The International Steam Pages

The Abreschviller Forestry Railway, France

Thomas Kautzor visited in in 2002 and 2005, but as he says "nothing much has changed at Abreschviller since then" - see the pictures of his 2014 revisits here..

The Abreschviller forestry railway is one of France’s more interesting narrow gauge tourist/museum railways. Abreschviller (formerly Alberschweiler in German, pop. 1,500) is a village located in the Moselle department in Lorraine. After the French defeat in 1871 the area was attached to the German Empire. In 1884 the first 5 km of a forestry railway network were opened. The railway was operated as Waldbahn Alberschweiler by the Kaiserliche Oberförsterei St. Quirin (Lothringen) and the Prussian 700mm gauge was chosen. In 1918 the railway had reached an extent of 50 km. In 1919 the area was returned to France at the Treaty of Versailles (it remains so today). The railway was now operated by the Office National des Forêts (ONF) and the network continued to expand to 73 km in the 1950s (map at Thereafter, the railway was replaced by trucks and declined to 61 km in 1960. The railway was closed in 1964. Diesel No. 3 was used for another year to shunt the sawmill at Abreschviller.

Following closure, Association du Chemin de Fer Forestier d’Abreschviller (ACFA, was founded with the goal of reopening a part of the railway as a tourist line. The locos and some of the rolling stock were bought from ONF, and at first the 10 km section from Abreschviller up to the Brechpunkt Pass was considered. The last 4 km stretch however included steep grades as well as a zig zag, so in 1969 only the 6,1 km section through Lettenbach (km 1,8) and Rommelstein (km 3,8, siding) to Grand Soldat (run-around loop) was reopened

The forestry railway feeling is kept alive at Abreschviller by the presence next to ACFA’s station of a large sawmill and lumber yard. Trains operate from April to October. At Grand Soldat, a traditional sawmill replica has been set up for visitors (750mm gauge O&K 0-4-0WT 30 PS 4720/1911, ex Carrières de Vaujours près de Serain, is plinthed here with two log trucks). Passenger trains are made up of open bogie coaches, some converted from bogie wagons and others newly-built, and closed ex-Wengernalpbahn (Switzerland) bogie coaches (regauged from 800mm).

ACFA 0-4+4-0T No. 1 is the only Mallet ever built at MG Heilbronn (No. 476/1907, 100 PS) and was obtained new.

ACFA 0-6-0T No. 2 (Decauville 1835/1927, 8 tons) came to the railway in 1933.

ACFA 0-6-0DH No. 3 (Coferna 27517/1953, model MR100.L33.12RT) was obtained new.

ACFA 0-6-0 No. 4 (Jung HF110C 10120/1944, 14.2 tons) was built for the Heeresfeldbahn as HF 11810 and found in storage at Mitterzil (Austria) at the end of WWII. At first it was loaned to the Steyrtalbahn and in 1949 sold to the Steiermärkische Landesbahnen (StLB), were it saw use first on the Murtalbahn and then until 1967 on the Stainzerbahn. In 1970 it was bought by ACFA, regauged from 760mm and restored in 1975/76.

ACFA has two motor trolleys, No. 5 (home-built in 1936 with a Hotchkiss engine) and No. 11 (converted from a 1925 Renault NN automobile), both original to the line.

ACFA 4wDM No. 6 MIQUETTE (Deutz A2L514 F 56241/1956, 4.6 t, 28 PS) was obtained from Aktienziegelei Bayreuth (D) in 1996.

ACFA unnumbered 4wDM (Gmeinder HF50B 4252/1945) was built for the Heeresfeldbahn (Eisenbahnpionierpark Rehagen-Klausdorf) and obtained from Erste Bayrische Basaltstein-Industrie AG, Werk Steinmühle bei Waldsassen (D) in 1985.

Parts of the old sawmill, containing a Richmond stationary steam engine (see link broken by 25th October 2016), survive behind the two-road loco shed and works (another stationary engine, Heinrich Lanz No. 18690/1907, was acquired by ACFA).

The pictures:

ACFA 1 and the loco shed:




The pictures show in order - ACFA 3, the Gmeinder, motor trolley 5 and ACFA 6.

Rolling Stock:

The pictures show in order -  a bogie flat car mounted on wooden log trucks, eight wooden log trucks, an inspection saloon car, a brake van, five open worker’s wagons and two tool cars which have been preserved and can be used to recreate authentic-looking trains. Logs can be loaned from the neighboring sawmill.

Rob Dickinson