Monday 11 August 2014

Let's See What is Built on the Island of Sylt [3]

Pre-railway, getting to Sylt was one thing ...
 ... but travelling round the Island was a different kettle of fish. What roads that existed were of poor quality, so in 1888 the first railway was built. This metre-gauge line linked a port at Munkmarsch ...
... with the developing resort of Westerland.
The route ran over the present airport and provided connections with boats from the mainland; which, presumably, could only reach the harbour at high tide.
It was unimaginatively called the Ost-bahn (East Railway). It and the ferry link closed in 1927 with the opening of the standard gauge railway causeway. The road "Bahnweg" (Railway Avenue) on the map above was created on the track bed of the former Ost-bahn.

But two other lines had joined it in the meantime. Continuing the subtle naming policy, these were the Nord-bahn to List ...
... and the Süd-bahn to Hörnum.
Trains would carry passengers and freight throughout the Island, particularly tourists north from Hönum ...
... to the developing fashionable resort at Westerland where the extensive beaches were (and still are) the main attraction.
There is little left of any of these lines, indeed most have been turned into "improved" roads. L24 here follows part of the Nord-bahn line northwards towards List.
But the distinctive Hörnum lighthouse still stands and the attractive houses that surround it. The line ran round to the harbour behind the curved row of four chalet-style houses, centre left.
Trains were  steam powered ...
... but the ravages of wartime military command of the island meant that decline of the network was near terminal. What these routes needed was cleaner, easier to start and drive, diesel power. So bring in the Borgwards.
Known perhaps best as a car manufacturer, the company went bust under dubious circumstances in 1961. But it was the trucks that sustained the railways.
Fit rail wheels and tow carriage trailers and you have a cheap and cheerful train. It was this intriguing rolling stock that sustained the lines from post-war re-opening in 1952 until the total closure of the Süd-bahn in 1969 and the Nord-bahn in 1970. Here is a typical Borgward railcar at Wenningstedt in 1957.
They were, of course, unidirectional thus we see one of the units on its makeshift turntable being readied for a return run.
fbb must confess that he knew nothing of the railways on and to Sylt until that news snippet in Modern Railways.
Your rotund reporter hopes that he has done justice to the subject!
Tomorrow, we will take a look at the Island's bus services; not as interesting as its little trains, but still worth a quick investigate.

But we are one year late for the party!

 Next bus blog : Tuesday 12th August 

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