Monday, October 17, 2016

Austria 2016 - Gleichenberg Railway


ISSUE DATE: 7 October 2016
STAMP DESIGN:Peter Sinawehl

For the past 85 years the Styrian towns of Feldbach and Bad Gleichenberg have been linked by a standard-gauge electric railway. The Gleichenberg railway is now to be presented on a commemorative stamp from the “Railways” series. In terms of distance, the line between the two towns is significantly longer than the road. This is because the railway line was designed to connect as many places as possible via the railway network: the single-track line covers approximately 21.2 kilometres and includes eleven stops between the two termini, with the journey lasting around 35 minutes. Trains travel between Feldbach and Bad Gleichenberg three or four times a day, transporting not only passengers but also goods, mostly of an agricultural nature or for use in forestry. The train line has gradients of up to 42 per mille, which makes it steeper than the Semmering railway and one of the steepest adhesion railways in Europe. It was originally operated using 1,500 volts of direct current, and nowadays runs on 1,800 volts. The numerous bends in the track and the many stops mean that the trains reach a maximum speed of just 40 km/h. 

The railway line was originally planned at a much earlier date: a project of this type was considered as early as 1886, but it was not until the 1920s that construction work started. The line finally became operational on 15th June 1931. A planned extension of the line to Bad Radkersburg was never carried out. From the middle of the 20th century, buses and increasing use of private transport sent passenger numbers into a continuous decline, so that today the Gleichenberg railway’s main role is as a tourist attraction. Along its route there are many attractions which are easily accessible using the train, one example being Styrassic Park, where visitors can immerse themselves in the history of the dinosaurs. The train also offers a pleasant view over the beautiful surrounding countryside. The “Jungle Express”, as the railway is dubbed due to its route through valleys, forests and meadows, also offers special features for tourist such as culinary trips, the ability to take your bike with you or a “Sternderlzug” to the Advent market. You can also listen to the “Sounds of Nature” on the train if desired. Today the Gleichenberg railway is operated by the Styrian provincial railway (Steiermärkischen Landesbahnen). One electric locomotive and two electric rail cars are in operation, all dating from the 1930s and having been lovingly restored. The design on the stamp shows the electric rail car ET 2 in Maierdorf station. In addition to the standard timetable, extraordinary excursions for works outings or special events are available. Many paths run alongside the railway inviting you to take a hike or go for a bike ride, so that you can then enjoy a comfortable ride home on the train with a clear conscience.


Stamp images and description thanks to Austrian Post - Österreichische Post
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