Oberursel will soon have a steam railway again

It was three years ago, on 12th October, 2014, that the last train rolled over the tracks of the miniature railway belonging to the Dampfbahnclub Taunus in the Mainstraße.  After that day the tracks, buildings and other fixtures of the old layout were taken up and removed, work that took a whole year to complete.

After that workers from the local authority (Hochtaunuskreis) arrived and started the groundwork for the new railway.  They laid the foundations according to a plan that members of the club had designed.  In October 2015 the tunnel was installed and the club members moved the railway shed to its new location.

Come January 2016 the club was back on its own and started to build the new layout.  Not only did that have to do everything themselves, they had to make most of it as well as almost none of the elements from the old layout – including the tracks – could be re-used and had to be replaced.

Markus Baum from Augsburg pulling a goods train across the bridge with an animal class engineMarkus Baum from Augsburg pulling a goods train across the bridge with an animal class engine

The numbers are huge.  14 tonnes of steel has been welded into tracks with a total length of 1,300m.  There are 10,000 sleepers, welded at 80,000 places.  Then there are the 40 sets of points.  These are manually operated at the moment, as the old digital system did not have enough capacity.  And under all those tracks there are 400 tonnes of ballast that has been spread out by hand.  Finally, there are expansion joints every 30m to allow the tracks to expand in hot weather without buckling.

What they have created is a large track layout that gives the club members a lot of new possibilities, but also the visitors a great experience when they ride on it.  Although the trip will only go around the circuit once instead of twice as was previously the case, the distance traveled is longer and takes between six and eight minutes.  With the points set correctly, the inner circle can be added to the route giving the club members about 10 minutes of running time to go around the entire circuit.

Once the first tracks were laid, things moved quicker, explained chairman Andreas Kahlert and club secretary Michael Schäfer and the internal inauguration on 9th September.  Even still, the circuit was only completed three weeks beforehand and the first test run took place just a few days before the event.  But once this had been accomplished, it was not only the 60 members of the Oberursel club that came to try the new tracks out, but guests from the Netherlands, Switzerland and other parts of Germany.

Ralph Müller removing a bump with the track straightener
Ralph Müller removing a bump with the track straightener

There were a number of locomotives out on the tracks that Saturday, and not all of them under steam.  There were also some battery-powered locomotives running.  Two particular highlights of the day were the animal-class locomotive driven by Markus Baum from Augsburg, and pulling a very long goods train behind him, but also the three large Class 23 engines driven by Heiner Herrmann from Erftstadt (23024), Rainer Münch from Gevelsberg (23029) and Herbert Froitzheim from Dormagen am Rhein (23033).

The new track layout is formed like a figure eight folded over on itself.  Leaving the new station the trains head towards the Mainstraße, where the turn the corner and pass the turntable, before travelling along a long straight running parallel to the Dornbachstraße.  At the end of this they turn left towards the shunting yard, travelling downhill until they reach the tunnel which is about 20m long and lit.  At the end of the tunnel the train is under the curve to the shunting yard, which can be quite interesting when two trains are travelling parallel to each other.  The train then follows the tracks next to the fence with the allotments behind it to a large curve, leading back into the station.

Meanwhile the club members can ride on the inner circle, shunt their trains and cross over the bridge that has survived from the old layout, albeit without the pond below.

Unlike the old layout, all of the tracks on the new one are double gauge, offering 5″ and 7¼” gauges.  There are water and pressured air supply points located throughout the layout, so that the drivers only have a short distance to each one.  The lighting in the station, which had not worked since the lampposts were moved at some point to a new location without the old layout, now work again.  To get this far, the club members had been working in two shifts, with the pensioners working in the daytime and the younger members in the evening, explained founder member Horst Müller, who was cooking for the visitors using his tractor-powered-potato-steamer.

There is still a lot to be done before the railway can be opened to the public.  The turntable is not yet attached to the running tracks, and even on the first weekend the tracks were still being adjusted. If a bump was discovered in the track, then Ralph Müller came along with this track-straightener to pull them into shape and remove the bump, checking his work with a track mirror.

Three class 23 locomotives: 23024 on the outer track driven by Heiner Herrmann from Erftstadt, 23033 on the middle track driven by Herbert Froitzheim from Dormagen am Rhein, and 23029 on the inner members' track driven by Rainer Münch from Gevelsberg.Three class 23 locomotives: 23024 on the outer track driven by Heiner Herrmann from Erftstadt, 23033 on the middle track driven by Herbert Froitzheim from Dormagen am Rhein, and 23029 on the inner members’ track driven by Rainer Münch from Gevelsberg.

This is where the younger members come into play.  The club wants to use their work with young people to pass on technical know-how and social skills.  They work with wood, metal and electronics, look after the greenery, and learn what it means to work as a team and keep to appointments.  Many of the older members don’t actually work in those fields, and use their time at the railway to relax and do something different.  New young members should have an interest in maintaining the layout, not just riding on the trains.

The neighbours are looking forward to the new railway as well, especially as it offers a green piece of land between the houses and the motorway.  The often ask how far things have got.

But they will have to be patient for a few more months, as work continues at full pace through the winter.  The railway is set to re-open on Mothering Sunday, 13th May 2018.  This will also be celebrated as the official 40th anniversary, as although the club was founded in 1977, they move onto the current site in 1978.

The founder members are looking forward to seeing their legacy running once again, and the children in Oberursel can look forward to some exciting rides along the new tracks.

This article appeared in German in the Oberurseler Woche on Thursday, 5th October, 2017.


A record number of visitors on the last day of the steam trains (2014)

Visiting the trains – the Dampf-Bahn-Club Taunus (Podcast)


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.


  1. My name is Brunhilde Becker in 1968 I lived at Schulestrasse 9 in Oberursel .My friends Renate Rietershan her brothers Gunter and Robert and Rhienhold also lived at that address I would like to contact my friends ! My number is 1-936-422-3333 in Texas U.S

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