Not only the eyes of railroad fans or children shine, I was also completely thrilled to be able to ride the Zittau narrow gauge railroad in Upper Lusatia.
From Zittau to the spa town of Oybin/ Kurort Jonsdorf and, of course, back, the Saxon – Upper Lusatian Railway Company runs a narrow-gauge railroad, sometimes even pulled by a steam locomotive.
The history of the Zittau narrow gauge railroad
In 1848, Zittau received a railroad connection. Gradually, the surrounding area was opened up with further railroad lines. However, a connection to the Zittau Mountains was initially uninteresting for the Saxon state, despite the existing excursion traffic.
A private interest group wanted to push ahead with the construction of a railroad line. A deposit enabled them to get the initial planning and preliminary work underway. However, full financing was not possible. Finally, on 28.8.1888, the Zittau-Oybin-Jonsdorfer Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft was founded. The necessary capital of 1.5 million Marks came through a bank and the concession for the railroad construction was granted in 1889.
Shortly thereafter, construction began. And in November 1890, the ceremonial opening took place. Damage caused by a storm initially prevented the full commissioning, which then took place a month later.
Within a few years, the number of passengers doubled. While in 1891 it was 246,777, by 1909 it had already reached 523,000 passengers. Especially on Sundays and holidays and during the summer vacation, most passengers were on the trains. In order to meet the needs of rail users, it was decided to double-track a good 7.8 kilometers of the line and expand the Zittau Vorstadt and Oybin stations.
In 1943/44, the second plug-in track on the Bertsdorf-Kurort Oybin section was removed, and later the second track between Zittau Vorstadt and Bertsdorf was also removed.
In the meantime, there were even plans to shut down the entire rail line. Fortunately, this was prevented with the political turnaround and the change in energy policy.
In May 1990, the 100th anniversary of the railroad line was celebrated.
Ride on the Zittau narrow gauge railroad
The station in Zittau is a terminus station. If you arrive in time before the train’s departure, you can still watch the locomotive being uncoupled from the arriving train and traveling through the station via a siding. After passing a switch, it then reverses and couples back to the train in front of the stationary cars.
On my trip, I was lucky enough to ride with a steam locomotive. It looked exactly like you would have imagined a locomotive to look like as a child – and a dream for lovers of railroads.
From Zittau station, the city is first bypassed to the south and the train still stops at some stations within the city area.
It is a pity that the stops at the stations are always quite short, as is usual with railroad trips. I would have loved to have a closer look at the different stations. The reception buildings are partly quite old and tell wonderfully the development of the railroad line. There are some massive buildings, but also like the station Teufelsmühle only “stops” with shelter.
During the ride, you can always look for a new free seat in the train. In good weather, the open panorama car is certainly a good choice. Unfortunately, we had no weather that would have made me take a seat there. I preferred the dining car and enjoyed a hot tea with the “railroad cookie” here.
The train station in Oybin is unfortunately reached much too quickly. You need just under an hour, then you enter the terminus in Oybin.
Overnight stay in a railroad carriage
In Oybin you can stay overnight from Easter to July in two discarded railroad carriages directly at the station. From August to October, the wagons are then available for overnight guests at Jonsdorf station.
The wagons are suitable for 2 people and fully equipped with kitchen, shower room, bedroom and terrace. Here you sit on the premises and can watch the incoming trains and the shunting locomotive.
For 4 people there is a possibility to stay in the former water cottage. This is also fully equipped as a vacation home and the terrace faces the tracks and you can watch the locomotive taking water.
Oh well, don’t worry, train service ends at 4pm during the week and 6pm on weekends.
Route and further information
On the operator’s website you can read the route, current fares and departure times.
Disclosure: The trip on the Zittau narrow-gauge railroad was part of a press trip to Upper Lusatia. The article on this was written independently of the trip.