Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday 27 June - Bad Schandau and the Kirnitzschtalbahn

The plan today was to take the DB local train to Bad Schandau then the ferry across the River Elbe to the town proper then therivertric tramway up to the Lichtenhainer Falls and return the same way. At the start DB were again messed up in that they showed a different train from the one we were supposed to take from the designated platform.  Ray went to talk to the DB Information office and they corrected it.  We knew more than they did.

Its good to know that DB provides entertainment for the locals.
The line to Bad Schandau follows the Elbe closely and has been affected by the recent flooding so trains are running slowly.
Because of high water the ferry was replaced by a bus.
We were late into Bad Schandau but we couldn't take the ferry anyway because of high water so a replacement bus was provided which was quicker and took us right to the tramway station so we didn't have to walk half kilometer or so from the ferry.
The tram ride was delightful.  It runs on one side of the road through the national park in a steep sided wooded valley.  The river is swift flowing. A kingfisher was perched on a log on the bank. The trams are all vintage.  There are two sidings and we passed a train in each one, authority to run is by small cylindrical pieces of wood, three in total, painted different colors.  At the falls the motor car runs round its train and returns, a half hour service is provided.
Ready to leave Bad Schandau
On the way up we fell into conversation with a German lady from Koln who said this was her first visit to the former East Germany.  She was very frank.  She found people had more of a don't care attitude than at her home and admitted that the transition to a unified Germany was difficult for many.  One good feature was that they all spoke the same language.
Having uncoupled the motor car runs around its train at the falls
Running round at the Falls
The falls are not very spectacular.  The locals decided early on that the run off could be made more spectacular and built a dam.  In normal times there is not enough water so they turn on the falls only when tourists are there.  A notice sets out the times when the falls will be running.

The falls are only turned on for the tourists.
We had a beer and a snack, goulash and wurtzfleische which turned out to be chicken pieces in cheese and sauce.
A train departing for Bad Schandau

The motorman's compartment showing the wooden token with a large split ring on one end
The line is unusual in that it is mostly "gutter running", a type of track layout once common on rural tramways in Germany. In the case of the Kirnitzschtal Tramway, the track is laid in the southern lane of the road, which is the right hand lane when heading towards the waterfall. Thus trams heading towards Bad Schandau travel against the normal flow of road traffic, requiring heightened attention from both tram and road vehicle drivers. Although the tramcars are double ended, only the doors on the south side are used, as all the stops are on the south side of the road.
It was soon time to return to Bad Schandau where the bus picked us up and returned us to the station.  The timetable was completely out of whack and we had a long wait during which time we debated the best way to get back to Dresden.  All trains were running late.  A favorite would have been to have taken the train from Budapest but this was running 30 minutes late.
To see pictures taken of this electric tramway click here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/colinchurcher/sets/72157634547516694/
To see these in slide show format click below:
While waiting for a train to Dresden this Prague-bound train with a Czech locomotive came in.

In the end we chose a train which was waiting in the platform to return to Dresden.  It was shown as running to Schona on the Czech border which it didn't and going to a station in Meissen which has now been abandoned.  This train left as it should but lost a lot of time to Dresden because of the slow track.

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