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Blankenburg fir
Route of the Rübelandbahn
Route number (DB) : 6867 (Blankenburg – Michaelstein)
6864 (Michaelstein – Königshütte)
Route length: 30.3 km
Gauge : 1435 mm ( standard gauge )
Power system : 25 kV, 50 Hz  ~
Maximum slope : 60 
Top speed: 50 km / h
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0.0 Blankenburg (Harz)
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from and to Quedlinburg and Halberstadt
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1.4 Blankenburg North
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formerly B 6 and B 81
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2.3 Infrastructure border DB Netz / Fels Netz
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3.8 Blankenburg-Westend
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5.6 Michaelstein ( switchback station )
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(former route)
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Bielstein tunnel (466 m)
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7.9 B 27
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8.0 Brown swamp
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B 27
Station, station
9.7 Hüttenrode
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(former route)
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B 27
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Krumme-Grube-Tunnel (307 m)
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Kreuztal viaduct and B 27
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Bismarck tunnel (187 m) or Nebelholz tunnel (90 m)
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B 27
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from the diabase quarries
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12.9 Neuwerk
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Rübeland Gbf. (formerly: Rübeland) former train station
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B 27
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Station, station
14.4 Rübeland Pbf. (formerly: Rübeland stalactite caves)
to the Rübeland lime works
to the Kaltes Tal lime works
15.9 Mill Valley
Elbingerode Hbf
Station without passenger traffic
Elbingerode (Harz) (formerly: Elbingerode West)
Railroad Crossing

B 27
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Branch change
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At Hornberg
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Hornberg lime works
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to the former shaft III Büchenberg
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B 27 and Kalte Bode
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Königshütte (Harz)
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Drei Annen Hohne transition to the Harzquerbahn 543  m
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Fir transition to the Südharz Railway 460  m

The Rübelandbahn is a railway connection from Blankenburg via Rübeland and Königshütte to Tanne in Saxony-Anhalt . It was completed by the Halberstadt-Blankenburg Railway (HBE) in 1886. The route length was originally 30.5 kilometers (not including the branch line to Drei Annen Hohne ).

The seven-kilometer-long Königshütte – Tanne section was closed on January 1, 1969 and dismantled by 1974. The Elbingerode – Königshütte section lost passenger traffic on May 30, 1999 and was also closed on August 30, 2000. The branch line from the Wechsel junction to Drei Annen Hohne station was given up for the 1964 winter timetable. On December 11, 2005, scheduled passenger traffic was also discontinued on the remaining Blankenburg – Elbingerode section.

The railway was originally called the Harz Railway . The name Rübelandbahn came into being after the nationalization of the line.

In addition to the electricity system with 25 kilovolts and a frequency of 50 Hertz, which is unusual for Germany, the route has a hairpin bend in Michaelstein as a special feature .


Rack railway

Construction of the Harz Railway at the Michaelstein hairpin, drawing by Carl Grote
Type sketch of a cogwheel locomotive system Abt with three coupling axles and two driving cogwheels C1'bz n4

The Rübelandbahn was built by the Halberstadt-Blankenburger Eisenbahn (HBE) from 1880 to 1886. It was initially referred to as the Harz Railway and was only given its current name after nationalization in 1950.

Large quantities of ore and lime could only be transported economically by mass transport, which is why the decision was made to build the railway despite the difficult topographical conditions.

The steepest sections of the route were provided with a three-lamellar rack from the Abt system. It was one of the first to use this system. The combined cogwheel and friction locomotives were given two independent engines, the use of the composite effect was dispensed with because of the desired independent controllability. Because of the necessary braking equipment for the cars, they were not included in the inventory of a state railway for a long time. This made it possible to install continuous and automatic brakes at an early stage. Initially the lever brake was used , between 1904 and 1908 the HBE introduced the Hardy suction air brake . At the time, this had the advantage of being multi-solvent due to the two-chamber effect. In 1910 it was then possible to dispense with pushing in the rack sections when driving uphill. In 1910, several passenger coaches were also equipped with compressed air brakes for continuous traffic to other networks .

Operation as an adhesion web

The " Tierklasse " and the T 20 in the Rübeland freight yard, 2012

Both the rack and pinion operation (maximum speed uphill 15, downhill 7.5 km / h) and the hairpin were bottlenecks and quickly brought the railway to its capacity limit. As early as the 1920s, after the rack and pinion operation could be given up with the commissioning of the five-way coupled locomotives of the animal class , a partial re-routing was considered. This should be done in two sections. Section 1 was intended to replace the Michaelstein hairpin with a new line via Wienrode, but was not implemented for financial reasons due to the global economic crisis . Section 2 concerned the slope between Rübeland and Hüttenrode. This section rose in the direction of the load, so that the greatest effects on the line performance were to be expected here. So it was the first to be tackled. Bypassing the Bismarck tunnel , the clearance profile of which did not allow large-capacity freight wagons, was laborious, as it required the construction of two smaller tunnels and the Kreuztal viaduct. In addition, a new train station in Rübeland was necessary, as the new line no longer touched the previous one. This is how the Rübeland Tropfsteinhöhlen station was created and the old station was converted into a freight station.

Since nationalization

The electric locomotive 171 005 with a passenger train on the Rübelandbahn, 1995
Entry to
Rübeland station from Blankenburg with a special train with 285 001 of the hvle on May 11, 2008
Empty train to the Hornberg lime works passes through Rübeland station
The diesel locomotives 285 001 and 330 03 ( Blue Tiger ) of the Havelländische Eisenbahn (HVLE) in Blankenburg

On January 1, 1950, the Halberstadt-Blankenburg Railway, nationalized on April 1, 1949, was taken over by the Deutsche Reichsbahn .

Between 1960 and 1965 the Rübelandbahn was electrified in order to be able to transport the raw material lime from the quarries near Rübeland in larger quantities. Because at the time of the decision about electrification it was already clear that the line would remain isolated for decades without connection to the rest of the electrified network, so alternatives to the laborious supply of the necessary voltage were looked for. The use of a direct voltage of 2.4 kV was considered first. The vehicle industry would have been able to deliver locomotives with the required power from the mining program, but the cross-section of the contact line required to transmit the required electrical power would have become unacceptably large. The decision was therefore made to use single-phase alternating current with a voltage of 25 kV and a frequency of 50 Hz, which was taken from the 110 kV power grid of the national supply in the substation at the Blankenburg exit with the help of transformers. The Bielstein Tunnel , which is not profile-free for the construction of the catenary , was filled in during the course of the electrification work and the route in the area of ​​the former Braunesumpf station was relocated to a high embankment. For the contact line, the DR control line types, which were already insulated against 25 kV, could be used with only minor adjustments, but with doubled insulators for additional protection against flashovers in the area of ​​the lime works. On August 1, 1966, electrical operation began and since then the E 251 series locomotives designed for this route have been used on the Rübelandbahn . The Königshütte – Tanne section was not included in the electrification and was shut down when electrical operations began. The reason was a dam project planned at the time, but never realized. The branch line Wechsel – Drei Annen Hohne, which offered a connection to the Harzquerbahn , was also not electrified and subsequently dismantled, but not officially shut down. The Elbingerode West station was renamed Elbingerode, the former Elbingerode Hbf station, which was on the outskirts and was meaningless for tourist traffic, was closed and became a junction for wagonload traffic. Almost all stations were equipped with GS II DR track diagram interlockings, and two mechanical interlockings with light signals were built in Hüttenrode. Between Blankenburg and Elbingerode, a line block was set up in the form of a relay block, while a simplified branch line service was set up on the remaining Elbingerode – Königshütte section . The line speed was increased to 50 km / h, only between Elbingerode and Königshütte it remained at 30 km / h. The Halberstadt – Blankenburg connecting line was also equipped with security technology. The Blankenburg Nord station was built to bypass the Blankenburg terminus. Here the freight trains were changed over without changing the direction of travel. The load limit for freight trains is 600 tonnes uphill and 1500 tonnes downhill; they are each hauled by a pulling and pushing locomotive, which means there is no need to move when changing direction at Michaelstein station .

At the end of the 1980s, the Deutsche Reichsbahn planned to electrify the Halle – Halberstadt route and the Halberstadt – Blankenburg access route and, in this context, to switch electrical operation on the Rübelandbahn to the usual 15 kV with 16 23 Hertz. New class 252 locomotives were also to be procured as replacements for the class 251 locomotives that were previously in use.

The Hornberg – Königshütte connection was shut down in 2000 after freight traffic had already ceased on June 2, 1996 and the last passenger train ran between Elbingerode and Königshütte on May 29, 1999. The volume was mostly low, passenger trains usually consisted of one locomotive and only one or two passenger cars.

The section up to the Hornberg lime works will continue to be served by freight traffic.

On May 16, 2005, midnight, the catenary was switched off. From February 2005 the Osthavelländische Eisenbahn had taken over the majority of the freight traffic of the route with diesel locomotives. For the one or two daily train pairs that remained with the former provider Railion, continuing electrical operation was no longer worthwhile. Railion then announced that it would also use diesel locomotives from May 17th.

On July 12, 2005, the Blankenburg – Elbingerode section (including the Blankenburg substation) was put out to tender by DB Netz AG for takeover.

According to DB, the operation of the line, including five manned operating locations, cost 1.9 million euros annually, of which 0.8 million euros were personnel costs. In 2004 this would have been offset by 0.7 million euros. For the following years, the company put the investment requirement at a total of eleven million euros.

Passenger traffic was canceled by the state of Saxony-Anhalt on December 11, 2005 on the section between Blankenburg and Elbingerode that was last used. A few years earlier, the passenger trains were hauled by class 218 diesel locomotives. The DB wanted to avoid the required equipment of the series 251/171 electric locomotive with door locking devices. The possibility of push-pull train operation with shortening the stopping time at Michaelstein station and the connection to and from Halberstadt were advantageous. However, it did not succeed in noticeably increasing the number of passengers on the Rübelandbahn, which has long been in the shadow of the narrow-gauge routes in the Harz.

On May 1st, 2006 Fels-Werke GmbH leased the route with an option to buy. DB Netz AG handed the route over to the operator Fels Netz GmbH in a functional condition . From this point onwards, the Havelländische Eisenbahn (HVLE), which had been responsible for the greater part of the freight traffic since 2005, took over the transport services that had previously remained with Railion. The route is currently operated in train control (as of 2009). Since 2003, the expansion has been funded with 2.4 million euros, of which 800,000 euros from the state.

In summer 2007 the platforms in Rübeland station were renewed. The station buildings in Hüttenrode and Königshütte had to be demolished because they were in disrepair. The Hüttenrode train station was closed, and the Michaelstein train station at the Michaelstein switchback was given fallback switches and is therefore no longer operational. The hvle introduced train control operations , the train conductor has his workplace in the Rübeland signal box. The maintenance boundary between DB Netz and the hvle il is on the superstructure side in the southern head of the Blankenburg Nord station section. In terms of security, responsibility for the entire Blankenburg station lies with DB Netz. A spatial separation of the switchgear in interlocking B3 could not be realized with acceptable effort. In January 2008, the chain plant between the Hornberg lime works connection and Königshütte station was dismantled. The Elbingerode – Hornberg lime works will continue to be served as required. In 2008 1.7 million tons of lime and limestone were transported.

Resumption of electrical operation

Since numerous residents of the Rübelandbahn protested against the diesel operation because of the noise and soot emissions of the diesel locomotives, the state of Saxony-Anhalt wanted to support the electric freight train operation with 450,000 euros.

In 2007 the overhead line masts, including some of the contact wire and feed lines, were renewed. This enabled electric train operation again after a two-year break. However, due to a lack of class 185 locomotives suitable for steep routes , an electrical test run was only carried out in January 2009. Scheduled traffic has also been electric again since April 18, 2009. The power system is still single-phase alternating current 25 kV with 50 Hz. In 2013, however, the contact line systems in Blankenburg station, which previously spanned almost every track and were also prepared for the continuation of electrification towards Halberstadt and Thale Bodethal , were largely reduced. Since then, only the Blankenburg – Blankenburg Nord leg of the Gleisdreieck and two platform tracks in Blankenburg station have been spanned.

The electrification ensures that the line will be operated and maintained in the long term. A resumption of passenger train traffic is now possible in principle. The expansion was funded with a total of 9.6 million euros, 2.4 million euros of which came from the state.

Current developments

In order to maintain the line in the longer term, the state of Saxony-Anhalt aimed at a tourist-oriented steam locomotive operation on weekends, although this project was countered by difficulties in the form of the expected costs. The last steam locomotive " Mammut " is still inoperative. There is also the proposal to use the E 251 series (today 171 series) for museum traffic. Therefore two locomotives remain in Blankenburg. Since the Rübelandbahn is a steep stretch , only locomotives that are approved for steep routes are allowed to run on it.

On December 17, 2008, the steam locomotive 95 027 was finally transferred from the Arnstadt depot to the Meiningen steam locomotive works . For 350,000 euros it was refurbished for the Rübelandbahn to be operational. She arrived in Blankenburg in May 2010 under a general inspection, where she had been stationed from 1950 to 1969, in order to successfully lure passengers in nostalgic tourist traffic to the Harz on weekends.

Vehicle use

Originally, rack-and-pinion locomotives were used on the route . With the animal class of the HBE it was possible to drive without a rack. After the nationalization, locomotives of the 95.0 series were also used.

The 171 series has been used in passenger and freight traffic since electrification . Since 2000, the passenger trains were no longer driven electrically because the locomotives had no controls for the door locking device. Push-pull trains were used, which were hauled by the 218 series and tied through to Halberstadt. The 171 series was used in freight traffic until 2004. However, this was replaced by the 185 and 189 series , although the use of these two series was short-lived.

From April 1, 2005, the HVLE provided around two thirds of the transport services on the Rübelandbahn. Diesel locomotives of the Blue Tiger type were used for this. As a result, DB Cargo also switched its transport services to series 241 and 233 diesel multiple units , since maintaining the overhead line was uneconomical for its own trains only. The use of these series ended in 2006 when the HVLE also took over the transport services that had previously remained with Railion (formerly DB Cargo).

Since the resumption of electric traffic, the electric locomotives 185 640 and 641 have been mainly used in freight traffic on the Rübelandbahn, the diesel locomotives of the 346 series , the Blue Tiger and the 285 series have served as a reserve since then. All locomotives belong to the HVLE.

Route description

Eastern portal of the Bismarck tunnel with rack and pinion track around 1895
Braunesumpf station and bielstein tunnel around 1895 with train to Blankenburg

Starting in Blankenburg (height above NN 198 m) the route leads approx. 500 m northwards. The line branches off to the right to Halberstadt , while the Rübelandbahn swings to the left. The Blankenburg depot is located at the fork . In a north-westerly direction, the line passes the Blankenburg Nord freight yard, which was built in 1964 as part of the expansion of the line for the GDR's chemical program . In a 180-degree curve to the left, the route leads around the western city and begins to steadily gain height. There follows a long right-hand arc, also almost 180 degrees. In it, at distance kilometers 3.8, the former Blankenburg-Westend stop is passed. The route now leaves the urban area and, still rising steadily, reaches the three- tracked Michaelstein switchback station at km 5.6 (height 323 m). This has existed since the beginning of the line, but was extended to track lengths of 450 m when it was expanded. After the train has turned heads, it leaves Michaelstein in a southerly direction. At km 7.2 the Herzogsweg crosses the route on a bridge, about 100 meters to the north is the east portal of the Bielstein tunnel, which was bypassed as part of the expansion in the 1960s. The route approaches the B 27 , which is crossed shortly afterwards. Immediately after the bridge, on the right, below the new embankment, was the west portal of the Bielstein tunnel; today there is a maintenance shaft in the tunnel. Immediately follows the former Braunesumpf stop at 8.0 km. The route follows the B 27 in a south-westerly direction and crosses it again at the same level shortly before Hüttenrode . At a height of 477 m, Hüttenrode station is one of the two peaks of the route. Due to the location on a ridge, the station tracks were limited in length, the entry and exit points were already on inclines. For the expansion of the line and the required track lengths of 450; m, additional freight train tracks were built parallel to the existing facilities, but 12 m lower, which required the removal of 77,000 m³ of earth. The original station was reduced to three tracks and served as a passenger station until passenger traffic was discontinued. Today this part of the station is closed, only one freight train track is still used. The route leads in a south-westerly direction and steadily loses height, after about two kilometers the B 27 is crossed again on a bridge. The new line opened in 1931 begins here. The original route continued to run to the right of the B 27 in the Kreuztal, a side valley of the Bodetal , passed the blue lake (a former quarry ) and reached the 187 m long Bismarck tunnel shortly before the Neuwerk settlement . After leaving the tunnel, the B 27 was crossed again at the same level and the Rübeland train station was reached (378 m high). From the left, crossing the Bode on a stone bridge, came the branch from the Diabas quarries.

The new line crosses the B 27 above the blue lake and after about one kilometer reaches the Krumme Grube tunnel (307 m). Immediately after the tunnel, the Kreuztal viaduct is crossed, followed by the 90 m long Nebelholz tunnel. This is followed by the former Neuwerk stop at route kilometers 12.9. Below to the left is the old Rübeland station, which was rededicated as a freight station after the new line was opened. After a right curve, the B 27 is crossed again on the bridge at Haus am Stein, a steel girder bridge, shortly afterwards the route branches off with the route coming from the left from the old Rübeland station. The route follows the B 27 and the Bode through the town of Rübeland and reaches the new station "Rübeland Tropfsteinhöhlen" at km 14.4.

Shortly after the train station, the siding to the Rübeland lime works branches off to the left ; the route follows the B 27 in a north-westerly direction. After another kilometer, the siding to the Kaltes Tal lime works branches off to the right, followed by the disused Mühlental stop at 15.9 km. The former Elbingerode train station (abandoned as part of the line expansion) is passed, climbing again , followed by Elbingerode train station (originally Elbingerode West), 442 m above sea level at 18.2 km. In a westerly direction, the route crosses the B 27 again at the same level and reaches the second vertex and at the same time the highest point of the route, the former Wechsel junction (503 m above sea level). Here, until 1964, the line to Drei Annen Hohne branched off in a north-westerly direction . The route now slopes down again and in a south-westerly direction reaches the former Hornberg stop at km 20.8. The connection to the Hornberg lime works branches off to the left, the main line is interrupted by a buffer behind the branch, the overhead line has been dismantled. From here it continues to descend, after a left curve in a south-easterly direction, it crosses the B 27 and at km 23.8 reaches the former train station and end point Königshütte (430 m above sea level). In 2012, the tracks were partially removed there.

Before electrification, the route continued for almost seven kilometers through the Warmen Bode valley to the former terminus in Tanne, where there was a connection to the narrow-gauge network of the Südharz Railway Company to Walkenried and Braunlage. This section was finally closed on January 1, 1969 and completely dismantled by 1974. The former station building in Tanne was destroyed by fire in 2011 after years of vacancy and was finally demolished in August 2012.


  • Dirk Endisch: 125 years of Rübelandbahn - from HBE to Fels Netz GmbH. Dirk Endisch, Stendal 2010. ISBN 978-3-936893-66-3 .
  • Wolfgang Herdam: Adieu Rübelandbahn - From the turning point to the end ...? Herdam, Gernrode 2006. ISBN 3-933178-18-5 .
  • Werner Steinke: The Rübelandbahn in the Harz. 2nd edition. Transpress, Berlin 1994. ISBN 3-344-70908-9 .

Web links

Commons : Rübelandbahn  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Bahnfrau.de ( Memento of the original from November 5, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.bahnfrau.de
  2. ^ Date of nationalization of almost all private railways in the GDR
  3. personal conversation with railway specialist Erich Preuss
  4. Rübelandbahn without electricity . In: Eisenbahn-Revue International . Lucerne 2005.7, p. 313. ISSN  1421-2811
  5. a b DB wants to get rid of Rübelandbahn . In: Eisenbahn-Revue International. Lucerne 2005,10, p. 452. ISSN  1421-2811
  6. End of passenger traffic on the Rübelandbahn . In: Eisenbahn-Revue International . Lucerne 2006.1, p. 6. ISSN  1421-2811
  7. Railway magazine . Düsseldorf 2009.6, pp. 23-25. ISSN  0342-1902
  8. a b Uwe Behmann: The Rübelandbahn runs again at 50 Hz. In: Eisenbahn-Revue International. Lucerne 2009, p. 432 (resumption of electrical operation). ISSN  1421-2811
  9. Frank Mikolajczyk: On the way with the mountain queen - a ride on the Rübelandbahn. In: harzlife.tv. Retrieved June 19, 2017 .
  10. http://www.volksstimme.de/nachrichten/lokal/wernigerode/961187_Ueberraschender-Gleisabbau-in-Koenigshuette.html
  11. http://www.hexe-harzbahn.de/die-harzbahn-fr%C3%BCher/
  12. http://www.volksstimme.de/nachrichten/sachsen_anhalt/657215_Harz-Brand-im-Bahnhof-von-Tanne.html