Museums have to be careful moving around their exhibits. After all, you don’t want to drop some priceless relic from the past. Especially not if it weighs 138 tons, like the 12.10 steam locomotive now on display at the Technical Museum.
- Fully-restored giant steam locomotive from 1936
- Heaviest, longest, and fastest ever produced in Austria
- Part of the permanent exhibition
- Just requires an ordinary entrance ticket to view (or, for example, a Vienna Pass)
- See also: Technical Museum tickets and visitor tips
Austria’s largest steam locomotive
(Bringing the locomotive into the museum’s display area via the metalworking department. Photo © Technisches Museum Wien)
The railway section of the Technical Museum contains a fair few highlights, not least the former carriage of Empress Elisabeth. And it just got another one: the 12.10 steam locomotive from the 1930s.
Now this is no ordinary steam locomotive. Its weight makes it the heaviest ever produced in Austria. And the longest (at almost 23m). And the fastest (its top speed of 154km/h would earn it a ticket on today’s motorways and was a record at the time).
Which makes you wonder why they didn’t give the 12.10 a decent name, like the Flying Austrian or the Vienna Bull.
Anyway, the engine is the only survivor from the 214 series of locomotives built in Vienna’s Florisdorf locomotive factory between 1932 and 1936. That factory produced its first vehicles in the early 1870s and would go on to become one of Europe’s most prestigious railway manufacturers.
The museum faced two particular challenges before including the locomotive in its permanent exhibition: restoration and transport.
You can imagine the kind of detail that went into that restoration work. And the heavy lifting: they had to remove the axles as part of the process and transport the tender, axles and engine separately. Delivering the pared-down engine to the museum still required a special truck-mounted crane and a heavy-duty castor system.
Putting everything together in the museum exhibition hall proved a little trickier than building an IKEA bookcase. For example, staff had to lift the engine 2m into the air before rejoining the main chassis with the axles.
Visitors to the museum can now see the 12.10 in all its restored glory, but also enjoy an ancillary video installation that projects a 1:1 image of the engine on a nearby wall and offers details of the inner workings of this metal beast.
The display also reflects the Technical Museum’s environmental focus. Nobody is going to argue for a return of coal-driven technology (other than people with shares in coal-driven technology). But it might come as a surprise to learn that the 12.10’s journey from Vienna to Salzburg produced less CO2 per head than the same journey today by air.
How to get to the locomotive
Visit the main Technical Museum page for travel tips. The railway exhibition lives on Floor E2 and the 12.10 in the west hall.
Address: Mariahilfer Straße 212, 1140 Vienna