Wuppertal Schwebebahn: Europe's most unusual metro








It's fair to say we get rather too excited by public transport, epsecially metro railways. 

While our favourite subways like London, Liverpool, Moscow and Palma de Majorca are defined by their tunnels, some networks go in the other direction, and are built in the sky. None does it with more élan than the overhead railway of Wuppertal in Germany, which is less urban rail system, and more oversized rollercoaster. For something that was opened in 1901, it's incredibly futuristic. 

Trains on the system, the Schwebebahn, hang from a central rail, swinging their way down the 8.3-mile line that runs above the River Wupper, ferrying 80,000 passengers a day through 20 stations. In recent years the network has been modernised with an overhaul of the iron support strcutures, something that was demonstrated after three people died in 1999 when a train fell into the river below. 

Described by the Urban Rail website as "Europe's most peculiar metro", the Schwebebahn combines imagination, engineering brilliance and not a little artistry. Germany shows how it's done – again. 

More at www.schwebebahn.de

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