A Ride on the Zillertal Railway

Chuff, chuff, chuff... the unmistakable sound of the old lady could be heard from miles away. A few minutes later the steam engine trundled into the train station at Hippach. Armed with paper, pen and camera, my intern Marco and I joined the crowd of excited passengers.
The nostalgic steam train through the Zillertal

© Elisabeth Kröll

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Finally, she’s here.

We looked with excitement in the direction where the distinctive whistle of the steam engine had just been heard. We were waiting on the station with lots of other passengers for the train to arrive from Jenbach. Finally, travelling at about 10 km an hour, the train pulled in. Delighted passengers waved out of the classic, period-style windows. From the pitch black colour of the driver’s cabin, it was clear that the old lady had already travelled several kilometres today. Water was dripping down and dark grey smoke rose up into the sky. It’s no wonder really: pulling that weight for such a distance at the ripe old age of 117 years is no mean feat. 

Economy class and the clacking of the rail tracks

With some force, we opened the old, antique door. Inside, above the loud rattle of the tracks and the chatter of our fellow passengers, we could hear the sound of an accordion playing. Curious, we moved towards the music, squeezing past passengers sitting on the wooden benches and enjoying the charm of this nostalgic train journey. In the midst of a crowd of people - singing, laughing and even dancing – we could see the musician. A talented entertainer, he was delighting tourists from near and far with his flugelhorn and accordion. 

Zillertalbahn - Nostalgy from Jenbach to Mayrhofen
© Isabella Rahm
Zillertalbahn - Nostalgy from Jenbach to Mayrhofen
© Isabella Rahm
Zillertalbahn - Nostalgy from Jenbach to Mayrhofen
© Isabella Rahm

Something for everyone

We continued on our tour of discovery through the carriages, passing a special area for children and through the „Zillertaler Alpenstube“ (alpine lounge). In the buffet carriage, a charming lady in traditional Dirndl was serving passengers delicious local delicacies. As we passed through the rust-red doors, we found ourselves in the open-air carriage. With the smell of coal and the wind in our hair, we quickly snapped a couple of photos. A short while later, we heard the distinctive whistle again and knew that it would soon be time for the estimated 500 other passengers, Marco and I to get off. With a noisy chug and huge puff of smoke we roared into Mayrhofen station to greet the crowd of spectators. 

A final circuit

© Elisabeth Kröll

As we looked more closely at the train, we noticed that the crests of the different parishes of the Zillertal are displayed on each of the 10 carriages. The charming old lady was briefly freed from her heavy carriages, but only until the whistle blew signalling the imminent return journey. In just a few minutes the train would chug back in the direction of Jenbach, where passengers could buy a momento of this special journey. This experience is absolutely unique and should definitely be included in any holiday to the Ziller Valley!