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Dresden Park Railway
Dresden's Parkeisenbahn, or Park Railway, runs some 5.6 km, or 3˝ miles, through the Grosser Garten (Great Garden) on the eastern edge of the city center. Unlike many park railroads, it isn't just a fun ride: It's also a useful means of transportation, taking passengers from the Altstadt to outlying areas of the large park--including the Zoo Dresden and the Carolasee, a.k.a. Lake Carola, where visitors can rent boats or enjoy drinks, meals, and snacks at the Carolaschlösschen restaurant and café.
In the days of the Pioneers (Communism's version of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides), the Dresdner Parkeisenbahn was operated largely by children. That tradition continues today, with children volunteering for uniformed railroad jobs in their spare time. Over the years, thousands of children have welcomed some 22 million passengers to the "Pioneer Railway" (as the railroad was known from 1951 until 1990).
The Dresdner Parkeisenbahn operates from spring through fall, with special Advent rides in early December. For travel information in English, see the Dresden Park Railway Web site.
The Bahnhof Am Strassburger Platz, where I caught the train, is next to Volkswagen's Transparent Factory, which has become one of Dresden's major tourist attractions. From here, you can ride to any of four other stations in the Grosser Garten. The Am Strassburger Platz station also has a gift shop where you can buy railway souvenirs.
The Dresden Park Railway has two battery-powered electric engines. One is blue and white; the other is modeled after traditional red Deutsche Bahn locomotives.
A train of the Dresdner Parkeisenbahn follows a curve through the forest in the Grosser Garten. (The railroad's top speed is 15 km/h or about 9 m.p.h., and a full circuit of the park takes 30 minutes.)
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