This year the HSB are celebrating "125 years of narrow gauge railways in the Harz" with a full programme of events from April through to September. With this background the FR Company Board and Trustees visited the HSB from 12th to 15th July.
The extensive information exchange and visit programme also included a full FR Company board meeting. In advance of this meeting the visitors were welcomed by: Dr Michael Ermrich, chairman of the HSB supervisory board and commissioner of the Harz district; Peter Gaffert, HSB supervisory board member and mayor of Wernigerode; and Matthias Wagener HSB General Manager. During this meeting the similarities between our organisations and the challenges we face were explored. To show their appreciation the delegation from Wales presented the HSB with an historic FR advertising poster from the early 20th C. and Dr John Prideaux, chairman FR Company and Trust concluded by inviting the HSB supervisory and management board to make a return visit to us in Wales.
The HSB (www.hsb-wr.de) operate a network of almost 90 miles of metre-gauge railways in the Harz region of north east Germany and carry approx. 1.1 million passengers per year. The first section was opened in 1887 with the network complete by 1905. The network includes the line up the Brocken mountain where the summit station is 1125m above sea level, about the same height as Snowdon. In 2006 the Selketal line was extended to Quedlinburg along a disused standard gauge trackbed. The railway runs steam services everyday throughout the year, with some railcar services on less frequented routes and for commuters between Nordhausen and Ilfeld. Since 1993 the railways have been operated by the HSB company whose shareholders are predominantly the town and district councils through which the railways run.
This years´ programme of special events has included lots of photo specials, guest traction, and station festivals. The F&WHR had a stand at the festival in Wernigerode on 9th June where we estimate we received 5000 interested visitors. The stand was manned by German volunteers who help with F&WHR – HSB staff exchange visits together with retired HSB loco driver Horst Dittmann who first visited the FR in 1992.
Why not pay the HSB a visit? Our very own Ffestiniog Travel (www.ffestiniogtravel.com) will be only too pleased to help you with your arrangements.