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A History of Early Bavarian Railways

Stuart Jordan

STUART JORDAN looks at the history of railways in Bavaria.

In early railway history one country stands alongside Britain as a pioneer of railway engineering. Germany in the early 1800s was a confederation of nearly three dozen kingdoms, states and cities. Railways bloomed throughout the German Confederation in the 19th Century, often working hand-in-hand with British designers and engineers.



The first steam-hauled railway in Bavaria, and arguably in Germany, was the Bayerische Ludwigseisenbahn (Bavarian Ludwig Railway), run by the Ludwig Railway Company. Founded in 1834, the Ludwigsbahn ran trains between Nuremburg to Fürth, which was the busiest road connection in the kingdom.

The most famous Ludwigsbahn locomotive is Adler, built by Robert Stevenson & Co. in Newcastle. Adler first ran on 7th December 1835, driven by 26 year old Scotsman William Wilson, who drove the six kilometre line in nine minutes.

The Founding of the Königliche Bayerische Staats-Eisenbahnen

kbaystsb Crest

The Royal Bavarian State Railways (German abbreviation K.Bay.Sts.B.) was founded in 1844, and consisted of three main lines:


Click for larger version.

The Ludwig South-North Railway (Ludwig-Süd-Nord-Bahn)

Ran from Lindau > Kempten > Augsberg > Nuremberg > Bamberg > Hof, where it connected with the Saxon Railroad.

Ludwig's Western Railway (Ludwigs-West-Bahn)

Ran from Bamberg > Schweinfurt > Würzburg > Aschaffenberg where it connected with the railways of the Duchy of Hesse.

Bavarian Maximilian’s Railway (Maximilians-Bahn)

Ran from Ulm > Augsburg and from Munich > Kufstein, with a branch to Salzburg in Austria.

From the middle of the 1800s gaps in the lines were closed, and an extensive branch line network of over 180 lines was built. These routes were known as Lokalbahnen ('local lines'), also known as Bimmelbahn ('bell line') due to the ringing of bells at ungated level crossings along the routes. Most were Standard Gauge, but a lot of them were Narrow Gauge. Widespread closures of the Lokalbahnen after World War 2 has led to many Bavarian Branch Lines becoming museum lines, in the same way many closed lines in Britain have become preserved railways.


Bavaria's most famous manufacturer of locomotives was Maffei, founded in 1839. They produced many of the locomotives that ran on the K.Bay.Sts.B.

Maffei went bankrupt in 1930 and through a series of mergers is now part of Siemens AG, still producing locomotives and military vehicles (most notably Leopard II, Germany's main battle tank). Their headquarters remain in Munich to this day.

At the end of the First World War the Bavarian monarchy abdicated and the 'Royal' part of the Royal Bavarian State Railways was dropped, and in1920 the company was merged into the newly formed nationalised company, Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft (DRG).

Bavarian Zugspitze Railway


Fully opened in 1930, the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn is a metre gauge rack railway running from Garmisch on a19km winding route up Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany.

The end of the line is 2,650 metres above sea level, making it the highest railway in Germany, and the third highest in Europe after the Jungfrau and Gornergrat Railways in Switzerland. The last 4,466m of the line is fully enclosed in the Zugspitze Tunnel.

Modelling early Bavarian Railways


Marklin Adler

A few years back Marklin and Trix produced a Historic Adler Passenger Train Set in HO Scale, which was a limited run so is not available new any more. Older versions may be found on eBay (other online auction sites are also available).

Royal Bavarian State Railways

Fleischmann, Marklin and Trix all produce K.Bay.Sts.B. Locomotives and Rolling Stock in various scales.


Fleischmann produce the Pt2/3 Tank Locomotive in N Scale, as well as a set of Rolling Stock.


Marklin produce Royal Bavarian stock in HO (AC~), Z Scale and Gauge 1.


Trix produce K.Bay.Sts.B. Locomotives and Rolling Stock in both HO Scale and N Scale.

Bavarian Zugspitze Railway


Hobbytrain plan to produce the Zugspitzebahn train in N, HOm and HOe Scales.

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