Written by: TrainSim-James
Clinging to the Swiss border, the Wutach Valley Railway is perhaps the most unique and splendid in all of Germany. Packed with higher and lower speed running, stunning scenery and spectacular viaducts, the Wutachtalbahn, complete with fantastic steam action, is coming soon to Train Simulator!
Despite plans for a railway to run south of the Black Forest that were drawn up as early as the 1860s, the Franco-Prussian war twisted Germany’s hand into building a strategic railway that could support military traffic, and remain on the local side of the Swiss border. Such a railway would give Germany a key advantage over any retaliatory strikes, allowing a swift delivery of supplies throughout Baden-Württemberg.
The line would diverge off the Black Forest Railway to Konstanz at Immendingen, and take a general south-westerly descent towards Lauchringen, where it joined with the Upper Rhine Railway. Either side of the line proved little construction or operational challenges; track layout was conventional, and line speeds were on par and other standard rural railway. A problem however did lie within the planned route’s central section.
Trains would need to fall roughly 250m in 9 km between Blumburg and Weizen, but with military, heavy military traffic the key focus of the entire line, gradients were not to exceed 1:100, and the connection was impossible through normal means. Instead engineers devised a similar strategy as seen on many mountain railways, they crossed the valley with multiple hairpin turns, grand viaducts and a complete 360° loop encased in a tunnel, a unique example of such a structure in Germany.
The line finally opened in the 1890s, and was home to mainly passenger traffic when its purpose as a military line needn’t be fulfilled. The winding nature of the central section saw the line adopt the nickname Sauschwänzlebahn (pigtail line), and its popularity among travellers was two-faced; yes the scenery on offer was fantastic, but it came at a price, fares were calculated by route distance, and the pigtail took over 26 km to travel about 9 km.
The line was actually built with the provision of track-doubling in mind, but the line never proved busy enough to warrant such an upgrade. In fact, after the Second World War, the line’s use began to decline and passenger services began to fade away, until they were stopped in 1974 (with freight continuing up the southern section until 2001). Despite it all, the line’s lifespan would not be spent just yet.
In 1976, a voluntary organisation came together in an effort to re-open the line as a museum for steam locomotives, and the line’s popularity quickly grew as a tourist attraction. The preserved line drew such a crowd in fact, that the northern section of the line was also introduced as part of the ‘3er-Ringzug’, a passenger network linking the local areas of southern Germany together.
With the Wutachtalbahn coming soon to Train Simulator, you will get the opportunity to try something new within Germany, operating along a heritage railway on the footplate of steam-era traction, all while taking in the spectacular sights! ■