Instrumentation and Testing of HSB 99 5906

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a first-hand account by CSR Mechanical Engineer and Technical Advisor Wolf Fengler, MSME on his trip to assist the HSB on the first phase of development pertaining to modern steam locomotion.

I could barely believe what I was reading - CSR President Davidson Ward had just emailed me to see if I would travel to Germany to take charge of the data acquisition phase of CSR's work with the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen, GMBH (HSB). In the months leading up to this email, CSR had been contacted by Department Head of Equipment Technology at HSB, Bernd Seiler, after which dozens of emails were exchanged concerning possible improvements to the HSB fleet of locomotives.

The popularity of the HSB meant that the locomotives are often being pushed up to, if not beyond, their designed limits. The oldest locomotives on the line, the 0-4-4-0T locomotives, known as "Mallets" are worked hard to keep their trains to the timetable, having the result of occasionally sucking burned embers from the firebed and starting lineside fires as the draft pulls cinders through inadequate spark arrestors.

Something had to be done.

Having traveled the world in search of steam, HSB Department Head of Equipment Technology, Bernd Seiler, became acquainted with CSR Chief Engineer Shaun McMahon and knew that answers to many of the problems facing the HSB could be found in the work of L.D. Porta and his followers.

Over the course of several months, discussions between Bernd and the CSR team determined that 0-4-4-0T 99-5906 needed the most immediate help. In particular, the locomotive is underpowered and features a spark arrestor that not only retains most of the cinders in the smokebox but is also aerodynamically inefficient. Built in 1918 from designs dating to the late 1890's, the locomotive has a stack [RIGHT] that is engineered poorly and constructed inexpensively by shop forces many years ago when an earlier stack corroded beyond repair. This temporary replacement stack was once again coming due for renewal. The need to engineer and form a new stack opened the door for CSR to provide engineering assistance to HSB.

In further discussions with Bernd, it was found that a series of other, related, issues plague the 5906. The flexibility of the articulated design of the locomotive makes it well suited for the tight curves of the HSB network, but design deficiencies needed to be addressed if the 1918-built compound was to be able to keep up with the unprecedented traffic demands. Though lacking superheat, feedwater heating, and numerous other features essential to efficient steam locomotion, budgetary and other constraints dictated that initial efforts be focused on one area – the smokebox.

CSR determined that a combination of a custom-engineered Lempor exhaust system and Master Mechanic's spark arrestor would be the best way to bring immediate benefit to the HSB and to set the stage for further work. Of course, given the preservation-conscious nature of the HSB, the design work would be constrained by the need to maintain the original, historic outline of the locomotive.

By this point, perhaps you are asking yourself; what does a primitive, 1918-built German steam locomotive have to do with torrefaction, CSR locomotive 3463, and the development of modern steam?

Actually, more than one might initially think.

First, CSR's opportunity to work with the HSB facilitated our testing of critical data acquisition instruments and software on an in-service steam locomotive in advance of applying it to 3463 and to other advanced steam-driven electrical generators. As learned from the ACE 3000 project and other attempts employing modern sensing equipment, advanced sensors and steam locomotives have met with mixed results, so it was important to begin work in this area as soon as possible. Second, this research allowed us to gain experience with a functioning compound locomotive, the efficiencies possible with compound operation being critical to any new design steam power plant. Third, it gave our team its first opportunity to work together on a design problem. While our core group all have excellent qualifications as individuals and have been working together to frame and forward the technological focus of CSR, it is always important for an engineering team to solidify itself as a unit by rallying around something more than just theoretical concepts – all the better to do so before engaging in the much more involved work required for 3463. Finally, one of the attractions of the HSB operation is the diversity of its motive power.

The potential to improve an older locomotive in a historically-sensitive manner while allowing it to keep up with the demands of present day operations would assure its vitality and help preserve the unique character of the HSB operation for future generations. This constraint on the design parameters may also provide an opportunity to implement some advanced concepts, like the Lemprex, in their first real world trials.

The design of a Lempor exhaust is by no means arbitrary. Mathematical relationships derived from fluid mechanics as well as empirical testing require data to be input into equations so that the proper exhaust system proportions can be established. The same applies to the Master Mechanics spark arrestor.

The challenge of obtaining such data for 5906 was that any test program had to be worked into the busy timetable of the railroad and fit within scheduled service windows for the locomotive – such is the demand placed on their steam locomotive roster in 2014!

19th Century meet 21st Century- W. Fengler and H. Trieglaff compare notes in the Wernigerode Locomotive facility on July 30, prior to beginning test runs.

We finally had an opportunity at the end of July, leaving roughly a month to pull all the pieces together. CSR software and hardware engineer Nate Bolyard set to work coding up the program needed to read the data into the computer. Fortunately, a $25,000 grant from National Instruments had provided the specialized LabView software needed by Nate to accomplish his task. John Rhodes was kept busy ordering computer parts, sensors and other hardware specified by Nate and myself. I should note that CSR stays well ahead of the curve in planning terms (with backups thought out), but such is the nature of railroading that time is a luxury not always afforded us. I was very pleased to see how the team rallied together under these conditions and got the job done despite the circumstances.

19th Century meet 21st Century- W. Fengler and H. Trieglaff compare notes in the Wernigerode Locomotive facility on July 30, prior to beginning test runs.  

19th Century meet 21st Century- W. Fengler and H. Trieglaff compare notes in the Wernigerode Locomotive facility on July 30, prior to beginning test runs.

 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

In the early morning hours, with my luggage crammed with thermocouples, pressure sensors, a laptop and other paraphernalia in addition to a week's worth of clothes, I headed out in the darkness to catch an 08:00 flight from Denver bound for Berlin. The connection through Newark came off without a hitch, but between the excitement and marginal seats in economy class there wasn't much in the way of sleep to be had.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The plane arrived on time at Berlin's Tegel airport at 08:00 Central European Time. After very little sleep and way too much time not moving, my first task was to make my way via bus to the Charlottenburg train station. This gave me a first opportunity to exercise my two years of high school German as airport signage to the bus loading area appeared to be non-existent. A conversation in German with a helpful airport worker gave me directions to the bus terminal. I managed to follow them reasonably well and found my bus. At the train station, I had enough time to enjoy the passing parade of S-Bahn, light rail, and ICE trains for a while before catching my own S-Bahn train to Magdeburg. The train action helped to detract from the hot, humid German summer and the trainshed provided welcome shelter from the occasional thunderstorm.

With a transfer at Magdeburg to a DMU trainset, I settled in for the last leg of my journey to Wernigerode. It was with one bit of consternation, however. While I had asked and been reassured in German that the DMU was bound for Wernigerode, there was a brief moment of concern as the train stopped at a station and then reversed direction; it initially appeared to be heading back for Berlin! Fortunately, moments later, it took a diverging track and continued on to Wernigerode, arriving on time at 14:30 where Bernd waited to welcome me.

Bernd and I drove directly to the HSB shops where I was introduced to the shop supervisor and the crew that had been assembled to install the sensors. Pre-trip coordination had determined the rough areas where the sensors needed to be situated, but the first order of business was to finalize their locations so the shop crew could get to work placing them when their shift started at 06:30 the next morning [LEFT]. I was pleased to note that the special cables for the sensors had already been roughed in, connected to terminal blocks, and batteries installed to provide 24 VDC power for the pressure sensors.

By the time all that was wrapped up, it was already 17:00. Bernd then guided me along the quaint side streets which would become my daily 5 minute walking commute from the hotel to the shops for the next week. After getting checked in at the hotel, Bernd left me to get settled in my room and to retrieve his car before joining me for dinner.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Though I was not needed at the shop until 10:00, I still awoke at about my normal time. With a busy schedule ahead and the usual unpredictable nature of railroading, I took the precaution of finding a nearby store to pick up supplies of food and water in case "Murphy" came to call while we were out on the line, a wise bit of advice given to me by my Uncle Ross.

The rest of the day was spent answering questions about the sensors. This went better than expected given my rusty German and the unpracticed English of the one man on the shop crew who had taken English in school. A further complication arose in that not all of the special fittings required to install the sensors had arrived. Fortunately, the shop crew was able to improvise some alternatives which worked out just fine.

By the end of the shift, all of the sensors had been installed except the exhaust steam temperature sensor. During the day's work, it was discovered that there was an internal baffle in the steam pipe at the location we had identified for the sensor. I made arrangements to meet the crew at 06:30 the next morning to finish the work as we were scheduled to begin fire up at 13:00 and needed to have everything ready by then. I grabbed dinner at a café on the town square and headed off to bed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

With fresh minds and an early start, we quickly settled on an alternative location for the temperature sensor and our resourceful crew finished their work while the electrician and I finished mapping out all the electrical connections from the sensors into the signal conditioning boxes so the computer could record the data. While the engine was building steam in the shop, Bernd and I had to head over to the engine shed to get ready for our afternoon with the locomotive.

One of our challenges over the next three days of testing was to be ergonomics. With the increased service demands, the 5906 and sister locomotive 99 5901 / 99 5902 are required to travel farther than they were originally designed to (180 kilometers between servicing as opposed to 30 kilometers). While there are plenty of water plugs along the line, coal is only available at the engine sheds. As can be seen from the picture of Bernd and me [BELOW], a wooden divider was constructed so that extra coal could be placed in the cab.

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his meant, however, that for the first half of an 8 hour shift, I had to be tucked in behind the engineer, wedged into a narrow slot between the radio locker and wooden barrier so I could monitor the laptop. Indeed, part of the scheduling challenge was making sure that Bernd would be available to fire the locomotive since there was no way to get four crew members into the cab.

With little time available to debug the software with actual data from the engine under operating conditions, we headed out from Wernigerode on our scheduled train. I would have to get familiar with what the "normal" readings would be on the fly. Also, though I am trained in both US and metric measurement units, most of my engineering work in the past has been using US units, so I had to quickly develop a "feel" for the measurements.

View from the cab of a 2-10-2T at the Harz as it barrels through the mountains

View from the cab of a 2-10-2T at the Harz as it barrels through the mountains

It was quickly apparent that all the sensors, except one, were giving good data. What was odd were the boiler pressure readings. While Bernd did an excellent job keeping the pressure up, the value being displayed neither tracked the steam gauge nor aligned with its reading. That particular pressure sensor had been a last minute substitution due to a very long lead time of the unit we had originally specified and it covered a wider pressure range, so my first suspicion was incorrect scaling.

I did a number of calculations on the fly, but could not account for what I was seeing in the data. By this time in the afternoon, it was morning in Minnesota (seven hour time difference!), so I began a series of email exchanges with Nate Bolyard so we could debug the problem. By the time we reached the station at Drei Annen Hohne, we had a pretty good idea of what was going on. But we had to hand off 5906 to another crew at that point, so any solutions would have to wait until the next day. I grabbed the laptop and joined Bernd and our engineer for the day, Martin, in the cab of one of the 2-10-2Ts for the trip back to Wernigerode while another crew shuttled 5906 to Gernrode. A view from the cab of one of the HSB 2-10-2s along the line is shown at RIGHT. Gernrode would be our base of operations for the following two days as that run included the steepest grade on the line - a stretch of 4%. Back in Wernigerode that evening we put the locomotive to bed, cleaned up, grabbed some dinner and then some shut eye.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The seven hour time delay worked in our favor. Overnight, Nate was able to fix one of the two problems we had identified the day before. I had not communicated the scaling of the replacement sensor to him so he needed to update the software. The updated software was waiting for me in my email first thing in the morning and our afternoon shift assignment gave me time in the morning to make the necessary updates to the laptop.

While we could have corrected the scaling problem during post processing of the data, it made life in the cab a lot easier when the sensor readings matched the gauge. The morning also brought confirmation of what the other problem was – a shut-off valve had not been opened when the steam pressure sensor was installed, thus the sensor was only reading whatever was trapped between it and the valve.

Bernd and I drove over to Gernrode and joined up with 5906 that afternoon. Much to our relief, the boiler sensor was now matching the gauge! Our joy was short lived, however, in that the exhaust steam temperature sensor was now reading maximum value – which told me that there was a short in that electrical circuit. A quick check of the cables, connections and sensor showed no signs of damage and as we had to keep to the schedule, there was no time to investigate any further. The rest of the afternoon and evening was fairly uneventful as we made two trips over the 4% grade. However, as our shift neared a close, we were held on a siding. As it turned out, one of the diesel railcars had an issue and this delayed our train by an hour (steam delayed by diesel). By the time we were serviced and tied down for the night it was 21:30 and we still had to investigate the problem with the temperature sensor!

The engine shed in Gernrode is only equipped for running service, so we had minimal supplies available. Using a volt-ohm meter, I quickly traced the problem to the temperature sensor itself. Fortunately I had brought a spare with us to Gernrode, but we still had to remove the sensor and install a new one. This involved removing the tack-welded metal shield which had been installed to protect the sensor given its close proximity to the road bed. With that out of the way, we removed the sensor [BELOW] and discovered that the sensing "beads" at the end of the thermocouple were sheared clear off – almost like they had been cut with a tool.

2014-07-31-5906-Gernrode-W_Fengler-DE4_2430.jpg

e concluded the most likely scenario was that the sensor had been vibrating in contact with the passage wall. Now the trick was to reinstall the sensor so it would be steam tight – with no teflon tape in sight! We improvised with electrical tape and some oil coated string as packing. We finished up sometime after midnight, cleaned up and then headed back to Wernigerode to try to catch some sleep.

Friday, August 1, 2014

With another afternoon shift lined up, I was able to spend the morning enjoying the shops of historic Wernigerode in search of a little something for my wife. Bernd and I again headed out to Gernrode to catch our afternoon assignment, hoping that our improvised thermocouple installation would hold. Much to our amazement, it did! In fact, sensors and software performed flawlessly for the entire day.

A good thing too, in that it was our last day of testing and Bernd had been left with a firebox full of clinker by the morning crew. With no drop grate, Bernd worked his tail off trying to break up the pieces and rebuild the fire, but he managed to keep up with things, a tribute to his firing prowess. We tied up in Gernrode that night and were met by a couple of guys from the shop who then removed the sensors and capped the sensor ports [ABOVE LEFT]. The wiring harness was left in place and sensors safely locked away for the next round of testing with the Lempor stack and Master Mechanics front end.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

It was hard to believe, but the week was over. Bernd was to drive me to Berlin as he had business to attend to there, but needed to catch up on work before we left. I spent the day packing, studying the 2-10-2Ts and Bernd arranged for me to get one more cab ride. That afternoon we drove to Berlin and enjoyed a nice celebratory dinner before Bernd dropped me off at my hotel near the airport.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A long day of travel began with an 08:00 flight from Berlin to Frankfurt, then Frankfurt to Philadelphia, and finally Philadelphia to Denver. While I arrived in Denver at 21:00 as expected, my luggage took a detour in Philly – a good thing that didn't happen on the flight out!

Epilogue

With second-by-second data from our three days of testing in hand, I have assembed it so that our team can review the data and design both a new stack/nozzle and a master mechanic's front end. We will also be building a thermodynamic model of 5906 to use along with the data in proportioning the stack and recommending additional improvements which can be implemented over time.

Andre Chapelon and Dante Porta perfected most of their advanced technologies by improving existing locomotives. It is fitting that we are able to follow in the footsteps of our forefathers by advancing the art while ensuring the vitality of historic steam power. We extend our sincere thanks to Bernd and everyone at the HSB for being such wonderful hosts and providing this opportunity to CSR.

The Master Mechanics' Front End

On its most fundamental level, the “Stephensonian” design of steam locomotive requires the exhaust to generate a draft to pull oxygen through the firebed and, thereafter, hot gasses through the flues to create steam. The more steam the locomotive uses, the higher the flow of oxygen through the fire, and the higher the generation rate of steam. This positive feedback loop requires a well-tuned machine.

While an efficient exhaust is important to generating draft, the flow of hot gasses through the smokebox of steam locomotives is almost as important. If one thinks back to the old “wild west” movies, the steam locomotives in those films had “balloon” stacks, the design of which employed a series of screens in the stack to arrest sparks. As the design of locomotives changed, so too did the mechanism of preventing lineside fires. As the size of smokeboxes increased and the understanding of fluid dynamics improved, spark arresting netting moved into the smokebox of the engine.

The solution developed in the U.S. over the first two decades of the 20th Century, known as the Master Mechanics’ Front End (MMFE), is an efficient way of arresting sparks and maximizing flow of gases through the smokebox. Named for the Association tasked with developing the design, the MMFE [ABOVEemploys a series of baffles [red] and screens [blue] to first break up then sift any burning cinders carried through the tubes.

In Germany, however, no system as efficient as the MMFE was employed. The diagram [BELOW LEFT] shows the existing arrangement of spark arresting on the 0-4-4-0Ts operated by the HSB.

The diagram [ABOVE RIGHT] shows a conceptual overview of the engineering work CSR is performing on behalf of the HSB. Both the new Lempor Exhaust and MMFE will fit into the existing historic envelope of the steam locomotive, yet the locomotive will be both lower in maintenance and more efficient to operate.

The Master Mechanics' Front End never caught on in Germany, rather they employed an alternative arrangement that, while in principal performs the same spark arresting function, in practice causes some operational headaches. The image at LEFT shows the existing system in 99 5906 [partially disassembled to show the netting]. The steel baffle is a first line of defense while the stainless steel netting strains out fine particles. This design does not, however, increase the velocity of gasses through the smokebox and it is prone to plugging.

CSR has undertaken hundreds of detailed calculations associated with the design and construction of the new components, from the optimal size of spark arresting screening to the best dimensional proportioning between stack and nozzles. At a glance, the detailed work going into the engineering project on the HSB, which is headquartered 4,300 miles away from Minneapolis, may seem a bit “far afield.” In reality, it has been an invaluable opportunity for the engineering team at CSR to work together towards a facet of our mission: research and develop sustainable railroad locomotives.

Already as part of this unique project, CSR engineers have digitally instrumented a near 100-year-old steam locomotive, re-engineered a smokestack and front end with fuel and power saving improvements, and have done so without jeopardizing the historic integrity of the engine.

This hands-on work has prepared our crews for taking on the next steps with ATSF 3463, including the application of a MMFE and advanced exhaust. It will be key with 3463 that the exhaust create sufficient vacuum in the smokebox to allow application of a Gas Producer Combustion System while not hampering the mechanical performance of the engine. The real world application of a Lempor the 99 5906 is a key step in preparing our engineers to take on “the big engine,” and performing improvements that do not detract from the artifact is a key consideration.

This research has also lead to some very interesting developments in the application of modern materials sciences, computer aided design [RIGHT], and digital instrumentation to the world of steam locomotive development. CSR has modeled, in excruciating detail, the planned improvements to 99 5906.

Working with the professional staff at HSB has also provided a unique opportunity to view what it takes to operate a tourist railroad that hosts more than one million passengers per year (in comparison, the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad hauled approximately 175,000 passengers per year in the pre-recession mid-2000’s).

History and Background on the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen, GmbH

A 2-10-2T pounds upgrade with a revenue train in May 2009.

A 2-10-2T pounds upgrade with a revenue train in May 2009.


Editor's Note: Text adapted from a Trains Magazine article written and photographed by Davidson Ward and published in the Historic Trains Today issue of the magazine in May 2010.

Nestled in the shadow of the largest mountain in Northern Germany, the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways steam locomotive preparation yard is a constant bustle of activity. Anyone on the grounds early in the morning will witness six to ten steam locomotives hissing and simmering as though time had stood still, surrounded by the people who labor to get them ready for a hard day's work.

The Harz Narrow Gauge Railways, which owns 25 steam locomotives, 10 diesel railcars and 10 diesel locomotives to run more than 90 trains on any given summer day, has an 87-mile rail network, much of which is as modern as any mainline railroad to-day. With automatic block signals, centralized traffic control, automatic switches, welded rail, and steel ties, this railroad is anything but a typical tourist operation.

History of the HNGR

The Harz Narrow Gauge Railways (HNGR), known as the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen GmbH in German, has an incredibly dynamic and diverse history. Three private railroads surveyed and built the current rail network between 1886 and 1897 to serve the Harz region with both freight and passenger transportation. At the time of their construction, a narrow gauge of 1 meter (3 feet 3.25 inches) was selected for its lower capital cost and its ability to hug the sharp mountains, the same reasons some U.S. roads built 3-foot gauge lines.

Further, in 1899, the private railroads completed a tourist line which went between the mountain village of Drei Annen Hohne to the Brocken, the highest point in Northern Germany and the mythological home of the witches and devils described by the German playwright Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in his play "Faust."

[Guido Kroll] Until the beginning of the Nazi regime in 1933, the railroads maintained a strong business. Then profits began plummeting, culminating in 1945 with the end of World War II.

"When the Russians finally reached Berlin and declared victory, the Americans had just arrived here in Wernigerode. In a deal to get a piece of the capital city, the Americans gave the Russians the entire state of Saxony-Anhalt. The communist rule that followed slowed modernization enough that steam locomotives were not phased out, rather new ones were built [in the 1950's]!" says Guido Kroll, [LEFT] manager of locomotives in Wernigerode.

The Russians and the East German National People's Army set up a lookout post on top of the Brocken and, for 28 years, from 1961 until 1989, prohibited civilians from going there; it was the perfect vantage point for overseeing West Germany. During this post-war period, the East German Deutsche Reichsbahn operated the railroads.

By the time Deutsche Reichsbahn was planning to dieselize the HNGR in the 1980s, the East German government had already placed the line under national preservation protection, shielding its remaining fleet of 26 steam locomotives from replacement (though 99 5904 was scrapped in 1990). After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the Reunification of Germany, the newly formed Harz Narrow Gauge Railways took over the narrow gauge railroads on Feb. 1, 1993. Doing so made the HNGR the first non-federal railway company to provide regular freight and passenger service in the eastern part of the re-unified Germany.

Service in the Mountains

hat sets the Harz Narrow Gauge Rail-ways apart from almost every other tourist railroad in Europe and the United States is the broad spectrum of services it provides. Of course being able to run multiple steam trains 365 days a year is an incredible feat, but the sheer volume of ridership and scale of the company's undertakings are staggering.

Every year about 1.2 million people ride on HNGR trains. Of those, about 700,000 people travel as tourists up to the Brocken. The remaining 500,000 are a mixture of tourists traveling from city to city and locals using the railways as a means of everyday transportation.

The 87-mile HNGR system is the longest unbroken narrow gauge rail system in Germany. The system is made up of three interconnected railroads: the Brocken Railway, the Trans-Harz Railway, and the Selke Valley Railway [SEE MAP BELOW]. The Brocken Railway is the most heavily traveled and, therefore, the most technologically advanced in the railway's network. Starting in Drei Annen Hohne, located deep in the heart of the mountains, trains from all termini meet at the four-track station and begin their journeys to the summit. With almost consistent 3.3-percent grades for its entire 12.4-mile route through the Harz National Park, the Brocken Railway places high demands on the steam locomotives carrying passengers through the spectacular surroundings.

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 The 37.3-mile Trans-Harz Railway has the largest proportion of local riders in the section Nordhausen - Ilfeld. The railroad goes from the large tourist destination of Wernigerode (also the railroads' headquarters), through Drei Annen Hohne, and on to Nordhausen. The heaviest commuter route is 9.3 miles between the cities of Nordhausen and Ilfeld, on the extreme southwest section of the line, and offers diesel rail buses and modern diesel-electric/electric hybrid light rail vehicles to carry people to and from work, school, and shopping. Like larger systems, Trans-Harz uses a zoned tariff system with automatic ticket dispensers on the train.

Surprisingly, the steepest and most geographically diverse section of the system is the 26.9-mile Selke Valley Railway, which does not come close to the geographic heights of the Brocken Railway. With grades of up to 4 percent and serving the city of Quedlinburg, a UNESCO World Heritage site, among myriad other historic towns, Selke Valley is known to the HNGR workers as the "most romantic section of the whole system."

During the summer months, one of the eight older locomotives pulls a special train from Wernigerode to the Brocken. One of HNGR's three serviceable 0-4-4-0 Mallets, which were built in 1897, 1898, and 1918, is often on the point [SHOWN AT LEFT].

In addition to the summer schedule, HNGR runs charter trains, photo freights, and trains to celebrate special dates such as Christmas or New Year's. The HNGR hosts other special programs such as a rock opera on the Brocken, an open-air rock musical on the Selke Valley Railway, trains with a Dixieland jazz band on board, and guided tours through its restoration shop. Patrons can find travel/lodging packages, which include steam locomotive transportation between the historic towns on the line with overnights in traditional hotels.

For those who enjoy hiking or mountain biking, the trains can transport people with their equipment to and from any one of their 47 stations and stops.

HNGR Infrastructure and Technology

"We always say, in regard to infrastructure, 'tradition and innovation' is our guiding theme," says Dirk Bahnsen, the leader of corporate communication for the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways.

When it comes to handling the massive number of riders transported by this railway every day, it is no surprise that it uses the best technology available."We operate with old trains, but very modern technology," Bahnsen says, adding that "on the most traveled line, the Brocken Railway, we employ the Technically Se-cured Train Control System."

Installed in 2001, this system employs lineside sensors, automatic switches, and more than 40 signal blocks on the section between Wernigerode and Brocken, and is a modern centralized traffic control system [RIGHT]. "There is one signal operator in Wernigerode and one in Nordhausen who sit in front of computer screens and can watch the trains move as dots across the screen," Bahnsen says. He explains that the operator, "has control of all train movements and switch positions," stressing that the multiplicity of signals keeps trains moving fluidly and safely.

On less-traveled segments of the rail-road, HNGR uses traditional signal methods and radio track warrant methods. Semaphore signals control the Nordhausen line. Some railroads are electrically operated, but the signal controller in Nordhausen watches a computer screen and pulls levers to operate the cable-semaphore signals. The Selke Valley Railway uses a centralized radio control system similar to track warrant control, giving trains authority from station to station or point to point.

Unlike any other narrow gauge railroad in Germany, the HNGR continues to expand its system through new construction. The abandonment of a standard gauge line between Gernrode, which was the former end point of the Selke Valley Railway, and Quedlinburg, enabled the HNGR to use an existing right-of-way to access the tourist mecca of Quedlinburg. With work beginning in April 2005, the expansion was the first new narrow gauge track construction in Germany in more than half a century. Funded by federal and local public sources, HNGR completed the new 5.2-mile line using concrete ties and welded rail, and opened it in March 2006, less than one year after breaking ground.

Since its opening, the Selke Valley Railway has experienced better rider-ship than ever before.

Rolling Stock on the HNGR

Maintaining the 25 steam locomotives and 88 passenger cars, let alone all of the diesel railcars, diesel-hydraulic locomotives, and light rail vehicles, is no small undertaking. The HNGR's backshop is capable and qualified to do almost any repair. More than 45 people work full time on any given day, changing oil on diesel locomotives, casting new bearings, and performing required inspections on steam locomotives.

"We do everything aside from complete boiler construction and frame reconditioning," a shop worker says. "For these tasks, we ship our locomotives to Meiningen," which is home to the Deutsche Bahn steam loco-motive shop, employing more than 120 full-time locomotive mechanics to keep the country's fleet in service.

On a daily basis, Harz Narrow Gauge Railways' workers prepare and maintain the road's steam locomotives and other equipment just as it has for its entire history. Sitting in his office at the base of the red dispatching tower in Wernigerode, Kroll calls out last names of paired crew members and assigns them to their individual locomotives and trains: the hostler (who keeps all six or more steam locomotives fired up over night), the crew of the first two trains, and the crew of the switching locomotive, usually a diesel.

Steam begins to fill the air surrounding the four-track preparation area as the locomotives get ready to start their day. While the firemen and engineers prepare their locomotives, Kroll arranges the so-called "reserve" locomotive to fill in if any other steam locomotive should need a replacement.

"If we guarantee that a steam locomo-tive will pull the train, we mean it" Kroll says, cleaning the fire with a rake [RIGHT]. "We take great pride in these machines and our work; we love what we do." An employee for Deutsche Bahn before transferring to the HNGR in 2006, Kroll says he finds much more satisfaction in his work now that it involves steam.

Before long, one hears a distant rumble as a coach train comes into view, being pushed by a diesel and guided by a worker standing on the leading platform with their remote controller. The first steam crew, having coaled their engine with the blue clamshell crane and watered it from an authentic water stand, radios the dispatcher for jurisdiction out of the locomotive preparation yard. The crew works their way slowly over the greasy rails, enters the main line, and hooks up to their train.

Repeated at least five more times in the first half of the day, and reversed in the evening, this process testifies to the energy and admiration that go into keeping this steam railroad atmosphere alive.

"We could all sell shoes or we could all sell drinks, but it is not as much fun as selling steam locomotives" Bahnsen says.

When asked about the future, specifically in terms of tourist railroads in America that have dieselized for economic reasons, Bahnsen is positive that HNGR steam is here to stay.

With its ridership increasing and its network expanding, Harz Narrow Gauge Railways will continue to be a unique bastion of steam in the heart of Europe. HNGR's diverse operations, from regional transit to steam-powered tourist trains, in con-junction with the vast scale and volume of its network, will continue to support the Northern Germany railroad into the 22nd century.

"We are a company, which is not looking for a maximum profit; rather we are a company, which will deal with the costs in order to maintain this historic service," Bahnsen says. "That's our mission."