Hamburgs railway history from the Harburg point of view

A chronology, composed by Gerhard Rocco



The beginning of the railway era in Hamburg
Seven years after the opening of the first german railway line between Nuremberg and Fürth the first railway between Hamburg and Bergedorf should be ceremonially opened on May 7, 1842. The original building of the staion Bergedorf is maintained till now. Unfortunately the opening ceremony was failed, the frist trains run several days before, because of the great fire in Hamburg many fugitives have brought from Hamburg to Bergedorf and firefighters the way back.
Continuance in Altona
After opening of the Altona - Kieler railway in 1844 the junction of the harbour of Altona take place in 1845 via the harbour line; till 1849 drawn by horses, till 1876 with cable transmission. Afterwards the trains were drawn by steam engine using a 432yds long tunnel. In 1895 the harbour line tunnel called 'haddock tunnel' was extended to 1051yd, at that time the longest tunnel of nothern germany.
Growing up of more private railways
In 1846 opening ot the Berlin - Hamburg Railway with expansion of the former "Bergedorfer" station to the "Berliner" station, a terminal station at the Amsinckstr. (in 1957 renamed to Högerdamm). The time of travel from Hamburg to Berlin in a passender train lasted 8 hours! In 1847 opening the line (Hanover -) Celle - Harburg with a terminal station at the Schellerdamm (previous Bahnhofstr.) by the Königlich Hannöversche Staatseisenbahn (Royal Hanover state railway). In 1849 the junction to the harbour of Harburg opened, a long time before a junction of the harbour of Hamburg. In 1865 the line Lübeck to Hamburg by the Lübeck-Büchener-Railway (LBE) put into operation with a terminus station at the Spaldingstr. At that time there was a interchange track from the "Lübecker" station via Rothenburgsort to the "Berliner" station. The advanced private railway LBE was assume by the state railway not until 1938. The double deck trains of the LBE with its streamlined locomotive is running on our layout. In 1866 the line (Verbindungsbahn) from Hamburg (station Klostertor) to Altona (until 1864 Altona belongs to the Danish Kingdom) was opened and also the harbour of Hamburg get his junction at the Sandthorquai with connection to the "Berliner" station. In 1866 the Prussian Kingdom annexed the Kingdom of Hanover.
Hamburg and Harburg attems a rapprochement
Until 1872 the towns of Hmaburg and Harburg where separated by the northern and southern Elbe as well as barely tapped island of Wilhelmsburg and the hollows. There were ferry services on the northern and southern Elbe and a direct "steam-shipping" between Hamburg, Altona and Harburg. In their timetable from 1853 the trains from and to Hanover, Kiel and Berlin were mentioned. In 1872 both railway bridges over the elbe opened (the bridges for cars was opened not until 1899). At the same time the temporary station of Harburg was completed in 1872 (until 1897) at the Grubestr. (today nothern of the Hanover Str. to the southern brigde over the elbe), to operate the trains from Hanover and Bremen to Harburg and in addition to Hamburg. Thereby in 1872 it was cleared to extend the line from Hanover via Harburg to the "Venloer" (or Parisian) station, from 1892 forward called Hamburg Hanover station. Here existed a connection for delivery runs to the Klostertor station and in addition to the Verbindungsbahn. The layout at the Lohseplatz was planed als terminus station with a great hall and some tracks for freight goods (represented on our layout). In 1874 follows the opening of the line from Bremen to Harburg (called Venloer line, build and operated by the Cologne - Mindener railway) with connection to the existing line from Harburg to the Hamburg-Venloer station. From now on the "Gate to Hamburg" was opened. Traders, haulier, load carrier, ferry services and landlords from Harburg were right to fear the recession of their businesses. In 1881 the line from Cuxhaven to Harburg with an own station Unterelbe. There was a connection track between station Unterelbe and station Harburg. In 1889 the first HAPAG-spezial train (HAPAG is a big shipping company) ran from Hamburg to Cuxhaven with passenger for the north-american-line.
Rearrangement of the railway in Harburg
First after the nationalisation of the Venloer railway, the Cologne - Mindener railway and the Unterelbe Bahn Harburg could get a new station, connecting all the lines from Hanover, Bremen and Cuxhaven in one station. The station Harburg opened in 1897 in the today's form and position and was called Harburg main station. The prominent building with its layout for the passenger trains is operating until today and is presented in 1 gauge on our layout. In 1907 the Seehafen station, connected with the station Unterelbe, could be openend. From now on bigger ships could pass the harbour of Altona and Hamburg and land in the harbour of Harburg.
Rearrangement of the railway in Hamburg
At the turn of the century the traffic on the streets slowed down because carriages, trams, and trains mutual restrain. At that time the tracks lie on street level and the traffic has to ensure by sentinel, chain, or barrier. The trains couln't run according to the time-table any more. The change of trains between four staions was intolerable. After long negotiations between Hamburg, Lubeck and Prussia cleaar the way for building the Hamburg main station at the today's position and connections of the lines from Altona, Lubeck, Berlin, and Harburg without similar level crossings. The other four terminal stations could be closed. In 1906 the Hamburg main station launched. For this reason - so the belief - the lines and stations were a solid basis for the passenger traffics. But no one expected the extraordinary high excursion traffic: more than 100 special trains have to summon up each sunday in the summer months, i.e. to the Luneburg Heath. Because the main station couldn't manage this rush, the tracks with platforms of the Hanover station were reactivated in 1914 for dispatching these special trains. Therefor it was possible to managed also up to 27 special trains each day from and to Cuxhaven for emigrants and returnees to America.
Distric reform in Harburg
In 1927 the township Harburg and Wilhelmsburg united to the new town Harburg-Wilhelmsburg, the station renamed as Harburg-Wilhelmsburg main station, and the flag stop Wilhelmsburg renamed as Harburg-Wilhelmsburg North.
Distric reform in Hamburg
In 1938 the Prussian towns Altona, Harburg-Wilelmsburg, and Wandsbek was suburbanised conformable to Great-Hamburg-law of April 1, 1937 to the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
Challange for the german railway
1962 storm fool in northern germany. The four tracks of the line and all streets from Harburg to Hamburg were interrupted. For days the connection could keep up with limitations only across the freight yards Hamburg Hohe Schaar und Hamburg South in the harbour. Main-line trains were rerouted via Luneburg - Buchen.
The catenary reached Hamburg
In 1965 the electric operation begined on the line from Hanover to Hamburg. The beginning of the electric operation on the line from Bremen to Hamburg and from Stade to Harburg was in 1968. The catenary was simultaneously build on our layout. The beginning of the electrical operation with the caterany was on April 5, 1965 in attendance of the chairman of the head office Hamburg of the german railway, Mr Artur Petzold - namely one day before the festive beginning of the electrical operation by the german railway. In Harburg there was special feature of the electrical tram operating since 1903: the crossing of tram and train on Schlossmühlendamm on the Unterelbe line. With beginning of the building of electrical operation on the Unterelbe line in 1967 the crossing of the catenary has to arranged in mechanical and electrical way, meaning switching between 15 kV AC main line to 600 V AC tram line and pantograph with rolls. After the cut-off of the tram line between Harburg and Wilhelmsburg in 1971 this oddity was a thing of the past.
The end of an era
In 1972 the steam operation of the german railway in northern germany ended with a last train run with loco 012 102 from Westerland to station Hamburg-Altona. On our layout the identical loco 01 1100 regular haul the fast train from Hamburg to Cologne with stop in Harburg station. Especially the steam engines with convenient coaches and freight wagons are of course numerous represented on our layout.
Highspeedtrains and infrastucture
In 1976 a perennial conversion and testing of the line from Hamburg to Bremen with maximum speed of 124mph (200km/h) began and was presented to the general public in 1979 in the context of the international traffic exhibition in Hamburg with special trains between the exhibition station Hamburg-Sternschanze and Bremen. In 1987 followed the conversion of the line from Hamburg to Hanover and in 2004 followed the line from Hamburg to Berlin even wih maximum speed of 143mph (230km/h). On these lines used trains (InterRegio, InterCity, and InterCityExpress) also runs on our layout. In 1983 the DC powered suburban railway reached the district Harburg and was extended to Hamburg-Neugraben in 1984. The subterranean station of the suburban railway at station Harburg we presents as a partial view with two suburban railcars.
Progress of the lines for freight trains
Like the passengers get in and out and change trains, also freight wagons has to managed. This was done on railway shunting yards. The incomming freight trains were splitted to trains to new destinations nearby. By reaching this destination they have to split again and shunt to the recipient. In Hamburg there were five shunting yards: Rothenburgsort, the freight yard ot the Berlin - Hamburg Railway since 1847, Wilhelmsburg (since 1890), Harburg (since 1897), Eidelstedt (since 1922) and Billwerder (since 1939). For the immediate supply of goods wagons for local dealers and the handling of express goods the former Hanover station get a prominent relevance, since 1964 renamed to Hamburg main freight yard (additional information below).
Hamburg Harbour Railway
With the connection to the railway in the harbour of Hamburg the Hamburg Harbour Railway build an extensive track network, beginning in 1866 with the connection to the Sandtorkai. The network of the Hamburg Harbour Railway is owned by the city of Hamburg and contain about 186mi of tracks. Not included were several private connections of forwarding companies and industrial plants, they had to build the connection on their own costs. Approx. 200 trains run between the network of the Hamburg Harbour Railway and the german railway. 70% of the containers are carry by train. The big electrified freight yards of Hamburg South, Hohe Schaar, Waltershof, and also some bigger forwarding companies were approached by block trains.
The huge change in goods traffic
Because the five big freight yards worked even more uneconomic, the hole system of freigth lines and freight yards has to rearranged. For this reason in 1977 the first construction section of the shunting yard Maschen placing into operation. After completion of the freight yard in 1980 the older five yards could be put out of service by and by.