15 November 2010

The “real” world of LGB: Zillertalbahn

At the origins of his history LGB was closely linked to a basic idea: reproducing models from narrow gauge prototypes, so for many years on LGB catalogs we could see only model of austrian, german and swiss narrow gauge railways. Few of these were (are) really famous (think at swiss RHB or german Hartz) but other not at all. Just look briefly at one of these: the "Zillertalbahn".

Construction of the railway from Jenbach to the Zillertal Valley was first discussed in 1868 in the local press. The condition of the paths and single highway, which was a very narrow, winding and bumpy, sometimes swampy road, were all so bad that they normally were only able to be used with horses or pack animals. By 1902, there was the so-called "omnibus operation" whereby travellers had to stay overnight in Zell am Ziller. On 25 November 1892 there was a meeting for all the parish councils and highly esteemed personalities from the Valley in "Gasthof Bräu" in Zell am Ziller, wherein a "rail committee" was formed.

However, only two and a half years later, on 21 April 1895, the decision was made to build the railway. The rail committee appointed the shareholders Kaspar Schneider, a member of the administration in Zell, Dr. Raimund Rainer from Fügen and the hotelier Franz Prantl from Jenbach as concessionaires. On 2 December 1895, the k & k rail minister Heinrich von Wittek handed over the concession certificate; and thereby the "Zillerthalbahn Aktiengesellschaft" was established on 26 December. The railway went into operation to Mayrhofen on 31.7.1902 after a lot of work and financial difficulties. At this time, the railway had two locomotives called "Raimund", probably after Dr. Raimund Rainer, and "Zillertal" as well as 10 passenger wagons and 22 goods and mail wagons.

A positive mention should be given to the magnesite mining that began in 1928 in Tux and that remained an important economic foundation for the railway until it was closed in 1976. In 1965, it reached its most critical time in its history to date; it was to be closed to make way for a road project. A project by the electricity industry to build a storage power station that would enable the railway to avoid this dangerous phase. The Railway took on the transportation of the construction machinery and delivered 325,000 tonnes of cement on time without putting any further strain on the already overloaded road. The purchase of roll-block wagons, new diesel locomotives for the goods trains, the introduction of rail radio, which was unique in Austria and served as an example for many other railways, proved that even a small railway was able to do incredible things.

Today, the Zillertalbahn is called Zillertaler Verkehrsbetriebe AG, because it included bus transportation in 1956 "in support of the new developments on the roads" and was, therefore, renamed. The majority of shares are owned by Zillertal Valley communities, so that the citizens of Zillertal can be truly proud of their railway. Today, the company operates both the railway and a bus company with 30 modern buses for excursions and for public routes. Furthermore, there are also historical steam trains and many activities, such as the hobby train, the New Year's Eve train, etc. There is always something going on in Zillertal Valley.

Zillertalbahn Railway is 32 km long and passes over 35 bridges, past famous tourist sites on its single track with a width of 760 mm. The top speed of the steam trains is 35 km/h. So...please fasten your seatbelts and stop smoking.

Here we present a selection of LGB production related to Zillertalbahn

LGB 20705 Zillertal Set, Collector Edition
In Austria´s famed Tyrol region, you´ll find the Ziller Valley, an Alpine wonder of rural towns, green fields, tall peaks and white glaciers. Chartered in 1899, the narrow-gauge Zillertalbahn today provides regular rail service in modern diesel-powered trains. However, the Zillertalbahn still offers spectacular steam service that attracts railfans from around the world. You can experience the sights and sounds of a prototypical Zillertal train with this Collector Edition LGB set. It includes the U1 "Raimund" steam loco with digital sound plus one four-axle coach and two two-axle coaches. All are specially decorated and numbered for this set.

LGB 21711 Steam Loco U2
Austria´s most famous steam locos are the unique "U-series" 0-6-2s. Built in 1900, U2 "Zillertal" is one of several steam locos that still pull classic passenger coaches across the Ziller Valley. With this LGB model, you can capture the distinctive look of the U-series, including the large spark-arresting smoke stack. The cab doors open to reveal a lighted and detailed cab.

LGB 22711 Steam Loco U2
The route of the Zillertalbahn through Austria’s beautiful Ziller Valley is well known and well loved, as are the “U-series” steam locos that operate on the line. This LGB model is a faithful replica of the Zillertalbahn’s “Nr. 2” loco and includes a completely detailed cab, automatic directional lighting, a smoke generator and onboard Multi-Train System decoder. It’s a perfect match for the many Zillertalbahn cars in the LGB program.

LGB 31071 2nd Class Passenger Car
You´ll find the headquarters of the Zillertalbahn in Jenbach, the town honored by this real-life coach and LGB model. Interior seating.

LGB 33200 Passenger Car, B13
For friends of the Zillertalbahn, this twin-axle “B13” passenger coach wears the colorful shield and name of the “Gemeinde Mayrhofen” along with an authentic roof. Of course, the livery and lettering match the original. The end doors and side gates can be opened, and inside, there’s seating for your passengers. With this beautiful and interesting car, you can add even more variety to your LGB layout.

LGB 33203 Passenger Car, B20
The Zillertalbahn has decorated many of its passenger coaches with the coats of arms of different local municipalities. This LGB model of car B20 features the coat of arms of the town of Aschau. It includes interior furnishings, opening doors and opening gates. It’s an attractive and appropriate addition to any Zillertalbahn passenger train.

LGB 35640 Kristall Car B4 47
A year and a half of effort – and more than 60.000 Swarovski crystals – went into the creation the “Kristall” car, the pride of the Zillertalbahn passenger fleet. Now you can run this famous train on your layout with this LGB model.

LGB 30420/32420 Bier car
This car actually operates on Austria’s Zillertalbahn! You can sit comfortably with friends in the barrel or get a drink at the small bar in the attached compartment. This beloved LGB model is an accurate replica of this unique car. You can even take off the top of the barrel to add passengers to the detailed interior.


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