The International Steam Pages

The Schlossgartenbahn Karlsruhe, 1st June 2014

Thomas Kautzor writes:

The “Schlossgartenbahn” (SGB, “Castle Garden Railway”) in Karlsruhe is a 600mm gauge railway which operates over a 2.5 km loop. It was opened as a temporary railway for the 1967 “Bundesgartenschau” (BuGa, the biennial Federal horticultural show) to take visitors around the grounds, operated with four trains (red, light blue, dark blue and yellow) made up of one “Porsche locos” and three open-sided coaches. After the event, the railway had become so popular that following long and difficult negotiations it was left in place (as happened at a number of other BuGa venues over the years). A 0.2 km-long branch was built to a new three-track depot on the southern edge of the gardens at Teutschneureuter Allee (off Ahaweg).

Privately-operated until 1988, it has since been operated by “Verkehrbetriebe Karlsruhe GmbH” (VBK), the municipal transport company which operates the city’s tram and bus networks, as well as the Turmberg funicular railway.

Built at Sollinger Hütte (a company which manufactures mining equipment) in Uslar in 1959, the “Porsche locos” are four-wheel petrol locos designed after Porsche cars built for use at park and pleasure railways. Of the four in use at Karlsruhe, the red and yellow trains were initially used at the “Deutsch-Französischen Garten” (DFG, the German-French Gardens) in Saarbrücken together with two more trains of the same design, but were then sold and used at Expo64, the Swiss national exposition of 1964 in Lausanne, before coming to BuGa 1967. After the BuGa was over the red and light blue ones were taken away into storage for future events, while the dark blue train was sold in 1974 and returned to the DFG in Saarbrücken, where it is kept as reserve for a more modern train built to the same design. The yellow loco is operational and used from time to time on weekdays, as it can only haul three coaches.

0-4-0T “Greiff” (Henschel 70 hp RIESA type No. 24505/1939) was delivered new to the German road authorities and ended with building contractor Hans Vatter, Mannheim after WWII. It is privately owned by Manfred Halle, a VBK employee who found her in scrap condition and restored her himself. It came to the SGB in 1967 and was at first used solo on the railway, doing rounds through the park without any coaches. In 1970 it was converted to wood-firing, a small tender was built for it and it received its colourful Western-style look. From the mid-70s it was used in passenger service. After the 1988 takeover it was given a general overhaul in the VBK workshops and a new boiler (Meiningen No. 1484/1991). In 2010 the tender’s original bogies were replaced by new ones from Romania. It is normally used on Sundays during the summer season and is capable of hauling all four coaches.

After the 1988 takeover, VBK bought 18/20 HP Gmeinder four-wheel diesel 4732/1952, formerly in use at the Stauch clay works in Nussloch and rebuilt it in its workshops over three years into a 50 HP loco designed as type SGB 60 weighing 5.2 tonnes. VBK No. 60 is the main loco and is used with either three or four coaches.

To supplement the three original coaches No. 1-3 (30 seats each) which came with the Porsche loco, a fourth coach No. 4 to the same design was built by VBK in 1991. For departmental use there are two open-sided covered wagons with Heeresfeldbahn bogies, two side-tip four-wheel wagons and a four-wheel frame.

Rob Dickinson