Railway and tourism. A connection that has been ignored for a long time. But tourism is not just about hotel towers by the sea. Especially in rural areas
you can often discover beautiful nature by train. This kind of tourism has potential. The Elster Valley Railway, operated by the Vogtlandbahn, is an example for this. With a new marketing campaign this
train should play a greater role in the tourism concept of the Vogtland area.
The Vogtland area: not the final frontier, but an area to explore new life and new civilizations. The rolling hills with fields and
forests are said to be the habitat of a a giant named “Voglar”.
However, he is hard to find because he can take human shape. Now and then he also takes a train, especially the Elster Valley Railway. It may be surprising that this train is not so well known. But in the future the touristic potential of the Thuringian Saxon Bohemian route will now be better commercialised. “You have to help bring some things to their way or as we said here ‘awake the sleeping giant’. ‘Sleeping giant’ means that the Elster Valley Route has potential. Potential to be exploited by using the route for trains. The train runs from Gera via Greiz, Plauen, Upper Vogtland to the Czech Republic to Františkovy Lázně and to Cheb. It’s the train route with the largest number of bridges in Germany per kilometer with over 30 tunnels and viaducts along the river Elster. A beautiful area that people should visit more. We want promote this offer in our touristic region, for locals and guests alike, and we want to do our part to make that happen”. The Elster Valley Railway is really a way of sightseeing by train,
and there are not only the bridges like the famous Elstertal Viaduct under which
which the route passes. There are scenic river valleys, sometimes romantic, sometimes wild, small train stations in dense heavily wooded valleys that offer various
hiking opportunities. One can experience all that on this route.
A few kilometers away there are cities with good infrastructure like Plauen.
Here, a specific project has now been presented that connects the railway and a lot
of noteworthy information to a state-of-the-art concept. An idea that has existed for some time at the Authority for local public transport Vogtland (ZVV). “Well, there is always one person that makes a start, who has the initial idea. That was our
former managing director, Mr. Müller. He found a sponsorship programme to promote transport infrastructure in cross-border areas.
We are one of eight regions in Europe. We are the only German
region participating in the project”. The practical result is an App
which can be accessed via the website of the Elster Valley Railway or by scanning the QR Codes on your mobile phone or tablet The concept came from the agency “WENN+ABER” from Hanover, that had already received a great deal of attention with unusual campaigns there. “And then we thought about dressing the bus drivers in skirts to create the campaign: ‘The most beautiful reason why men wear skirts is women.’ At that time we wanted
to mainly attract women to the local public transport company,
because of course women had the preconception that ‘vehicles that are so big can’t be driven by us’ so we tried to invent a reason why women actually are able to drive a huge bus, because today they all work with power steering
and are perfectly easy to maneuver”. With such unconventional campaigns
they also caught the attention of the Authority for local public transport Vogtland (ZVV). “Yes, and then the Vogtlandbahn made a request asking us: ‘What do you think, would you be interested? Please send us a concept’. And then we made up the story of the giant ‘Voglar’, and said: ‘Let’s connect each location
in the Vogtland with a somewhat different story, because the problem with the giant ‘Voglar’ is: nobody has actually ever seen him. Nor are there any photos of him. Actually, every person could be the giant ‘Voglar’.” The giant already left some footprints in different areas. If you point your phone or tablet with the new App at such a footprint, various touristic or historical information will be displayed within the actual picture. “So in this footprint, we identified Plauen as a location that is ‘at the peak’ when it comes to lace production. (peak is the same word for lace fabric in German). And then we said, yes, we must of course use something to do with lace and then we said, well, so a giant, admittedly an older one, is actually still a young man, because one giant year counts for 70 human years. And he wants to wear only lace fabric on his body, of course. So, therefore, he has appropriate
lace panties. And here, you can discover a box,
where some lace panties appear and then fly away towards Plauen.” More footprints are planned at each station with information regarding the location. At two further locations footprints are displayed already. For example in Weischlitz: Many travelers have to wait here when changing trains. This time can be spent in addition to reading the tourist information with a funny computer game. Overall, such footprints are in progress at eleven locations. More can follow, of course, not only at the stations. Through the EU funding program “Interreg”, as part of the project “Peripheral Access” that seeks to improve and better market cross-border transport links, more local authorities on the Elster Valley Railway could get involved. And who knows, when more people are using the Elster Valley Railway and learn more about the country and its people, maybe someday someone will discover the giant Voglar.