Nebenbahn in Bayern
Everyone who gets hooked on the model railway hobby knows about branch lines. There are probably more branch line layouts than any other type, and the reason for this is well known: branch lines are usually much simpler in track layout and requirements than main line settings, so they are ideal for limited space modelling. They also have the charm that goes with short trains in rural surroundings and, depending on where you live, the words ‘branch line’ will conjure up all sorts of images of rural bliss. Nearly everyone reading this will have contemplated branch line modelling at some time or other and many will have done it, or be building branch line layouts at this moment.
There were so many Bavarian branch lines - comprising of 48% of the track in Bayern with 164 state owned ones and 20 private lines. Most were standard gauge but some were narrow gauge, of which a noted survivor is the Chiemsee branch which still operates in preservation, running as a roadside tramway complete with tram engines. By 1977, closures had reduced these Bavarian branches to 79, and more have closed since then. In 1995 the Nürnberg Nordost-Gräfenberg branch (built 1908) was still running in the ‘traditional’ way with a locomotive (albeit diesel) and two steam-heated ’silverfish’ coaches, though most surviving branches are operated by DMUs of various types. The first specially built Nebenbahn was the Siegelsdorf-Markt Erlbach line in 1872 and the last was the Zwiesel-Bodenmals branch which opened as late as 1928. Most of the branch closures have been in the last forty years, but three branches closed in the 1930-39 period, and three others closed during World War 2. A few branches are visually unchanged from the 1930s, except for motive power and stock, an example being the Cadolzburg branch.
Because Germany is a big and quite varied land and there are regional differences just as in Great Britain. Also, in the old days, if not so much today, there were regional differences in the railways, too, so a Saxon branch would be distinctively different in locomotives, stock, structures, and fittings, from, say, a Bavarian branch. This could be just as marked as the visual differences and the scope for study and research of German railways is just as endless as it is for any other railway, so a short article cannot tell the whole story (though, with luck, we’ll return to it).
If you are tempted to try German modelling, with no pre-conceived notions or allegiances, then the Bavarian area is a good one to start with. Bavaria was thick in natty little branch lines with a distinctly rustic flavour in most cases and as a branch line ‘paradise’ for modellers.
Bayern is popular in Germany, though there are only a few iconic models available in O.
My interest is, I suppose, aided by the fact that most of my German visits are to Bavaria, but I’ve always found the older locomotives and stock from Royal Bavarian State Railways (Königlische Bayerische Staatsbahn: K.Bay.St.B.) fascinating and attractive, especialiy in KBayStB. days when they had an attractive lined dark green livery and lots of bright work.
What is a Nebenbahn?
|Baunach before loop|
(Fig 1) Haltestelle at Baunach
Baunach was a typical Haltestelle with a single siding and the standard wood station structure. The platform area was just cinders or gravel at ground level, and the level crossings were ungated. The records at Nürnberg show that Reckendorf and Pfarrweisach had exactly the same track plan and structure.
Next is the main intermediate station on the branch, Ebern, which was for a year, 1895-96, the Endstation, and therefore is shown with a locomotive shed on the original plan. What happened to the loco shed after the branch was extended to Maroldsweisach is not known to me and is not indicated on the original plans which date from the line’s opening. Possibly the shed was demolished and the shed road became a siding.
The loading platform was probably stepped at two levels as is quite common in France and Germany. The lower level is at wagon door height for conventional freight handling, while the higher level, probably at the buffer stop end in this case, is above wagon height, allowing carts and lorries to tip their contents straight into open wagons. As no separate goods shed is shown on the plan I suspect that the station building was another standard structure with the goods shed integral. Note the use of a 3-way point, specifically marked as such, and a nice space saver for layout builders.
Since the disappearance of regular steam working in Bavaria, branches have been worked by well-known modern types of power, notably the Class 211/212 diesei and the railbus, and more recently by the Class 614 and 628 DMUs. Some branches were operated by the early diesel railcars in the 1930s, but in general steam power was used. The V36 diesel seems to have been used, also, in the early days of dieselisation, plus the V80 on some branches.
The earliest branch iocomotives used were the DIII (four only, built for the earliest branches) and the DVI, built 1880-94, 53 in all. These were both small 0-4-0WTs, notably the Gerard DVI DRG BR98.75.
An attempt at something well suited to the sharp curves and general rough conditions of some of the branch lines resulted in the impressive looking Mallet 0-4-4-0T of Bavarian Class BBII, built 1899-1908. Some 31 were built and the Deutsche Reichsbahn designation was Class 98.7. However, despite being a popular subject for modellers this proved to be the least successful of the main branch line types, due to its maintenance costs and complexity, so it was the first type withdrawn, in the 1930s. A superb models of this class were made in O by Fulgurex and Gebauer.
DXI DRG BR98.4-5 at Ingolstadt