Hannibal horse-drawn railway

© Technisches Museum Wien
Collection Area
Traffic & Transport
1800 - 1849
Related links
Pferdeeisenbahn auf Wikipedia
What could be stranger and more peculiar than a carriage on rails? On show at the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) is the Hannibal, one of the world’s last remaining passenger carriages from a horse-drawn railway.

The carriage was built around 1841, modelled on older horse-drawn railways operating in England. The horse-drawn railway line was initially intended for transporting goods. The rails provided a more stable routing than some of the poorly paved roads and tracks in use at the time.

The horse-drawn railway line ran from Linz to Budweis. Already back in 1807, Franz Joseph von Gerstner, a professor of mathematics and mechanical engineering, had suggested setting up a horse-drawn railway line instead of a canal along this key trading route. However, the project was thwarted by armed conflicts, lack of money, and a certain reluctance to take entrepreneurial risks. It was only years later that Gerstner’s son Franz Anton saw the idea through. The first sections of the horse-drawn railway line were finally opened in 1827. Five years later the entire line was in operation.

Soon the stoic draught horses, known as noiker, were pulling not just goods, but passengers, too. Passengers would sit on carriages which looked like mail coaches and travelled through the countryside at a speed of 10 km/h. It took around 13 hours to cover the distance between Budweis and Linz. A little excitement was guaranteed whenever a goods train encountered a passenger train. On the single-track line the passenger train would have to give way. This meant that the passengers had to alight from the train and, combining their forces, lift their carriage off the tracks. Once the goods train had passed, they would lift the carriage back onto the tracks and continued on their journey.

The horse-drawn railway came to an end after 40 years, in 1872, and was replaced entirely by steam locomotives – to the relief, it should be said, of not just the draught horses.

Inv.Nr. 40077

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