Within the lines of the StLB (Railways of the state Styria) the Murtal Railway ranks first. It is with a length of 65 km (40.4 miles) the longest StLB line and outreachs over the Styrian border into the region Lungau of the Austrian state Salzburg. Already in the year 1883 the commission of the region Murau submitted an application to the Styrian railway commitee, which was founded at that time, for a railway to the Rudolfsbahn (St. Valentin - Selzthal - St. Michael - Villach). But still 1892 the Styrian parliament decided the construction of the Murtal Railway with the route Unzmarkt - Murau - Mauterndorf. Before some different routes had been analyzed. On August 27th, 1893, the ground-breaking ceremony took place in the presence of Adolph Josef Prince of Schwarzenberg. Under the guidance of the first manager of the Styrian State Railways Dr. h.c. Ing. Carl Wurmb the 76,230 kilometers ( = 47.4 miles) long line was finalized in only 316 days.Totaling 12 stations and 14 stops were built. The general management and the work shop were at Murau. At Unzmarkt, Murau and Mauterndorf were engine sheds. For the supply with water for the steam locomotives 7 water stations were installed. The communication between the stations and with the trains on the line was made by telephone, a real pioneer work, because at that time the railways used morse telegraphs
The grand opening was on October 8th, 1894. Responsible for the operation was the general management of the Austrian railways and for the accounting the Styrian State Office for Railways. On March 28th, 1896 an incorporated company was founded, the "Murtal Railway Unzmarkt - Mauterndorf", which took over the accounting and all rights of the concession.
In the first years of operation the passenger services and the transportation of goods dropped far behind the primal calculations. To strong for example was the competion of the rafting of timber on the river Mur. As recently as the administration of Prince Schwarzenberg decided to transport all timber by trains the Murtal Railway reached the increase it hoped for. Soon the transport of timber avaraged about 70 percent of the freight service. Till the World War I the passenger and freight services ascended continuously and the railway chalked up profits.Plans to extend the Murtal Railway till Unterweissburg via St. Michael/Lungau were prevent by the beginning of World War I. This war had a very unfavorable effect on the railway. By a lack of coal in 1919 the operations were very reduced. For some time only one train went per diem in each direction. As recently as the Murtal Railway started to fire with peat the situation changed. In 1921 the Styrian State Railways took over the management for the operations of that line. From the year 1924 on the services were growing through the rest of the twenties. Two additional locomotives were bought, the steam locomotives U 44 and Kh 101 and a series of freight cars. But the economic crisis from 1930 on caused heavy losses.
Despite of the bad economic situation the Murtal Railway started to use motor cars in 1933 acting on the example of the Salzkammergut Local Railway. That cars with a maximum speed of 60 km/h (= 37.4 mph) and gas motors with a power of 60 kilowatt were appriciated enthusiasticly but soon the joy changed into disillusion. Accidents, technical troubles, a lack of gas and the great number of repairs that the management stoped in 1939 the use of that cars. And again the operations on the Murtal Railway were done by steam. The beginning of World War II meant for the line that personnal must be leased to the Deutsche Reichsbahn (German National Railway in the thirties). Austria had been annaxed by Germany, at that time called Deutsches Reich. During the war the passenger service grew in a way that soon there was a lack of passenger cars so that a freight car must be modified as passenger car in 1942. In the same year the incoporated company was closed and the holdings were assigned to the State Styria.
In 1943 the steam locomotive Kh 111 was transferred as support from the Feistritztal Railway to the Murtal Railway. Fortunately the railway no destruction happened during the WWII. After the WWII a strong increase in motorization started by the economic revival. In connection with that more and more streets were constructed and the economic situation of the railway got more and more worse in the end of the fifties. To get competitive the Murtal Railway started an expensive modernization. In the years 1957 till 1963 a lot of passenger cars with cushioned seats were bought from the further SKGLB. From 1964 on freight cars were modified and new special ones were bought.
The next step to a modern railway was the change from steam traction to diesel traction in the years 1964 till 1967. Three diesel electric locomotives were purchased from 1964 till 1967. Till 1967 the raction on the Murtal Railway was a mixed one of steam and diesel but with the year 1967 the use of steam locomotives for regular trains stopped. Firstly steam locomotives were only used for clearing snow and for work trains.But thanks to an initiative of railway friends, toristic and railway managers in 1968 steam slow trains were operated. That trains were such a success, that from the year 1969 steam trains have been a part of the annual timetable. Furthermore the Murtal Railway has offered steam special trains for different events. To made this offer of steam trains more attractive the former imperial lounge car of the SKGLB was modified to a restaurant car, called "Murtalbar". Because the passengers attached much value to it a second reataurant car was constructed, the "Steirerbar". The annual steam trains have made the Murtal Railway well known over its borders.
Another attraction is the possibility for railway friends to become an amateur engineer. Supervised by an engineer of the Murtal Railway everyone can operate a steam locomotive. The prize for that depends on the weight of the train and the distance to run. After the run the amateur engineer got a certificate.
On March 31st, 1973, the passenger service on the part Tamsweg - Mauterndorf
was closed. That fact was to expect, because line was constructed far
away from the communities in the Lungau. The growing numbers of private
cars, busses led to a lack of passengers on that part of the line. After
the damage of the railway bridge near St. Andrä by a truck in 1080
the freight service was closed too on that part and it was blocked for
every operation. On September 1st, 1982 that part of the Murtal Railway
was closed down.
The most important step to a modern railway was the initial startup of modern motor cars. Before plans had been discussed to close down the passenger service by train but fortunately a decision was made in favour of the rail. The concept based on the use of motor cars with control cars to be flexible. The motor cars have been a complete new construction by the company Maschinenfabrik Knotz and the Austrian Brown Boveri Werke AG, because no comparable vehicle existed at that time. From 1980 till 1982 the motor cars VT 31, 32, 33, 34 were delivered together with the control cars VS 41, 42, 43, 44. In 1999 the Murtal Railway bought the motor car VT 35. The use of that motor cars have been very successful till today. Even the ÖBB (Austrian National Railway) purchased similar motor cars for its narrow gauge lines, the series 5090.
In 1984 a portal frame was constructed at Unzmarkt to support the
transshipping of goods from narrow gauge to regular gauge. Since April
1st the train operations have been managed by radio communication. Only
one station inspector in Murau controls the whole operations on the
line and he is in contact with every engineer on the line. That meant,
that more trains than before could run. So the Murtal Railway has become
a modern railway, which is today an economic factor in the Upper Mur
Valley. About 430 000 people use the trains per annum and the freight
trains transported a lot of timber´and agricultural goods.
Die Murtalbahn von Unzmarkt bis Tamsweg ist in den Verkehrsverbund Steiermark (gültig ab 01.01.2003) eingebunden.
Line of the Murtal Railway
|To the top|
Taurach Railway on