In its infancy the young river Danube is a quiet and tranquil stream that winds through valleys that were cut into the rock of the Swabian Jura several million years ago. Errosion created by the river turned the landscape into a scenic area that attracts tourists who wish to escape the bustle of greater cities and seek relaxation in a quiet nature. But it´s not just nature that attracts curious tourists, a turbulent history has blessed this region in the German state of Baden-Württemberg with countless castles, a famous monastery and small, rural villages that make up the diverse region of the Danube River Valley. It´s the area where the borders of the Kingdom of Württemberg, the Grand Duchy of Baden and the famous Duchy of Hohenzollern once met that a scenic, rural yet fascinating rail network is busy at work. Tourists and commuters use regional trains to get to their destinations, while a small, but busy freight network makes sure that the different costumers can receive and send out goods. Since in its history the route didn´t receive elecrification only diesel engines run on it. Today I want to present you a route suggestion that will hopefully be fascinating and maybe one day see the light of day in TSW 2: Diesel in the Danube Valley: Tuttlingen - Herbertingen The suggested route contains the main line from Tuttlingen to Herbertingen, running via Fridingen, towards Sigmaringen, where it enters the mountain range of the Swabian Jura and continues on via the regional hub of Mengen to Herbertingen, where the line splits towards the north and the south. The main line has a length of 58,6 Km. The starting point is Tuttlingen, a small city of around 40.000 inhabitants and an important industrail and railway hub. The route then runs on a dam through the city where it then continues on to follow the Danube river. The track is single track with several stations serving as meeting points. Among them is Fridingen, which is also home of two rail-served industries: the Hammerwerk metal works and a small intermodal container terminal. Afterwards the route goes on towards Sigmaringen. Mechanical signals are still used to this day on that section, giving passengers a taste of what the railway once was. Sigmaringen is the home of the famous Hohenzollern dynasty and it shows. The large ducal castle sits above the railway station that also serves as meeting point and regional hub. This is where the branch line towards Hanfertal splits off and a rail-served petroleum gas supplier is located. Following the route further on leads to the village of Sigmaringendorf. This is where the branch line from Hanfertal joins the main line again, but only towards the east. The next town is Mengen, a fairly important railway hub. Not only is it a crossing station for the single track route, it´s also home to a freight yard, a team track used to load logs and an intermodal terminal. Also the branch line towards Krauchenwies splits off. Our final station will be Herbertingen where the line is seperated into a northerly section running towards Ulm and a southerly section running through Upper Swabia to the Lake of Constance. Herbertingen station also has several freight tracks and a connection to the rail-served Shredderwerk scrap metal yard. In order to show the diversity of rail traffic I´d also like to include the branch line from Mengen towards Krauchenwies and Sauldorf. This line is called the Ablachtalbahn because it follows the Ablach river. This section hasn´t seen any regular passenger services in years but is still served by freight traffic. The section from Mengen to Sauldorf is around 26 km long and contains two rail-served warehouses in Krauchenwies and Sauldorf, as well as various points where log cars can be loaded. Another freight served branch ist he Laucherttal/Hanfertalbahn. Occasional passenger services run between Sigmaringen and Hanfertal, but the rest is served by freight services from Mengen only in order to supply the Zollernwerke steel works seen below. Also included is Hanfertal station, which is used for passenger services running from Sigmaringen towards Gammertingen in the north. Hanfertal is also used to load log cars. The station has a loading ramp that was used to load military vehicles from the former barracks in Sigmaringen. The section length is around 12 Km. All in all my suggestion will encompass around 96 Km of track. Services: The main line is part of the RE 55 regional service. This service runs between Tuttlingen and Herbertingen via Sigmaringen on an almost hourly schedule, except for a gap at around noon. Nowadays it is served by BR 612 tilting DMUs which need around 60 minutes to make the journey. Additonaly the section between Tuttlingen and Fridingen is part of the Ringzug commuter network. Twelve daily trains run here as RB 43 and serve mainly commuters and high-school-students. Travelling time is around 20 minutes. There is one RB 43 in the evening, however, running all the way to Sigmaringen, taking around 50 minutes. Semi-private rail carrier HzL is using BR 650 Regio Shuttle DMUs for this service. Coming from the south-east Allgäu region is the RB 53, running hourly between Herbertingen and Sigmaringen. Run by DB Regio this service also sees BR 650 DMUs being used. Running time is around 20 minutes. Coming from the state capital of Stuttgart is the two-hourly IRE 6, running between Sigmaringen and Herbertingen, where it will follow the southern branch. This would ideally be an AI-only service, as it is very short but at the same time important. The section is single track only so players have to keep up with the schedule to make the planned crossings at stations such as Mengen, Herbertingen or Fridingen. The IRE 6 is also running BR 612 DMUs. Especially the eastern section between Herbertingen and Sigmaringen is quite busy for a rural single-track route. Trying to fit in are various freight services. Not only running passenger services but freight services, as well is the Hohenzollerische Landesbahn (HzL). Each morning a mixed freight train is being hauled into Mengen yard. There the cars are split, as afterwards the different costumers are served. The types of freight is highly diverse and consists of logs, tank cars, steel, containers, box cars, scrap metal and so on. Since Mengen is in the centre of the HzL network several tours are necessary to serve the costumers. Some cars go south-west towards Krauchenwies, some north towards the steel works at Laucherttal or the loading area of Hanfertal, some west towards Fridingen. Of course, cars have to be picked up at the industries, so some intensive switching is necessary. Finally, all cars need to be reassembled into the daily evening train back to Ulm, requiring another round of yard switching to prepare the outbound train. Rolling stock: Rolling stock would come in the form of the BR 612 DMU, a type that served since the early 90s and recently got refurbished. With its tilting mechanism it can run through curves alot faster than other DMUs. It would sport the famous white-yellow-grey bwegt livery. The second DMU would be the BR 650, also known as Regio Shuttle. Based on actual MAN truck engines, this trustworthy DMU ist the spiritual succesor of the famous Schienenbus. Mainly employed as Regionalbahn it runs on both the RB 43 and RB 53. Often several of these units form a consist, sometimes up to four vehicles. The HzL services sport the beige RIngzug livery, whereas the eastern services run by DB Region sport the traffic red DB livery. For freight services a variety of freight cars are necessary. Simple open-topped gondolas for scrap, flat-bed wagons for iron, log cars, silo cars for sand, box cars, intermodal container cars etc. In real life HzL uses BR 265 „Voith Gravita 15L“ engines. In case a license can´t be obtained a BR 294 could also be used as a a substitute. Anyways, a heavy road-switcher is necessary for yard and road work. Possible DLC: An instant classic: BR 218 diesel loco with n-Wagen single stack passenger cars for the main line. Probably everyone here would be glad to see this combination in-game. Another classic is the BR 611 DMU, also a tilting train. Conclusion: The suggested route runs through some of Baden-Württembergs most scenic areas. It provides great diversity, running out of the rather urban regional hub Tuttlingen, through a valley landscape that was formed by millions of years of erosion towards the sparse countryside oft he Swabian Jura. The peaks of the Danube Valley are crowned by thick forrests and castle ruins, the monastery of Beuron and beautiful rock formations. Arriving in Sigmaringen the landscape changes again. Rivers, forrests and small towns can be found on the open plains of the Swabian Jura. Descending down the Ablachtalbahn mining quarries and artificial lakes can be seen. Going through the dark and narrow Laucherttal on the other hand is another fascinating experience. The summers in this region are beautiful and quiet, occasionally disturbed by the roaring of a diesel engine. The winters can be even harsher, with ice and snow covering the landscape. If you want to get a feeling for the area and of the railroad operations I can recommend the following series on YouTube: Passenger and freight operations have to battle not only the environments but also a tight schedule that requires precision in its execution. Delays can have consequences as the single track route leaves not much space outside the crossing stations. Passenger services can be short, 20 minute RB runs with several stops or long, 60 minute runs. Freight operations would contain yard switching but also line operations. Switching the remote industries on the branch lines can be more relaxing, though, as freight traffic doesn´t have to share the tracks with anyone else. For now, atleast. Switching industries along the main line will be another deal entirely, as the section can be quite busy. I hope you enjoyed my little essay about this hidden gem in Baden-Württembergs heart and support my suggestion. What are your thoughts on the route? Does it seem too boring or would you like to run diesel trains through the scenic Danube Valley? Let me know!