In Prussia in particular, a railway was defined as a small railway or, more rarely, a tertiary railway - that is, a railway "which, because of its minor importance for general railway traffic", is subject to less stringent requirements in terms of construction and operational management than a main or branch line . The railways built for public construction or industrial areas are also classed as small railways. Just as many trams before the introduction of the Tram Construction and Operating Regulations (BO Strab) in 1938.
The term is defined in the "Law on Small Railways and Private Connection Railways of July 28, 1892" ( Prussian Small Railways Act), which was intended to promote the construction of local railways by private companies. The word Kleinbahn was chosen by the House of Representatives with a majority instead of a number of other terms - such as "local railway", "low-level railway" or "low-level railway" - because it is neither a foreign word nor a derogatory meaning. The construction and operation of small railways was carried out according to simplified regulations (for example tracks in gravel instead of ballast bedding) and mostly by private companies, in which, however, the state, the province or municipalities played a decisive role in numerous cases.
With the exception of Berlin , the Kleinbahngesetz has now been replaced by newer state railroad laws . The former small railways are now classified as branch lines and are mostly subject to the railway building and operating regulations . In some German states, such as Mecklenburg , Oldenburg and Baden , the term "Kleinbahn" was partially adopted for railways with a small route and small structural size. In Austria and partly also in the states of Baden and Bavaria , the term local railway was used (in Bavaria also Vizinalbahn ). In Saxony , however, secondary railway was common. In colloquial language, the term “Kleinbahn” is often used as a synonym for narrow-gauge railways or park railways . In contrast, small railways can be designed in both standard gauge (1435 mm) and narrow gauge.
Most of the German small railways can be found in the list of former German railway companies .
- Prussian Small Railroad Act PDF, 131 kB