Monday, January 19, 2015

Introduction to the Welztalbahn: History and Today

The Welztalbahn is a fictional railroad. Locations and setting are loosely based on the actual Elztalbahn, a single-track branch line, which runs from Denzlingen to Elzach. For the purposes of this document I assume that a planned, but never completed connection between Elzach and Hausach was actually built, and thus more interesting traffic flows on this line are possible.
The Welztalbahn is an electrified single track mainline branching off the double-track mainline Offenburg-Freiburg near Denzlingen in the Rhine valley and leading through the Welztal ("Welz valley") via Talheim and Emsingen meeting the Schwarzwaldbahn in Hausach.

There is a short branch line that leaves the main line north of Emsingen towards Prechtal at the northern end of the Welztal. Prechtal has a quarry and related industries, as well as light industry that accept and ship their products by rail.

The earliest plans for the Welztalbahn were commissioned in 1865 to improve access from industries in the southern Black Forest to the rest of Grossherzogtum Baden. The war of 1870/71 between Germany and France delayed the start of construction. The line was operational in late 1875.

The map below shows major rail routes around and through the Black Forest in south-west Germany. The Welztalbahn is marked in bright green.

Today (1972), shortly before it’s 100th birthday, the Welztalbahn sees mostly local passenger traffic from the valley towards Freiburg, as well as a several Eilzug-pairs between Freiburg and Stuttgart/Tuebingen respectively which use the Kinzigtalbahn and Welztalbahn via Hausach as the shortest connection from locations north-east of the Black Forest to Freiburg and Basel.
Due to the grades and tight curves most heavy through freights use less steep alternative routes around the Black Forest. However, occasional unit trains can be seen on the Welztalbahn. There are daily local freights originating in Freiburg and Hausach respectively to serve industries along the Welztalbahn, and the Prechtal branch line.

Continue to part 2.

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