Wednesday 6 March 2013

Baden-Baden, Germany

The German word "Baden" translates to "baths".  So it may come as no surprise that the town of Baden-Baden is famed for its thermal spa.  The double name distinguishes Baden-Baden from at least two other Badens in German-speaking countries, and means "Baden in Baden" - it lies in Germany's Baden-Württemberg province.

With a population of around 55,000 on the edge of the Black Forest, Baden-Baden is quite a genteel town set in the valley of the river Oos, a tributary of the Rhine.  The town attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors per year.  I visited in March 2012.

There used to be a railway station close to the centre of the Baden-Baden.  The station and the branch line serving it closed in the 1970s, and the station is now a theatre.  The present Baden-Baden station, on the main line along the Upper Rhine Valley, is about 3 kilometres from the town centre. 

The town's transport network comprises 15 bus routes and is operated by Baden-Baden Linie (website in German only), part of Baden-Baden's municipal undertaking. 
Services operate within Baden-Baden itself and to neighbouring towns.  The network is coordinated as part of the wider transport network overseen by the Karlsruhe Transport Authority (Karlsruhe Verkehrsverbund, or KVV for short).



Route "SB" (or SchnellBus) was a temporary shuttle service operating during the closure of a road tunnel through the town.


As well as standard two-axle single-deckers, some longer three-axle vehicles are operated.

Articulated vehicles are also operated, mainly on trunk route 201 from the rail station through the town centre and on to Lichtental and Oberbeuern, a little further up the Oos valley.



The destination display on this vehicle suggests it is running a through journey from route 212 onto route 201.

During the late evenings, journeys on some of Baden-Baden's bus routes are operated by taxis although the journeys only run if requested in advance.

Services linking Baden-Baden and its railway station with towns further afield are operated as Südwestbus (website in German only), under the DeutscheBahn banner.  Vehicles used are a mix of standard single-deckers and articulated buses.  These services are also overseen by KVV.

It is noticeable that the bus network is designed to feed into the rail network, rather than competing against it.  There are no direct buses from Baden-Baden to the nearby city of Karlsruhe, 30 kilometres away, for example.  For that journey, you would go by bus to Baden-Baden railway station then take the train to Karlsruhe.  There is a bus interchange on the station forecourt, with frequent buses to and from the town.

The fares, which are set by KVV, are based on the number of fare zones you travel through irrespective of whether you interchange between bus and train (or from bus to bus for that matter).   

During my visit, staff at Baden-Baden Linie staged a one-day strike.  Most services were suspended for the day, although another operator provided the SchnellBus shuttle between the town centre and railway station with buses in the same colours as Baden-Baden Linie.

Baden-Baden also has a funicular railway which climbs the Merkur Berg which rises above the town.  It opened in 1913 and operates daily.  When I visited, however, the funicular was affected by the same strike action which interrupted the bus services, so I didn't manage to get any photos of it.  Maybe next time...

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