The Pöstlingbergbahn is a narrow-gauge
Narrow gauge
A narrow gauge railway is a railway that has a track gauge narrower than the of standard gauge railways. Most existing narrow gauge railways have gauges of between and .- Overview :...

 electric railway, or "mountain tram
A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

way", in Linz
Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria . It is located in the north centre of Austria, approximately south of the Czech border, on both sides of the river Danube. The population of the city is , and that of the Greater Linz conurbation is about...

, Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

. It connects the main square in the center of Linz with the district of Pöstlingberg, located at the top of a hill (or small mountain) at the northern end of the city. Opened in 1898, for 110 years the meter-gauge railway ran from a terminal station in Linz's Urfahr neighborhood, located across from the terminal of urban tram
A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

 route 3, to Pöstlingberg. In 2009, service was extended from Urfahr to the city center. To permit this change, the railway was regauged to 900 mm and a track connection to the Linz tram network was built. Service was suspended from March 2008 until May 2009 for this work. With a maximum grade of 11.6%, the Pöstlingbergbahn is one of the steepest adhesion
Rail adhesion
The term adhesion railway or adhesion traction describes the most common type of railway, where power is applied by driving some or all of the wheels of the locomotive. Thus, it relies on the friction between a steel wheel and a steel rail. Note that steam locomotives of old were driven only by...

 railways in the world. There are steeper grades on at least one other tram system, that of Lisbon
Trams in Lisbon
The Lisbon tramway network serves the municipality of Lisbon, capital city of Portugal. In operation since 1873, it presently comprises five urban lines, and is primarily a tourist attraction.-History:...

, but the Pöstlingbergbahn is still among the world's steepest adhesion railways and has the steepest grade of any in Austria.


Since the mid-18th Century the community of Pöstlingberg was a destination for pilgrim
A pilgrim is a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place. Typically, this is a physical journeying to some place of special significance to the adherent of a particular religious belief system...

s. A chapel was built there around 1720, and a church opened in 1748. From the end of the 18th Century, the mountain was increasingly frequented by hikers, especially after the summit area had been cleared for military reasons in 1809 and in the 1830s and revealed an impressive view. The construction of a railway was deemed worthwhile.
To increase the attractiveness of Pöstlingberg as a destination and to distribute electric current to households in the area it was planned to construct transformers for the distribution of power to both the railway and households. This was aided in 1883 when the fort in the area was demilitarized. In 1897 the construction company Ritschl & Co. purchased the fort and three months later, transferred the property rights over the lands to the newly established Tramway- und Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft Linz-Urfahr (Tramway and Electric Company Linz-Urfahr) (TEG), the forerunner of today's Linz AG Linien. Tower IV of the fortress incorporates the station of Pöstlingbergbahn. At the fortress wall between the tower and tower VI, a hotel/restaurant (now "Pöstlingberg Schlössl") was established. In 1906 the Tower II opened the Grotto Railway.

The Pöstlingbergbahn was initially intended to be run as an excursion-type service, in summer months only, and for this reason the only rolling stock procured were six open-sided cars (locally referred to as "summer cars"). Passenger numbers exceeded expectations in the first year of operation, and consequently two enclosed cars were purchased in early 1899.


Ridership slowly increased to just over 200,000 passengers per year by the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. During the war and immediate postwar years, passenger numbers rose because of an increase in city dwellers taking trips into the countryside in search of scarce provisions. In the 1920s, commuter numbers increased further still, to 400,000 per year, and then declined in the 1930s to 300,000 per year. In the war and postwar period of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the transport numbers reached record levels (1943: 1,264,000 passengers). Until the mid-1950s, the numbers fluctuated to between about 1 and 1.1 million passengers, decreasing since then. Today, about 500,000 people per year use the line.

In 1988 the service was converted to a one-man operation; i.e., the use of conductors
Conductor (transportation)
A conductor is a member of a railway train's crew that is responsible for operational and safety duties that do not involve the actual operation of the train. The title of conductor is most associated with railway operations in North America, but the role of conductor is common to railways...

 to collect fares was discontinued. The tramcars (except for the summer cars) were consequently fitted with a Dead man's handle
Dead Man's Handle
Dead Man's Handle is the title of a 1985 action-adventure/spy novel written by Peter O'Donnell. It was the eleventh and final full-length novel chronicling the adventures of O'Donnell's comic strip creation, Modesty Blaise...

. Furthermore, the points
Railroad switch
A railroad switch, turnout or [set of] points is a mechanical installation enabling railway trains to be guided from one track to another at a railway junction....

 (or switches
Railroad switch
A railroad switch, turnout or [set of] points is a mechanical installation enabling railway trains to be guided from one track to another at a railway junction....

), which previously had to be set by the conductor, were converted to electric operation, with key switches, which enabled the motormen to easily operate them. Ticket vending machine
Ticket machine
A ticket machine, also known as a ticket vending machine , is a vending machine that produces tickets. For instance, ticket machines dispense train tickets at railway stations and tram tickets at some tram stops and in some trams...

s were also installed.

On 24 January 2005 a derailment
A derailment is an accident on a railway or tramway in which a rail vehicle, or part or all of a train, leaves the tracks on which it is travelling, with consequent damage and in many cases injury and/or death....

 sparked a debate over the safety of operations. Mayor Dobusch proposed rebuilding the railway and extending service to Linz's main square. In July 2006 it was decided to modernize the Pöstlingbergbahn.

Modernization and extension

Starting on 25 March 2008 service was temporarily halted for reconstruction and fleet replacement. During the 14-month suspension of rail service, buses provided a substitute service. On the existing section of the line, the most notable change was the re-gauging from meter gauge
Metre gauge
Metre gauge refers to narrow gauge railways and tramways with a track gauge of . In some African, American and Asian countries it is the main gauge. In Europe it has been used for local railways in France, Germany, and Belgium, most of which were closed down in mid 20th century. Only in Switzerland...

 to 900 mm. The track was completely rebuilt, the unusual "Y" head rails being replaced with conventional flat-bottomed rails on concrete ties/sleepers
Railroad tie
A railroad tie/railway tie , or railway sleeper is a rectangular item used to support the rails in railroad tracks...


Three new low-floor
Low-floor tram
A low-floor tram is a tram that has no stair steps between one or more entrances and part or all of the passenger cabin. The low-floor design improves the accessibility of the tram for the public, and also may provide larger windows and more airspace....

 tramcars were purchased from Bombardier
Bombardier Transportation
Bombardier Transportation is the rail equipment division of the Canadian firm, Bombardier Inc. Bombardier Transportation is one of the world's largest companies in the rail-equipment manufacturing and servicing industry. Its headquarters are in Berlin, Germany....

, numbered 501-503. The purchase price was €4.6 million each. In addition, three old trams (VIII, X and XI) from the then-current fleet were chosen to be retained and modernized through rebuilding of their chassis, and the fitting of dual traction control systems. Braking is by caliper brakes instead of the magnetic brakes previously used. Trolley pole
Trolley pole
A trolley pole is a tapered cylindrical pole of wood or metal, used to transfer electricity from a "live" overhead wire to the control and propulsion equipment of a tram or trolley bus. The use of overhead wire in a system of current collection is reputed to be the 1880 invention of Frank J....

 current collection was replaced by pantograph
Pantograph (rail)
A pantograph for rail lines is a hinged electric-rod device that collects electric current from overhead lines for electric trains or trams. The pantograph typically connects to a one-wire line, with the track acting as the ground wire...

 collection with the change; the overhead wires
Overhead lines
Overhead lines or overhead wires are used to transmit electrical energy to trams, trolleybuses or trains at a distance from the energy supply point...

were modified accordingly. The first of three new Bombardier vehicles arrived on 2 April 2009; the other two cars followed in early May. The delivery of the three rebuilt old cars took place at a later date.

The total cost for the conversion amounted to €35 million, €20 million for the vehicles and €15 million for the rebuilding of the line including the extended operation to the main square.

The changes have caused the Pöstlingbergbahn to be more closely integrated into the urban transit system. From the Hauptplatz (literally, the "main square") in the city center, a passenger can now travel through to Pöstlingberg. These include tourists traveling by rail from the boat docks.

The official opening of the rebuilt and extended Pöstlingbergbahn was held on 29 May 2009, in time to celebrate the line's 111th anniversary.

External links

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