|The northern Waldviertel narrow gauge lines between Gmünd
and Litschau (25 kilometers) with the 13 kilometer long branch Altnagelberg
- Heidenreichstein were opened on 3 July 1900 by a private railway company
(Nieder-Österreichische Waldviertelbahn AG). The line was operated
from the start by the province's railway administration. A few years after
the First World War the federal railways BBÖ leased the lines and
ran services. In 1940, under Nazi-German rule, the railway was nationalised.
Regular passenger services to the North ended with the start of June 1986,
while goods traffic lingered on. At the end of May 1992 Heidenreichstein
bound goods trains ceased to run.
Preservation aera started with the WSV running steam excursion trains from Gmünd to Heidenreichstein and Litschau. With a maximum speed of 25 k.p.h. there was enough time to enjoy the rough Waldviertel landscape. The Engerth-type locomotive 399.03 was hired from ÖBB and, after the boiler certificate expired in 1988, the WSV had to find money to have the engine repaired (reentered service in May 1992).
Class 2091 with one of the last passenger services in Heidenreichstein station.
WSV 1 with passenger train near Aalfang
|Heidenreichstein terminus (km 12.9) is a curved three track station. After crossing the road to Thaures on the level, the line follows a falling gradient alongside the outskirts of Heidenreichstein (Kleinpertholz Moor- und Torfmuseum, km 12.5 and Gasthof Weinstabl, km 12.0, halts), passing the metal processing firm MCE (formerly Eisert AG) on the left. Soon after Kleinpertholz (Weinstabl) halt the line runs along open fields interspersed by small ponds used for growing the famous Waldviertel carp. We take a look at the textile factory buildings of Amstetter Co. on the left, before we enter the woods for the first time. The next station, with a loop, is Aalfang (km 8.1), former seat of the p/w officer responsible for the Altnagelberg - Heidenreichstein track. The station building is owned by and in the care of the Amaliendorf - Aalfang Cultural Initiative. The small wooden toilet building south of the main building is the last surviving (and working!) example of a once common feature of the line. Vis-a-vis from the station building there stood the former glass works, owned by Stölzle & Cie. The works had to be closed in 1914 because of no workers being available due to the starting World War!|
|After leaving Aalfang, the line first turns right and
crosses a rock cutting, still on a falling gradient. The train then turns
left and reaches the only major engineering example on the Heidenreichstein
branch, the bridge over Braunau creek. This bridge, system Wayss, and the
better known Lainsitz viaduct - system Mounier - had been the first pre-stressed
concrete structures in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. To the right one
can see the remains of a dam, used for catching eel in centuries gone (the
village's name "Aalfang" means "catch the eel").
Langegg halt with the new wooden shelter - not the one on the picture! - is the center of the line (km 6.5), the village now being part of the town of Schrems. Every year on 15 August the Langegg Family Walking Day sees the most intensive timetable run by the WSV. The line now is on a rising gradient for the next kilometer, passing the small village Kiensaß, before the train enters dense forests again and, from km 4.9, reaches the 1 in 40 incline, steepest gradient on the northern Waldviertel n.g. lines. After crossing the Brand - Langegg road on the level (km 4.2) the course of the line gives a fine sight on the unique vegetation, remains of the big moors once found here. Today most of the forest along our line is owned by Count Kinsky, whose forestry administration is responsible for the care of the woods.
ÖBB Langegg halt
Steam special Litschau - Gmünd pauses at Altnagelberg.
The weighing hut on the left has been demolished in 1992. (Seltenhammer, 15.2.1986)
|In km 2.0 we pass the factory building of ERGO Co. (right) before we reach Altnagelberg market. From the right rails of the Litschau - Gmünd line draw close and parallel the Heidenreichstein - Altnagelberg ones for the next 1.8 kilometers west of the market's houses into Altnagelberg station. Altnagelberg station is some 11 kilometers from Gmünd NÖ and roughly halfway to Litschau and Heidenreichstein. Its main feature is the water tower and column (situated between the Litschau -1- and Heidenreichstein -2- tracks), which are in the care of the WSV and used for watering the steam locomotives. The track layout shows 4 parallel tracks and a head shunt (track 3a). Until 1992 a wagon weighing machine was situated in track 3, near the wooden goods shed. Altnagelberg is an old glass-maker's settlement and was home of Carl Stölzle & Cie. glass factory. This company was very interested in a rail connection for their products and subsequently held shares of the N.Ö. Waldviertelbahn AG. After bankruptcy in the mid 1980's a new company was founded and took over, but this too went bankrupt in December 2001.|
page created by schmalspURBAhN © 1998.02.04, updated 2002.04.01.
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