These pages comprise articles from the 'Notebooks' compiled by Charlie Hulme in the 1990s, mostly translated and edited articles from Swiss books and magazines.

They appeared in printed, and latterly also e-mailed form, as the Web hardly existed at the time. We have converted them to this format, as they chronicle an especially interesting period in railway history, and also include useful histories of various lines.


Much has changed since this issue was prepared: notably, and very sadly for enthusiasts, the Beromünster branch has closed - to passengers in 1991 and completely in 1997. Part of the trackbed has been used for a relocation of the metre-gauge Wynental- und Suhrentalbahn line from its previous route in the road.

The Misox line was not converted to standard gauge: it was eventually closed by the RhB and part of it is now run by a preservation group.

February 1990

Beromünster, Seetal-Bahn Branch Terminus

Translated by Charlie Hulme from an the article in Eisenbahn Zeitschrift 2/89, pages 64-9, by Heinz Weber.


The building of a railway to  Münster (the name "Beromünster" was first used for the Swiss National Radio Station located here, and gradually gave its name to the town) was a long drawn-out affair. By 1890 a concession had been issued for the building of a narrow gauge line in the Wynental; however this line did not reach Münster. The first Wyentalbahn (WTB) train ran from Aarau to Menziken fourteen years later.

Münster and the other communities in the part of the valley extending into Canton Luzern wanted a standard gauge line from Reinach via Rothenburg to Emmenbrücke, giving good main line connections and a link to Luzern, their Canton capital. Good connection with Aarau was also desirable; meetings were held with the "Lower Wynentalbahn Committee" with a view to building a through line from Aarau to Luzern, but the Committee were not dissuaded from building the narrow gauge line. There was much argument over the respective merits of standard and narrow gauges, the decision being finally made to build a roadside

The English-financed Seetalbahn or Lake-Valley Railway company (STB), who had opened their line in 1883 between Lenzburg and Emmenbrücke, did not wish to see a new line built parallel to theirs, and began construction in 1887 of a branch from a junction at Beinwil am See to Reinach and Menziken, thus pre-empting any extension of the Wynentalbahn by securing a foothold in this residential and industrial area. Therefore the STB applied for the concession to extend its line beyond Reinach, as the Reinach-Münster Bahn, which was granted by the Government.
Thus, the threat of a competing line disappeared; building of the
RMB line itself did not start. Only when the people of Münster
threatened to press for the town to be connected to the Wynentalbahn, which had opened in 1904, did the STB management decide to press on - they announced that services to Münster would begin in October 1905. That was not to be, however. Further objections from supporters of a through narrow gauge line from Reinach to Emmenbrücke, especially from communities to the south of Münster, delayed the start of construction. In September 1905, the State President pronounced against the RMB and in favour of a through Wynentalbahn - two weeks later this order was rescinded and the way was clear for the construction of the 4 km of track of the Reinach - Münster - Bahn. 

On 30 September 1906, the people of Beromünster celebrated the arrival of their first train. One day later, a regular service of
eight trains per day began. Steam working lasted only until 1909 when the line was electrified. By this time the RMB company, which had never owned any locomotives or stock, had been amalgamated into the STB. In 1922 the flourishing Seetalbahn company was nationalised, and since then the SBB has served Beromünster.

The Situation today

The 8 km branch from Beinwil to Beromünster is presently served by 16 push-pull trains per day, running at an hourly frequency. Travellers must change at Beinwil for Hochdorf and Luzern to the South and Lenzburg on the Heitersburg main line to the north. In Menziken and Reinach, the stations of the narrow-gauge Wynental- und Suhrental Bahn (WSB) are not far from the SBB stations; the modern WSB trains run half-hourly to Aarau. A direct bus runs from Beromünster SBB station via Rothenburg to Luzern.

Passenger traffic on the branch is rather light; on the other hand
two agricultural cooperatives generate plenty of freight - fodder
transferred to a silo, grain, sugar beet, fertilizer, fuel, agricultural
machines, etc. The track layout is modest for a terminus, but sufficient. Tracks 1 and 8 serve the goods shed, track 5 has a loading ramp, and track 4 is a siding on which a few open wagons and vans are usually kept. The station has no shunting tractor, so train engines must perform all shunting. Passenger trains use track 2 - at one time, before push-pull working was used, tracks 6 and 3 were used for running round.

The station buildings date from the opening of the line, the main
building being almost unaltered. Buildings of the same type are found
at Menziken, Seon and Baldegg. The goods shed has been enlarged, and a warehouse built by the agricultural cooperative. The locomotive shed is occasionally used by maintenance crews; the silo on track 5 is of recent date.

Future Prospects

Redevlopment of the Seetalbahn has been planned for a long time. The Reinach/Menziken area would be served by a diversion of the main Seetal line through the proposed Erlosen Tunnel, then following the present branch to Beinwil to regain the existing route. What would happen to the remaining stump to Beromunster if this plan were carried out is uncertain. A replacement bus service has been suggested, with the line retained for freight, but another possibility would be to transfer the section to the narrow-gauge WSB, making an end-on junction at Menziken. Mixed-gauge could be used to retain the freight service.

Modelling Suggestions

Beromunster is the terminus of a quiet branch of the Seetalbahn, which itself is a quiet backwater of the SBB. Time passes slowly at this charming station. The hand point levers, the wire-operated entry points and signal, the old engine shed, the station garden, the varied types of buffer stops, and the collection of materials lying around all add the nostalgic atmosphere.

The track layout is compact, and would make an ideal subject for the modeller with restricted space. Being a terminus, shunting movements will be quite interesting. Lovers of long freight trains and Inter-City expresses should look elsewhere; short, slow trains are the order of the day here. Freight is handled by the attractive pick-up goods bringing a wide selection of wagons; even tank wagons can be unloaded by attaching a hose from the extension of the goods shed. The new De 4/4 from Roco in HO scale is ideal for the passenger trains, working with the same firm's Seetal coaches rather than the long mk 2 standard coaches. The green version of the De4/4 currently available ran until 1956, when they were repainted in red oxide. Roco promise to make this available soon. In N scale, Hochstrasser of Luzern model the later re-bodied version of the De4/4, and Eriam make the open-platform coaches; a more suitable selection than is available for HO! 

The station could also be modelled as the terminus of a narrow gauge line, as it might be in the future. From Reinach to Beromünster, the line climbs at 38 per thousand, another feature useful on a model.

News Items from EZ 7/89

Old and New in the Seetal

When train 6007 from Lenzburg to Luzern is operated by an NPZ unit, as is usually the case on Saturdays, a meeting takes place at Boniswil-Seengen Station at 06.40 between the oldest and newest types of railcar on the SBB: the NPZ crosses at this station train 6004 from Beinwil to Lenzburg powered by a Be4/6, the last of its type in public service. This Saturday NPZ working has another feature: at Hochdorf an Ae3/6 I is coupled to the front, which of course becomes the rear after reversal at Emmenbrücke.

SBB and the Freiburgers

The old joke that the people of Bern turn up their noses at the people of Freiburg has found its way into the offical record. In the report of a private company employed to inspect SBB trains and stations, we read the following: "The station toilets ... were so dirty that not even a Freiburger would want to use them." Understandably, storms of indignation were let loose from Canton Freiburg, and the SBB was quick to distance itself from the opinion.

New Life in the Misox?

Will the RhB line in the Misox soon be converted to standard gauge?
Yes, if the Federal Department of Transport has its way. The building of a standard gauge industrial branch from Castione (near Bellinzona) to Grono has been approved. The planned line would run partly on a new alignment to permit larger-radius curves and operation by SBB diesel locomotives. It is not out of the question that passenger trains may be introduced later, if the extra money for catenary and signalling can be made available.

At present, the RhB goods train (of transporter wagons), which runs
only when required, leaves Grono at about 15.00, arriving at Castione-Arbedo around 15.30. The working starts and finishes at Grono depot, which is just beyond the old station in the ditection of Cama.


The BVZ has ordered five HGe4/4 II locomotives of the same design
of those recently built for the Furka-Oberalp and the Brünig.
for delivery from May 1990. They will be numbered 1 - 5 and take the same names as the steam locos which previously carried the numbers. One HGe4/4 II will be able to haul seven bogie coaches up the BVZ gradients, so it will no longer be necessary to detach coaches from the Glacier Express at Brig, although crossing two seven-coach trains in the short BVZ stations would be a problem. Also, one steel bridge will have to be replaced and two others strengthened to take the weight of the new engines.

As for the existing HGe4/4 I locomotives, number 11 - 15, three will
remain in service, one will be rebuilt as a diesel, and a the fifth
kept as a source of spare parts. The other HGe 4/4 I, no.16, which
is of a later body design and is fitted for push-pull working, will
also continue in use.


The MOB would like to reclaim composite coach AB 93, wich has been in use for some years on the Resau Vivarais preserved line in France. If it is still needed in France, the company is prepared to offer another vehicle in exchange. One suggestion is that the MOB lends Bi 206 (a four-wheeled coach) to the GFM in return for an ex-Brünig bogie coach which could go to France.

MOB Be4/4 1001, which was one Be4/4 9 of the Lugano - Cadro - Dino railway, has run successful clearance tests over the Chemins de fer electriques Veveysans (CEV) to Vevey. A simlar run with a 5000 class set was less lucky, damaging the unit's "cow-catcher". Be 4/4 1002, ex-Biasca-Acquarossa ABe 4/4 4, has in fact been hired to the CEV.

Oensingen-Balsthal Bahn

The Red Arrow railcar, RBe4/4 202, failed soon after entering service. A few days later, the company's other railcar, Be2/4 201, was also out of service and a unit had to be borrowed at short notice from the BLS, who supplied ABDe4/8 741.

 A "Camelback" on the BLS

In the course of its R5 overhaul, mk 2 standard AB coach 50 63 39-33 804-4 has been fitted with a Alsthom (France) Freschor air-cooling unit. The equipment has been fitted above the entrance doors, an intrusion on its roof-line which has led to the nickname "Kamelhöcker". It has been repainted in the new colour scheme of blue over cream and put into service in Interlaken - Zürich Airport - Chur expresses.