The Vennbahn is a former railway line
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

 that was built partly across German territory, but is now entirely in Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, because the trackbed of the line, as well as the stations and other installations, were made Belgian territory in 1919 under a provision of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

. This had the effect of creating about five small exclaves of Germany on the line's western side (the exact number varies according to source).

The line, which was standard gauge, ran for some 75 kilometres (46.6 mi) across the High Fens
High Fens
The High Fens , which were declared a nature reserve in 1957, are an upland area, a plateau region in the province of Liège, in the east of Belgium and nearby parts of Germany, lying between the Ardennes and the Eifel highlands. It is the largest nature reserve or park in Belgium, with an area of ;...

 (Hautes Fagnes, Hohes Venn) to the south of Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

 in a roughly southward direction from Eupen
Eupen is a municipality in the Belgian province of Liège, from the German border , from the Dutch border and from the "High Fens" nature reserve...

 via Raeren
Raeren is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège. It was part of Germany until the First World War, after which it became part of Belgium. It is one of several towns in Eastern Belgium which still predominantly speak German....

 (the site of the depot), Monschau
Monschau is a small resort town in the Eifel region of western Germany, located in the district Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia.-Geography:The town is located in the hills of the North Eifel, within the Hohes Venn – Eifel Nature Park in the narrow valley of the Rur river.The historic town center...

 (Montjoie) and Malmedy
Malmedy is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region, Province of Liège. It belongs to the French Community of Belgium, within which it is French-speaking with facilities for German-speakers. On January 1, 2006 Malmedy had a total population of 11,829...

 to Trois-Ponts
Trois-Ponts is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region and Province of Liege. On January 1, 2006 Trois-Ponts had a total population of 2,445. The total area is 68.90 km² which gives a population density of 35 inhabitants per km². It is situated at the confluence of the...

, with a 20 km (12.4 mi) eastward branch
Branch line
A branch line is a secondary railway line which branches off a more important through route, usually a main line. A very short branch line may be called a spur line...

 from Oberweywertz to Bütgenbach
Bütgenbach is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Liège. On January 1, 2006 Bütgenbach had a total population of 5,574. The total area is 97.31 km² which gives a population density of 57 inhabitants per km². The official language in this municipality is German....

 and Losheim. At Eupen
Eupen is a municipality in the Belgian province of Liège, from the German border , from the Dutch border and from the "High Fens" nature reserve...

 it connected with the line to Welkenraedt
Welkenraedt is a Walloon municipality located in the province of Liège, Belgium. On January 1, 2006, Welkenraedt had a total population of 9,163. The total area is 24.47 km² which gives a population density of 374 inhabitants per km²....

 where it joined the Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 main line
Main line (railway)
The Mainline or Main line of a railway is a track that is used for through trains or is the principal artery of the system from which branch lines, yards, sidings and spurs are connected....

. At Trois-Ponts it connected with the Liège
Liège is a major city and municipality of Belgium located in the province of Liège, of which it is the economic capital, in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium....

Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...


Until the end of 2001, the Vennbahn line operated tourist services, some of which were steam-hauled
Steam locomotive
A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

. These were withdrawn for want of funds to maintain the line. Part of the track between Kalterherberg and Sourbrodt is now used by railbikes
A draisine primarily refers to a light auxiliary rail vehicle, driven by service personnel, equipped to transport crew and material necessary for the maintenance of railway infrastructure....


It was reported in 2008 that, with the Vennbahn no longer operational, Belgium might have to surrender the land where the line passes through Germany, so that the exclaves would no longer be exclaves. However, the foreign ministries of Germany and Belgium have since confirmed that the trackbed, even though disused, will continue to be Belgian territory and that the German exclaves will therefore remain.

By December 4, 2007, the dismantling of the now disused line had started; by September 2008, the track had been completely removed between Trois-Ponts and Sourbrodt.


The line was built to carry coal and iron. The section of the line from Aachen to Monschau was opened on 30 June 1885. The section from Raeren to Eupen was opened on 3 August 1887. The link to Walheim was opened on 21 December 1889.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.