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 November 1994
by Jackie and Andy Micklethwaite
Like the Bernese Oberland and the Valais, the Engadine offers for us
the irresistible combination of snowy mountains (the Bernina Group) and
railways (the Bernina Bahn).
A return trip from the Engadine to Tirano (take your passport - it's in
Italy) is highly recommended. Watch for spectacular views of the
Bernina mountains up the Roseg valley at Pontresina, and after
Morteratsch station, by the infamous Montebello level crossing. But it
is at Alp Grüm that the railway engineering becomes equally
spectacular, twisting back and forth with 180 degree turns down the
precipice to Cavaglia, and again down to Poschiavo. And the excitement
hasn't finished - there follows the competition for road occupancy
between train and road vehicles along the lake to Miralago, and the
open spiral at Brusio. Tirano itself is, however, a let down. We did
find some old frescoes (badly neglected) and the old market place
(deserted) complete with a standard metre measure, but would recommend
taking the first available train back out, and up to Poschiavo, a far
more attractive town to wander around.
If you are wanting a walk for train-spotting, then the Albula walk
(Preda - Bergun) is recommended, but if travelling to Preda by train,
study the timetable carefully as connections are few and far between.
The obvious section of the Bernina railway to walk is from Bernina
Hospice to Alp Grüm, or vice versa. However, the frequency of
service (1 per hour each way) is not going to excite the trainspotter -
the flowers might excite the flower enthusiast though! There is a path
from Alp Grüm to Poschiavo - we haven't walked it, but it looks a
long way and without frequent railway interest.
The classic "not to be missed" walk in the Engadine is from Muottas
Muragl to Alp Languard. Unless you happen to be camping at Punt Muragl,
take bus or train (Punt Muragl Staz if coming from St. Moritz) or (if
you must) car and ascend the funicular from here to Muottas Muragl.
After savouring the view, follow the path which contours along the
valley side above Pontresina (and is consequently almost level) which
leads to Alp Languard. There are distant but spectacular views up Val
Roseg into the Bernina mountains, and the flowers are almost as
spectacular. From Alp Languard, a chair lift can take you down to
Pontresina from where a bus can return you to Punt Muragl or to your
starting point (the station at Pontresina is on the other side of the
valley from the town). Energetic walkers can use an alternative terrace
path but first have to climb to the Segantini hut. They could also walk
down to Pontresina through the attractive woods.
Another valley not to be missed is above Morteratsch. It's an easy
stroll from the station up to the snout of the glacier. There are signs
which indicate the glacier's end in years gone by which show how it has
receded and bring home the reality of global warming. You can (in the
absence of the Health and Safety Executive) scramble on the glacier -
not recommended as large chunks regularly break off and fall into the
river. The more energetic should walk up the valley above the glacier
to the Boval mountain hut, a delightful walk with superb views across
the Morteratsch glacier to Piz Palu, and with the attraction of
refreshment at the top!
Superb mountain views are also to be found at the Fuorcla Surlej. To
get here, take the bus to Silvaplana-Surlej, and the lower section of
the Corvatsch cable car. It takes under an hour to walk to Fuorcla
Surlej up a jeep track, again with refreshment when you arrive. The
energetic can walk down into Val Roseg and down to Pontresina. All
should consider an excursion to the top of the cable car for the
extensive views down the Inn valley, across to the Bernina Group and
further afield to the Oberland and Austrian Alps. A walker's ticket on
the cable car covers uphill on the lower section and return on the top
section. Walking down from the top station is best left to experts!
The Diavolezza cable car takes you right into the snowy peaks - it is
quite feasible to sit here and watch the glaciers moving, or the
flowers growing, or something similar. A delightful place, if busy
a quiet corner can usually be found away from the restaurant. The
walks from here are limited. Munt Pers is a good hill to climb, but
other walks are into the realms of mountaineering - if you want to try
it, the local mountain guides take a walk down the glacier to
Morteratsch every day.
Another fine vantage point is Piz Nair - take funicular and cable car
from St. Moritz. There is a wide variety of walks from here. We walked
down to Samedan but a shorter walk would go back to Celerina. There are
views not only of the mountains, but also of the railways, but it can
be frustrating to see a special or relief train and not be in a
position to find out anything about it as it is some thousands of feet
Another walk from Alp Languard heads off towards Piz Languard (the
energetic might as well go to the top) and crosses into the Val Dal
Fain, with a descent to Diavolezza or Bernina Suot stations. This walk
takes you into quite remote country - we had good views of marmots and
ibex, as well as some sightings of rare flowers. In the same area, a
walk up Val Minor to Lej Minor can be turned into a pleasant, not too
energetic circular walk, which circumnavigates Piz Lagalb. For more
remoteness, the energetic could try the walk from Muottas Muragl over
the Fuorcla Muragl into Val Pruna and down to the station at La Punt -
long but rewarding.
Away from the railway, the lakes around Sils offer a more pleasing and
less bleak landscape. There are good walks in Val Fex, a round trip can
use the Furtschellas cable car. The Engadine high level walk is also
recommended - it runs from the Maloja Pass to St. Moritz along the
valley side. You can start or leave at various places along the way. If
you just want a pleasant stroll, try the walk from Pontresina to St.
Moritz via the Staz lake.
Transalpin 2: The Model
From LOKI 9-94 & 10-94, by Rene Stamm
4130: Kleinbahn HO
The Austrian firm of Kleinbahn, which has always sold its products
solely through its own chain of shops, was quick to produce a model of
the first Transalpin train while it was still news, in 1958. This was
achieved by using the company's existing model of the 4030 class and
changing the livery, which was fair enough because the prototypes
differed mostly in their electrical equipment and interior fittings,
neither of which feature in the model in any case. Translucent windows
were fitted, to hide the lack of interior fittings and the fact that
both bogies of the power car were fitted with standard Kleinbahn motors
driving through worm gears. In the usual Kleinbahn style, the model is
wired to run in the reverse direction to all other manufacturers'
products for the same setting of the controller.
The bogies and main chassis are zinc alloy castings, whilst the body is
a plastic moulding. For their time, Kleinbahn models were well-detailed
with good livery and lettering, but as was the custom the 4130 is
shorter than scale, being scaled at approx. 1:110 for length. Over the
years some changes were made to the model, notably the use of plastic
for the chassis of the centre car and driving trailer and the
substitution of printed lettering for the raised 'Transalpin' legend on
the car sides. In 1974, the Transalpin version of the model was
discontinued, to become a prize item for modern collectors; the 4030
suburban version remains in the range, however.
4010: Kleinbahn HO
The second type of Transalpin set was modelled first by Kleinbahn,
first issued in 1976 and a well-detailed model for the period. Like the
same firm's 4130, it is scaled at 1:110 for length, and the set as sold
comprised a power car, two centre cars and a driving trailer. An
additional coach was available (cat. no. 379) for modellers wishing to
run a full-length train. The power car body, and all parts of the
trailer cars (including the wheels) are good-quality plastic mouldings.
The livery is also well done, in blue and cream with the modern GBB
loco and no 'Transalpin' nameboard.
Interiors are fitted to all coaches, and the driving cab of the power
car features an HO-scale driver. The weight of the power car's die-cast
chassis is supplemented by a lead weight, giving ample adhesion weight
for the two powered bogies with their separate motors; traction tyres
are not needed. Power pickup from the overhead wire is possible,
controlled by a switch under the power car floor.
In 1992, a second version of the model was released in the red/cream
Inter-City livery. The models can only be obtained direct from
Kleinbahn through their shops in principal Austrian towns or by post
from Kleinbahn at Gatterederstrasse 4, A-1230 Wien, Austria. Kleinbahn
also sell darkened-metal wheelsets which we recommend as replacements
for the plastic wheels fitted as standard to the trailer cars.
Klein Modellbahn HO
In the 1980s, the two Klein brothers who were previously partners in
Kleinbahn decided to go their separate ways and produce their own
ranges. This was the origin of the Klein Modellbahn range. The
Kleinbahn 4010 also appeared in the Klein range for a few years, but as
Klein Modellbahn carried out its policy of producing exact scale models
for 'serious' modellers, the 4010 was dropped from their catalogue in
In the 1970s the Lima company set about producing models of the most
famous expresses of every country in Europe. As part of this policy,
the Austrian 4010 was announced in the 1977178 catalogue, and appeared
as an available new item in the next year's lists. At first glance, it
is a well-detailed model, but to keep production costs down Lima did
make some compromises. In particular, note that not every type of coach
was correctly modelled; the open second and the compartment composite
were not modelled. The power car was modelled at scale 1:87 length, but
the coaches were shortened to 1:100.
All vehicles have plastic-moulded body, chassis and bogies, and are
fitted with an interior moulded in a neutral colour. All wheels have
metal axles; one bogie of the power car is driven by Lima's pancake
motor, and two wheels have traction tyres. The livery is well, done,
although with perhaps a certain roughness about the blue area. All the
lettering is readable through a magnifying glass; the model represents
the 1970s period, and thus carries the modern OBB logo. The four-car
set was catalogue 149730; there was also a version with a facility to
collect current from the pantograph, as 149730GP. The model was
withdrawn from the Lima range at the end of the 1980s.
4010: Roco HO
Roco's latest product was launched in June 1994 with a blaze of
publicity including a tour of the model's three main markets, Austria,
Switzerland and Germany by a the last-remaining Transalpin-liveried
set, made up to seven coaches, and culminating in a visit to the
Oensingen - Balsthal- Bahn (OeBB, rather than OBB!) for the official
Swiss launch of the model. Especially for this tour, the OBB produced
wooden replicas of the 'Transalpin' nameboards which had originally
been fitted to the sides of the power car.
As expected of a Roco model, the 4010 is visually perfect, and also has
some interesting technical innovations. The pickup wiring is taken
through the train by specially-designed close couplers, and so arranged
that if your layout has computer control with dead-sections adjacent to
the signals, the train will stop in the right place even when the power
car is leading. The model is also fully equipped for the fitting of the
common types of digital control module, and for an interior lighting
set which is available separately. The basic set is sold as the power
car, restaurant car and driving trailer, with the other trailer cars
sold as an extra item. This version represents 4010.05 in 1960s
condition with the Transalpin boards and pre-computer numbers as it
would have been when running into Switzerland; modern-day Austrian
modellers should wait for a later version.
Some cuttings are to hand from recent issues of Swiss News which cast some new
light on recent events. It seems that from next year, SBB fares will be
subject to VAT, leading to an increase of 6-7% in ticket prices. Crime
is very much in the news: 75 staff have been recruited to act as armed
security guards on Zürich S-Bahn trains, patrolling in pairs and
concentrating on late-night services.
Even more remarkably, a young man was recently sentenced to 15 months
in prison by a Bern court for unauthorised driving of trains. With no
training at all, he drove trains from Bern to Zürich at least 11
times. According to him, he simply bought a copy of the SBB rule book
which, he says, '...is no problem.' He studied the book intensively and
spent time in the staff canteen, mentioning that 'it was important, so
people see your face ... also important is that you say "Du" to
everybody and have a leather bag firmly clenched under your arm.' To
get on to the Intercity, he told the scheduled driver, 'I'm in training
and I was sent here to get more practice.' His first ride went without
a hitch; after 30 days of driving, he was caught - not because of a
mistake but because someone recognised him at a station.
March 1994 was a very bad month for accidents; a very bad case occurred
at Däniken, when a track engineers' rail-mounted crane was swung
into the path of a passing train. Nine passengers were killed and
twelve injured in the devastated coach. Three staff have been charged
with manslaughter and bodily harm. In the same month at Affoltern, fIve
tank wagons loaded with petrol derailed and exploded, firing flames 300
feet into the air and burning down three apartment buildings. Many cars
were burnt out, power had to be cut off, 120 people were evacuated, and
further smaller explosions occurred after petrol leaked into the sewer
system. The only serious injury occurred to a woman who was rising a
horse when she was hit by a manhole cover thrown into the air by the
explosion; two other people were slightly hurt. The accident was said
to have been caused by a loose axle bearing which became dislodged 5 km
before the actual derailment.
From LOKI 10-94
Lima have released a much-improved version of their SBB four-wheeled
twin-silo wagon, coded Ucs. The prototype wagons, built in the 1960s,
have themselves been improved over the years with new colour schemes
and better suspension,
and many have been given an internal coating to the silos to carry food
products. A number have appeared in yellow livery, others are painted
silver, whilst others carry a more standard light grey; the new SBB
logo has been applied to wagons in all three colours.
The new Lima model has an accurate chassis with brake-shoes in line
with the wheels, new brake platform, ladders, buffers and handrails,
and other improvements to make it a much more satisfactory model that
the previous Lima item. Three versions are currently available: the
'Lima Collection' set of two in silver livery and black underframe as
used for salt traffic, has catalogue number 2515K The yellow wagon with
black underframe (2516K) and the all-grey model with logo and initials
SBB CFF and SBB FFS (2517K) are available singly.
Production of the Liliput range under the heading 'Liliput by Bachmann
HO' is now getting into full swing. Standard close-coupling fittings
and sprung buffers are standard equipment. Recent releases of the bogie
tank wagon show versions and liveries not issued in the old Liliput
range. Especially interesting to the Swiss modeller is the model in
grey livery as an SBB-registered privately-owned wagon of ETRA AG of
Zurich. This is a well-detailed model (although the handrails are
understandably rather thick) with a perfect representation of the
company's logo and lettering for the present-day period.
More colourful are the Austrian version in white ELAN livery, and the
German Texaco tank of the 1970s period in green with side, rather than
end, access ladders. Also new are versions of the Eaos-type bogie open
wagon for the ÖBB and SNCF in brown and the Dutch NS in blue.
A joint product between these two small Swiss firms is a kit for a
brakeman's cabin to fit the Liliput model of the SBB K2-type
four-wheeled van, as recently re-released by Liliput. If required, Aku
can also supply the van ready-fitted with the cabin.
Aku has also issued a set of three wagons to celebrate the fJIm's tenth
birthday, comprising a Feldschlosschen beer van, an SBB K3-type van
with EUROP markings and brake cabin, and an SBB M6-type low-sided wagon
with cable load. All are suitable for Era III, and have close-coupler
fittings. Two versions of the set (cat. 1100 and 1101) are available,
with different wagon running numbers.
Closed Lines in the Montreux Region
From Schmalspurparadies Schweiz,
by Schweers & Wall.
Vevey - Montreux - Chillon - Villeneuve (VMCV)
The Vevey - Montreux - Chillon line was the very first electric tramway
in Switzerland. The origins of the idea cattle from a group formed in
1879 to exploit water power from the Montreux river, who suggested an
inclined lift from Montreux to Glion and an air-pressure powered
tramway from Montreux to Vevey. At the time, however, engineers were
developing mobile electric motors, and at an exhibition in Berlin in
1879 Werner von Siemens demonstrated an electric rail vehicle. The
system was demonstrated again, this time with overhead-wire supply in
1881 on an exhibition line in Paris.
The promoters of the Vevey - Montreux line altered their proposal to
adopt this new idea, and were granted a concession in 1884, although it
was 1886 before the company 'Societe electrique Vevey - Montreux'
(SEVM) was formed. Two years later, services began on the section from
Vevey station square to the Chateau de Chillon. Like other early lines
on the Siemens system (the 1882 Paris line, the Charlottenburg -
Spandau of 1882 in Germany and the 1883 Mödling
Hinterbrühl line near Vienna) the VMC used twin overhead
wires which delivered direct current at 450 volts. Original rolling
stock comprised 15 four-wheel trams with open upper deck, joined in
1895 by a further eight cars without the upper deck.Track gauge was one
The line was single track with passing loops and followed the Cantonal
main road, mostly to one side of the carriageway, for all its 10.4 km
length. The depot, workshop and offices were at Clarens, roughly at the
centre point of the route. An unusual feature was the level crossing
with the double-track Simplon main line at Territet.
The extension from Chillon castle to Villeneuve (2.6 km) was built in
1903 by a nominally separate company, although it was operated by the
VMC. The CBV (Chillon - Byron - Villeneuve) owned three small,
four-wheeled trams which were fitted with pole collectors to pick up
power from the two-wire overhead. Passengers had to change cars at
Chillon. At Villeneuve terminus the CBV had its own two-track depot. In
1913, the SEVM organisation absorbed the CBV, and the full route was
modernised. The power supply was converted to the tramway standard of
single-wire overhead working at 600 volts DC. 22 new trams took over
the service, later supplemented by eight trailer cars which enter
service in the period up to 1930.
By the mid-1930s, competition from road vehicles began to create
fmandal difficulties for the company, and the trams were blamed for
causing traffic congestion in the town centres. In 1952, the Montreux -
Villeneuve section was closed and replaced by buses, followed in
1957-58 by the remaining section from Montreux to Vevey, replaced by
trolleybuses which also took over the Villeneuve section and remain in
service today. Of the trams, there remains trailer no. 57 of 1930 on
the Blonay - Chamby museum railway, and tram no. 4 of 1888, which was
been restored to original condition by the Lucerne Transport Museum as
a reminder of Switzerland's first electric tramway.
Clarens - Chailly - Blonay (CCB)
In the early years of the century, there were various proposals for
lines on the Clarens Blonay axis, including a 1904 plan for a
branch of the CEV railway from Blonay to Clarens. In the end, however,
a tramway project supported by Director Zehnder of the Montreux -
Oberland Bernois company. A company was founded in 1905, although it
was 1911 before the line opened for traffic from Clarens railway
station to Blonay. In 1915, a short extension was opened, to the
lakeside at Clarens steamer pier, establishing at the same time a track
connection with the VMCV tramway. The line was metre-gauge, with 5.4 km
of route, and worked on 750 V DC power.
The CCB was not a pure street tramway; 40% of its line was on its own
right-of-way. At Fontanivent, the line served the MOB station, while
looping up the hillside. At Blonay, the line ended in the street
outside the CEV station, with no track connection. There were some
significant engineering works; three viaducts, shared with the road,
crossed the Clarens river, and there was an 81-metre tunnel on the loop
Motive power for the line's whole existence comprised three heavy,
four-wheeled motorcoaches (Ce 2/2 1-3), which with their three
headlights and centre buffer-couplers were actually railway vehicles
which matched the running standards of the MOB, rather than trams. In
1930, they were joined by three trailer cars, obtained second-hand from
Geneva. The line had no workshop or depot, except a small shed at
Fontanivent which is now used by the MOB. It was worked by the MOB,
which supplied its electricity and maintained the stock at Chernex
The CCB was a fmancialloss from the beginning, but it was propped up by
the MOB company and by subsidies from the local authority. The short
section in Clarens from Place Gambretta down to the steamer pier was
closed in 1943, but the rest of the line struggled on until 1955, when
the equipment became life-expired and there was no capital available,
so the CCB ceased to exist on 31 December 1955.
Trait - Planches (TP)
For a few years, Montreux had a real curiosity in the form of the
rack-and-pinion tramway from Trait to Planches. A lawyer living in Les
Planches, a village above Montreux, obtained a concession for a
funicular from the Montreux district of Trait in 1890. The line was not
built, however, and in 1895 the concession was transferred to the SEVM
company, which already owned the Vevey - Chillon tramway. The SEVM
altered to the plan to a rack and adhesion metre-gauge street tramway
working at 450 volts DC, which opened on July 6 1898.
The line was only 392 metres long, and climbed at a gradient varying
from 128 to 140 per mille. The track was unique, in that the teeth were
fitted between the left-hand running rail and its check-rail. The
single tram (no. 24 in the VMC number system) was driven by three
motors: one for each axle and a third for the single rack gear.
For fourteen years this car shuttled up and down, with a financial
deficit increasing annually, until 11 November 1912, when it derailed
at the lower terminus. Nobody was hurt, but the service never
recommenced. Plans for reopening came to nothing, and in 1918 the
concession expired and the track was lifted, bringing to an end the
short history of this very short line.
LOKI Aktuell 11-94
Märklin's contribution to the new wave of advertising locos was
unveiled during the 'Model & Hobby 94' exhibition in Bern. And it
is going to be hard to follow! A basic black livery with white ends
is enlivened by the work of English neo-realist painter Graham
Reynolds, who now lives in Hamburg and must have been a fan of Eagle comic and its cutaway
drawings. The loco sides have been 'cut away' to reveal the fireman
shovelling coal into the firebox and the driver oiling the motion.
No. 460 017-7 entered service in its new guise at Lausanne depot at the
beginning of October, and will be seen on Simplon, Lötschberg and
Geneva - Zürich expresses. The Marklin HO model will he released
during 1995; presumably Roco will now have to create a 'Roco'
so they have something to model. Time will tell...
BLS Re 465
A second unveiling at the Bern exhibition was brand new Bern -
L6tschberg - Simplon locomotive no. 465 003, resplendent in blue
livery. The BLS has no plans to accept advertising on its locos;
instead it will advertise itself by naming all eight locos after places
and tourist attractions in the company's area, thus:
465 001 Simplon/Sempione
465 002 Gornergrat
465 003 Jungfraujoch - top of Europe
465 004 Metroalpin
465 005 Niesen
465 006 Lauchemalp / Lötschental
465 007 Schilthorn
On September 5, 465 001 made its first run under its own power: a 200
metre journey on the ABB works sidings in Zürich. On 22 September
ventured out on to the main line as far as Limmattal marshalling yard,
coupled to SBB Re 4/4 II 11385 in case of trouble. The 'Angstlok' was
not needed, however. The pair made a second run the next day as far as
Killwangen, this time testing the remote control connections between
the two machines; no fundamental programs were found, and longer test
runs have been continuing since. The name Simplon/Sempione has been
chosen as a counterpart to SBB loco 460 001, which was named
on 8 May 1992 to commemorate the completion of the Lötschberg line
At the end of September, sister loco 465 002 was undergoing tests at
ABB Oerlikon works, and 465 003 was virtually complete but not yet
ready to run under its own power; it was towed to the Bern event. The
whole class is scheduled for delivery by March 1995, in time to enter
timetabled service over the Lötschberg in the summer timetable.
power rating of 7000 kW (9500 HP), the Re 465 is the most powerful
series-production four-axle locomotive in the World. The SBB version,
the Re 460, is rated at 'only' 6100 kW.
V 200 meets Re 4/4 II
The classic V 200 diesel-hydraulics of the Deutsche Bundesbahn were
once a familiar sight on Swiss territory at Schaffhausen in the days
when this was a locomotive-change point for international trains.
Later, the Singen - Schaffhausen line was electrified and Singen
the change point. Today, the V 200 locos are all withdrawn except for V
200 116, which has been restored to original livery as a working museum
piece. On 16 September this machine visited Singen again on a special
train from Karslruhe to Konstanz via the Black Forest line.
At present there are no working examples of the German streamlined
steam locomotive still in existence, although 05 001 in the Nuremburg
museum retains its cladding. Various surviving 01 pacifics, however,
once carried streamlining which was removed during World War II and new
boilers fitted. Plans have been hatched to return two locos to their
streamlined form; 01 1081 which belongs to the Ulm railway club and
01 1102 which has spent many years on a plinth at Bebra. The design for
01 1102 involves a rebuild at Meiningen works including a new
high-pressure oil-fired boiler designed by SLM of Winterthur, as well
as a new streamlined casing.
Around 2000 seats removed from withdrawn SBB coaches have been sent to
Eastern Europe by the charity 'Hiob International' and are now
installed in Russian and Polish churches ... The Südostbahn has
begun painting its older coaches in all-over advertising
liveries: an ex-SBB restaurant car now tries to sell Läkerol
sweets ... Four centre trailers are now under construction at Schindler
Waggon for the Mittel-Thurgau-Bahn's pink NPZ units.
First published 1994
- this edition April 2009