The Railway Series
The Harz Narrow-Gauge Railways
One metre wide & 140 km long, the narrow-gauge railways of the Harz are a Mecca for train enthusiasts. The network is made up of three lines: the Selke Valley Railway, which connects Quedlinburg to Harzgerode and Hasselfelde via Alexisbad and Stiege, the Harz Railway, which runs from Wernigerode to Nordhausen, and the Brocken Railway, which travels to the summit of Mount Brocken, the 1,141-m-high mountain that is shrouded by fog some 300 days per year. What makes these railways special is that they operate steam locomotives all year round. On an average summer day, some ten DR Class 99²³ tank engines make their way across the network. Besides these so-called Brockenloks, four railcars are employed by railway operator HSB, and occasionally a train is hauled by a DR Class V199⁸ diesel engine, nicknamed Harzkamel for the way it sways on the tracks.
The most popular line on the HSB network is the Brocken Railway, because of its destination, but especially during summer both the train & the mountain tend to be rather crowded, and therefore most people might prefer riding the Harz & Selke Valley Railways instead. The latter is noted for transversing romantic scenery, and for the balloon loop at the station in Stiege, which allows trains to reverse direction without having to shunt, a solution common on model railways but seldom applied in the real world. Two stops on the Harz line noteworthy for linguistic reasons are those at the hamlet of Sorge, which translates into English as ‘Worry’, and at the nearby village of Elend, ‘Misery’ — the station at Sorge is now a museum dedicated to the former inner German Border that ran nearby. A single journey from Gernrode to Stiege along the Selke Valley takes around 1¾ hours. From Wernigerode to Quedlinburg via Eisfelder Talmühle it’s 5–7 hours; the return via Halberstadt, over the standard-gauge railway, takes some 45 minutes.hsb-wr.de