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  • [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Modelling a Bavarian Branch Line - part 1

    Author: John Oxlade, Salfords, England (email: )


    In several ways, the Bayerische Lokalbahn (Bavarian branchline) is ideal as a subject for the modeller:

    • The track arrangements at the stations were usually quite compact - ideal for the modeller with limited space.
    • There is plenty of pictorial information available for inspiration.
    • A realistic model could be built with only a handful of models. Two or three locomotives, a few passenger carriages and a dozen or so assorted wagons would be sufficient to start with.
    • The small size and short wheelbase of the vehicles makes smaller curves less of a problem - also ideal for small spaces.
    • The model manufacturers seem to have realised all of this, and subsequently there are probably more models available that are appropriate for a Bavarian branchline than any other subject - particularly in H0 scale.

    Books on Bavarian Branchlines:

    To get started, I would recommend that you obtain as much reference material as possible on the subject.

    There are quite a few books available that cover (at least in part) certain routes. However, there are some that deal almost exclusively with Bayerische Nebenbahnen (German for Bavarian branchlines) in particular. If you are interested in the subject, I would recommend that you try and track down all of these books. They are unfortunately all in German, however, the books from Bufe have a very high picture content, without too much text.

    Fränkische Nebenbahnen einst und jetzt
    Mittel- und Unterfranken
    Bufe-Fachbuch-Verlag, ISBN 3-922138-30-6 (Franconia (to use it's English name) is a region of Bavaria around Nürnberg and Würzburg)
    Fränkische Nebenbahnen einst und jetzt
    Bufe-Fachbuch-Verlag, ISBN 3-922138-25-X
    Lokalbahn Forchheim-Fränkische Schweiz Bufe-Fachbuch-Verlag, ISBN 3-922138-11-X
    Eisenbahn Journal Special:
    Eisenbahnen im Bayerischen Wald
    Hermann Merker Verlag, ISBN 3-922404-89-8 The Bavarian Forest covers an area roughly extending from a line between Regensburg and Passau, towards the Czech border.
    Bayerische Nebenbahnen
    Motor Buch Verlag, ISBN 3-87943-531-6 This is unfortunately out of print, but contains a wealth of useful information


    Some general facts on the prototype:

    Background information:
    Unlike many countries or regions, Bavaria was a little unusual in the policies used to construct branchlines.
    This information was obtained from: "Der staatliche Einfluss auf die Entwickelung der Eisenbahnen minderer Ordnung", written by M.M. Freiherrn von Weber, published by Hartleben in 1878.
    It doesn't translate well as the original is written in a style of German that has not been used for many years, but essentially, it says:
    The Bavarian State Railway (K.Bay.Sts.B.) will not solely finance the construction of local or branchlines. The K.Bay.Sts.B. will grant a licence to local regions or towns who wish to construct a railway. The town (or region) will provide finance, land, materials and labour to construct the lines, and will provide on-going financial support. The K.Bay.Sts.B. for their part will then operate the lines as part of their network.
    The K.Bay.Sts.B. will not grant a licence for construction before the region guarantees financial subsidy.
    This may sound a little odd, but this way the K.Bay.Sts.B. was not burdened with a plethora of branchlines that it could not afford to run. If a certain town or region wanted to be connected to the national railway network, they paid for it.

    Construction dates:
    Surprisingly, a lot of the lines were actually built quite late.
    To disprove that straight away, the line from Georgensmünd to Spalt was opened in 1872, but many were opened after 1900. The line from Zwiesel to Bodenmais wasn't opened until 1928..!

    Route length:
    If you have a lot of space, it's not beyond reason to build an exact scale model of some of the routes.
    For example, the line from Sinzing to Alling was only 4.1km (2.56 miles) long. In H0 scale, that works out at an actual 47m (153 feet). If you had a large basement, you could fit that in with some careful planning.
    In fact, the line from Georgensmünd to Spalt (which for some reason is quite famous, possibly the Bavarian Glass Box locomotives - see the gallery in section 2) was only 6.9km (4.3 miles) long.
    It should be pointed out that some were much longer - Neumarkt to Passau was 97.2km (60 miles), so don't get the idea that they were all short.
    Just to add variety, some lines have been electrified for many years: Murnau to Oberammergau, and Bad Reichenhall to Berchtesgaden for example.

    The steepest gradient was on the line from Erlau (near Passau) to Wegscheid at 69.9 pro mille (1 in 14.3), but this doesn't really count as it was a rack line (operated by class PtzL 3/4). The steepest 'normal' route is (it's still open) Bad Reichenhall to Berchtesgaden at 40 pro mille (1 in 25).

    Sharpest curves:
    The route from Bad Reichenhall to Berchtesgaden also boasts the sharpest curves on a 'normal' running line in Bavaria - 100m (325 feet). If you are American, you'll have to work that out in degrees yourself, I'm not sure how to convert from an actual radius to degrees of curvature, whatever, it's pretty sharp. In H0 scale 100m comes out at 1.2m (45 inches).

    Train lengths and consist:
    Certainly before WWII, the passenger coaches on branch line trains were almost always 4 wheel (2 axle). To run bogie coaches would be very unusual. There were however a few destinations that were popular as holiday resorts or spas, and these occasionally received through coaches from further away. Generally though, coaches should be 4 wheel, as provided in model form by both Roco and Trix - see later.
    A passenger-only train would usually consist of 2-4 coaches, one of which would be either a baggage van, or a combination post coach. Passenger accomodation would be largely 3rd class before the formation of the DB, 2nd class thereafter.
    Mixed trains are perfectly in order, with a few freight wagons tacked on the back of the passenger vehicles. Note that due to the cold winters, the passenger vehicles should go next to the locomotive to be able to use it for steam or electric heating.

    Track plans, architecture etc.:
    It seems (though I can't seem to find it officially documented anywhere) that the K.Bay.Sts.B. (Königlich Bayerische Staatseisenbahn - Royal Bavarian State Railway) had 'standardised' or 'approved' designs for most components of their branch lines. In some ways this is very useful, as you can model a generic station, taylored to fit your specific requirements, and it will 'look' right. This is exactly what I have done on my model railway. A visiting German friend asked what station my terminus was modelled on, and was surprised that it was a fictitious design because it looked authentic.
    Taking these 'standard' components and making the loops as short as possible to accomodate scale length trains (locomotive + six 4-wheel vehicles), my station is approx. 2.2m (just over 7 feet) long.
    Asymetrical 3-way points (turnouts) were quite common, particularly at the end of a terminus. See the illustration of Kirchheim below.

    How to model the infrastructure (buildings etc):

    Note: This information is aimed at the H0-scale modeller.

    Station buildings:
    Type of station Description How to model it
    Haltepunkte Literally translated, this is a 'halting point', and is usually just a designated place to stop along the line. Level off a piece of ground alongside the track, erect a station name board, and possibly a small list of train departure times. That's it. This is probably as basic as you can get. Most Haltepunkte didn't even have any facilities for passing trains.
    Haltestelle Literally translated, this is a 'halting place', this is a little larger than a Haltepunkte, and usually included a passing loop. Pola make the perfect station building kit for a Haltestelle... kit number 660 'Bahnhof Rothhausen'. The same building is available in slightly different form as kit number 662, a storage depot.
    Bahnhof A larger station, where station building and goods shed (freight depot) are probably now separate buildings. Architectural styles vary quite a lot across Bavaria, but it is possible with a little work to produce a good representation of a typical 'Würfel'-style building. There isn't a model of one available 'off-the-shelf' but you can convert a Kibri 9515 Königsmoor station without too much trouble.
    For a larger station the Kibri kits 9532 and 9530 are suitable.
    Locomotive sheds:
    Kibri 9438 This can be used almost as it comes from the box. I left the shed off of the back of mine purely for space reasons.
    Other buildings:
    Pola 1011 This 'Junior Series' kit is actually a pretty good model of a Bavarian goods shed (freight depot). However, it doesn't seem to be in my latest Pola catalogue.
    Pola 843 This is an excellent model of a type of warehouse used by farmers co-operatives. Many of the larger towns in rural areas had one at the station.

    Example track layouts:

    Here are 4 sample track layouts. The first 3 are genuine, the last one is the design I used for my own layout.
    As you can see, they all share common elements.

    Bächingen consists of a simple passing loop with a single siding.

    Kirchheim has a 3-way point at the terminus end, and shows the typical loop extensions giving the sidings for the loading dock and goods shed.

    Ottobeuren is a little unusual in that the crossing from middle track to the goods shed is 'backward' to allow acces to the shed without locomotives having to go over the weigh bridge.

    This was the track plan of the station on my first Bavarian branch-line. It incorporates most of the typical components of a Bavarian branch terminus (without being modelled on any specific location, although I am told it resembles Nordhalben), including the 3-way points (turnouts). I had to use Roco ones because Peco didn't make a code 75, asymmetrical 3-way point at the time.

    Appropriate (typical) locomotives and rolling stock (that are easily available):

    This is not to say that other rolling stock was not to be seen on a Bavarian branch line, but this stock is very typical. Additionally, I have not listed some of the more exotic models that have been available. Most of these are either no longer in production (mostly one-off production runs) or they are difficult to obtain outside of Germany.

    Note: This information is aimed at the H0-scale modeller.

    Locomotives and railcars...
    Era Locomotive Model
    Epoch I
    PtL 2/2Trix 22410
    DXITrix 22405
    GtL 4/4Fleischmann 4819
    - one-off limited edition no longer in catalogue.
    Roco have produced their PtL 2/2 and BBII as limited editions in K.Bay.Sts.B livery which may still be available in some shops, but are not in the latest catalogue
    Epoch II
    983 (ex. PtL 2/2)Trix 22401 or
    Roco 43257
    984-5 (ex. DXI)Trix 22414
    987 (ex. BBII - mallet)
    note that this loco is only really appropriate on routes with steep gradients
    Roco 43282
    988 (ex. GtL 4/4)Fleischmann 4098
    VT135Trix 22473
    Epoch III
    983 (ex. PtL 2/2)Trix 22415 or
    Roco 43255
    988 (ex. GtL 4/4)Fleischmann 4099
    64Fleischmann 4061
    V100Roco 43644
    VT95Fleischmann 4405
    VT98Roco 43018
    Epoch IV
    211Roco 43648
    798Roco 43045
    See image of VT98 above
    628.2Roco 43022
    Epoch V
    DB AG
    211Roco 43648
    628.2Roco 43022

    Passenger coaches...
    Era Type Model
    Epoch I
    CL (3rd class)Trix 23700 and 23020
    BCL (2nd and 3rd class)Trix 23701 and 23019
    PPostL (post coach)Trix 23702
    Roco have produced 2 limited edition boxed sets of 4 coaches in K.Bay.Sts.B livery which may still be available in some shops, but are not in the latest catalogue
    Epoch II
    CL Bay 01 (3rd class)Trix 23303
    CL Bay 02a (3rd class)Trix 23304
    CL Bay 11 (3rd class)Trix 23709
    BCL Bay 09 (2nd and 3rd class)Trix 23708
    PwPostL Bay 00 (post coach)Trix 23710
    CL Bay 06b (3rd class)Roco 44801
    PwPostL Bay 06 (post coach)Roco 44805
    GwL Bay 96 (baggage van, can also be used as a guard's van [caboose] on freight trains)Roco 44809
    PwL Bay 02 (baggage van)Roco 44829
    CL Bay 06 (3rd class)Roco 44825
    CL Bay 11a (3rd class)Roco 44821
    BPostL Bay 01 (2nd class and post coach)Roco 44833
    Epoch III
    LB Bay 11a (2nd class)Roco 44822
    LB Bay 97/22 (2nd class)Roco 44826
    LA Post 01 (1st class and post coach)Roco 44834
    LPw Bay 02 (baggage van)Roco 44830
    BL Bay 06b (3rd class)Roco 44800
    PwPostL Bay 06 (post and baggage coach)Roco 44804
    PwL Bay 98 (baggage van)Roco 44808
    'Thunder boxes'Fleischmann 5074, 5075, 5076, 5077
    '6-wheel converted coaches'
    Note: These coaches always ran in pairs.
    Roco 44252, 44253, 44254
    'Silver Fish coaches' Lima produce an excellent range of Silver Fish coaches in a variety of livery variations for Epochs III and IV
    Epoch IV and V
    DB and DB AG
    All of the older 4-wheel coches will have been withdrawn, and most services are likely to be run with railcars (798) or multiple units (627 and 628)
    Roco produce a 628.2 for Epoch IV, cat. no. 43022.
    Notable exceptions are the Murnau to Oberammergau and Berchtesgaden lines (both of which are electrified). Standard 26.4m coaches are then appropriate.
    'Silver fish coaches' - as aboveLima produce an excellent range of Silver Fish coaches in a variety of liver variations for Epochs III and IV

    Freight wagons...
    Try and keep in mind that we are looking at a small branch line. Large wagons, or those designed to transport unusually large or heavy materials, might look nice, but are not exactly typical.
    Epoch I
    Predominately K.Bay.Sts.B. wagons with a number of wagons from the other Länderbahnen.
    Epoch II
    Predominately wagons of K.Bay.Sts.B. design, but practically any DRG wagon is acceptable.
    Be careful of having private owner wagons from a different area of Germany, and try and keep a high percentage of 'plain brown wagons'. 'Fancy' beer wagons look good in catalogues, and sell models, but are not very common in real life.
    Epoch III to V
    DB to DB AG
    Just about anything will be OK. After WWII, the interchange of wagons all around Europe became much more common. However, local freight has moved over to road transport in the last 30-40 years, so now there is much less freight on branch lines than there was around WWII.

    Unusual locomotives and rolling stock:

    The following information lists some of the unusual prototypes that can or could be seen on Bavarian branch lines, that may have been typical for a specific route or region. This will include some models that are not as easily available as those mentioned above.

    Note: This information is aimed at the H0-scale modeller.

    The Murnau to Oberammergau line, which has effectively been electrified since it opened.
    The E69's were built exclusively for his route.
    • Roco have made models of E69 02 and E69 03, but neither have been in their catalogue in the last few years.
    • Piko used to make a model of E69 05 (slightly larger body style), but I'm not sure of it's current availability.
    • Both the Roco and Piko models would benefit from improvement (new motors, handrails etc.).
    The trains are currently mostly push-pull operated by class 141's (originally E41), typically with two 'Silver Fish' coaches.

    Roco produce an Epoch III E41 in green (cat. no. 43637), and an Epoch IV 141 in blue (cat. no. 43638).

    The Freilassing to Berchtesgaden line. There some photos of this route in the photo gallery.
    This route has some of the steepest gradients on a normal running line in Bavaria, and has always tended to use powerful locomotives.
    • Christian Fuchs made a limited edition model of the 'heavy' DVIII's that were built for this route, although it hasn't been available for many years.
    • Roco have had a model of the E445 available for a long time (Epoch II, cat. no. 43405). These locomotives were used almost exclusively on this line.
    • E94's were also used on some of the heavier through express trains. Roco's E94 is excellent, and has been available in 4 slightly different versions over the years. The current model is Epoch IV, cat. no. 43483.
    Local trains are currently operated by class 139's (originally E39), typically with 'Silver Fish' coaches.

    The line from (originally Rosenheim, then) Prien to Aschau.
    Two class 798 railcars (798 652 and 653), and one 998 trailer (998 896) were painted in a special livery exclusively for this route - rather pretty actually.
    • They are available in H0-scale from Roco, cat. no. 43040.
      Although this is supposedly a limited edition model, it has been in the catalogue for a few years.

    Inappropriate locomotives and rolling stock:

    Epoch I - K.Bay.Sts.B.
    During the era of the Länderbahnen, interchange of locomotives and passenger coaches between the different railway companies was very unusual. Freight stock was to be seen all over Germany, but to see non- K.Bay.Sts.B. locomotives and coaches in Bavaria would be unusual - except on through express trains.
    i.e. München to Berlin.

    Epoch II - DRG
    During the time of the German State Railway, 'foreign' locomotives and rolling stock started spreading round Germany. For example, a former Saxon State Railway XII H2 (DRG class 382-3) was based at Regensburg, and many former Prussian locomotives were to be seen all over Germany. However, in general, rolling stock seemed to stay in pretty much the same geographical regions that it originally came from. So, although Prussian coaches for example, were to be seen in Bavaria after 1920, genuine Bavarian vehicles should greatly out number them.

    Epoch III - DB
    Trans Europe Express (TEE) coaches are not exactly appropriate for a branch line, but there were some through long distance workings (to Berchtesgaden for example) so some 26.4m main line coaches could be used - just. In general though, older coaches would be the norm.

    Epoch IV and V - DB and DB AG
    Railcars or 'silver fish' coaches are about the only appropriate passenger stock.

    [ author: - last updated 31st Dec 2003 ]