20 111, class B4ET, was built in 1953 by Westwaggon in Köln (Cologne), and has a maximal allowed speed of 70 kph. It requires an 800 V DC overhead wiring but the line only has 750 Volts, due to the line was built this way, and there are vehicles which require only 750 Volts. I guess the sharp-eyed viewers have already noticed that the middle dash board can be closed, perhaps was the vehicle made earlier without a driver's cabin-wall? Our line is being used together by the ÖBB until Stadl-Paura station. We will meet that diverging ÖBB track later, too.

It only takes an unmonitored level crossing (without warning lights for the road traffic) and I feel myself at home: these vehicles have the same kind of signalling whistle instead of the horn, just like the East-German made, local railway motor unit cars of the Budapest Suburban Railways (BKV HÉV).

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere a short dead-end rail branches out of ours, with a two-axle electric motor car no. BET 24 103 plus a flat waggon standing on it. The class number marks the operating company where the vehicle runs: 24 marks the vehicles of the Lambach - Vorchdorf-Eggenberg local railways (LVE), while 20 (by which we travel) is of the vehicles of the Stern & Hafferl (StH). No. 24 103 is the part of the fleet since 1912, this is when it was built by the Grazer Waggonfabrik (I don't know but perhaps it's the predecessor of the SGP), the electrics were supplied by the Siemens-Schuckert Werke (SSW), and it has a maximal allowed speed of 50 kph. Let's move further.

As it has to be on a small, old, electrified branchline: the overhead wiring is hanged on wooden poles.

I learned something new again: where there is pine-wood, they put pines on top of the maypole. :-)

Arriving at the terminus Vorchdorf-Eggenberg the first vehicle I saw is a Turmwagen (=Tower car). This front-engine two-axle diesel motor car type, with its characteristic look, is being used throughout Austria for the maintenance, the repairing and constructing of the overhead wirings. Let's take a look around!

First of all, this is the motor car which has brought us here, where we have to transfer to the Traunseebahn, which is also a Stern & Hafferl line. But what's that on the right?

An old LILO motor unit train. You're asking how did it get here? Now, one of the workshops of the Stern & Hafferl company, a tiny-weeny one, is situated right here at the station, which is able to carry out all kinds of repairs and overhauls of all vehicles of the company. Although not this time: the motor unit train, consisting of the B4ET 22 136 motor car and the B4ES 22 236 trailer with driver's cabin, is the school-train of the Vorchdorferbahn, the backup for the peak period. The train was built in 1953, just like the previous car beside them, also at the Westwaggon in Cologne, although they don't look the same at all. Maximal allowed speed is 60 kph, it looks like all cars have a different top speed. :-)

The one on the left is the B4ET motor car no. 20 109, built in 1956 by Rastatt (it looks exactly the same as the other Westwaggon cars, perhaps, Westwaggon hired some of its works to Rastatt, just like nowadays when the rival Bombardier and Siemens companies can work together? - I don't know). It was overhauled here at the Vorchdorf-Eggenberg main workshop in 2002, so we can say that this is the current color scheme of the line. The one on the right is more interesting: the electric locomotive E 24 010 was built as early as 1910, although in the look of the most modern Austrian shunting locomotives.

It was built by the J.A. Maffei Lokomotivfabrik, the predecessor of the builder of the Taurus locomotives, its electric equipment is by the Siemens-Schuckert Werke. It's less than 9 metres long, weighs 33 tons, a separate motor powers each axle. Its performance is 300 kW, its top speed is 40 kph. Let's take a look at the other side of the station!

The station is a dual gauge complex, beside the normal gauge tracks of the Vorchdorferbahn you can find the metre gauge tracks of the Traunseebahn. This vehicle is the BD4ET no. 23 106 which is a second class electric motor car with baggage compartment. Class 23 stands for the vehicles of the Lokalbahn Gmunden-Vorchdorf (GV). It was built in 1954 in Switzerland by the Ateliers de Constructions Mécaniques de Vevey (ACMV) / BBC Baden, it has been here at the GV since 1984. Its maximal allowed speed is 65 kph (one of the standard top speed limits in Switzerland). The Vorchdorferbahn was opened in 1912, and as a metre gauge line, it always have had the potential to be linked up with the Gmunden tramway line. Well, they still think about it today, but you know, the financials...

This is a two-axle motor car no. 23 103 dated 1921, built by the Grazer Waggonfabrik with electric equipment from AEG. With its two motors, its performance of 110 kW, it has a maximal allowed speed of 30 kph.

At front there is another ACMV/BBC motor car, the BD4ET 23 105, also from 1954. There is a self-discharging waggon coupled after it, I think it's mainly used at the track maintenance. There is no major goods traffic, right because of the metre gauge: the reloading of the goods between the metre- and the normal gauge waggons would senselessly increase the delivery time. Think of it: what if the Gmunden tramway line had been constructed as a normal gauge line? Would had been the Traunseebahn a normal gauge line? In that case, would we have to be waiting here for the transfer or could have travelled directly to Gmunden?

We also have some coaches, for special duties or as peak period backup.

Then our next motor car arrived, no. B4ET 23 111 built by SWS/BBC. In an interesting way, this was also built in 1954, but it had something like a general overhaul in 1998 when it came here, it has been modernized, too, I believe.

A modern interior invites us in, too.

Driver's seat on the left hand side as a real Swiss habit.

The mountains of the Salzkammergut region appear as we move towards the Traunsee lake.

Between Baumgarten-Waldbach and Gmunden Seebahnhof the track merges with the normal gauge line of the federal railways ÖBB (the one which we have left once, at Stadl-Paura), the metre- and the normal gauge runs interlaced, that's why the three rails. Traunseebahn has been coming here to the Traunsee lake shore terminus only since 1990, only the ÖBB trains had come here before. Although this section has a far longer history: the Continent's first long distance railway line was layed between 1825 and 1832 between Budweis (Ceské Budejovice) and Linz, which was also the World's longest horse-pulled railway line. This line with a gauge of 1106 millimetres, was lengthened to Gmunden Rathausplatz via Lambach in 1836. The Linz-Gmunden section was altered to steam operation in 1855-56, this predecessor of today's ÖBB line - with which we had been coming together until Stadl-Paura on the Vorchdorferbahn, and have merged again here - was regauged to the normal 1435 mm in 1903. You can find Austria's oldest railway station building here in Engelhof.

To imagine how close the Seebahnhof station is to the lake shores, think of it: the extraction-tracks are _really_ streching into the lake, built on a peninsular. Thank god the brakes work well as we descend down the hillside, otherwise... splash! :-))

Farewell to our local train. I don't even feel sorry for those 4 Euros, a railwayfan like me can't afford to miss a railway company like this with a wide variety of vehicles, not even talking about the historical significance of these lines. So I say, perhaps I'll take a look at some other lines in the region later. But first, if we have finally arrived at Gmunden, we take one more service of the Stern & Hafferl company...

To Continue: Gmunden: the small thing which counts >>>

Text and photos by András Báti, except where otherwise mentioned (C) 2003-2004

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