Saturday 9 August 2014

Let's See What is Built on the Island of Sylt [1]

Where to begin?

It all started when fbb read a snippet in the current edition of Modern Railways.
The headline was baffling.
Traxx ME is a sort of diesel engine.
Bombardier is proposing a UK version of this loco in its electric form. 
So the article suggests that new Traxx locomotives are for the Sylt Shuttle. So who, or what is Sylt? And why would you shuttle to and from it?

By train?

To answer that we need to go to the northern extremity of Germany, almost (but not quite) at the border with Denmark (the dark line centre right). 
The next piece of the jigsaw was a really weird picture that turned up, also on line.
Clearly a tourist fake. But a fake of what? Some awful tsunami disaster? A model railway engulfed at high tide? Nope; it is supposed to be a picture of a train to Sylt (which is, by the way, pronounced something like "zoolt".)

What Sylt does have, between itself and mainland Germany and/or Denmark is, erm, silt ...
... miles and miles of mud flats, gooey and squidgy.
The Wadden Sea (Dutch: Waddenzee, German: Wattenmeer, Low German: Wattensee or Waddenzee, Danish: Vadehavet, West Frisian: Waadsee) is an intertidal zone in the southeastern part of the North Sea. It lies between the coast of northwestern continental Europe and the range of Frisian Islands, forming a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands. It is rich in biological diversity.

Mudwalking is a popular (?) pastime.
But on the North Sea side it has huge stretches of gorgeous beaches ...
... and a thumping great holiday resort called Westerland, i.e. West-most land. Which it is!
Sylt is an island in northern Germany, part of Nordfriesland district, Schleswig-Holstein, and well known for the distinctive shape of its shoreline. It belongs to the North Frisian Islands and is the largest island in North Frisia. The northernmost island of Germany, it is known for its tourist resorts, notably Westerland, Kampen and Wenningstedt-Braderup, as well as for its 40 km long sandy beach. It is frequently covered by the media in connection with its exposed situation in the North Sea and its ongoing loss of land during storm tides.

So Sylt is 40km (25 miles) north to south but very thin at both ends which makes is roughly as "tall" as the Isle of Wight is "wide". So how do we get there?

Until 1927 the answer was by ferry. A network of paddle steamer routes linked the archipelago with mainland ports ...
... advertised by particularly colourful posters.
And today you can still go by ferry.

Going by Sylt Ferry you can easily & cheaply plan your journey to the island of Sylt. Book your favourite departure in advance online and avoid waiting time. During the crossing from Havneby on Rømø to Sylt you can relax on one of the four sun decks, eat in the restaurant or go shopping in the Travel Value Shop. The Sylt Ferry runs all year long between the danish island of Rømø, which is easily accessible from the mainland by a free car dam, and the island of Sylt.

Free car dam? That need some explanation. The Danish island of  Rømø is linked to the mainland by a road causeway ...
... so drive the car to Havneby on  Rømø and take the smart car ferry to Sylt.
It all looks very swish and convenient.
But that's the Danes for you!

For completeness, fbb must mention a daily boat service (of sorts) from Hörnum the southernmost tip of Sylt.
This runs to the neighbouring Island of Föhr ...
... as a tourist day-trip limk.

In 1927, German engineering and determination created an alternative route from the fatherland to Sylt ...
... by train.

Which brings us Baxx to Traxx.

 Next rail blog : Sunday 10th August 

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