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 January 1991
Trabi & Wartburg: East German Locos for the SOB
By Werner Hardmeier, from EZ 10/90
In the first half of 1990, the SOB carried 66,000 gross
freight, twice the amount hauled in the same period of the previous
year. The four Re 4/4 III 41-44, and the eight BDe 4/4 railcars 80-87,
are all required for timetabled freight and passenger trains, so that
on some days the SOB has had to borrow a locomotive from the SBB, which
itself is suffering from a motive power shortage.
DDR Re 4/4 II
The Südostbahn, unable for financial reasons to acquire
locomotives this year, advertised in the railway press for any modern
freight locomotives with rheostatic braking which might be available on
long-term hire. After discussions with the Czechoslovakian and East
German railways, it was arranged for a Deutsche Reichsbahn Bo-Bo of
class 243 to be tested on the SOB, and wine-red liveried 243 922
arrived at Samstagern on August 1st. Over 600 locomotives of this type
have been built since 1984. Extensive test runs showed that the 243
could haul the same load as an SBB Re 4/4 II up the 50 per mille
gradient of the SOB main line, and the rheostatic braking matched the
SOB's strict requirements. Even so, two 243s in multiple would only be
able to manage six bogie gravel hoppers on the SOB gradient, so further
discussions were held regarding the hire of a six-axle locomotive.
DDR Ae 6/6
Thus, on 12 September, DR 250 252 was hauled by 243 922
carrying a Südostbahn label) from Zürich via
Wädenswil to Samstagern works where it was fitted with a
Swiss standard pantograph. Test running began the same week. In power
terms, it is the equivalent of an SBB Ae 6/6, and should give good
service over the next year. The 250 carries the same wine-red livery as
the 243, but its body is rather more angular in shape. For through
haulage of gravel trains over the SBB to Schaffhausen, both locos are
to be fitted with Signum automatic train protection equipment. Two SOB
maintenance workers have been trained at the DR Erfurt depot, and
arrangements have been made for any spare parts to be sent by express
carrier from Erfurt to Samstagern if required.
The four photos on p.46/7 of EZ 10/90 are examples of
short enough to appeal to modellers with small layouts. The very last
run of an Ae 4/6 on the Locarno goods, on 2 May 1983, returning to
Bellinzona with just two vans. On 6 July 1977, Ae 3/6 10698 enters
Roches BE with just one four-wheeled wagon loaded with pipes. The scene
on 11 August 1990 at Neuchâtel, as a BDe 4/4 railcar with Bt
driving trailer leaves on a local passenger to Travers. Finally a
four-coach express near Wynigen on 8 September 1984, composed of Re 4/4
II, one RIC AB, one EW I B, and two RIC B.
RhB Loco Special
1: The Rebuilt Ge 4/4 I
From Eisenbahn Journal
1/89, by W. Goy
The management of the Rhätische Bahn are always looking
ways to improve efficiency, and to this end are continously renewing
and improving the railway's equipment. By 1986, the ten Ge 4/4 I
locomotives built in 1947 and 1953 were in need of major attention, and
it was decided to give them a full technical and aesthetic rebuild, to
fit them for many years more service.
In the early post-war years, the RhB realised that to retain
passenger traffic, shorter journey times were vital; there was no way
the existing power - Ge 6/6 I and Ge 4/6 - could be speeded up; modern
locos were essential. The first four Ge 4/4 I, 601 - 604, arrived in
1947. These Bo-Bo locos had a service weight of 47 tonnes, a maximum
speed of 75 km/h and a power rating of 1184 kw, enough to haul 240
tonnes up a 25 per mille gradient (e.g. Scuol - Ardez), and 170 tonnes
on 35 per mille (e.g. Filisur - Preda). Mechanical parts were
constructed by SLM, and electrical parts by BBC/MFO. A second series of
six locomotives, 605-610, was built in 1953; the SLM factory was
overloaded, so the body construction was subcontracted to a firm in
Italy. In the mid-sixties, the class was refurbished. The side windows
and louvres (arranged differently on each side) were replaced
completely by vertically slatted ventilators, and the end doors and
corridor connections were removed.
From 1986 onwards, all ten locomotives are again being rebuilt
Landquart works, and the opportunity is being taken to replace the cab
with a new, ergonomic design with a better view for the driver. The new
cabs are larger, lengthening the loco body by 150mm, altough the length
over buffers is unchanged. The most obvious visual changes are the two
large windows on the cab front, and the new red livery, but internally
many items have been rebuilt or replaced: dead-man's device, main
controller, driver's desk, wiring, lighting controls and instruments.
Also, the sandboxes have been modified to permit tyre turning on the
wheel lathe. Connections for multiple and push-pull control have been
fitted, involving new power control circuitry and revised train door
controls. The principle features of the design, such as high-voltage
tap-changer, rheostatic brakes and bogies are being retained; these
were actually based on the equipment fitted to the BLS Ae 4/4 type, no.
II: the Donkeys: Ge 2/2 161 and 162
From EZ 11/90, by P. Pfeiffer
As part of the RhB centenary celebrations of 15/16 July 1989,
little Ge 4/4 locos 161 and 162, affectionately known as "Asnin"
(little donkeys), resplendent in a new livery, were planned to work
special passenger services between Poschiavo and Tirano.
These locos were built in 1911 by SIG and Alioth for the
opening of the
Bernina line, then an independent company. They were used to pilot the
railcars on heavy trains up the 70 per mille south ramp, and also
singly on light passenger, freight and engineers' trains. They have not
been significantly rebuilt; only the current collection has been
changed over the years. The original pair of bow collectors was
replaced in 1928 by one scissors-type pantograph, itself removed in
1971/2 in favour of the single-arm type. In 1961 they were fitted with
a compressor and shunting brake, and renumbered from 61/2. From 1911 to
1988 both carried brown livery; 162 was repainted orange on overhaul in
spring 1988, 161 following suit in time for the centenary events.
The Donkeys have always been used only on the south side of
line, and overhauled at Poschiavo works, only very rarely turning up at
Pontresina or St Moritz. When the first of the more powerful 41-49
series of motorcoaches were delivered in 1964, piloting of northbound
trains to the summit was no longer necessary, and the Ge 2/2s have
since been used as station pilots, usually at Campocologno and
For the celebration specials, it was planned to use five of
"Ausssichtwagen", plus four wheeled coach 2060 for less hardy souls,
double-headed by 161 and 162. Sadly, however, this train turned out to
be too heavy for the two donkeys, so the special was in fact worked
from Tirano to Poschiavo by 161 and ABe 4/4 37, returning downhill with
161 alone. Newly-repainted 162 thus spent the weekend out of work at
Re 4/4 II, Part 5 - Private Railway Models
From EZ 7/90, by R. Stamm
It is not a simple matter for model companies to portray
versions of a locomotive. Changes to the tools cost money, which must
be reflected in the price of the model, so if the result is only of
local interest, it is not an economic proposition to reproduce every
minor variation. The standard gauge private lines use larger headlamps
that the SBB, but this detail is understandably not reflected in any of
the models reviewed.
N Scale: Arnold
Based on the SBB Re 4/4 model, each version is well made and
The green EBT loco (cat. 2418), numbered 113 with the arms of Thun on
the front, portrays that company's second series. The red SOB version
(cat.2419), no. 42 with the arms of Arth-Goldau on the side, represents
one of the Re 4/4 III locos bought from the SBB. The Mittel Thurgau
Bahn example (cat. 2411), in customary green livery, is adorned on the
front with the arms of Canton Thurgau.
Hag produce all seven possible private railway Re 4/4
admittedly without modification to the SBB body mouldings.
Constructional details are all the same as the SBB versions described
in the last article.
Representing the EBT, SMB and VHB lines, no. 113 "Thun" (cat.
181 "Lebern" (cat. 276/7) and 141 "Luzern" (cat. 278/9) are available,
of the newer Hag model. All have been made in both AC and DC versions,
but are not always available due to the limited production runs. For
MThB fans, a green no. 21 (cat. 272/3) is in the range, again with SBB
headlamps but correctly representing the twin-pantograph variant. SOB
modellers have been particularly well catered for by Hag, with models
of two different locos in three versions. Derived from the early SBB
series, no. 41 was produced in both green and red. The green version
(cat. 158/9) has the red cow-catcher and complicated shield; the
prototype no. 41 was repainted red at its 1989 overhaul and Hag have
followed suit, (cat. 156/7) although they have not followed the
prototype by altering the model to a single-arm pantograph. The sale of
some Re 4/4 III locos by the SBB to the SOB has also been copied by
Hag; no. 44 (cat. 270/271) carries red livery and very neat lettering,
with the arms of Pfaffikon.
The Swimo line of repainted Hag engines also includes red SOB
62705) and green MThB 21 (cat. 62725). These must be ordered directly
from Swimo Modellbahn.
This manufacturer offers its SBB first-series model in SBB
Initially, no. 41 was produced (cat. no. 8156 Z2), in green with the
correct red cow-catcher and accurate lettering, although some early
models reached the shops still carrying the SBB number. The 1990 Lima
catalogue shows that they also have modelled the overhauled no. 41 in
red, and unlike Hag have noticed that the pantograph has been changed
to the single-arm version. The buffers have also been correctly changed
from round to rectangular, although the headlamps are still incorrect.
This new version (cat. 8219) is available for AC and DC, but the
pantograph is not wired, unlike the earlier model. It should be
possible for the modeller to do this himself, however.
Improving an H0 Bogie Open Wagon (SBB Eaos)
Modelling feature from EZ 11/90, by Daniel Piron.
The Liliput SBB Eaos, and Lima models made since summer 1990,
the cast-frame type of Y25 bogie used by the SBB. Older, grey, Lima
wagons have incorrect welded-frame Y25 bogies of the type used by other
railways, recognisable by the flanges on the front of the frames. It is
possible to obtain the Liliput version as a spare part, and fit them to
the Lima wagon using a screw 5 mm in diameter and 10 mm long, with a
shim of 1 mm plastic sheet between the bogie and the Lima underframe.
Wagon loads bring life to a model railway, and bogie open
ideal for such treatment. Two common types are demonstrated in the
photographs: coal and scrap metal. Timber and sugar beet are other
loads commonly seen. More rarely, they can be seen covered with a
tarpaulin. Modellers should note that it is absolutely forbidden for
loads to be higher than the wagon sides.
For the coal load, cut a piece of rigid foam to fit in the
profile the top to simulate the three peaks usually produced by loading
hoppers. Sand, to represent the coal, is added using ballasting
technique; sprinkle it on dry, then add diluted PVA glue with a few
drops of washing-up liquid added. Allow to dry for 48 hours before
painting black. Be sure to use paint which does not attack your foam!
To create a scrap metal load, first find two lids from Preiser
boxes, and cut one to half its length. These will fit neatly in the
wagon and form a platform on which to build up your scrap load. Dig out
your box of spare plastic and white-metal kit parts, and begin with a
layer of window frames or similar, then add cut-up bits of lattice
girder, and any other appropriate bits you can find. Worn-out audio
cassettes are a good source of pulley-wheels etc. Mask the wagon itself
with tape and paint the load with spray-cans, begin with black, then
add grey and brown.
The prototype wagons are very heavily used and are normally
well-weathered condition. A rust colour can be mixed from black, grey
and brown with plenty of thinners, concentrating on the areas around
the ribbing etc. A hair drier can be used to dry the very thin paint
more quickly for another coat etc. - don't melt the model, though!
Model Auto News
PR-Modellbau offer an H0 Volvo Kombi lettered as an RhB
vehicle. The most famous car of 1990, the Trabant 601S, is now made by
Herpa in H0 in a typical green/cream colour scheme; did any refugees
A company called Viessman sell plastic model cars with working
tail lights and also the flashing roof lights of police cars etc. The
cars can not be moved around, as the light source is intended to be
fitted under the baseboard.
The Val de Travers: Photographer's Paradise
Enlarged from EZ 11/90.
Route 221, from Neuchâtel via Travers to Buttes and
Pontarlier offers a considerable variety of train formations and
wonderful scenery. The Pontarlier line, operated by the SBB, serves the
currently little-used border crossing, through trains joining the
Vallorbe line at Frasne. All freight to Pontarlier, which is served by
the SBB even though it is several kilometres beyond the French border,
is attached to the sparse local passenger service; most trains
terminate within Switzerland at Les Verrières. The line
follows the Areuse river for much of the way; an esoteric item between
Noiraigue and Champ-du-Moulin, illustrated in "Signale der Schweizer
Bahnen" by Butz, is a gradient sign showing a steady descent at 20 per
mille for the amazingly long distance of 11050 m.
The RVT company, one of Switzerland's lesser-known private
lines with a
total route length of 14 km, is under common management with the two
CMN lines, described in a previous issue. Opened in 1883/86, it was an
early user if diesel railcars, from around 1918 until electrification
in 1944. The route consists of the short standard-gauge branch from
Travers to Buttes and its twig from Fleurier to St Sulpice. The latter
section, serving a cement works which is the main reason for the line's
existence, has had no passenger service since 1968, being served by the
Local 4466 at 10.09 (Mon-Sat) from Neuchâtel to Travers,
returning empty as train 23257 at 10.50, is worked by an SBB Ae 3/6. An
Ae 6/6 with a second class coach, parcels van and freight wagons added
as required works the 60758 (Mon-Sat) 06.32 and 60778 (Mon-Fri) 15.09
from Neuchâtel to Pontarlier, and the 4465 (Mon-Sat) 09.39
and 60783 (Mon-Fri) 16.49 return workings from Pontarlier.
An SBB BDe 4/4 and driving trailer is used on 4463 local 09.02
Verrièrres - Neuchâtel and the 4468 11.10 return,
as well as most of the shuttle workings between Travers and Les
Verrières or Pontarlier, a service which is proposed for
withdrawal. The through trains between Neuchâtel and the RVT
(Regional Val de Travers) line to Buttes are worked by a mixture of SBB
NPZ units and push-pull trains of the RVT company.
International trains include the 'Lutetia' (train 421) from
Bern, hauled by an SBB Re 4/4 I, which calls at Pontarlier at 10.44,
and the 428 'Lemano' from Bern to Paris (Pontarlier 19.19). The Paris -
Bern TGV service, the 'Champs-Elysées' also passes this way
in both directions, but only the northbound (08.14 at Pontarlier) can
be seen in daylight.
Goods workings on the RVT line are handled by the RVT's
4/4 locomotive no.1, including mixed train 228 (16.07 Mon-Fri from
Travers to Fleurier) which carries its passengers in an old ex-SBB
heavyweight steel coach. Travers is a good location for observations,
although most Neuchâtel trains cross at Noiraigue, the next
An hour's walk in the Areuse Gorge
Courtesy of Michelin
From Noiraigue station a path follows the river, past a
plant, into the gorge, through which the Areuse river flows between
woods and limestone cliffs. Midway, a belvedere looks down onto the
narrowest part of the gorge and the cascading river. The site, enhanced
by a hump-backed bridge, is wonderfully romantic. From here, one can
walk though the woods to Champ-du-Moulin village; just before the
village is the house of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau
(1712-78), nature lover, and author of "the social contract" in which
he developed the ideas of modern democracy. From the village it is a
quarter-hour's climb to Champ-du-Moulin station.
The more energetic can visit the Creux de Van nature reserve,
entrance to which is around 2 km from Noiraigue. The highest point of
the reserve, at Le Soliat, which can be reached by a three-hour
circular walk, is at 1463 m above sea level and gives a fine view over
Lake Neuchâtel to the Alps.
News Items from EZ 10/90 and EZ 11/90
Switzerland Stays on the Rails?
National transport minister Adolf Ogi has rejected a proposal
road corridor across the country for 40-tonne lorries,in favour of
expansion of the present rail container and lorry-carrying services.
However, the Government plans to reduce its subsidy towards
passenger services, and a number are proposed for replacement by buses.
Early casualties, from 5 November 1990, are four all-stations Gotthard
locals, "bustituted" to create four new paths on this congested route
for intermodal freights.
From the 1991 timetable change, the RABDe 8/16 units on line
between Winterthur and Stein am Rhein will be operated without a
conductor, on a trial basis. These "Chiquita" sets, 2001-4, are being
repainted in standard NPZ colours from their previous yellow; a new
nickname will be required. When centre cars with swing-plug doors for
the NPZ sets are delivered in 1992, the Lausanne - Vallorbe (200) and
Aarau - Suhr - Zofingen (504) will follow suit.
MOB Locomotive Orders
The Montreux Oberland Bernois has ordered three new locos, to
be Ge 4/4
8001-8003. They will greatly resemble RhB Ge 4/4 III 641-644, currently
being built, but at present are specified for DC operation only. They
will, however, be capable of conversion to AC/DC twin-voltage working
if the proposal for a third rail over the Zweisimmen - Interlaken BLS
lines comes to fruition; in this case a further three locos will also
Until the new power is delivered, the new Panoramic sets
order from Breda in Italy will be powered by the GDe 4/4 6001 series
locos, which will need to be fitted with remote control wiring. The BDe
4/4 railcars 3005 and 3006 (built 1946), currently working the
Superpanoramic Express, lack the necessary power for the new 5-coach
If all goes well, December 1990 will see the opening of an
extension of the Aigle - Ollon - Monthey - Champéry line from
Champéry to the lower station of a new cable car to
BVB double track
The Bex - Villars - Bretaye line is doubling its line between
and a new station at Roches Gris, which serves a new housing
development on the Col de Bretaye section. Villars depot is being
extended to accommodate 3-car trains, and BDeh 2/4 21 (built 1940) is
being repaired after fire damage.
Push-Pull Freight on the WAB
Following the example of the MC, GFM and JB, the
placed in service a freight train driving trailer, Uat 820. It is
basically a bogie tank wagon, 11.7 m long with a capacity of 24 000
litres, fitted with a driving cab from which a railcar of the BDhe 2/4
101-118 series can be controlled. A second
driving trailer, this time based on a four-wheel wagon. is under
contruction. Dedicated freight services, worked by He 2/2 locomotives,
can thus be reduced in number, saving considerable staff costs. Two
covered vans have been fitted with through train control wiring.
Temporary driving cabs have been installed at the mountain end
railcars 108 (Lauterbrunnen) and 116 (Grindelwald) to enable them to
work engineer's trains.
Locomotives for the BAM?
The Bière-Apples-Morges line would like to buy two
locomotives of the new RhB Ge 4/4 III type to handle its rollbock
freight traffic. One of these, with its 3350 HP, could haul 400 tons up
the gradients of the BAM; at present it is necessary to double-head
heavy trains of military supplies with two of the line's Be 4/4
railcars 11, 12, and 14, leaving only the old BDe 4/4 cars 1-5 to
handle the passenger service. If the expenditure of over 13 million
francs is approved by the Canton Vaud government, the locos could be
delivered by summer 1993.
Much-travelled narrow-gauge coach
"New" centre trailer B 342 of the Nyon - St.Cergue - Morez
line, now resplendent
in the line's new livery, actually began life in 1949 on the Bremgarten
- Dietikon as B 42, and was sold in 1969 to the Biel -
Täuffelen - Ins where it ran until 1975. It was acquired by
the NStCM in 1978.
Driving Trailers for the YSteC
FFA of Altenrhein have rebuilt coaches B 33 and 34 of the
Ste.Croix line into driving trailers BDt 53 and 54. 53 will be used
either as driving trailer for old railcars Be 4/4 4 and 5, or as centre
car with modern Be 4/4 units 1-3, and its cab faces Yverdon. 54 becomes
a third driving trailer to work with 1-3, and like existing Bt 51 and
52, the cab end faces towatds Ste Croix.
Gruyère - Fribourg - Morat News
Standard gauge ABDe 4/4 163 has suffered a serious failure,
beyond economic repair; it will be cannibailzed for spares. New RBDe
4/4 and ABt twin sets 181 and 182, based on the BLS type, will work on
the Freiburg - Ins service. An RABDe 4/4 twin-cab motorcoach obtained
from the Régional Val de Travers will become 173, as it is
similar to existing GFM cars 171 and 172, used on the Bulle - Romont
The two new units for the metre gauge section will be 121 and
existing 1922-built Be 4/4 121 will be renumbered between 110 and 119.
Badly-damaged BDe 4/4 114 (built 1904) is to be scrapped and replaced
by ex-RhB Bernina ABe 4/4 36, which is to reclassified Xe 4/4 for work
train service. Be 4/4 132 (built 1943) has also been withdrawn due to
corrosion. Now that Vevey bogies are in use for carrying standard-gauge
wagons, six transporter wagons, Ua 993-998 (built 1972/73) have been
sold to the SBB for Brünig service. 991 and 992 remain in use
on the GFM as engineering department rail carriers.
First published 1991
- this edition April 2009