Suspension Monorail (Wuppertal Floating Tram)

Categories: Family and Kids, Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Suspension Monorail (Wuppertal Schwebebahn)
Suspension Monorail (Wuppertal Schwebebahn)

[ source: Flickr]

Suspension Monorail (Wuppertal Floating Tram)

Nestled along the banks of the river Wupper in the department of the North Rhine-Westphalia is the unsuspecting city of Wuppertal (Wuppertal vacation rentals | Wuppertal travel guide). In this city is one of the best examples of Germany's incredible feats of engineering. The Wuppertal monorail, in German the Wuppertal Schwebebahn, hangs effortlessly and glides over millions of people while transporting more than 25 million annually. The monorail has been in use for over a century and continues to be the city's main source of transportation. The railway is suspended almost 40 feet (12 m) above ground and makes an 8.3 mile (13.3 km) loop around the city of Wuppertal. It runs mostly above the river Wupper making this unique commute scenic as well.

Construction on the monorail began in 1897 and was finished in 1901. The floating tram took about 19,200 tonnes of steel to complete and employs, what is till considered very modern, a system of super-silent rails. The monorail was designed by German entrepreneur, inventor and innovator, Eugen Langen (Langen vacation rentals | Langen travel guide), who was commissioned in 1894 to build this amazing feat of engineering. The cars are suspended from a single rail, hence the word "monorail", built underneath a supporting steel beam. Currently there are 27 two-car trains that were built in the 1970s and are currently slated to be remodeled.

On July 21, 1950, the Althoff circus decided to pull a publicity stunt by taking an elephant named Tuffi on the monorail. Apparently Tuffi thought the car was a bit cramped for her liking because she ended up bursting through the doors and jumping out of the monorail taking a 40-foot plunge into the river Wupper. While she only sustained minor bruises to her belly, she ended up making quite a splash in the history books and became an international superstar. There is a one-hour audio guide (mp3) available for download on the city's website listed below. The audio guide gives the history of the suspended monorail along with specifics on the technology used as well as having a sound backdrop to make your trip a bit more exciting. Also, on carriage 5 of the monorail there is a night ride people can take where one can get a taste of nostalgia. The stewardesses dress up in the the traditional clothes from the 1900s and serve drinks (alcoholic and otherwise) and plays music. Quite a way to spend an evening!

While the monorail is the main attraction here, the architecturally diverse rail stations are not to be missed in their own right. The Art Nouveau station at the Werther Brücke and the ultra-modern glass station at the Kluse (finished in 2009).

About this Article

Cynthia Kozak

This travel guide has been written by Cynthia Kozak.

Cynthia Kozak is a freelance writer, editor and transcriptionist currently living abroad in her Vario truck. Boundlessly curious, she is an avid traveler always looking forward to the next destination.

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Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Bundesallee 199, 42103 Wuppertal, Germany

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