The International Steam Pages


The Brohltalbahn, 4th - 5th June 2015

Thomas Kautzor writes about the metre gauge Brohltalbahn and its “new” Mallet. (If you want to check its location use "Brohl-Lützing" in Google Maps not plain 'Brohl'. RD)

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After 49 years out-of-use, BEG 0-4+4-0T 11sm (Humboldt 348/1906) returned to service earlier this year. It had been built together with two others (10sm and 12sm) for heavy freight service on the line through the Brohl valley and had operated its last train, a railfan special, on 29th January 1966. In 1968 it was acquired by the German Railway Historical Society (DGEG) and from 1977 put on display at their narrow gauge museum in Viernheim. After the museum’s closure in 1989, it returned to the Brohl. Restoration of the locomotive started internally at Brohl in the Autumn of 2001, with an initial goal to have it back in service by 2010. In 2007 it was decided to outsource the work to ZOS in Ceske Velenice (Czech Rep.), however it was never sent there as the company went bankrupt. In 11/2008 it was sent to MaLoWa in Klostermansfeld and in 02/2009 its boiler was sent to Pila (Poland). Restoration work at MaLoWa also took much longer than expected and 11sm only returned to Brohl on 25th February 2015.

On 7th March 2015 the loco was first presented to the IBS (the BEG’s support society) members in steam at Brohl, after which it headed some test and training trains into the valley. On 25th April 2015 an inaugural trip for IBS members took place and the first public train operated on 1st May 2015.

For 2015, steam trains are scheduled to operate again on July 25/26, August 29/30 and October 03/04 (http://www.vulkan-express.de/fahrplan.htm). On those days, the steam trains depart Brohl at 11.00 and 14.10 to Oberzissen (km 11.9), covering the distance in 57 minutes, with a stop at Burgbrohl (km 5.5) to take water. Currently 11sm is not scheduled to operate over the steep (formerly rack-equipped) final section to Engeln (km 17.5), so at Oberzissen the trains are switched to diesel traction.

On 4th June, I got to Brohl in time to chase the 14.10 train, which is the best for photography, through the valley. However, that train also has the BEG’s open observation car placed directly behind the locomotive and baggage van, not ideal for photography.

My photos show:

11sm at Burgbrohl during the water stop;

11sm and D2 + D1 (0-6-0DH, O&K Dortmund 26529+26528/1965, 27.7 t, 300 hp) switching at Oberzissen;

D2 + D1 at Brenk (km 15.7) on its way to Engeln. On the left is the siding on which containers on ex-FEVE container wagons are still loaded with phonolith, which are then taken to the Brohl goods station for transfer to trucks.

Back at Brohl ex-CP 0-4+4-0T Mallet E168 (Henschel 8915/1908) is in a very poor state. It used to be based at Pocinho in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal, was acquired in 03/2007 and brought to Brohl in 01/2009. The idea is one day also to restore her, but there have also been thoughts of swapping her for ex-SEG/MEG (Zell-Todtnau) 0-6+6-0T Mallet No. 104 (Hanomag 10437/1925) currently on display on the Blonay-Chamby, as a loco of the same type once worked on the BEG and because that loco would be more fitting for the steep section to Engeln.

After returning to Brohl and taking water, 11sm went down to the Rhine port to pick up two standard gauge hopper wagons for the following days charter. A trip to the port involves taking the bridge over the DB’s Rhine Valley left main line, backing up into the mixed gauge freight station (picture below) and then running along the Rhine over the 1.2 km branch to the river port, which is on two levels (the disused upper level from which metre gauge wagons could be unloaded by gravity and the quay-side level which is still in use today).

After a first attempt to couple up to the standard gauge wagons, 11sm had to return to Brohl shed to weld off a corner of its central buffer. Meanwhile D2 + D1 had returned to Brohl with the last passenger train of the day and were heading for the shed.

The arrival of these two locos in 1965 meant the end of steam on the BEG. Loco No. IV was withdrawn in 11/1965 and scrapped in 06/1966, while locos No. III and 11sm were degraded to stand-by locos. A third diesel of the same type, D 3 (O&K Dortmund 26623) arrived in 1967, it has now been out-of-use for some time and is stored in a shed.

Parked inside the shed was railcar VT 30 (Bo’Bo’-dhm, Fuchs 9053/1956, 42 t, 680 hp), a “Schlepptriebwagen” or power railcar with four 170 hp engines designed to handle heavy freight trains on transporter bogies. It was delivered new to the Württembergische Nebenbahnen AG (WNB) for use on the Härtsfeldbahn Aalen-Dillingen and after closure in 1972 sold to the Württembergische Eisenbahn Gesellschaft (WEG) in 1976 for use between Amstetten and Laichingen. After closure in 1985, it went to the BEG in 1989, where it was numbered VT 53 to fit in with the BEG’s railcar numbering scheme at first, but later reverted to its WNB/WEG number. On the BEG it can be used as an alternative to the diesel locos for handling the mixed trains which bring the loaded phonolith containers down from Brenk.

In the workshops at the back of the shed, “meter gauge V160” B-B DH D 5 (Henschel 31004/1966, 1998 ex FEVE 1405, Spain) can be seen. It is currently out-of-use as its tyres are loose. The picture shows it in service on 5th May 2010 just after having arrived at Engeln.

After the small plastic surgery on 11sm’s central buffer, it was able to again run down to the port and pick up two of the DB hoppers, seen here crossing the busy B9 road along the left bank of the Rhine. These wagons are loaded with lava rock for export which is brought to the port by truck and then transported to Basel (Switzerland) by rail.

On Friday, a special photo charter train had been organized by BEG. About 150 railfans showed up, a much too high number for some of the photo locations.

The plan was to run into the valley behind the day’s single diesel train, departing from Brohl at 10.10, but that plan didn’t really make sense as it would involve the train running out of the light or in shadow at most photo locations. However, most of the participants didn’t seem to mind these details. The line’s only good spots at that time of day were the Brohltalviadukt (upper) at Bad Tönisstein (km 4,2) and the ramp into the line’s only tunnel just behind it (lower). Shortly thereafter water was taken at Niederzissen and Oberzissen was reached for a late lunch.

After our return to Brohl mid-afternoon, the better part of the charters took place when 11sm first traveled down to the port with the two hoppers it had brought up the previous evening (the mixed gauge is clearly visible).

It then returned to pick up the three remaining loaded hoppers from the port while the river police was taking photos from its boat on the other side.


Rob Dickinson

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