BAVARIAN ZUGSPITZE RAILWAY

Electric multiple-unit train composite from tractive railcar No. 5
with the driving coach No. 21 in the station Eibsee 3.8.1998

     There is not the same amount of cog-wheel railways in Bavarian part of the Alps like in Switzerland, so this one is worth mentioning. Zugspitzee railway measures 19 km and leads from famous tourist centre Garmisch-Partenkirchen to station close-by the top of the highest German mountain. The Mountain Zugspitze (2964 m above sea-level) is situated at mountain massif Wetterstein on south frontier with Austria. The number of Zugspitze railway in German timetable is 11 031.
     The first plans of humiliation of the top of this majestic and sacred mountain for Germans are dated to the beginning of this century. Along with tourist development local businessmen and councillors realised how important is this place and that they have to built transport links to make the top Zugspitze more available. They sent a petition to The King Bavarian Ministry with the request for funicular project elaborating, but they wasn't successful. The first funicular was done by Austrians from the village Obermoos on Tyrol side to the place 300 m under the top in 1926. It's capacity was insufficient in a short time so the Bavarian plan had to be extended. Local producers had enough experience in rail vehicle construction for combined adhesive & cog-wheel service and they had strong interest in applying this experience at their fatherland. Under the plan the mountain rail with the gauge 1000 mm was projected and in 1930 built. It was electrified by DC system with the voltage 1500 V.
In starting station "GA-PA" be multiple-unit train No.11 3.8.1998

     The beginning point is situated in 700 m above see-level in Alpine center Garmisch - Partenkirchen, there is it's station. This station is between Olympic stadium and DB railway station witch is connected by the subway. The first adhesive part leads to the station Grainau (distanced 7 km), where is a technical base of the rail, for example depot with workshops. From Garmisch-Partenkirchen the rail faces south running parallel with the normal-gauge railway DB n. 976 to Kemtn, then it faces west. After the station Riessersee the rail joins mountain and goes through the first short tunnel. This first part has nearly the character of the suburb electric rail with the low travelling expenses. After Grainau, where you have to change some train, the levelling inclination raises and there is the beginning of Riggenbach cog wheel. The rail climbs through the wood zone to the station Eibsee on the 10th km. The suburb character ends 1000 m above see-level. The rail continues simply as tourist one after this trip place. The cog-wheel rail goes through two curves to last superficial station Riffelriss (1600 m above see-level). 1640 m above see-level there is the begin of a tunnel, it's length is 4,5 km through it the rail climbs up to end station Zugspitzeplatt (2588 m above see-level). From Zugspitzeplatt continues short funicular under the top. It measures 750 m and it was built in 1931.
Electric locomotive No.3 before engine house in Grainau
The funicular was hide in tunnel because the tunnel is forceful defence against avalanches and falling stones. This construction was cheaper then the planning superficial construction in spite of big starting investment. Inside tunnel the rail gets over big length difference in two long curves (the maximum inclination 258‰)and on several places the rail is going near to superficial. There were built construction opening for working people and material.
     The service on this rail has began in July 1930 with 8 cog-wheel locos with cowl“s system of the body and with the driver“s cab in the middle (tower system) from the firm AEG Berlin. Preserved locos are all in blue and you can see it on extraordinary excursion. Even on this rail you can notice some light motorization trends like on other alpine rails. Bayerische- Zugspitzebahn is electrified from the beginning without steam locos.
Riggenbach cog-switch in Eibsee
From 1954 the four-axles electric multiple-unit train of light construction are establishing the service till today. In accordance with tradition engines work in pair with four-axles driving trailers, witch is inserted in the train against the rail descent. Rolling stock is in white colour with blue horizontal band under windows. The service on this mountain rail is except extreme calamities during the whole year and it's in the overhead of proprietor joint-stock company Bayerische Zugspitzebahn AG. This rail is still wanted in spite of new competition of suspended funicular leading from Eibsee to the top Zugspitzee, this funicular goes more fast. The conception of tourist attractive mountain railway has been very good and successful. The company can be very optimistic for it's future irrespective of world recession and complete reparation of the rail from 1991 to 1993 won't be bad investment.







Text & photo Petr Nohel   

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