The History of the Wuppertal Suspension Railway

A Journey Through Time

From the first prototype to the new generation 15. Discover the history and development of the Wuppertal suspension railway from 1887 to the present day.

Chronological sorting:

  • July 31, 2021

    The suspension railway is back to regular operations after extensive maintenance and repair work over the past 12 months. To eliminate assembly and series defects, the manufacturer Kiepe Electric has developed the so-called “Retrofit” program. In addition, the capacity of WSW’s own suspension railway workshop has been significantly expanded. Work on the suspension railway has not yet been completed and will continue during regular operations.

  • August 12, 2020

    Technical difficulties with the wagons lead to the suspension railway running only on Saturdays and Sunday for several months. Atypical wear of the wheels resulted in damage to the scaffolding. As a result, it is no longer possible to maintain the regular schedule, as there are no longer enough vehicles available. To protect the scaffolding, operations are comprehensively restricted. Rail replacement busses are set up.

  • September 2, 2019

    New operating system on the suspension railway. It was switched from a nearly 50-year-old system to full digital control. The change aims to make the railway faster and more efficient. It is planned to reach the speed of 60 km/h instead of 40 km/h.

  • August 1, 2019

    The suspension railway is back on duty. After the longest forced break in the history, the first train left the station Vohwinkel on Thursday morning (5:12 am).

  • June 29, 2019

    Time to say „Bye bye GTW72“. The last chance to say goodbye to the 'old' suspension railway came with the celebration for 'the long table'. Wagon 28 was the last train car of the Series B72. For the last time pictures of it could be taken at the station Vohwinkel.

  • May 26, 2019

    Wuppertal says goodbye to the last GTW72 after 46 years. At 3 pm, the suspension railway unfortunately went without passengers on its last round from the suspension railway station Vohwinkel to Oberbarmen and back. The old wagons find use as coffee shops, meeting rooms or floating classrooms.

  • November 18, 2018

    After the crash of a 350 m long conductor rail, the Suspension Railway was out of order for 8 months. Luckily, no one got hurt.

  • September 13, 2018

    Along with remembering the first test run of the suspension railway 120 years ago, Wuppertal was celebrating the sister alliance with the Shonan Monorail. The Shonan Monorail and the WSW founded the Association of “Sister Suspended Monorails”. In Kamakura, the monorail stations and monorails were festively decorated. Additionally, special tickets were produced. The sky-blue wagon number 01 sported a custom Kawaii design while floating through Wuppertal.

  • March 10, 2017

    The suspension railway is awarded the international IF DESIGN AWARD 2017 in Munich. Around 60 well-known experts from 20 countries honor the greatest design innovations every year. In the 'Automobile / Vehicles' area, the suspension railway among the 5575 submitted products was included in the 'excellent design products' category with the prestigious award.

  • December 18, 2016

    Five of the new suspension railways are doing their rounds and will be integrated into the ongoing passenger service. From now on, all Wuppertal residents can use the new suspension railway every day. WSW mobil celebrates this with a colorful citizens' festival at the Kluse. The new vehicles will now gradually replace the old vehicles. The exchange should be completed by the end of 2017.

  • June 8, 2016

    The new suspension railway is now also being tested during the day

  • February 9, 2016

    On the night of February 8th and 9th, the first test ride with the new suspension railway will be carried out.

  • November 14, 2015

    The first new suspension railway wagon will be delivered to Vohwinkel at 11.15 am. An emotional moment that was honored with a big celebration by the residents of Wuppertal.

  • From April 3rd to 6th, 2014

    The WSW mobil celebrated the official completion of the suspension railway with several events for the residents of Wuppertal and invited guests to the new wagon hall in Oberbarmen. At the ceremony, NRW secretary of transport Michael Groschek punched a golden rivet into the suspension railway scaffold.

  • August 12, 2013

    Commissioning of the replica of the Werther Brücke station with celebrations on August 19, 2013.

  • October 22, 2012

    Inbetriebnahme der neuen Station Oberbarmen/Berliner Platz.

  • May 21, 2012

    Commissioning of the shape-identical Völklinger Straße station.

  • November 10, 2011

    Contract signing in the Vohwinkel suspension railway workshop for the construction of the new suspension railway with the Düsseldorf-based company Vossloh Kiepe.

  • June 20, 2011

    Commissioning of the formally identical district court station. It is one of three stations that was rebuilt true to the original in Art Nouveau style.

  • August 27, 2010

    Commissioning of the curve at the stadium with the new prop 100 as well as another ten bridges and eight supports with a total weight of 719 tons.

  • 17-18. May 2008

    Ceremonial handover of the Vohwinkel station to the population with a large street festival together with the Vohwinkeler Vereine e.V.

  • October 6, 2007

    Commissioning of the new Vohwinkel suspension railway station. For 16 million euros, the Wuppertal public utility company built a bright and accessible train station and a renewed courtyard system with swivel arms to the siding of the car hall.

  • By December 2005

    Twelve suspension railway stations had been built, two suspension railway stations had been rebuilt and 95 percent of the scaffolding had been replaced.

  • August 2001 to September 2003

    Commissioning of the new stations Varresbecker Straße, Hammerstein, Wupperfeld, Sonnborner Straße, Zoo / Stadion, Bruch and the converted stations Alter Markt and Ohligsmühle.

  • April 17, 2001

    Commissioning of the new station in Westende. The modernization of the suspension railway used 40 cubic meters of concrete, 274 square meters of glass and 274 tons of steel.

  • March 1, 2001

    Ceremony '100 Years Suspension Railway’ in the Wuppertal City Hall with NRW Prime Minister Wolfgang Clement. On this day there were two special trips with the Imperial Carriage. The Deutsche Post published a special stamp and the company Railex made a suspension railway model of the imperial car.

  • June 1999 to November 2000

    Commissioning of the new stations at Adlerbrücke, Robert-Daum-Platz, Pestalozzistraße and Loher Brücke as well as the converted station at Wuppertal main station.

  • Am 12. April 1999

    The most serious accident in the history of the Wuppertal suspension railway occurred on April 12, 1999: after the scaffolding work had been completed, the construction company had not removed a piece of metal on the rail - the first train crashed into the Wupper. Five passengers lost their lives, 47 people were injured. The suspension railway restarted operations on July 9, 1999.

  • March 26, 1999

    Opening of the Kluse station as the 20th station of the suspension railway. It is the only station where the entire hall construction is visible from below.

  • On May 26, 1997

    The suspension railway became a listed historic monument.

  • March 25, 1997

    Due to a technical error, an articulated train hit the Imperial Carriage in Oberbarmen. 14 passengers in the Imperial Carriage were injured. Significant material damage occurred on both vehicles.

  • On February 28, 1997

    The first sod was broken to rebuild the war-torn Kluse station. From November 21st to 25th, 1997 the first exchange of bridges and supports of the steel structure in the Kluse area was carried out.

  • March 1, 1991

    90 years of official suspension of railway operation.

  • On April 4, 1995

    The ceremony and a large folk festival took place on the occasion of the beginning of the suspension railway expansion at the zoo / stadium station.

  • October 24, 1990

    90th anniversary of the 'Imperial Carriage'.

  • 1984

    Restoration of the Art Nouveau station Werther Brücke with the support of the Wuppertal artist Anneliese Reckewitz-Epple.

  • 1979-1984

    Renewal and reinforcement of the bridge bearings on the suspension railway scaffolding.

  • September 4, 1982

    After a break of almost forty years, the Ohligmühle station is opened.

  • Trailing image in the Kaiserwagen in November 1982. Shown is a journey in the early 1900's with WSW staff in period costume.

    Already in the 80s ...

    Re-enacted picture in the new Kaiserwagen in November 1982. A trip around 1900 with WSW employees in historical costumes is shown.

  • March 1976

    75th birthday of the suspension railway: The residents of Wuppertal and numerous guests from near and far celebrated the big event for a week. As a souvenir, there was an anniversary medal from the Sparkasse and a ‘suspension railway postage stamp'.

  • In December 1974

    Introduction of the first train in Europe with one-man train handling using permanently installed cameras at the stations and screens in the driver's cabs of the suspension railway.

  • From August 28 to September 5, 1974

    The suspension railway traffic was suspended for another seven days when the turning system was installed at the Zoo / Stadion station. Since the turning system had been set up from the outset on the clearance profile of the B 72 articulated multiple units, trains 67 + 68, 101 and 102 had to be steered out of service on September 5, 1974.

  • 1972 - 1975

    The suspension railway wagon park was completely renewed with 28 modern articulated trains. Only the imperial carriages number 5 and 22 were preserved.

  • From July 14th to 29th, 1973

    The suspension railway was suspended for 16 days because the scaffolding in the area of ​​the Sonnborner Kreuz had to be raised by a maximum of 2.20 m over a length of around 500 m.

  • On September 11, 1968

    The spinning trailer of a truck in Sonnborn tore a pillar from its anchorage. The scaffold crashed into the street. The suspension railway stopped for ten weeks.

  • September 30, 1967

    Official release of the new Alter Markt suspension railway station with a ceremonial inauguration early in the morning when the Gelendewagen 101 arrived in the blue robe.

  • 1965

    The second red articulated train went into operation.

  • On April 17, 1967

    The provisional new Alter Markt suspension railway station was opened.

  • On July 18, 1962

    The signal system built by Siemens went into operation.

  • On December 14, 1962

    The ‘gentian’ went into service and excited the people. For the first time, everyone was sitting in one direction.

  • Photo of Suspension Railway Train 1962
  • 1962

    The first prototype of an articulated vehicle was composed of two vehicles from the 1950s. Thanks to its blue color, it got the nickname 'Gentian'.

  • Photo of Suspension Railway Train 1950
  • On July 21, 1950

    The young elephant girl Tuffi jumped out of the moving suspension railway car into the Wupper during the circus advertising trip - and got away with a scratch on her bottom. Even though the wagon was stuffed with journalists and the elephant transport was a media event, no one had photographed the crucial moment out of panic. The well-known postcard motif with the falling elephant is a photo montage.

  • 1950

    A new generation of wagons went into operation.

  • 1948

    Merger of the 'Städtische Werke Wuppertal' and the 'Wuppertaler Bahnen AG'. The Wuppertal suspension railway thus belonged to the new WSW AG - Wuppertaler Stadtwerke AG.

  • Not until Easter 1946

    There was a complete suspension railway round trip again.

  • On January 1, 1945

    Vohwinkel station and workshop were hit hard - traffic stopped again. Severe destruction in March 1945 led to repeated months of outages.

  • December 19, 1944

    Resumption of regular round-trip operations.

  • On May 30 and June 25, 1943

    The supports and scaffolding of the suspension railway were badly hit during air strikes on Barmen and Elberfeld. For several months, only emergency operation with shuttle cars was possible.

  • September 17, 1942

    The Schwebebahnwagenhalle Oberbarmen was bombed that night. The hit Schwebebahnwagen 18 burned out and then had to be retired and scrapped.

  • March 20, 1926

    The newly built train station 'Wuppertal Elberfeld' (today Döppersberg) was opened. The new building replaced the former building, which was popularly called ‘Elberfeld bathtub’ because of its shape.

  • In 1925

    The suspension railway had carried a total of almost 20 million passengers.

  • On May 1, 1917

    A train between Oberbarmen and Wupperfeld hit a defective train on the route and lifted its rear carriage out of the tracks. One of the three passengers got away with light scratches. This event was an unfortunate conjunction of various unfavorable circumstances. The accident has been never cleared up, but it is most likely due to human error.

  • Photo of Rathausbrücke Station around 1910

    Schwebebahnhof Rathausbrücke (now Old Market) around 1910

  • Photo of the suspension railway 1906

    1906

    1906

  • Photo of construction of the suspension railway at Brausenwertherplatz 1906

    Brausenwertherplatz 1906

    Brausenwertherplatz 1906

  • On June 27, 1903

    The rest of the Kluse – Rittershausen route (Oberbarmen) was opened. A total of 19,200 tons of iron had been processed. The entire route had 472 iron supports. The construction costs were around 16 million gold marks.

  • Photo of Backside of Döppersberg Station 1903

    Backside Döppersberg 1903

    Backside Döppersberg 1903.

  • Foto von der Schwebebahnhaltestelle Döppersberg und umliegenden Gebäuden 1903

    Döppersberg in 1903.

    Döppersberg in 1903.

  • On May 24, 1901

    The section for Zoo-Vohwinkel with a length of 2.97 kilometers was approved, and the Vohwinkel suspension railway station has since housed the suspension railway depot.

  • Photo of Döppersberg suspension railway station

    The Döppersberg suspension railway station around 1901.

  • On March 1, 1901

    the 4.59-kilometer section of the Kluse Zoological Garden was released for public passenger transport (date of official opening!). The crowd of people who wanted to test the train was so high that the ten-minute intervals they had used in the morning had to be reduced to 5 minutes in the afternoon.

  • On October 24, 1900

    Emperor Wilhelm II drove with his wife Auguste Viktoria and his entourage from Döppersberg (Elberfeld Mitte) to Vohwinkel before the official opening. That day the imperial carriage got its name. This can still be rented for special trips.

  • Photo of the interior of the vehicle from the 1900 series

    View of the interior of the vehicle from the 1900 series.

  • Picture of a test drive 1899

    Test drive 1899

    Test drive in 1899

  • Photo of construction of the suspension railway around 1899 at Wall / Schloßbleiche.

    Construction of the suspension railway around 1899 at Wall / Schloßbleiche. A scaffold section is transported to the prepared location on the bank of the island.

  • On December 5, 1898

    The first test drive took place at 16 km/h. The second followed on March 4th, 1899. Since the route has now been extended to a length of 660 meters, this test drive could already be carried out at 40 km/h.

  • Photo of construction of the station Alexanderbrücke in 1898 (now Ohligsmühle).

    Construction of the Alexanderbrücke suspension railway station around 1898 (today Ohligsmühle)

  • Photo of Employees of construction companies

    Employees of the construction companies with a souvenir photo around 1898 when a car part was hung on the Varresbeck.

  • Foto vom Bau des Schwebebahn-Gerüsts 1898 an der Alexanderbrücke

    Alexanderbrücke

    Alexanderbrücke 1898

  • In the summer of 1898

    The construction of the first 400-meter-long section between the western end and the Sonnborn Viaduct began. This progressed quickly. On 13/14. In September 1898, the two test cars were put on the rails

  • On October 31, 1896

    The Royal Government of Düsseldorf granted the Continental Corporation state permission to build a suspension railway.

  • On October 15, 1895

    Elektrizitäts-Aktiengesellschaft signed a contract with the mayor of the rural community of Vohwinkel, Heinrich Bammel, to continue the route over the road to Vohwinkel. Opponents soon damned the construction of the suspension railway as an 'insane undertaking'.

  • On December 31, 1894

    The Mayors Friedrich Wilhelm Wegner and Adolf Hermann Jaeger concluded a contract for the construction and operation of a suspension railway with Elektrizitäts-Aktiengesellschaft (formerly Schuckert & Co, Nuremberg). It was agreed to build the route from the zoo via the Wupper to Rittershausen (Oberbarmen).

  • December 28, 1894

    Acceptance of the suspension system project 'System Langen' by the city councils of Barmen and Elberfeld. Langen prevailed against many competitors.

  • Photo of construction of the suspension railway 1881

    Zoologischer Garten

    Zoologischer Garten 1881

  • On March 15, 1887

    Barmen also selected such a commission. A little later, the two commissions were merged into a common elevated railway commission.

  • Photo of the old station at Döppersberg

    As early as the 1980s...

    As early as the 1980s in the cities of Barmen and Elberfeld, the need to build an additional means of transport in the valley floor was recognized. The Cologne engineer Eugen Langen was involved in the project of a suspension railway during these years.

  • On February 8, 1887

    The Elberfeld municipal councillors appointed a “Commission of Investigation Regarding an Elevated Railway”.