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Wuppertal's Suspension Railway: overview and history

Like a dragon made of steel the support of the Suspension Railway ("Schwebebahn") is situated in the city of Wuppertal. It winds through the narrow valley, leads one to another, keeps together, and links what is lined up with little relations. 13.3 km or 30 minutes is the length of the track between Vohwinkel and Oberbarmen. Between these end points there are, after the rebuild of the "Kluse" station, now again twenty stations.

Schwebebahn 1 Schwebebahn 2 Schwebebahn 3

Beside this the Schwebebahn is an old lady. More than 100 years ago, the sugar manufacturer and inventor Carl Eugen Langen from Cologne developed an suspension railway system for people transportation. The genious of this idea for Wuppertal which is covered with buildings: the largest part of the line (10.0 km, from Oberbarmen to Sonnborn) uses the place above the river Wupper. After some tos and fros the erecting of the support started in 1898. Already on October, 24th 1900 Emperor Wilhelm II enjoyed a trial trip, one year later (March 1st 1901) the Schwebebahn was released for public transportation. In 1903 the line was completed.

Historical Schwebebahn 1 Historical Schwebebahn 2

For the support approximately 19,200 tons of steel were used. The tracks are carried by 472 bridge elements. On both ends there are turning loops installed. An additonal turn-table was situated near the station "Zoo/Stadion", but has been removed in the course of the re-construction in 2002. It has been given up because of environmental reasons since the middle of last centry's nineties (loss of gear oil over the river Wupper!).

Today's Schwebebahn cars were constructed in the seventies. They are three-parted structure trains offering 48 seats and approximately 100 standing-rooms. They are coloured in the traditional orange-blue of the "Wuppertaler Stadtwerke" (Wuppertal's public transportation company) or decorated by commercials. The average speed is 27 km/h. The trains are starting in the daytime on working days every 3 to 4 minutess, on week ends every 8 minutes, in the evening (until 11:00 o'clock p.m.) every 15 minutes. Schwebebahn moves approximately 80 thousands of people per day, and is thereby the main public transporation system in Wuppertal.

Although Schwebebahn is apparently no museum railway in any way (although a lot of visitors just believe this), on special occasions you may travel using the historical "Kaiserwagen" of 1900 (emperor's car) for a "coffee tour". Even marriages are possible, so you can book the emperor's car if you like this special way "to tie the knot".

Pronounciation: A special hint to our English speaking readers. The "sch" in "Schwebebahn" is pronounced as an "sh" in English (as in "sheep", not as in "school"). The "schw" is similar as in "swallow" if you imagine the sharp "s" replaced by a soft "sh". The "e" is pronounced as in "ten" (not as in "teen"). The "a" is as in "bar" (not as in "tan"). The "h" following the "a" is not spoken in any way, it only makes "a" longer. You got it? So, if you come to Wuppertal, you may ask the inhabitants for "Schwebebahn" using the correct pronounciation... However, you cannot miss the support by any means, since you will find it spread all over the city, just over the river Wupper.

 
These pages were created by:
Birgit Atzenroth, Bastian Ballmann, Klaus Hilpert, Stephan Mähler, Dr. Karl-Wilhelm Schulte.
Last update: January, 7th 2003


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