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Exploring the historical Vennbahn railway

Coal trains, military transports and steam locomotives across the High Fens have made way for cyclists on the historic Vennbahn—a report of the route between the German city Aachen and Waismes, in Belgium.

Next to the cycle path in Raeren, the overgrown tracks remind us of what was once a busy station. In between, there is an old water pump from the steam train era and various mechanical signals.

30 km: German enclaves

During the First World War, the Vennbahn formed a critical supply line for German soldiers and war equipment to the front in Belgium. When the Treaty of Versailles assigned the East Cantons to Belgium after the war, the Vennbahn was suddenly located on Belgian territory.

38.5 km: Westwall in Lammersdorf 

Where the Vennbahn cuts through the German town of Lammersdorf, you encounter traces of the Second World War: anti-tank obstacles of the Westwall (or Siegfried Line) had to defend the German borders against possible attackers.

47.5 km: Monschau station

Beyond Lammersdorf, the Vennbahn passes remnants of, among others, the Konzen and Monschau stations in Germany.

54 km: Kalterherberg

The Vennbahn, redesigned as a cycle path, takes you under the bridge in Kalterherberg. The train tracks have been systematically torn up since the 1980s.

From Kalterherberg to Sourbrodt in Belgium, the tracks of the Vennbahn remained in place. You can now cover that part of the historic Vennbahn with a rail bike.

61.5 km: Sourbrodt border station

From the Belgian station Sourbrodt, the Vennbahn leaves Germany behind for good.

Until 2004, military trains ran between Sourbrodt station and Waimes for the Elsenborn army camp.

Right next to it is the signal box, with rusted pulleys scattered around it over which the cables ran for the manual remote control of signals.

70 km: Bridge ruins

Brick remains of bridges and old kilometer indications mark the route between Sourbrodt and Waimes.

85 km: Born viaduct

During the First World War, the Germans built a new, 23-kilometer-long branch of the Vennbahn in Born towards Vielsalm.

The 100-year-old military line bridges the valley via the impressive Freiherr-von-Korff viaduct, of which you cycle through one of the 11 arches.

86 km: Turntable

Once you've passed Born, you drive again in the middle of the High Fens and come across this bridge and again the remains of a turntable.

91 km: Sankt-Vith 

Sankt-Vith station closed its doors in 1982. It now houses a museum that highlights, among other things, the Vennbahn.

93.7 km: Under the E42-highway

We leave Sankt Vith station behind us via a short train tunnel. We cycle under the Breitfeld viaduct to the next stop: Lommersweil.

95,1 km: bridge near Neidingen

Just past the village of Neidingen, you cycle under this railway bridge. The tracks of the Vennbahn used to bridge the road you ride on.

97 km: Lommersweiler tunnels

The Vennbahn reaches the 166-meter-long Lommersweiler tunnels via a viaduct over the Braunlauf River. According to Railations, the tunnel through which the cycle path runs dates from 1888; the other was built in 1908 when the track was duplicated and now provides shelter for bats.

Past the tunnel, you arrive at Lommersweiler station. Trains ran between Sankt Vith and Lommersweiler until 1954.

98.5 km: Dynamited viaduct

In Hemmeres, the viaduct above the River Our was dynamited during the Second World War.

The brick bridge has never been restored, meaning that train traffic on this section of the Vennbahn has no longer been possible since then.

103 km: Burg-Reuland

After the Reuland station, the Vennbahn winds its way to Burg-Reuland. You could take the train to the end station in Troisvierges until 1964.

The last kilometers of the Vennbahn take you via Oudler straight to the Luxembourg border.

118.5 km: Huldange tunnel

The excavation of the 800-meter-long Huldange tunnel near Wilwerdange is decorated with masonry arches on both sides. Cycling through the tunnel is no longer possible, this place is now reserved for bats.

Once you have reached the other side of the tunnel, you are near the Luxembourg Troisvierges station, the terminus of the Vennbahn.

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