The Südbahn (south railway) linking Vienna with the Habsburg Empire’s principal port at Trieste on the Adriatic Sea, planned by Karl von Ghega (1802-60), was the first of the great European main lines through the Alps, and its importance was recognised in 1998 when it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mürzzuschag was an important station on the line where extra locomotives were added to trains over the steepest sections. It was also, and still remains, a base for the essential maintenance that has to be carried out on tunnels, bridges and viaducts.
A museum in the former engine shed at Mürzzuschag was opened in 2008 marking the 150th anniversary of the opening of the section of the Südbahn between Ghega and Semmering. Two shed buildings remain, the Rundlokschuppe (roundhouse) of 1873, designed by Wilhelm von Flattich (1826-1900) and used until 2005, and the Neue Montierung (new erecting shop), opened in 1919.
The main display is entitled ‘Vienna-Mürzzuschag-Trieste in 13 hours four minutes’ and tells the story of the construction of the Südbahn, and its role in the Habsburg Empire in the nineteenth century. Locomotives on display include No 180.01 a two-cylinder compound 0-10-0, of 1900, on the Gölsdorf system, built for the at Floridsdorf, Vienna, No 4, Gemunden, a 4-4-0T, designed by Johann Zek and built at Wiener Neustadt in 1854, No 91.32, a two-cylinder compound 2-6-0 tank locomotive built by Krauss of Linz in 1900, and No 52.5422, a ‘Krieglok’ 2-10-0 freight locomotive of the Second World War. There are also several small tank locomotives, carriages, including those used by the Habsburgs, and a large collection of trolleys and other vehicles used in maintaining the line. The museum is the starting point for hiking and cycling trails enabling visitors to see the engineering wonders of the Südbahn.
The Semmering base tunnel is now under construction and begins at Mürzzuschag.