Those magnificent Germans in their beer-viewing machines

Those magnificent Germans in their beer-viewing machines

Germany: a nation stereotyped around its engineering prowess, ruthless efficiency, love for beer … and sense of humour … Wait, that can’t be right?

Between FOCUS editor Charleen Clarke and yours truly, you might be forgiven for thinking we’re rather fond of being hopped-up on brews of barley, malt and, er, hops … Confession time: we do enjoy our beer. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons we get along rather well. Beer and transport – so long as the two are not mixed, they make for a good working relationship …

We’re also rather fond of Germany. I’ve not – unfortunately – experienced Teutonic sights and sounds nearly as often as Clarke has. But I have, while in Germany, treated my pallet to many glasses of what I found to be the nicest, smoothest, best-tasting beer I’ve yet consumed.

And it makes sense – the Germans are, to put it soberly, rather fond of their beer and are renowned for it. As fond, I would imagine, as they are of their vehicles and modes of transport.

But, what happens – creatively – when you mix the two? This visitor train, from the Warsteiner Brauerei Haus Cramer KG – or the Warsteiner Brewery, I think is the result. It is quite an aptly-German piece of engineering: a railless, three-wagon train designed to ferry 108 visitors at a time (or 50 000 a year) up and down the brewery’s 478 000 m2 premises.

Okay, so it’s not a new concept – this is the third generation of the train to be used by the brewery since the 1970s. It’s nonetheless quite an interesting vehicle, designed and built by German vehicle converter Paul Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH.

The company – which custom-engineers solutions for specific applications – based the vehicle on a Mercedes-Benz Atego 922 AF chassis fitted with the 160 kW OM924LA four-cylinder engine, Allison 2500 automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

All in, the fully occupied train weighs 28 tonnes and has to operate in snow, rain and sometimes on inclines of up to ten percent. It’s also fitted with an electronic breaking system with ABS, ASR and a hillholder function.

“The towing vehicle and wagons were built according to our own parameters and are really one of a kind,” says Reinhard Finger, head of the in-house vehicle workshop at Warsteiner Brewery. These parameters dictated impeccable manoeuvrability and so the towing vehicle is designed for a turning radius of
15 m, while double-steering on the trailers allows them to track perfectly behind.

After a year in service, the brewery’s two drivers (who are specially trained and have bus driver’s licences) and its visitors love the train. Air suspension provides a comfortable ride. Each cabin’s heating and air-conditioning system can be regulated individually and boarding and alighting – even for wheelchair-bound passengers – is easy thanks to the low, flat floor and raised platforms around the brewery grounds. A multi-lingual, flat-screen multimedia system is fitted to convey pertinent information.

It might seem then that the only on-board feature missing is on-tap refreshments … or would that be pushing the stereotypical limits of German humour a glass too far?

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