In April 1839 the first long distance railway in Germany opened for business. It connected the important cities of Leipzig and Dresden. In Reisa a great bridge was built across the River Elbe and this bridge's modern successor was the site for East Germany's railway celebration in April 1989.
Thanks to the wonderful co-operation of the East German authorities, the Deutsche Reichsbahn, we were allocated a place to film the parade at the very end of the bridge. Starting with the diminutive 'Saxonia' and ending 2 1/2 hours later with representatives of the modern diesel and electric era, no less than 47 trains rumbled, roared and snorted their way past the camera. All the time the scheduled passenger and freight services on this busy main line sped by on the adjacent track.
The event was a masterpiece of organisation and it was carried out with great professionalism and efficiency. Many thousands of East Germans flocked to Reisa to witness their railway heritage. The Western railway press assumed before the event that only a few locomotives would be in steam and the rest would be towed. As steam locomotive after steam locomotive parades across your screen under its own power you will see for yourself that the assumption was totally wrong. Those that were towed were important examples that other railway administrations would have quetly left in their museums.
The entire event was one of which the East Germans are rightly proud and we are sure that you will understand why when you view the great train parade in Reisa.
This 45 minute programme has a full commentary by actor Martin Oldfield.