One of the most beautiful tours in steam locomotive.
The Harz train is the last European regular line with steam locomotives. Nowadays, it is visited by tourists from all the world. It crosses the wonderfull Harz National Park, starting from the Wernigerode city, and in the line that concerns us, rising to Brocken. The line was built in the late nineteenth century, and has worked until today, except for the interruption of the Second World War, which was bombed, along with the summit of Brocken, which housed a center of communication and espionage. Later, it was on the verge of disappearing after the German reunification, since its usefulness and profitability were questioned.
The Harz National Park has also suffered from mining pressure for centuries, damaging its forests, now repopulated and well preserved. Remains of its mining activity can be found and visited throughout the park.
I really wanted to take this train in winter, to enjoy its magical journey among incredible snowy landscapes. It’s always a risk in winter, because the weather can brokes your day: From days with closed fog, to days of heavy snow and cold weather that can cause closure of the line to Brocken. But our December day, it was a real gift. Very cold, all snowy from Drei Annen Hohne, but a splendid sunny day. We decided to take the train in Drei Annen Hohne to adjust better to the Schedules. You have to look at them well, because not all return to Wernigerode, or the stay in Brocken is either too short or too long. Many people, returns with the same train that gone up that remains there only about 15 minutes: The time of the change of head of the locomotive. We decided to stay one hour in Brocken, and return in the next train, take a walk and enjoy the views for a while. We take train 8933 at 10:30 am, with its impeccable locomotive BR 99 236, and its beautiful two-color wagons with balconies, which form a classic, elegant and beautiful set, which fits perfectly into the wooded landscapes of the Harz. The wagons four axle, seems “Thunder boxes”, have the
obligatory heating, but the seats, obviously, are not particularly comfortable. Some wagons have services. I installed myself in the exterior balconies to photograph the landscape and enjoy more “live” the journey. The cold is impressive. Impossible to stay there without a scarf, wool cap, gloves and well-wrapped body.
The train goes through snowy landscapes and colossal forests. We cross many hikers who stop to admire and photograph the train. The smoke and steam intermingle with the high treetops and the sun’s rays, setting a unique visual spectacle.
Above, although it is not an especially high mountain top (1,156 m), the weather was hellish. About 40-50 cm of snow, that a machine designed for it cleans the tracks. Clear weather but temperatures of 5-6ºC below zero with strong winds that lift the ice crystals and increased the feeling of cold. The “stalactites” of ice, totally horizontal streetlights. The frozen ground presages falls. With this environment, it is impossible to contemplate the views or stay outdoor. Hot cappuccino in the cafe of the Brocken complex and ready to go down. The train of descent is the number 8926, dragged by the same locomotive BR 99 236. Shortly after leaving we turn to a spur track and stop. We wait a few minutes to make way for the ‘Mallet’ that goes up. Maneuver of entry and exit of the track, with manual needle changes, down and up the locomotive. One stop on the way, Schienke, and return to Drei Annen Hohne. There, we were able to recreate ourselves with the maneuver of the locomotive, loading water, washing, cleaning and greasing. A gift for steam locomotives lovers. The price of the up and down path seems a little vit expensive to me. 41 Euros, regardless of the point of departure.
About 50 minutes of one way and another 50 descent, to spend an unforgettable morning, in a unique railway journey.