A record number of visitors on the last day of the steam trains

The members of the steam train club (Dampfbahnclub Taunus) in the Mainstraße were not expecting quite so many visitors to turn up last Sunday, 12th October, 2014.  After all, a lot of the tracks had already been lifted along with the bridge, turntable and model railway.  But on the other hand it was the last chance to take a ride behind one of the miniature steam trains, before the area is cleared to make way for a new school building.

In total there were around 900 adults and 350 children at the last day of the saison, known as the “Abdampfen”, and for the first time in the history of the railway they had to go out during the day and stock up on charcoal for the barbeque.

The visitors had to wait more patiently than usual, with waiting times of up to 15 minutes not unusual despite them having 4 trains running.

The chairman of the club, Andreas Kahlert, was not only surprised by the numbers of people, but also where they stood whilst waiting.  Only last month the same area was occupied by tracks passing through the station.  “I don’t know where they would have all stood” he commented.

But of course it was not a normal opening day and many of the visitors had come for one last look at something they themselves had experienced as children.  A model of the new layout further down the road allowed them to find out more about the future of the club and their plans, with the most popular questions being about when and exactly where they will be re-opening.

If all goes according to plan the next time they are open to the public it will be May 2017 and until then the club has a lot of work to do.  Not only do they have to lay new tracks, but they have to keep their members happy without being able to run trains.  But this is a challenge that they are already rising to, and in recent weeks they have found new potential members just by people being interested in the work that has been taking place in the grounds.

Andreas Kahler sees this current development as a chance for the club to pass on the reigns to a new generation.  He is looking forward to the new layout, in particular because for the past 7 years, once the plans for the school were made public, the club has resisted investing in anything new and has just maintained their existing layout.  Now they can really get started and involved the younger people of the club in the re-development work.  For him, it is not only the last day the current site, but also the first day of the new railway.

Normally at the end of the day all of the locomotives would whistle together at 5pm before stopping for the day.  But having already stopped to listen to the speeches, the drivers were all agreed that they would carry on running and allow the children who were still there to use up their tickets, before the very last train left at 5.30pm.

Matthias Zundel, who spent the last 15 years as chairman of the club, was personally driving that train with Oberursel’s Mayor and members of the club riding on it, along with the last of the children who had stayed to be part of the historic moment.  After leaving the station, the other trains followed closely behind, until every bit of rolling stock was out on the main circuit.  One after another the trains were pulled out, returned to the station and their carriages shunted out of the way, until finally that very last train re-entered the station for the last time.  It was a moment that the children and younger members will no doubt be talking about for many years to come.

This article appeared in German on 16th October, 2014 in the Oberurseler Woche.


About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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