The world’s oldest mountain overhead railway can be found in Dresden. It was opened on the 6th of May 1901 and runs between Loschwitz and Oberloschwitz. The cart climbs the elevation gain of 84 meters in only four minutes and 30 seconds.
How did Dresden get a overhead railway?
At the end of the 19th century, the Dresden suburbs of Loschwitz, Blasewitz, Rochwitz and Weißer Hirsch were still independent communities. Dresden’s population showed increasing interest in the residential location high above the Elbe. After the bridge from Loschwitz to Blasewitz (Blaue Wunder) was completed, interest grew further and it was decided to build another mountain railway in addition to the existing funicular.
The driving force was a court bookseller who had bought cheap land and wanted to sell it at a profit. He looked for a financially strong partner and tried to obtain a concession to operate a funicular as early as 1896. The plans for the railway alone caused the price of land to rise to such an extent that the court bookseller had already achieved his goal.
The railway was designed by Eugen Langer, who had already constructed the Wuppertal overhead railway. Construction began in 1898. The steel girders were mounted coming down from the mountain. Parts were pre-mounted on the ground and then pulled upwards. A mobile scaffold was erected on the completed track girder, which was needed for the completion of the line.
In May 1901, the railway was officially opened in the presence of Prince Friedrich August. The railway was initially operated by the “Dresdner Elektra AG”, which also ran an excursion restaurant at the mountain station. Initially, there were four carriages on the railway, which was almost too few for the initial rush.
Fortunately, the overhead railway survived the Second World War unscathed.
In GDR times, the Dresden soverhead railway was neglected. The income from the fare could not cover the running costs. As a result, repairs were postponed and the railway finally had to be shut down in 1984.
In the last decades, extensive repair work was carried out on the supporting structure and the top station was rebuilt. The Dresden overhead railway has been in operation again since 1992.
Today, the railway brings about 300,000 passengers a year to the mountain station “Schöne Aussicht”. There you can visit the engine house. And enjoy the view of the Elbe valley and Dresden from a viewing platform.
Information on the overhead railway
The Dresden suspension railway is a monorail. Actually, the termsuspension railway is technically incorrect. Unlike a magnetic levitation train, there is constant contact between the track and the vehicle.
The vehicles in Dresden do not have their own drive. Similar to a funicular railway, they are moved by a haul rope that is moved by a hoisting machine in the upper station. Today, the railway is operated without a driver.
The train climbs 84 metres in altitude on a 274-metre track. Two cars always leave the stations at the same time and meet in the middle of the track.
Riding the overhead railway in Dresden
We rode up the slope of the Elbe from the valley station on Pillnitzer Landstraße. You can buy tickets to ride the overhead railway in Dresden at a ticket machine and then go through a turnstile onto the platform.
The cars of the overhead railway are built up in steps and through large windows you can enjoy the view during the ride. Of course, the first and last compartments are particularly suitable for taking photos, but they are always very full. On our last trip, we were lucky enough to be travelling almost alone. So we were able to photograph the valley undisturbed and enjoy the view of the driverless driver’s cab.
The higher the train gets, the more beautiful the view you get. In addition, I found the view of the construction of the steel girders above the railway very impressive.
Riding the overhead railway in Dresden unfortunately only takes 5 minutes, then you reach the top station. There, we first went to the viewing platform, from where you can follow the descent of the overhead railway and of course the arrival of the next train very well.
There is a small café right next to the mountain station. From there you can also watch the railway and enjoy the view.
After sitting there for a while, we made our way to the top station of the Dresden funicular to take it back down to the valley.
Address valley station:
Pillnitzer Landstraße 5, 01326 Dresden
Address top station:
Sierksstraße, 01326 Dresden
Operating hours (always first and last ride):
3.4. – 1.11.
daily: 9.30 – 20 h
2.11. – 3.4.
daily: 10- 18 h
Adults (15 years and older) single ticket: 4,00€
Adults (15 years and older) return ticket: 5,00€
Engine rooms ticket adults: 2,50€
Engine rooms ticket reduced: 1,00€