On the Rails of the Double Headed Eagle I and II

TV-Documentary about the history of the royal railway

A 2-part Documentary by Gernot Stadler and Björn Kölz

Documentation, 2014
GS-Film, ORF/3sat
Written and directed by
ORF Enterprise

More than 170 years after the opening of the first section of the first railway line on Austrian soil, the railway has lost none of its fascination. The railway is an experience, an epoch and a phenomenon, but above all it is – everyday life. Although it had to relinquish its supremacy to the automobile a long time ago, it still counts today as an essential factor for mobility. Beyond everyday use, railways have become a passion for millions of people around the world. Countless associations and museums in Austria and the rest of the world are dedicated to the preservation of historical steam locomotives, railway constructions and the history of the railway. Not only railway nostalgics storm the public rides usually offered on weekends with lovingly restored steamers. Marveling at impressive railway buidlings along railway lines has long become a thrilling experience for the whole family. This experience must have been incomparably larger and more fundamental for the people of Austria in the Danube Monarchy. Chroniclers from this period compared the advent of the railroad with the discovery of America or printing. It was the railways that filled the vast empire with life, that allowed people and goods to circulate and that enabled the conquest of landscapes in a touristic way. In a vast area occupied today by more than a dozen sovereign states, a hundred years ago travellers were able to move freely without any restrictions. The railway became a symbol of freedom and unity within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy due to its cross-border and inter-ethnic function.