The International Steam Pages
Steam in Germany 2003
Louis Cerny reports:
The metre-gauge Harzquerbahn was visited October 14-20, 2003. I won't try to cover all that I saw or provide photos because this system is so well-known, but will cover changes and some specific comments.
The Harzquerbahn now has a direct track connection with the meter-gauge Nordhausen tram system, which is used by all the Harzquerbahn railcars. This connection involves about 0.2 kilometers of new street trackage to reach a common terminal with one of the tram lines outside of Nordhausen Nord station. Nordhausen Nord itself now just serves two trains in each direction, all steam. these are the morning school train leaving 6:35 and returning 7:35, and the Nordhausen-Brocken trains leaving at 10:06 and returning at 17:30. My speculation is that there could be eventual plans for integrating the railcars to Ilfeld into the Nordhausen tram system.
The Nordhausen-Brocken runs (8920 and 8929) are impressive steam runs. 8920 is a 3 hour 13 minute run involving one change of engines. While the line is of course primarily upgrade to Brocken (with maximum grades of 3.3%), it also has many changes of gradient, including four stretches of 3.3% in the opposite direction. The scenery is quite varied and the towns of Ilfeld, Sorge, Benneckenstein, and Eland are charming, yet genuine, and use the line for normal public transportation.
The Wernigerode engine terminal was busy with a minimum of five steam engines needed each morning to cover the regular service, plus other engines in steam for the frequent charters and as reserve. I would guess this is the world's busiest steam terminal outside of China. The regular service sees the station at Drei Annen Hohne with three trains at once two times each day.
Considering that this railroad runs steam every day of the year from three different engine terminals (Wernigerode, Gernrode, and Nordhausen) involving up to seven separate regular steam trains en route simultaneously, with up to twenty-two steam trains daily on the Brocken segment, the Harzquerbahn seems clearly to me to be the number one steam location in Europe. "