schwebtfi 1 - The Schwebebahn reopens!

After an eight month closure following the failure of the monorail’s stromschiene (power rail if you like) where a 300 metre stretch collapsed onto the roads and into the river, the famous Wuppertal monorail (or hanging railway) has recommenced services. The work that has been ongoing these past eight months is by no means complete – but sufficient progress had been made to permit the regulation authority to approve the re-opening on 1st August.

The Press Release:

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WSW’s press release 30th July 2019 about the opening on 1st August. A rough translation from Google is below. Source: WSW

We look forward to the start of the suspension railway on 1 August. After a long wait, the signals are finally on green.

After months of preparation, it is finally time. On Thursday, August 1, the suspension railway is allowed to travel again and this time only new sky blue lanes on the way. From 5.12 clock in Vohwinkel and 5.15 clock from Oberbarmen is the regular passenger operation again added.

The resumption is accompanied by a variety of small actions along the way, so will advertising teams in the morning and in the afternoon in the suspension railway small presents and from 6.30 to 9.00 o’clock at the main station and at the old market distribute breakfast bags.

At the two monorail stations in Elberfeld and Barmen Wuppertal and Wuppertal can also between 6.30 and 9.00 Clock as well as from 14.30 to 16.00 clock on a guest book panel leave a welcome greeting to the suspension railway.

At the monorail station Zoo / Stadion there is even a stand with monorail waffles and an ice cream truck with sky-blue ice cream waiting for all the little ones and big passengers. If you want, you can strengthen yourself between 9 and 14 o’clock.

We thank all Wuppertal for their patience and wish our passengers a good start with the sky blue suspension railway.

The Schwebebahn’s re-opening:

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The first public trip, the 05.12 am from Vohwinkel to Oberbarmen, seen coming from the depot road into the station. Source: Twitter

The Guardian newspaper was a rarity among the English speaking media due to its report on the monorail’s re-opening. Except the paper got its facts wrong. The first public working was the 05.12 from Vohwinkel, not from Oberbarmen as claimed. Should have done its research a bit more resolutely!

Atlas Obscura – another English speaking site – too did a write up.

Below is a tweet with a video of the first train on 1st August 2019 – which of course departed from Vohwinkel (the line’s main depot and maintenance facility.) The balancing working was the 05.15 from Oberbarmen, for this and later workings from there some stock is stabled at the smaller depot here overnight. I looked for any pics that might show the first working out of Oberbarmen but there seems none – no surprise as everyone was at Vohwinkel for the launch ceremony!

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5.00am crowds at Vohwinkel station to greet the first public Schwebebahn in over eight months! Source: WSW

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Media interviewing senior staff at Vohwinkel. Source: WSW

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The 05.12 for Oberbarmen seen at Wuppertal Hauptbahnhof. Source: Twitter

There is one downside to the enforced eight month closure. The new Generation 15 trains were built to work with a completely new signalling system, one that is in cab rather than by use of the traditional lineside signals, which are either at the end of the station platforms or underneath the superstructure of the monorail.

This is known as ETCS or European Train Control System and Level 2+ ETCS will be employed on the Schwebebahn. Generally the trains will continue to be driven but there will be the ability to take over and drive trains remotely by computer if necessary.

Usually with ATO systems the fixed block system is replaced by the moving block system. However on the Schwebebahn the older mode of fixed block will be retained along with the new system. This is due to the unusual nature of the line.

Because the ETCS has not been implemented as planned, it means for the foreseeable future the new trains have to continue on the old system. Other short-term closures will be necessary during this year to enable the transition to the new system to take place and thus fulfil the Generation 15’s capabilities.

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Oligsmühle on the first day of operations with a service bound for Oberbarmen. Source: Twitter

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Sweets being given away at various stations during the re-opening. Its said ice cream was also being given out later in the day. Source: Twitter

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Goodies being given out at either Zoo Stadion or Wuppertal Hauptbahnhof. Source: WSW

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Generation 15 train about to leave the platform at Oberbarmen and turn around to begin its westwards journey back to Vohwinkel. Source: Twitter

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Vohwinkel station with trains running again. The wires of the Solingen trolleybus route can be seen. Source: Twitter

Some were even celebrating the re-opening with old pictures of the line:

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Doppersberg station in the 1930s (the correct name at the time for Wuppertal Hauptbahnof) with a working bound for Vohwinkel. It could have been from Oberbarmen – or from Kluse where trains were once able to turn short if necessary. Source: Twitter

Here’s another great historic picture (not published for the re-opening however) showing the monorail at Landgericht. Its a rare shot because it shows a three car train heading towards Oberbarmen (at that time the line’s terminus was known as Berliner Platz.)

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Early view of the Schwebebahn at Landgericht. Source: Twitter

Let’s celebrate the occasion with the story of Tuffi the elephant!

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Writing board celebrating the return of the famous monorail. Love the reference to Tuffi the elephant! Source: WSW

Let’s have a special celebration to commemorate the monorail’s reopening – with the famous elephant to help things along!

I first learnt of Tuffi when I bought this postcard at Wuppertal in the late sixties. There is a version of this card on the internet but the quality of it was poor hence I scanned my own card at a considerably high resolution – and the result is below!

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The Tuffi postcard!

The postcard narrates the story of Tuffi who jumped off the monorail on 21st July 1950.

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Tuffi and the Althoff Circus have arrived in Wuppertal and hold a parade.

At some point the circus owner Franz Althoff decides to take Tuffi on the Schwebebahn in an attempt to boost publicity and the elephant is pictured at the ticket office.

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Tuffi at the Alter Markt ticket office.

Tickets were duly bought for her and her circus minders and then they ascended the stairs up to the platform to wait for a train.

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Tuffi waiting to join the monorail at Alter Markt.

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Tuffi about to get on the Schwebebahn.

En route to Alder Brucke, Tuffi breaks her way out and falls perhaps 8 – 10 metres into the river. She suffered some cuts and bruises but nothing serious apparently.

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This photograph has been replicated many times but its a fake of course.

There is a picture of the elephant on the monorail itself, shown below, but its not very good quality. She is stressed out and is scaring passengers before jumping out of the monorail train. She had been on trains and trams before without any problems, thus it was probably the monorail’s swaying motion that caused the panic.

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Tuffi in a panic on the Schwebebahn. Source: Imgur

Tuffi is led out of the river and away to safety.

Here’s another picture showing Tuffi being led along the edge of the River Wupper after her fall.

Whist this is a full colour postcard, it has also been available in black and white and the centre photograph has also been available on its own.

It is said both the circus and the station staff at Alter Markt were fined for allowing the stunt to take place.

Its a story that has since been immortalised and its popular with children. There are two children’s books illustrating the elephant’s exploits. Here’s one and here’s another.

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Tuffi makes a splash! Source: Twitter

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