Dieter Bertelsmann’s fabulous Hochschwarzwald model railway represents the Höllental Railway, or the Hell valley railway, which lies in the Black Forest in South Western Germany. The line runs between Freiburg and Donaueschingen. A branch line between Kappel-Gutachbrücke and Bonndorf, with a reversing station at Lenzkirch is also modeled. This has to be one of the finest model railways ever built and it ticks all my boxes – a model based on an actual prototype, built for operations with realistic scenery and structures and one which functions absolutely flawlessly…

A photo gallery of the layout can be viewed here

Below is a video of the layout…..

The layout is housed in it’s own dedicated barn and the high ceilings form a perfect setting for the layout…

Hochschwarzwald blog 03 layout view from the gallery

The track plan is slightly complicated with two staging yards, one of them hidden and a reversing station at Lenzkirch…

Hochschwarzwald blog 02 - Hochschwarzwald model railway trackplan

The Höllental Railway begins from Freiburg, which is represented by a staging yard…

Hochschwarzwald blog 04 - staging yard

From the staging yard, trains enter Freiburg Weihre. This area is still under construction.

Hochschwarzwald blog 05 - Freiburg Wiehre station viewed from near the entrance

Freiburg Weihre marks the beginning of the single track Höllental Railway. Between Hölsteig and Hinterzarten, lies the spectacular Ravenna Viaduct.

Hochschwarzwald blog 06 - ravenna viaduct prototype

The viaduct has been very faithfully modeled including all it’s 9 arches.

Hochschwarzwald blog 07 - Mixed freight on the Ravenna Viaduct heading to Freiburg Wiehre

A helix thru the Finsterank and Löffel Valley tunnels takes us down towards Neustadt (Schwarzwald).

Hochschwarzwald blog 08 - Between the Finsterank and Löffel Valley tunnels

The station of Neustadt has been suitably compressed without taking away the actual feel of it.

Hochschwarzwald blog 09 - Neustadt station viewed from the gallery

The control panels of the layout deserve special mention and have been very neatly built.

Hochschwarzwald blog 10 - The control panels were a joy to operate

Mini scenes abound around the Neustadt Station.

Hochschwarzwald blog 11 - What time is the next train to Bonndorf ?Hochschwarzwald blog 12 - Coal and wood retailer at Neustadt

The Neustädter Hof hotel was built in 1899 and still stands today.

Hochschwarzwald blog 13 - hotel neustadter hof

The model of the hotel was made by Thomas Oswald of MBZ.

Hochschwarzwald blog 14 - The Neustadter Hof Hotel, another sturcture by MBZ

The line was electrified only till Neustadt, and traction was changed in Neustadt from electrics to steam or diesel. The loco service facility had a turntable along with a 3-stall shed for electrics and a two-stall shed for steam and diesel.

Hochschwarzwald blog 15 - loco service facility

The imposing Gutach Bridge is one of the signature scenes of the layout…

Hochschwarzwald blog 16 - Gutach Bridge 1Hochschwarzwald blog 17 - The height of the bridge is about 35 metersHochschwarzwald blog 18 - The length of the Gutach bridge is 141 meters

The line runs through some beautiful Black forest scenery…

Hochschwarzwald blog 19 - Only 10 BR85s were built by Henschel in 1931

The Finsterbühl tunnel marks the entry into the hidden staging yard.

Hochschwarzwald blog 20 - The Finsterbühl tunnel marks the entry into the hidden staging yard

The hidden staging yard is located beneath the station of Bonndorf. Due to space limitations, modeler’s license was invoked and the Kappel-Gutachbrücke station lies after the Gutach Bridge, and is represented inside the hidden staging yard. On the prototype, the Kappel-Gutachbrücke station lies before the Gutach Bridge.

Hochschwarzwald blog 21 - staging below Bonndorf

Passing thru the staging yard we reach the twin tunnels of Lenzkirch.

Hochschwarzwald blog 22 - Tunnels on the approach to Lenzkirch

Once again, attention has been paid to detail and achieving prototypical accuracy.

Hochschwarzwald blog 23 - Lenzkirch station trackplan view

The village of Lenzkirch has been accurately modeled as well. That it looks stunning would be an understatement.

Hochschwarzwald blog 24 - Lenzkirch gallery view

Hochschwarzwald blog 25 - Josef Brandl weaves his magic in Lenzkirch

The trains reverse at Lenzkirch and then passing thru the second tunnel, reach the village of Bonndorf. Bonndorf was a logging village and that part of the operation is represented in the numerous logging related structures modeled.

Hochschwarzwald blog 26 - Woodworks at Bonndorf Hochschwarzwald blog 27 - A BR85 shunting at Bonndorf yard

Once again, the station of Bonndorf is a model of accuracy.

Hochschwarzwald blog 29 - Bonndorf station view Hochschwarzwald blog 28 - Bonndorf station street side view

I have visited this layout twice now, and have been made to feel extremely welcome.

Hochschwarzwald blog 30 - Dieter and vikas

Dieter’s hospitality and his model railway are both fabulous and as far as I am concerned this has to rank right up there at the top of the most spectacular model railways in the world.

A photo gallery of the layout can be viewed here

8 Responses

  1. The combination of the filming and editing skills and the quality of the model is breathtaking, I particularly like the depth of field evident in the ground level shot of the train’s arrival. The whole has such a natural feel that one might walk into it circa 1926. And that leads me to my question. The layout has such a strong period feel of the ’20s yet Herr Berttleman opted to operate a class 85 (1932) and electrify the line to Neustadt (1936), I wonder why he accepted that conflict?

  2. Hi from Barcelona, Spain, EU.
    I am a modeltrain fan of J.Brandl works. I´ve never saw any of their layouts yet. So, for next April when I´ll go to Germany can you tell me how can I make to visit this wonderfull layout? It is possible to contact the owner and planned a visit?
    Thanks a lot for your helpful and have a new year.

  3. Superb. A magnificent layout. I am a modeller of Irish railways in 7mm scale, and enjoy all European railways. However, I was not aware of this model until I was told of it by an Irish friend of Herr Bertelsmann.
    Thank you for the great video and website.

  4. you must have worked like hell because now your masterpiece is ready. And how good you have done it.

    your way to look at the layout is very close to my way, and you made a very professinal video. I don’t remember to have ever seen such a realistic
    transformation of a layout.

    How can I get a copy with very good quality of the video the blog and the photo gallery to bring it in my tablet? could you send me a stick?

    have a nice time and take care about you
    best regards Dieter

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