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 Notebook March 1994

The Seetal Line: Stock Variety and Future

From Eisenbahn Amateur 2-94, by Daniel Ammann

Branch lines normally live a quiet life in the shadow of the main routes, only attracting the attention of railfans if they have especially spectacular landscape or interesting trains. The Seetal line from Lenzburg to Lucerne is one such 'Cinderella', especially since the demise of the legendary De 6/6 and De 4/4 locos which drew photographers to the area. Even as late as the May 1993 timetable change, the Seetalbahn was something of an 'Eldorado' thanks to the sheer variety of motive power to be seen.

Rostered power for passenger trains was the first-series RBe 4/4 motorcoaches, specially painted with day-glo yellow and red ends to give the motorists a sporting chance, but one could also see later versions with their green or red ends, NPZ units, and locos of classes Re 4/4 I, Re 4/4 II, Ae 6/6, Ae 3/6 I, and even Re 6/6 and Ae 4/7. Motorcoaches of classes BDe 4/4 and Be 4/6 also played their part.

Since May 93, however, things have become more uniform: RBe 4/4 and NPZ units work the passengers and Ae 6/6 locos all the freight. Coaches are more of a mixture, including old light-steel coaches as well as the EW I and EW II types. Since the closure to passengers of the Beromünster branch in May 1992, an Ae 6/6 makes one or two trips up the branch each workday with a modest load of freight, and the other closed section sees freight worked by an Ee 3/3 shunter between Lenzburg and Niederlenz.


Since the closure of the Beromünster and Wildegg branches, there have been persistent rumours that the rest of the Seetal line is to close. Over ten years ago the Government pronounced that it should be retained; in 1992 discussions were held about possible redevelopment of the route. Various possibilities are proposed, varying from a simple improvement of the many level crossings to possible diversions. There is the so-called Staufberg diversion which would give the line a new route between Lenzburg and Sion, and a suggested tunnel between Ermensee and Menziken which would bring the 12,000 population of Reinach and Menziken (whose Beromünster line stations have been closed) on to the main route. More pessimistic suggestions are closure of the middle section between Beinwil and Hitzkirch, and even total closure and replacement by buses.

Political argumemts have rebounded between Federal Government, Cantons and Communities for years; in April 1993 the Government flatly refused to pay the 650 million Francs suggested for the full rehabilitation of the line, but Aargau Canton issued a statement in June strongly recommending retention. In October the Government's Transport Committee - contradicting the Finance Committee - also gave its support. Lucerne canton would like to retain its section as far as Hitzkirch at least, with diversion to avoid the stretch most plagued by automotive collisions. In the autumn, test runs with a bus were made between Hitzkirch and Beinwil, proving that a bus could not equal the train times, not counting the time taken by through passengers to change twice. A 'definitive decision' is expected early this year. It is to be hoped that the 'Lake Valley Railway' continues to play its environment-friendly part in moving day trippers to the pleasant lakeside resorts, and that Re 460 028-4, named Seetal on 5 September 1993, does not become the line's tombstone.

Lasa Marble

A railway adventure from LOKI 2-94, by Dr Hansjürg Rohrer.

How do you get a 12-tonne block of marble down from 2170 metres above sea level to 867 metres, in a distance of 6 km as the crow flies? Well, you could put it on a lorry for a while, then hang it on a cableway, then transfer it to a metre gauge railway, then lower the loaded metre-gauge wagon on a funicular railway, and finally a further run on the metre gauge. Fantasy? No, this happens every day in Italy, not far from the Swiss border.

One of the world's most productive marble quarry areas is the Ortler group of mountains, a 3900-metre high range on the border of the South Tirol and the Valtellina area of the Grisons, south east of the Münster valley. The most productive area is around Laas (Italian: Lasa) on the north flank of the Ortler 25 km from the Swiss frontier. The Laas marble is 30% harder than the more famous Carrara marble, giving it better resistance to erosion by weather and pollution. This, combined with its high purity, makes it ideal for monuments and building facades: the lion at the Feldherrenhalle in Münich and the Motlke monument in Berlin are well-known examples.

The principal workings today are at Göflan (Covelano), high in the mountains, and the blocks are brought down to Laas for processing. Until the 20th century, oxen were the transport system; the current route was established in 1929. The blocks make the first 6.8 km of their journey by mountain road, through several tunnels along the north flank of the Jennwand, down to the now worked-out Acqua Bianca quarry at 1526 m.a.s.l., which lies in the narrow and steep Laas valley. This valley is crossed by a 380 metre long 'cable-crane', i.e. a cable car installation with a hook and slings instead of the car. With a maximum load of 12 tonnes, this takes the blocks down to its lower station at 1378 m.a.s.l. where the railway journey begins with a 1.8 km metre gauge line with 14 per mille maximum gradient down the western side of the Laas valley into the main valley, known as the Etschtal.At 1355 m.a.s.l. the loaded wagons are shunted on to the funicular, or 'bremsberg' in Tirolean dialect. This descends 474 m. down the valley side on a gradient of 62.5 per cent, the track length being 950 metres.

The final part of the journey is the 800 metre run with 12 per mille maximum gradient to the work area alongside the main line (FS) station at Laas, which is on the branch to Mals. Until the 1960s, there was an exchange siding with the FS, but today the finished marble is delivered by road. The FS passenger service on the Mals branch is currently 'temporarily' replaced by a bus service.


The funicular was built by Bleichert of Leipzig, and is powered by electricity at 320 V. It remains today in its original form, and is quite well looked-after. The traction cable, which was replaced a few years ago, runs around a huge drum at the upper station, on which the brakes operate. The gauge is 2.5 metres, and each of the two four-axled platforms weighs 12.5 tonnes and carries two 8-metre long metre-gauge tracks set at right-angles to the funicular's track. For several years now, only the mountain-side track has been used; the maximum load is 20 tonnes.


For the two narrow-gauge railways, three battery-powered locomotives, wheel arrangement Bo were built in 1929 by TIBB, the Italian branch of Brown Boveri. In 1937 the upper section was electrified, using the 320-340 volt power supply of the funicular. The lower section followed suit in 1940. Two of the locomotives had their batteries removed and pantographs fitted on the roof of the central cab. The third loco was sold around 1941 to the Flimstalbahn, also in the South Tirol between Auer (Italian: Ora) and Predazzo, where it also was converted to overhead supply. These original locos weighed 7 tonnes, and were powered by a 16 HP motor on each axle. 5580 mm long over buffers, their maximum speed was 20 km/h.

In 1988, a new gantry crane was installed at the Laas work area. This would have shorted out the railway's overhead wire, which was therefore disconnected. One loco was fitted with a diesel motor-generator group by Volpi of Trieste, so is now a diesel-electric. The overhead wire remains in place, although it can no longer be used. On the upper section, the 50-year old overhead wire has been in need of repair, so the company planned to convert this also to diesel power during 1993.

There was once another powered vehicle, a diesel tractor built in 1965 on the chassis of an old crane wagon. It had a 60 HP Fiat engine, and was capable of 35 km/h; it was scrapped around 1980. Rolling stock today comprises six bogie flat wagons, a two-axle transporter wagon and a two-axle tower wagon. All were built in 1929 in Milan by Carminati Toselli, better-known to Swiss enthusiasts as the builder of Centovalli Railway motorcoaches 11 - 18. The wagons have handbrakes only.


The well-cared-for system is operated nearly every workday. The track is showing signs of age, and renewals are needed; one can only hope that it is not decided to build a road all the way to the quarry and remove this fascinating little system which has seen the first journey of many of Europe's cultural monuments.

Old International: The RIC coaches, type UIC, of the SBB

Prototype & Model. From LOKI 2/3-94, by René Stamm.

After the hard times of World War II, everyone wanted to travel. 'Everyone' did not have a car in those days, and air travel was very expensive. The railway was the transport for the masses, for holidays abroad and at the seaside, and for the thousands of visitors from abroad to Switzerland. The SBB needed new comfortable coaches for these long journeys; there was a chronic shortage of this sort of stock; in 1960 only 30 couchette cars were available. The decision was taken to institute a program of orders for new coaches built to the UIC (Union International des Chemins de Fer) standard for international traffic.

Especially well-known to LOKI readers and space-starved modellers in recent years was the now-withdrawn service between Delémont and Belfort in France, which was usually formed of just two coaches, a UIC ABm and Bm11, hauled on the French side by an SNCF diesel.

The coaches are all built in welded steel, and all varieties have basically the same body design, with only slight external variations. Internally, all were built in compartment, side-corridor style, with a toilet at each end, and in some cases also a small washroom. The ends have rubber corridor connections and twin-sliding doors. The swinging entrance doors are at each end of the sides, and the windows are of the divided type with slide-down upper section. The vehicles stand out from ordinary Swiss coaches of their period by their much higher roof line. The following paragraphs detail the various types and batches.

Couchettes Bcm

UIC-X, Series 1, 51 85 50-70 000 to 019

This first batch was delivered in 1964. There are 10 compartments, each with 6 seats convertible to 6 bunks. Each bunk has a reading light. One compartment is reserved for the attendant and the supply of pillows and blankets. There is a toilet with washbasin, and there are also three small washrooms with electric razor sockets. The coaches were equipped for steam heating, and for electric heating with a choice of five voltages; the heating in each compartment can be controlled independently. Originally, they were painted SBB green, but in major overhauls between 1975 and 1979 they received a blue livery, at the same time the steam heating pipes were removed. Cars 000/1/3/10/11/13/14/19 have since been withdrawn; the survivors are being overhauled during 1993 and receiving the 'Sleeperette' livery of dark blue with violet stripe and moon and stars logo.

Day Coaches, Bm12

UIC-X, 51 85 22-70 000 to 099

This class was delivered between 1966 and 1968; each coach comprises 12 traditional second class compartments with six seats each. In standard Swiss style, the smoking seats have red upholstery and the non-smokers green. From no. 066 onwards, public address loudspeakers were fitted. In 1969, all had the maximum speed increased from 140 to 160 km/h, and between 1980 and 1982 the steam heating equipment was removed. Two have been lost through accidents: 028 was destroyed by fire in Rome in 1981 and 076 in a collision in Okucani, Yugoslavia in 1969. 006/12/23/27/29/37/41/ 48/9/50/1/3 were rebuilt during 1993 as Sleeperette cars - see that heading below.

Day Coaches, Am9

UIC-Z2, No. 51 85 19-70 000 to 039

These first class coaches correspond to the second class version above, but have only 9 compartments with a total seating capacity of 54. Washrooms are provided adjacent to the toilets, and public address loudsprakers are fitted. The steam heating originally fitted was removed in 1977-80. 005 to 009 are fitted with disc brakes. Destroyed by fire have been 000 and 027 (Verbania 1988) and 002 and 011 (St Triphon 1972.)

Couchette Cars Bcm

UIC-X, 2nd & 3rd series, 51 85 50-70 020 to 049

These later series cars, built at the end of the 1960s, differ in small ways from the first series, notably in the enlargement of the attendant's space at the expense of one of the washrooms. From the beginning they had loudspeakers, but no steam heating. Originally green, they were repainted blue with a white stripe om major overhaul between 1984 and 1987. 026 and 045 were destroyed by fire at Arlon in 1978.

Composite Day Coaches, ABm

UIC-X, 51 85 30-70 000 to 039

Thes have four first class and six second class compartments; both types seat six but the first class passengers have an extra 40 cm of legroom. All 40 remain in service today.

Day Coaches, Bm11

UIC-Z2, 51 85 21-70 000 to 219

This is the most numerous species of the type, with 220 built between 1972 and 1978. The number of compartments is reduced by one compared to the previous design to give the passengers more space, and there are additional folding steps in the doorways. original livery was green, although 090 to 109 and 150 to 169 appeared in 'Eurofima' orange with grey stripe.

Starting in 1991, these cars are being rebuilt as open saloons, classified Bpm; it is intended that the whole class should be so rebuilt. As a prototype, no. 000 was rebuilt in 1988 to become 51 85 21-70 300, which appeared in an experimental livery of dark brown over grey. To date, 080 to 109, 124-170 (except 125 and 127) plus 23 cars from the series 176 to 219, have been converted. Other losses have been 003/088 (Rome fire 1983), 068/098/213 (Verbania fire 1988), 118 (accident in Prague 1990), and 154 (Bregenz accident 1989). 005 was converted in 1990 to special coach SRm 51 85 89-70 550 - see below.

Open Saloon Conversions Bpm

51 85 21-70 300 to 420

As mentioned above, these are being converted from the Bm11 type by removing all interior walls and fittings and re-fitting as an open saloon, in line with modern passenger taste, in the style of the SBB's EW IV standard coaches. One bay at the coach end has folding seats to allow for a passenger in a wheelchair. In the vestibule, luggage and ski racks are provided, and one of the small windows on the former corridor side is replaced by an equipment cabinet. Apart from the prototype, the rebuilds are painted in the EW IV livery of dary green over grey, with the addition of a dark green stripe along the lower bodyside as an aid to recognition.

Sleeperettes Bpm

51 85 29-70 150 to 161

These were chosen for rebuilding in 1991 to offer a low cost alternative for travellers in the new hotel-train concept. Coaches of the Bm12 22-70 series are given a completely new interior consisting of an open saloon with 54 reclining seats in 2 + 1 formation, and one compartment at the end for the attendant who will offer a service of drinks. The asbestos insulation has been removed, and an improved lighting system fitted. The dynamos have been removed from the bogies, and an new battery charger fitted. Livery is Sleeperette blue and violet with moon and stars and bright red doors.

Special Coach SRm

51 85 89-70 550

In conjunction with SUVA, an organisation for the disabled, Bm 11 no. 105 was rebuilt in 1990 to carry parties of people in wheelchairs. Internally it now has 29 seats plus 16 wheelchair places with folding tables. The toilets are fully accessible by wheelchair, and additional wide sliding doors are fitted and one end giving access to an integral hydraulic lift for loading the wheelchairs. As an experiment, solar panels are fitted in the roof to supplement the normal train power supply. Livery is EW IV style, but with a wide blue and white diagonal band across the sliding doors carrying the logo and initials of SUVA.

For Completeness...

The Austrian Railways (ÖBB) has one first class coach based on the SBB Am9 type, and 30 Bcm couchette cars built to the Swiss design. These will be covered in a later article.

Also in the same family, although not conforming to actual UIC standard designs, are SBB restaurant cars WRm 61 85 88-70 000 to 009, and baggage cars Dms 51 85 92-70 000 to 009.

The Models

Minitrix N

These models have been on sale for twenty years, and although good models in their day do not quite match the highest stanadrds of today. They are short (to 1:187 scale) in length, as is traditional for models of these long coaches, but otherwise an accurate and well-detailed model. On offer at present are the Bm11 in orange (cat.13070) or green (13360) and a blue Bcm (13361), all with the new SBB logo. The old-lettering versions are currently not available.

Hobbytrain N

These scale length models are excellent representations, with high-quality plastic mouldings for body and bogies, one of the latter correctly having its dynamo. An accurate interior is also fitted. A wide range of versions is produced: Am (new logo, 20001, old logo 20011), ABm (new logo 20002, old logo 20012), Bm11 (new 20003, old 20013), Bcm (20004: blue, old logo) and Bm11 (20005, orange). Also offered is a set of five coaches, 1 A, 1 AB, 2 Bm 11, 1 Bcm, all in old lettering, catalogue number 20000.

Liliput H0

These models were ahead of their time when released in the 1960s; their detailed plastic bodies are to full scale length, with detailed interior and flush-mounted windows. Sadly, they suffered from one inaccuracy; the windows were set too low down, producing an obvious too-large gap between the top of the windows and the bottom of the roof. Despite this, they have always been very popular with modellers and collectors, and since the closure of the Liliput company they have been fetching high prices at swapmeets. Two body versions were made, the Am and Bm12; the Bm12 version was also sold lettered as a Bcm and an orange Bm11, although the window arrangement is not correct for either of these. Austrian versions were also made; these will be covered in a later article.

The Liliput range has now passed to Bachmann, who promise a re-issue UIC model for 1994, with improved tooling, close couplers and sprung buffers. The first model will be the new 'Sleeperette.'

Jouef H0

This French company offers the UIC coach in a wide range of versions and colours, only the Bm12 version missing from the range. All are scale length, all-plastic apart from the metal wheels. In the last three years the models have been improved, with close coupling mechanism. The entrance footboards are supplied for mounting by the owner, and can be ordered separately for addition to older models. The accurate appearance of the range is spoiled only by the rather deep windows, although this is less obvious when marshalled in a whole train of the same make.

Currently available are the Am (new logo, cat. 5737, old logo 5746), Bm11 (new 5736, old 5747, orange 5740), ABm (new 5737, old 5748), Bcm couchette (blue with old lettering 5741, green 5743, blue new logo 5744), Bpm open saloon (5742 brown/grey prototype, 5745 IC-livery, plus a Sleeperette version promised for 1994). The Bpm is a re-livery of the Bm11 model [and appears from the photos to retain the compartment interior.] The older versions, cat nos. 5781-3, are best avoided as they are not fitted with close couplers.

The Swiss firm of Staiber offers a Jouef Bm11 painted and lettered as a Sleeperette reclining seat car with the moon and stars logo. However, the prototype is based on the 12-compartment version: unless you are in a hurry it is best to wait for the correct Liliput/Bachmann version. Jouef themselves promise a moon and stars version also, but this is thought to be the couchette version.

Prefo/Sachsenmodell H0

These models are a product of the re-unification of Germany, being produced in one of the now-privatised eastern factories. They are nice models, with a full interior and at a reasonable price, which may well appeal to younger modellers and those with a limited budget. However, the basic model is a shortened version of the UIC-Y standard coach common in eastern Europe, which differs in a number of ways from the UIC-X Swiss type, most obviously the bogies and the lack of ribbing on the roof. ABm, Am and Bm versions are available, all in a neat version of new-logo green livery.

0 Scale

Hermann produced excellent, but very expensive, 0 scale models of the Am, ABm, Bm11 and Bcm types, which are no longer made. At one time, Lima offered SBB coaches in their 0 scale range, first in the 1970s and as a very limited run in new-logo livery some years later. Although popular because of their low price, these models resembled their supposed prototype in little more than their four axles and the SBB green livery. The bogies and roof ends ere particularly incorrect, being based on an Italian RIC coach. An orange version was announced at one time, and a pre-production version made, but it was never mass-produced because of Lima's financial difficulties.

The Biller-Bahn company announced in the late 1980s a new production of the Lima SBB coach, but this author cannot discover whether it was ever produced.

On The Way 5: Freiburg

by Charlie Hulme

Just within comfortable reach before dinner from Ostend or Rotterdam lies the German city of Freiburg im Breisgau, one of the most pleasant cities I know, home of a metre-gauge tram system and the centre for an interesting network of secondary lines. The civilised nature of the place is apparent as soon as one gets off the train, to see that all the tram services stop on the road bridge which crosses the station and a selection of connecting buses waits in the forecourt.

The Emperor's Chair

To the west of the city is the wide flood plain of the River Rhine, dominated by a range of low hills known as the Kaiserstuhl - Emperor's chair. West from Freiburg runs a DB branch line to the old town of Breisach, itself dominated by a hill with surmounting church and castle. Lying near to the Rhine, which currently forms the German/French border in this area, Breisach has at times in the past been part of France. Its railway is a very typical DB rural branch line, diesel-worked with a sparse but carefully worked-out service tailored for the schoolchildren and commuters which are its daily bread. The usual train is the Class 212 diesel and push-pull set of 'silverfish' coaches. My memory is of a packed lunchtime train from Freiburg, conversing with a schoolboy who wanted to practice his English and an old tramp who wanted to talk about the War. The Kaiserstuhl area is also served by two lines worked by the independent Südwestdeutsche Eisenbahnen AG, SWEG. These lines are railbus-worked, and their trains are even harder to find; most of the workings in the timetable are worked by the SWEG's road buses.

Heaven and Hell

In contrast to these bucolic charms, to the east of Freiburg the mountains of the Black Forest rise from the suburbs of the city, served by the DB's Höllentalbahn or Hell Valley Railway, so named for the fearsome nature of the terrain through which it passes. The valley forms a traditional route from Freiburg to Donaueschingen and other Bavarian cities. The railway, which follows the old pass route, is no less fearsome; a steadily increasing gradient culminates a remarkable 7 km climb at 55 per mille or 1 in 18. This section was, from its opening in 1887 until 1933, equipped with the Bissinger rack system, a development by a local engineer of the Riggenbach design. In 1933, the rack was removed on the introduction of the Class 85 2-10-2 tanks designed specially for the line. In 1936 overhead electrification was installed as a test bed for 50 Hz AC electrical supply which has since become standard in France, the UK and many other countries although the Germans elected to retain their standard 16.66 Hz railway supply. Various prototype locos worked together with the steam engines until 1960, when the supply was finally converted to the DB standard system. Today the DB class 139, a variant of the standard 1950s electric with lower gearing, is the regular performer on locals, with 110s and other types on the longer distance workings.

The stations in this area are notable for their picturesque names: Himmelreich (Kingdom of Heaven), Höllsteig (Hell climb) and Hirschsprung (deer's leap). The latter is named for a legend that a deer once leapt across the gorge at this point to escape a huntsman; a bronze deer marks the spot. A path known as the Jägerpfad - Hunter's Path - follows the route, but sadly the three halts on the scenic section were closed in the late 1970s so one must either use a bus or go for all the 12 km from Himmelreich to Hinterzarten. The Ravenna viaduct, a spectacular structure on the upper part of the one-time rack section, has had an interesting career. The original bridge was a five-span lattice girder structure, 222 metres long and 37 metres above the river at its highest point, and carrying track on a 240 metre radius curve. In 1925 it was decided that this structure was not strong enough for heavy traffic, and a replacement stone viaduct in classic style built alongside on a new, straighter alignment. This bridge lasted until April 1945 when it, like a number of the line's tunnels, was blown up by the German troops retreating from the Free French army; it was 1947 before through services were restored over the whole line.

At the resort town of Titisee, the line to Seebrugg diverges to the south, and the Höllental line proper continues to the market town of Neustadt, where the overhead wiring ends and through trains to the east must change to diesel power, normally diesel-hydraulics of the class 215 family.

Three Lakes

The branch from Titisee to Seebrugg, which passes three lakes and is thus known as the Drei-Seen-Bahn, is a latecomer to the railway world. Although first planned in 1912, it did not open until 1926; originally it has been intended to terminate at the village of St. Blasien, famous for its baroque church, but this section was never built and today one must continue by bus. Poetic station names continue: Aha, Altglashütten - Falkau which reminds one of the glass industry which once flourished in the Black Forest, and Feldberg - Bärental which is famous as the highest station on the Deutsche Bundesbahn at 967 metres above sea level. An interesting point: is it still the highest station on the whole DB/DR system, bearing in mind that the Brocken line has been privatised? The nearby mountain, the Feldberg, is at 1493 metres the highest point in the Black Forest, and the station achieved another sort of fame by regularly appearing in the TV soap opera 'Black Forest Clinic.'

The Dreiseenbahn was included in the experimental 50 Hz electrification, and in the conversion to standard in 1960. Today most trains work through from Freiburg and further afield; a daily through express from north Germany serves Seebrugg, where its stock is serviced at the picturesque lakeside depot. The final section of the line runs alongside the Schluchsee, which was dammed in 1929 for a hydro-electric scheme, greatly increasing its area.

Freiburg has several excellent hotels (the Kolpinghaus is our particular favourite) and excellent shopping and eating facilities, including the famed MacDonald's as modelled by Kibri! I can strongly recommend a couple of nights' stay on the way to Switzerland, or as a short break in itself.

Nuremburg Notes from LOKI 3-94

N Scale

Small manufacturers continue to produce items for Nm scale - metre gauge using Z gauge track - including this year the old BVZ electric and matching coaches, etc. In standard gauge N, Kato lead the way with the new BLS Re 465, to be followed by an SBB Se 3/6 I. Also promised by Kato, incidentally, is the Eurostar Channel Tunnel train. Roco also promise an exciting loco in the shape of the SBB Be 4/6, which will initially be made as the preserved 12320 in brown, with a green version to follow later.

H0m metre-gauge

The usual galaxy of items for this popular scale: Bemo promise the new RhB Ge 4/4 III loco, and also the Bernina line motorcoach of the ABe 4/4 41-46 series. The HGe 4/4 II is to appear in Brünig form, with the FO model to follow later. The Davos line driving trailer is to be available separately, and there will be new variations of coaches and wagons, including the 'Albula Mineralwasser' van and a pair of low-sided wagons loaded with a mobile crane and various engineers' materials. A completely new wagon is to be the RhB bogie ballast hopper, type Fad. Versions of the Panorama coach will have passengers and lighting, and there is to be a new model of a BVZ driving trailer.

D & R lay claim to the new RhB EW IV coaches, in both long and short forms, whilst Lemaco have the Bernina 51 series motorcoach, MOB 'Golden Mountain Pullman' DZe 6/6 and BDe 4/4 motorcoach; the latter looks particularly delightful, but it will be expensive. STL showed their RhB G 4/5 2-8-0 and FO Tm 2/2 diesel shunter. They are also to produce an RhB bogie tanker, the FO / BVZ / MOB panorama coach (photo shows a first-class version) and their RhB centre-entrance coach in rebuilt swing-plug-door version. A range of track and points is also planned.

[By the way, it has been gleefully pointed out to me that the STL and Bemo centre-entrance coaches do represent two different types of coach. Early versions built 1947/48 have a toilet each end, whilst the 1956 batch has just one toilet in the centre vestibule. Sorry for the error.-CH.]

H0 Standard Gauge

No really new Swiss locos from the mass manufacturers, unless one counts the BLS Re 465 from Roco (and a rival version from Märklin). Seen in Switzerland from 1965 to 1977 was the ÖBB 'Transalpin' EMU, which is to be launched by Roco with a three-day excursion on 24-26 June into Switzerland by a prototype set.

Liliput makes its reappearance under the Bachmann banner, including the SBB 'Tigerli' 0-6-0T and the NPZ unit in the livery of the Austrian Motafonerbahn. Märklin have the SBB Panorama coach in 1:100 length for the smaller layout, a splendid Cirkus Knie 3-wagon set with elephant commemorating the circus's 75th anniversary (ideal for the annual visit to the Seetal line) and the SBB Snps bogie flat with the characteristic new style of side strakes for timber traffic. Märklin and Roco both supply the SBB 'family' coach in its new guise with the friendly old teddy bear replaced by revolting graffiti-like decor. The Roco wagon range will include a very nice BLS bogie cement tanker and the new Migros Kombi-Trailer bimodal wagon. Finally, Roco spots the opportunity to re-livery its SNCF 63000 diesel as the unique Em 4/4 1110 allocated to the rebuilding of Morges station. One for the completist collector, one feels.

LOKI Aktuell 3-94

Exhibition Coach

The Reisbüro Mittelthurgau has created an exhibition coach by rebuilding a fire-damaged vehicle. Registered with the DB as 61 80 09-90 208-0, it contains a bar, office and cooking equipment as well as 40 square metres of exhibition space. It is permitted to run up to 200 km/h, having additional magnetic rail brakes. It is kept at Zürich, although its maintenance base is Konstanz.

The Competition

In February the SBB and BLS have been testing the 'Eurosprinter', a four-axle high-power electric loco built by Siemens and Kraus-Maffei in Germany. One supposes that these tests are intended as a broad hint to the Swiss industry which has been having difficulties with the reliability and cost of the Re 460 and Re 465 locos currently being delivered.

RFe 4/4 Comeback

In 1940 the SBB took delivery of three motor baggage vans, RFe 4/4 601-603, which were intended to work short fast trains of the then-new light-steel coaches. They had a short life with the SBB, however; in 1944 two were sold to the Südostbahn and one to the Bodensee - Toggenburg. All three were fitted with new gearing, reducing their maximum speed from 125 to 90 km/h. The SOB numbered their machines De 4/4 21 and 22.

The BT example became De 4/4 50, renumbered to 25 in 1960; in 1978 it passed to the Sihltal - Zürich - Uetliberg Bahn (SZU) which welded up the end doors, painted it orange and numbered it De 4/4 51. In recent years it has been out of use, but now after 54 years it has come to life again. On 8 February it travelled from Zürich via Olten to Balsthal to join the stud of the Oensingen - Balsthal Bahn, which plans to use it on its freight and mixed trains. Since its ex-Seetal Crocodile has been out of action, the OeBB has reverted to working its freight trains with old 4-wheeled locos Ce 2/2 102 and 103, which have to be double-headed with a second driver if the freight train is over 200 tonnes, which happens a couple of times a week. The OeBB intends to return the old machine to its original SBB condition (except for the gearing) in time for the Swiss Railways 150th anniversary celebrations in 1997; it should look good alongside the OeBB's recently-restored 'Red Arrow' railcar.

New Tunnel

Trip workings to the Dreispitz industrial area in Basel have, until now, have had to make two reversals and travel via a non-electrified line which intersects a wide, busy road (with double track tramway) by an acute-angled level crossing. Now, since 17 January, there is a brand-new, electrified connection direct from the Basel - Delémont main line through the new Schwertrain Tunnel.

Also new is a depot for the four Te III-type shunting tractors of the private company which works the industrial estate's 14.942 km of track with 87 sidings serving 187 different firms which provide the SBB with 200,000 tonnes of traffic annually. The new line, which has cost 48 million Francs, gives a much more direct connection with Muttenz marshalling yard, although it is hard to believe a report in the press claiming that the freight will arrive 24 hours earlier! An opening-day special on January 17th was hauled by 460 048-2 and included an SBB panorama coach plus a selection of wagons.

91 Million Francs ...

... has been approved by the SBB board for the following projects: an improved computer network, station rebuilding projects at Basel SBB and Brig (extra platform), a new high voltage power cable between St. Margrethen and Buchs SG, and the first stage of rebuilding of the Seetal line. This will comprise a new route from Emmenbrücke to Wadlibrücke, avoiding the current need to reverse at Emmenbrücke. [See also article above.]

To recover some of the money, the SBB has now agreed to allow advertising on the side of locomotives.

Bern News

1994 marks the centenary of the Bern tranways, and original steam tram loco G 3/3 12 has been moved (on loan) from the Technorama museum in Winterthur to Bern. It is hoped to return it to working order, with oil firing.

The Bern Tramways proposes to buy four trailer cars from Basel to work with its articulated cars on route 9. In this way, it is hoped to provide the same capacity with less trams, saving 500,000 Francs per year.

The SBB is to introduce two of the four planned routes of the Bern S-Bahn network from May 1995, and the RBS has ordered extra stock for its metre-gauge lines, in the form of 8 centre cars for its new articulated low-floor units.

First published 1994 - this edition April 2009