Amrum: History

Of all the German island lines that on Amrum was the least successful – and this was despite a very good start. The 900mm line was closed as early as 1939 after only 46 years of service. The most important turning points of the Amrumer Railway are given in the following timeline:


1893 A “Steam track way” was opened along the Wittduner beach as far as the Kniepsand by the Wittdun and Amrum Joint-Stock company. (AGWA)
20.07.1894 The AGWA (The Aktiengesellschaft Wittdun und Amrum, or “Wittdun and Amrum Corporation”) gained a concession to run a “Tramway”.
10.04.1901 Construction began on a railway connecting the Wittduner beach and Norddorf. The catalyst for this was the intention of the HAPAG shipping line to serve Hornum on the Island of Sylt, instead of Wittdun. An agreement was reached that the HAPAG ships would call at a new pier at Norddorf, on the northern tip of the island. The islanders were concerned that if this pier were constructed, there was no transport link to the other parts of Amrum.
01.07.1901 The first section was opened from Wittdun to Nebel.
1902 Amrum Railway near Nebel The Nebel-Norddorf jetty section was opened. In Nebel the awkward location meant that a one-ended terminus station had to be built. Near to the lighthouse a connection was built over the Wriakhorn to the Kniepsand-beach tramway so the two railways were connected with each other.
1907 The “Elektrizitatswerke GmbH Dusseldorf” (Dusseldorf Electric Company Ltd, or EGD) took over the railways and electrified the line.
1908 The line to Kniepsand was abandoned because of recurrent problems with the permanent way. In the following year a new connection was built from the Lighthouse to Kniepsand. The line continued directly on the beach itself.
10.09.1909 Electric services were started between Wittdun and Norddorf using three new electric railcars, running off 700v DC, supplied by the Norddeutsche Waggonfabrik in Bremen. At the same time a new pier was built at Norddorf for freight traffic because the old pier was silted up.
08.1910 A fire in the generating plant brought the electrical era to a close, and the completely run-down steam locomotives had to be brought back into service.
1911 The railway was taken over by the HAPAG Shipping line and managed to get some way back to financial stability. Later the Amrum local authority took over responsibility for the finances.
17.10.1918 The First World War caused a reduction in the tourists coming to the Island, which consequently reduced income. Services were stopped on the line.
01.1920 The “Amrumer Inselbahn AG" (eng.: Amrumer Island Railway Co.) was formed, and the overhead wire was taken down and sold.
1925 The railway was in a very rundown state, and extensive investment had to take place.
1931 Due to its poor condition the railway was taken into receivership under a supervisory authority. The Wyker Dampfschiffffahrts-Reederei (eng.: The Wyker Steamship company of Reederei) impounded the equipment on the line. The “Amrumer Island Railway Ltd” was started as a subsidiary company, which ran services with little success.
1937 After many years of transhipment the Norddorf jetty was no longer useable. The Railway was reduced fulfilling local transport needs.
1938 Partly because of the continual problems with the railway, it was decided to build a surfaced road between Wittdun and Norddorf.
31.10.1939 Last day of services of the Amrumer Railway. Thereafter freight and passengers were transported by road.
• Schoening: Die Amrumer Inselbahn. Nordhorn (Germany) 2000.
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