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 July 1993
Loki Aktuell 6-93 and 7/8-93
ICE on Holiday
From 21 to 25 April, an eleven-car German InterCity Express visited the Lötschberg Railway. As well as a technical inspection in Spiez depot, the train made a series of test runs: on 23 April from Spiez via Bern to Bümpliz Nord and Interlaken, and on the next day from Spiez via Thun and Biel to Neuchatel and from Brig via Goppenstein to Thun. In May, an ICE was working trials on the SBB between Lucerne and Olten, where it embarrassingly came to the attention of the Graffiti merchants.
SBB Locos in Germany
The RABe multiple-units are not the only motive power to begin running into Germany since the timetable change. The Ae 6/6 class are now a regular sight in the DB station at Singen, after 11442 spent some time at Singen depot during the spring to permit training of DB staff.
On 23 May, the SBB's 'Sleeperette' coaches entered service on
the Basel - Vienna
A company called Swissmetro AG proposes to build a completely underground line from Geneva via Bern, Lucerne and Zürich to St. Gallen if they can raise the necessary 13 thousand million Francs. Air would be pumped out of the tunnels, and the aluminium allow-bodied trains would be magnetically suspended and driven by linear induction motors at a speed of 410 km/h, possibly increased later to 600 km/h. A second phase would be a north-south route from Basel to Bellinzona, connecting at Lucerne with the east-west axis. Potential investors can get more information from a display in Lucerne Transport Museum.
Vietnam Loco Overhauled
On 27 March at the Reichsbahn Aussbesserungswerk (RAW) in Meiningen, Thuringia (Eastern Germany), overhauled steam loco HGe 3/4 1 was ceremonially handed over to the management of the Dampbahn Furka Bergstrecke. The loco, SLM works number 2315 of 1913, is one of the group which were brought back from Vietnam in 1990. On 5 May it was captured by the LOKI photographer on a low-floor wagon behind BLS Ae 6/8 206 in goods train 51023 in Bern. DFB HGe 4/4 2 will follow in a few months; it is being assembled at Meiningen from cannibalised parts of three other repatriated engines, ex-FO 2, 8 and 9.
On May 6 at 11.06, accurate to a few centimetres, the boring machine broke through to complete the Grauholz tunnel, an improtant link in the Bahn 2000 project, which has been completed on time and within budget. The tunnel, which has taken 41 months to bore, is 5405 metres long, 6294 metres if one includes the cut-and-cover approaches at each end. It is laid out with curves for 200 km/h running, and will allow Bern - Olten to traffic to bypass the bottleneck of Zollikofen.
LOKI Starts a War?
An Parliamentary argument which is rumoured to have been going on for some time 'behind raised hands' turned into a public slanging match at the beginning of May. Representative Otto Stich wants to save money by initially building only one of the Alpine Base Tunnels proposed by the NEAT (New Alpine Transit) scheme, whereas his opponent, Federal President Adolf Ogi, insists that both the Lötschberg and Gotthard lines should be built simultaneously. We wonder whether Mr Stich read LOKI 4-93, in which we tentatively suggested that, in view of likely industrial developments in Eastern Europe, perhaps we should be thinking about improving our east-west routes, perhaps by cutting back our ambitions for the north-south route.
New Postal Livery
In LOKI 5-93 (page 95) was illustrated a bogie postal van in a new yellow and white colour scheme. This is one of five, which will be running for the next few months in experimental livery. Three of them are lettered DIE POST on one side, and LA POSTE on the other; the other two have the French on one side and the Italian LA POSTA on the other. One four-wheel goods-type van (50 85 00-33 140-2) has also been repainted by the PTT in gaudy yellow, red and black, but this version has not found favour with the PTT management.
Re 460 News
In the spring a series of adhesion tests took place between Ossingen to Stammheim on the SBB Winterthur - Etzwilen branch line. The train, a modeller's dream, comprised 460 003, two test coaches, 460 039 and 460 033. For some of the runs, the track in front of the train was sprayed with soapy water.
On 8-9 June, three light engines coupled together, 460 044/038/013, shuttled many times between Thun and Uttigen station in the Aare valley, a test to see if the magnetic field from the loco motors would affect the axle-counters used for train detection.
460 007, which was named
With the start of the new timetable, regular passenger service wath withdrawn from the Laupen - Gümmenen section of the Sensetalbahn (STB), to be replaced by a bus service. As a result, 1939-built Be 4/4 107 has been declared redundant, but Be 4/4 106 (built 1939) and BDe 4/6 102 and 103 (1938) remain in stock.
On 16 May the STB arranged a photo-opportunity for enthusiasts by lining up the four old-timers at Laupen. See LOKI 7/8-93, page 95.
Ae 4/6 reborn?
In 1983 the SBB withdrew its last two Ae 4/6 locos, a type used on Gotthard locals. But soon the code Ae 4/6 will be re-appearing in the area, as the Centovalli company, FART, has decided that two of its eight new low-floor articulated units will be fitted-out as first-class only, changing their classification from ABe 4/6 to Ae 4/6.
Off to Austria
The SBB has sold four withdrawn light-steel second-class coaches to the Steiermarkische Landesbahnen in Austria, which plans to use them in school train service on the Gleisdorf - Weiz line, hauled by a newly-ordered diesel loco. The four vehicles, 50 85 29 33-346/509/542/556, were delivered to their new home in March.
New RhB Bridge
On 19 April, at Klosters, a new 6200-tonne bridge was rolled into its final position, an operation which took six hours. By 23 April, track had been laid and overhead wiring installed and the concrete bridge was ready for trains. The 72-metre long, covered, curved bridge carries two tracks, with a scissors crossover in the middle of the span. One track leads to the Klosters Tunnel and the line to Davos, the other to the Zugwald tunnel, currently under construction. This leads to the automobile-loading station at Klosters-Selfranga and from there to the new Vereina tunnel. A load test was carried out on 24 April, using two Crocodile locos and two loaded ballast hoppers, and normal traffic restarted on 25 April.
100 Jahre Thunersee-Bahn
On 1st June 1893, in the middle of an economic recession (nothing changes!) the Thunersee-Bahn (TSB) began operation. Since 1st January 1913 the TSB has been part of the Berner Alpenbahn-Gesellschaft, better known as the Bern - Lötschberg - Simplon Bahn. The centenary was celebrated in style on June 6th by the BLS, with a grand parade of historic and visiting trains between Spiez and Thun. The weather was good, and the whole event was a great success.
The following trains were presented: Steam 0-6-0T Ee 3/3 3 of the former Gürbetalbahn with a short freight; local passenger train with SBB Steam loco Eb 2/4 5469, ex-Jura-Simplon; Express passenger with BLS Ae 6/8 205; 'Golden-Pass Express' with SEZ/BLS Ce 4/6 307; Sensetalbahn BDe 4/6 railcar, ex-BLS ABDZe 4/6; BLS Ae 4/4 with 'mediaeval' express; local with BLS Ce 4/4; Express with SBB Ae 4/7; Parcels train with BLS Ae 6/8; BLS shuttle train with Be 4/4 railcar; 'Stresa-Shuttle' with BLS ABDe 4/8 double railcar and three coaches; BLS Ae 8/8 double loco with gravel train (only to Därligen); BLS Re 4/4 with the 'Tenda Express'; 'Lok 2000' (Re 460) with modern express.