It Might Have Existed For Only One Year, But It Is Still Remembered

July 10, 1901

One of the world’s first passenger-carrying trolleybus systems was launched in the southeastern region of the present-day Federal Republic of Germany. (At the time, this area was part of the German Empire.)

The Biela Valley Trolleybus system was built and operated by Dresden native Max Schiemann, who is credited with using a then-innovative means of collecting electricity for the trolleybus motors; his method involved using two horizontally parallel overhead wires along with rigid trolley poles that were spring-loaded to connect them with those wires.

The system initially covered about two miles (3.2 kilometers), linking the town of Königstein with what was then the village of Hütten. The line ultimately encompassed 2.7 miles (4.4 kilometers) altogether after being extended from Hütten to the town of Königsbrunn

This transit service was popularly known as Gleislose Bahn (trackless railway), but its full name was Gleislose Bielathal-Motorbahn mit elektrischer Oberleitung (Trackless Biela Valley Motor Line with Electric Overhead Cable). While the Biela Valley Trolleybus system remained in operation until only September 1904, it is still remembered today for its pioneering role in public transit history.

For more information on the technology used for the Biela Valley Trolleybus system, please check out the 9 July 1904 Motor-Car Journal article “The Schiemann Electric Omnibuses” at

A complete list of trolleybus systems that have operated in Germany is available at

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