A nostalgic experience in a modern setting

The new valley station for the SchafbergBahn cog railway in St. Wolfgang, Upper Austria, offers an impressive example of architecture that successfully blends tradition with innovation.

Every season since it first went into operation in 1893, the SchafbergBahn – the steepest cog railway in Austria – has transported flocks of people from the picturesque Lake Wolfgang to just below the 1,783 metre summit of the Schafberg mountain. The journey takes around 40 minutes, covering 5.85 kilometres in distance and 1,190 metres in altitude, and at the peak passengers are treated to a breathtaking view of the Salzkammergut region and the surrounding mountain landscape. The railway was the brainchild of Berthold Curant, an engineer for the Empress Elisabeth Railway who had already set up a ferry service on the lake back in 1873.


Old cogwheel steam locomotives still going strong

While most of the journeys are carried out using new oil-fired steam locomotives, the SchafbergBahn also has some original engines dating back to the late 19th century. These are used to run vintage train trips for guests on selected dates during the summer months and are among the oldest cogwheel steam locomotives still in operation anywhere in the world.


A valley station transformed into an experience hub

Since April 2023, the valley station in St. Wolfgang has boasted a new, modern building with an extensively glazed wood and steel façade reminiscent of an accordion, a design created by the Salzburg-based architectural firm dunkelschwarz ZT GmbH. This newly opened, light-filled "ErlebnisQuartier" (which roughly translates as an experience hub) is equipped with state-of-the-art heat pump technology, including a photovoltaic system. It contains a large hall with a ticket counter, a shop and an event space that can accommodate up to 400 people, as well as a museum zone where visitors can find out all about the fascinating history of the SchafbergBahn railway and the Wolfgangsee ferry service. The most eye-catching feature in the building is a locomotive from 1893.


The restaurant takes centre stage

The centrepiece of the ErlebnisQuartier is the EQ restaurant, which offers a panoramic view of Lake Wolfgang and the Schafberg mountain. The eatery’s open-plan interior with wooden floors has space for around 100 guests seated at comfortable wooden tables. There is also room for 65 more on the terrace upstairs, which is arguably the most beautiful of its kind on the shores of Lake Wolfgang. Wood and steel elements feature prominently here too, combining with exposed concrete and plenty of glass to create a unique feel-good atmosphere.

In keeping with the design concept, Troldtekt acoustic panels from the "line" design solution were chosen in the natural wood colour option. These are used both on the sloping ceilings of the interior and in the covered outdoor area, adding a special touch with their distinctive linear pattern.