eThe International Steam Pages


Württemberg’s 750 mm gauge lines

Thomas Kautzor writes about a less well known set of narrow gauge lines in Germany and the Öchsle Bahn and its newly restored Mallet in particular. James Waite was here for a further special working in October 2015 and I have added a small selection of his photographs from the event which show the star performer in a slightly different light.


Historical Background

The Royal Württemberg State Railways (Königlich Württembergischen Staats-Eisenbahnen or KWStE) operated four 760mm gauge railways. The 20.2 km Zabergäubahn (Lauffen am Neckar – Güglingen – Leonbronn, opened 1896/1901) and the 34.2 km Bottwartalbahn (Marbach am Neckar – Steinheim (Murr) – Beilstein (Württ.) – Heilbronn Süd, 1894/1900), both located between Stuttgart and Heilbronn, while the 29.3 km Federseebahn (Bad Schussenried – Bad Buchau – Riedlingen, 1896/1916) and the 22.2 km Öchsle (Biberach an der Riss – Warthausen – Ochsenhausen, 1899/1900) could be found in the south of the kingdom about halfway between Ulm and Friedrichshafen.

KWStE procured a total of 16 steam locomotives for these lines, seven with Klose steering and nine Mallets. The Tss4 went to Bottwartalbahn, the Tss3 initially to the Zabergäu- and Federseebahn, while the three first Mallets initially worked on the Öchsle. After the lines were taken over by Deutsche Reichseisenbahnen in 1920 and the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (DRG) in 1924, the locos were renumbered according to the new national numbering scheme:

Tss4

No. 11

 

0-8-0T

Esslingen

2638/1894

wdn. 1923, scr. 1925

Tss4

No. 12

99 621

0-8-0T

Esslingen

2639/1894

wdn. 1926, scr. 1928

Tss4

No. 13

99 622

0-8-0T

Esslingen

2640/1894

wdn. 1926,scr. 1928

Tss3

No. 21

99 501

 0-6-0T

Esslingen

2794/1896

scr. by 1927 

Tss3

No. 22

99 502

0-6-0T

Esslingen

2795/1896

scr. by 1927

Tss3

No. 23

99 503

0-6-0T

Esslingen

2796/1896

scr. by 1927

Tss3

No. 24

 99 504

0-6-0T

Esslingen

2797/1896

scr. by 1927

Tssd

No. 41

99 631

0-4+4-0T

Esslingen

3070/1899

wdn. 1937

Tssd

No. 42

99 632

0-4+4-0T

Esslingen

3071/1899

wdn. 1939

Tssd

No. 43

99 633

0-4+4-0T

Esslingen

3072/1899

wdn. 1969, preserved Öchsle Bahn

Tssd

No. 44

99 634

0-4+4-0T

Esslingen

3198/1901

wdn. 1940

Tssd

No. 45

99 635

0-4+4-0T

Esslingen

3199/1901

wdn. 1940

Tssd

No. 46

99 636

0-4+4-0T

Esslingen

3200/1901

wdn. 1940

Tssd

No. 47

99 637

0-4+4-0T

Esslingen

3294/1904

wdn. 1965, preserved Bad Buchau

Tssd

No. 48

99 638

0-4+4-0T

Esslingen

3503/1909

wdn. 1954

Tssd

No. 49

99 639

0-4+4-0T

Esslingen

3698/1913

wdn. 1956 

When the DRG decided to replace the very worn-out Klose locos and acquire more powerful locos to replace the Mallets (250 hp), they procured 13 of the very successful Saxon VI K 0-10-0T (500 hp) which had initially been developed for the German Military Railways (Heeresfeldbahn) for use on the eastern front during World War I. Five locos (99 679-683) were supplied new directly to Württemberg, the others transferred from lines in Saxony:

99 650

 0-10-0T

Henschel

16131/1918

ex Sä. Staatseisenbahnen No. 219, wdn. 1967

99 651

 0-10-0T

Henschel

16132/1918

ex Sä. Staatseisenbahnen No. 220, wdn. 1969, preserved Steinheim (Murr)

99 671

 0-10-0T

Henschel

19749/1923

wdn. 1965

99 672

 0-10-0T

Henschel

19750/1923

wdn. 1965

99 679

 0-10-0T

Henschel

19757/1923

wdn./scr. 1956

99 680

 0-10-0T

Henschel

19758/1923

wdn. 1965, scr. 1966

99 681

 0-10-0T

Henschel

20224/1924

99 682

 0-10-0T

Henschel

20225/1924

wdn. 1964, scr. 1965

99 683

 0-10-0T

Henschel

20226/1924

 

99 698

 0-10-0T

Karlsruhe

2325/1925

1942 lost at war

99 701

 0-10-0T

Karlsruhe

2328/1926

wdn. c1965

99 704

 0-10-0T

Karlsruhe

2331/1926

wdn. c1967

99 716

0-10-0T

Hartmann

 4673/1927

wdn. 1965, preserved Öchsle Bahn

In 1964/65 the Zabergäubahn was converted to standard gauge (and remained open to passenger traffic until 1986 and to freight traffic until 1994). At the same time DB attempted to modernize operations on its other three 750mm gauge lines. Three diesel-hydraulic locos (2 x 270 hp), essentially scaled-down versions of DB’s V100, were ordered. The model had been developed by MaK in Kiel, which had built a similar loco for a cement factory in 1959 (type 400 BB, 860 mm), but because most of the cost was paid by the state of Baden-Württemberg, local builder Gmeinder in Mosbach was chosen and built the locos under licence:

V51 901 later 251 901 B’B’-dh Gmeinder 5327/1964 for the Federseebahn
V51 902 later 251 902 B’B’-dh Gmeinder 5328/1964 for the Öchsle
V51 903 later 251 903 B’B’-dh Gmeinder 5329/1964 for the Bottwartalbahn

Also part of the same order were two 1000mm gauge locos of the same type for the Mosbach – Musau line (V52 901-902, later 252 901-902, Gmeinder 5325-5326/1964).

These efforts could however not stop the decline of the narrow gauge lines. On the Federseebahn, passenger service ended between 1960 and 1964 and freight traffic between 1964 and 1970. That year, the 5.9 km section from Bad Schussenried to the peat works at Sattenbeuren was converted to standard gauge and the rest of the railway dismantled. Freshly arrived V51 901 mainly helped during dismantling work of part of the line in 1964, after which it was transferred to the Bottwartalbahn, leaving 99 633 as the only operational steam loco at Bad Buchau.

On the Bottwartalbahn, passenger service ended in 1966 and freight traffic in 1968. Short sections at both end were converted to standard gauge to continue to serve industrial customers (4.3 km Marbach – Steinheim and 7.2 km Heilbronn Süd – Talheim), but have since closed, while an attempt was made to turn a section of the line in between into a museum railway.

The Öchsle lost its passenger service in 1964, which also meant closure of the 3.2 km section from Biberach to Warthausen, where the line crossed the double-track Ulm – Friederichshafen main line at level and where the facilities for loading the standard gauge freight wagons on narrow gauge transporter bogies (“Rollböcke”) could be found. Freight traffic however picked up thanks mainly to the Liebherr refrigerator factory in Ochsenhausen. Private agricultural warehouses in Äpfingen, Maselheim and Reinstetten were also contributing to this upswing in traffic. By 1940, the Tssd Mallets had been replaced by the Saxon VI Ks on this line and the remaining ones sent to Bad Buchau, but they (including 99 633) still returned as reserve time and again whenever one of the resident locos had to be sent away for maintenance or repair. After the arrival of V51 902, the remaining steam locos were only kept as reserve until withdrawn in 1969. In 1970, the two other V52 were transferred from the Bottwartalbahn, but as only two locos were needed, 252 901 was sold to Austria. By the early 1980s, the physical conditions of the railway had worsened and it would have needed some major investments to keep it open. At first DB studied a conversion to standard gauge, but in 1981 decided to close it down. The final train operated on 31.03.1983.

Öchsle Museumsbahn:

The railway however did not remain closed for long, as it reopened as a museum railway in 1985 under the management of the Öchsle Schmalspurbahn GmbH. To raise funds for the needed track rehabilitation work, some of the station buildings and station yards were sold (Maselheim is the only intermediate station which hasn’t lost its crossing loop and sidings), as was some of the rolling stock (incl. 252 903). Steam and diesel locos were obtained from Switzerland, Austria and Poland, and because there had been no passenger stock on the line since 1964, new coaches also had to be obtained from Austria and Switzerland (some converted from meter gauge). In 1991 this operation failed and trains stopped operating. The owners removed most of the locos and rolling stock they had brought to the line.

In 1995, the local communities created a new body (Eisenbahn-Betriebsgesellschaft Ochsenhausen GmbH) to operate the railway, which reopened in 1996 after some new rolling stock had been acquired from Saxony, Austria and Switzerland. At the end of 2000, the supervising authorities however ordered the line closed after they found track defects. The operating body was dissolved and part of the rolling stock once again sold off.

In 2001, the body which is still operating the railway today (Öchsle Bahn AG, http://oechsle-bahn.de/s9y_neu/) was created by the Biberach administrative district (50%), the local communities (45%) and Tourismus GmbH (5%). In order to promote local tourism, additional funds were made available by the state of Baden-Württemberg to upgrade the track. On 01.05.2002 a tourist service was started for a third time. New locos and rolling stock were acquired through purchase or loan. In 2006 a new and modern two-track workshops and loco shed was opened at Warthausen. Since then the large two track loco shed at Ochsenhausen is used for storage and to work on the rolling stock. As a result of this change, all trains need to start and end at Warthausen. The railway currently transports about 40.000 passengers per year, a figure which is not sufficient to cover its own costs, and has to rely on annual subsidies.

The line doesn’t have any remarkable features, there are only two small bridges one over the Rohrbach stream at Wennedach and the other over a road at Reinstetten. The railway is however well known in the state as sympathetic little railway which has struggled to keep alive. One of the most positive features of the railway is the fact that all of the stock is numbered and painted in DRG or DB style, even though only a small minority is native to the line or was ever owned by the German state railways.

Preserved & “New” Locomotives:

0-4+4-0T 99 633 (Esslingen 3072/1899, ex KWStEB Tssd No. 33), which had started its career at Ochsenhausen, was based there regularly for periods of time until 1940 and again returned on several occasions for short periods until 1968 from Bad Buchau on the Federseebahn, where it spent most of its time as a DB loco. After it was withdrawn in 1969, it was sold to the German Railway Historical Society (DGEG) the following year and restored until 1982 for use on the Jagsttalbahn (Möckmühl – Dörzbach). On loan to the Öchsle from 1984, it saw use there from 1985 to 1990, when it gained its German-wide recognition as the logo of SWR’s (Baden-Württemberg’s TV channel) long-running “Eisenbahn-Romantik” series of documentaries on trains (it has also starred in some of the episodes). Needing repairs to the motions following a collision with a truck at a level crossing, it was taken to Meiningen for repairs, and then to the Jagsttalbahn, where the DGEG again wanted to use her. That railway however never reopened until now and 99 633 remained in storage at Möckmühl from 1992 until 2002, when it was returned to the Öchsle on loan after the DGEG had decided to dissolve its narrow gauge collection. (There are more pictures of 99 633 at the foot of this page.

After lengthy negotiations with the DGEG, the Öchsle was finally able to acquire the loco in 2007, which meant the beginning of restoration work to make her operational once more. For this to happen the original boiler needed to be replaced and a new one was ordered from Tschuda in Graz (Austria). While various components were restored at Ochsenhausen and Warthausen, major work and final assembly took place at the Zillertalbahn’s (ZB) workshops in Austria, where the frame had been transferred to in 2012. In 05/2014 the frames was untied with the new boiler and on November 3, 2014, at the loco was tested on the ZB. After a public run on the ZB on Nov. 22, it returned to Germany and did a test run on the Öchsle with 99 788 behind it on April 16, 2015, and headed its inaugural train on April 25, when the attached pictures were taken. 

The train from Warthausen to Ochsenhausen (bunker first) was for invited guests only, consisting exclusively of Württemberg stock (covered wagon Stg 154 G, baggage and postal van Stg 0144 KPwPosti, open wagon Stg 578 Osm “Kabrio”, 2nd class coach Stg 0166 KBi and 2nd/3rd class coach Stg 0021 KBCi). The train was welcomed by cannon shuts into Ochsenhausen station. For the afternoon train to Warthausen and back to Ochsenhausen, which was open to the public, the ÖB’s red restaurant car Stg 4045 KB4i (ex Waldenburgerbahn B 45, Switzerland) and three Austrian coaches were attached for the many passengers. As could have been expected after such a long wait, the train was chased by numerous railfans trying to get some pictures of the Öchsle’s new star attraction. Sadly, by the time the train departed from Ochsenhausen, the sun which was still present when the train arrived had disappeared.

DB 0-4+4-0T 99 637 (Esslingen 3294/1904, ex KWStEB Tssd No. 37): after withdrawal in 1965, this loco which spent most of its DB carrer on the Federseebahn was plinthed in small park at the site of the Bad Buchau station in 1971.

DB 0-10-T 99 651 (Henschel 16132/1918, ex SäStEB VIK No. 220): after closure of the Bottwartalbahn and withdrawal in 1969, the loco was plinthed next to Steinheim station. Because it spent much of its career on the Öchsle, there have been multiple attempts to acquire the loco, all turned down by the Steinheim authorities. However there might still be some hope as recently the municipality of Steinheim realized that it will either need to invest some money in the loco’s restoration or get rid of it. A final decision as to what will be done was postponed for the time being. The attached photo is from 01/2007.

DB 0-10-T 99 716 “Rosa” (Hartmann 4673/1927): an immigrant from Saxony in the 1930s, this loco saw use mainly on the Zabergäu- and Bottwartalbahnen. After its withdrawal in 1965, it remained in storage at Güglingen for a planned city and railway museum. In 1993 the ÖB was able to obtain it on loan from the DB Museum in Nürnberg and had it fitted with a new boiler at Meiningen in 1997 (K Nr. 1509), after which it saw extensive use on the ÖB. In 2008 it was formally purchased. While it never actually operated on the Öchsle itself, it is typical of the locos which replaced the Mallets there. It has run out of ticket and is currently stored inside Ochsenhausen shed.

ÖB 2-10-2T 99 788 “Berta” (LKM 132029/1957, 600 hp, ex DB 099 752-8, ex DR 99 1788-1, ex DR 99 788): the loco saw use on various lines in Saxony during its career, last on the Lössnitzbahn (Radebeul – Radeburg). In was acquired by the ÖB in 2001 and put into service in 2003. It is operational and has had its looks “westernized” by being fitted with DB lanterns and DRG-style markings.

ÖB 0-6-0DH V15 908 (Gmeinder 4227/1946, 160 hp): an HF130C-type loco built after WWII for industrial use, this loco started it career with building contractor J.H. Burmeister in Hamburg-Lokstedt. In 1953 it was sold to the Lengerich cement works owned by Dyckerhoff-Zement, where it was regauged to 785mm). In 1966 it was resold to Bonner Zementwerk GmbH in Buddenheim near Mainz and regauged to 750mm. In 1987 it was acquired by the ÖB together with a number of other diesel locos from Buddenheim, however it is the only left on the ÖB today. It has not operated for a long time, but is currently under repair at Ochsenhausen.

SWEG 0-4-0DH V22-01 (Gmeinder V12/16 5413/1965, 180 hp): this diesel was built as one of two for the Südwestdeutsche Eisenbahn AG (SWEG) for use on the Jagsttalbahn (Möckmühl – Dörzbach). Not required there due to the long-time closure of the line, it has been on loan to the ÖB from Jagsttalbahn AG for a few years now as power for works trains or in case of a steam loco failure. It is currently being rebuilt at Warthausen as part of the loan agreement.

DB B’B’-dh V51 901/252 901 (Gmeinder 5327/1964, 2 x 270 hp): shortly after arriving at Ochsenhausen in 1971 it was sold to the Steiermärkische Landesbahn (StLB) in Austria, where it was regauged to 760 mm and became No. VL 21. In 1998 dealer WBB in Schwerte brought the loco back to Germany, where the loco was regauged and resold to the Rügensche Kleinbahnen (RüKB) in 1999. In the summer it can usually be found at the rear of the trains running over the dual gauge track between Putbus and Lauterbach Mole. The attached picture taken at Putbus (Rügen) is from 01/2014.

DB B’B’-dh V51 902/252 902 (Gmeinder 5328/1964, 2 x 270 hp): this loco stayed on the Öchsle after closure in 1983 and saw use until closure of the first museum operation in 1996. Since then the privately-owned diesel has been in storage, first at Bad Waldsee and from 2002 at Biberach.

DB B’B’-dh V51 903/252 902 (Gmeinder 5329/1964, 2 x 270 hp): after closure of the Öchsle in 1983 this loco was sold to Italian track building and maintenance operator Gleismac in Gazzo di Bigarello in 1984 in order to raise funds to start up the new operation. In Italy its 750mm gauge bogies were replaced by standard gauge bogies specially built for it. In 1985 it was sold on to Comsa in Barcelona, Spain, where it remained in service until 2008. In 2009, the ÖB was able to acquire it back, however it is currently dismantled and will need a lot of work to be put back into operation.

The small motor trolley is DB Klv 01-8004 (A1-pm, Beilhack 1566/1942), also indigenous to the line. It can be coupled with the one-axle trailer behind it.

PKP 0-8-0 Px48-1757 (Chrzanow 2257/1951): between 1985 and 1996 four Polish Px48s (No. 1773, 1774, 1903 and 1913)were bought from PKP for use on the Öchsle. After the 1996 closure in 1996 they were removed and put into storage. A fifth Px48 can be found on display at Durlesbach (near Reute), a closed station on the Ulm – Friedrichshafen main line, since 1991. It is attached to two Swiss meter gauge cars (Frauenfeld-Wil baggage van D 65 or 66 and Berner Oberland Bahnen six-wheel passenger coach AB3 151), both regauged to 750mm. The train commemorates the popular song “Auf der Schwäb’sche Eisenbahne” (“On the Swabian Railway”) from the 1850s, which mocks the lack of knowledge about modern technology of the rural population at the time. More used to traveling by horse cart, a local farmer tied his goat to the end of the last coach before boarding his train, only to find just the goat’s head dangling at the end of the rope upon arriving at destination.


Ochsenhausen

 Ochsenhausen

Ochsenhausen

Maselheim

Äpfingen

Herrlishöfen

Reinstetten

Wennedach

Wennedach


These are from James Waite, taken on 9th October 2015:


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk