Narrow Gauge World - July / August 2007
2-10-2T 099 750-2 (99 1786-5) heads out of Cranzahl with the 19.02 departureto Oberwiesenthal on 22 July 1997. The standard-gauge line to AnnabergBuchholz can be seen in the foreground along with the crossover giving access to the narrow-gauge yard north of the station.
into the twenty-first century, despite the introduction of diesels. Around ten examples were then still owned by the DB and remained active on their regular traditional trains. These included a weekend passenger service from Müügeln to Oschatz that had been restored in 1996. Four DB examples were active at the celebrations. A further twelve had been preserved. Two of these, Nos. 99.1542 and 1590 from the nearby privately preserved Pressnitztalbahn line at Jööhstadt, were active for the celebrations at Cranzahl. Three unrebuilt individuals have also been preserved; one of these, No. 99.535 (Hartmann 1898), is housed at the Verkehrsmuseum Dresden. In all no less than eight Meyers had been brought together for the celebrations, six of which were used on the special trains. Another 750mm gauge steam locomotive of interest was 0-8-0 tank No. 99 4532-0 (Orenstein & Koppel 1924). For many years it was the station pilot at Zittau on
the still active lines to Oybin and Jonsdorf. It had however been out of action for some years and its future seemed rather doubtful. It was good to see it in light steam again at Cranzahl. Also exhibited to the north of the station and giving rides to the younger visitors were a pump trolley and a range of motorised platelayers’ trolleys, one of which was built around a motor scooter. On the south side of the station one of the large 2-10-2Ts No. 099 757-7, built at Babelberg in 1956, was being coaled prior to working the 16.42 service train to Oberwiesenthal.
Celebrations in the rain
After photographing as much as possible despite poor weather conditions, it was time for the departure of the 15.48 special to Oberwiesenthal. This left, in slightly better weather, double-headed by Meyers Nos. 99 1542-2 and 1608-1. Some hazy sunshine gave an opportunity to re-photographthe
Numbering of German narrow-gauge steam locomotives
The numbers quoted in this article are those carried by the locomotives at the celebrations. Confusingly they represent three numbering systems that have been used on the former DR system in East Germany since the Second World War. All DR narrow-gauge locomotives, irrespective of class, carriedthe prefix 99. The following number is the running number. Immediately after the War these were the same as the old DR (e.g Meyer No. 99 608). When numbers were computerised by the DR most narrow-gauge locomotives had a ‘1’ prefixed to their running number with a further check number at the rear, No. 99 608 becoming 99 1608-1. On reunification the DB renumbered the locomotives yet again. An 0 was inserted in front of the 99 and three digit running numbers starting with 7 substituted so that No. 99 1608-1 became 099 713-0. During the celebrations all the Saxon Meyers, with the exception of 132 (its original Saxon State Railway number), were running with their former DR numbers (with or without the computerised ‘1’). The working 2-10-2Ts all carried the recently allocated DB numbers. Since the line has been privatised locomotiveshave reverted to their old DR numbers.
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static locomotives before the arrival of the 16.12 special from Oberwiesenthal doubleheaded by two Meyers Nos. 99 1590-1 and 99 1564-6 with No. 132 (ex No. 99 539) in the rear. The latter is restored, in full Saxon State Railway green livery, despite being a rebuilt example of the class. It was based at Radebeul for working traditional trains and its presence at Cranzahl was a surprise. Presumably it replaced the advertised No. 99 713, which was not in evidence. After the departure of 2-10-2T No. 099 749-4 on the 17.32 service train it was time to seek out our hotel at Oberwiesenthal. A brief pause was made at Hammerunterwiesenthal to watch No. 099 749-4 passing Meyers Nos. 1608-1 and 1542-2 on their return working to Cranzahl. Also displayed at Hammerunterwiesenthal was a further Meyer from Hilbersdorf, No. 99 1562-0, and one of the earlier 2-10-2Ts No. 99 1759-2 (Schwartzkopff 1933). Hazy evening sunshine gave some hope that the Sunday would also be fine. We were however to be disappointed as Sunday morning was greeted by heavy rain. It was to have been the highlight of the week with passengers wearing Victorian clothes (or the German equivalent!) and a parade through the streets of Oberwiesenthal. My plan for the day had been to watch the first special, the 09.40 from Oberwiesenthal, and then follow on the 10.27 service train to Cranzahl. There I aimed to record the arrival of No. 38 205 on the special from Dresden and the departure at 12.08 of the special carrying guests who would join the parade at Oberwiesenthal. I would then spend a sunny summer afternoon photographing trains on the scenic line between Oberwiesenthal and Cranzahl. In the event the special, headed by Nos. 132 and 99 1542-2, left Oberwiesenthal in heavy rain. It comprised the traditional set of coaches that, like No. 132, are based on the Radebeul – Radeberg line and included two open coaches. These were occupied by just a few hardy souls. Despite the heavy rain I succeeded fairly well with my initial objectives. However, on the return to Oberwiesenthal at midday the heavy rain became a downpour, which lasted until late evening. The rest of the day, like the parade itself, was unhappily a complete washout! Although Sunday was the last day of the celebrations Cranzahl station was still a hive of activity on the Monday morning in continuing heavy rain. On the standard-gauge lines ex DR diesel-hydraulic No. 219 156-7 was marshalling the static exhibits into one train for their return to Hilbersdorf. This included Meyer tank No. 99 566, which was perched on a transporter wagon marshalled
(Top) The two narrow-gauge locomotives and stock on display at Hammerunterwiesenthal seen during a rare burst of sunshine on 21 July 1997. In the foreground is rebuilt Meyer tank No. 99 1562-0 (originally built by Hartman in 1909), while behind is one of the original 2-10-2 tanks, No. 99 1759-2, constructed by Schwartzkopff in 1933. (Lower) 2-10-2T No. 099 749-4 enters Neudorf station with the 10.17 from Cranzahl to Oberwiesenthal on 24 July 1997. Bunting from the centenary celebrations is till on display.
(Photographs by the author)
next to standard-gauge Meyer tank No. 98 001. The whole cavalcade left at about midday. Equally hectic activity was taking place on the narrow-gauge lines to the north of the station. The two Pressnitztalbahn Meyers, Nos. 99 1542-2 and 99 1590-1, were still in steam and involved in the laborious process of loading the visiting 750mm gauge coaches on to standard-gauge transporters. Three other Meyers including No. 132, and 0-8-0T No. 99 4532-0 stood rather forlornly in a line, their fires dropped and their numbers removed. They were to remain at Cranzahl until the Tuesday when, in hazy sunshine, they too were loaded onto standard-gauge transporters. They departed at midday behind diesel-hydraulic No. 202 452-9. The two Pressnitztalbahn Meyers then worked with their preserved stock to Hammerunterwiesenthal, from where they were taken by road to Jööhstadt.
Ten years on
So ended the 100 years’ celebrations of the Cranzahl – Oberwiesenthal line. While it was frustrating to have travelled over 800 miles to have one’s plans thwarted by the weather, the weekend remains a memorable and enjoyable one. My sympathies lay with the local people and railway authorities, who had clearly worked for months to mount an exceptional celebration of a fascinating line. The event was particularly remarkable as at the time the line was operating at a substantial loss and the State and Federal Governments were arguing over who, if anyone, should pick up the bill. In the event the line passed to the private ownershipof the BVO Bahn GmbH, a local bus operator, on 1 June 1998. It now trades as the Fichtelbergbahn. Initially there were doubts about the intentions of the new company and these increased when it was announced that in October 1998 all trains would be replaced by buses. In fact the company, with the help of the local authority, has invested heavily in the line. The October 1998 closure involved extensive track replacements. Between 2002 and 2004 the engine sheds at Oberwiesenthal were replaced by new buildings, while in 2005 the famous Huettenbach viaduct east of Oberwiesenthal station was rebuilt. The line is still steam operated with five of the post-war
Babelsberg built 2-10-2 tanks based at Oberwiesenthal. The prospect of replacement diesels has arisen from time to time. In December 2000 it was reported that a Romanian class L45H (CFR class 87) diesel-hydraulic had arrived at Oberwiesenthal. Members of this class were built at the 23 August Locomotive Works in Bucharest and replaced steam on CFR narrow-gauge lines from the mid sixties. Before entering service on the Fichtelbergbahn the locomotive would have required re-gauging from 760mm to 750mm gauge. The Fichtelbergbahn website currently reports that in August 2006 two class L45H locomotives, Nos. 083 and 358, were tested on the line painted in the former GDR DR’s red livery. Unfortunately the railway did not respond to my enquiry regarding the future use of these locomotives. The present timetable, which commenced 2 April, involves five return workings each day. A sixth, the 17.17 from Oberwiesenthal and 18.37 return from Cranzahl, runs at weekends and daily from 1 June to 30 September. The first departure from Oberwiesenthal is at 08.25. Five of the up and six down workings connect with KBS
operated standard gauge trains to and from Chemnitz. This compares with nine trains each way on weekdays ten years ago. The first of these however left Oberwiesenthal at 04.02, Monday to Fridays. Since then car ownership in the former GDR has increased dramatically and a workers’ train is no longer needed. 04.02 is rather early for the tourists who now patronise the line! Freight on the line, previously transported in standard gaugewagons on narrow-gauge transporters, ceased in 1992. Further information about the railway can be obtained from its web site www.fichtelbergbahn.de, which includes an English language option. The site indicates that a special service will be run on 14 July 2007 to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the line but no further details were available at the time of writing this article in April 2007. Again the railway did not respond to my enquiry regarding a programme for the day. Both preserved ex Saxon railway class VI K 0-10-0T and IV K 0-4-4-0T have visited the line since privatisation, so a Saxon Meyer tank may again see operation. Hopefully the weather will be better than in 1997.
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