September 2017 BLNI Extra No. 29 – Three Danish Heritage Railways
[C70] Denmark - The Bjergbanan and some notes on the Lemvigbanan
At first glance the name Bjergbanan, meaning Mountain Railway, seems singularly inappropriate for a
railway in one of the flattest countries in Europe. Its origins lie with the Lemvigbanan, the private railway
which runs from Vemb to Thyborøn on the west coast of Jutland. The Lemvigbanan opened 20 July 1879
between Vemb and Lemvig (28.9km) and, being in a sparsely inhabited area, was built as cheaply as possible.
In line with this philosophy Lemvig station was built on the ridge overlooking the havn (harbour) to save Kr
80,000, however it soon became apparent that a line was needed down to the harbour for freight, and this
cost as much as the saving, becoming a classic example of a false economy. The 1.8km line to Lemvig Havn
opened 1 September 1892 and to ease the steep gradient needed for the 30 metre descent, a switchback
was necessary. Meanwhile the Lemvigbanen extended north in two phases, reaching Thyborøn Harbour on
1 November 1899. As trains became longer the reversal point for the Lemvig Havn branch had to be
extended, and this was done in 1904. There was never any official passenger service. Traffic slowly declined
from the port, ending in 1992. Since then a variety of groups have worked on the preservation of the line,
the most recent being the BBL formed in 2014. Heritage trains were introduced, but changes to safety
requirements imposed by the railway regulator caused passenger operations to cease whilst the paperwork
was addressed, and no trains ran in 2016. The 30 metres of descent/ascent was sufficient in flat Denmark
for the line to be called the Bjergbanan.
Aware of the existence of the Bjergbanan, your reporter had not travelled the Lemvigbanan to Thyborøn
line as this would best be undertaken as a combined Lemvigbanen/Bjergbanen visit. With the Bjergbanan
reopening for business in 2017, the time was ripe for a visit, and he duly arrived at Lemvig from Hamburg
(having survived a series of short connections) at 15:05, just in time for the final train of the day at 15:10.
The Lemvig Havn line continues from one of the platforms, and a stop sign with a small platform on the other
side and a Bjergbanen sign made identification of the departure site easy - also aided by a group of people
The Bjergbanen platform with waiting passengers. Lemvig station is in the background, still in use though the ticket office hours are
rather limited. Lemvig being in the middle of the line trains cross here, and the two class Ym DMUs which form the service can be seen
in front of the station. Trains for Vemb go from the platform nearest the building, and those for Thyborøn from the platform furthest
from the building.
Soon a whistle sounded, the front of the railcar appeared, and two men in hi vis jackets appeared to stop
traffic on the road.
After the closure due to safety requirements in 2016 adherence to the new procedures is taken seriously at the two road crossings on
the line. With driver, guard and two people for the crossings, the railcar has plenty of staff on board! The gradient of the railway just
ascended is clearly apparent.
Once across the road there was just enough room for the railcar to stop at the little platform. A surprising
number of people got off. A few minutes later, the process was reversed, and the train set off at a slow
walking pace down the incline, the line passing through mature woodland, but with views of the harbour
opening up as the switchback was approached. A ticket for the round trip was sold on the train for 30Kr, and
a mini-trolley followed after the ticket seller. The train went almost all the way to the buffers, then set off
down the second half of the incline at the same speed, still through woodland but diverging gradually from
the upper line.
The view from the back cab (soon to be the front cab) from the headshunt. The line to the left descends to the havn
The line descends to the seafront and runs parallel with the road
At the bottom, the train emerged from the trees and, passing the Lemvig Museum, crossed another road,
and ended before a yellow bar which acted as a chock at the New Harbour. The tracks ended just beyond.
End of the line at Lemvig Havn ‘station’, right next to a large fish and chips takeaway between the train and the harbour. The wooded
ridge down which the train has come is clearly seen in the background.
The line used to continue to the East Harbour, which had extensive sidings, but these are no more. The
journey must be one of the slowest for a heritage railway anywhere, taking 16 minutes and 10 seconds to
do 1.5km, an average of 5.5km/h. There was no sign of any depot building, or indeed a siding so it was no
surprise to find the railcar stabled at Lemvig station in the middle of the square once it had returned.
The headquarters and museum of the BBL Association who operate the railway is at Faare station, between
Lemvig and Vemb, easily identifiable by the presence outside of one car of a two car DMU set and some
other stock. The Lemvigbanen is operated by the Midtjyske Jernbaner, a private operator, and the only one
still using the old Ym DMUs, though they are talking of new units by 2020. At Vemb trains go into a bay
platform, but it was noted that the connection between the mainline and the Lemvigbanen was shiny,
probably due to traffic to the Cheminova chemical works 6.5km south of Thyborøn Havn where a few wagons
had earlier been observed in the distance.
[C71] Denmark – The Veteranbanen Bryrup Vrads
The 5 km Veteranbanen Bryrup Vrads heritage railway is a remnant of the Horsens – Bryrup – Sillkeborg
railway that was active from 1929 to 1968. The section between Horsens and Bryrup was established in
1899, initially as metre gauge, but soon converted to standard gauge. Increasing private car usage drove the
railway into liquidation in 1968. The plan was to replace the railway with buses and convert the entire railway
to a nature and bridle path. There was local support for a preserved railway, but considerable difficulties lay
ahead. Money had to be raised to acquire rails, material and buildings and an alternative route for the nature
trail found. There were legal problems as well, as at the time a local association was not allowed to run a
railway. The matter was discussed in the Folketing (the Danish Parliament) and ended with the passing of a
law on preserved railways. The preserved railway Bryrup-Vrads, VBV, was founded, and on 26 April 1969 the
first train left Bryrup for Vrads.
Your reporter had made his way by train from Lemvig to Silkeborg, from where bus 215 took him to Bryrup,
the station being by the main road.
Bryrup railway station, with the shed visible at the end of the platform with tracks curving away beyond.
An information board on the platform revealed that Bryrup was very much a town created by the arrival of
the railway. The original station building was demolished in 1929 and replaced by a new one, now used as a
tourist office and local archive. It is by the bus stop a short distance from the new station. There is a single
platform and a ticket office (not in use on the day) with toilets, all part of a modern prefabricated depot
building entered by sidings beyond the platform, and out of sight around a curve. The inbound service was
due in at 14:15 and could be heard arriving. There was no sign of the train after a minute, so your reporter
walked off the platform to find Frichs diesel locomotive M8, built in 1952, coming off the front of the train
onto one of the depot roads. Moments later the historic motorvogne pulled the train into the station, and
soon the diesel backed on to work the 14:20 Bryrup – Vrads service. Being a summer Saturday a 4 train pair
service was operating. Timetable at:
Motorvogne HV M12, dating from 1929, enters Bryrup station. The Frichs diesel is on one of the depot
roads, and will back onto the train.
Due to the hilly and forested landscape the railway was known as ‘the most beautiful railway in Denmark’,
and it was one of the finest sections that was preserved. The line passes through attractive forest and past
lakes Kvindsø, Kulsø and Snabe igelso to the old railway station at Vrads. There are two intermediate halts,
the one at Skaaningbro having an old style stop signal, operated by intending passengers by rotating through
90o, as well as one of the most unusual shelters your reporter has ever seen.
The shelter at Skaaningbro halt
Vrads station is clearly meant as a destination in its own right, featuring a restaurant and a small museum,
and with picnic tables and children’s play areas. It was fairly quiet, but obviously families were spending a
few hours there taking advantage of the four train pair service.
Vrads railway station now houses a museum and restaurant
There is a loop outside the station which was used to get the diesel onto the other end of the train. The
guard was questioned about the use of the diesel, which seemed rather cumbersome operationally, and it
transpired it was only used 2 or 3 times a year, today being one of its ‘day’s out’.
Frichs built diesel SB M8 has backed onto the train at Vrads. These little diesels were nicknamed Marcipanbrød
(Marzipan Bread) for reasons unknown to your reporter.
Vrads station is 1.2km from the village it was meant to serve, which was typical of the line – trying to please
everyone and pleasing no-one as a result. Faced with a +4 or a +124 minute connection onto the 215 bus to
Vejle, your reporter left the return service at Bryrup in considerable haste, and successfully made the +4.
[C72] Denmark - Syd Fyenske Veteranjernbane visited
The railway between Faaborg and Korinth was part of the Ringe – Faaborg Railway (RFB), which opened 1
April 1882. Passenger traffic ended in 1962, while transporting goods to Faaborg lasted until 1987. An
association, the Syd Fyenske Veteranjernbane (SFvJ) was formed and in 1989 began operating vintage
trains on the entire railway between Faaborg (also spelt Fåborg) and Ringe, but in 2002 ceased operation
over the line between Korinth and Ringe. The tracks were subsequently removed, and this part of the line is
now a nature trail.
Faaborg is an hour by bus no 141 from Odense, and the train station is only a few hundred metres away
from the bus terminal (which used to be the railway station) though it seemed further as your reporter
trudged there in a downpour protected by his faithful umbrella. He lost no time joining a number of other
prospective passengers cowering in the old travelling post office carriage now used as a ticket office and
The ticket office at Faaborg station is a former travelling post office van
A return ticket was 90 Kroner. Once the rain abated he was able to inspect the train, which comprised three
very old wooden bodied coaches, two of which dated from 1918 and 1926. The SFvJ steam engine is under
repair, and according to the man doing the work it will be two years before it appears again. So, in the
meanwhile, all trains are hauled by Frichs diesel VLTJ ML12 dating from 1952. All this is in line with SFvJs aim
to give a 1950s experience of train travel.
A very damp station at Faaborg, with the little engine shed on the right. The Frichs diesel and a miscellany of very old stock is on the
left. In the far distance the original station for Faaborg can be seen. This is now a part of the bus station.
Trains leave at 11:00 and 14:00 taking 30 minutes to get to Korinth and spending 30 minutes there before
returning. Like most Scandinavian heritage railways, the season is short - trains only running 25 June to 31
The scenery is, for Denmark, very attractive, passing through meadows and forest in a pleasantly hilly area.
Several times the sea and the islands of the archipelago south of Funen can be glimpsed. There are
intermediate request stops, only one of which was actually made.
At Korinth the old station building sells drinks and ice cream in the 30 minute layover, but your reporter had
noticed that there was no run round loop in the station, so clearly the loco was going to pull forward to the
loop near the end of the line to run round. Accordingly, he surreptitiously rejoined the train, being unsure
whether the train staff would condone him doing the ECS move. The turntable at Korinth is still operational,
but there was little else to see in the time available after the stock came back in from the run round.
The view from the end of the platform at Korinth. Tracks continue to the run round loop, but beyond that are buffers and the former
course of the railway to Ringe is now a cycle/footpath and bridleway. The turntable can be seen behind the toilet block.
The heavy rain had stopped by now, but showers persisted as he looked round the old town of Faaborg,
which has an attractive town centre as well as a busy harbour, doubtless the source of much traffic in the
past, but with no evidence of rails now.
Korinth station with train ready to depart. The Frichs diesel is VLTJ ML12.