Tradition  |  Technology 

Suspended industrial monument

It´s already over a hundred years old and still one of the safest and most reliable means of transport in the world - the Wuppertal Suspension Railway. This MAN creation represents a milestone in modern constructional steelwork.

The Wuppertal Suspension Railway 1901.

Anton Rieppel designed special new parts for the Wuppertal Suspension Railway to protect the construction against flooding and swaying and secure its power supply. He had these patented for M.A.N. under the name "Rieppel Girder".

Finally, on 27 June 1903, the building work was completely finished, even Kaiser Wilhelm II having already personally tested this new – and, as was to become apparent at a later date, extremely reliable – means of mass transportation. In all, 19,200 tons of iron were used for the construction, 472 iron supports being required for the entire stretch. The building costs for this major project amounted to some 16 million gold marks.

The Wuppertal Suspension Railway on the front page of the magazine

A technical masterpiece - the  Wuppertal Suspension Railway in 1900.

Kaiser Wilhelm II and his wife Auguste Viktoria were the first passengers to travel by this new means of transport.

The city of Wuppertal, located south of the Ruhr area, has a very special landmark that does not exist in this form anywhere else in Germany, namely the Wuppertal Suspension Railway. This "Single-track Hanging Rail System Eugen Langen" – to quote its official name – was designed and constructed by MAN engineers around 1900. The complex support structure was developed between 1895 and 1896 by Anton von Rieppel, Director of MAN´s predecessor company, Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg. Nor is the suspension railway the only technical feat achieved by this qualified engineer. At the same time, the Müngsten Bridge was also being built under his guidance.

The original investment has paid off. Even today, the suspension railway is still operating as part of the City of Wuppertal´s local transport system, linking the districts of Oberbarmen and Wuppertal-Vohwinkel with each other. During the Second World War, it was heavily damaged by bombs, but already back in operation by the spring of 1946.

The trains running on the Wuppertal Suspension Railway have been gradually replaced by newer models, but one of the original carriages is still available for use on special occasions - the so-called "Kaiser´s Carriage" dating from Kaiser Wilhelm´s test run one hundred years ago.

Modern means of transport - surprising facts about the Wuppertal Suspension Railway

Wuppertal Suspension Railway above the Wupper riverbed

Suspended over the water

Over a ten-kilometer stretch of the track, the trains are suspended twelve meters above the Wupper riverbed. They cover the remaining 3.3 kilometers above roads at a height of eight meters.

Suspension railway in Wuppertal

Heavy steel

The historically intact Wuppertal Suspension Railway construction consists of 472 steel girders and measures 13.3 kilometers.

Suspension railway above a street in Wuppertal

Wuppertal from above

Anyone traveling the entire route served by the suspension railway needs about 30 minutes in all, including short waits at each of the twenty stops.

Suspension railway in Wuppertal

80,000 passengers per day

As operator of the suspension railway, the Wuppertal Public Utilities Company registers more than 23 million passengers each year, which means that it transports up to 80,000 people per day.

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