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Preserved as technical monuments, run as tourist attractions: narrow-gauge railways in the German Democratic Republic.


In June 1978, an article was published in the employee magazine of the GDR's state-owned railway, Deutsche Reichsbahn, under the caption 'Narrow-Gauge Railway up to the Year 2000'. (1) The article referred to one particular narrow-gauge railway, the line connecting the Saxon town of Oschatz and a porcelain clay mine not far from the village of Kemmlitz (Figure 1). Written with some sense of railway romanticism and admiration for the outdated technical equipment, it describes the 18-kilometre course of the railway, introduces some of the railway workers as well as their specific tasks and, in doing so, gives an insight into everyday railway operations. Yet, as the article develops, it becomes obvious that the optimistically forward-looking headline is far from self-evident. And since the line was only a fragment of a formerly longer line, which was itself part of a cohesive narrow-gauge railway network of a total length of 100 kilometres in the area of Oschatz, it becomes obvious that the headline denotes at least some (self-)support. This accounted both for the decline of narrow-gauge railways during in the previous fifteen years and their actual state in 1978, not only in the region of Oschatz but elsewhere in the GDR.

Starting in 1962, five of the six lines that, until then, constituted the largest cohesive Saxon network of narrow-gauge railways had been shut down step by step, ultimately followed by the demolition of the tracks. The last passenger train between Oschatz and Mugeln ran in 1975; crowds of people took a last ride. What remained until 1978 was the freight train carrying kaolin between the mine in Kemmlitz and the standard-gauge freight station in Oschatz. While railway workers elsewhere were dreaming of a stable timetable that would be valid at least for one year, as the author euphemistically comments, the narrow-gauge railway connecting Oschatz and Kemmlitz was still running four times a day just as it had when the timetable was set up three years earlier, and had been updated since then. As the Deutsche Reichsbahn article explained, according to railroaders, the consideration that ensured the service of the narrow-gauge railway in 1978 (and hopefully up to the year 2000) was the heavy soiling of the roadway that was expected to occur when lorries carried the porcelain clay. All efforts to shift transportation to the road had failed previously, although, from an economic point of view, it was expected to be more rational and much cheaper than the freight service carried out on narrow-gauge tracks (see Table 1). As the author concluded, the 'little railway' was going on and on, doing its job in 'the great wheelwork of the Deutsche Reichsbahn'. (2)


The Ministry of Transportation, which took notice of the Deutsche Reichsbahn article, reacted to the essay with a lack of understanding and with disapproval: the article's argument was contrary to the way in which ministerial authorities and traffic planners thought about the future of narrow-gauge railways, both in the area around Oschatz and elsewhere in the GDR. (3) Therefore, the Ministry felt obliged to draft a letter to the editorial office of the magazine, clarifying that 'this portrayal does not correspond with the facts'. (4) According to the Ministry, the process of decision-making regarding the destiny of narrow-gauge railways had not yet been completed. For the future, it was pointed out, Ministry officials were interested in 'an objective coverage' instead of recurring articles indulging in narrow-gauge enthusiasm. The magazine's editorial office was urged to publicise the official plans concerning narrow-gauge railways and to highlight the economic need of any planned rationalization. In doing so, railway workers as well as railway customers were to be provided with 'a clear orientation', as formulated in the letter drafted on behalf of the Minister of Transportation.

Unfortunately, as a handwritten comment on the draft shows, this letter never reached the editorial office. Since there were objections, in particular regarding the paragraph asking for alignment of future coverage about discontinuing of narrow-gauge lines with the official transportation policies, it was never sent. In addition, the Ministry's letter and the preceding article were linked to the politics of closing narrow-gauge railways throughout the GDR. In concrete terms, the article and the letter from the Ministry are proof of contrary criteria according to which officials and the general public were thinking about narrow-gauge railways. Public opinion was substantially determined by positive and wistful perceptions about narrow-gauge railways, but the Ministry of Transportation as well as the majority of the railway administration, stressed their inefficiency in comparison with modern road transportation and favoured the abolition of all narrow-gauge railways.

Nevertheless, in 1978, narrow-gauge lines of a total length of about 280 kilometres were still in service all over the GDR: nine lines carried both passengers and freight and four mainly very short lines, including the line Oschatz-Kemmlitz, transported freight only. (5) However, these 280 kilometres were only a fragment of the 1,300 kilometre narrow-gauge railway network that had been operated by the Deutsche Reichsbahn in 1960. (6) They were an even smaller proportion of the 2,000-kilometre network that had existed within the territory of the later GDR in 1945. (7) But compared to the development in the Federal Republic of Germany, where narrow-gauge railways had been questioned earlier and had been closed down faster owing to increasing automobilization, which had already started in the 1950s, (8) the 280-kilometre long network in 1978 meant a significant difference at least.

Yet it was not only the delay in deciding the future of narrow-gauge railways and the length of the remaining lines by the end of the 1970s that highlighted the difference between East and West Germany. The main distinction was the way narrow-gauge lines were kept in service in the GDR until the fall of the Iron Curtain and the remarkable arguments that led to their preservation. After ten years, during which the Ministry of Transportation pursued the abolition of--eventually--all narrow-gauge railways in the GDR, in the early 1970s railway authorities, district administrations and railway enthusiasts started to develop serious plans to keep at least some lines open--both as technical monuments and tourist attractions. Referring to these proposals, in 1975 seven lines located in popular tourist regions were chosen for preservation as national monuments of production and transportation history according to the recently passed Monument Preservation Act (Denkmalpflegegesetz). (9) And in 1976 one more line was listed. Thus eight out of thirteen lines still operating in 1978 were running as a kind of 'living-history museum'. With a total length of 233 kilometres, these eight lines were safe not only for the time being but for a long-term perspective; the remaining five lines were supposed to be closed as soon as possible.

Drawing on the records of the GDR Ministry of Transportation in the German Federal Archives and on a large popular literature, (10) this article analyses the discourses about narrow-gauge railways held by the Ministry, by railway and district administrations, and by local railway enthusiasts, starting in the early 1960s. These discourses led to the closing of most of the narrow-gauge railways in the GDR but also enabled the preservation of some lines. Since narrow-gauge railways were ultimately preserved as technical monuments and run as tourist attractions, it is interesting to know how, why, and since when, arguments referring to their historical and touristic value influenced political decision-making. The change of policy in favour of preserving some narrow-gauge railways can only be understood against the background of the GDR's economic inability to accomplish the modernization and rationalization of transportation, and its inability to raise both practical and effective objections toward the plans for discontinuing all narrow-gauge lines. Likewise, the ongoing operation and ultimate preservation of some lines marked a general change toward a greater pragmatism, not only in transportation policy. This change acknowledged the 'huge gap between the world of the plan and the reality of the economy'11 and left behind some of the authority's earlier ambitious ideological objectives.

Planned modernization and rationalization: toward the closure of narrow-gauge railways

Until the early 1960s, only essential investments in the infrastructure and the running and rolling stock of the narrow-gauge railways had been made in the GDR. Accordingly, the condition of 1,300 kilometres of narrow-gauge network deteriorated from one year to the next. (12) With respect to the railway system at large, however, the crisis concerning narrow-gauge railways was neither exceptional nor surprising. Instead, it mirrored the generally poor condition of the GDR railways on a smaller scale. Owing to the destruction resulting from the Second World War and the reparations required by the Soviet Union, the railway system of the Soviet zone and the later GDR faced several challenges. As early as 1945-47, most of the primary railway network's second tracks, as well as several secondary and narrow-gauge lines, had been dismantled on the instructions of the occupying Soviet power. Furthermore, railway electrification, as well as running and rolling stock, and railway factories, had been taken over and taken out of the country. Because of the economic problems and a shortage of raw materials, especially steel and coal, which were caused by the division of Germany, it was not until 1960 that the Deutsche Reichsbahn (13) was able to catch up with maintenance work on the worn-out infrastructure. Likewise, it took until 1963 to attain pre-war levels of railway electrification. At the same time, with respect to the shift from steam to diesel traction, the GDR lagged up to ten years behind the development of railways in the FRG. The last standard-gauge steam engine was put out of regular service in 1988, just one year before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Yet the Reichsbahn was not only obliged to manage with outdated engines but also suffered from a shortage of operational running and rolling stock during the post-war years. In 1950, for instance, less than the half of Reichsbahn's 7,200 engines were fit for service. (14)

The list of challenges that the GDR railway system faced, not only during the first two decades of its existence but until its end, dragged on and on. According to Christopher Kopper, who has worked on the history of the East German Reichsbahn, the situation of the GDR railways up to the early 1960s can be described as 'pillaged and lying in ruins'. (15) Nevertheless, in the summer of 1963, concerned only about the unsatisfactory conditions of narrow-gauge railways, the head office of traction administration (16) for the Reichsbahn informed the Ministry of Transportation that basic maintenance was urgent, if the service of narrow-gauge railways were to be sustained. (17) Particularly with regard to the steam engines--some of which were as much as 60 years old (Figure 2)--it was pointed out that during the course of rotational maintenance work three engines had to be rebuilt practically from scratch.requiring unforeseen expenses. Since this work had only been feasible with economically unjustifiable efforts, the head office of traction administration urged that traffic planning surveys on the future of narrow-gauge railways in the GDR be carried out. These surveys had already been started by the Ministry's Transportation Research Institute in 1962, but it had to shelve the study until the summer of 1963 because it was also occupied with the even more urgent development of a master plan for the primary railway network. (18) It was this master plan that was to serve as the basis for redeveloping railway transport until 1970 and to usher in a new phase of transport in the GDR. Simultaneously, this master plan was part of the realignment of economic policy that the GDR leadership had been pursuing since the beginning of the 1960s. As part of the GDR's attempt to reorganize its economic policy under the heading 'New Economic System', aiming to modernize and rationalize all sectors of the economy and increase its productivity, (19) the transport system was meant to operate more efficiently and lucratively. The redevelopment of transportation was also supposed to meet the public's need for fast, punctual and comfortable passenger transport, as the minister indicated in 1964 when addressing the premises of the programme. (20)


Presumably, in the context of the Research Institute survey, which had been started in November 1962, the head of the planning division of the Reichsbahndirektion of Dresden had already suggested discontinuing all narrow-gauge lines in the district. (21) His argument referred to the shrinking of passenger and freight transport since 1955, to the low average cruising speed of 15 kilometres per hour, to the volume of much needed investment and to the inefficient use of working equipment, vehicles and railway infrastructure. The head of the planning division came to the conclusion that narrow-gauge railways were no longer viable when compared to road transport. In his view, despite the investment needs for the road system, several million marks could be saved by transferring the transport tasks carried out by narrow-gauge railways to the road. His support for the closure of all narrow-gauge lines was not based solely on economic considerations, as he emphasized that a shift in favour of road transportation would lead to improved traffic safety and to a better fulfilment of transport needs. After all, motor vehicles could move faster, more flexibly and more frequently than narrow-gauge railways. In conclusion, the head of the planning division argued that the political significance of discontinuing narrow-gauge lines should not be underestimated: 'In twenty or thirty years, in the age of communism', he argued, 'nobody could imagine an antediluvian system of transport such as a narrow-gauge engine pulling three or four coaches at a speed of 15 or 20 kilometres per hour.'

A few months later, however, in May 1963, the head of the traction administration of the Dresden Reichsbahndirektion informed his superior at the Ministry of Transportation that the head of the planning division had elaborated and passed on this suggestion, advocating abolition, on his own. (22) In addition, the head of the Dresden traction administration clarified that there was indeed a work group entrusted with the discussions about the future of the narrow-gauge railway in the district, but final decisions had not been made. Even though, in the first instance, leaders in the directorate of Dresden cautiously distanced themselves from the suggestion to end the service of all narrow-gauge lines in their district, the earlier argument, which had been put forward by the head of the planning division, prevailed in the following years. And finally, conclusions that mirrored his arguments were to be given as an instruction to all Reichsbahndirektionen. That is not to say that his advocacy of abolishing narrow-gauge lines in the Dresden district served as a blueprint for any decisions that were subsequently made regarding all narrow-gauge railways in the GDR, but that transportation policy, especially with regard to narrow-gauge lines, was in accordance with the earlier statement of the head of the planning division.

In May 1964 a decision was made by the Council of Ministers covering the rationalization of GDR railways in general and the concentration of freight handling in particular. The decision authorized the Minister of Transportation to review all secondary and narrow-gauge railways in relation to their efficiency: inefficient lines would be closed. (23) Consequently, it was foreseeable that narrow-gauge railways might have no role in GDR's future transportation. From the vantage point of both the Ministry and the railway administration, narrow-gauge railways were neither economically nor ideologically justifiable. Evaluated as archaic, ailing, inefficient and, therefore, as a non-socialist means of transportation, narrow-gauge railways should be abolished and replaced by efficient modern lorries and buses. (24)

There was yet another view that questioned the future of the narrow-gauge railways. Beyond rationalization, some transport specialists argued that modernising the infrastructure of the primary railway network, its maintenance and development could not be managed unless the Reichsbahn got rid of a big part of its secondary and narrow-gauge railway network. (25) This argument meant that the decision about the future of narrow-gauge railways increasingly became a central subject of considerations concerning the GDR's transportation by the mid-1960s. As mentioned above, in the summer of 1963, the Transportation Research Institute had to delay any investigation of narrow-gauge lines owing to personnel shortages. At that time, however, the Institute did not evaluate the problem of narrow-gauge railways as insignificant, but only as less significant in comparison with the development of a master plan for the primary railway network. (26)

Though it can be assumed that the shutdown of the narrow-gauge railways had already been decided politically by this time, in December 1964 the Transportation Research Institute (an adjunct of the Ministry), started examining the efficiency of 31 narrow-gauge lines (1,009 kilometres) that were still in existence. (27) According to a memorandum of May 1966, which highlights the decision to carry out the rationalization of Reichsbahn transport by shutting down narrow-gauge and secondary standard-gauge lines, it was the Research Institute's job to work out the 'economic reasons' for this political will. (28) In the course of the survey on narrow-gauge railways alone, however, the Institute compared narrow-gauge rail and road transport especially, focusing on material and monetary investment needs, cost recovery and labour demand during 1970 (see Table 1). Even the re-gauging of narrow-gauge lines to standard gauge was taken into consideration at the beginning of the survey. But it was agreed that this option would not be pursued as soon as it became clear during the course of the survey that this alternative would not be feasible.

The comparative survey was completed in 1966 with the recommendation to gradually close all narrow-gauge lines--except for two--and to transfer to road transport. (29) Both the line in Bad Muskau and the one between Radebeul and Radeburg proved to be more efficient and, rather than shifting their services to the road, were to be kept in use. (30) In the long term, however, it was already assumed that investments in maintenance and acquisition of running and rolling stock, and in infrastructure would be expedient, even if these two railways appeared to have an advantage over lorry and bus transport at the time. (31) Since the railway in Bad Muskau was running exclusively as a factory railway serving local collieries, clay pits and smaller firms, the Research Institute advised that the line should be detached from the operations of the Reichsbahn and handed over to local industry. In the case of the Radebeul-Radeburg line, the final report of the survey indicated some doubt about the results and suggested in-depth re-examination. It was assumed that local factories had provided data which distorted the comparison of narrow-gauge and road transport--to the disadvantage of the latter. (32) Whether this claim was true or not, the doubt alone illustrates both the scepticism of the authorities as well as researchers regarding the narrow-gauge railways and the political will against their continuation.

Following the survey, 360 kilometres of the network were to be put out of service by 1970. Another 580 kilometres were recommended for closure by 1975. Approximately 1,500 employees would be released. This was of special significance bearing in mind that GDR suffered a permanent labour shortage because of its backward and, therefore, labour-intensive economy, and a permanent loss of population--especially before 1961, the year when the GDR closed its borders by erecting the Berlin Wall. As a consequence of the limited transport capacities caused by the loss of the second track and the lack of running and rolling stock, the Reichsbahn, for instance, depended on a system of railway control that facilitated train operations at short intervals and led to a maximum utilization of the existing resources, but also required a large workforce. In addition to this benefit to human resources, the report repeated the well-known advantages of shifting narrow-gauge transport to the road, among which were predictions of an improvement in transport capacities, shorter carriage times and a reduction in investment costs. All in all, the authors of the final report concluded that the abolition of the narrow-gauge railways and the shift of transportation on to the road would meet the basic principles of the recently approved 'New Economic System'.

Partial reversion: failed modernization and re-evaluation of narrow-gauge railways

By 1966 the fate of the narrow-gauge railways appeared to be sealed. The reality, however, was different. In some cases, lines were closed rapidly without any consideration as to whether adequate road transport was available. In other cases, closing dates had to be postponed repeatedly owing to a shortage of motor vehicles for public transport and inappropriate investment in the road infrastructure. (33) In almost all cases, however, there was scepticism and even resistance to the plans to discontinue the railways, particularly from people living along the track. As transportation planners had already learnt in the course of the previous survey, reservations were to be expected. According to the final report, there were indications that the 'narrow-gauge railways as a traditional mean of transport' were considered the best transport solution by both the local population and industry, despite the fact that the conditions that had initially made the construction of the narrow-gauge railway necessary no longer existed. (34) The Research Institute's report also stated that the population had developed an affectionate relationship with the narrow-gauge lines during their long existence, and that this would make their abolition look like 'absolute regression'. Nevertheless, the experts were convinced that these attitudes could be challenged by providing adequate information. By emphasizing the economic necessity of the shift, transport planners and authorities hoped to break down any resistance against the shutdown of narrow-gauge lines and to assist the 'naturalization of road transport'. Representatives of the Research Institute (and coverage in the local press) would therefore explain to people that the discontinuation of the little railways was a 'necessary measure of the technological revolution and socialist rationalization'. (35)

In the following years the modernization and rationalization of transportation, and particularly the abolition of narrow-gauge railways, were debated in several printed publications. Yet those reports that justified the shutdown of the narrow-gauge railways had little influence among the track-side population. On the contrary, people paid particular attention to reports that stressed the deplorable state of the running and rolling stock, the loss of already closed lines or the imminent shutdown of others. Requesting a long-term future for the little railways, these reports simultaneously pointed out the importance of the remaining lines: their tourist value, the leisure ride at low speed and their value as testimonials of the history of transport technology. (36) Such thinking gained special public recognition; it was definitely for the Ministry and had been criticized as unreasonable narrow-gauge romanticism in the previously mentioned paper of 1978.

Subsequently, public discussion about narrow-gauge railways could never be put to rest, no matter what efforts were made by the Ministry and its associates. At the same time, technical problems with the shift from narrow-gauge track to the road could not be solved. Accordingly, in the early 1970s, narrow-gauge railways explicitly became part of the Ministry's agenda again. To some extent, this may have been connected to a personnel change in 1970 at the top of the Ministry. According to an assessment by Christopher Kopper, there was at least one significant difference between the earlier minister and his successor. Erwin Kramer, the Minister of Transportation 1954-70 and promoter of the closure of narrow-gauge railways for the purpose of transportation's modernization and nationalization, was a visionary with an idea of the future for the Reichsbahn. In contrast, his successor in office until the change in the political system (1989), Otto Arndt, was a rather down-to-earth minister and a pragmatic manager of crisis and shortage. (37)

If one shifts the focus from the personnel change to a change in policy, the new interest in narrow-gauge railways at the highest level of the Ministry can likewise be seen as related to the renunciation by GDR leadership of the policy of the 'New Economic System' and its substitution by the principles of the 'Unity of Social and Economic Policy'. The new policy broke from the primacy of economy that was constitutive for the 'New Economic System' and dominated the earlier evaluation of narrow-gauge railways. For the purpose of increasing the standard of living and public satisfaction, from 1971 this primacy of economic considerations was replaced by greater consideration of social and cultural aspects. (38)

Although personnel policy and changes in policy had shaped the new discussions about narrow-gauge railways since the beginning of the 1970s, persistent and aggravating technical troubles arose concerning the (planned) shift in transportation, and the ongoing protests by railway enthusiasts and people living along the lines. Even the local authorities objected to the planned closure of narrow-gauge railways. (39) Following the Ministry's decision to reinvolve itself with narrow-gauge transport, several protesting petitions, so-called Eingaben, (40) reached the Ministry of Transportation and gave rise to the re-evaluation of this form of transport, which finally led to a partial revision in the official view about narrow-gauge railways. (41) Unfortunately, we could not find any of the petitions that were submitted by citizens around 1970. Nevertheless, many Eingaben were drawn up almost twenty years later when there were new plans to shut down one of the lines that had been preserved under the Monument Preservation Act in 1975. Having been discussed repeatedly since the mid-1980s, plans to put the narrow-gauge railway near the Saxon town of Zittau out of service because of a proposed expansion of a lignite opencast mining in the area started to take on concrete shape. (42) Albeit, from 1988, one petition addressed and sent to the Minister of Transportation outlines arguments characterized both by enthusiasm for the narrow-gauge railways and a lack of understanding about plans to close them:
   We would like to inform you that in our opinion it is irresponsible
   to close down one of the most beautiful lines of narrow-gauge
   railway that has remained for us. It would really hurt if this
   railway, which is the gate to the Zittau Mountains, which has an
   incomparable history and creates an incomparable unity between
   people and nature, will be shut down due to renovation problems and
   so-called economic necessities. If you publish a call to all the
   railway fans of our republic asking for their support, we believe
   that numerous volunteers would answer and help to manage the
   necessary maintenance works to save the railway without claiming
   any payment--just to preserve this treasure of our republic. (43)

In 1972, however, an objection by the district authorities was the straw that broke the camel's back. When local party representatives and the council of the district of Halle pleaded against the proposed shutdown of one of the famous narrow-gauge railways located in the Harz Mountains (i.e the line connecting the towns of Gernrode and Harzgerode/Strabberg), the Minister of Transportation felt obliged to take on the problem again and demanded re-examination of the matter. (44) Coincidentally, the minister had served as the Vice-President of the Reichsbahndirektion Halle at the start of his career. (45) Although it is only an assumption, the fact that an objection by the authorities of the district of Halle was the immediate reason for a serious re-examination of the remaining narrow-gauge lines gives cause for contemplation both about the minister's role and the significance of the change in personnel at the top of the ministry. In concrete terms, one can assume that the local authorities' complaints about the forthcoming closing of the line would have fallen on sympathetic ministerial ears as he may have been familiar with the local circumstances, in particular with the importance of the railway, and also with some of the local authorities from his own time of service in the district.

In the following proceedings, which were set up by the minister in the early autumn of 1972, the economic desirability of shifting transportation to the road was confirmed, as planned in the mid-1960s. At the same time, however, there was criticism that the objectives of the previous survey had focused on 'economic aspects' only, while social and cultural aspects had not been taken seriously. (46) Taking these arguments and the interventions of several local party representatives into consideration, the senior ranks at the ministry eventually accepted that narrow-gauge railways, especially those in tourist regions, provided 'authentic experiences', which should have been integrated in the development of recreational areas. (47) Hence, a committee was established to examine the remaining lines. This committee was still instructed to press ahead with closing the majority of the little railways. But in contrast to the earlier discussions, the committee was also required to view the actual realities of the railways and, in particular, to choose some lines for preservation. In connection with this objective, the committee was told to work out a concept dealing with questions as to how operation of the lines could be organized more efficiently and lucratively, and how their attractiveness could be increased in order to to operate as tourist attractions. (48)

There is unfortunately no information available in the records about how the committee drew up the shortlist of lines that were to be preserved. Nevertheless, in carrying out its general mission, the committee made proposals that were aimed primarily at the safety of the railway facilities and the allocation of running and rolling stock from lines that had already been closed, or those which were about to be closed. In addition, the committee proposed to promote the selected railways as tourist lines nationwide and internationally. One of the narrow-gauge lines chosen for preservation, the Radebeul-Radeburg line, was recommended explicitly as a 'museum railway'. (49) Following this recommendation, the oldest and best preserved steam engines and rolling stock on the line were placed under responsibility of the Dresden Museum of Transportation along with the daily running trains as a so-called Traditionszug. However, because of a decades-long lack of improvements to narrow-gauge railways, in many places it was necessary to start maintenance work as soon as the decision for preservation of the lines was made. As shown by the example of the Gernrode-Harzgerode/ StraEberg line--well known by railway enthusiasts all over the world as the Selketalbahn (Figure 3)--this maintenance work was conducted not only by railway workers but also by enthusiastic volunteers, some of them even from abroad. (50)

Changing frames, changing benchmarks: the politics of preservation

Until the beginning of the 1970s, the fate of East German narrow-gauge railways had been discussed among transportation authorities and railway administration within a discursive framework that was dominated by the primacy of economy and the principles of modernization and rationalization. From this viewpoint, all narrow-gauge railways were to be closed down by 1975 at the latest, since the political aim of the GDR leadership was to set up an efficient system of transportation by introducing or expanding modern transport technologies and modes of organization. This ambition mirrored the politically aspired attainment of a socialist society, and the desire to catch up with developments already made in other countries. (51)


Yet in 1972, when the realization prevailed once and for all--even among the high-ranking authorities of the Ministry of Transportation--that neither the planned closure nor the takeover of transport by buses and lorries was guaranteed, new criteria were taken into account regarding narrow-gauge railways. In addition to modernization and rationalization, the authorities undertook a re-evaluation of both the feasibility of their previous transportation policy and the role that narrow-gauge railways should play in the future. Given the continuing technical difficulties in accomplishing the shift from narrow-gauge transport to the road, and the numerous complaints about the planned shutdowns, some of the remaining lines would be preserved after 1975 and redeveloped as so-called Touristikbahnen.

The indication that some narrow-gauge railways were used by weekenders or tourists had already been noted in the investigations of the Transportation Research Institute before 1966. For instance, referring to the 'political, cultural and social factors' of the plans to discontinue the lines, the interim report on the Wernigerode-Nordhausen line across the Harz Mountains, alluded to the railway's importance for tourism and pointed out that it was 'conspicuously known and familiar among the people'. Emphasizing the region's attractiveness to tourists, and that the narrow-gauge railway as 'a characteristic feature of the Harz landscape' was an essential part of the scenery, the report called for consideration of these 'non-economic aspects' in any decision about whether the railway should be closed. (52) At that time, however, it was fruitless to reason about 'non-economic aspects' in view of the primacy of economy and the efforts for modernization and rationalization, as they were essential for the transportation policy derived from the 'New Economic System'. In other words, stressing their historic value and touristic significance, as enthusiasts and some local authorities did, went beyond the criteria set by transportation authorities.

For both the Ministry of Transportation and the railway administration, narrow-gauge railways appeared as only a means of transportation; moreover they appeared inefficient and outmoded. In their opinion, the antique character of these railways was insufficient justification for keeping the little railways running, either as a normal or a tourist service. From the perspective of modernization and rationalization, the only option was closure. The only consideration that could temporarily ensure the survival of a narrow-gauge railway at that time was its economic superiority when compared to road transport, as the example of the Radebeul-Radeburg line shows. In this case, it was not only the predictable deficiency of lorries serving the local industry that led to the recommendation to keep the narrow-gauge railway in service, but also warnings that buses would not have the capacity to cope with crowds of tourists. On some days even a narrow-gauge train, comprising several coaches, would hardly have been able to cope with the rush of trippers coming to visit the historical and recreational sites along the track. (53) In general, though, the authors of the final report expected that the shift in public transportation from narrow-gauge track to road would be able to meet weekenders' and holiday travellers' interests, since buses were able to run faster and more safely than narrow-gauge railways. (54)

In discussions during the 1960s the authorities viewed narrow-gauge railways simply as the means of transport and did not take into account the pleasurable aspects of the journey itself, as one might expect if the railway's touristic significance had been taken seriously. However, when the Ministry of Transportation reviewed its former decisions, in favour of their preservation and utilization, this was more than just an acknowledgement of their historical and touristic value according to enthusiasts' proposals or admitting a singular failure in one particular area. Keeping some of the little railways in service both as national monuments and tourist attractions simultaneously reflected the reorientation of social, cultural and economic policy according to the 'Unity of Social and Economic Policy', itself related to the realization of greater political failures when there was a change in GDR leadership. Hence, the answer to the question about why narrow-gauge railways should be preserved--as asked (and answered) in an article published in a railway magazine in 1980 (55)--was not limited to repetition of the railways' historical and touristic value. Instead, the case for preservation was considered within a broader framework: it was to be scrutinized in terms of its political utilization.

In her thesis 'Bringing Culture to the Masses', the historian Esther von Richthofen has argued that there was a change in cultural policy in the early 1970s, which was related to the process of political reorganization when Erich Honecker, General Secretary of the Unified Socialist Party (SED) from 1971, came into power, though its ideological roots dated back even to the 1960s. As Richthofen writes, this change was characterized by a broadening of what was understood as culture as well as what was accepted as satisfying people's cultural preferences--even the 'lowbrow' ones. (56)
   When it became clear that people pursued cultural activities
   according to their own choosing, rather than adhering to SED
   demands, the party leaders realised that they needed to adjust. If
   people favoured nature activities, then the regime would
   acknowledge this and be sure to establish state-organised nature
   clubs and societies to tie people to the cultural structures. (57)

Thus it appears that GDR leadership not only aimed to raise the population's standard of living and contentment but also hoped 'to gain greater influence over people's free time'. (58) Assuming, however, that this change was reflected in the re-evaluation of narrow-gauge railways makes sense in two respects. First, as railway enthusiasts had already suggested, choosing some narrow-gauge railways for preservation could be seen as a way of channelling railway enthusiasm in constructive directions for the purpose of social integration. By engaging the railway enthusiast movement, the authorities attempted to integrate it into the project of building socialism instead of complaining about enthusiasts' antagonistic interests. Second, the redevelopment of narrow-gauge railways as tourist attractions contributed to the authorities' efforts to offer a broad range of leisure activities 'for the happiness and well-being of the people and for the interests of the working class and all workers'. (59) Accordingly, as stated in the above-mentioned railway magazine, 'the DR railroader helped to respond to people's desires for useful leisure time and recreation and to increase GDR's attractiveness as a destination' by providing touristic narrow-gauge transport. (60)

The domestic policy of social contentment was at the same time combined with an attempt to demarcate the GDR from the FRG as an independent nation. According to a German researcher who has worked on the general development of the protection of cultural assets, the East German Denkmalpflegegesetz of 1975 was committed to this new political course, which had been evident since the beginning of the 1970s. (61) Therefore, narrow-gauge railways were preserved in order to represent a socialist attitude toward history and the testimonials of history. (62) In comparison with Western European countries, especially in comparison to West Germany, the acknowledgement of old railway materials as valuable testimonials of technical and economic history helped to stress the GDR's different understanding of what was worth preserving for the sake of its national identity.

It would, however, be misleading to view the preservation of narrow-gauge railways only against the backdrop of social and cultural utilization, without taking into account the economic advantages that transportation authorities increasingly recognized from the early 1970s. For instance, as the minister's arguments for the decision to retain the Putbus-Gohren line show, economic considerations were still pursued, albeit in a way that was more oriented to the GDR's actual capabilities than to its overly ambitious attempts at modernizing transportation. Because of the great number of passengers, necessary but inpracticable investments in road transport, and also in terms of energy policy, the Minister of Transportation agreed with the suggestion to keep the line in service, which had been submitted by the responsible Reichsbahn directorate. (63) In particular regarding energy policy, steam-run narrow-gauge railways proved to be one appropriate measure for coping with the chronic lack of oil that the GDR had been experiencing--even more since the oil crisis of the 1970s. However, although the energy supply considerations was one fact that, at first, enabled the preservation of some lines, it would finally work against the preservation of narrow-gauge railways, as became apparent later on. As mentioned above, starting in the mid-1980s, the authorities pressed ahead with concepts that targeted discontinuation of the narrow-gauge railway crossing the Zittau Mountains, owing to the planned exploitation of a lignite deposit in the area. Although German reunification put an end to the project before it could be put into action, (64) the plan demonstrates the actual hierarchy of interests that determined the GDR leadership's decisions.

Nevertheless, there is little doubt that the partial preservation of narrow-gauge railways would have been unthinkable without the support of the Ministry of Transportation and the Reichsbahn authorities, as it arose as a consequence of the political changes in the early 1970s. Yet, the idea of preserving some narrow-gauge railways and keeping them running as tourist attractions, did not come from the railway administration or the Ministry of Transportation but was born out of local interests and (narrow-gauge) railway enthusiasm. If one bears this in mind, the history of narrow-gauge railways in East Germany can be seen as a counter-example to the claim that 'all areas of social and economic policy were ... non-negotiable' (65) in the GDR. It illustrates, in contrast, how GDR authorities were 'deflected from their original ideas as a result of interaction between different groups of agents' (66) and changing circumstances.


Taking as a point of departure one of the thirteen narrow-gauge lines that were still operating in the GDR of the late 1970s, this article has examined the discourses among transportation authorities and specialists, local authorities and railway enthusiasts that resulted in the preservation of eight lines as technical monuments, and for touristic purposes. Although the Oschatz-Kemmlitz line, mentioned on the beginning of this article, was neither listed according to the Monument Preservation Act in 1975 nor run as a tourist attraction, the example illustrates some of the considerations that played a role both in the discourses concerning the little railways and in the decision to continue some operations. Although the railway's closure had been planned more than ten years earlier, the Ministry of Transportation could not act on its decision until 1978. While the Ministry went ahead with plans to shut down the line as soon as possible, the Reichsbahn was forced to keep it in service owing to the difficulty of shifting transportation to the road. Local railroaders, on the other hand, lamented the deterioration of the railway and clamoured for its continuation. Their views were then adopted by enthusiasts who bemoaned the deterioration of narrow-gauge railways at large.

Discussions on narrow-gauge lines in general were initiated at a time when the GDR leadership was attempting to modernize and rationalize not only transportation but the entire society by means of the introduction of a 'New Economic System', which aimed to increase prosperity and press ahead with building socialism. Given these objectives, in the 1960s the continuation of the narrow-gauge operation must have been questioned because transportation authorities and railway administration viewed the little railways not only as outdated, ailing and inefficient but as a non-socialist means of transportation. When this ideological view had finally been confirmed by an in-depth comparative survey on the efficiency of narrow-gauge and road transport, the narrow-gauge railways should have been shut down by 1975. However, just as planned modernization and rationalization failed, so did the shift from narrow-gauge track to the road. In some cases, lines were hastily shut down before foundations had been put in place to shift transport to the road. In other cases closures were repeatedly postponed either because of a shortage of buses and lorries or owing to bad road infrastructure.

In the course of decision-making of the mid-1960s and implementation before 1970, critical voices were raised both from local authorities and local population. But as long as the discontinuation of narrow-gauge railways was framed by modernization and rationalization and regarded as a step toward the attainment of a socialist society, there was no reason for the authorities or leadership to question the decision itself. There was, at the same time, no reason to consider any of the indications that narrow-gauge railways were of importance for touristic purposes, let alone the complaints of railway enthusiasts. Both these arguments were outside the criteria according to which the future system of transportation was to have been established. Hence, it was not until the renunciation of the 'New Economic System' that high-ranking authorities realized the need to review the earlier decision and to consider other ways of dealing with the narrow-gauge lines, namely, their preservation and utilization as urged by some local authorities and railway enthusiasts.

This review was made possible partly because it refrained from the economically biased modernization efforts of the 'New Economic System'. It also met the objectives of the alternatively established political line of the 'Unity of Social and Economic Policy'. By acknowledging and implementing proposals both for preservation and touristic utilization of narrow-gauge railways, GDR leadership had the opportunity to demonstrate its understanding of popular interests and to extend tourism leisure activities within East German borders. The preservation of outdated railways also helped the GDR to emphasise its different view of history, which was opposed to bourgeois historiography and was utilized to differentiate the GDR from the FRG. At the same time, leadership and transportation authorities were distancing themselves from the earlier decisions of the 1960s to the extent that it became obvious that maintaining the status quo of narrow-gauge railways had several economic advantages, especially since problems with oil supply had increased. Therefore, some lines were kept in service even though they had not been earmarked for preservation and should have been shut down.

In 1978, the workers on the Oschatz-Kemmlitz narrow-gauge line expressed their hopes that it would continue running until 2000. In fact, their hopes were exceeded. The difficulty in establishing road transport made this railway an essential means of transportation for kaolin until the reunification of Germany, until and after 1990. Even under the conditions of a free market economy the little railway survived! It did so until 2001 when the management of the kaolin mine decided not to use the services of the now privatized railway. However, the line is still in service, albeit mostly as a tourist attraction (67) like all the narrow-gauge railways that were preserved according to the decision of the Ministry of Transportation in 1972, and like all the lines that have been rebuilt in reunified Germany. (68)

Peter Horz and Marcus Richter

Universities of Gottingen and Bamberg, Germany


(1) Erich Preufi, 'Schmalspurbahn bis zum Jahr 2000', Fahrt frei, 30:11 (1978), 10.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Bundesarchiv, Berlin (hereafter BArch), GDR Ministry of Transportation files DM 1-13062, draft of a letter drawn up by the Ministerium fur Verkehrswesen: Abteilung Planung, addressed to the editorial office of the magazine Fahrt, dated 20 July 1978.

(4) Ibid.

(5) Cf. anon., 'Das Schicksal der Schmalspurbahnen in der DDR', Eisenbahnpraxis, 24:3 (1980), 121-5.

(6) Cf. Klaus Kieper, Reiner Preufi and Elfriede Rehbein, Schmalspurbahnen-Archiv (Berlin, Transpress Verlag, 1982), p. xlvii.

(7) Cf. Gunther Feuereissen, Reisen mit der Schmalspurbahn: Ein Farbbildband von den letzten Schmalspurstrecken zwischen Ostsee und Erzgebirge (Berlin, Transpress Verlag, 1985), p. 8.

(8) Cf. Reiner Preufi, Schmalspurbahnen in Deutschland: Geschichte, Strecken, Fahrzeuge (Berlin, Transpress Verlag, 1994), pp. 29-32.

(9) See 'Gesetz zur Erhaltung der Denkmale in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (Denkmalpflegegesetz) vom 19. Juni 1975', Gesetzesblatt der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik Teil I, Nr. 26, Berlin 27. Juni 1975.

(10) There is a large amount of popular literature on the history of German narrow-gauge railways in general as well as on specific lines. The development of narrow-gauge railways in the GDR was also a subject of discussions both in newspapers for the general public and in several magazines dealing with railway themes.

(11) Jurgen Kocka, Civil Society and Dictatorship in Modern German History (Hanover, NH, University Press of New England, 2010), p. 50.

(12) Cf. Kieper, Preufi and Rehbein, Schmalspurbahnen-A, pp. xli-xlii.

(13) Primarily caused by proprietary reasons, state-run GDR railway retained the company name Deutsche Reichsbahn which was established in the 1920s, in the period of Weimar Republic, and resumed in the days of Third Reich, too.

(14) Cf. Christopher Kopper, 'Die Deutsche Reichsbahn, 1949-1989', in Lothar Gall and Manfred Pohl (eds), Die Eisenbahn in Deutschland. Von den Anfangen bis zur Gegenwart (Munchen, Beck Verlag, 1999), pp. 281-316.

(15) Christopher Kopper, 'Ausgeplundert, in Ruinen ...: Der Wiederaufbau der Deutschen Reichsbahn von 1945 bis 1963', Zeitschrift fur Unternehmensgeschichte 42:2 (1997), 163-84.

(16) On ministerial level, the GDR railway administration was organized into five functional divisions, so-called Hauptverwaltungen. There was a head office of traction administration, one of wagon administration, one of operation and transport services, one of railway installations and one of security and telecommunications. In addition, the railway network of the GDR was divided into eight regional administrative directorates (Reichsbahndirektionen), which mirrored the functional division on regional level.

(17) BArch, DM 1-8675, paper drawn up by the Maschinenwirtschaft, concerning Perspektive der Schmalspurstrecken, dated 16 August 1963.

(18) BArch, DM 1-8675, paper drawn up by the Hauptverwaltung Maschinenwirtschaft, addressed to the Institut fur Verkehrsforschung, concerning Perspektive der Schmalspurstrecken, dated 22 August 1963.

(19) BArch, DM 1-22570, Referat des Gen. Ministers der der Direktive fur den Perspektivplan am 25.9.64.

(20) For a broad insight into the 'New Economic System', see Andre Steiner, Die DDR-Wirtschaftsreform der sechziger Jahre: Konflikt zwischen Effizienz- und Machtkalkul (Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 1999).

(21) BArch, DM 1-8675, paper drawn up by the Reichsbahndirektion Dresden: Leiter der Abteilung Planung, concerning Begrundung eines Vorschlags zur Liquidation aller Schmalspurbahnen im Rbd.-Bezirk, dated 27 November 1962.

(22) BArch, DM 1-8675, paper drawn up by the Reichsbahndirektion Dresden: Verwaltung Maschinenwirtschaft, addressed to the Hauptverwaltung Maschinenwirtschaft, concerning Vorschlag zur Liquidation aller Schmalspurbahnen im, dated 9 May 1963.

(23) BArch, DC 20-I/4, Ministerratsbeschlub uber die Weiterentwicklung des Wagenladungsknotenverkehrs in der DDR, 14 May 1964.

(24) This position is also indicated in several perspective papers in the German Federal Archives which were developed by the Ministry of Transportation according to the Ministerratsbeschluss: e.g. BArch, DM 1-4325, containing Programm: Entwicklung und Ausbau des Eisenbahnnetzes, dated November 1964.

(25) BArch, DM 1-4506, paper concerning Varianten zur Reduzierung und Vereinfachung des Streckennetzes der DR, dated 1968.

(26) BArch, DM 1-8675, paper drawn up by the Institut fur Verkehrsforschung, addressed to the Hauptverwaltung Maschinenwirtschaft, concerning Perspektive der Schmalspurstrecken, dated 5 September 1963.

(27) See BArch, DM 1-7133, final report of the Transportation Research Institute (Institut fur Verkehrsforschung), concerning Arbeitsteilung zwischen Eisenbahn und Kraftverkehr im Einzugsbereich der Schmalspurbahnen, dated June 1966.

(28) BArch, DM 1-6040, Beschlussvorlage fur das Prasidium des Ministerrates, concerning the development of transportation, dated 14 May 1966.

(29) BArch, DM 1-7133, final report of the Transportation Research Institute.

(30) See also BArch, DM 101-49, interim report of the Transportation Research Institute on the line of Bad Muskau, dated January 1966; BArch, DM 101-55, interim report on the line Radebeul Ost-Radeburg, dated December 1965.

(31) BArch, DM 1-7133, final report of the Transportation Research Institute.

(32) Ibid.

(33) Cf. Werner Mockel, 'Arbeitsteilung Schiene/StraBe noch vor Hindernissen', Fahrt frei 19:1 (1967), 5.

(34) BArch, DM 1-7133, final report of the Transportation Research Institute.

(35) Ibid.

(36) See e.g. John Stave, 'Der Pfiff auf dem letzten Loch', Wochenpost 19:49 (1972), 18, and Ernst Rohl, 'Stippvisite auf Rugen', Eulenspiegel 26 (1972) 4th June issue, 8-9.

(37) Cf. Kopper, 'Die Deutsche Reichsbahn, 1949-1989', p. 311.

(38) See Dietrich Staritz, Geschichte der DDR (Frankfurt a. M., Suhrkamp, 1996), pp. 282-7.

(39) For instance, see BArch, DM 1-9536, submission of the Volkskammer member ClausDieter Knopfler, representative of the Kreis Annaberg-Buchholz, concerning the continuation of the narrow-gauge line Cranzahl-Oberwiesenthal for the purpose of tourism, addressed to the Minister of Transportation, dated 23 July 1968.

(40) For an insight into the GDR-specific 'cultural practice' of writing Eingaben and an evaluation of how and in which extent it affected political decision-making, see Ina Merkel and Felix Muhlberg, 'Eingaben und Offentlichkeit', in Ina Merkel (ed.), Wir sind doch nicht die Meckerecke der Nation! Briefe an das Fernsehen der DDR (Berlin, Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2000), pp. 11-46.

(41) BArch, DM 1-7202, memorandum of the first meeting of the committee Schmalspurbahnen on 4 October 1972, and BArch, DM 1-13062, die Dienstbesprechung des Ministers, concerning Perspektive der Schmalspurbahnen der DR, dated 17 August 1973.

(42) See Peter Abraham, 'Was wird mit der Zittauer "Bimmelbahn"?', Eisenbahnpraxis 33:6 (1989), 226.

(43) BArch, DM 1-13127, petition to the Minister of Transportation, concerning Stillegungsplane der Eisenbahnstrecke Zittau, dated 1 May 1988 (translated by the authors).

(44) BArch, DM 1-13062, Vorlage fur die Dienstbesprechung des Ministers, concerning Perspektive der Schmalspurbahnen der DR, dated 17 August 1973.

(45) Cf. Kopper, 'Die Deutsche Reichsbahn, 1949-1989', p. 286.

(46) BArch, DM 1-13062, Vorlage fur die Dienstbesprechung des Ministers.

(47) Ibid.

(48) Ibid., and BArch, DM 1-7202, memorandum of the first meeting of the committee Schmalspurbahnen.

(49) BArch, DM 1-13062, Vorlage fur die Dienstbesprechung des Ministers.

(50) Cf. Gerhard Zieglgansberger and Hans Roper, Die bahn (Berlin, Transpress Verlag, 1989), pp. 61-3.

(51) See the argumentation of GDR's Minister of Transportation (1950-70), Erwin Kramer, 'Das sozialistische Verkehrswesen der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik in der Periode des umfassenden Aufbaus des Sozialismus', Die Technik 19:10 (1964), 699-703.

(52) BArch, DM 101-50, interim report of the Transportation Research Institute on the line Nordhausen-Wernigerode, dated 1965.

(53) BArch, DM 101-55, interim report on the line Radebeul Ost-Radeburg, dated December 1965.

(54) BArch, DM 1-7133, final report of the Transportation Research Institute.

(55) Anon., 'Das Schicksal der Schmalspurbahnen in der DDR', 124.

(56) Cf. Esther von Richthofen, Bringing Culture to the Masses: Control, Compromise and Participation in the GDR (New York and Oxford, Berghahn Books, 2009), pp. 171-81.

(57) Ibid., pp. 176-77.

(58) Ibid., p. 179.

(59) Erich Honecker, General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), at the Eighth Party Congress in 1971, quoted in Jan Herman Brinks, Paradigms of Political Change--Luther, Frederick II, and Bismarck: The GDR on Its Way to German Unity (Milwaukee, Marquette University Press, 2001), p. 190.

(60) Anon., 'Das Schicksal der Schmalspurbahnen in der DDR', 125.

(61) Cf. Kerstin Odendahl, Kulturguterschutz: Entwicklung, Struktur und Dogmatik eines ebenenubergreifenden Normensystems (Tubingen, Mohr Siebeck Verlag, 2005), p. 94.

(62) For an insight into the change that GDR leadership and historiography were undergoing in the early 1970s, especially referring to the ideas of 'heritage' and 'tradition', see Brinks, Paradigms of Political Change, pp. 190-220.

(63) BArch, DM 1-13062, letter drawn up by the Ministry of Transportation, addressed to the President of the Reichsbahndirektion of Greifswald, concerning the line Putbus-Gohren, dated 8 August 1975.

(64) See Reiner Preufi, 'Noch einmal: Zittauer "Bimmelbahn" ', Eisenbahnpraxis 34:2 (1990), 63.

(65) Richthofen, Bringing Culture to the Masses, p. 216.

(66) Ibid.

(67) See the website of the company operating the line Oschatz-Mugeln, www.doellnitzbahn. de, accessed 20 March 2011.

(68) For an impression of a successful attempt both to rebuild one of the narrow-gauge line that has been shut down and demounted due to the decisions of the 1960s and to operate it for museal and/or touristic purposes, see Rainer Schafer, 'Vergessene Schmalspurbahnen: Wiederbelebung', Modelleisenbahner 52:1 (2003), 44-7.

Addresses for correspondence

Peter F. N. Horz, Institut fur Kulturanthropologie / Europaeische Anthropologie Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, Friedlaender Weg 2, D-3 7085 Goettingen. E-mail

Marcus Richter, Europaeische Ethnolgie, Universi taet Bamberg, Am Kranen 12, 96045 Bamberg. E-mail
Table 1 Selected data from the comparative survey of 31 narrow-gauge
railways and road transport conducted by the Transportation Research
Institute in 1965-66, taking into account only the lines that are
dealt with in the article, i.e. the eight lines that have were
preserved under the Monument Preservation Act, and the lines of
Oschatz-Kroptewitz and Bad Muskau, 1970

                    Bad Doberan              Cranzahl
                    -              Bad       -
                    Kuhlungsborn   Muskau    Oberwiesenthal

transport volumes
freight transport      33.1        166.0     295.7
(1000 tonnes)
public transport    1,760.0        -         470.0
(1000 persons)
investment needs (million marks) (c)
narrow-gauge            5.640       10.400     5.281
road                    1.877       18.000     4.200
labour demand (persons)
narrow-gauge           63           77        81
road                   34           17        41
cost recovery
narrow-gauge           47.5         32.2      26.0
road                  170.0        141.1      77.6
saving of                                     26.5
goods wagons (d)
need of motor vehicles
lorries                 5           13        28
buses                  16          -           8
trailers            -                5       -

                    Gernrode      Freital-
                    -             Hainsberg   Oschatz      Putbus
                    Harzgerode/   -           -            -
                    Strauberg     Kipsdorf    Kroptewitz   Gohren
                                              (a)          (b)

transport volumes
freight transport   100.0         233.3       350.0         47.0
(1000 tonnes)
public transport    220.0         540.0       219.0        876.3
(1000 persons)
investment needs (million marks) (c)
narrow-gauge          4.960        18.100      11.178       21.800
road                  1.950        13.800      12.755        3.050
labour demand (persons)
narrow-gauge         67           171         130          139
road                 29            70          89           54
cost recovery
narrow-gauge         12.1          17.2        21.4         23.8
road                 82.0          97.8       108.6        153.2
saving of                          26.0        64.5
goods wagons (d)
need of motor vehicles
lorries               8            26          39            7
buses                 7             5          17           22
trailers            -             -            39          -

                    Radebeul    Wernigerode   -
                    -           -             Oybinl      total of all
                    Radeburg    Nordhausen    Johnsdorf   31 lines

transport volumes
freight transport     140.7       227.0       169.0       3,609.1
(1000 tonnes)
public transport    1,180.0     2,520.0       630.0       14,867.7
(1000 persons)
investment needs (million marks) (c)
narrow-gauge           13.126      12.242      11.154        301.180
road                   17.052      13.900       6.302        163.748
labour demand (persons)
narrow-gauge           85         280          93          2,743
road                   62         170          40          1,193
cost recovery
narrow-gauge           22.2        19.3        10.8           17.9
road                  105.3        96.0       139.0          113.9
saving of              15.7        28.5        39.0          408.2
goods wagons (d)
need of motor vehicles
lorries               19           29           8            366
buses                 13           57           8            282
trailers            -              30           2            120

Notes: (a) The line Oschatz-Kemmlitz was part of the line
Oschatz-Kroptewitz to which the given data refers.

(b) The data refer to the former line Altefahr-Gohren of
which the preserved line Putbus-Gohren was only one half.

(c) In a talk given by the Minister of Transportation
in September 1964, the total budget of the modernization
and rationalization program of GDR's transportation at
large until 1970 was given as 20 billion marks, cf. BArch,
DM 1-22570.

(d) Calculated saving due to a more efficient handling of
goods in the case of transferring narrow-gauge transport
to the road.
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Publication:The Journal of Transport History
Date:Dec 1, 2011
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