The Taurachbahn (TB) is a 760 millimeter (about 2 1/2 feet, or 30 inches) narrow gauge heritage railway completely operated by volunteers. Once part of the Murtalbahn the Taurachbahn is 9.8 kilometres (6.1 miles) long and lies in the Lungau region of Austria. The line follows the Taurach River Valley connecting Mauterndorf in the west to St. Andrä in the east. Steam hauled trains operate during the summer months from June to September.
The Taurachbahn's history actually begins with the construction of the Murtalbahn which opened in 1894 running along the valley of the River Mur from the market town of Unzmarkt through Murau to Tamsweg then on to Mauterndorf. The Murtalbahn at 76.1 kilometres (47.3 miles) is the second longest narrow gauge railway in Austria.
In March 1973 Murtalbahn's public passenger traffic was stopped on the section between Tamsweg and Mauterndorf. Today a portion of this section, Mauterndorf to St. Andrä, is operated by Club 760 volunteers under the name Taurachbahn as a heritage railway. Tracks still connect St. Andrä with Tamsweg for special trains but Tamsweg station is not used for regular Taurachbahn traffic because of the fees demanded by Steiermärkische Landesbahnen, the Murtalbahn operator.
In May 1982 the Taurachbahn Studiengesellschaft (Taurach Railway Study Society) leased the line then changed its name in 1983 to the Taurachbahn GmbH (Taurach Railway Corporation) to indicate operations would soon commence. Following reconstruction of the line the first train left Mauterndorf accompanied by a great party on 9 Jul 1988. The center of operations for this volunteer run railway is the station at Mauterndorf. All staff members are unsalaried.
In Autumn 1999 a new storage shed (wagenhalle) was completed so that equipment can be protected against rain, snow, and wind during the winter months. Also by this time track work and station buildings at Mauterndorf and Mariapfarr were completely renovated.
Salzkammergut Lokalbahn (SKGLB - A 760 millimetre narrow gauge railway that used to connect Salzburg to Bad Ischl with a branch to Mondsee.) locomotive number 12 was built in 1906 by Krauss Linz for the SKGLB and was operated there until closure in 1957. The locomotive gained notoriety for pulling the last passenger train from Salzburg to St. Gilgen on 30 Sep 1957. In 1958 the Steiermärkische Landesbahnen (StLB) purchased the locomotive and operated it on the Feistritztalbahn until 1969. In 1972 the StLB sold it to the Vehicle Museum of Marxzell near Karlsruhe, Germany. Club 760 purchased the engine in 2003 and moved it to Ceske Velenice in the Czech Republic for overhaul. By Autumn 2004 it was operational in its new home at Mauterndorf.
This locomotive was built in 1944 by the Franco Belge Locomotive factory for the light railways of the German Wehrmacht. After the end of World War II it came into ownership of the ÖBB and received the number 699.01 running on the Bregenzerwaldbahn (Bregenz Forest Railway) in western Austria. From 1963 to 1967 it operated on the Vellachtalbahn in Carinthia. Bought by Club 760 in 1973 it was repaired to haul trains on the Pinzgauer Lokalbahn then later once again on the Bregenzerwaldbahn. In 1983 it came to Mauterndorf and in 1994 received the red and black colour scheme for duty on the Taurachbahn.
Locomotive 298.56 was built in 1900 as a U6 series for the Niederösterreichischen Landesbahnen (NÖLB) and it ran on the Waldviertel in one of the most northern parts of Austria. Then it was taken over by the Österreichischen Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) for duty on various narrow gauge lines ending up at the Steyrtalbahn. In 1982 it was bought by Club 760 and overhauled by H.W. Knittelfeld for service on the Taurachbahn in 1989. In the year 2000 the locomotive pulled special trains on the Waldviertelbahn and Mariazellerbahn. After renovation in Ober Grafendorf it went back to the Mariazellerbahn to pull more special trains. By Autumn 2001 it had returned to Mauterndorf. From 2011 to 2014 the locomotive was rented to the community of Stainz for pulling their trains. In Spring 2015 it returned to the Taurachbahn.
Locomotive number 6, named "Thörl", was part of the first equipment for the Thörlerbahn which opened in 1893 connecting Kapfenberg and Au-Seewiesen. The railway was operated by the Steiermärkische Landesbahnen (StLB). Between 1945 and 1950 the engine was in Stainz to work passenger service on that line. Thörl was the first steam locomotive bought by Club 760 in 1972. In 1993 the locomotive was put on display at the 100 Years of Thörlerbahn Exhibition in Kapfenberg. In 1994 it went to Czechoslovakia for general repairs then was leased to the Thörlerbahn in 1995 until its closure and return to the Taurachbahn at Mauterndorf.
The Waldbahn Berzasca (Berzasca forest railway) was a railway in Romania run by the state forestry company Caile Ferate Forestiere (CFF). Construction of the railway started in 1924 and the company was closed down in 1993. CFF number 764.219 was built in 1917 especially for operations on forest railways. This meant having the smallest possible axle loading with the greatest possible adhesion and using small diameter wheels. It is unknown where this engine has been in its first years. In 1971 it was operating in Drencova and 1974-1975 in Moldovita, Romania. By 1989 it was no longer needed so it was sold to Club 760 in 1993. Following a general overhaul in Reghin, Romania, the engine is now serviceable in Mauterndorf. Taurachbahn volunteers have nick-named it "Draculine" since it saw service in Romania.
The Taurachbahn Summer 2017 timetable
is available here.
16 Jul 2012 - New Taurachbahn Train Drivers
24 Jul 2013 - Wolfgang Hojna-Leidolf has Compiled a Booklet
20 Aug 2013 - Railway Station Festival at Mariapfarr
25 Aug 2013 - The Taurachbahn Steamed
4 Jul 2014 - The Taurachbahn Will be 25
15 Jul 2014 - 25 Years of the Taurachbahn
29 July 2014 - Bahnhoffest Taurachbahn
8 Oct 2015 - Keep Fit and Create Profit
25 Jul 2016 - Another Taurachbahn Bahnhoffest
13 Apr 2017 - Embankment Fire on the Taurachbahn Route
11 Jul 2017 - Locomotive Baptism in Mariapfarr
12 Jul 2017 - Special Train from Mauterndorf to Unzmarkt and Back
22 Jul 2017 - Locomotive SKGLB 22 Returned to Austria
10 Aug 2017 - Romanian Rebuild Runs Railway Route