The International Steam Pages

The Selfkantbahn

Thomas Kautzor writes:

On Easter Sunday 2014, we visited the metre gauge Selfkantbahn (

The Selfkantbahn operates over a 5.5 km section of the former Geilenkirchener Kreisbahn (GKB), a 37.7 km long metre gauge railway which linked Geilenkirchen with Alsdorf (16.3 km) as well as with Gangelt and Tüddern (21.7 km) near the border with the Netherlands. The railway was built by Lenz & Co. and opened in 1900. A diesel railcar was introduced in 1936 and from 1938 transporter trucks were used to convey standard gauge wagons, with most freight being agricultural products, mostly sugar beet.

From 1949 to 1953 the Selfkant municipality was administred by the Netherlands and as a result the section between Gangelt (km 30,4) and Tüddern (km 37.7) was closed to all traffic. Passenger service ended between Geilenkirchen and Alsdorf in 1953 and between Geilenkirchen and Gangelt in 1960. The line from Geilenkrichen (km 16.3) and Alsdorf (km 0) was closed in stages between 1953 and 1966, while on the line to Gangelt the section from Schierwaldenrath (km 26.8) and Gangelt closed in 1969 and the remainder in 1971. A short section at Geilenkirchen stayed in service until 1973 to enable standard gauge wagons to reach the GKB warehouse on transporter bogies.

From 1969, a group of Aachen area railfans formed the ‘IG Historischer Schienenverkehr e.V. (IHS)’ and started running museum trains between Geilenkrichen and Gangelt. From 1973, the section between Gilrath (km 21.3) and Schierwaldenrath was taken over as a museum railway. The other sections from Geilenkirchen and to Gangelt were deemed to be in too poor condition and would have required expensive track work. Over the years, the station at Schierwaldenrath, in the past only the site of a passing loop and a track beneath a loading ramp for sugar beet, was turned into the railway’s operating base, with the gradual addition of one-track workshops, a one-track loco shed and a three-track rolling stock depot, and some storage sidings, as well as a coaling facility.

Steam and diesel locos and rolling stock have been acquired from various sources over the years and today constitute a very diverse collection. Sadly, no locos native to the railway are currently operational, diesel V 11 has been under overhaul for a very long time (see below), while railcar VT 100 (B’B’-dm, Wismar 20264/1936) is stored o.o.u.

Currently only two steam locos are operational, both of which were in use over Easter.

In 1970, the IHS bought its first steam loco, 900 mm gauge Klöcknerhütte No. 19 (Jung 12703/1956) from the Klöcknerhütte in Hagen-Haspen, which was regauged and in use from 1971. The following year, after the steelworks’ narrow gauge network was closed, the IHS also bought No. 20 and 21 (Jung 12783/56 and ). These locos were direct descendants of the wartime KDL10 type. No. 19 has been out of use since 1977 and is currently stored at the back of the locos shed, with no plans to make her operational again. No. 20, now named “Haspe”, was overhauled at Mansfeld in 1991 and is currently operational, while No. 21, now named “Hagen”, has been undergoing an overhaul for a very long time and was found dismantled in the rolling stock shed.

2-6-2T No. 5 “Regenwalde” (Borsig 12250/1930) was built for the ‘Regenwalder Kleinbahn (RKB)’, another railway built by Lenz & Co., as No. 5c. Following WWII, the territory over which the RKB operated became part of Poland and No. 5c PKP Tyn6-3631. At last she operated on the metre gauge lines on the outskirts of Warsaw between Piaseczno and Nowe Miast until about 1976. In 1978 a Belgian enthusiast, Désiré Jans bought her and set her on a short piece of track in his garden in Kuringen, where her operated her a few times. After many visits from members of the IHS, Mr Jans agreed to hand her over in 1984 and from 1990 to 2008 she operated on the Selfkantbahn. No. 5 is currently being worked on the workshops and has been fitted with a new boiler.

Loco No. 46 (EMG Grafenstaden 4805/1898) was built new for the ‘Strassburger Strassenbahn’ and later luckily ended up on the other side of the Rhine with the ‘Mittelbadische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (MEG)’, where it was in use until 1963. In 1969 it was acquired by the DGEG and put on display at their museum in Viernheim. After the museum’s closure in 1989, it was sold to the IHS in 1997 to become part of their MEG collection, which also includes 0-4-0T 101, railcars T 7 and T 13, four passenger coaches and an unrestored baggage van. There are no immediate plans to restore No. 46 to working order.

Loco 101 (KM 17627/1949), also a descendant of KDL 10 type, was delivered new just after the war to the Oberrheinische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (OEG) at Mannheim, together with sister No. 100. After the OEG acquired diesel locos for its freight services, she was sold to the MEG in 1958 and based at Schwarzach. In 1971 she was again sold to the EUROVAPOR in Switzerland and used for trains around Bern on the SZB and VBW lines. In 1993 she received replacement boiler No. 1498 from Meiningen. Due to increased traffic on the RBS (the merger of the SZB and the VBW), EUROVAPOR’s successor ‘Vereinigte Dampfbahnen Bern (VDB)’ lost the right to operate the loco around Bern and she was sold to the IHS in 2002. After an overhaul of its boiler at MaLoWa in Benndorf, she has been in use on the Selfkantbahn since, now named “Schwarzach”.

4wDM V 1 “Langeoog” (Humboldt-Deutz OMZ 117 18444/1937) was delivered new to the Langeoog island railway. In 1956 she was given to Schöma as payment for a new diesel loco, fitted with a new Deutz engine and resold to the DB railway sleeper depot in Northeim. In 1969 she was transferred to the Rütgerswerke’s railway sleeper impregnating works in Peine, where she probably never saw any use. During her stints at Northeim and Peine she was converted to the strange gauge of 1040 mm, which is apparently common for sleeper-related facilities in Germany. In 1989 the IHS could buy her for the price of scrap and had her restored and regauged to metre gauge. She is currently operational.

6wDM V 8 “Helmut” (LKM V10C 250564/1973) came to the IHS in 1992 from the August-Bebel-Hütte in Helbra, part of the VEB Mansfeld-Kombinat Wilhelm Pieck, where she operated on the metre gauge network. She is used for shunting at Schierwaldenrath.

4wDH V 11 (KHD A6M517 R 56114/1955) was one of two locos (together with V 10 – KHD 56113) delivered new to the GKB in the mid-1950s to dieselize the railway. After closure of the GKB in 1973, both locos were bought by Hamburg dealer Dyckerhoff & Widmann AG (DYWIDAG), together with a number of other diesel locomotives from German metre gauge local and industrial railways and sent to Togo to work on the construction site of the new Lomé port. After the project was completed, V 11 was still deemed in sufficient good shape to be turned over to the ‘Chemins de Fer du Togo (CFT)’, where she remained in use for a few years (and where I photographed her in 1987). In 1999, a member of the IHS rediscovered her in Lomé and she was returned to Germany in 2001. She has been under restoration since 2003.

4wDM V 14 “List” (DWK 100B 627/1937) was delivered to the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) for use on their railway which connected the the Seefliegerhorst (naval aviation squadron) List with the Sylt island railway at Westerland. After WWII she was turned over to the ‘Sylter Verkehrsgesellschaft (SVG)’, and also operated as No. L 20. In the mid-1950s she was completely rebuilt at the SVG workshops, keeping only the frame, wheelsets and transmission from the old loco. She remained in use until the closure of the SVG and came to the IHS in 1973. She was in service from 1973 to 74 and again from 1983 until recently, when she was sidelined with damage to her transmission.

Railcar T 7 (A1-dm, Waggonfabrik Gotha 2585/1939) was one of eight railcars of the same type delivered to the MEG between 1934 and 1939 for use between Rastatt and Lahr. It remained in service until 1972, when it was sold to the IHS. Its restoration started recently.

Railcar T 13 (B’B’-dm, Waggonfabrik Wismar 21148/1941) was one of two bogie railcars delivered to the MEG in 1938 and 1941. In 1945 T 13 was requisitioned by the ‘Compagnie des Tramways Strasbourgeois (CTS)’ for use on Boofzheim – Marckolsheim line as No. 801. In 1950, the MEG able to buy it back and in 1953 replaced the Renault engine with which it had been fitted while in France with an original MAN engine. In 1973 the T 13 was sent to the Brohltalbahn, from where it came to the Selfkantbahn in 1975. It was in service from 1976 to 1993 and again since 2003. The last trains of the day are normally operated by a railcar.

Railcar T 102 (1A-A1-dm, Waggonfabrik Talbot 94433/1950) was obtained from the Langeoog island railway in 1999 and is also operational.

Wim’s two Krauss locos, which did some test runs here last year, have both been returned to Alan Keef for additional work, James Waite's picture shows them at the September 2013 Open Day at The Alan Keef works. 

However, Wim was present with one of his steam rollers, Wallis & Steevens 7836/1925. That's a UK registration number.

Rob Dickinson