Secondary orbit

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Under a secondary line or branch line , originally Secundärbahn or Localbahn written, refers to a serving primarily to the transport line for transport connections of rural areas. Local railways emerged at the end of the 19th century , before the automobile became popular . Since railway construction and the corresponding legislation for operation were still sovereign in the 19th century and these are historical terms, there were different uses of the terms in German-speaking countries. In Prussia, for example, secondary railways were general branch lines . The Small Railroad Act was later created to simplify operations . But this mainly affected private companies. In Saxony, on the other hand, (state) branch lines of secondary importance were designated as secondary railways. The local railways in Bavaria were officially newly created state or private lines that were operated according to principles analogous to the Prussian Small Railroad Act. Since these were widespread, the term local railway became a synonym for branch line among the population.


Construction train on the Weißeritztalbahn , around 1900
Electric railcar of the Murnau – Oberammergau local railway
Modern operation on the Pinzgauer local railway

Since the construction and operation of the main lines was not always covered by the income, the search for simplifications began. As early as 1865, the technicians' assembly of the Association of German Railway Administrations had drawn up principles for secondary railways. These were implemented in legal principles in 1878 with the Railroad Regulations for German Railways . The routes created with these relief regulations were called secondary railways by the Saxon State Railway . 26 lines with a total length of 453 kilometers were operated as secondary railways with immediate effect. In 1879 the first newly built Saxon secondary line went into operation with the Leipzig suburban line Plagwitz - Lindenau - Gaschwitz . Since the secondary railways did not always produce the desired savings, construction of the first Saxon narrow-gauge railway began in 1881 , as the narrow gauge still has further savings potential. Even if a secondary railway operation was initially intended for them, it soon became necessary to deviate significantly from this in terms of vehicle fleet and operational management on many routes.

With comparable legal frameworks that regulated financing, construction and operation, the foundations for the development of the area through inexpensive rail networks were created in several European countries from the end of the 19th century. In Austria-Hungary this was the originally time-limited local railway law for the Austrian half of the dual monarchy of May 25, 1880 , which was extended several times. In addition, the Crown Lands were allowed to create their own regional railroad organizations, such as the Lower Austrian State Railways and the Styrian State Railways , which still exist today . In the United Kingdom , the Light Railways Act was passed in 1896 , regulating the construction and operation of simplified railways.


Typically, the secondary line begins at a station on the main line and runs as a branch line to the next larger town. In Flatland Bayern many market towns and cities were, for example, served by local railways in the form of branch lines to the railway network. But this is also a main reason why the former local railways have largely disappeared from the route maps today. A town had to be happy if it had a rail connection at all - some Bavarian cities never succeeded in doing this. A continuous branch line network, on the other hand, would have meant competition for its own main lines and this was absolutely avoided. At that time you could still allow customers to follow the company's offer, in which they were expected to take long detours and pay for them well, because there were hardly any alternatives.

In accordance with the secondary railway regulations and comparable regulations, the following simplifications compared to the main lines have been approved to increase profitability :

The increasing bus and car traffic led to the discontinuation of branch lines from the 1950s, including many of the lines established as local railways. Some routes are continued today as museum railways . Occasionally, however, routes that are still called "local railway" today have been upgraded to modern modes of transport and local transport. Examples are the local railway Vienna – Baden , the Salzburg local railway or the Linz local railway .

See also


  • Walter Ledig, Ferdinand Ulbricht: The secondary railways of the Kingdom of Saxony , Berlin 1887 ( digitized version ).
  • Th. Sorge: The meaning and application of the secondary railways for the Kingdom of Saxony , Dresden 1875 ( digitized version ).
  • Wolf L. Temming: Branch lines: an epoch of German railway history , Transpress, Berlin 1993.
  • Horst Weigelt: Bavarian Railways: From the mule track to the intercity . Motorbuch Stuttgart, 1A 182 ISBN 3-87943-899-4 , p. 215ff.

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