The speed is breathtaking. The train rushes through the gentle Selfkant countryside at a full 20 kilometres an hour! From time to time clouds of smoke from the steam locomotive pour in through the open window of the passenger wagon. The “wood class" is so full that it takes some time for the guards in their smart uniforms to clip the cardboard tickets. The train puts on the brakes: the locomotive rings and whistles: we´re travelling over a level crossing.
Is this a description of a railway journey taken in 1920? Not at all. Even today guests on the Selfkant railway can enjoy a nostalgic steam railway trip on many Sundays and public holidays during the year. To think that it was decided to do away with the stretch of rail in 1971! The 38 kilometre stretch of railway belonging to the Geilenkirchener Kreisbahn (GKB) had been in operation since April 1900 – more than 70 years – linking the rural area of Selkant in the far west of Germany with the region around Aachen. The railway transported both passengers and goods. In Alsdorf the GKB owned a branch line to the Anna I Mining Pit. The brickworks in Tüddern, in particular, needed coal for their production. But the railway also carried sand, potatoes and oil seed. These were joined by sugar beet after the Second World War. The small gauge railway even possessed special loading ramps for the beet. But competition from the roads proved too powerful. Only thanks to the energetic commitment of the “Interessengemeinschaft Historischer Schienenverkehr e.V.” has it been possible to preserve and operate the Selfkant Railway since 1972.
Nowadays the nostalgic line with a gauge of only 1 metre runs along a 5.5 kilometre stretch of rail between Gillrath and Waldenrath. A large museum room in Schierwaldenrath offers the historic vehicles protection from the weather; and, on action days, it gives visitors an interesting insight into the world of historic railways vehicles. The show is enlarged by special exhibitions.
A huge number of attractive special trips along the railway are available to guests throughout the year: Easter and "asparagus" trips; moonlight journeys with sucking pig meals and music; teddy bear days and evening "potato" trips. And anyone wanting to fulfil their childhood dream can even become an honorary engine driver in a three-day seminar!