Wuppertal cableway or aerial tram


The population of the German city of Wuppertal (then it was an agglomeration of several settlements) at the end of the 19th century was approximately 400000 people. The roads in it were not very wide and were intended for pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages. Industrialization and development put the question of public transport on edge. The metro cannot be built here due to the rocky terrain and large volumes of groundwater. Quite narrow streets prevented the laying of traditional tram tracks. But practical German engineers found a way out. If the tram is not put on the ground, then why not hang it. The result was the Wuppertal cableway (Wuppertaler Schwebebahn).

Wuppertal cable car
Wuppertal Cable Car

Wuppertal cable car on the map

  • Geographic coordinates of 51.269690, 7.197132.
  • Distance from the German capital Berlin is about 450 km in a straight line.
  • The nearest airport, Düsseldorf, is about 30 km away.
  • Address: North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

Suspended tramway is a two-track monorail system suspended on special flyovers. That is, trains can run on the road in opposite directions. Its length is 13,3 kilometers. Of these, as many as 10 are located above the Wupper River at a height of 12 meters, and the rest is already above the city and slightly lower, only 8 meters. The maximum speed that an air tram can reach is about 60 km / h, but usually it runs along the route at an average speed of 30 km / h.

Construction began in 1898, and in the same year the first tests of the aerial track were carried out. Already in 1900, Kaiser Wilhelm II himself (at that time ruling the country) took a ride on the first air tram. It happened on October 24, 1900, and already on March 1, 1901, the Wuppertal cable car was opened to the general population.

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Old wagons of the Wuppertal Cable Car
This is how early versions of the Wuppertal suspension railroad cars looked like.

It is officially called the Eugen Langen Monorail System. (original by Einschienige Hängebahn System Eugen Langen). Now the airway has 20 stations, most of which were built in the first 3 years since its launch.

Technically, an aerial tram is a series of carriages, literally suspended above the ground. The rolling stock itself is 24 meters long and is designed to carry 178 people. Of these, only 48 passengers will be able to ride while sitting (this is the number of seats provided by the designers). The rest will have to make the air way while standing. But both those and others will have the opportunity to feel like in a funicular somewhere in the mountains.

But like any other public transport, the cable car got into trouble. The case of Tuffi the elephant is well known. On July 21, 1950, the director of the Althoff circus, Franz Althof, decided to ride an elephant named Tuffi along this road for publicity purposes. But, either the elephant did not appreciate the honor shown to him, or he did not have a ticket for an air tram, in general, Tuffy became nervous and easily broke through the side wall of the tram and fell out. It is good that at that moment the train swept over the river. Tuffy fell right into her, and escaped with minor abrasions and slight fright.

But in the cabin, panic began, and several passengers were injured. But everything ended well, everyone is safe and sound. The elephant was caught from the river. Now an elephant falling from a tram is painted on the house in that place. Also a kind of attraction. For the sake of fairness, we note that the photograph of the fall of the elephant is just a montage, since then there was simply no one to photograph this incident.

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Wuppertal. Falling elephant
The fall of an elephant from the Wuppertal cable car

Unfortunately, on April 12, 1999, the train accident ended much more sadly. Due to a metal clip left on the track after repairs, the train derailed and crashed into the river. Then 5 people died and about 50 were injured.

Wuppertal. 1999 crash
Consequences of derailment of railway cars

In 2008, on August 5, an accident with a truck crane was also recorded. The aerial tram collided with a truck crane passing under it, the driver of which was seriously injured.

I must say that the Germans invented and erected interesting buildings. For example, the Bastei bridge, built in the mountains. Sometimes it even turns out to be above the clouds. And it is worth paying tribute to the German ingenuity, remembering about an equally stunning structure - the Magdeburg Water Bridge.

Interesting facts about the Wuppertal suspension road

  • No one anywhere has repeated this transport experiment as a public one. So we can say with complete confidence that this air road is one of a kind.
  • The road is still in operation.
  • Approximately 80000 people can use this air route every day.
  • In 2013, 19 people used the Wuppertal Cable Car.
  • Despite the troubles that have occurred, the Wuppertal cableway is considered one of the safest in the world. She served for 98 years before the first serious tragedy.
  • Even at the beginning of World War II, the airway continued to operate, but was closed from 1943 to 1946 due to damage.

Wuppertal suspension road photo

Wuppertal. Suspended road

Wuppertal Cable Car
Trams fly overhead on this street

Wuppertal Cable Car

Wuppertal. Suspended tram
At stations, a suspended tram looks like a regular one.
Tram over the intersection. Wuppertal
Suspended tram above the intersection