Field railway

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MPSB Jacobi, Jung 989 from 1906, at the Frankfurt Feldbahnmuseum
Horse-drawn taxiway wagons during the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Podhajce during World War I.
Rubble railway in Dresden with the carts typical of field railways, immediately after the Second World War

A field railway , also known as a lorry railway or in Austria as a taxiway , is a - usually non-public - narrow-gauge railway in the simplest design for the transport of agricultural, forestry ( forest railway ) and industrial raw materials such as wood, peat , stone, clay and sand. For their construction and operation, largely standard components, which can be selected from extensive catalogs of the relevant manufacturers, are used, for example pre-assembled track gratings and switches, but also locomotives and wagons. The material is often transported using open carts .

A variant of the field railway was the Heeresfeldbahn . Such field railways were built behind sections of the front, to which large quantities of ammunition, weapons and soldiers were to be transported. Railroad troops built and operated these field railways. In the First World War there were probably most railways.

Use and operation

These narrow-gauge railways once played an important role in the processing industry. Light railways were often associated with chamotte factories, brick factories and sugar factories. Track-like tracks were also used in the underground pits . Further, railways were used to tow vessels in channels and locks ( Treidelbahn ), for military material and personnel transport ( heeresfeldbahn ) for material handling equipment on large construction sites, in Torfstichen, for the supply of islands and a debris path in cities after the destruction of World War II by Area bombing .

In the iron and steel industry, in coking plants and in the opencast mines , regular-gauge works railways were usually used, as larger masses had to be moved here.

Light railways developed in a special way after the Second World War , when the bomb damage had to be repaired in major German cities. Here, rubble tracks were often laid out, which carried the rubble from the inner cities to the rubble heaps or processing plants. When an area was cleared, a new route could be built quickly.

The track widths are between 400 and 1000 mm. The superstructure ( tracks and sleepers ) ranges from light track frames that can be carried and laid by two people and often lie provisionally on the cleared floor surface without a substructure ( Decauville or Spalding type ), to fixed, ballasted routes for heavy loads and longer Use. Tight radii allow the route to be laid cheaply, even in difficult terrain, largely without any engineering structures. The provisional laying (so-called flying tracks ) along advancing pit edges on often soft ground occasionally leads to derailment of vehicles , which is why wooden planks and other lifting tools are carried along with many field railways for re-entry. Turntables usually had to be operated by hand.

Simple and robust vehicles dominated everyday operations, and locomotives were not always on site. It was quite common to move individual wagons and flat wagons - even when loaded - only with human muscle power or with horses . In the past, children and adolescents were used to push carts in difficult to access or narrow areas. Most of the time, no signal systems were installed on the railway lines; the low speeds allowed driving on sight. At level crossings that crossed larger streets, bells or traffic lights were occasionally found , which enabled the light railroad trains to cross the street safely.

In the ammunition depots of the German Navy , narrow-gauge railways with a gauge of 600 mm operated for ammunition and material transport. Type S 14 rail profiles were laid in the Laboe depot, which were later exchanged for new S 20 rails. A locomotive of the type DS 60 and eleven locomotives of the type DIEMA DS 90 were used there. A fire-fighting train and a snow blower as well as a snow thrower were also part of the line. There were three seated carriages for route travel. The railway in the Aurich depot with seven DS 90s was closed in 1982. The last journeys in Laboe took place in 1993. The railway was finally discontinued in December 1996. The route length was over 25 km. In the Laboe depot , the DS 90, locomotive No. 9 is still available as an inaccessible monument.

Towards the end of the light railroad era, driverless railcars (such as the DIEMA GT 10/2) were developed, which enabled semi-automatic operation. However, these could no longer prevail, because on the one hand it was cheaper to retrofit existing locomotives with hydraulics for the self-unloaders, on the other hand, trackless means of transport such as trucks or conveyor belts were increasingly competing.

Todays situation

Route of the peat railway in the Huvenhoopsmoor
Peat-laden trucks in the Great Moor near Gifhorn

The use and the economic importance of light railways have decreased sharply from the middle of the twentieth century, as their tasks have increasingly been taken over by trucks and electrically powered conveyor belts over time. They are mostly only used where the nature of the soil ( bog ) or the space available ( mining , ore railways ) make the regular operation of other means of transport impossible. Light railways are still widespread in Germany in industrial peat extraction , especially in Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. The largest peat railway network in Europe is operated in Ireland by the semi-public company Bord na Móna . In addition, field railways are also used very occasionally in brickworks (clay railways) and other businesses.

Increasingly, museums such as the Frankfurt Feldbahnmuseum and associations are devoting themselves to the protection and preservation of historic light rail vehicles. As part of these efforts, light rail systems that have already been disused are being restored in numerous places and set up for museum operation or as garden railways or put into operation in a different form, for example as a park railway .

On the island of Java , numerous field railways are still in use in the 50 or so sugar factories . Sometimes only used for shunting on the factory premises, sometimes for harvesting in the fields. Most of the Javanese light railways (with various gauges between 600 and 750 mm) mainly use diesel locomotives from Schöma , Diema and LKM Babelsberg , but around 20 factories still use steam locomotives during the harvest season (June to October) , mainly from O&K were delivered.

In Australia, especially in the state of Queensland, there was an extensive network of light railways with a gauge of mostly 610 mm for the transport of sugar cane (Sugar cane tramways). Some of them are still in operation, brought up to the current state of the art.

Three Halligen in the North Frisian Wadden Sea , Langeneß, Oland and Nordstrandischmoor , are connected to the mainland by a Lorendamm dam. They are used to transport materials and people for coastal defense. Hallig residents are allowed to use the dam with their own carts, for example to run errands on the mainland.

Modern Schöma - and Mühlhäuser -Schmalspurbahn on Boßler Tunnel

Rail-bound means of transport are still widely used on large tunnel construction sites. So was z. For example, during the construction of the Boßler tunnel on the new Wendlingen – Ulm railway line in 2014, a field railway was built to bring segments from a factory to the deployment site.

Light railway museums and light railways with operation

In numerous countries there are field railway museums and field railways with trains.

See also


  • Freiherr von Röll: Encyclopedia of the Railway System, Volume 5. Berlin, Vienna 1914, pp. 42–54. ( Digitized version )
  • EA number: About field railways. In: E. Schrödter and W. Beumer: Zeitschrift für das Eisenhüttenwesen. Volume 12, No. 8, Commissionsverlag by A. Bagel, Düsseldorf, April 15, 1892.
  • Dierk Lawrenz: Light railways in Germany. The narrow-gauge industrial railways and their vehicles. Franckh'sche Verlagshandlung, Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3-440-05114-5 .
  • Dierk Lawrenz: A century of field railways. Franckh'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart 1985, ISBN 3-440-05567-1 .
  • Claus Schubert: Light railways in southern Germany. Klaus Rabe, Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-926071-03-6 .
  • Andreas Christopher: The field railway. [Part 1]. Ingrid Zeunert, Gifhorn 1989, ISBN 3-924335-11-7 (history, vehicles, light rail operations in Germany, current use, museums).
  • Andreas Christopher: The field railway. Volume 2: Austria. Ingrid Zeunert, Gifhorn 1990, ISBN 3-924335-13-3 (Feldbahnbetriebe in Austria, Feldbahnsammlungen).
  • Winfried Barth, Andreas Christopher: Feldbahnen in Hessen (= turntable / special issue No. 22). 2nd Edition. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Drehscheibe, Cologne 2002, ISBN 3-929082-22-5 (industrial companies, collections, monuments).
  • Harald Becher: Field railways in Thuringia. Volume 1: Bad Langensalza, Erfurt-Gispersleben, Gotha, Höngeda / Seebach, Laucha, Straussfurt and Stregda. Rockstuhl, Bad Langensalza 2002, ISBN 3-934748-96-1 .
  • Frank Harding, Andreas Christopher: The field railway. Volume 9: Former GDR. Revised, supplemented new edition. Zeunert, Gifhorn 2007, ISBN 978-3-924335-54-0 .
  • Andreas Christopher, Ulrich Völz: Peat tracks in Germany. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Drehscheibe, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-929082-28-9 (all peat railways in Germany after 2000, vehicle lists, maps).
  • Andreas Christopher: The field railway. Volume 12: Type book for field railroad motor locomotives. Zeunert, Gifhorn 2011, ISBN 978-3-924335-79-3 .
  • Ferrovie portatili della Prima Guerra Mondiale , Mauro Bottegal, 2019, , ISBN 9780244154271 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Feldbahn  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Locomotive 54: Diema GT 10/2. (No longer available online.) In: February 12, 2008, archived from the original on May 1, 2013 ; Retrieved February 11, 2013 .
  2. Jürgen Schäfer: Tunnel boring machine starts. In: Südwest Presse / Göppinger Kreiszeitung. December 27, 2014, accessed August 13, 2018.