Wuppertal suspension monorail

Wuppertal suspension monorail. Kaiserwagen
Wuppertal suspension monorail. “Touristy” Kaiserwagen. Source: wikipedia (JuergenG).

Wuppertal suspension monorail | Ever had Wuppertal on your bucket list? No reason for that, except you are a railways tourist. In this case, Wuppertal offers something very special for you: a rare suspension railway called “Schwebebahn”. This truly unique specimen of public transport attracts enthusiasts from around the world who can ride on it on a 24-hour ticket for 7.10 Euros. Meanwhile architecture tourists are often drawn to its 20 striking stations ranging from the modern, glassy Kluse Station to the art nouveau-style Werther Bridge.

Schwebebahn means: Floating Tram. It is by far the city’s greatest attraction – a globally unique suspended monorail. The Wuppertal suspension monorail was established in 1901. On average, the tracks are 8 m (26.25 ft) above ground and 12 m (39.37 ft) above the river Wupper. It became the mother of all suspension railways. Now you might ask, where to find the children! You’ll find them in Memphis, Tokyo and Goa.

Interesting facts about the Wuppertal suspension monorail

This is Tuffi right after she fell from the sky. Before she broke through the walls of a monorail wagon. She felt stressed by the reporters and spectators who were pushing to get a better view. As you can see, she survived the jump and her keepers are trying to catch her again. She just had a bruise and some scratches on her butt, besides the nearly 10m fall and the water depth of just 50cm. After the incident she became famous around the world. Even a brand of dairy products was named after her and still is. She was 4 years old at the incident in 1950 and died in 1989 in Paris.

In 1950, a young Indian elephant named Tuffi was forced to ride the Wuppertal monorail, as a promotion for the Althoff Circus. The swinging tram upset the elephant, and she trumpeted, charged, and plummeted 40 feet into the river below. Tuffi suffered minor injuries; she lived happily until 1989.

In 1999, the Wuppertal suspension monorail had its thus far only fatal accident. It took place on 12 April on a stretch of track near Robert-Daum-Platz station. Construction workers forgot to remove a steel component called “claw fastener” that had temporarily been attached to the running rail on the overhead track. This happened in the course of renovation work in the lead up to the Wuppertal Suspension Railway’s centenary in 2001. Each weekend was spent completely replacing the railway’s weight bearing structure. That morning, the night’s work lagged so far behind schedule that the work site was left only ten minutes before the morning’s first train came along. The workers were apparently in such a hurry that they forgot to remove the claw fastener. Five persons lost their lives, while 47 were badly injured. This was the worst accident in the Wuppertal Suspension Railway’s history, and to date, it is the only one since the railway opened in 1901 that has had a deadly outcome.

In 2008, a lorry did not lower its crane while approaching a monorail train. The first wagon was partly ripped open.

Kaiserwagen. There is a so-called “Kaiserwagen” from the year 1900 being used as guided tour wagon. It’s a fancy old-style tram you can hop on to enjoy the 13.3km long ride.

The Wuppertal Suspension Railway nowadays carries approximately 85,000 passengers through the city per weekday.

Crossing a street
A GTW 72 train crossing an intersection in Wuppertal. Source: Wikipedia, Oktaeder
1999 wuppertal suspension monorail accident
1999 Wuppertal suspension monorail accident. The derailment was a result of track-maintenance equipment not being removed from the line before the resumption of normal traffic. Source: Wikipedia – pillboxs – Own work
Detail of Wuppertal suspended monorail
Detail of suspender, wheel and motor of a GTW 72 train. Source: Wikipedia, Matthias Böhm – Own work
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Wuppertal suspension monorail | By Chili and Chirp | Hugging Horizons since 2004 | Read more about tourist destinations in Germany here -> German Gems