The St. Lambrecht Trolley-truck Line


Contributed by Wolfgang Auer

Well, here eventually is some information about the St. Lambrecht line. I think, I need not to point out another time, that, after a short look at the opening date (1945), it is evident that this line is a typical product of the unbelievable shortcomings during the 1940s here.

For everyone, who is a bit familiar with my native country, it could be sensible, if I describe the local situation. St. Lambrecht is situated some 8km from the Mariahof railway station directly at the famous (well, famous for us Austrians ;-) Neumarkter Sattel pass at the main railway route between Wien and Venezia via Klagenfurt, and Udine. The area around Neumarkter Sattel is very scenic, but also quite wild due to the dark mountains with only quite narrow valleys. Only a few km to the north, the picturesque narrow gauge Murtalbahn still is passing by.

The Dynamit Nobel AG, a company with a dynamite factory in St. Lambrecht, was suffering very much from the lack of tire rubber and fuel, as so many other companies were then, but also from the long distance to the railway. I assume it had the "kriegswichtig" ("of military importance") attribute, something of very debatable merit, seen in today's view. So, the director of the Dynamit Nobel AG was looking for something appropriate to connect the factory with the Mariahof railway station to be able to reasonably handle the transport of both raw materials to the factory and dynamite from the factory.

He eventually found 2nd hand trolleytruck facilities from a freight-only trolleytruck system in Südtirol (Alto Adige, South Tyrol), probably on Stilfser Joch[1], a very high and wild pass between Südtirol and the "actual" Italian country, and let them bring to St. Lambrecht. An extremely cheaply and simply designed trolleytruck route was eventually constructed. The route had only one pair of wires (80mm" in diametre) with a loop at each end and some kind of crossover in the middle -- in fact, the latter only was a short section of another wire pair, unconnected with the main line.

All poles were made of wood, but got concrete foundations to avoid a likely rottenness of the wood later (don't forget -- the everyday climate is very rough in those alleys of the Alps!) The operating voltage was 550V — a voltage that was common virtually in every Austrian city with electrical transit then, by the way. The poles also carried telephone wires; the trolleytrucks were equipped with some telephone poles that could be connected to those wires by the driver to notify the factory authorities, if it were necessary. Well, a cute early kind of a mobile telephone, isn't it?


The road between Mariahof and St. Lambrecht was not even covered with asphalt; to drive surely was a matter of extreme care to not let the trolleys dewire. However, no serious accidents are reported from the route (judging from the goods the trolleytrucks carried, any serious accident could have led to a disaster).

There were three trolleytrucks available (1--3); 3 was only set in service, when 1 or 2 couldn't. Both buses 1 and 2 are reported to regularly leave the Dynamit Nobel AG factory in the morning, but only one of which stayed in operation during the day, so a crossing (that would not have been so easy, see above) was very rare. The three trolleybuses, by the way, were mounted by Lohner from very different parts (from Rome (Roma) and Milano, Italy).

Operation time was on working days from 06:00 to 14:00 (6am to 2pm).

As far as the restricted room in the drivers cabin allowed it, the drivers are reported to also pick up a few passengers now and then (there was place for up to seven passengers), so there was at least a very restricted passenger service too, which, however, did never reach significant level.

An extension to the town centre of St. Lambrecht was under consideration, and poles already were erected. The Austrian post (mail) authorities, which have run a large part of rural and town trolleytruck service, should have operated this trolleytruck line. It would have turned out to be the only post trolleybus route in Austria ever. But the post authorities were not happy at all with this quite outsider service, and denied permission to run the line. So, this extension never saw trolleybus service, while (unlike the freight-only-route poles) the extension poles are said to still be in place, used as street-lamps.

Anyway, the denial to operate revenue service eventually made the freight-only route an outsider, too. As soon as diesel trucks were available in the early 1950s, regular trolleytruck service was restricted and then abandoned; the wire was taken down, the facilities were unmounted. All three trolleytrucks are said to have been sent to Kapfenberg; at least one of them saw revenue service as number 18 (II) (after being extensively rebuilt, of course :-)


Trolleytruck Information

Trolleytruck Photos


This page last updated 26 SE 06