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Harz Narrow Gauge - HSB

Discussion in 'International Heritage Railways/Tramways' started by Fred Kerr, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    The webcam shows a Brocken bound steam - hauled train in snowy Drei Annen Hohne at the moment (11.15)
    That is very disappointing news re the Harz Tour Cards, David. I'm not sure how much this will improve the HSB's finances as I've seen very few other people using them and probably 90+% of passengers out of Wernigerode just buy a return to Brocken. It isn't so much the cheap price of the Tour Card but the big advantage to me is the flexibility it provides to use DB and buses out of the Hatix area (e.g.to Nordhausen) as well as the HSB. Unless one is going to make repeated trips to Brocken (which I don't intend doing) I don't think that the runabout ticket is such great value so I may just buy ordinary singles/returns on HSB combined with the hotel's Hatix ticket. Either way it's too late to change plans as the airline tickets are non-refundable but it may put me off going in future. On the positive side it appears that Mallet 5906 has returned from Meiningen so the 2-train service on the Selketal should be more interesting.
    Ray.
     
  2. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I find it hard to understand those who say the changes afoot will possibly put them off going. The Harz is still one of the greatest steam shows going and if these changes keep steam alive on the Harz then I for one won't mind paying extra. The cost of a three day runabout is still quite small compared to the overall cost of a week's holiday.
     
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  3. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure, that for a hardened track-basher, who wants to spend 3 days repeatedly thrashing up the Brocken it is wonderful value but that's not my 'thing' and certainly not what my wife goes for. We much prefer to take the train to somewhere often unrelated to the railway e.g. the preserved section of the 'wall' near Sorge or Camp Dora near Nordhausen and return by bus or vice versa. That flexibility is what is important to us. Note that David advised that fares may rise considerably. It is interesting to read the full HSB fares table as journeys other than Brocken are quite reasonable e.g. Wern - DAH return for 12 euros.
    Ray.
     
  4. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    If that includes the Brocken, then that price seems reasonable to me. In the general context of a holiday in Germany, it is a small component and we have to be ready to put our hand in our pocket if we want steam!

    John
     
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  5. pete12000

    pete12000 New Member

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    It does indeed include the Brocken.

    One of my favourite run's is the 15.40 from Drei Annen Hohne to Eisfelder T, connecting with the Quedlinberg train, and back to Wernigerode via the main line, (though the main line train isn't covered by the 3 day Harz ticket).
     
  6. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely correct Pete, and the journey you describe is also one of my favourites as on certain days there are/were parallel steam departures uphill from Eisfelder. It was the flexibility of the "Harz Tour Card" which also allowed you to use the DB/HEX service between Quedlinburg and Wernigerode etc. and the more distant bus services that was important to me. The Hatix card does allow you to use the bus between Wernigerode and Quedlinburg but the times aren't as convenient and at weekends you have to change in Blankeburg IIRC. Having been to the Harz on four previous trips (usually 7 - 10 days) we want to do more than just thrash up the Brocken, nice though it is.
    Cheers,
    Ray
     
  7. worldsteam

    worldsteam New Member

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    Perplexed how the HSB is perceived by most residents here. A few points:

    1) The HarzTourCard is NOT valid to Brocken (only to Schierke), so if you want to go up and down to there endlessly (like Ray, I don't) you HAVE to pay the premium fare. So no change there.
    2) Across Germany local public transport ticketing is fully integrated. The HarzTourCard is such an example, bringing together ALL local transport under one ticket.
    3) All personnel on the HSB are paid, not volunteers. Some trains run at non-touristy times, many are not steam, down to the tram operation out of Nordhausen to Ilfeld.
    4) OK the HSB uses some steam to encourage tourists, but the HSB is not a museum railway. It is a key component of the Harz transport network.
    5) Such integrated ticketing is there to encourage modal shift and the Harz suffers terribly from the motor car, hence the low cost of the HTC. This was extended further in recent times with the free bus HATIX in an attempt to get visitors not to use their car.
    6) Away from Brocken, most HSB trains see few passengers. The steam duties on the Selketalbahn can be embarrassingly empty and adding the barrier of no easy, affordable, integrated ticket, I'm unconvinced the loss of the HTC will see revenue here increase.

    I would agree that the HTC is possibly priced too low, but I'm not sure where the break point is to deliver the objectives of the scheme. There is no official word on the HTC yet and I thought the leak of news was a ploy to get some discussion going on this and opposition. This forum is manifestly not a good starting point for that.

    Not just this thread, but at other times I've thought residents here are not remotely interested in railways at large. Somewhat like believing Africa should have no free roaming lions, but they all be gathered up and caged in a Lion Museum.

    David
     
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  8. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    In spite of my passion for steam everywhere, I'm not aware that it is compulsory for UK enthusiasts to be interested in overseas steam - even though I question their judgement. The vast majority of passengers on the Harz system are German and it will be their reaction to the proposals that decides matters IMO. If you have an e-mail address that interested parties here can contact to register their dismay over the proposals, at least we can say our piece. I presume contacting the HSB itself would be a good starting point.
     
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  9. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    The great majority of passengers on the HSB only want a return trip to Brocken (and many of them are day trippers or in tour groups) so I don't think that they will care {or even notice} if the HSB withdraws from the Harz Tour Card. The highest numbered Tour Card I had in June 2016 was 1127 which suggests that not many are sold as a) they're not valid to Brocken which is where most want to go and b) they are not well advertised . In fact the first time I went in 2007 I couldn't buy one at the station - only the HSB shop or Tourist Info. I tend to agree with David that the HTC is too cheap but can understand the reasons why. I don't think a modest increase to, say, 25 Euros for an individual or 45 for a family would put anybody off and could, possibly, add more to the HSB's coffers than withdrawing from the scheme. We will probably spend as much, if not more, time on the Selketal as it is less touristy and feels more like a 'real' rural railway - with more interesting motive power to boot.
    Ray.
     
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  10. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    I tend to prefer the Selketalbahn, especially as it has branches, off the main branch, to Hasselfelde and Harzgerode. Alexisbad has some of the feel of Yelverton or Dulverton in days of old. And more chance of a Meyer working the train, but even the railbuses have their own character.

    John
     
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  11. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    I'd be interested to see a breakdown of the passenger figures for each section as I reckon, omitting the Nordhausen 'metro', the Wernigerode - Brocken section probably accounts for 95% of all passenger journeys with, say, 90% going all the way to the summit (a few walkers get off at DAH). There have been occasions on the Selketal and between Eisfelder and Nordhausen where you could count the number of passengers on one hand. There is no doubt that other than the Brocken the HSB is a 'community service'.
    Ray.
     
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  12. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    I agree. The Brockenbahn carries the vast majority of the passengers travelling on the HSB. I suspect the money from that goes a long way to keeping the rest of the system afloat.
     
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  13. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    We were once told, subject to translation being correct, that half of the HSB 'income' was subsidy from its local authority owners. The design of service is as they want, but at the same time the Lander are closing standard gauge rural lines!

    To anyone used to UK heritage railways, there seems to be a lot of 'commercial' activities that are common over here but they don't do, but would appear to be potentially able to. If there is pressure on their finances, let us hope they try such 'add-ons' rather than cuts and closures. There was staff shortage last summer which hit Selketalbahn services badly and won't have helped finances - unless the wages saved due to lack of staff and other costs not incurred were more than revenue lost! I have only ever been in February or October, so don't know if the Selktalbahn gets busier in summer but suspect 'not much' sadly!

    Steven
     
  14. js5646

    js5646 New Member

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    [QUOTE="worldsteam, post:
    6) Away from Brocken, most HSB trains see few passengers. The steam duties on the Selketalbahn can be embarrassingly empty... David[/QUOTE]

    The last time i managed to trip to the HSB was in Sept 2012 when I finally managed to persuade my father to come too. In 3 days we covered the whole system with steam (it took him 3 days - me several visits over 11 years!) but one highlight was an early evening on the Selketal. I left Dad at Alexisbad whilst I nipped up the Harzgerode branch with a railcar - for the simple reason I hadn't had a trip on an HSB railcar for many years! Meanwhile, he photted the duty 2-10-2 departing for Gernrode before wandering back to the station as the evening twilight deepened. He said that silence descended on the place and went over to check the timetable several times, utterly disbelieving that another train was due. He remains amazed to this day that a few minutes later a whistle was heard up the valley and out of the dark 5906 appeared with 2 carriages and a van. No one got off, no one got on until I returned on the railcar and we both climbed into 5906's train heading back for Harzgerode. Once there and run round complete we stood on the leading carriage balcony, shook hands on completing the system with steam and enjoyed the run back to Gernrode through the by now pitch dark Selketal, never seeing another soul bar train crew.

    I was born well after the end of steam in Britain and feel privileged to say I have experienced a steam worked back-water like the Selketal and travelled on steam-hauled timetabled trains with not another person onboard (the Dresden lines are good for that too!). Last years problems make me wonder how much longer it can last.
     
  15. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

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    The last time i managed to trip to the HSB was in Sept 2012 when I finally managed to persuade my father to come too. In 3 days we covered the whole system with steam (it took him 3 days - me several visits over 11 years!) but one highlight was an early evening on the Selketal. I left Dad at Alexisbad whilst I nipped up the Harzgerode branch with a railcar - for the simple reason I hadn't had a trip on an HSB railcar for many years! Meanwhile, he photted the duty 2-10-2 departing for Gernrode before wandering back to the station as the evening twilight deepened. He said that silence descended on the place and went over to check the timetable several times, utterly disbelieving that another train was due. He remains amazed to this day that a few minutes later a whistle was heard up the valley and out of the dark 5906 appeared with 2 carriages and a van. No one got off, no one got on until I returned on the railcar and we both climbed into 5906's train heading back for Harzgerode. Once there and run round complete we stood on the leading carriage balcony, shook hands on completing the system with steam and enjoyed the run back to Gernrode through the by now pitch dark Selketal, never seeing another soul bar train crew.

    I was born well after the end of steam in Britain and feel privileged to say I have experienced a steam worked back-water like the Selketal and travelled on steam-hauled timetabled trains with not another person onboard (the Dresden lines are good for that too!). Last years problems make me wonder how much longer it can last.[/QUOTE]

    Authentic, but it may not be much longer for this world. This is always the dilemma with preservation - to survive in a commercial world you have to become a bit of a fairground.
     
  16. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    The HSB celebrates its 25th Anniversary since privatisation on 1 February 1993 and special commemorations are being held (details at https://www.hsb-wr.de/news/news-details/artikel//25-jahre-in-kommunaler-regie/). In relation to the future of the HSB I note the website for the HSB Support Group is no longer active hence I don't know whether it is still active in prioritising steam operation throughout the system or has been forced to reduce its commitment to Brocken services only.
     
  17. 5944

    5944 Well-Known Member

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    They've changed their address. Still going strong.

    http://www.ig-hsb.eu
     
  18. Fred Kerr

    Fred Kerr Part of the furniture

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    Thanks for the info; bookmark now changed !
     
  19. marshall5

    marshall5 Well-Known Member

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    I have just e-mailed Wernigerode Tourismus to ask for confirmation, or otherwise, that the HSB intends to withdraw from the Harz Tour Card.
    Ray.
     
  20. Bean-counter

    Bean-counter Resident of Nat Pres

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    According to the data on the webcam page, 144 cm snow up the Brocken today! Still, the trains seemed to be running - from this webcam shot, the vintage set was in use but a later shot seemed to show a 2-10-2T working it.

    I have looked at the forecast for when the Inside Track party I am going with is there from next Wednesday and it looks like no fresh snow, but it will remain below freezing all week in Wernigerode, so goodness knows what it will be up the Brocken!

    BRO-10.jpg

    Steven
     

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