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05 January 2024

Haff – Ufer – Bahn

Magdalena Pasewicz-Rybacka

If there's a starting point for discussing the Haffuferbahn, it should primarily be its name. Although at first glance everything seems obvious, the name itself might hide small secrets.

 

Fortunately, the initiators of the railway did not follow the example of other railways, where the name was created in reference to the initial and final stations (and sometimes an intermediate one), supplemented with the word Eisenbahn or Kleinbahn, as in the case of Königsberger–Cranzer Eisenbahn or Kleinbahn Kreuz–Schloppe–Deutsch Krone. Instead, they referred to the immediate surroundings, specifically – to the Vistula Lagoon, then known as Frisches Haff. Thus, the charming name Haffuferbahn was created, combining three elements: Haff (lagoon), Ufer (shore), and Bahn (railway), encompassing everything the new route had to offer.

 

Historyczny widok na Zalew Wiślany

Historical View of the Vistula Lagoon

 

Sometimes the Haffuferbahn was also referred to as “Haffbahn,” which could be translated as Lagoon Railway. In 1892, the “Graudenzer Gesellige” newspaper reported:

 

Bekanntlich ist das Projekt einer Haffbahn aufgetaucht, welche von Elbing über Tolkemit und Frauenburg nach Braunsberg gehen soll.

 

The Polish equivalent of Haffuferbahn is Kolej Nadzalewowa. Although officially this term is not used (according to the PKP PLK list, it is railway line number 254 Tropy–Braniewo), it still exists in common consciousness. And rightly so, because not only is the name beautiful, but it also reminds us of the railway's old history and evokes justified sentiment.

 

The acronym for Haffuferbahn is HUB, derived from the individual parts of the name. However, from the beginning, whether for fun or out of defiance, it was interpreted in various ways. In the first years of the line's operation, for example, there was the interpretation “Hantel und Baum” – from the names of one of the main initiators of the railway's creation and the chief construction master on behalf of the company Lenz&Co. Problems with the profitability of the line, which began shortly after its opening, led to the development of “Hat Unter-Bilanz.”

 

Historyczny dokument Kolei Nadzalewowej 

Fragment of a document regarding the Haffuferbahn

 

In reference to HUB, there is also the term “Kolej Nadbrzeżna” (Coastal Railway). This is a mistake for two reasons. First, it completely omits the element of the lagoon, which is key for Haffuferbahn. Second, this Polish name refers to an entirely different line – the Thorner Uferbahn (Toruń Coastal Railway), which was put into use in 1888.

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