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    Modelling a Bavarian Branchline - part 4

    Author: Greg Mashiah


    Bavaria is a state in southern Germany. The Bayerische Lokalbahn (Bavarian branchline) is a prototype with several advantages for the N scale modeller: · Track arrangements at stations are usually quite compact, and a prototypical "fiddle yard to terminus" type layout can be as little as 1.5m in length, · A realistic model can be operated with a couple of locomotives, a few passenger carriages and a dozen goods wagons, · Many ready-to-run models and structures kits are available in N scale.

    Model Manufacturers

    Four firms manufacture ready to run German N scale railway models - Fleischmann, Kato/Hobbytrain, Roco and Trix (also known as Minitrix). Arnold, the pioneer of N scale, manufactured German N Scale models prior to its take-over by the Rivarossi group. Although a limited ranger of models under the Arnold brand were announced for 2003, the future of the group is uncertain and it is not known whether any further models will be produced. Arnold models may be available either as old stock from distributors or second hand. Suitable structures kits are available from Faller, Kibri and Pola.


    German modellers generally divide railway history into five periods, which are known as epochs. A summary of the epochs, and some key changes for modellers are:

    • Epoch I is the period up until about 1919. Prior to 1920, the individual German states had their own railways (Länderbahnen) and, in Bavaria, the state railway was called the Könliglische Bayerische Staatsbahn (Royal Bavarian State Railway), which is shortened to K.Bay.Sts.B. The länderbahnen were nationalised in 1920 under the Weimar constitution.
    • Epoch II theoretically starts when the railways were nationalised in 1920 and extends to the middle of World War II; however it was not until 1924 that the Deutsche Reichsbahn Gesellschaft (DRG), or German State Railway Company was officially formed. There were two attempts at renumbering länderbahnen stock; the first in 1923, and the second started in 1925 and was essentially completed by the end of 1926. Epoch II is sometimes subdivided into IIa, the period before 1930 and Iib, the period after 1930, when locomotives were renumbered into a national numbering scheme. 4th class passenger travel was abolished in 1928. The DRG adopted several standard locomotive designs, many of which were former Prussian railway designs.
    • Epoch III extends from the end of World War II to 1968. After World War II, railways operated in the occupied zones with English/US markings. In 1948/49 the railways in West Germany were renamed Deutsche Bundesbahn (DB), with the railways in East Germany retaining the name Deutsche Reichsbahn. Epoch III can be subdivided into two periods. Epoch IIIa extends until 1956/7, when a new "DB" emblem was introduced, 3rd class was abolished, a 3rd headlight was added to locomotives and goods wagons were renumbered with a 6 digit numbers. As with all renumbering schemes, implementation takes time and there are pictures as late as 1958 showing rolling stock with Epoch IIIa attributes. Epoch IIIb starts after IIIa, and extends to 1968, locomotives were numbered with 7 digit CWP numbers (computer numbers, including a check digit) and goods wagons with 12 digit UIC-CWP numbers.
    • Epoch IV extends from 1968 until the reunification of Germany. The last steam engine in regular service was withdrawn in October 1977.
    • Epoch V, is the post unification period, when the DB and DR were unified as DBAG.

    Bavarian Prototype

    The terminology associated with Bavarian branchlines could describe the style or function of the railway:

    (secondary or supplementary railway). This was a general term used to describe branchlines or connecting lines between main line routes.
    (local line). This type of branchline was sometimes of tramway type and could include street running. There was also a technical definition in that a Vizinalbahn had lightly laid track of 27.2kg per metre, while other branchlines used heavier track. Some lines that were initially Vizinalbahn were later extended and upgraded.
    (secondary line). This type of branchline could also include some street running.
    (local line). This term was mainly used to describe a bigger branchline that connected several towns or at least two main destinations.
    a "true" branch line with terminus. Verbindungsbahnen a connecting line between main line routes.

    Bavaria had an unusual policy regarding construction of Nebenbahn, in that it would only construct such lines when the town or region agreed to provide finance, land, labour and materials for construction and provide on-going financial subsidy for operating. In total there were 164 state owned and 20 private lines. The first specially built Nebenbahn was the Siegelsdorf-Markt Erlbach line in 1872 and the last was the Zwiesel-Bodenmais branch, which opened in 1928. The shortest Nebenbahn was the line from Sinzing to Alling, which was only 4.1km in length. Not all Nebenbahn were short with, for example, the line from Neumarkt to Passau being 97.2km in length.

    Some branches were electrified, and the Bad Worishöfen branch (which was privately owned but taken over by the DRG in 1938 and is still open today) was electrified in 1892 and was one (if not the first) overhead electrified line in Germany. Other electrified branchlines include the Murnau to Oberammergau (which was also privately owned when opened in 1900 and also taken over by the DRG in 1938), and Freilassing to Berchtesgaden. Information on the Oberammergau line, including track plans for each station, can be found on Jay Vollstedt's website (

    Track was generally lightly laid, with maximum axle load often limited to 4.25/5 tonnes. Ballast was often sand, gravel, cinders or a mix of all three. Routes generally followed the lines of roads, paths or rivers to keep civil engineering costs to a minimum. Station designs and layouts were fairly standardised, with three categories of stations:

    (Halting point), which was usually just a designated place to stop along the line. The simplest haltepunkte comprised nothing more than a levelled piece of ground beside the line with a station nameboard and timetable board, with sometimes a light above it on the post. No platform was provided, and the levelled ground could be cinders, gravel, or just dirt and grass. 
    (halting place), which was larger than a haltepunkte and usually included a station building (which was generally a wooden structure of standard design including a goods shed integral with the building) and could also include a crossing loop. Platforms were generally cinders or gravel at ground level. 
    (station), which had a larger station building, often of two-storey construction featuring living accommodation for the station master, etc. Local contractors would probably have built a bahnhof station building and therefore there was some variety in their layout. The goods shed at a bahnhof was normally a separate building. The terminal station on a line was called the Endbahnhof, and would normally have included a one or two track engine shed. Platforms were again either cinders or gravel at ground level, or low level (38cm above the head of the rail).

    The K.Bay.Sts.B had preferred track layouts for Haltestelle and Endbahnhof, although these would be modified to suit site constraints. Examples of typical track layouts and prototype photographs can be seen at the Model Trains International ( and Christoph Perleth's home page ( websites. Sidings, particularly at Endbahnhof, would be double-ended with asymmetrical 3-way points (available in N scale from Fleischmann #9157) often used rather than two separate points.

    Loading banks were often stepped at two levels, with the lower level at wagon door height for conventional freight handling and the higher level above wagon height to enable carts or trucks to tip their contents straight into open wagons. The loading bank could be on a siding, with the higher level often provided at the end of the buffer stops or, where no siding was provided, even butted up to the main line.


    Many Bavarian stations had a Bayerische Warenhandelsgesellschaft (Bavarian Goods Trading Corporation, or BayWa) building, which were stored both agricultural supplies and produce generated by local farmers. The BayWa store sometimes included a grain silo. Kibri make a kit for a BayWa (#7220).

    Some rural industries were served by dedicated sidings. For example, at Nordheim on the branchline from Mellrichstadt to Fladungen, there were separate sidings for a basalt quarry and a local sawmill. Before World War II, a dedicated train served the quarry every two days.


    Trains on Nebenbahn were generally short. From Epoch 1 to Epoch III, passenger trains would generally consist of 2-4 coaches, one of which would be either a luggage van or combination post coach. In Epoch III railcars started to be used for passenger trains. A typical good trains (called (Nahguterzug) might have between 4 and 9 wagons. Mixed trains are also prototypical on Nebenbahn, and were classified as either goods train with passenger carriages (Güterzug mit Personenebeförderung, or GmP), or passenger train with goods wagons (Personenzug mit Güterbeförderung or PmG).

    Goods (and mixed) trains lengths were generally governed by the length of the run-around loop at the terminal station. However, it was not unknown for trains which were too long for the terminus to leave goods wagons at the last haltestelle. The locomotive would do some shunting at the terminal, then return to the last stop to bring the remaining freight wagons. A typical train of Epoch III might have 2 passenger carriages, a baggage van and 2 or 3 goods wagons. In mixed trains, the freight wagons were generally attached at the rear of the train and passenger carriages next to the engine to enable steam or electric heating.


    The most important Bavarian branchline steam locomotive was the GtL4/4 0-8-0T, which were built between 1911 and 1927 and totalled 117 units (the designation GtL4/4 indicates "Goods tank locomotive for local lines" with 4 axles, all driven). This engine was renumbered as the Class 98/8 in DRG and DB days, and some remained in service until the 1970s. They were used on Bavarian branchlines from Epoch I to Epoch IV. N Scale models of this locomotive are available from Fleischmann for Epoch II (#7098) and Epoch III (#7099),

    One of the best known Bavarian branchline locomotive classes were the 48 members of the PtL2/2 0-4-0WT, which had a tram style superstructure and inside cylinders (the designation PtL2/2 indicates "Passenger tank locomotive for local lines with 2 axles, all driven"). This class was nicknamed Glaskasten (glass cab) because of the prominent centrally placed windowed cab. These locomotives were arranged for one-man operation, with the coal bunker a gravity fed hopper controlled by the driver. This class was constructed from 1906 until 1927, and was renumbered as the Class 98/3 by the DRG and DB. They were used on Bavarian branchlines from Epoch I to Epoch III. N Scale models of the Glaskasten are available from Trix for all three epochs - Epoch I (#12114), Epoch II (#12212) and Epoch III (#12714). The Glaskasten were mainly used on shorter or local branch lines due to their rather limited coal capacity.

    Another common steam locomotive on Bavarian branchlines in Epoch III and IV was the BR50 2-10-0 tender locomotive, which was used on all types of services. Fleischmann make two N Scale Epoch III models of the BR50 - (#7182 with a cab tender for the conductor, and #7183 with a tub tender, which was also known as a "bathtub" tender). During Epoch III, tank engines of the following classes could also haul passenger trains on branchlines:

    • BR64 2-6-2 (Fleischmann #7061)
    • BR70 2-4-0
    • BR75 2-6-2 (former Arnold #2212), which were withdrawn in 1966
    • BR78 4-6-4 (Fleischmann #7077). Although this locomotive was originally a Prussian design, they were used for passenger services on some Bavarian branchlines such as Mellrichstadt to Fladungen
    • BR86 2-8-2 (Fleischmann #7086 and Kato #73502, which was discontinued in 2003).

    During Epoch III, the V100 (later renumbered as BR211) Bo-Bo diesel started to be used on Bavarian branchlines. Seven prototypes were constructed in 1958, and construction of the class commenced in 1961. N Scale models are available from Trix for Epoch III (#12635) and Epoch IV (#12206), Fleischmann for Epoch III (#7230) and three examples in various liveries were available from the former Arnold (#2010, #2011 and #2012).

    The electrified Oberammergau route was operated by a class of five specially constructed centre cab electric locomotives (E69, later BR169), which were built between 1905 and 1930. An Epoch III N Scale model of the BR169 was available from the former Arnold (#2402). After withdrawal of the BR169, this line was operated with Class 141 (originally E41) Bo-Bo electric locomotives. Epoch III N scale models of the BR141 were available from the former Arnold (#2321 and #2323), while Epoch IV models are available from Fleischmann (#7326 and #7328) and were available from the former Arnold (#2322).

    Passenger services (and occasional good trains) on the electrified Freilassing to Berchtesgaden route were operated from 1912 by a class of four 1'C2' electric locomotives (Ep 3/6, later DRG class E36). These locomotives were unusual in that they featured a coal fired boiler for steam heating. The E36 were superceded by four "Bo-Bo" of Class E44 built between 1933 and 1935, and were withdrawn between 1941 and 1943, with two converted to snowploughs. The E44s (later Class 144) were set aside in 1968. An N Scale Epoch II model of the E36 was previously available from Trix (#2912) and an Epoch III model of the E44 is currently available from Trix (#12521).


    The single motor VT95 railbus (later renumbered as Class 795) and the twin motor VT98 railbus (later renumbered as class 798) were constructed from 1955, and were used in Epochs III and IV. As well as the motor unit, trailers (VB142, later class 995 and VB98, later Class 998.0) and driving trailers or Steuerwagen (VS98, later 998.6) were constructed. The VT95 were not equipped for multiple unit operation and therefore at the end of a run, the VT95 needed to run around its trailer(s). The VT98 could haul a maximum of four trailers (although commonly two), while the single motor VT95 was limited to two trailers (generally one). As well as operating passenger trains, it was not unknown for the VT98 to be used for PmG mixed trains, with goods wagons attached behind the last trailer. The (normal) maximum length of a VT98 multiple unit would be three VT98 plus six VBs/VSs.

    The last VT95 were withdrawn from service in 1983 and the last VT98 in 1993. Fleischmann manufactures N scale models of the Epoch III VT95 (#7400) and VB142(#7401) and Epoch IV versions (#7402 and #7403). The former Arnold manufactured Epoch III N scale models of the 798 (#2910), 998.0 (#2911) and 998.6 (#2912).

    In Epoch IV, Class 614 Diesel Multiple Units, which could be either 2,3 or 4 class units with the addition of trailers, operated some branchlines. These railcars could also be used for PmG mixed trains. N scale models of these railcars were previously made by Fleischmann (#7430 and #7434), but are not included in the current catalogue. The ETA 150/515/815 akkutriebwagen/trailer also operated on Bavarian lines in Epoch IV, and a model is available from Hobbytrain.

    Some goods services on the Bad Worishöfen branch were operated by an electric railcar rebuilt from a boxcar. This railcar, which was used for goods transportation, was built in 1892 and originally numbered 895. The DRG renumbered this railcar as ET194 11. An N scale model was available from Trix (#12854) as a limited edition, but is not in the current catalogue.

    Passenger Carriages

    From Epoch I to early Epoch III, Bavarian coaches of CL(i), BL(i), BCL(i), BPost L and GwL would predominate. In early Epoch III, coaches of the Ci33, Pwg 33, PwPosti34, Pwi28, Pwi 31a and Pwgs 41 began to appear, while in late Epoch III coaches were mainly of the 3yg, 4yg, Pwi28, Pwi 31a and Pwgs 41.

    Fleischmann make N scale Epoch II examples of the CL(i) and BCL, while both Roco and Fleischmann make N Scale Era III examples of 3yg.

    By Epoch IV, the older 4 and 6 wheel coaches were withdrawn and most services were run by railcars. However, the electrified Oberammergau and Berchtesgaden lines retained locomotive hauled passenger trains using silverfish coaches.

    Goods Wagons

    In Epoch I, goods wagons would have been mainly from the K.Bay.Sts.B, with some wagons interchanged from other Länderbahnen. Trix make a selection of N Scale K.Bay.Sts.B goods wagons including coal hoppers.

    In Epoch II, wagons would again mainly be of K.Bay.Sts.B design, although all sorts of DRG wagons could have been seen. From Epoch III onwards, interchange of wagons around Europe meant that wagons from other countries could also be seen. However, from the 1960s onwards, competition from road transport reduced the amount of goods traffic compared with former times. Trix, Roco and Fleischmann manufacture a variety of goods wagons from Epoch II onwards.

    While a large selection of private owner wagons and, in particular, brightly coloured brewery wagons are available as N scale models, in the prototype their use was uncommon as beer produced by breweries was usually consumed locally and not transported.

    Brake vans (Pwg) were not required on Nebenbahn, although most goods trains included them, sometimes as the first vehicle behind the engine, sometimes the last and sometimes between goods wagons. An Epoch I K.Bay.Sts.B Pwg is available from Trix (#13445), while Fleischmann make both Epoch II (#8300 and #8302) and Epoch III (#8301) Pwgs.

    Operating a typical Bavarian Branchline (Stichbahnen)

    Stichbahnen were operated as simply as possible. The general pattern of traffic is for passengers to travel from the branchline terminus to the "city" in the morning and return in the evening. Goods traffic would be outwards from the "city" to the terminus in the morning, distributing trucks to stations on the branchline, with a late afternoon or evening return to the "city" to reach the overnight trains connecting the marshalling yards.

    The simplest branchline operation, which could be operated by one engine based at the terminus, is: · A very early morning passenger train (about 5:00am) to the "city" · A lunch time return passenger or mixed train to the terminus, · An evening passenger or mixed train from the terminus to the "city", and · An evening passenger train returning to the terminus.

    On longer branchlines (say >20km), a goods train with passenger carriages (GmP), which would generally only have one or two passenger coaches, was more likely during the day than a Nahguterzug. Whether a Nahguterzug operated would depend on the local industries. A Nahguterzug should leave the "city" in the morning, break over lunchtime at the terminus and return in the late afternoon or evening to the city.

    There could also be a later morning train from the terminus to the city, serving schoolchildren and housewives. This train would require either an early morning service from the city to the terminus (operated by an engine based at the "city"), or a second engine based at the terminus. In the latter case, the morning goods train returning from the city could be operated as a mixed to return the carriages to the terminus. Alternatively, if the branchline is set in Epoch III or IVa, passenger trains could be operated by a VT98 railbus. For shorter branchlines there may, in addition, have been an afternoon school time train pair. There may also have been a few more trains if the branchline goes to, say a country junction with main line connections.

    A sample sequence of operations for a longer branchline, using a steam engine based at the terminus and a railbus (say VT98) based in the 'city" is:

    Train type  Time Engine
    Passenger dep 05:00 Steam
    Passenger arr  07:15 Railbus
    Passenger dep 07:30 Railbus
    Freight  arr  12:00 Steam
    Passenger  arr  12:30  Railbus
    Freight dep 16:00 Steam
    Passenger dep 17:30 Railbus
    Passenger arr  20:00 Steam

    If the terminus had natural springs (indicated by Bad at the start of a town's name), there could also be additional special passenger trains.

    This article is based on articles in the following websites - Model Trains International (, Tim Hale's Altezeitgruppe (, Christoph Perleth's home page (, Kurt H. Miska's Website ( and discussions in John Oxlade's Worldrailfans ( In particular my thanks are extended to John Oxlade, Tibor Weidner, Moritz Gretzschel, Thomas Eckhardt, Jan-Martin Hertzsch, Tim Hale, Martin Silz, Sith Sastrasinh, Jay Vollstedt and Christoph Perleth for their contributions. Special thanks to Philip Barker, who provided many valuable suggestions.

    [ last updated 1st Jan 2004 ]