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.
Swiss Railways Manchester Notebook December 1990
Re 4/4 II, Part 4: Variations on the theme
From EZ 7/90, by Franz Eberhard, SBB loco driver
By the late 1960s, many of the expresses over the Gotthard
the maximum permitted load for one Re 4/4 II, and a pilot locomotive
was required. The Re 6/6 type was being planned, but rather that wait
for this a temporary solution was implemented.
"Turbo" Re 4/4 II
In 1967, the Südostbahn (SOB) took delivery of Re 4/4 no.
This one-off was the same as the first series SBB Re4/4 II, except
a lower gear ration, essential for the 50 per mille (1 in 20)
of the SOB main line. The SBB arranged to hire this loco for testing,
and ran it for a time in scheduled service over the Gotthard. The
tests were successful, and in 1968 an order was placed for 20
to be coded Re 4/4 III. The first, 11351, was delivered on 19
1971, and the final example, 11370, on 30 September of the same year;
an incredible performance by the firms concerned. 11351-60 were
at Oerlikon, and 11361-70 in Geneva. They differ from the Re 4/4 II
type only in the different gear ratio and consequent lower maximum
speed of 125 rather than 140 km/h. All are fitted with train radio.
The class are used predominantly used singly on express
services, and in multiple on freights. They have never been used in
push-pull service. On the heaviest freights, they often work with
an Re 6/6; the second loco is marshalled within the train, with at
least 300 tonnes of load between the two locos, and up to 1300 tonnes
behind the second. Working singly on expresses and Huckepack services,
a single Re 4/4 III is permitted 580 tonnes over the Gotthard compared
with 460 for an Re 4/4 II.
The Austrian Railways have shown some interest in this SBB
In November 1975, 11370 was borrowed for tests on the Semmering route.
11357 was used to test a cab air-conditioning system,
some recognisable modifications to the cabs. The equipment failed
to prove itself and was later removed. So far the class have escaped
serious accidents, although there was a rather spectacular crash at
Ambri-Piotta on September 1975, when a double-headed freight suffered
a brake failure and ran through the exit signal at red, through the
trap points and down an embankment, leaving the locos in a most
position. Until they could be rescued, they had to be secured by a
steel cable to an Ae 4/6 parked on the track to prevent further
On another occasion, an Re 4/4 III was seen having a rest in Lucerne
depot turntable pit ...
In 1983-5, 11351-53 were sold to the SOB, for reasons which
understood in SBB staff circles; even I have made a few cynical
recently, as the SBB are suffering a severe shortage of locomotives.
Private Re 4/4 II and III
To save themselves time and development costs, some private
have from time to time bought "off the peg" Re 4/4 II and III
With the exception of SOB 41, all these private Re's have two
the steeper-angled cab front, and round headlamps of a larger
than the SBB standard.
As mentioned above, SOB 41 was delivered in 1967. Originally
equipped with a scissors-type pantograph, later replaced by the
type. In the course of overhaul at the SBB Bellinzona works, it was
repainted in SOB red, including the "cow-catcher" which was
unpainted metal (see EZ 2/89). It has a maximum speed of 125 km/hr,
and on each end carries a shield combining the arms of Schwyz,
and St. Gallen. There are no shields on the sides.
Three further locos were bought from the SBB: 42 (ex-11352) in
43 (ex-11353) in 1984, and 44 (ex-11351) in 1985. These locos retain
the SBB Swiss cross shield on the ends, and on the sides the arms
of Arth-Goldau (42), Rothenturm (43), and Pfaffikon (44). Maximum
speed is also 125 km/hr. SOB Re 4/4s are used on heavy freight and
passenger trains, on diagrams which also take them over the tracks
of the SBB and the Bodensee-Toggenburg.
The EBT company obtained two locomotives in 1969, which were
with SBB batch 11156-215. 111 carries the shield of Canton Bern on
the ends, and 112 Canton Solothurn. In 1983, as part of SBB batch
11305-11349, three further examples were built for what was by then
the EBT group: 113 for the EBT (shield of Thun), 141 for the VHB
Huttwil-Bahnen - shield of Canton Luzern) and 181 for the SMB
Bahn - shield of Lebern district). All these locos are geared for
a maximum speed of 120 km/h. The two older ones have had their
modified to match the 1983 batch.
These locos are used principally for freight trains on Mondays
only; they can all be seen on any part of the EBT group network.
can often be seen on the Burgdorf - Thun line. To ensure that all
pantographs receive equal wear, the company has a rule that the No.
2 end pantograph should be used on even dates, and the No. 1 end on
Mittel-Thurgau Bahn (MThB)
MthB Re 4/4 21, built along with EBT 111/2 in 1969, is unique
the only privately-owned loco with normal Re 4/4 II gearing giving
a maximum speed of 140 km/hr. It carries the shield of Canton Thurgau
on the ends.
SBB driver "steals" EBT loco
MThB Re 4/4 21 was hired by the SBB in 1969, for use
on expresses between Basel and Zürich, but both EBT cousins
and 112 came unintentionally and unexpectedly into SBB service,
the knowledge of the senior managements of either company, on cold
snowy winter night of February 8 1976. I was driving express 643 from
Bern to Basel, including international through cars for Amsterdam,
Calais and Oostende. At Burgdorf, I found myself stopped in track
2 for no apparent reason. The journey so far had been without
but now I discovered that there had been a severe short-circuit on
the locomotive roof. To my amazement I was laconically told by the
station staff that train 685, already stopped on track 3, had already
suffered the same date and was to be taken over by EBT Re 4/4 no.
112. I attempted to restart my train, resulting only in a loud
- obviously I was going nowhere in that engine. I asked if the EBT
could spare another locomotive for me, and after some consultation
they agreed to bring no. 111 out of the depot.
The two failed SBB locomotives remained at Burgdorf, and the
locomotives got a chance to reach their full 120 km/hr as the two
trains proceeded, with not too much delay. Meanwhile, the "thefts"
had been reported to locomotive control, and a replacement SBB Re
4/4 was waiting at Olten. Despite taking part in this trading without
authority I was neither reprimanded nor praised for the night's
at least the international through coaches made their connections
The Bergün Model Railway: non-stop to 1991
This item, by Michael Steiner, is translated from Das Krokodil,
magazine of the Albula-Bahn-Club of Bergün, issue 2/89
A model of the Preda - Bergün line is taking shape on the
floor of the building which is to become the Bergün town
The room has been almost completely removated and the foundations
for the track beds are already in place. If anyone wrinkles his
and thinks we haven't made much progress, he is completely on the
wrong track: the uneven floor of the old building, with level
of up to 16 cm, has caused great problems in making the legs and
There are about 100 support legs altogether, made of perforated
The track beds are made from some 20 square metres of 21 mm thick
9-ply wood, to represent the whole of the line from Bergün
Preda including all tunnels and bridges; the total length of run will
be 56 metres. About 600 M8-size screws have been used in the
of these track bases. Bergün station is 70 cm above the
and the line climbs at an average gradient of 25 per mille (the
is 35 per mille) to Preda at 1.72m above the floor. The gentler
was chosen firstly to make sure that Bemo trains could handle the
climb, and also to keep Preda station and a reasonable height from
Now that the shell is complete, track laying is to begin in
1989. Most of the work so far has been done by Emil Dieter (ABC
member) and Heinrich Gerhard (Stationmaster at Preda), but any
of the Club who may be spending their holidays in the area are welcome
to help with the track and scenery. It is planned that public
will begin in 1991; 18 trains will operate, some held in
under the scenery. It is worth mentioning that the Bemo company, and
their Swiss importers Bänninger of Winterthur, have not only
all the trains without cost, but also helped financially with the
building of the layout itself, a generous gesture which has greatly
facilitated the work of our main builder Heinrich Gerhard.
Sightseeing by Rail: Basel to Luzern (table 500)
Adapted from Grosser
From Basel, known for its important chemical industry and its
docks - "the gateway to Switzerland", we traverse the industrial area
to Muttenz (km 5), whose passenger station lies at the beginning of
the maze of tracks which is one of the country's biggest marshalling
yards. Muttenz parish church, St. Arbogast, has the country's last
remaining fortified church enclosure. Nearby, at Wartenburg, are some
castle ruins from the 13th century. After Pratteln (km 8) we turn
right into the Ergolz valley, where lies Liestal (km 14), capital
of the Canton of Basel Land. Liestal has a well-preserved medieval
old quarter, set on a terrace above the river, and many decorated
19th century houses; in the canton museum are prehistoric finds from
Muttenz and Kaiseraugst, and the drinking cup of Charles the Bold
of Burgundy, captured at the battle of Nancy in 1477.
The narrow-gauge Waldenburgerbahn starts from Liestal, but we
east to Sissach (km 21) and Gelterkinden (km 24), which has a very
interesting late-Gothic church. After Tecknau (km 28) we traverse
the 8.134 km Hauenstein base tunnel which was built in 1916 to allow
expresses to by-pass the steep gradients of the original Hauenstein
route, then cross the River Aare before entering Olten (km 39) which
is one of the country's major rail junctions. On the left, soon after
leaving Olten, we see on a hill the so-called Salis castle, built
in 1260 and completely rebuilt in 1870. Today, it is a popular
viewpoint with a restaurant. Next to come into view is the Aarburg
castle, which, along with the old and new Wartburg castles, guarded
this part of the Aare valley.
After the town of Aarburg (km 43), with its triangular
we enter the fertile Wigger valley. We call at Zofingen (km 48),
town on this section, then run around the Santenberg hill to Nebikon
(km 60) and skirt the Wauwil moss. The Mauen lake, on the right, has
an island with a castle. Soon after Sursee (km 70) we run alongside
the beautiful Sempach Lake; the station at Nottwil (km 75) is on the
lake shore. On the opposite shore is Sempach, a "crumbling old town"
(Ward Lock, 1937) where Arnold von Winkelried became a national hero
by sacrificing himself in battle against the Austrians on 9 July
He is said to have rushed forward and grabbed as many as he could
of the enemy's lances, thus making a break in their line.
Leaving the lake behind, we run through woodland to
(km 91), junction with the Seetalbahn, where the Kleine Emme river
joins the Reuss. The railway squeezes through a gorge along with the
road and the Reuss river, then tunnels under the Gütsch hill
arriving at the famous terminal station of Luzern (km 96).
First published 1990. This edition April 2009