Monday, 10th August 1982
|From Linz (middle left) across the middle of the map to St Pölten|
then south to Mariazell. Then see below...
Today I moved from Linz, in the province of "Oberösterreich" via Sankt Pölten in "Niederösterreich" and then over the alps to Graz, in "Steiermark" (or Styria). The "Tirolerland" left Linz at 09.05, a mere two minutes late, and took me back along the "Westbahn" (for the third time), this time as far as the junction at St. Pölten, where I changed for the "Mariazellerbahn".
|The Mariazellerbahn: a 760mm-gauge electrified line run by the ÖBB (state railway)|
Despite the track gauge but perhaps because of the electrification, the Mariazellerbahn gave the impression of being a main line railway and carried freight as well as passenger traffic.
|Loading timber at a wayside station|
I seem to have lost the detailled timetables for the next few days, but I do have a record that we left St. Pölten at exactly 10.47. After a relatively flat section, during which the heavily-loaded train gradually emptied out as passengers alighted at village stations, we began to climb steadily and the rain, which had accompanied us all the way turned to snow. By the time we reached the summit, what had been a full carriage on departure from St. Pölten now contained just two passengers, including me. After a brief pause at Laubenbachmühle waiting for a train coming the other way on the single line we set off down the other side of the hill, the snow changed back to rain, but the train didn't seem to get any busier.
|A view from the Mariazellerbahn train on the way down to Mariazell.|
Nowadays the line terminates at Mariazell as shown on the map above, but in 1982 trains continued a little farther down the valley to the village of Guswerk. I, however, opted to alight at Mariazell, as Gusswerk appeared from the map to be a small place with very few facilities. Mariazell, in comparison, being a small town, where I thought I might get lunch.
|The train for Gusswerk leaving Mariazell on the stretch of the line I didn't ride on.|
I don' t seem to have found anywhere to get a meal in Mariazell, but instead bought the ingredients of a picnic to eat in the bus station, which due to the heavy rain was where I spent most of my time in the town apart from a brief visit to the tramway museum, which was then in the early stages of its development.
Rather than return to the main line by train, I had worked out that I could reach Graz, my destination for the night, on a post bus.
|The post bus that took me from Mariazell to Graz|
This bus was a little more upmarket and more comfortable than that which had taken me between Zell am Ziller and Krimml and was also painted in "proper" post bus yellow. I noticed passengers putting their luggage in the underfloor side lockers (without any involvement by the driver) so I thought I'd better do the same with mine. We set off, still in pouring rain, at 15.40 with a very good load as well as a duplicate bus running in front. Luckilly I was able to bag the front seat.
|Leaving Mariazell in the rain, with the duplicate in front.|
We soon passed through Gusswerk and I was glad that I hadn't opted to ride all the way to the end of the line, as apart from the station there didn't seem to be a lot there. After Gusswerk we began to climb again and eventually reached the top of the Staritzen pass at Seebergsattel (2220m) where we had a short refreshment halt.
|Refreshment halt at 2,220 metres on the Staritzen pass.|
Coming down the other side we eventually started to run parallel to a narrow-gauge railway. This seemed to be very busy with freight traffic, although it isn't shown on modern maps of the Austrian rail network. At the large town of Bruck-an-der-Mur I noticed an unexpected trolleybus system, which didn't seem to have qualified for the "Austrian Travel Wonderland" book on which my trips was based.
Shortly after leaving the town I began to experience a slight discomfort in my gums. It was still there when we arrived at Graz, where the post bus naturally terminated outside the railway station. All the remaining passengers had alighted in the town centre and I was a bit concerned that the driver would drive off before I'd had time to retrieve my luggage from the locker, but he was better trained than that and waited patiently for me to get it before departing.
The soreness in my gums had got worse, so after finding my hotel, for once I had an early night.
to be continued...