09. October 2015

Commemorative plaque for Obstfelderschmiede and Lichtenhain

Train Station of the Year 2015: ceremony for mountain railway stations

Just before arriving at the mountain station in Lichtenhain: this is what the Tourist Train Station of the Year 2015 looks like.

Obstfelderschmiede/Lichtenhain, October 9 2015. From today, travellers to Germany’s steepest funicular railway in Schwarzatal, Thuringia can now see for themselves that it has won the highest rail customer praise, with engraved brass plaques adorning the entrances to both stations on the Oberweißbacher Mountain Railway. Transport experts and friends of the railways joined the German Pro-Rail Alliance on Friday in Obstfelderschmiede/Lichtenhain in Thuringia for the winner’s ceremony for the Tourist Train Station of the Year 2015 award. In the presence of the chairwoman of the federal parliament’s tourist committee, Heike Brehmer, the jury members unveiled the heavy commemorative brass plaques on the wall of the winning pair of stations. Brehmer emphasized the role played by the Oberweißbacher mountain railway in helping the the Schwarzatal to grow into a tourist region. “The Oberweißbacher mountain railway contributes to the development of the Schwarzatal region, with its many tourist attractions. But the mountain railway itself is also an attraction for many tourists. Here we have succeeded in achieving a wonderful combination of transport, countryside and tourism,” said the committee chairwoman. The manager of the mountain railway, Diana Saager (Deutsche Bahn) received a certificate in recognition of her exemplary efforts in developing both stations as a tourist attraction.

The jury of six members is made up of representatives from the rail customer groups Pro Bahn and DBV, the transport club VCD, the Autoclub Europa ACE, the German cyclist association ADFC and the German Pro-Rail Alliance. Alongside the awards for the two mountain railway stations it also made an award to Marburg station in the state of Hesse (city category). On its incognito visits for the ‘Tourist Station’ category, the jury was accompanied by travel experts from the German Tourist Association DTV and the association Fahrziel Natur, which aims to get travellers into the countryside.

Obstfelderschmiede/Lichtenhain: a high wire balancing act

“The fact that the Oberweißbacher mountain railway enjoys a unique worldwide cult status among railway enthusiasts did not initially make much impression with the jury,” said jury member Karl-Peter Naumann. “However, with the engineering marvels surrounded by flower meadows and idyllic forests, even the sceptics were fascinated,” praised the honorary chairman of Pro Bahn. “Germany’s steepest funicular railway offers clever engineering that is perfectly embedded in a particularly lovely landscape”. Following the test visit, the jury’s tourist experts were also convinced: “It is fortunate that committed employees on the Oberweißbacher mountain railway could save this jewel during the period after reunification. In Obstfelderschmiede and Lichtenhain, time has simply stood still – in the nicest possible way,” said Iris Hegemann from the German tourist board. “Obstfelderschmiede and Lichtenhain have everything that day trippers need.”

Out and about with the checklist
The Pro-Rail Alliance has made the awards for the ‘Train Station of the Year’ competition to Germany’s best station in a city and in a smaller town since 2004. Only stations that satisfy the needs of customers and citizens, according to a defined set of criteria, can receive the award. Objective demands such as customer information, cleanliness, and integration with the city and connections with other modes of transport are as important to clinching the vote as more subjective ‘feel-good’ factors. Dirty toilets, for example, are an obvious knockout factor. The previous winners were 2014: Dresden und Hünfeld ,2013: Göttingen and Oberursel, 2012: Bremen and Aschaffenburg, 2011: Leipzig and Halberstadt, 2010: Darmstadt and Baden-Baden, 2009: Erfurt and Uelzen, 2008: Karlsruhe and Schwerin, 2007: Berlin Main Station and Landsberg am Lech, 2006: Hamburg Dammtor and Oberstdorf, 2005: Mannheim and Wismar, and 2004: Hannover and Lübben.

Video statement by jury member Karl-Peter Naumann (German, 1:21 min)

 

Additional information (German)