Wuppertal is best known for the world famous suspension railway designed by Eugen Langen and officially opened in 1901. Technically, the 13.3 kilometer long railway is actually a monorail and soon became a symbol of the city respectively the cities at that time. The story of the elephant Tuffi, which jumped from the suspension railway into the Wupper in 1950, is legendary. Now I would like to go into the individual points a little deeper.
The Schwebebahn is the most important public transport system in the Wuppertal. The “Monorail System Eugen Langen” is built from a 13.3 km long, 7 to 13 meter high iron structure made of pillars and bridges. You have an interesting view of Wuppertal from the suspension railway.
Although the suspension railway looks very modern, it has a long history. Originally proposed in 1824, carriages were to be pulled by horses on the ground. A prototype was built, but the system was never implemented for political reasons. In 1898 the idea of a monorail was taken up again, this time to be supplied with electricity. Construction began in 1901 and in 1903 it was opened for 16 million gold marks. Emperor Wilhelm II made the opening trip.
The emperor had nothing to fear. The suspension railway was and is remarkably safe. The cars commute gently with the curves. Nobody can fall or jump on the tracks. Nevertheless, a few accidents have happened.
Since its opening in 1903, the Wuppertal suspension railway has been running with an almost perfect safety record. In 1968 a truck hit a pillar, which fell over and a part of the bridge fell down. In 1999, when the workers did not remove a metal claw from the rail, there was a major accident. A train hit the claw, derailed and fell down into the Wupper. 5 people were killed and 49 others injured. It was the worst and only fatal accident in the history of the suspension railway.
There was a small accident in 2008. A truck with a crane drove into the profile of the oncoming train. This caused a 10 meter crack in the train floor. But all the injuries were minor except for the truck driver. The truck driver got a broken leg.
The iron structure was extensively and historically renewed from 1997 to 2010. At the same time, the stations were rebuilt and modernized. After more than 100 years of operation, the suspension railway remains a state-of-the-art, safe and relatively fast local transport system that is used by over 75,000 passengers every day. However, aspects of the history of this building were lost due to the new buildings, for example, of the two end stations.
The curve with support 100, where the transition from land to water is, has been defused, as well as some others, so that suspension railways can travel faster through the curves.
The railway stations on theare highlighted in green, those on the are highlighted in blue.
The 1900 series consisted of two individual red cars. A vehicle was obtained from this. It is the Kaiserwagen that can be rented for special occasions.
This was followed by the 1950 series, which was not so sophisticated that the cars of the previous generation still run. The 1950s were retired in 1970.
In 1962 there was an experiment in which the first train was built which was joined from two individual cars. It was painted blue and called “Blauer Enzian”.
The new group cars (GTW72) with the new orange-blue design followed in 1972 and continued until 2019.
Since August 1, 2019, only the new generation 15 cars have been driving.
With the new railways (generation 15), a new operating system was also introduced.
On July 21, 1950, there was an advertising trip by the Althoff Circus with Tuffi, a young elephant weighing several tons. It turned out to be a mistake. As they drove, Tuffi panicked and broke through the side of the train. He fell about 9 feet deep. Fortunately, the train was over the Wupper at that time and it fell into the water. The elephant, two journalists and a passenger were only slightly injured. Tuffi lived for another 39 years.
The place where Tuffi fell from the suspension railway was marked by a painting of an elephant on a nearby building. There was a dairy called Tuffi, but it was bought up.
27 springs (in a raised bog), 113 kilometers long, 397 meters altitude difference (431 meters above sea level at the source)
In the locality of Börlinghausen there are 27 lonely springs to the Wupper spring, where it is still called Wipper. We pass Holzwipper and come to the city of Marienheide. The picturesque Wipperfürth awaits us next. Here the Wipper changes its name and is now called Wupper. It continues to Hückeswagen. Previously the Brucher, Lingese, Kerspe and Scherelinger dams were on the route, now it’s past the Bevertalsperre. The Wuppertalsperre and Radevormwald await us next. Now it’s off to the Wuppertal area, the Beyenburg district awaits us. From Oberbarmen, the suspension railway now accompanies us above our heads. The city’s landmark leaves us again at the zoo. We see another technical masterpiece when we look up in Müngsten. A 107 m high and 500 m long railway bridge, the Müngstener Brücke, connects the cities of Remscheid and Solingen. In Solingen we find the former seat of the Counts of Berg, Burg Castle. It continues to Leichlingen and will soon arrive in Leverkusen. With a look at the Bayer AG cross, we say goodbye to Wupper, which is now merging with the Rhine.