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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Germany's Hanging Train [Amazing Engineering]

In German this railway is called "Schwebebahn", which translates to "floating railway" but in English it is generally called the "hanging railway" or the "suspension railway". The official German name is "Einschienige Hangebahn" System Eugen Langen. Given that the length of the track is just 13.3 kilometres (8.3 miles) it is more of a tram than a railway.

Most of the track runs above the Wupper river. The 3 kilometre stretch between Wohlwinkel and Sonnborner Strasse is called the overland track, which runs above the streets. The overland part of the track has a completely different design of the support pylons compared to the main part of the track that runs above the Wupper river.

Wuppertal was one of the first German towns to become industrialised. In the early 19th century Wuppertal was a prosperous town, larger than Cologne. But once the industrialisation really got underway in Germany, Wuppertal could not keep up with its neighbours. Thanks to its unique railway, Wuppertal receives a small but steady stream of visitors.

The suspension railway has been very safe. Only one fatal accident has happened, despite that the line has been operating for more than a hundred years. In 1999, five people were killed when a train plunged into the Wupper river. Unfortunately, it was an unnecessary accident. During weekend maintenance work, a piece of metal was forgotten on the track and the first train on Monday morning hit the piece of metal and plunged into the river.