My recent article on the Berlin U-Bahn Cabrio seemed very well received, so I thought I would take a brief look at another lesser-known opportunity to ride behind unusual locomotives in Germany.
Above is a link to a video uploaded to YouTube by user WerreSurfer showing a trip into the mine, including the train.
This one is at the Weltkulturerbe Rammelsberg in Goslar, in Niedersachsen. Goslar is noteworthy in having two UNESCO World Heritage Sites to its name – firstly, the unspoilt town centre, and secondly, the former mines beneath the Rammelsberg mountain. The latter closed in June 1988 after 1,000 years of continuous use, having been founded by the Roman Emperor Otto the Great in the year 968 to extract silver ore deposits.
In 1992, the former mines were developed into a UNESCO heritage project to preserve the heritage of the location.
Being, as it is, a museum-type site regarding the heritage of the mine workings, it is only natural for part of the experience to be a trip underground. This is where a railway comes in – one of a number of different “tours” offered involves a trip into the mine itself.
Since mid-1993, the former 600mm mine railway has been used for this purpose This is loco-hauled, albeit not by locos that previously worked on the site. From photographic records, the usual traction are locos 14 and 15, which are LEW-built battery locos of type “EL9” of indeterminate heritage. 1,703 of these machines were built between 1952 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 for use all over the Eastern Bloc. Of course, Goslar was in the former West Germany, although it’s only about 10 miles west of the former Iron Curtain.
Visiting the museum
The museum is open every day of the year with the exception of Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, from 09:30 to 16:30. Trains depart into the mines every hour, although the train ride only forms a part of the experience, with a tour guide explaining the workings of the mine to you too. At weekends, there is the opportunity to do this in English, although of course normally it is in German. One of the mine train carriages has been modified to take wheelchairs.
They recommend bringing clothing commensurate with the cold temperatures within the mines.
Tickets for the site, including at least one trip (which can be the train ride) start from €16.
What you can combine it with
Since the replacement of class 218 “rabbit” diesel-hydraulics with shiny privately-owned sliding doors DMUs in December 2014, there have been no loco-hauled trains through Goslar, or indeed anywhere near. However, it is a frequent destination for railtours – particularly while the Christmas market is on in the town centre.
However, Goslar is only 35 minutes by direct train from Wernigerode – and therefore the Harz narrow gauge steam railway.
It’s approximately 1.5 miles due south of Goslar railway station. The number 803 bus links the two, with a journey time in the region of 10 minutes.