Wuppertal Schwebebahn or Wuppertal Floating Tram is a suspension railway in Wuppertal, Germany. Its full name is “Electric Highway Installation (Floating Tram), Eugen Langen System” (Anlage einer elektrischen Hochbahn (Schwebebahn), System Eugen Langen). Designed by Eugen Langen to be used in Berlin, the installation with elevated stations was built in Barmen, Elberfeld and Vohwinkel between 1897 and 1903, the first track opened in 1901. The Schwebebahn is still in use today as normal means of local public transport, moving 25 million passengers annually (2008).
The suspension railway travels along a route of 13.3 kilometres (8.3 mi), at a height of about 12 metres (39 ft 4 in) above the river Wupper between Oberbarmen and Sonnborner Straße (10 kilometres (6.2 mi)) and about 8 metres (26 ft 3 in) above the valley road between Sonnborner Strae and Vohwinkel (3.3 kilometres (2.1 mi)). At one point the railway crosses the A46 motorway. The entire trip takes about 30 minutes. The Schwebebahn operates within the VRR transport association and accepts tickets issued by the VRR companies.
The Wuppertal Schwebebahn had a forerunner: in 1824, Henry Robinson Palmer of England presented a railway system which differed from all previous constructions. It was basically a low single-rail suspension railway on which the carriages were drawn by horses. Friedrich Harkort, a Prussian industrial entrepreneur and politician, loved the idea. He saw big advantages for the transportation of coal to the early industrialised region in and around the Wupper valley. Harkort had his own steel mill in Elberfeld; he built a demonstration segment of the Palmer system and set it up in 1826 on the grounds of what is today the Wuppertal tax office. He therefore tried to attract public attention to his railway plans.