Swiss Railways Manchester 1990s archives

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 Archive April 1993

Belgian Tourist: SNCB loco in Switzerland

from LOKI 3-93, by C. Hertogs, the late W. Ritschard & R. Stamm. (The prototype section of this article originally appeared in the sister Belgian/Dutch magazines Journal du Chemin de Fer and Spoorweg Journal, and appears in LOKI by kind permission of the editor Kurt Heidbreder. It was translated from French to German by Friedbert Zellweger, father of the editor of LOKI.)

From the 1950s, railway electrification spead extensively across Europe, but unfortunately different countries chose different supply systems and voltages. Belgium opted for 3000 volts DC, but its neighbours had other ideas: the Netherlands Railways (NS) was 1500 V DC, France (SNCF) 25 kV AC 50 Hz and Germany (DB) 15 kV AC 16.66 Hz. To speed the operation of international trains, the Belgian Railways (SNCB) over the years have collected 51 multi-current locomotives of various types, Classes 11, 12, 15, 18 and 25.5. Thus time-wasting locomotive changes at the border stations of Aachen, Jeumont, Qu<130>vy, Muscron, Roosendaal and Maastricht have been largely eliminated.


The DB was the first European national railway to introduce a multi-current locomotive, the E 410 class of 1966. These five locos could work in Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and Italy, and not surprisingly became known as 'Europaloks.' This German dream was, however, rather too ambitious for the electrical technology of the time, and the E 410s never realised their full potential, despite many modifications.

The SNCB Locos

The first Belgian 1600 class, a four-current loco, also appeared in 1966. Eight, 1600-1608, were built by BN, rated at 3560 HP. They were so successful that in 1974 SNCB decided to show off is own European loco and astonish the railway world by making a journey across Europe. Thus, on 13 May 1974 no. 1601 worked a trial train over the 743 km from Brussels to Spiez, hauling a sleeping car, a first-class buffet car and 15 couchette cars. 1601 powered the train alone all the way, over the metals of five railways (SNCB, CFL, SNCF, SBB and BLS). As far as Luxembourg it worked on 3000 V DC. In the station of the capital of the Grand Duchy, it switched to 25 kV AC for the rest of Luxembourg and across France to Basel, whence 15 kV AC was used across Switzerland to Spiez.

The run went without the slightest hitch, so for the rest of the summer of 1974 Freccia del Sole, a weekly holiday train chartered by the Railtour company, was regularly hauled to Spiez by a class 16.

In the Oberland

After the arrival of the first test train on 14 May 1974, 1601 worked a train of six SBB light-steel coaches from Spiez to Bern and back for staff training and familiarisation purposes before returning to Brussels in late afternoon with its trial train (minus sleeping car.)

The first loco to make the revenue-earning run on the Freccia del Sole was no. 1602, which arrived in Spiez after a trouble-free run just after midnight on 1 June 1974. A BLS engine took over for the climb over the Lötschberg to Domodossola, where the train was handed over to the Italian Railways for the rest of the journey to Rimini. The Belgian driver and his loco were taken to Thun for a sleep in the restful surroundings of the BLS depot. Towards midnight on the same day, the train arrived back at Spiez on the return to Brussels, and was reunited with its loco. The locomotive was driven by a Swiss driver while in Switzerland, but the Belgian driver was required to be present on the footplate to advise in case of any problems.

The working continued through the summer of 1974, but attracted little attention from photographers, as the only chances to photograph the train in the dark were while it was stopped at Basel or Spiez, and the loco spent the day ensconced in Thin depot. However, at one stage in June 1974 the loco was borrowed during the day for evaluation by the BLS and SBB as well as for driver training, and photographer Willy Ritschard (who sadly died in December 1992) was lucky enough to catch 1602 double-heading an express in the Aare valley with SBB Re 4/4 11191.

Only One Summer

Although the same power supply as the German and Austrian systems, the Swiss lines use a different geometry of overhead wire, requiring a special pantograph head. Four of the 16 class, 1601-1604, were thus modified. 16 service trips were made in Summer 1974, although on 13 July 1602 failed while still in France between Mulhouse and Basel. 1604 never the made the run.

At the end of the summer, the Belgian locos were declared to be unwanted guests - 'Persona non Grata' - on Swiss metals. It had been claimed that interference from their electrical machines was disrupting the SBB signalling and safety systems, especially between Basel and Pratteln, a problem which some drivers had also reported with BLS engines. The Belgian authorities, for their part, suggested that the problem was perhaps due to a lack of experience on the part of the SBB drivers; certainly no problems had occurred on the BLS between Bern and Spiez. The class 16 locos continued to work the Freccia del Sole in later years, but were taken off at Basel, as photographs taken inside Basel depot in 1975 and 1978 show.

In 1981, the SNCB decided that no further workings into Switzerland would be needed, and the special pantographs were removed, the last evidence of a short-lived but fascinating era. [The class are still familiar to those of us who travel from Britain to Switzerland by rail, however, as they are often seen at Ostend on expresses to Cologne.]

The Model

So you want to run the Freccia del Sole on your H0 layout? A 1600 class would certainly add an exotic touch to a Swiss model, and yet no-one could say it was wrong! If you have a Märklin AC layout, you are in luck, but you will have to be selective if you want complete authenticity. The current production model sine 1990 (cat. no. 3363) is in the modern blue and yellow livery which dates from after the Bernese Oberland days. The original blue and silver livery was carried by cat. no. 3152, which was on general sale from 1980 to 1984 and as a limited edition for the Benelux countries only in 1987. Today, this is a collector's item; examples were on sale at a recent Bern swapmeet for 150 - 190 Francs. Frustratingly, it is numbered as 1605, which was never fitted with a Swiss pantograph. No. 1602, which was so fitted, was represented (although sadly in the wrong livery) by Märklin Cat. 3163, which was on general sale from 1984 - 1987, and until 1989 in the Benelux states.

The model is well up to Märklin's high standard, with a detailed plastic body. The buffer beam is nicely detailed with screw coupling and various cables, unlike the Märklin SBB Ae 6/6 issued in 1991 which suffers from baldness in this area. Three pantographs are fitted, and there is good roof detailing. All the windows are flush fitted, and the cab door handrails are separate wire parts. LOKI would like to hear from anyone who has converted the model to 2-rail, for publication in a later issue.

French manufacturer Jouef also produced a SNCB 16 class in the mid-seventies, which was sold in Belgium as a set with two shortened Eurofima coaches.

Aigle to Champèry

Railways of Aigle, part 2. Based on Schweers & Wall.

The Aigle - Ollon - Monthey - Champèry (AOMC) serves two cantons; it connects Aigle and Ollon on the right (Canton Vaud) bank of the Rhone with the industrial town of Monthey on the Valais side, and its mountain section links Monthey with the winter sports resort of Champèry in the Val d'Illiez at the foot of the Dents du Midi range. In contrast to the Aigle - Leysin, the AOMC has always been surrounded by controversy; its birth was attended by much argument, reports and counter-reports, and more recently the Aigle - Monthey section at least has been under threat of closure. Nevertheless, the upgrading of its infrastructure has recently been completed, and modern motive power has been obtained second-hand from the Birsigtalbahn, which has converted to tram operation.


In the last years of the nineteenth century, when Leysin and Le Sepéy were planning rail links with Aigle, the people of the village of Ollon did not want to be left out and proposed their own line. The first suggestion was a tramway from Aigle to Ollon, which was soon amended to include a rack-and-pinion extension to the mountain resort of Villars. This plan was thwarted by various difficulties, so its proposers turned instead to the town of Monthey, where a group of citizens were planning a connection to the main-line station at Aigle.

The Monthey committee applied for a concession to build a narrow-gauge line from Monthey market place via St. Triphon and Ollon to Aigle, but the interests in Ollon complained that their station was to be on the edge of the village. Eventually, in 1900, a concession was obtained for a revised route which satisfied the objectors, but it was to be 1904 before the Aigle - Ollon - Monthey (AOM) railway company was actually founded. Still more difficulties lay ahead, including problems buying land in Monthey and arguments about the route to be taken through the village of Collombey. Finally, on 2 April 1907, the line opened for service between Aigle CFF - Ollon - Monthey Place du Marché.

The line through the Illiez valley to Champèry was originally an independent company. The inhabitants of the valley saw the efforts in Ollon and Monthey, and decided to have their own railway. The first project of 1899 was for a pure adhesion line from Monthey to Champèry with a branch line from Val d'Illiez station to Morgins. The concession actually issued in 1900, however, was for a shorter and cheaper route involving some rack assistance. Like the AOM, the Monthey - Champèry - Morgins (MCM) company struggled with a number of problems, especially regarding the proposed street running in Monthey and the location of Champèry station. Building work did not start until Summer 1906, and it was 1 February 1908 before services began on the first section from Monthey CFF via Monthey Ville to Champèry. The line to Morgins was never built.

So for many years the two separate companies worked into Monthey, with little in common except track gauge and supply voltage. The MCM ran by agreement over the AOMC for about 700 metres from the junction to Monthey Ville. At the beginning of 1922, the AOM abandoned its separate station at Monthey Place du Marché and terminated at Monthey Ville.

On January 1 1946 the two railways merged to become the AOMC. By 1948 complete closure was being proposed, but did not come about and in 1951 a modernisation programme began. Four new motorcoaches, capable of working over the whole system, were obtained; in the 1960s track renewal began, but again the threat of closure began to loom. Various reports offered a series of proposals: (1) complete closure; (2) complete retention; (3) Immediate closure of the valley section and - after road improvements - closure of the mountain line; (4) A new direct route from Aigle to Monthey not serving Ollon, and (5) Closure of the valley section and a building of a new line from Monthey to Bex. The only thing that actually happened was the closure of the 0.5 km section through the streets from Monthey Ville to the main line station at Monthey CFF, which died in 1976 under pressure from the local authority who wanted more room for the great Motor Car.

The rest of the system seems safe for the present. The valley section has been largely rebuilt on its own right-of-way away from the road, and modern second-hand motorcoaches from the Birsigtalbahn now handle the traffic. In 1976 the AOMC joined the other Aigle lines in the Transports Publics du Chablis; once before, from 1940 to 1946, the MCM company had been managed jointly with the ASD.

The Route

Of the six metre-gauge tracks in Aigle station square, the AOMC uses the two nearest to the town. There is no release crossover for running-round purposes, but trailers can be propelled back on to the rising gradient of the main line and allowed to run back into the other track if required. The line leaves the station on a sharp S-curve, crossing the Aigle - Sépey - Diabelerets on the level at right-angles. Leaving the town, the line follows the edge of the Rhone flood-plain through St.Triphon-Village (km 2.1) to Ollon (km 3.7), then turns south-west to adopt an almost straight course across the valley.

The wandering course of the AOMC is well-illustrated by the fact that after passing a halt at Villy, we find ourselves at St.Triphon Gare (km. 6.8), the point where the line crosses the CFF at its St.Triphon station. At one time there were interchange sidings here, and standard-gauge wagons could be loaded onto transporter bogies for transport on the AOMC. Shortly afterwards the line joins the road for the bridge over the Rhone, something of a traffic bottleneck which forms the border between Cantons Vaud and Valais. The lattice girder bridge is only just wide enough for the train to pass a car, and an interesting road sign tells lorry and bus drivers to keep at least 70 metres apart.

Crossing the CFF St.Gingolph branch, the line turns sharply again to run through the main street of the village of Collombey, the station here being known as Collombey-Muraz (9.4 km). Collombey also has a station on the CFF line, although this is likely to close in the near future. The mountain line from Champéry joins on the right before the halt of Monthey En Place, and we enter the (since 1976) terminus of the line at Monthey Ville (km 11.2). A bus (timetable 126.15) now provides the connection to the CFF station at Monthey, as part of a network of feeder buses centred on Monthey and operated by the AOMC company.

The mountain line to Champéry retraces the same route for a short distance through Monthey-En Place before branching left and climbing the left side of the scenic Illiez valley through a series of stations and halts, on mixed rack and adhesion power. The river in this valley is the Vièze, a tributary of the Rhone. The three rack sections (Strub system) help the line to overcome a height difference of 620 metres. The original terminus in Champéry (12.2 km from Monthey) was in the lower part of the town, but in 1990 the line was extended beyond this station (now known as Champéry-Village) about half a kilometre to a new terminus adjacent to the lower station of the Planachaux cable car, also operated by the TPC.

Technicalities and Motive Power

Both the AOM and MCM worked on 750 volts DC from the beginning; the official voltage today appears to be 850, although it appears to have been 900 V in 1954. It is therefore impossible for AOMC cars to work over the AL and ASD, which use a higher voltage. The ruling gradient is 50 per mille on the adhesion sections, steepening to 135 per mille on the rack sections of the Champéry line. The depot for both lines is at Monthey, and the fleet livery is red and grey.

The valley line, the AOM, started operation with three motorcoaches CFZe 2/4 1-3, built in 1907 in Germany by Rastatt and Alioth. They became AOMC 101-103; 101 and 103 were scrapped in 1957 but 102 was still active on engineering service duties in 1977. A further, more powerful, motorcoach, numbered CFZe 4/4 11, arrived in 1910 and worked until 1971. In 1969, three 1949-built motorcoaches were obtained after the closure of the Sernftalbahn in Canton Glarus, as described in the May 1991 Notebook. These were numbered BDe 4/4 111-113, and were sold in 1985 to Stern & Hafferl in Austria; see the October 1992 Notebook. They were replaced in 1985 by five 1966-built motorcoaches bought from the Birsigtalbahn, part of the BLT in Basel which was converting to tram operation. (Article planned for the June 1993 issue!) These are still in service, numbered BDe 4/4 101-105, and being non-rack-fitted are used on the weekday extra trains which maintain a half-hourly frequency between Aigle and Monthey.

Turning to the MCM mountain section, one steam engine was used in the early days, in the shape of an HG 2/2 0-4-0 tank built in 1888 by SLM for the Brünig line as Jura Simplon Bahn 952, later SBB 1002. It was aqcuired by the MCM in 1908, presumably for works trains, snowploughing etc., was hired to the ASD while it was being built in 1913-14, and sold in 1915. The original electric motorcoaches were BCFeh 4/4 1-2, CFeh 4/4 3, and BCFeh 4/4 6, built by SLM/SIG/Alioth in 1908-9. All these remained in stock until 1957; no. 6 is now in the collection of the Blonay - Chamby museum line.

The first new motorcoaches bought by the merged AOMC were BDeh 4/4 11-14, 500 horsepower 40-seat cars built by Schindler and Brown Boveri in 1954. These were designed to work between Aigle and Monthey, with a maximum speed of 50 km/h adhesion and 18 km/h rack. Unless the published records are wrong, these four cars and old no.102 must have worked all the services of the AOMC from 1957 until the arrival of the second-hand adhesion-only cars in 1969. They are still in stock today, and have been named after mountains: 11 La Haut Cime, 12 La Cime de l'Est, 13 Les Dents Blanches, and 14 Les Dents de Morcles. Two modern BDeh 4/4 rack/adhesion cars, capable of 65 km/h adhesion and 30 km/h on the rack, 1 Vaud and 2 Valais, arrived in 1987 from Vevey Engineering, and a third was on order according to a recent report.

Traffic and Tourism

The AOMC today works its passenger services on the regular interval pattern, starting around 05.30 and ending when the last train from Aigle arrives in Monthey at 23.27. Freight traffic is not operated on the valley section, as there are plenty of CFF stations around, but there is a daily (Mon-Fri) mixed train on the Monthey - Champéry section, leaving Monthey Ville at 15.49 and returning from Champéry at 17.16; reports and photos of this working would be very welcome.

Tourist guide books have little to say about Monthey (although it is a pleasant enough place with an old covered bridge over the river), and Champéry is just a one-street winter sports town; clearly the mountain views are the highlight of the area. There are said to be some good mountain walks from the top of the Planachaux cable car. An interesting sideline might be to alight from the Champéry train at Troistorrents and catch the AOMC bus which hairpins up to Morgins, terminus of the one-time proposed branch line. The chalets in this area are more elaborately carved that the usual Valais style, and are said to resemble the Bernese Oberland style; our old Ward Lock guide says that the people are an unusual race believed to be descended from the Theban legion, whatever that was. From Morgins, hard by the French border, there is a superb view of the Dents du Midi mountains. The road continues into France over the Morgins Pass, leading down into the Abondance valley. This is the only pass over these Chablais mountains, but as far as we know there is no bus service.

Heavy Lump: the STL coach under fire

An objective review, by Herbert Cadosch, from LOKI 4-93.

The RhB heavyweight coach model in H0m by Swiss firm STL has certainly been caught in the crossfire of the critics. HOm fans and magazines both agreed that there was a real need for model of this coach. However, the joy of this new release is dampened when one unpacks the STL model, which represents the B 22xx series in a choice of red, green, or green and beige.


In my childhood I admired the prototype coaches every day; at the time they formed the RhB's principal expresses, hauled by the famous Crocodile locomotives. I remember to this day the stately progress through the spectacular scenery of the Albula line. Sadly, the moment I saw the STL model I could see that it did not match up to my memories of this nostalgic vehicle. So what are these faults?

The problems become clear when the STL model is compared with the brass version by Ferro-Suisse, which is undoubtedly an exact scale replica. The STL coach clearly sits too high on its bogies, and the curve of the roof has been flattened, presumably to compensate. Some of the body detailing is faulty as well: the rivets are much too coarse, the windows are too deeply set, and the ribs on the roof are too coarse and overscale. The paintwork seems too thickly applied, perhaps the wrong sort of paint or unsuitable spraying equipment.

The overscale height means that the coach looks wrong when marshalled with other models, as the corridor connection (with its fancy magnetic coupling) is too high to match Bemo and Ferro-Suisse vehicles. An experienced modeller can lower the coach with a few hours of careful work (see photos in LOKI), but you are still left with the incorrect flattened roof.

Heavyweight Indeed

As soon as one picks up the STL model, the thought occurs that even the six-axle drive Bemo Crocodile is going to have problems hauling a sizeable train of them. In fact, the plastic STL coach is heavier that the all-brass Ferro-Suisse version! Tests have shown that the Bemo engine can only pull three STL heavyweights up a prototypical gradient of 35 per mille; the same loco could move nine Bemo coaches on the same grade. The wheel spring units and pickups for the interior lighting are heavy in themselves, and the weight can be reduced by removing the metal plate fitted in the bottom of the body.

Superb Interior

There is no doubt that the interior detailing, with its individual seats, is of very high quality; it is a shame that the rest of the model does not live up to this high standard. I hope that the criticisms I have offered will be taken in constructive spirit, and that the STL company will ensure RhB light-steel coaches and other future projects from this company are free from such defects.

Appendix by C.H.

On reading the above, I was moved to consult my library for prototype data to confirm the author's criticisms which, sadly, seem to be very justified. The prototype is the batch numbered B 2221 - 2232, built by SIG in 1929-31 as third-class cars. Today they are used as one-off strengthening coaches and in mixed trains, but if you really want to model a 1930s Albula express you will have to try some kitbashing to provide other classes of accommodation. There were first class side-corridor cars A 1151-54 (1151-53 were built in 1913), salon car As 1161, and some interesting composites AB 1615-1620. These were built with 32 third class (wooden) seats, 11 second class and 6 first class, classified ABC4ü and numbered 615-620. The principal difference between the STL model and these other varieties is the window size and spacing in the 1st/2nd class sections. There were also three restaurant cars in the series, WR 3810-3812, originally operated by Mitropa, and some four-wheeled baggage vans (D2 4061-3) with the same body profile.

LOKI Aktuell 4-93

(Starting with some items from 3-93 left out last month.)

Wohlen - Meisterschwanden

On 13 December 1992, the WM's reserve railcar BDe 2/4 3 (the "Friendly Freiamter" - ex-Sensetalbahn BDe 2/4 101) visited all stations on the line to distribute information about the new tariff union which has been set up in Aargau Canton. [A tariff union is an agreement between all transport operators in an area to share total revenue in return for interavailability of tickets.] During the day the siding at Hilfikon was used for crossing and overtaking by the service train, a movement which will not be possible in future as the siding is to be removed as part of a road improvement scheme.

End of the "Chiquitas"

On 7 January the last of the four RABDe 8/16 four-car railcar sets nos. 2001 - 2004 was taken out of service. These trains gained the nickname "Chiquitas" (a brand of banana), because of their original yellow livery and the noticeable sagging of the light-alloy bodies. They have been technically troublesome since they were built in 1976; the type was not perpetuated, and now it has been decided to give up the struggle. Interested purchasers should apply to the SBB, Bern ...

SBB Locos on the DB

For many years, SBB motive power has seen regular use on German rails, notably on the Schaffhausen - Singen and St. Margrethen - Lindau (via Austria) routes. To familarise more German drivers, a series of special runs took place from 3rd to 11th Febuary on the Black Forest line between Singen and Villingen. One each of classes Re 4/4 II, Re 6/6 and Ae 6/6 took part, with a test train of vans including an old DB "Convert" coach.


As predicted in issue 2-93, the SOB borrowed SBB Re 4/4 IV loco 10102 from 8-12 February for tests on its steep (50 per mille or 1 in 20) main line gradient with a view to purchasing the four members of this class, now considered non-standard by the SBB. Tests took place on passenger trains, piloting the East German loco 155 252, and on the line's heaviest freight train (eight loaded bogie cement tanks = 640 tonnes) with SOB Re 4/4 III 44 as train loco in case of problems.

Providing that Cantonal finance is forthcoming. the SOB intends to buy four NPZ (Neue Pendelzug = New Shuttle Train) units like the SBB type to replace its five ABe 4/4 motorcoaches which date from 1939/40.

Re 460 Abroad

The much-announced, but for various reasons never implemented, high-speed test runs with an Re 460 in Germany are now planned for this Summer. The Norwegian Railways have shown interest in the type as well as the German DB, and it is likely that one will visit Norway when the traction equipment and software has been fully optimised in service. It would be a bad thing for Asea Brown Boveri if a loco 'died' so far from home.

Dampfbahn Furka Bergstrecke

The line's HGm 2/2 diesel loco is to be rebuilt and overhauled, and possibly also equipped as a snowplough. Realp depot has been connected to the public electricity supply, and is now a fully functional workshop. The overhauls of the two original FO steam locos which were brought back from Vietnam are now progressing well in Meiningen works in former East Germany; the boilers and many other components are already complete.

RFe 4/4 news

The SBB introduced its lightweight motor baggage vans RFe 4/4 in 1940, to work with the contemporary light-steel coaches at up to 125 km/h. Numbered 601 - 603 in the old SBB system, they were not considered a success. One was sold in 1944 to the Bodensee - Toggenburg, and the other two to the Südostbahn (SOB). One, now SOB De 4/4 21 (ex-SBB RFe 4/4 603), caught the eye of the LOKI photographer in early March (LOKI 4-93 p.93) while on duty with snowplough X 40 62 94-35 650-0.

Zürich Tram News

An Italian hotel company has offered to buy four trams from the VBZ for use on a new line to serve a hotel near Florence. In Zürich the new experimental 25-metre low-floor articulated tram has gained the nickname "Munico" - a combination of "Muni" and "Cobra". It has been rebuilt using parts from an old Bern "Muni" tram Be 4/4 701, to gain experience for the construction of the planned new "Cobra" type of low-floor cars. Thedesign includes a completely flat floor as well as a step-free entrance, thanks to a new type of drive unit which has a motor for each wheel, and no axle.

SBB Cream Cakes

50 SBB "Mohrenkopf" [=Cream Cake] single-silo cement wagons, lettered NADA INTERNATIONAL plus some undecipherable Arabic lettering, have led a shadowy existence on Swiss metals for a number of years. Mostly they have stood unused in sidings at Dottikon-Dintikon, maybe earning the SBB a little in storage charges, but during 1991 and 1992 they found their way to Biasca for scrapping. At least one example, however, has been given a new lease of life as a special wagon for carrying dry sand for use by locomotives to Zürich depot.

Zürich S-Bahn

As of 4 February 1993, the stock of double-deck SBB equipment comprised 59 class 450 locos, 50 Bt driving trailers (26 33 900 - 958), 71 AB composite coaches (36 33 000 - 070) and 70 B second class coaches (26 33 000 - 069). Various teething problems led to availability being lower than planned, and manufacturer ABB's Seebach works has become so congested that in January space was hired in the Samtagern works of the Südostbahn; LOKI's photo (4-93 p.94) shows two class 450 locos in the works in company with an SOB motorcoach.

The class 450 locos have been annoying railside residents by the load squealing of their wheels. A sound-deadening device for the wheels has been developed, using 450 019 as a test-bed, and will be fitted to new construction from 450 058 onwards. 450 050-057 will be equipped over the next few months, but for technical reasons the earlier locos will have to wait until their R1 classified overhaul.

EBT Rebuilds

The eight red-liveried shuttle trains built for the Emmental - Burgdorf - Thun group in 1973-74 are to be completely refurbished in a programme lasting until 1996. The first has recently emerged from the EBT Oberburg workshop; its motorcoach, originally numbered RBDe 4/4, is now 556 224-2, following the new SBB-KTU guidelines (KTU = Konzessionierte Transport-Unternehmungen = Conessional Transport Undertakings).

BVZ Panorama Cars

On 15 February the Brig - Visp - Zermatt Bahn took delivery of its first Panorama Car, the first of a completely new generation designed by the famous Italian firm of Pininfarina. It will be followed by three more for the BVZ, 10 for the Furka Oberalp and four for the Montreux - Oberland - Bernois. The body is built by Breda in Italy based on aluminium extrusions by Alusuisse; the bogies are by SIG and the air-conditioning by ABB. The coupling gear is produced by a local firm in Stalden. Window area, which includes glazing in the roof, is 144% greater than previous types of coach. The cars, which cost 1.5 million SFr. each, will work in the Glacier Express from this summer, and will later be seen in Brig - Zermatt trains during the winter season.

Short Notes

The single-track section of the SBB Bern - Biel line between Schüpfen and Lyss is to be doubled ... As a pilot project, the Bern - Täuffelen - Ins railway has had its 1965-built driving trailer Bt 552 overhauled and renovated by a company in Nantes, France. It can be recognised by its designer livery ... The Bremgarten - Dietikon Bahn has placed in service its first new low-floor articulated railcar ... On 26 February the Sihltal - Zürich - Uetliberg railway showed off to the press and public its new class of Be 4/4 motorcoaches intended for the Uetliberg line. The daily press was particularly taken by the "amazing quietness" as well as the smooth acceleration and the smooth ride provided by the self-steering axles ... The city of Geneva is planning to build a new tram line, following on from the currently proposed underground metro which will pass below the harbour area.

First published 1993 - this edition April 2009