Observation car

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Interior view of a Netrail P1 in Stockholm , Sweden

As observation car or Panoramawagen one is coaches or railcars referred, which was equipped with exceptionally large windows to a good view of scenery and sights along the route to allow. Open summer cars are also sometimes referred to as this, but they differ considerably in construction from the vehicles discussed here. In Switzerland there is a separate type of train for trains with observation cars , the Panorama Express , PE for short.

Dome Cars

USA and Canada

Predominantly in North America were wagons with a glazed viewing platform that towers over the roof of the rest of the train and thus not only allows a view to the side and up, but also to the front and back. The first vehicles of this type were put into service around 1890. The car floor in the area of ​​the viewing platform is raised, which allows a view over the train roof; underneath there is space for service rooms, a kitchen or bar, and sometimes also sleeping compartments. The vehicle type was very common on North American long-distance trains between 1940 and 1970. In addition to the original form, in which the viewing platform is less than half the length of the car, cars were also built with a viewing platform that spanned almost the entire length of the car, sometimes referred to as super domes . Individual, lower observation cars such as the Sun Lounge and Strata Dome cars were built for routes with a smaller clearance profile in the northeast of the USA .

VIA Rail Canada operates a total of 30 classic observation cars, including 14 pulpit cars for the end of the train, and uses them in tourist-oriented long-distance trains. In the Amtrak's scheduled traffic , the trains with observation cars have meanwhile been replaced by superliner sets; a single observation car with a long observation platform called the Ocean View is attached to one-story trains when not scheduled. Such vehicles are still in use as planned on the Grand Canyon Railway .

For the special train service, numerous observation cars of various types are kept operational by private operators.


Interior of a former Rheingold observation car

In 1962 and 1963, the acquired German Federal Railroad five observation car of the type AD4üm-62 to the US model for the TEE trains Rheingold and Rheinpfeil new train sets . With them, under the central viewing platform with 22 seats, there were engine, mail and luggage rooms, at one end of the car there were two normal compartments, a train secretary and a telephone booth and at the other end a bar . The first three wagons with Rheingold inscription had eight rows of windows, the two wagons for the Rheinpfeil (with inscription Deutsche Bundesbahn ) that were subsequently delivered in 1963 had four large rows of windows. The cars were built by Wegmann in Kassel.

Open vehicles

In Austria, observation cars were used very early on, open summer cars without a roof structure. Despite the simplicity of construction and the low level of comfort, attempts were made to market them as 1st class vehicles. Mainly due to the nuisance of smoke from the steam locomotives, however, they were not granted lasting success. For the Mittenwaldbahn, for example, two former Vienna light rail vehicles were adapted accordingly in 1932 .

Today, the Rhaetian Railway offers open observation cars on its Chur – Arosa and Bernina Railway routes in the summer months of July and August . In France, such vehicles are used on the Ligne de Cerdagne .

"Half-open" vehicles, that is, open but with a roof, operate in TranzAlpine, New Zealand, and on the Colombo – Badulla railway line in Sri Lanka . They are used there by the private provider "Expo Rail", but are used in scheduled trains.

In Germany, Sächsische Dampfeisenbahn GmbH regularly uses open observation cars on its 750 mm-lane routes in the Lößnitzgrund , in the Weißeritztal and to Oberwiesenthal during the summer months , which can be used at the normal tariff.

Pulpit car

Pulpit car of the counter train of the Henschel-Wegmann set in use for the Blue Gentian

Pulpit cars are observation cars that are used at the end of the train and offer a viewing compartment there. This type of vehicle is derived from US observation cars .

Vehicles with large windows


In Austria, various railway companies installed observation cars in their trains before 1914. The highlight was the observation car, which was offered on the following lines from 1912 until the outbreak of the First World War :

  • Vienna via Salzburg to Innsbruck,
  • Salzburg via Villach to Trieste and
  • Innsbruck to Buchs.

They could be used by 1st or 2nd class travelers  for a surcharge .

SBB panorama car in IR 2319 (Basel SBB - Locarno)
Bernina Express panorama car

Mostly found in Switzerland are wagons with a floor at normal height or only slightly raised and large viewing windows over the entire length of the wagon that merge into the roof area (with angled skylights or curved window panes). Several narrow-gauge railways have procured such wagons , including the Montreux-Berner Oberland-Bahn , Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn , Rhaetian Railway and Brünigbahn . They run on tourist trains such as the Glacier Express , the Bernina Express and the GoldenPass . Since 2014 the Austrian Mariazellerbahn has also been operating four panorama cars, which are derived from those of the Glacier Express.

In 1991, the Swiss Federal Railways purchased twelve panorama cars ( Apm61Pano ) that are RIC- compatible and suitable for a speed of 200 km / h . These cars were used in regular EuroCity trains and can be used by 1st class passengers . As with the MOB cars, the floor height has been increased compared to the other cars to improve the view for travelers. The panorama cars of this type were also used in international traffic to Italy , Germany , Austria , France , Belgium and Holland . Now they mainly run on the Gotthard Railway . The use in the EuroCity Transalpin to Vienna ended when the train was replaced by a Railjet .

Since the 2014/2015 timetable change, the EuroCity train pair 163/164 has once again offered a panorama car to and from Austria, which runs on the Zurich – Graz route. In the 2017/2018 timetable year, the EuroCity train pairs 8/9 also travel on the Zurich-Hamburg route with a panorama car.

The cars have now been modernized and provided with sockets, new seat covers, a closed toilet system with biological wastewater treatment and a repaint in the current SBB color scheme.

In the Swiss timetable , trains carrying panorama cars are marked with their own pictogram :Panorama car

Driver's viewing car

For Adolf Hitler's special train , the Fuchs Waggonfabrik in Heidelberg built an observation car (Bln 10 282) that was glazed in the upper half with the exception of the platform and the counter area, also known as the driver’s observation car in the literature . The middle part of the glass roof could be pushed open. The car was equipped by the United Workshops for Art in Crafts in Munich. After the Second World War , the car initially ran in the US service train A 300. In 1953, the car was handed over to the Austrian Federal Railways , which converted it into a superstructure measuring car.


Interior of the Berlin Panorama S-Bahn
Panorama middle section of a Karlsruhe light rail

In Germany, the first fully glazed railcar was presented to the public in 1935. In total, only two copies of the series designated as ET 91 were produced. According to their appearance, they were called the Glass Train . The younger of the two cars, ET 91 02, was damaged during the Second World War , whereas ET 91 01 ran regularly with excursions from Munich Hbf in southern Bavaria and Austria until 1995, as well as it was caused by a head-on collision with a locomotive at Garmisch station -Partenkirchen was destroyed. The remains of this vehicle are exhibited in the Augsburg railway park . With the 137 240 , a diesel-powered observation railcar was also built in 1936, and two more 137 462/463 were put into service in 1939 .

The idea of ​​the glass train was taken up by the Berlin S-Bahn . This built the " Panorama-S-Bahn " from three single wagons of the 477 series , which was presented on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Berlin S-Bahn and is used exclusively for special trips. During her last state visit, the British Queen Elizabeth II drove it from Berlin to Potsdam .

In the 1960s and 1970s, the French state railway SNCF used ten diesel observation railcars of the X 4200 series .

At the Karlsruhe Stadtbahn some eight-axle articulated railcars of the types GT8-80C and GT8-100D / 2S-M are equipped with a so-called comfort middle section. This is equipped with roof edge glazing and has a more comfortable interior.

See also


  • Friedhelm Ernst: A lookout car for the DB . In: Eisenbahn Magazin . No. 3/2016 . Alba publication, March 2016, ISSN  0342-1902 , p. 38–40 (with side view and floor plan drawings).
  • Maximilian Rabl et al. Johann Stockklausner: Austrian passenger cars. Development, construction and operation since 1832 . Vienna 1982.
  • Josef Otto Slezak : The distant signal is astonishing. Strange things from the railways around the world . Vienna 1952.

Web links

Commons : Lookout Car  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Panorama car  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Slezak, p. 167, illustrations p. 166.
  2. Slezak, p. 166f.
  3. ^ Friedhelm Ernst: A lookout car for the DB . In: railway magazine . No. 3 , 2016, ISSN  0342-1902 , p. 38-40 .
  4. Rabl et al. Stockklausner, p. 32, note 4; P. 65.
  5. ^ Alfred Horn: 75 years of the Vienna light rail. "Between the 30s Bock and the Silver Arrow". Bohmann-Verlag, Vienna 1974, ISBN 3-7002-0415-9 , p. 92.
  6. Andreas Illert: Take the train at 5:55 a.m. to tea . In: Fern-Express 3/2016, pp. 22-29 (28).
  7. Rabl et al. Stockklausner, pp. 65, 104, 163, 255.
  8. ^ Richard Heinersdorff: The kuk privileged railways of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy . Vienna 1975. ISBN 3-217-00571-6 , p. 148.
  9. Rabl et al. Stockklausner, pp. 33, 34 (timetable), 154 (photos).
  10. Panorama car, the highlight of the Himmelstreppe ( Memento from May 10, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (NÖVOG)
  11. Rabl et al. Stockklausner, pp. 174, 281.