The International Steam Pages


Narrow Gauge Peat Railways in the Netherlands

Thomas Kautzor spent a weekend in the Emmen area in May 2013. As he says "the whole area is a sort of narrow gauge (900mm) paradise of sorts, especially if you are into boxy Schöma diesels".

Here, on the Dutch side side, no operating peat railways survive as the area was essentially "mined out" by the early 1980s, but on the German side of the border there is still some activity, together with an extensive oilfield railway network at Rühlermoor.

The Veenpark (peat park) in Barger-Compascum, 13 km southeast of Emmen has some very interesting stationary steam equipment which is described on a separate page. The park operates two loops, one a diesel-hauled peat railway to a demonstration area, and which crosses a canal sluice on its way there via a modern lifting bridge, my main reason for visiting. The bridge is normally raised and only comes down when the train approaches, only to go back up immediately after it has crossed. The other loop is a 'stoomtram' which runs through a reconstructed village, first along the canal, then over a bridge into the forest. When I first went on Saturday I found out that the stoomtram is only steam-hauled on Sundays, by 'Yvonne' (OK 12246/1933), while another OK (11648/1928). 'Hoogeven' is stored in the shed. So I went back on Sunday. It was sunny that morning, but as soon as I had bought my ticket to enter the grounds it again started to rain. There are three Schöma diesels in working order, with a variety of other n.g. diesels on display in the grounds (Whitcomb, Spoorijzer, Lister...).

This is Yvonne:

And this the diesel on the lifting bridge:

Next is the nearby Industrieel Smalspoor Museum (ISM) at Erica (15 km south of Emmen). Trains operate over gauges of 700 and 900mm and there is also an industrial monorail. The ISM is located in the grounds of the last peat factory in the area, which closed in 1983. The ISM was set up the following year and its collection today comprises over 70 narrow gauge diesel locos. At first restoration was done inside the factory's old 4-stall loco shed or out in the open, but a few years ago the ISM got European funding which enabled it to build a huge museum and workshops complex. They are currently also building a huge warehouse for their important collection.


Rob Dickinson

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