History of the Wuppertal Suspension Railway

Chronological view:

The old station at Döppersberg

Employees of construction companies for a souvenir photo in 1898 as a part of the car was suspended in the station Varresbeck.

Construction of the station Alexanderbrücke in 1898 (now Ohligsmühle).

The station at Döppersberg in the 1901th.

The station at Rathausbrücke (now Alter Markt) in 1903.

Construction of the monorail around 1899 in the amount Wall/Schloßbleiche. A scaffold portion is transported to the prepared site on the Islandufer.

Trailing image in the Kaiserwagen in November 1982. Shown is a journey in the early 1900's with WSW staff in period costume.

View of the interior of the vehicle series built in 1900's.

The station at Wupperfeld.

The station at Alter Markt.

The route of the suspension railway in the area of Kaiserstraße/Kaisergarten with views of the crane gondola on station Vohwinkel. You can see the Vohwinkelerstraße towards Sonnborn.

The station at Rathausbrücke (now Alter Markt) in 1903.

An assembly line was built in the Wupper for the expansion work in summer 2000.

The Station at Zoo/Stadion

The station at Ohligsmühle.

The new suspension railways of the generation 15 are in operation since 18 December 2016. The wagons are technically up-to-date, highly energy-efficient and they are following a completely new safety concept.

On 8 February 1887,

the Elberfeld municipal councillors appointed a “Commission of Investigation Regarding an Elevated Railway”.

On 15 March 1887,

Barmen likewise appointed such a Commission. Shortly thereafter, the two Commissions merged to form a joint Elevated Railway Commission.

On 28 December 1894,

the “Langen System” suspension railway project was accepted by the municipal council assemblies of Barmen and Elberfeld.

On 31 December 1894,

Lord Mayors Friedrich Wilhelm Wegner and Adolf Hermann Jaeger concluded the contract for the construction and operation of a suspension railway with the company Elektrizitäts-Aktiengesellschaft (previously Schuckert & Co, Nuremberg). It was agreed that the line would be built starting at the zoo, over the Wupper river, to Rittershausen (Oberbarmen).

On 15 October 1895,

Elektrizitäts-Aktiengesellschaft concluded a contract with the mayor of the rural community of Vohwinkel, Heinrich Bammel, to extend the line above the road to Vohwinkel. Opponents quickly condemned the construction of the suspension railway as an “insane enterprise”. It was said to be tempting God, and called hubris to entrust oneself to such a Satanic contrivance. Nevertheless, Elektrizitäts-Aktiengesellschaft founded a subsidiary for the construction and operation of the suspension railway: the “Continentale Gesellschaft für elektrische Unternehmungen” (Continental Society for Electrical Enterprises).

On 31 October 1896,

the Royal Government in Düsseldorf granted the Continental Society state approval for the construction of a suspension railway.

In the summer of 1898,

construction began, and progressed rapidly.

On 5 December 1898,

the first trial run took place, and the second followed on 4 March 1899.

On 24 October 1900,

Kaiser Wilhelm II, together with his consort Auguste Viktoria and his entourage, travelled from Döppersberg (Elberfeld Centre) to Vohwinkel.

On 1 March 1901,

the Kluse–Zoo line was opened to the public for passengers (date of the official commencement of service!).

On 24 May 1901,

the Zoo–Vohwinkel section was opened.

On 27 June 1903,

the remainder of the Kluse–Rittershausen (Oberbarmen) line was also opened. A total of 19,200 tonnes of iron had been used in its construction. The entire line had 472 iron supports. The constructions costs came to 16 million goldmarks.

On the 1st of May 1917,

a train ran into a defective train that was stationary on the line, derailing its rear carriage. One of the four occupants of the carriage sustained scratches.

By 1925,

he suspension railway had already transported almost 20 million passengers.

On 20 March 1926,

the newly constructed Döppersberg station was opened, which had already admitted over eight million passengers in 1925.

On 30 May 1943, and on 25 June 1943,

the supports and the framework of the suspension railway were severely damaged during air raids on Barmen and Elberfeld. For a number of months, only an emergency service with shuttle cars was possible.

On 19 December 1944,

regular service recommenced.

On 1 January 1945,

the Vohwinkel station and workshop were severely damaged, again stopping the service. Extensive destruction in March 1945 led to further months of downtime.

Not until Easter 1946

was the suspension railway service fully operational again.


Merger of “Städtische Werke Wuppertal” (Wuppertal Municipal Utilities) and “Wuppertaler Bahnen AG” (Wuppertal Rail Corporation). The Wuppertal Suspension Railway thus belonged to the newly formed WSW AG – Wuppertaler Stadtwerke AG.


A new generation of carriages commenced operation.

On 21 July 1950,

the young elephant Tuffi jumped out of the moving suspension railway train and into the Wupper river during a circus publicity stunt – and survived with a scrape on its backside.


The first prototype of an articulated train was assembled using two vehicles from the 50s. Thanks to its blue paint, it was nicknamed “Enzian”.

On 18 July 1962,

the Siemens signalling system commenced operation.


The second red articulated train commenced operation.

On 17 April 1967,

the provisional new suspension railway station at Alter Markt was opened.

On 30 September 1967,

the new Alter Markt suspension railway station was officially opened.

On 11 September 1968,

the breakaway trailer of a truck tore a supporting column out of its anchoring in Sonnborn. The framework crashed down onto the road. The suspension railway was out of service for ten weeks.

From 1972 - 1975,

the suspension railway rolling stock was completely replaced with 28 modern articulated trains. Only the Imperial Carriages with numbers 5 and 22 were retained.

From 14 to 29 July 1973,

the suspension railway was out of service for 16 days, because the framework had to be raised by a maximum of 2.20m over a section of around 500m in the area of Sonnborner Kreuz.

From 28 August to 5 September 1974,

the suspension railway was again out of service for seven days, while the turning circle was installed at the station Zoo/Stadion.

In December 1974,

Europe’s first rail line with one-man train dispatch was introduced, using fixed cameras in the stations and screens in the driver’s cabs of the suspension railway trains.

In March 1976,

75th birthday of the suspension railway: the people of Wuppertal and numerous guests from far and wide celebrated the big event for a whole week.

4 September 1982

Opening of the Ohligsmühle station.


Renewal and reinforcement of the bridge bearings of the suspension railway framework.


Restoration of the Art Nouveau station at Werther Brücke.

24 October 1990

90th jubilee of the Imperial Carriage.

1 March 1991

90 years of official suspension railway operation.

On 4 April 1995,

the commencement ceremony and a public party were held for the extension of the suspension railway at Station Zoo/Stadion.

On 28 February 1997,

the ground-breaking ceremony was held for the reconstruction of Kluse station, which was destroyed during the war. From 21 to 25 November 1997, the first replacement of the bridges and supports of the steel structure was performed around Kluse.

On 25 March 1997,

due to a technical failure, an articulated train crashed into the Imperial Carriage in the Oberbarmen station. Fourteen passengers in the Imperial Carriage were injured. Significant damage was caused to both vehicles.

On 26 May 1997,

the suspension railway became a listed historic monument.

On 26 March 1999,

the Kluse station was opened to become the 20th station on the suspension railway.

On 12 April 1999,

the most serious accident in the history of the Wuppertal Suspension Railway occurred: after the completion of structural work, a piece of metal had not been removed from the rail by the construction company, and the first train derailed and fell into the Wupper river. Five passengers lost their lives, and 47 people were injured. Suspension railway operation recommenced on 9 July 1999.

1 March 2001

Ceremony for “100 years of the suspension railway” in Wuppertal City Hall with NRW Minister President Wolfgang Clement.

17 April 2001

Opening of the new Westende station.

By December 2005,

twelve suspension railway stations had been rebuilt, two suspension railway stations had been renovated, and 95 percent of the framework had been replaced.

6 October 2007

Opening of the new suspension railway station at Vohwinkel.

17/18 May 2008

Inauguration of the Vohwinkel station with a large public street party, together with Arbeitsgemeinschaft Vohwinkeler Vereine e.V.

27 August 2010

Opening of the curve at the Stadion station, with the new support no. 100, as well as an additional ten bridges and eight supports, with a total weight of 719 tonnes.

20 June 2011

Opening of the original design Landgericht station – built based on the original blueprints, but with the addition of elevators.

10 November 2011

Signing of the contract at the Vohwinkel suspension railway workshop, for the construction of the new suspension railway with the Düsseldorf-based company Vossloh Kiepe.

21 May 2012

Opening of the original design Völklinger Strasse station.

22 October 2012

Opening of the new Oberbarmen/Berliner Platz station.

12 August 2013

Opening of the original design Werther Brücke station, with festivities on 19 August 2013.

From 3 to 6 April 2014

“WSW mobil” (Wuppertal Municipal Utilities) celebrated the official completion of the suspension railway extension, with a number of public events in Wuppertal, and invited guests in the new depot in Oberbarmen. During the ceremony, NRW Transport Minister Michael Groschek installed a golden rivet in the suspension railway framework.

14 November 2015

At 11:15 a.m. precisely, the first new suspension railway carriage was delivered to Vohwinkel. An emotional moment that was honoured by the residents of Wuppertal with a huge celebration.

9 February 2016

In the night between 8 and 9 February, the first trial run with the new suspension railway train is performed.

8 June 2016

The new suspension railway train is now also tested in the daytime.

18 December 2016

Five of the new suspension railway trains are now making their rounds, and are integrated into general passenger service. All residents of Wuppertal can now use the new suspension railway trains on a daily basis. WSW mobil celebrates this with colourful public festivities at the Kluse station. The new vehicles will progressively replace the old vehicles. The process should have been completed by the end of 2017.

10. March 2017

The suspension railway has been awarded with the international IF DESIGN AWARD 2017 in Munich. Each Year 60 renowned experts from 20 countries select the greatest design innovations. The suspension railway was included in the ranks of "excellent design products" among the 5575 submitted products in the "Automotive" section, receiving the prestigious prize.

13. September 2018

Along with remembering the first test run of the suspension railway 120 years ago, Wuppertal was celebrating the sister alliance with the Shonan Monorail. The Shonan Monorail and the WSW founded the Association of “Sister Suspended Monorails”. In Kamakura, the monorail stations and monorails were festively decorated. Additionally special tickets were produced. The sky-blue wagon number 01 sported a custom Kawaii design while floating through Wuppertal.

18. November 2018

After the crash of a 350m long conductor rail, the Suspension Railway was out of order for 8 months. Luckily, no one got hurt.

26. May 2019

Wuppertal says goodbye to the last GTW72 after 46 years. At 15 o'clock, the Suspension Railway unfortunately went without passengers on its last round from the suspension railway station Vohwinkel to Oberbarmen and back. The old wagons find use as coffee shops, meeting rooms or floating classrooms.

29. June 2019

Time to say „Bye bye GTW72“. The last chance to say goodbye to the "old" suspension railway came with the celebration for "the long table". Wagon 28 was the last train car of the Series B72. For the last time pictures of it could be taken at the station Vohwinkel.

01. August 2019

The suspension railway is back on duty. After the longest forced break in the history, the first train left the station Vohwinkel on Thursday morning (5:12 am).

02. September 2019

New operation system on the suspension railway. It was switched from a nearly 50-year-old system to full digital control. The change aims to make the railway faster and more efficient. It is planned to reach the speed of 60 km/h instead of 40km/h.