The International Steam Pages

The Chiemsee Bahn, 2012

Filippo Ricci's reports on his August 2012  visit. See also James Waite's report from Summer 2013

The Chiemsee Bahn runs entirely within the German town of Prien, near Munich, connecting since 1887 the main line station and the piers on the Chiemsee (lake). It's main claim to fame is that it still uses daily the original rolling stock and almost no other. It's one and a quarter miles long and it's metre gauge. The timetable can be found here:


The operation of this line is very simple: there are only two stations Prien Bahnhof adjacent to the DB station and Prien Stock adjacent the ship pier on the Chiemsee, each has a run round loop; there are no turning facilities as the loco is bidirectional. Below: running round at Prien Stock.

Normally the steam tram loco works all the service alone but beware that in case of failure or prolonged maintenance the service will be operated by an awful diesel loco masquerading as a steam tram. Fortunately on the day I went, 16th August 2012, I got lucky and enjoyed proper traction! Below: the original loco worksplate.

The most striking feature of the steam tram is that the boiler has the firedoor, levers and gauges on one side instead of the backplate so the driver stands at its side; the engine is fed with two or three shovefulls while standing at Prien Stock waiting for departure and that suffices for a whole 3-mile round trip (below).


All the coaches are original from the opening of the line in 1887 and come in four varieties. The first are open sided 2nd class coaches and are the only ones I didn't board and photograph; in rainy days, as the one I went there they are closed with transparent plastic sheet giving them an uninspiring and odd look. Then there are the enclosed seconds, a brake composite and a full first. Below: third class coach interior.

A journey in a first compartment (below) is an unforgettable experience admiring the sumptuous upholstery and testing the comfort of the velvet covered armchairs and sofas. No extra fare is charged.

This coach has a very particular sound as well: due to all that wooden upholstery with many small pieces interlocked to each other which while moving make a distinctive rattling sound. Riding on the open balconies is permitted or at least tolerated, I advise you to grab one of the rain drainage pipes coming down the roof on both sides for added security. Below: first class coach from the outside.

Along the Line

You can access Prien Bahnhof through the subway of the mainline station; photography here is difficult: the opposite side of the tracks is inaccessible due to fences and vegetation while the platform is ruined by the modern awning covering the access to the subway. Below: view from the subway awning with a train approaching.

The first stretch of the line looks promising with a number of gardens, old buildings and unprotected crossings; unfortunately I couldn't stop there due to pouring rain. About mid-way there is a long section with a wall of vegetation on one side and a road flanked by a row of modern terraced houses, not the best of scenery I think. The last part is the best and here I tried some shots despite the awful weather and got soaked to the skin.

As you can see above just before Prien Stock there is a dirt path flanking the railway with an old industry on one side and a corn field opposite: here you can have some brief glimpses of how roadside tramways looked away from cars and modern buildings. The terminal station (below) is quite photogenic with the piers in the background and some sidings to store the unused coaches.
Beware that there is no station here, only a ticket selling kiosk so in case of rain go to the ships or remain inside your coach!

Rob Dickinson