Every year at Christmas time, the Berlin Railway Friends offer a trip from Berlin to Schmachtenhagen with the Glühweinexpress. If you book in time, you can get hold of tickets.
At 11 am, the journey begins in Berlin at Wilhemsruher Damm. Not only the passengers, but also numerous railway fans were already eagerly awaiting the train’s arrival. A long toot and the train crossed Wilhemsruher Damm and stopped in the middle of the open track. There is no platform here, no ticket booths or information boards. There is only meadow and the tracks.
Immediately, the steam locomotive is surrounded by railway fans and even I could not escape and took some detailed photos.
The train was hauled by a 131.060 steam locomotive. This type of railcar was built in Romania in 1942. With a top speed of 65 km/h, the locomotive can travel over the rails. A total of 67 examples were built, but only this locomotive is still operational.
The locomotive resembles other locomotives of German design. It has a Prussian smoke box. The driver’s cab with the roof vents is of German design.
In addition to the baggage car and dining car, a total of 4 passenger cars and another railcar were attached to the locomotive.
The crew of the Berlin Railway Friends checks the tickets before boarding and distributes the passengers to the carriages. We had booked “wood class” and were accommodated in a carriage directly behind the dining cars. Wood class is really hard. There are no seat cushions and although our journey time was not very long, I could well feel how “hard” travelling once was.
The outward journey took quite a long time, considering how short the actual route was. However, for me as an inexperienced steam locomotive traveller, the “conductor” did a great job of explaining the course of the journey. Before each switch, one of the train conductors had to get out of the car and set the switch by hand. Then the train drove over the switch, stopped again and let the “switchman” get back on. Since we were only travelling on a branch line that is mainly used by railway enthusiasts, everything is just manual operation. In addition, the steam locomotive had to be “refuelled” in between so that we could also arrive at our destination in one piece. So at least we had time to enjoy our mulled wine and could enjoy the ride.
After almost 2.5 hours we finally reached Schmachtenhagen. Here the train ended at a large farmers’ market. We spent almost 2.5 hours here, which many used to buy milk and meat products and to enjoy the hearty home cooking in the restaurants.
The return journey was a little quicker (apparently many of the switches were still in the right position) and we arrived back in Berlin at around 6:30 pm to the sound of a loud hooter.
Anyone interested in taking a ride on the steam locomotive can find all the information they need on the website of the Berliner Eisenbahnfreunde .