Dresden not only has an aerial tramway, here a funicular railway also runs up the Loschwitz slope of the Elbe.
Very close to the “Blue Wonder“, one of Dresden’s most famous bridges, and the Dresden suspension railway, the funicular railway in Dresden runs from the Loschwitz district to the Weißer Hirsch-Bühlau district. It is operated by the Dresdner Verkehrsbetriebe.
How Dresden got its funicular railway
In 1873, an entrepreneur in the city developed the idea of having a funicular railway run from Körnerplatz in Loschwitz to the Weißen Hirsch in Bühlau. He owned some land there and expected not only an increase in value but also an improvement in accessibility. His idea was not bad, but there was little demand for this line and he was not granted a concession.
Only 15 years later, after a sanatorium opened above the Elbe and an internationally recognised health resort developed, the demand arose again to additionally open up the area with a funicular railway. After some back and forth, the city finally granted the building permit in 1893. The Vereinigte Eisenbahnbau- und Betriebs-Gesellschaft took over the concession and built a funicular railway with steam operation within 11 months.
I think it was very curious that goods were also transported by the railway for the first 5 years. There were extra wagons with a rotating loading platform for this purpose. Coal and building materials were brought up the mountain and faeces were transported down to the valley at night. Even horses and oxen were transported in the special freight cars.
In 1909, the line was converted from steam to electric operation. In 1932, overhead lines were installed on the line and passengers were now offered electric lighting and heating in the carriages.
The Second World War caused hardly any damage to the funicular railway in Dresden. The trains were protected in the tunnels during bomb alerts and the line remained almost intact. Only the valley station was affected. However, train services were quickly resumed.
In the meantime, the line has been modernised and repaired several times and has been a listed building since 1984.
Ride on the funicular railway in Dresden
The track of the funicular railway in Dresden is single-track and 547 metres long. During the ride, the railway overcomes a height difference of 95 metres.
We started our trip at the beautiful top station after taking a short walk there from the top station of the Dresden funicular. At the top station of the funicular is the Luisenhof restaurant – also known as the “balcony of Dresden”. Numerous guests are drawn there not only to eat or drink something, but also to enjoy the fabulous view of Dresden.
Tickets can be bought at a ticket machine and then you enter the platform through a turnstile.
You board one of the two trains. Only one train is in the station at a time, the other train is in the other station at the same time. Both trains are connected by a 578 m long and 38 mm thick rope. The wagons are accelerated and braked by the rope. The compartments in the train are stepped, so the inclination of the track is compensated and the passenger is always standing straight. The first and last compartments with an unobstructed view to the front or rear are particularly suitable for taking photographs. However, this is also where it is most crowded.
Directly after the mountain station, the train passes through the 54 m long Princess Louisa Tunnel. Coming out of the tunnel, it goes along an overgrown track. In the middle of the track there is a viaduct (steel bridge) with a passing point. This is where the two trains meet. Before the funicular reached the valley station in Dresden, we went through the 96-metre-long Burgberg tunnel.
The ride takes about 5 minutes and was over far too quickly for my taste to really enjoy all the details of the train and the view.
Information on railway operations
Rides on the funicular railway in Dresden take place every day. Within the week, trains run every 15 minutes during operating hours, and even every 10 minutes during morning rush hours. When we took the train, the demand was just very low and at the station we could see on a display board that there were still 40 seats free on the train.
Twice a year, once in spring and once in autumn, traffic is interrupted for one to two weeks. Maintenance work is then carried out.
Operating times (first and last journey in each case):
Monday – Friday: 6:30 – 20:23 h
Saturday and Sunday: 9:08 – 20:23 h
1 ascent or descent: € 4.00
1 ascent and descent on the same day: € 5.00
Discounts and frequent traveller tickets are available.