Vennbahn


Vennbahn

The Vennbahn is a railway line that, although it lay in Germany when first built, is today entirely in Belgium – even where parts of its route now run through otherwise German territory – the trackbed of the line having been made Belgian territory in 1919 by a provision of the Treaty of Versailles. This part of the treaty also had the effect of creating five small exclaves of Germany on the line's western side. [ [http://geosite.jankrogh.com/vennbahn.htm German exclaves in Belgium] ]

The line, which is standard-gauge, runs for some km to mi|75|wiki=yes across the High Fens (Hautes Fagnes, Hohes Venn) to the south of Aachen in a roughly southward direction from Eupen via Raeren (the site of the depot), Monschau (Montjoie) and Malmedy to Trois-Ponts, with a km to mi|20|abbr=yes eastward branch from Oberweywertz to Bütgenbach and Losheim. At Eupen it connects with the line to Welkenraedt where it joins the Brussels-Cologne main line. At Trois-Ponts it connects with the Liège-Luxembourg line.

Until the end of 2001, the Vennbahn line operated tourist services, some of which were steam-hauled. These were withdrawn for want of funds to maintain the line. Part of the track between Kalterherberg and Sourbrodt is now used by railbikes. [ [http://www.railbike.be/de/default.aspx Railbike des Hautes Fagnes] de_icon]

It was reported in 2008 that, with the Vennbahn no longer operational, Belgium might have to surrender the land where the line passes through Germany, so that the exclaves would no longer be exclaves. [ Tagesschau.de: [http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/belgischeenklaven2.html Belgien könnte Staatsgebiet an Deutschland verlieren] de_icon] [cite news| url=http://news.monstersandcritics.com/europe/news/article_1385509.php/Belgium_may_lose_land_to_Germany_due_to_disused_railway_line| title=Belgium may lose land to Germany due to disused railway line| date=2008-01-09| publisher=Monsters and Critics| author=Deutsche Presse-Agentur| accessdate=2008-02-22| ] However, the foreign ministries of Germany and Belgium have since confirmed that the trackbed, even though disused, will continue to be Belgian territory and that the German exclaves will therefore remain. [cite news| url=http://www.wdr.de/themen/kurzmeldungen/2008/01/10/belgien_behaelt_enklaven_in_deutschland.jhtml| title=Belgien behält seine Exklaven in Deutschland| date=2008-01-10| publisher=WDR.de| author=WDR.de| accessdate=2008-03-09| de_icon]

References


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