Kaiser-era monorail im Rheinland
In the Köln/Düsseldorf/Essen district of North Rhine
Westphalia (NRW), don't miss a ride on the Wuppertal
Schwebebahn, or suspended railway. I've been a
few times, most recently in October 2005. Here's some
thumbnails of photos I took then: click to zoom.
A familiar German logo is the white-on-blue "U" which indicates
a U-Bahn station. (Untergrundbahn, metro.) Wuppertal was
its own distinctive Schwebebahn signage.
Waiting on the platform at Hauptbahnhof station. An
approaching train is announced by a series of distinctive
pinging sounds emitted by the creaking steel track.
Looking up at trains
Getting in close to examine the driving wheels.
Some views from the inside:
Passengers quickly adapt to the pendular swaying motion.
Up front, looking over the driver's shoulder.
Lots of lush greenery bordering the Wupper River,
but the scenery changes as the line approaches a Bayer factory.
Near the western end, past Barmen, in Elberfeld, the
Schwebebahn veers away from the river, traveling over
End of the line, Oberbarmen station -- a fresh train emerges
from the Wagenhalle, beginning its run east.
From an August 1987 Wuppertal brochure:
"Like a dragon, hard as steel, with several stations
for heads and flashing eyes, twists and turns above
At the opening of the suspension railway in 1900, the
Emperor Wilhelm II was one of the party. The carriage
he traveled in, nostalgically known as the "Emperor's
Carriage" (Kaiserwagon), is still in use. Every Saturday,
from Spring until Fall it takes off on its leisurely coffee
trips. It can be booked at any time as the lofty and
enjoyable climax to a day's outing by office parties or
For more information:
- schwebebahn.com is in both
English and German, and offers some extras;
is German only, mostly photos (and lots of!)
at urbanrail.net has a route map
at the Monorail Society
- Wuppertal has a connection with flying elephants, due
to a 1950 incident involving a circus pachyderm named
Tuffi, who was made to ride the Schwebebahn, but found the
- There's a
funicular in Dresden, also designed by Eugen
Langen. A funicular is two balanced cars tied together
on an incline -- when one's going down, the other's coming up.
- The literal translation of Bahn is "way" but in its
most common usage the default meaning is railway -- hence,
the case can be be made that this
Austrian hotel is
misusing the term. That resort has a ski lift with enclosed
gondolas, like the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a system sometimes
erroneously called "cable cars" -- any Bay Area resident knows
those really are.