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Lokalbahn Lambach – Vorchdorf-Eggenberg

In the course of the last 40 years, numerous publications of different form and presentation have appeared about the Stern & Haffel company and the railways it operated. More comprehensive works are the anniversary publication “120 Years of Stern & Hafferl”, the chronicles of the Linz local railway published for the 75th and 100th anniversaries, a book on the Ebelsberg – St. Florian tramway, the 100th anniversary of the Lambach – Haag and Gmunden – Traundorf local railway. Smaller publications were published on the Gmunden tramway and the Vöcklamarkt – Attersee local railway. The book “Privatbahnen in Österreich” (Christopher/Kenning/Mackinger) and the three volumes of the series “Bahn im Bild” by Pospischil provide a good overview. The latter also contains information on the Unterrach – See tramway, which was discontinued in 1949, and the Bürmoos – Trimmelkam railway, which has since been taken over by the Salzburg transport operating company.

For the “Vorchdorfer Bahn” there was only a small commemorative publication on the 100th anniversary in 2003 by Karl Zwirchmeier. What was missing was a detailed description of the local railway Lambach – Vorchdorf, which is of additional importance as a connection of the workshop centre Vorchdorf to the “wide railway world”. It celebrates its 120th anniversary in May this year, which was a good occasion. Strictly speaking, Stern & Hafferl’s activities on this line only began in 1931 when it took over the management and introduced electric operation. The foundation of the “Aktiengesellschaft Lokalbahn Lambach – Vorchdorf- Eggenberg”, which still exists today, and the start of operations took place in 1903. The Austrian State Railway was entrusted with the management of the line.

The Lokalbahn already had an important predecessor in the railway history of the Monarchy in the form of the horse-drawn railway Linz – Lambach – Gmunden, which was opened in 1835-36. It was converted to steam traction in 1855 and closed in 1903 with the construction of the Lambach – Gmunden local railway line.

From 1931 onwards, the post of the board of directors was held by a member of the management of Stern & Hafferl, including 40 years as their chief financial officer from 1937 to 1977. In 2000, KR Gunter Mackinger was appointed to this post, a former board member of the transport division of Salzburg AG, a railwayman “with heart and soul”, a profound expert on the subject and very well connected in the scene.
Mackinger also came up with the idea for a booklet on the occasion of the railway’s anniversary, which he implemented with great enthusiasm. What has become of the “little book” is now available in time for the anniversary: A weighty book with 215 pages, which can justifiably claim to contain “all” accessible information on the railway, arranged chronologically and by topic. A glance at the table of contents with its 24 chapters already shows this.

With the Viennese publishing house, a partner has been found who has a wealth of experience in the production of such books. Layout, printing and processing are excellent. It is surprising what a variety of photos, maps and other documents could be found in the archives of the province of Upper Austria. Numerous transport enthusiasts have opened their treasure chests and contributed rare photographic material. The detailed captions provide a lot of additional information.

It should also be mentioned that, in addition to technology and equipment, the people without whom the whole thing would not work are also mentioned again and again, sometimes with very personal experiences. Many of them were companions of the author and have made a career without forgetting their way of origin. Those who work “at Stern” were also always members of a large family in which they appreciated and supported each other. Passengers notice this as soon as they board one of the company’s railcars. The railway enthusiast was and is also welcome at Stern & Hafferl and it was already a matter of course in the 1970s to provide him with all kinds of information that had been put down on paper with great meticulousness and expertise.

Still a “highlight” for the reviewer are experiences around numerous special trips with different train sets carried out on the individual local railway lines in the 1980s, which were perfectly prepared by the timetable office and were also partly accompanied by employees of the company management. Some of the contacts made during these trips lasted for years!

Author: Gunter Mackinger

Editorial: Railway-Media-Group, Wien (A) 2023

215 pages, format 21.5 x 30.0 cm, hardback

Price: 29.00 €

ISBN: 978-3-903411-01-2