On July 17, it will be 150 years since regular railway operations were commenced over the Semmering pass.
Despite an expertise that came to the conclusion that the only possibility for a railway over the Semmering was by means of cable operation (funicular railway), Karl Ritter von Ghega persuaded the authorities in 1948 to construct an adhesion railway, although at that time there were no locomotives that could handle such inclines (2.5%). Three years later, the first comparative trials were held with four steam locomotives specially designed for mountain operations on the Semmering. Each of the four prototypes exceeded the specification set out in the announcement, "to pull 140 tonnes at 11.38 kilometres per hour on the steepest incline", but none were convincing enough for regular operations on the Semmering. Finally, Wilhelm Freiherr von Engerth succeeded in designing a series locomotive capable of mountain duties, thereby writing the first major chapter in the history of Austrian steam locomotives.
Between November 1853 and May 1854, 16 Engerth locomotives were supplied to the state railways. The tender locomotives with three coupled driven axles (German axle classification C2'n2t) managed 19 kilometres an hour uphill, rising to 23 kilometres an hour downhill. The construction and trouble-free operation of the first genuine mountain railway in the world meant that for a time Austria was at the cutting edge of technical developments in railway engineering.