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 June 1995

East Germany to Switzerland: The story of the Ae 426 and Ae 417

By Alfred Buchmann, once an East German locomotive driver, now working as an engineer at Chur Sand power station. Translated from LOKI 5-95.

In 1946, a year after the end of Word War II, the Russian occupying powers dismantled all the surviving railway electrification in central Germany and the part of lower Silesia which remained in Germany. The locomotives and equipment (including the railway power station) were all taken to the Soviet Union in the name of War Reparations, and re-used in Siberia; some was used in open-cast mining installations. In the early 1950s, a treaty was signed between the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic, under which German Industry would supply around 400 coaches to the Soviet Railways, in exchange for the return of over 180 locomotives and some of the supply equipment. Some of the locos had been crudely converted to the Russian 1524 mm gauge, and had to return home on low-loader wagons.

The railway works at Dessau was charged with the overhaul of the locomotives, which were all in poor condition. Dessau had been responsible for electric locomotive repair before the War, but nearly all the relevant drawings and documentation had been destroyed in bombing raids, and all the work had to be done either completely from scratch or from memory. The first electric trains ran again in September 1955, using locomotives of class E 44, later joined by E 94 and E 04 types. As services expanded, examples of classes E 05, E 17, E 21 and E 95 also reappeared. However, there was a severe shortage of powerful locomotives suitable for express passenger service.

E 11 and E 42

One locomotive building works was available in the shape of the Henningsdorf factory previously part of the AEG group, and now operating under the name Lokomotivbau- und Elektrotechnische Werke Henningsdorf or LEW. Here also, however, much had been destroyed and specialist engineers had left for the West. The works was turning out direct-current powered locos for Poland, and for coal mines in the Soviet Union, China and the brown coal region around Leipzig and Halle in East Germany.

The works authorities opened negotiations with the West Germans  to build their E 10 design under licence, but the Planning Committee of the Socialist Party would not agree to this; indeed they were busy trying to get the railways to alter their supply frequency from the German rail standard 16.66 Hz to the industrial 50 Hz. (Even by the late 1960s this proposal was still being raised.) It was therefore necessary to create a new locomotive design, although to speed up the design process many components were based on the E 18, the most modern of the pre-war designs. For economy reasons, it was decided to make two versions of the new loco, which was to run on two four-wheeled bogies, weigh around 82 tonnes, and have a one-hour power rating of 2800 kW. The express version classified E11 would have a maximum speed of 120 km/h, whilst the freight/local passenger version, E 42, would be geared for 100 km/h maximum speed and high tractive effort.

In due course, in January 1960, the Deutsche Reichsbahn (DR) took delivery of two prototype machines, E 11 001 and 002, at Dessau Works. E 11 001 entered revenue service in February 1961 from Halle/S depot, where it is maintained today as a museum loco. It was joined at Halle in April 1961 by E 11 002, which also spent its whole life at this depot.

Series Production

The first production locos appeared in the autumn of 1962: four went to Halle, eleven to Leipzig depot and three to Bitterfeld.  Acceptance test runs were usually made between Dessau and Leipzig, out on a stopping train and back on a faster 'Interzonenzug.' In the early days, serious problems affected the transformer cooling oil system and its pumps, and LEW technicians found themselves working day and night installing replacement parts. Electricians would often ride the locomotives, in order to 'bleed' the oil system during turnrounds at terminals. The DR drivers welcomed the company, as they felt rather unsure with the modern technology, having completed their training years earlier on pre-war designs supplemented only by a very quick course on the new power.

The new locomotives were fitted for multiple and push-pull working, and E 11 022 took over from old E 04 023 the push-pull local service between Halle and Leipzig. E 11 031 operated similarly on the service between Leipzig Bayerische Bahnhof and Borna/Altenburg. Previously, this push-pull service had required two drivers when the loco (E 04 01) was propelling, one in the trailer communicating by bell signals with the other who remained in the locomotive.
From 1963 until 1965, the multiple-working capability was tested using E11 041 and 042, allocated to Weissenfels depot. The pair was used on heavy freights such as the 3500 tonne oil trains from the port of Rostock, which they hauled between Magdeburg and the Leipzig area. Some of these trains were formed of Russian-built wagons with automatic couplers; these created problems for the driver on starting, as the lack of elasticity in the couplers meant that the whole train had to start moving at the same time, whereas with traditional screw couplings the train was taken up one wagon at a time.

In total, 96 of the high-speed E 11 type were built (plus one to replace an accident victim) and 292 of the lower-geared E 42 class. The E 11 became 211 in the later numbering system, and the E 42 became 242. Locos up to 211 050 and 242 123 were delivered in green livery. 242 124 of Weissenfels depot became the first 'red' loco, the red being a very orange shade. 211 029 was repainted red by Dessau works as a trial, in a colour scheme somewhat different from the later versions. This amazed the lady locomotive cleaners, as its two-part paint required only a light washing with soap, in comparison with the nitro-based paint of the green engines, which needed much hard work with oily rags, thanks to the atmospheric pollution in the old DDR. 211 051 was the first 211 to emerge from the factory in red. 

When the DR was merged with the West German railways, a unified numbering scheme was adopted following the western practice of numbers in the 100 series for electric locomotive classes, and the class 242 became class 142. Class 211 became 109, as there was already a class 111. More recently, the new red DB livery with the white 'smile' on the cab front is being applied, the first being 142 248-4, which emerged from Dessau works in February 1994.
With the batches beginning 242 023 (built 1964) and 211 043 (built 1970) various technical changes were made. Push-pull equipment was not fitted to the express Class 211, which were still however fitted for multiple working. Changes to the voltage steps in the transformer control were also made, and improvement to the circuitry for electrical train heating.

In Service

Initially, the E 11 class were used in all kinds of service, from postal trains to heavy international expresses. As long as the expresses, especially the workings on the steeply-graded line to Erfurt, were restricted to 100 km/h, all was well. But when line speeds were raised to 120 km/h, the limit of their power was soon reached. In 1963, the first E 42 locos were delivered, and allocated to Karl-Marx-Stadt depot. No more of the 211 type were built until 1970; the older E 04 and E 18 classes continued in service on expresses, but were usually restricted to the lighter trains.
In early 1969, Leipzig West depot received its first E 42s, for push-pull Leipzig S-Bahn services. The old E 04s were transferred to lighter duties, and the E 44s were pressed into freight service, and only appeared on passenger workings in the off-peak, or on staff trains for the brown coal mines and the chemical works.

There were not enough new E 42's available to work all the S-bahn duties around Halle, Leipzig, Chemnitz and Dresden, so the faster E 11s were used in push-pull mode around Leipzig and Halle. E11 031 to 036 were Leipzig S-Bahn engines, and 032, 035 and 036 were repainted, without permission of the central authorities, into yellow and blue, the colours of the city arms, and of the older S-Bahn coaches. They were repainted in red at their first visit to works.
The high speeds and closely-spaced stops of the Leipzig S-Bahn took their toll on the E 11s. In summer, the transformer temperatures were often only two or three degrees below the alarm level, and the break in service of only three hours at night was lot long enough for them to cool down! Eventually, they were replaced by lower-geared E 42s.

The 1990s have seen the beginning of withdrawal of the two classes by the newly-formed combined company Deutsche Bahn AG, although some have escaped the cutter's torch by finding new duties in the West.


The E 11 and E 42 locomotives are very conventional in their construction, riding on two-axle bogies with frames of welded hollow-section steel. The body is a self-supporting design. Originally, the cab ends featured an 'apron', but from 1965 these were removed to improve the circulation of cooling air around the motors. Two scissors-style pantographs are fitted, originally type RBS 58, later type RBS 70. Power control is by a tap-changer on the high-voltage windings of the transformer, with 14 running steps.
Facilities for the driver were improved over the years, especially by the fitting of better seats. The cab has a 3.6 kW heater, tool locker, clothes locker, wash basin (originally with boiler), a hotplate for cooking, and a small refrigerator.

The Swiss Locos

As already reported in these pages, a newly-created Swiss company called Lokoop AG has obtained 13 class 142 (ex-242, ex-E 42) locomotives, with an option to purchase a further eight. They are being overhauled by the Südostbahn (SOB) at Samstagern works and by the Stadler company in Bussnang, Canton Thurgau, and modified for service on the Swiss network. Changes include the fitting of a standard Oerlikon driver's brake valve in place of the Knorr version, and the installation of the Swiss Integra automatic warning system. The German system is retained as well, as locos allocated to the Mittel Thurgau Bahn (MThB) will work into Germany on a regular basis. All the Lokoop locos have also been fitted with rheostatic brakes, with resistance on the roof, and essential feature for the SOB's extremely steep main line gradients. They have been allocated the class number Ae 476 in the Swiss unified system, and are leased to the MThB and the SOB.

Most of the locos retain their DR colour scheme at present, except for two which have gained a white, green and blue advertising scheme for the Zürcher and Thurgau Cantonal banks. A third advertising loco is currently in preparation; the name of sponsor is not yet public knowledge. As a further variation, it is expected that the two locos allocated to the Reisbüro Mittelthurgau for special train duty will be fitted with higher-geared bogies from class 109 (ex E 11) machines to increase their line speed. They will also be repainted, in a livery to match the Pullman coaches of the Nostalgie-Orient Express.

In March 1995, two of the type were sold outright to the Gruyere - Fribourg - Morat (GFM) railway, which did not wish to lease them from Lokoop, although Lokoop will act as a supplier of spares. They have become GFM class Ae 417, and will no doubt receive the GFM's attractive orange and grey livery in due course.

Lokoop AG    DB Number
Ae 476 465   142 103
Ae 476 466   142 197
Ae 476 467   142 199
Ae 476 468   142 042
Ae 476 470   142 130
Ae 476 471   142 150
Ae 476 472   142 132
Ae 476 473   142 133
Ae 476 474   142 159
Ae 476 475   142 191
Ae 476 476   142 157
Ae 476 477   142 118

GFM           DB Number
Ae 417 191   142 110
Ae 417 192   142 145

Note: at one stage, 142 159 was incorrectly painted with the number Ae 476 467. This has now been corrected.

Austria to Switzerland:Four-wheeled Austrian coaches

Pprototype and model, by Dr Helmut Petrovitsch and René Stamm, from LOKI 4-95.

In the 1950s, the main works of the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) built over two thousand steel-bodied four-wheeled coaches, using the underframes of old wooden-bodied coaches, many of them war-damaged. New coaches were vital at the time, but the Austrian economy had no spare resources for the construction of new modern vehicles. The bodies were built on a framework of steel tubing, leading to their nickname of 'Spantenwagen.' The body design was based on a classic pre-war layout with barrel roof and open end platforms. The underframes used came in various lengths, resulting in a variety of body designs distinguishable by their five, six, seven or eight side windows. Later in the production run, some underframes had welded extensions to bring them to a standard length. Some were originally old Prussian six-wheelers, which had their centre axle removed; the result was very different from the rebuilds by the German Railways of similar vehicles, which retained their third axle and had modern closed platforms and rubber corridor connections.

The construction of over 800 bogie coaches for the ÖBB to a design licensed from Schileren of Switzerland led to the displacement of the four-wheelers from passenger service, the last being taken out of service around 1984. Many remain in engineers' use and as staff vans for freight trains; most of the smaller five-window versions were scrapped, but many of the longer ones were sold at scrap price to the Yugoslavian Railways.

Museum Pieces

Four-wheeled open platform coaches are very popular with preserved railways all over Europe, as they have a historic atmosphere to them, and the Austrian ones with their relatively modern bodies have found their way to many lines. In Germany, they can be found on (among others) the Zollernbahn, Dollnstein, Nassuische Touristikbahn, GES, Hespertalbahn, Kochertalbahn, and the Offenburger Lokalbahn. In Holland, they are in use on the Veluwsche Stoomtrein and the Stoomtram Hoorn - Medemblijk, which also features open-platform bogie coaches previously used on in Switzerland on the SBB Seetal line.


Two Swiss steam operations feature Spantenwagen, together with old wooden-bodied Swiss four-wheelers. The Dampfbahn Bern (DBB), which operates steam trains on the Sensetalbahn, obtained in 1971 four of the short, five-window versions from the ÖBB series Bih 38200-299 with steam heating and metal-framed drop windows, rebuilt in 1953-55 from old kkStB (Imperial Austro-Hungarian Railways) wooden-bodied cars of type Ib. They were numbered C4 5 to 8 by the DBB. Sent to Austria in exchange were two old SBB steel-bodied bogie coaches, which found themselves in the school train of the Montafonerbahn in western Austria. Withdrawn in 1990, they have been returned to Switzerland for service on the Rive-Bleue Express at Bouveret.

The Vapeur Val de Travers (VVT) group, which runs steam trains on the Régional Val de Travers railway, purchased three coaches from the ÖBB in 1984. These are the longer, more modern-looking seven-window type (rebuilt 1957-58) fitted with self-contained oil-fired heaters for use as diesel railcar trailers and numbered in the  railcar trailer series. On the VVT they were numbered 332 to 334, and retained their ÖBB railcar blue and cream livery, but the VVT has recently made a start on repainting them in its St. Sulpice depot into Pullman brown and cream. 332 (ex BT 7039.09) and 334 (ex BT 7139.13) have the more modern ÖBB windows in which only the upper half can be slid down, but 333 (ex BT 7130.02) has the older full-drop type.

The Models

The Austrian firm of Klein Modellbahn produces a range of Spantenwagen in H0, and has taken the opportunity to increase sales by producing livery variants for both the DBB and VVT. The DBB model has to be a compromise, however, as the model is the longer seven-window type; no H0 model of the shorter coach is available from any maker.

The models, which are all-plastic, are very well-moulded with good detailing, including seats in the interior. Standard coupler mountings with close-coupling arrangements are fitted; the only possible criticism might be the plastic wheels, which could be replaced with darkened metal ones for better running in the long term. The DBB coaches are available with a choice of all four prototype running numbers, the Klein Modellbahn catalogue number is 3749. The VVT coach is cat. 373CH, and is made in a choice of running numbers 333 and 334 in the brown and cream livery. (the prototype of this model is a slightly different type, but the 8-metre wheelbase and general appearance is fine.) If you prefer your VVT coaches in the original blue and cream, you can also buy blue and cream ÖBB versions in the standard Klein range; all you need to do is add the VVT initials and number. The models are available from the sales outlets of their respective railway societies, or in Britain from Winco.

Locomotives to Match

Prospective DBB modellers have no problems now that Liliput have re-released their SBB 'Tigerli' 0-6-0 tank engine, as one of the type, named 'Lise' is a regular performer on DBB trains. VVT fans can use the Roco SBB 2-10-0 no. 2978, a loco which has run on the VVT, or if a small tank loco is preferred, Fleischmann cat. no. 4000 is a little 0-4-0 quite similar to the VVT's ex-industrial loco no.2 Renee.

Molli: A Northern Journey

by Charlie Hulme

For someone born in 1949, it's a strange feeling to be train-watching in relaxed style at the main station of the East German port of Rostock, having arrived without the slightest formality by InterRegio train with its strangely-configured refurbished coaches and huge Russian-built class 232 diesel on the point. Interesting orange shunting locos fuss around, and over the far side on track 12 stands one of those unreliable Rumanian-built 219 diesels with two double-deck coaches forming the 11.18 stopping train to Bad Doberan. The passengers are an odd mixture of rowdy schoolkids harassing the conductor trying out their English, and people toting cameras who like ourselves are headed for one of the country's wonderful narrow-gauge lines.

East Germany invented the double-deck coach, and other countries have since refined the concept; I suspect that it was never intended that a 2-metre tall man would want to hog an upstairs window seat where the window slopes in at about 30 degrees! The local sets off across the rolling Mecklenburg countryside; the only real reminder of the area's history is the remarkably slow progress of the train, which seems determined to keep below 50 km/h on its 25-minute journey with 3 stops. Descending at Bad Doberan station, we watch the diesel run round its two coaches, obtain some beers from the platform kiosk and consume our picnic on a station seat on the platform used by the narrow-gauge trains to Kühlungsborn.
At the time of our visit, the narrow gauge was part of the national Deutsche Bahn system, although through booking was not available; we had to rebook at the Bad Doberan ticket office. There is no funfair atmosphere; the only offering to the railway's visitors is a selection of postcards for sale, although a train of historic rolling stock makes one return trip at weekends. I believe that since the end of May the line has been 'Privatised' so I suppose there will be Molli T-shirts, Thomas the Molli-Lok models, etc. which is good if it keeps the line running, but may dilute the feel of a 'genuine' railway. Certainly the Molli is everyone's transport here, although freight is no longer carried.

If you have time, don't wait for the train here, but follow its track on foot as it runs along the streets of Bad Doberan, past the shopfronts and restaurants to the first 'station' which is marked by a sign and a row of benches on the pavement at Goethestrasse. If you time things right, you'll be able to photograph the inbound working as it makes its way between the Trabants at 10 km/h, bell clanging and passengers waving. The old spa town with its 19th century houses shows signs of neglect under the old regime, rapidly being repaired by the new. The line's nickname, by the way, comes from a dog called Molli which is said to have barked at the trains long ago: one of the streets though which the line wends its way has been named Mollistrasse.

Leaving the town, the line runs parallel to the tree-lined road for a while before striking across the countryside with its forests and huge fields of Oilseed Rape, bright yellow in May and wafting its characteristic smell into the air (hay-fever sufferers beware). The coaches are all open-balcony types, and nobody minds you riding on the balcony which is recommended, especially as the seats are wooden. The Baltic Sea is not far away, although only glimpsed after leaving Heiligendamm, crossing point for nearly all trains and the oldest seaside bathing resort in Germany. From the terminus at Ostseebad Kühlungsborn West, the seaside promenade is a 20-minute walk, but well worth it for the sight of the Baltic sea, notable for its lack of tides.

The Molli differs from other German lines in its 900 mm track gauge. Most trains are worked by the three 2-8-2 tank locos built for the line in 1932 by Orenstein and Koppel, numbered 099 901 to 903. They are two-cylinder machines, weighing a sizeable 43 tonnes each, and are allowed to run up to 50 km/h. As reserve power, two 0-8-0 tanks were obtained from an industrial line in 1961: these are now 099 904 and 905. The line has been threatened with conversion to an electric tramway, dieselisation or even total closure in the past, but somehow it has survived to become one of the most charming railways it has been my pleasure to ride. Long may it continue.

LOKI Aktuell 6-95

MOB: New Locomotive delivered

Montreux Oberland Bernois has taken delivery of its first Ge 4/4 metre-gauge locomotive, which arrived on a transporter wagon at Zweisimmen on 29 March. No. 8001 is of the same design as the new locos recently delivered to the RhB and Bière - Apples - Morges, but differs electrically because the MOB used 900 V DC traction, in contrast to the high-voltage AC of the other lines. It is believed that a dual-voltage conversion is possible in the unlikely event the project to lay a third rail for mixed-gauge working between Zweisimmen and Interlaken is carried through.

Also on order for the MOB are some low-floor railcars which will be used on the local service between Montreux and Vevey via Chamby and Blonay, restoring a normal service on the Blonay - Chamby section which is currently used only at weekends by a preservation group.

Bern S-Bahn

With the May 1995 timetable change, a further stage of the Bern S-Bahn concept is realised. New route S2 sees 31 daily stopping and fast trains running through the city between Schwarzenburg and Langnau or Trubschachen, running half-hourly at peak periods. Park-and-Ride facilities are also provided. Established route S1 also crosses the city, from Thun via Münsingen to Freiburg and Laupen. Future plans include S3 Bern - Biel - Belp - Thun, and S4 Neuchatel/Murten - Kerzers - Bern - Burgdorf - Sumiswald. Improved interchanges with bus and tram services are also being planned.

Electronic Timetables

The SBB timetable on disk is now available for 35 SFr from 120 stations, and by post (SFr 3.60 for postage in Switzerland) from SBB Elektronischer Fahrplan, CH-9029 St Gallen. It requires at least a 386 processor and Windows. The German Rail (DB) timetable is available on an electronic mail server via the World Wide Web, a technique which other railways may soon adopt.

From 28 May 1995...

A daily through train runs from Berlin to Interlaken Ost and return (via Frankfurt and Basel). Named the Thunersee and formed of one of the DB's high-speed ICE trains, the train also calls at Olten, Bern, Thun, Spiez and Interlaken West. Because of low platforms at Bern, Spiez and Interlaken, special arrangements will have to be made for passengers boarding and alighting from the high-floored ICE cars. Another ICE working into Switzerland is the Saturdays-only Hamburg - Lucerne Vierwaldstättersee.

Hotel Trains, under the CityNightLine brand begin operation on the Zürich - Vienna and Cologne - Vienna services. For the first month, there's 10% off the fares as an introduction! The Zürich - Hamburg service begins in September.

Seven years in the building, the Grauholz cutoff line opens to traffic, relieving congestion at Zollikofen and shortening the Bern - Olten time by two minutes. Principal feature of the line is the 6.3 km Grauholz Tunnel.

Start of the so-called Regio-Express service, running every two-hours between St Gallen, Buchs SG and Chur. Rolling stock is refurbished EW II coaches, featuring bicycle storage racks. The fast service between Basel and Zürich is improved to an hourly frequency. A new service, known as the 'Durchmesserlinie' (Diameter Route) runs between Olten, Lucerne and Zug. The new arrangements give tight connections at Zug for Zürich.

Taking one's own bicycle on the train, until now allowed on local trains, now gets the official blessing on expresses. For a supplement of 12 Francs (twice the local train price), one can take a bike on any number of trains for one day. Exceptions are EuroCity services, and some others as marked in the timetable. Accompanying bikes are allowed on various night and day international trains, including services to Vienna, Amsterdam, Sassnitz, Berlin, Ventimiglia, Rome and Milan.

Culture Train, Märklin Loco

On Saturday 29 April, a special train ran from Zürich via Bern and Neuchatel to Geneva and return: the 'Kulturzug 95'. In allusion to the motto "Switzerland doesn't exist" which agitated many people at the World Exhibition in Seville, the Kulturzug's catchphrase was "Swiss Culture Exists!" According to the organisers: "The Kulturzug shows a small cross-section of Switzerland's multicultural society to visitors heading for the International Book and Press Fair in Geneva."
The SBB provided a fascinating train formation including restored historic coaches as well as modern panorama cars. A Märklin wagon in special livery was on sale on the train, which was hauled by Re 460 017 making its last appearance in the amazing 'steam train crew' advertising livery. Two weeks later, on 13 May, it reappeared from the paint shop in new colours: see our next issue for details!

No More Ae 4/7 double-headers

Delivery of new Re 460 locos is taking away work from the older types; from 28 May there are no longer any duties for pairs of Ae 4/7 locos working in multiple. Over the last decade, the sight of these trains has been the 'salt in the soup' of railfans and photographers, making a pleasant change from regular freight train power. Ae 4/7 machines of the 10939 - 10951 and 11009 - 11017 batches built in 1930-34 by Sécheron of Geneva and SLM of Winterthur were equipped in 1964-69 for multiple working, for use on heavy freight trains, for which they were well suited with their 100 km/h maximum speed.

The modifications did not greatly affect their appearance - extra ventilation grilles on the machine-room side, removal of one pantograph in some cases - but the SBB has already chosen its two museum-pieces from the 'un-disfigured' examples, so there will be no chance of multiple working in the future.

Swissmetro and Daimler-Benz

The project to build a network of high-speed underground railways connecting major Swiss cities and worked by linear-induction motored trains in semi-vacuum conditions is being taken seriously by the German Daimler-Benz company, which has bought 500,000 SFr worth of shares in the company. 14 Million Francs is already being invested in a feasibility study, financed by the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (credit institution.) Daimler-Benz is also involved with the Transrapid, a German project to build a 400 km/h line between Hamburg and Berlin, but on the surface rather than underground.

BLS Re 465

As reported previously, test running of the Bern Lötschberg Simplon Railway's new Re 465 locos is progressing. In early may the SBB's Aare valley route (Ostermundigen - Münsingen - Thun) saw runs by an interesting train comprising three Re 465 locos (two one end, one the other), a BDt driving trailer from the Lötschberg Tunnel car trains, and three old Schlieren RIC coaches. Except the driving coach, all these are easily available as H0 models: Re 465 loco from Märklin and Roco, the Schileren coaches from Sachsenmodelle/Roco.

Styrian News

The Austrian local rail group Steiermärkische Landesbahnen (StLB) has placed in service its 'new' motorcoach and trailer obtained from the Sihltal - Zürich - Uetliberg Bahn (SZU). Numbered BDe 4/4 91 and Bt 191 on the SZU, the train is now the StLB's ET 14 and ES 24, and works the 10 km branch from Peggau - Deutschfeitsritz on the ÖBB Vienna - Graz main line to the town of Uebelbach. This line was opened in 1919, electrified from the start at 2200 V DC, but was converted in 1968 to the main line standard of 15 kV AC, making it one of only two private lines in Austria to use this system (the other is the Montafonerbahn.)

Sine 1968 motive power has comprised two 1936-built motorcoaches ET 11 and 12, bought from the ÖBB (4042.01/02), and motorcoach ET 13 which was once BDe 4/4 62 of the Swiss Südostbahn. ET 13 is to retained for use when goods wagons have to moved; ET 11 will be retained as reserve, but ET 12 and coach EB 22, a light-steel coach bought in 1987 from the SBB, are available to any preservation groups which may be interested.
The new unit, which changed hands for a nominal sum, having clocked up 2.5 million km on SZU metals before being displaced by new stock visited the wheel lathe as Salzburg-Gnigl before entering the StLB depot workshop at Uebelbach, where it has been refurbished and modified to improve passenger comfort. Rubber corridor connections are now fitted, and improved seating installed, reducing the seating capacity from 134 to 94. The train is finished in the StLB's bright new colour scheme of transport red (RAL 3020) with a broad sloping band of mint green (RAL 6020) and pearl white (RAL 1013). Skirt and undergear is shadow grey (RAL 7022).


A mobile exhibition, entitled Bahnfrühling - railway spring - is giving the residents of 42 Swiss towns a chance to get to know more about the railways and their local staff. The show travels in four bogie vans of type Habils, which have been suitable decorated with three cheerful-looking birds in a bush.

New Future for SBB DC Unit?

Views of the SBB video 'Locomemory' made by Alain Primatesta may have spotted the uncredited appearance at the start of the film of one of the BDe 4/4 II motorcoaches built specially in 1956 for the local service over the main line west of Geneva which is electrified on the French DC system. These trains were replaced in September 1994 by new stock. Mr Primatesta is very fond of them, however, and has made a farewell video, 'The Last Journey'. Now he has started an appeal to buy and restore one of them, with the idea to run a tourist service between Geneva and Bellegarde, the first significant town across the border in France.

Locomemory 2: The Sequel

Now available, this 83-minute tape continues the story of the working veterans of the railway into the world of the standard-gauge private lines. Stars of this unmissable show are:

EBT BDe 2/4 240, Wasen branch
EBT Be 4/4 double-header, gravel train Huttwil - Wolhusen
Orbe - Chavornay, Fe 2/2 32
SZU CFe 2/4 84, Langnau - Sihlbrugg
Wohlen - Meisterschwanden, BDe 2/4 3
SOB ABe 4/4, Biberugg - Einsiedeln
BT Be 4/4 double-header, St Gallen - Lichtensteig
GFM ABDe 2/4 155, Romont - Bulle
CJ De 4/4 111, Porrentruy - Bonfol
RVT Be 4/4 1, Fleurier - Travers
BLS Ae 6/8 205 on historic express, Spiez - Goppenstein
Martigny - Orsières, ABDe 4/4 7
Sensetalbahn, BDe 4/6 102.

We cannot say whether the notorious Sleeping Grandad makes a return appearance, but the music features young pianist and railfan Julien Quentin, and includes works by Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Rachmaninov, Schubert and Tchaikovsky.

Ticino Tales

Since 2nd May, an SBB cinema coach has been included on the branch trains between Bellinzona and Locarno, showing a continuous programme of trailers to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the cinema and the International Film Festival which is running in Locarno this year.

This summer the 'William Tell Express' service, which is worked by a boat from Lucerne to Flüelen, then train to Locarno or Lugano, will include Panorama Cars in its formation.

Death Report (Slightly) Exaggerated

In the last issue we said that the Sissach - Läufelfingen (Old Hauenstein) line was losing its passenger service. We are pleased to report that this disaster has now been delayed until May 1996. [perhaps by then I'll have learned to spell Läufelfingen! -CH] A journey is recommended, for the rustic scenery, branch line atmosphere, and with luck, the BDe 4/4 motorcoach.

First published 1995 - this edition April 2009