By Reiner Thies
(Translation from German by Detlef Zirpel/Don Payne)

Wiehl -

As previously announced by Wiehl's mayor Ulrich Stücker, the fresh start concerning the development of the Wiehltalbahn has begun. A first meeting between town administration and railway organisations has already taken place.

It is intended to collectively explore further options beyond the current occasional steam operation. On Easter Monday this year's season of the "Bergischer Löwe" will be opened with the first tour of the steam train starting at 10:30 a.m. in Dieringhausen. Just roughly a dozen more operating days are scheduled for the "Bergischer Löwe" this year. And the end of the line still is in Wiehl. Reason for this is the construction of a factory building too close to the tracks, amongst other things. The case will be resolved juridically.

In the view of Wiehl's mayor this is insufficient. He wants to connect Wiehl's neighbourhoods and it's connexion to the "Agger line". At the same time he does not allow any scepticism to irritate him - like the one addressed towards him in the main committee by CDU and UWG recently.

 Vast importance for town development policy  
Already in his speech on the budget Stücker had emphasised the "vast importance of this railway line for Wiehl's town development policy" last December. He underscored the "chances with view on a utilization strategy that should go beyond the occasional tourist train rides" and announced to seek talks with the railwaymen under the moderation of the "NRW-Bahnflächengesellschaft (BEG; the 'railway plots'-management of North-Rhine-Westphalia)".

That's how it is now. Not only representatives of the operating licence holder 'Society For The Preservation Of The Wiehltalbahn' sat at the table, but also representatives of the 'Rhein-Sieg-Eisenbahn (RSE)' and the 'Dieringhausen Railway Museum', which run their trains on the track. "In this first round of talks the focus was on reasoning out the legal and economic requirements for running the enterprise, as well as the range of interests.", mayor Stücker reported. "The talks were conducted in a very constructive spirit.". The chairman of the 'Society For The Preservation Of The Wiehltalbahn', Gerhard Mansel, is tempered positively: "We assume a hundred per cent that mayor Stücker is serious about the Wiehltalbahn."

Town and railwaymen alike agreed to collect further in-depth questions for the next talks and that collaboration shall be continued in an open and unbiased way.

What ever will become of the line - it will not fail because of the phantasy of the skilled town planner Stücker. He envisions a lot ways of traffic on and beside the track - be it a bicycle lane or a track for handcars. Wiehl Stn. could become a 'centre of mobility' with an e-bicycle rental.

If nothing else, Stücker can very well imagine the Wiehltalbahn line becoming a project of the federate funding programme 'Regionale 2025'. As an intercommunal project for mobility it would be predestined for funding: "I have already enrolled the issue for project- and topic database.

- Source: ©2017