About us

Aims and purposes

The main purpose is to realise and maintain a historic railway company and museum, with special attention to local (light) railways in Nederland. The trust pursues this aim by acquiring, maintaining and operating or exhibiting:

  • Historic railway rolling stock
  • The railway and its operating with historic rolling stock
  • Historic artefacts relating to railways
  • Those artefacts which are related to the same in the widest sense of the word, and all other activities related to this in the widest sense.


Secondary purpose Museum Buurtspoorweg

The secondary purpose is to pay attention to the history of local (light) railways in The Netherlands, especially those in the border region with Germany.

In short: The Museum Buurtspoorweg preserves an authentic part of the former G.O.L.S. network in the heart of the former textile region.



Our Museum has a rich history and is happy to demonstrate this. The Lokaalspoor (local or branch railway) saw the light in 1878 with the adoption of the law on Local Railways and Tramways. In those days the railway network consisted of mainlines which had been constructed between cities and regions where sufficient transport of goods and people could be expected. The 1878 law allowed for a cheaper construction of railways by leaving out a number of requirements. The train speed should not exceed 30 kmh and the construction of the line could be kept lighter. In the regions Twente and the Achterhoek in the East of the Netherlands the construction of local railways was taken up after an initiative of the “Textile Baron” Jan Willink from Winterswijk, which action enabled the region to have a strong economic development.

Museum Buurtspoorweg shows how the light railways in our border region looked and what their presence meant for both its economic and its social development. Thus it’s a museum with a rich history where young and old may really enjoy a journey from the past.


The railways in Twente

The railways in Twente: we like to tell you a little more about its history. The first Dutch railway was opened in 1839 between Amsterdam and Haarlem. This expanded to a network as we know today, in the period until 1880.

However large parts of Twente and the Achterhoek remained deprived of railway transport. The estimated revenues were too modest to justify the construction of railways. Even while the industrial revolution created a great need for rail transport, the construction of railways remained impossible in Twente and the Achterhoek.

The introduction of the Local Railway and Tramway Act of 1878 changed this situation. A substantial cost reduction for construction and operation was possible since these light railways had to meet less stringent rules. Soon after the introduction of the law, various local railways were constructed in Twente and the Achterhoek.

A local railway should not exceed a speed of 30 kmh and the maximum axle load was 10 tons. Furthermore a simpler signalling system was allowed. If the maximum speed remained below 15 kmh, then the railway fell under the category “tramway”. The maximum speeds have been raised in the course of time, but after the last change of 1917 it was still 60 km/h for local railways.

Jan Willink Museum Buurtspoorweg



The GOLS never ran its own trains. The operation was left to the Dutch Iron Railway Company/ HIJSM. The other local railways followed the example of the GOLS. Commonly there were 5-7 passenger trains a day. Between these there were separate goods trains as well. For example between Haaksbergen and Boekelo there were 4 daily trains for each direction with various destinations. The commuter traffic still had some size. Between Boekelo and Enschede 12 people would take the train on a daily basis during the whole week. From Haaksbergen some 75 people took the train on a daily basis towards Boekelo.



During the First World War a coal shortage was one of the reasons why the railway companies were interested in cooperation. In the end this led to a fusion which gave birth to the NV Nederlandse Spoorwegen/ NS. On certain lines the interlocal trains were combined. For local railways only the shorter distance local transport was left over with very minimal passenger transport, while a fierce competition struggle came up with the buses and lorries.

The worldwide crisis in the early Thirties further reduced the revenues on the local lines. Another fact may have been that the train availability had not been adjusted to the changed travel patterns. In three years time the whole local railway network in Twente and the Achterhoek (100 Miles!) was closed for passenger traffic. Only the line from Winterswijk to Zevenaar was kept open and the timetable extended. This was by the way a line from which very litte success was expected during the preparation of the GOLS-lines. Therefore the construction had only become possible when the City of Enschede promised to pay the sum of NLG 75,000.

The fact that there was a greater transport need was obvious. While the train ran 5 times daily from Enschede to Haaksbergen during 50 years, the first buses of the Geldersche Tramwegen started with an hourly frequency in 1937. The daily number of passengers was greater than ever on the railway. After a month the fequency was raised to half-hourly.

Large parts of the great local railway network remained open for goods traffic. The transport of coal remained a substantial task for the railways. After the change to natural gas in the 1970’s the coal transport fell almost away. This and perhaps more reasons let the NS decide to close all these lines for goods transport, after which the closed lines were torn up- with the exception of the line Enschede-Boekelo- Haaksbergen since the Museum Buurtspoorweg had started its operations there.


The trust “Stichting Museum Buurtspoorweg”

The stichting (trust) Museum Buurtspoorweg: we like to tell you more about it’s creation. Already in 1948 a small group of volunteers, amongst which the first Secretary of the MBS, did an effort to create a “living” museum, showing historic rail transport. Alas the time was not ready for that yet, although an example had been given by a group which saved the “Talyllyn Railway” from extinction. Only in 1965 the Tramweg Stichting saw the light, with a strong influence by the NVBS association of railway friends. After an exhibition in the Rijksmuseum in Enschede in 1963, a group of interested railway friends in the East of the country started the “Comité Vrienden van het Trammuseum” The former gas works were chosen as the base of the organisation, along the railway from Enschede to Broekheurne (border station).

From this group the Museum Buurtspoorweg emerged in 1967. The trust was founded on 21st February 1967 with the aim of creating and maintaining a “living” local railway museum in the widest sense of the word.

This involves:

  • The purchase of historic (railway) rolling stock, restoring this into its original condition as well as possible and operating it on a touristic local (light) railway.
  • The collection of other railway artefacts and objects of historic value, to exhibit these and aiming to get them suitable for use on the railway.

It appeared soon that most of the rolling stock of the local railays had met the cutter’s torch between 1948 and 1967. Yet the Museum Buurtspoorweg has been able to build up a substantial collection, helped by donators and volunteers, and support of business- and other relations. This collection gives a good impression of a Dutch local railway in the border region in the period of approximately 1900-1920.


Important dates

Below is a summary of important dates in the history of the Museum Buurtspoorweg.

  • 1964, founding of the “Comité Vrienden van het Trammuseum”
  • 1967, founding of the stichting (trust) Museum Buurtspoorweg
  • 1968, arrival of the dismantled steam locomotive “Staatsspoorwegen 657”
  • 1969, purchase of our first operable steam locomotive Hanomag loc 4
  • 1972, opening of the train operating season Enschede – Haaksbergen
  • 1974, closure of the line Enschede-Boekelo due to the construction of the Motorway A35
  • 1981, first completely restored steam locomotive, the Cockerill, put into service
  • 1985, purchase of Haaksbergen station (dating from 1884)
  • 1989, concession as independent railway granted
  • 1990, opening of the restored Haaksbergen station with its goods shed,and the newly built (in historic style) workshop and engine shed
  • 1993, adaptation of the statutes
  • 1995, fully restored steam locomotive ELNA no. 5 put into service
  • 1998, EFRO-projects: the station surroundings of Haaksbergen and Boekelo and the Halte Zoutindustrie are being provided with buildings such as engine shed, museum depot and water tower
  • 2008, birth of the Masterplan
  • 2009, appearance of a policy brochure “A perspective for the Museum Buurtspoorweg”
  • 2012, rebuilding of the station and the goods shed, and creating office and meeting accommodation on the top floors.