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Wuppertal’s swinging railway

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The Schwebebahn system – suspended from massive girders above the course of the River Wupper – was an ingenious solution to the problem of providing a rapid-transit system in an extremely narrow valley where space was at a premium. The idea of Cologne engineer Eugen Langen, it was built in the 1890s. Kaiser Wilhelm II took the inaugural ride in 1900 and the system opened to the public a few months afterwards. It takes some getting used to, as the trains are noisy and sway from side to side in slightly disconcerting fashion, but the Schwebebahn has a good safety record, and on weekend afternoons you can take a “Kaffeefahrt” on one of the original 1900 trains, departing from Vohwinkel station.

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