Dachnoye station on the Saint Petersburg Metro

I’ve written about above ground Metro lines and stations of the Moscow Metro, but Saint Petersburg also had one – Dachnoye station.

Postcard from 1968

The station opened on June 1, 1966 to serve the growing neighbourhoods beyond the existing Line 1 terminus at Avtovo, until a planned extension of the metro south to Leninisky Prospekt and Prospekt Veteranov could be completed.

Dachnoye was the only surface station ever constructed in Saint Petersburg, and was a utilitarian affair designed by architect Kseniya Afonskaya, with the platform and roof made out of precast concrete panels.

Photo via subway-spb.ru

Construction of the new station also cheap, with the 1.5 km extension utilising existing tracks that served the electric train depot at Avtovo.

The station tracks branching from those leading into the train sheds, leading into an island platform for terminating trains, which used a scissors crossover to depart.

Photo via subway-spb.ru

On 5 October 1977, the extension of Line 1 to Leninskiy Prospect and Prospect Veteranov was completed, and Dachnoye station was taken out of service. The station was then demolished, with the exception of a short section of platform, which has since been converted into local traffic police headquarters.

Footnote: other examples

On the Moscow Metro Pervomayskaya and Kaluzhskaya were temporary stations constructed inside a train depot itself, while the rest of the network has many ground level stations and sections of track.

Further reading

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Crazy tram junctions of Innsbruck

Innsbruck is one of many Austrian cities with tramways, but the network has one interesting feature – exceedingly complicated junctions.

Peerhofsiedlung terminus has a interleaved scissors crossover on a curve.

Google Street View

As does the terminus at Technik West, which combines a double track dead end with a single track stub.

Google Street View

The track lead to the depot at Duilestraße is another example of an asymmetrical interleaved curved scissors crossover.

Google Street View

While the track that forms the mainline connection swings from right to left using a curved crossover.

Google Street View

That makes the web of tracks leading to the older depot at Pastorstraße look relatively sensible.

Google Street View

But then there is the junction of Museumstrasse and Brunecker Strasse – a pair of doppelkreuzungsweiche (double crossovers) located in the middle of the street.

Google Street View

And this tangle of tram tracks outside Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof that don’t lead anywhere – the third leg is there for future network expansion.

So why are the tram tracks co complicated? My assumption is that 2000s upgrade of the legacy tram network into a modern light rail system were the driver.

The decision of the city authorities in 1999 to retain and expand the tram network triggered an ongoing programme of construction and renovation. This involved a certain amount of disruption during summer months because of extensive upgrade of track beds and tracks, involving much pouring of concrete.

Part of the strategy called for wider tramcars: new trams would be 2.4 m (94 in) wide. Hitherto, tram widths in Innsbruck had been restricted to 2.2 m (87 in). While the track gauge was unaffected, the loading gauge was not, so that twin tracks had to be farther apart and greater clearance was needed for buildings and street furniture. This necessitated the largest re-laying of track since 1911. Some of the depots were also to be renewed, rescaled, and brought up to date.

The new trams strategy was formally adopted by the Innsbruck City Council in September 2001. By 2004, the tram terminus in front of the main station had been reconstructed, with the terminus for the Stubai Valley Railway and other regional meter-gauge mountain railways. In 2005, work was completed on preparing the tracks in Andreas Hofer Street and Anich Street for the wider trams, and the first tram halts were adapted for use with low-floor trams so that, for the first time, passengers would be able to access new trams without having to negotiate one or more steps. The first low-floor tram was delivered on 17 October 2007.

At the end of 2007 the authorities issued the final version of their plan for the reconstruction of the city and regional tram and rail networks, and this was agreed by the city council at the start of 2008. In 2010, work began on tackling further upgrades on the lines at the heart of the old network, with new tracks at the interchange area around Brunecker Street and Museum Street. Brunecker Street again received a second usable track.

Further reading

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Zürich Selnau railway station under the River Sihl

I’ve written about a few different railway stations located under mountains, but this is something new – one located under a river!

The station is Zürich Selnau on the Zürich S-Bahn system in Switzerland, and has an underground platform located beneath the River Sihl.

With the station entrance emerging from the middle of the water.

Some history

The original Bahnhof Selnau was the above-ground terminal station for the Sihltalbahn, made up of the Uetliberg line which opened in 1875, and the Sihltal line which opened in 1892.

Photo via Ortsmuseum Wiedikon

However the terminus lacked a direct connection to the city’s main station of Zürich Hauptbahnhof, and the private railway operator could not afford to acquire a surface route or build an underground connection, and so the two railways were left disconnected.

Photo via Ortsmuseum Wiedikon

The construction of a U-Bahn system in Zurich was seen as a way to fix this, but after the project was voted down in 1973, the Zurich City Planning Office began studying options to extend the Sihltalbahn to form part of an expanded S-Bahn system.

And in 1983 a decision was finally made – an underground extension along the River Stil, reusing an unused underground platform already built at Zürich Hauptbahnhof for the rejected U-Bahn scheme.

Photo from Swiss Engineer and Architect No. 18, May 2, 1991

Photo from Swiss Engineer and Architect No. 18, May 2, 1991

Swiss Engineer and Architect No. 18 describing the selected route:

The extension of the SZU
The long-awaited connection Selnau-Hauptbahnhof
By R. Theo Balz

Overview of the new line:

The new route begins on the western side edge of the former and now disused Zurich-Selnau train station. In a covered steep ramp the route reaches a 5% incline to the level of the new Selnau station under the Sihl bed between the Stauffacher and Sihl bridges.

The double track railway line continues underneath the Sihlbett on the right edge of the river to the Gessner Bridge and leads then over a tight curve in two single-lane tubes under the pedestrian level of Zurich Hauptbahnhof. The new route is a total of 1592 meters.

The Selnau underground station replaced the previous Selnau terminus. The central platform is accessible from the Stauffacher and Sihl bridges.

Concerns about drainage:

Sihl floods as well as the urban planning aspects had to guide this solution.

Based on model tests on the Research Institute for Hydraulic Engineering, Hydrology and Glaciology from ETH Zurich, it could be proven that a staircase 5.35 m wide through the drainage profile of the Sihl directly onto the Sihlbrücke is possible without significantly hindering the flood flow.

Work started in March 1986, and by 1987 work on the new underground railway was well underway.

Photo from Swiss Engineer and Architect No. 18, May 2, 1991

Sheet pile walls separated the excavation pit from the rest of the river during construction. To reduce the cost of construction, it was decided that these walls would not be unnecessarily high, but that the construction site would be allowed to floor if the river rose – a scenario which happened once during the project, without causing any major damage.

Other innovate design features included the use of ballastless track laid on on spring-loaded concrete slabs to minimise noise and vibration transmission to nearby buildings; and low-maintenance solid conductor bars for the supply of overhead power to trains.

On 4 May 1990 original terminus at Selnau was closed, when the new rail extension and station under the River Stil was opened, which now form lines S4 and S10 of the Zürich S-Bahn.

Today the site of the original terminus at Selnau is a housing estate, with the original station building built in 1892 having been demolished.

Footnote: a literal ‘underground’ music festival

By the autumn of 1988 the concrete shell of the new Selnau station had been completed, and so it was used as the venue for a two day folk festival.

Swiss Social Archives photo F 5107-Na-31-109-005

Temporary stairs proving access to the platform.

Swiss Social Archives photo F 5107-Na-31-108-031

Where a beer hall had been set up.

Swiss Social Archives photo F 5107-Na-31-108-011


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Underground trams in Vienna

Like many cities the Austrian capital of Vienna has both a Straßenbahn (tram) system alongside their underground U-Bahn rail system, but it also has something in between – the untergrundstrassenbahn or “underground tramways”.

E2 tram 4047 and trailer arrives into the underground tram stop

Under the beltway

The first section of Vienna’s underground tramways is located under the southern beltway – Wiener Gürtel Straße. The 3.4 kilometer long tunnel opened in 1969, and has six underground stations used by four tram lines and the Wiener Lokalbahn service.

Wiener Lokalbahnen GT8 tram 118 heads for Wien Oper station

There are also two underground at-grade junctions.

E2 tram 4059 and trailer passes through the junction at Matzleinsdorfer Platz

A full triangular junction at Matzleinsdorfer Platz, and a branching junction at Kliebergasse.

Converted to U-Bahn

In 1966 the tramway along Zweierlinie between between the Secession Building and Landesgerichtsstrasse north of Friedrich-Schmidt-Platz was relocated into a 1.8 km long tunnel with four underground stations.

It it then decided to incorporate this tunnel into U-Bahn line U2, with the conversion completed over two months in 1980. The most visible change was the raising of the platforms.

Staggered platforms at Volkstheatre station on line U2

To allow metro trains to use the stations.

Staggered platforms at Rathaus station on line U2

And underground tram stops

At Schottentor is the ‘Jonas- Reindl’ – a two level tramway terminus loop, with above and below ground tram tracks.

And Erzherzog-Karl-Straße railway station is located atop an underground tram stop.

Footnote: signalling

Rather than driving on sight like a conventional tramway, block signals have been installed in the tunnels.

Germany-language Wikipedia explaining how the lineside signals work:

Fluorescent tubes are installed every 20 meters on each side, offset from one another. These help drivers estimate distances as there is a light every ten meters.

Block signals are used with two green and two yellow light points arranged one below the other using light-emitting diodes, which show the driver the status of the next two track sections. Shortly before the stations, the distance between the individual signals is smaller to enable faster entry into the station.

The track vacancy notification is carried out by track circuits. If the following two sections are clear, two green lanterns light up and the driver is allowed to drive at the local maximum speed. If the first section is free and the following section is occupied, a green and a yellow light point will light up and the speed must be reduced to 30 km/h. However, if the first section is occupied, both yellow lamps light up, regardless of the status of the section after that. This means that you can continue driving at 15 km/h.

As well as the junction signals.

An expanded system is used at the Matzleinsdorfer Platz and Kliebergasse junctions. As soon as a train enters the station, the desired direction is sent to the system; as confirmation, a white arrow appears in the corresponding direction on the stop signal. Now it is automatically checked whether the track sections to be traveled on are free. If this is the case, the switches are changed and secured if necessary, then the signal goes into the driving position and the driver is allowed to continue driving.


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Car vs steam train on the streets of Germany

The other day on Twitter I found a video of an odd scene – a steam train driving along a narrow street, then crashing into a Mercedes Benz after the driver decided to pull out from the curb.

After a bit of digging around I found the the video was originally posted over at /r/IdiotsInCars on Reddit, who supplied an article to this (paywalled) article in the German newspaper Ostsee-Zeitung.

Ostsee-Zeitun photo

The photo was taken in Bad Doberan, a city in northern Germany, and the railway in question is the Molli Bahn – a 900 mm gauge steam railway.

Which runs through the middle of Bad Doberan.

The railway stretching 15.4 km from Bad Doberan to Heiligendamm and Kühlungsborn West, with a running time of 40 minutes

The history of the railway can be found over at Wikipedia:

On 19 June 1886, Frederick Francis III, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg granted a licence for the construction and operation of a narrow gauge railway from Doberan station to Heiligendamm, this first section going into operation on 9 July 1886. Services on the 6.61-kilometre (4.11 mi)-long route, which was worked by a steam tram and later classified as a light railway or Kleinbahn, initially only ran during the summer season from 1 May to 30 September.

On 18 December 1908, it was decided to extend the line as far as the Baltic seaside resort of Arendsee, which was merged in 1938 with the neighbouring communities of Brunshaupten and Fulgen to form the Baltic Sea resort of Kühlungsborn (Ostseebad Kühlungsborn). This extension was opened on 12 May 1910, in the same year, goods services were started; and trains now ran all year round.

The transhipment of goods from the Wismar–Rostock standard gauge line to the narrow gauge railway proved to be costly and unprofitable. The carriage of standard gauge wagons on narrow gauge transporter wagons as was common, for example, on the Saxon narrow gauge railways, was ruled out from the outset because of the narrow urban section through Bad Doberan. Thus, on 31 May 1969, goods services were withdrawn.

The route was worked daily by 13 pairs of trains. In 1976, the then district of Rostock added the train to the district’s list of heritage monuments. On 1 October 1995, an operating company, consisting of Bad Doberan district and the towns of Kühlungsborn and Bad Doberan, took over the line from the Deutsche Bahn.

Today the public-private company, operating under the name of Mecklenburgische Bäderbahn Molli (Mecklenburg Seaside Resort Railway Molli) is based in Bad Doberan. The terminus of Kühlungsborn West is home to the Molli Museum and the depot.

Footnote: more crashes

It appears Germany has quite the supply of stupid motorists, if this article from Ostsee-Zeitung is anything to go by.

Ostsee-Zeitung photo

Further viewing

A video by @TheTimTraveller on YouTube on the Molli Bahn.

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ÖBB switching from left to right hand running across Austria

Trains switching between left and right hand running has been a theme on this blog for some time, and here is one example I’d missed – Austria.

ÖBB Class 1116 'EuroSprinter' electric locomotive 1116 029 on a short freight train in Vienna

When I visited Austria I only found trains running on the right hand side, but thanks to German-language Wikipedia I’ve learnt that some lines run some trains on the left.

During the Danube monarchy there was quite a bit of confusion regarding the driving regulations as a result of construction by different companies each having their own driving regulations. In the course of the annexation to the German Reich in 1938, the right-hand traffic regulations were introduced in Austria, but this project got stuck in the Second World War.

After the war, the Federal Railways in Vienna and Villach drove on the left, and in the Federal Railways in Linz and Innsbruck they drove on the right, which meant that Westbahn trains stopped at Amstetten station changed from driving on the left to driving on the right. Since in Tyrol there was also left-hand operation between Wörgl and Brenner for historical reasons, all trains in Wörgl main station and the Arlberg trains in Innsbruck main station had to change the regular track. In the meantime, regular operation on the left only existed between Innsbruck and Brenner. In 1993 the Wörgl – Brenner route was converted to right-hand traffic.

But a big switch to right hand running occurred in 2012 with the opening of Wien Hauptbahnhof.

German-language newspaper ‘Die Presse’ describing the changeover.

ÖBB are switching to right-hand traffic in the east
August 6, 2012
Klemens Patek

The opening of Wien Hauptbahnhof casts its shadow: today the southern, northern and S-Bahn lines are switching to right-hand traffic. The trains will then arrive on different platforms than before.

Anyone expecting the usual North, South and S-Bahn trains at the usual platform from August 6 will miss it. Because this Monday, the railway lines mentioned will be switched from left-hand traffic to right-hand traffic. The trains thus depart from a different track, mostly from the previously different direction track.

The reason for the change is the new Vienna Central Station and the Lainzer Tunnel. Because this connection of the right-hand Western and Eastern Railway and the left-hand Southern and Northern Railway would have lost track capacity. Trains would have to cross tracks before entering the station, which would make handling the trains more difficult. If everything drives on the right, the ÖBB can create practical transfer options on the same platform and save track capacity. ÖBB emphasizes that if the trains were only partially driven on the right as before, the main station would lose around 30 percent of its capacity.

Specifically, the following routes will be converted to right-hand traffic:

– Nordbahn from Vienna Floridsdorf to Bernhardsthal
– S7 ( Airport Expressway ) from Vienna Rennweg to Vienna Schwechat Airport
– Pottendorf Line from Wampersdorf to Wr. New town Civitas Nova
– Southern Railway from Vienna Central Station to Payerbach Reichenau
– Connecting railway from Vienna Hütteldorf to Vienna Meidling
– S-Bahn trunk line from Vienna Meidling to Vienna Floridsdorf
– Northwest Railway from Vienna Floridsdorf to Stockerau
– Laaer Ostbahn from Vienna Süßenbrunn to Wolkersdorf

Detailing criticism of the change.

According to ÖBB, the costs for the change amount to a total of around 16 million euros. Of this, 13.2 million euros go to laying new tracks (“overtaking tracks”) in the Brunn-Maria Enzersdorf and Baden train stations. A measure “that would definitely have come about,” explains Ofner. The immediate renovations to the platforms, such as new waiting bunks and signage, will cost 2.7 million euros.

Ofner rejects criticism of the change: “It would have cost a lot more if we hadn’t made the change.” A three-digit million sum would have been due for conversions to overpass structures. These would make it possible to change lanes through bridges or underpasses without trains having to cross a track.

Critics like to refer to a report from the consulting firm Basler+Partner commissioned by ÖBB. The study came to the conclusion in December 2008 that the negative effects of maintaining the current driving regulations would be “less in scope and number than if there were uniform right-hand traffic,” as the experts wrote (Die Presse reported ). The experts therefore recommended “maintaining the driving regulations as they are today”.

However, this study is being misinterpreted, says ÖBB spokesman Ofner, it was “not made for the future”. The planning assumes that far more trains would use the route near the main station in the future than was taken into account at the time, Ofner points out possible route conflicts at Vienna Central Station.

They also sections of route that had previously switched sides.

For the most part, traffic has been switched to right-hand traffic as part of necessary modernization work, such as renovations or new construction projects. This was last the case in 1991, when the section between Wien Westbahnhof and Amstetten was switched to driving on the right.

And sections of left hand running still in place in Austria.

Three sections will continue to operate in left-hand traffic after August 6:

– Vienna Central Station – Stadlau – Süßenbrunn (conversion to right-hand traffic is planned for 2015)
– Franz-Josefs-Bahn (according to ÖBB, a change is still uncertain at the moment)
– Southern Railway from Payerbach-Reichenau via Bruck an der Mur and Graz to Maribor. In Payerbach-Reichenau, the Southern Railway trains continue to have to change tracks.

With Wikipedia picking up on progress since.

On December 13, 2015, the Vienna Central Station – Vienna Süßenbrunn section was converted to right-hand traffic.

The southern railway section between Payerbach-Reichenau and Bruck an der Mur followed on December 15, 2019.

Thus, regular operation on the left track currently only exists on the Vienna Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof – Absdorf-Hippersdorf and Bruck an der Mur – Werndorf routes.

Leaving one last route to capture ÖBB trains running on the left hand track.

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Caissons and underground vestibules on the Kyiv Metro

I’ve written about Arsenalna (Ukrainian: Арсенальна) station on the Kyiv Metro in Ukraine before – at 105.5 metres below ground, it takes two flights of escalators to reach the surface, passing through an underground vestibule at the halfway point. But how did they build such an elaborate chamber so deep underground?

Five minutes after leaving the train, we're finally at the surface!

The two escalator tunnels are 55.8 metres and 46.6 metres long respectively.

Looking up a ~50 metre long flight of escalators

And meet at the intermediate vestibule 22.6 metres in diameter and 18.7 metres tall.

What do you mean: another set of escalators to reach the surface?

Due to local ground conditions, it was decided to build the concrete vestibule on the surface.

Photo via Олег Тоцкий

And then lower it to the design depth.

Photo via Олег Тоцкий

By slowly excavating the ground beneath it, and letting it sink down.

Photo via Олег Тоцкий

Олег Тоцкий describing the process:

Due to difficult hydrogeological conditions, about 400 wells (1) were drilled along the vestibule contour before starting work, and soil was frozen through them.

The intermediate vestibule (2) was built of monolithic reinforced concrete and had a bell-shaped shape without a bottom. The lower edge of the “bell” was made in the form of a knife, which, under the weight of the vestibule, crashed into the ground as it was pulled out. Thus, the vestibule, under its own weight, fell down as the soil underneath was excavated.

Almost the entire area of ​​the soil was developed by an excavator (3), and only along the edges of the “bell” under the knives, the soil was removed manually.

With the help of a bucket (4), through a pit (5) previously passed through the center of the vestibule, the soil fell down, where through the transport adit (6) with the help of a belt conveyor (7) it was fed to the skip hoist (8) and then went up through the shaft.

As the vestibule descended, the space above the dome was covered with soil, and due to the increase in external pressure on the dome, the rate of lowering of the vestibule also increased.

Less than 4 months after the start of the descent, the vestibule reached the design depth (9) and rested with knives against the pre-cast foundation concrete ring (10).

After that, the bottom of the vestibule was concreted and the construction of the lower inclined passage began.

Because freezing was also used for its construction; guides for freezing wells were pre-laid in the body of the intermediate vestibule.

After lowering the vestibule, a drilling rig was dragged inside, with which wells were drilled along the lower slope, then a freezing was carried out and a lower slope was built from the intermediate vestibule.

In the diagram, we also see the adjoining of the upper inclined passage (11) to the intermediate vestibule.

I’ve seen caissons used to excavate bridge piers underwater, but using them for underground structures is ingenious!

Footnote:Zoloti Vorota station

Zoloti Vorota station also has an underground vestibule.

And was built in a similar way:

Since its entrance is located on a hillside, two separate escalator tunnels had to be created, connected by an underground station vestibule. The upper tunnel is 35 m (115 ft) long, while the lower tunnel is 56 m (184 ft) long.

The vestibule was first completed at ground level, and then lowered to its final location underground. The vestibule is a 20 m (66 ft) tall monolithic dome with an approximately similar diameter.

The installation began in November 1987 and was completed by 1988, lowered at a pace of half a meter a day. Since the construction took place in water-saturated soils, over 200 frozen wells had to be formed so it could be lowered to its proper location. In addition, over 250 m2 (300 sq yd) of rock had to be removed to make way for the vestibule. After it was finally installed, construction work began on the lower escalator tunnel.

Further reading

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Turning trains on the Wuppertal Schwebebahn

The Wuppertaler Schwebebahn is a suspension railway in the German city of Wuppertal, where trains hang from a single rail built underneath a supporting steel frame. But how do the trains turn around at the end of the line?


The first reversing loop is found at Oberbarmen – eastern terminus of the 13.3 km long track, and also a small depot facility.

The reversing loop is located beyond the station platforms.

Where trains pass through the depot building.

And a second reversing loop is located beyond the stabling tracks.

Open Street Map


The next reversing loop is found at the western terminus of Vohwinkel, and home of the main workshops and depot.

The station has a reversing loop beyond the station platforms.

Allowing trains to go back the way they came.

And beyond is the depot.

Where trains are parked.

Inside is a second reversing loop.

Bringing the total to four.

Open Street Map

A set of points can be used to send trains into the depot.

Sliding from the diverge to the straight route.

And a sliding piece of track leads into the depot tracks.

Directing trains into an empty track.

And then moving back to the diverge route so trains are sent around the reversing loop.

And a former reversing loop – Kluse

The first 4.59 kilometre long stage of the Wuppertaler Schwebebahn opened in March 1901, between Kluse in the east and and Zoological Garden in the west in March 1901, with the line extended 2.97 kilometers west to Vohwinkel in May 1901, and 5.74 kilometers east to Oberbarmen in June 1903.

The intermediate terminus of Kluse was provided with a reversing loop, which was used between 1901 and 1903.

Photo via die-schwebebahn.de

Following the extension of the line east the loop became superfluous, but it remained in place until after World War II, when it was demolished along with the damaged Kluse station.

Photo via die-schwebebahn.de


The intermediate terminus of Zoo/Stadion was also provided with a reversing loop. The tracks passed beneath the mainline route, with a gradient so steep that only single carriage trains could operate along it.

The loop remained in place until 1945, when it was dismantled to provide spare parts for the rest of the system.

And a turntable!

In 1974 it was decided to provide a new reversing facility at Zoo/Stadion station, but this time something different was chosen – a turntable! A rotating track segment was provided beneath a circular support structure, along with a short siding for the stabling of trains.

Photo via die-schwebebahn.de

However operation of the turntable was time consuming, through trains delayed whenever it was in use, and trains needed to stop with centimetre precision before they could be turned. As a result, in 1992 the turntable was taken out of use, and the tracks later welded closed, with the support structure removed in 2002 as part of a track renewal program.

Footnote: rail noise and breakdowns

Turns out sending trains around sharp curves is quite noisy – from Solinger Tageblatt in 2014:

Good news for noise-sensitive suspension railway users and residents: According to Stadtwerke spokesman Holger Stephan, the hairpin bend in front of the Wagenhalle in Oberbarmen has now been upgraded to such an extent that the turning of the vehicles can hardly be heard. Accordingly, Wuppertal’s landmark is almost squeak-free at this point.

“The built-in lubrication system, but above all the water spray mist, does the job excellently,” assures Holger Stephan.

The Wuppertal public utility company has invested a good 15,000 euros in the new suspension railway noise protection in Oberbarmen alone: ​​A spray system covers the track at the hairpin bend with a combination of grease and water droplets, which prevents squeaking. For comparison: A total of 28 million euros went into the renewal of the wagon hall in Oberbarmen.

The spray system to suppress the squeaking noise is also to be installed in Vohwinkel, the turning point at the other end of the 13.3-kilometer route. Probably later this year, they say. However, there is no exact date yet.

The junctions at each depot can also breakdown – this 2011 piece from Westdeutsche Zeitung describes the troubles at Vohwinkel.

Without them, the landmark stands: The electronically controlled switch system at the terminus in Vohwinkel is still moody — and caused problems with the operation of the suspension railway again on Monday morning. In order to prevent the points from being blocked again, the Wuppertal public utility company replaced a sensor there on Tuesday night.

Small cause, big effect: The component of the system monitors the position of the so-called locking lever in the points. If this electronic sensor fails, the system is blocked and thus paralyzes the entire train operation at the interface of the suspension railway in Vohwinkel: The trains are routed via the switch to the workshop hall at the final stop or back on the track on a hairpin bend.

“If you like, the points system is the Achilles’ heel of the suspension railway,” explains operations manager Thomas Kaulfuss when asked by WZ. As reported, the opening of the new terminus in Vohwinkel in October 2007 also involved the installation of the electronic points system.

Since it was commissioned, there have always been technical problems there, most recently also related to the severe winter: when the temperatures were below zero, the WSW had to deal with a point motor that water had gotten into and frozen solid there. A blocked switch wagon also caused operational disruptions in winter.

In the meantime, the system had to be operated manually in order to prevent the train traffic from collapsing completely. This in turn brought the timetable out of sync, since the points cannot be set as quickly with a crank as with electronic means.

Kaulfuss emphasizes that basically every disruption is “annoying”. “But one mustn’t forget that the old switch also had its technical quirks.”

While there was initial talk of “teething troubles” in the system after commissioning, the switch system in Vohwinkel was technically overhauled again last summer.

The current problems were due to the sensor control, which was checked last Friday during troubleshooting and has now been replaced overnight. According to the WSW, the sensor costs a three-digit amount — and is part of the fixed spare parts inventory.

But those to the east at Oberbarmen have also caused problems – from 2015.

Train strikes, traffic jams, late buses — the people of Wuppertal accept all of this with enviable composure. But when the suspension railway isn’t running, the fun is over. Up to 80,000 passengers use the most famous means of transport in the world every day. It’s all the worse when it doesn’t float, but stands. That seems to have been the case more often in the past few days and weeks.

“We are in the situation that the suspension railway is now down every other day due to an operational disruption. This situation has existed for months now. Sometimes the suspension railway also fails several times a day,” a reader of our newspaper vented his anger yesterday. Others joined him, albeit a little more relaxed.

The Wuppertaler Stadtwerke (DSW) are the operators of the suspension railway. The WZ readers’ criticism comes as no surprise to the WSW. “We have problems in Oberbarmen,” explains company spokesman Holger Stephan. “The train stood from 11.05 a.m. to 11.40 a.m.”

Footnote: signalling

The current signalling system on the line dates to 1962 – with one control panel responsible for the bulk of the line, and a second for the depot at Vohwinkel.

Further reading

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Chapels on the tracks of Russia

Russia is a massive country, which combined with a religious population has resulted in an odd sight – Вагон-храм – railway carriages converted into mobile chapels.

Church car in the name of St. Olga (construction of the Putilov factory)
Photo via Журнал «Всемирная иллюстрация»

Chapel of St. Olga (1896)

Construction of the first chapel carriage in the Russian Empire commenced in 1895:

The head of the educational department of the Ministry of Railways of the Russian Empire, Yevgeny Volkov, in a report to the head of the Ministry of Railways, Prince Mikhail Khilkov, wrote that a mobile church carriage would best suited to serve railway employees working in sparsely populated areas. According to him, moving from place to place and stopping at the places where railway employees lived, such a church could gather both railway employees and inhabitants from nearby villages on holidays and fasting days. As a result, it was decided to transfer such experience to the Siberian Railway.

Built to commemorate the birth of Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna, construction commenced at the Putilov factory on 14 November 1895, the day of her christening. The carriage was completed eight months later, and was consecrated on 11 July 1896 in New Peterhof, in the presence of Grand Duchesses Olga Alexandrovna and Olga Nikolaevna.

Chapel in honor of the icon of the Mother of God “Hodegetria”

Donated to the Russian Orthodox Church by workers from the Voitovich Moscow Carriage Repair Plant, the chapel consisted of two carriages – the first being the chapel; the second a refectory, a church library and two office compartments. The chapel was consecrated on 18 October 2000 at the Kievsky railway station in Moscow.

Chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker

Part of a special missionary train operated by the charity group «За духовное возрождение России» (“Spiritual Revival of Russia”) along the West Siberian Railway, the chapel was consecrated on 10 August 2001 by Archbishop Tikhon of Novosibirsk and Berdsk.

Photo via Чановские вести

Chapel of St. Innocent

Operated by the Irkutsk diocese over the Eastern Siberian Railway, the chapel was consecrated in the name of St. Innocent of Irkutsk on 4 August 2005, to mark the 200th anniversary of finding the relics of this saint.

Photo via Журнал Московской Патриархии и Церковный вестник

Chapel of St. Olga (2009)

A second ‘Chapel of St. Olga’ carriage was consecrated on 2 October 2009 at the Krasnoyarsk railway station as part of the medical train “Saint Luke the Blessed Surgeon”. The carriage remained in service until December 2018, when it was retired to Kansk-Yeniseisky station of the Trans-Siberian Railway, where it is now a stationary church.

Further reading

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Vladimir Putin’s private railway stations

For heads of state around the world private aircraft are a common model transport. But for Russian president Vladimir Putin, he also has a private armoured train, and a network of private railway stations.

Photo by Mikhail Korotkov

The train

Putin’s armoured train was assembled in 2014-2015, but his usage of the train took off from August 2021, shortly before Russian troops commenced their ‘special operation’ into Ukraine.


Novo-Ogaryovo is the country home of the President of Russia, located 30 km west of the city of Moscow. Completed in the 1950s as the “state dacha”, it was officially recognised as a presidential residence in 2000, with Putin using it as a permanent workplace from 2012. In 2014 a private railway station was located 400 metres away from the residence, at the end of a short branch line from Usovo station.

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The railway station is surrounded by a tall steel wall.

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With gates preventing access into the compound.

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Bocharov Ruchey

Bocharov Ruchey (Бочаров Ручей) is the summer residence of the President of Russia, located in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, completed in 1955. In 2017 a private railway station opened on a short siding off the main line.

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Dolgiye Borody

Dolgiye Borody is a residence of the President of the Russia, located about 400 km north-west of Moscow. Construction started for Stalin in 1934, with the complex being expanded in the 1980s. A private railway siding was extended to the complex in 2019, ending at a railway station with helipad.

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Footnote: Правительственный вокзал (Government Station)

Правительственный вокзал (Government Station) is a private railway platform located just north of Kalanchyovskaya station in Moscow. The station was built in 1974 for the use of trains transporting the leaders of the USSR.

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Further reading

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