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hindenburgdamm railway, hindenburgdamm autozug sylt
The Hindenburgdamm or Hindenburg Dam[1] is an 11 km-long causeway joining the North Frisian island of Sylt to mainland Schleswig-Holstein Its coordinates are 54°53′N 8°33′E / 54883°N 8550°E / 54883; 8550Coordinates: 54°53′N 8°33′E / 54883°N 8550°E / 54883; 8550 It was opened on 1 June 1927 and is exclusively a railway corridor The companies that built the Hindenburgdamm, a job that took four years, were Philipp Holzmann AG of Frankfurt, working from the mainland, and Peter Fix Söhne of Duisburg working from Sylt A train trip along the causeway takes about 10 minutes, and the time between the auto terminals at Niebüll on the mainland and Westerland on Sylt is about 30 minutes The Hindenburgdamm is part of the railway line known as the Marschbahn "Marsh Railway", which is double-tracked along much of the route, although there as yet exists a single-tracked stretch On the causeway is a signal box

Every day, more than 100 trains pass over the causeway, 50 of those ferrying cars there is no road link to Sylt Each year, the railway ferries more than 450,000 vehicles over the causeway

The causeway, which bears the Weimar Republic Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg's name, has interrupted the tidal flow, which until the causeway's appearance had flowed freely between Sylt and the mainland This change in tides, it is believed, is part of what has led to the loss of a certain amount of land at Sylt's southern end

The causeway lies in the specially protected Zone I of the Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer National Park Walks on the tidal flats are not allowed here, although they are quite popular elsewhere


  • 1 Situation before the causeway was built
  • 2 Construction
  • 3 Rail traffic
  • 4 Namesake
  • 5 Future
  • 6 References
  • 7 Sources
  • 8 External links

Situation before the causeway was built

After the Second War of Schleswig in 1864, when Prussia took over Schleswig from Denmark, Sylt and Westerland belonged to the new Tondern district The seaside bathing town of Westerland gradually grew in popularity The west coast railway already ran from Altona by way of Husum and Niebüll to Tønder then also in Germany and called Tondern From here, the tracks were extended to the port at the Hoyerschleuse, whence paddlesteamers ran to Munkmarsch harbour on Sylt

The connection was at the tide's mercy, and in winter, the ice in the Wadden Sea formed an impenetrable barrier Already being planned at that time was a rail causeway from the mainland to Nösse on Sylt The horrendous cost of such a project kept it shelved for quite a while, until Westerland was raised to town in 1905 Westerland's growing popularity as a seaside resort led in 1910 to serious official planning for the rail causeway

World War I brought all planning to a stop After the war, Germany was obliged to cede Tønder and the Hoyerschleuse to Denmark Sylt remained part of Germany, but owing to the new border, the old route to Sylt was now cut off, except if travellers wanted to go to the trouble of obtaining a Danish visa to make a short trip through Danish territory


Signal box HDM in the middle of the Hindenburgdamm

Because of this unacceptable situation, construction on the long planned causeway was finally begun by Philipp Holzmann in 1925[2] Early in the construction, a storm flood swept away what had already been built After this experience, it was decided to realign the causeway's route somewhat more towards the north A trenchlike cofferdam was built to facilitate construction One thousand to 1,500 workers were employed on the project In the two years that it took to build the causeway, more than 3 million cubic metres of sand and clay were moved, and 120,000 tonnes of stones used It was opened on 1 June 1927

Rail traffic

The auto-train terminal in Niebüll is connected to the Autobahnen in Schleswig-Holstein by Federal Highways Bundesstraßen B5 and B199

On 3 September 2009, there was a fatal accident on the Hindenburgdamm when a squall blew a truck off a flatcar in one of the auto-trains The driver was thrown out of the truck and died at the accident scene[3]


Paul von Hindenburg

In the 1960s and 1970s, the name "Hindenburgdamm" came to be criticized, since its namesake was a controversial figure There were many initiatives to find the causeway a new name, but none of the suggestions including "Sylt-Damm", "Friedens-Damm" and "Friesen-Damm" won majority support


Even though a few on Sylt may call for a road causeway instead of a railway link, it seems unlikely that Deutsche Bahn will be willing to give up this profitable line

In 2006 rumours came up that the single-tracked stretches of the line between Niebüll and Klanxbüll and between Morsum and Westerland were to be extended to double-track However, these rumours proved to be false Work started in 2008 at the Lehnshallig crossover merely had the purpose of replacing old equipment[4]


  1. ^ Elkins, T H 1972 Germany 3rd ed London: Chatto & Windus, 1972, p 271 ASIN B0011Z9KJA
  2. ^ Groß, p 50
  3. ^ sh:z Sylt: Lastwagen vom Autozug geweht Archived 2012-09-09 at Archivetoday, 3 September 2009
  4. ^ sylt-2000de: Sylt und die Bahn, accessed 17 April 2014


  • Hans Bock: Die Marschbahn von Altona nach Westerland Boyens, Heide 1989, mw-parser-output citecitationmw-parser-output citation qmw-parser-output id-lock-free a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-free amw-parser-output id-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output id-lock-registration a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-limited a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-registration amw-parser-output id-lock-subscription a,mw-parser-output citation cs1-lock-subscription amw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registrationmw-parser-output cs1-subscription span,mw-parser-output cs1-registration spanmw-parser-output cs1-ws-icon amw-parser-output codecs1-codemw-parser-output cs1-hidden-errormw-parser-output cs1-visible-errormw-parser-output cs1-maintmw-parser-output cs1-subscription,mw-parser-output cs1-registration,mw-parser-output cs1-formatmw-parser-output cs1-kern-left,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-leftmw-parser-output cs1-kern-right,mw-parser-output cs1-kern-wl-rightmw-parser-output citation mw-selflinkISBN 3-8042-0458-9
  • Groß, Lothar 2012 Made in Germany: Deutschlands Wirtschaftsgeschichte von der Industralisierung bis heute Band 1: 1800 - 1945 Books on demand ISBN 978-3-8482-1042-8
  • Erich Staisch: Der Zug nach Norden Ernst Kabel, Hamburg 1994, ISBN 3-8225-0298-7
  • Rolf Stumpf: Die Eisenbahn nach Sylt EK, Freiburg 2003, ISBN 3-88255-455-X Regionale Verkehrsgeschichte 38

External links

  • Historic photos from the Hindenburgdamm's construction

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