The historical "Sauschwänzlebahn" steam train had to take a break over the winter months. Bats had moved into their winter quarters in the railway’s tunnels in the Black Forest near the Swiss border.
Now the bats have left and the train is running again. The 25-kilometer railway line curves and loops around the Blumberg like a curled pigtail - hence the peculiar name: "Sauschwänzlebahn."
In the past two years, the local conservation authorities have blocked the route for steam trains from November to March. Over 200 Barbastella bats had set up their quarters in the six railway tunnels, one of the largest winter quarters for this endangered species in Germany, and the trains would disturb the animals, a local authority spokesman explains. The prohibition for animal welfare reasons should apply in the coming winters as well.
But in spring and summer, the historical railway is very popular with tourists. Ticket sales have got off to a promising start this year, a railway spokesman says. Between 110,000 and 120,000 passengers are expected during the season, which ends on 11 October.
fm / ks (dpa, Black Forest Tourism, Sauschwänzlebahn)