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 July 1995

Swiss Diesels in Eastern Europe

From LOKI magazine, by Christian Ammann

Which Swiss loco design has been built in the largest quantity? No, not the 300 Re 4/4 II/III:  the Co-Co diesel designed in Switzerland for the Roumanian Railways, of which at least 2300 have been constructed, yet few Swiss railfans have even heard of them.
The history of the type dates back to 1956, when the Roumanian railways identified a need for a diesel locomotive of 2100 HP, primarily for freight traffic. Ignoring the rules of Comecon, the economic agreement between countries of the Communist bloc, the Roumanians gave the order to a Swiss consortium comprising Sulzer (diesel engine), Brown Boveri (electrical equipment) and SLM Winterthur (mechanical parts). Only the first six locos were completely built in Switzerland, receiving SLM works numbers 4246 - 4251 in the middle of a series of SBB Ae 6/6 machines. Ae 6/6 11427 Stadt Bern is works no. 4245 and 11428 and 11428 Stadt Luzern is 4252. A further ten locos were built in Roumania with engine and generator imported from Switzerland, and a licence was granted for the complete construction in Roumania of a further 40.

Before delivery, the six Swiss built locos, which were given CFR numbers 060 DA 001 to 006 and were fitted for multiple working, were extensively tested on Swiss metals, from May to November 1959. One test involved 060 DA 001 hauling a 550 tonne, 66 axle, freight train up the Gotthard north ramp from Erstfeld to Göschenen, including starting the train on curves and in tunnels near Wassen, Amsteg and Gurtnellen. In July 1959, 001 and 002 double headed a 1200 tonne freight over the Thur valley line from Winterthur to Romanshorn. Further tests took place in the St Gallen and Bülach areas.

Maybe one day the Swiss railway industry will sponsor the return of one of these historic locomotives to Switzerland as a representative of a very successful design.

Design Details

The look of the 060 DA class shows the functional style with simple elegance of 1950s Swiss product, finished in dark and light green with a white waistband stripe and silver roof; the initials CFR were in chrome plated brass letters on the sides. Mechanically, the design shows some common features withe SBB Ae 6/6 class, especially the six wheel bogies with all axles driven by their own motors. Length over buffers is 17 metres, and weight in working order 114 tonnes. The diesel engine drives a DC generator, which feeds power to the six motors.

The diesel engine is the 1546 kW (2100 HP) Sulzer 12LDA28, a four stroke unit with twelve cylinders in two banks of six each with its own crankshaft. This engine was used in 1955 in a batch of locos for the French railways (SNCF) numbered CC 65501 - 35 and intended for the 'Grande Ceinture' linking line around Paris; today they are in use on engineers' trains. However, the engine is much better known to British railfans for its use in hundred of British Rail (BR) main line locomotives of classes 44, 45, 46 and 47, of which the class 47 is still very much in front line service today. The engines for the ten class 44s were built by Sulzer in Switzerland, while the rest of the British engines were built under licence in Britain by Vickers Armstrong.

The Roumanian Locos

Today, the CFR stock includes just under 1450 of the class, of which only about 75% are in working order. They are now know as class 60, except for a small class built in 1968 with a higher maximum speed of 120 km/h rather than 100 km/h, which is class 62. The older machines, including Swiss built 60 0002 0, can be found working in the Brasov - Sighisoara - Tirgu - Mures area. Another Swiss engine, 60 0005 3, was discovered at Sibiu depot in September 1994, still carrying its Swiss builder's plate. A little known fact is that the class is also used on the broad gauge lines connecting Roumania with the former Soviet territories of Ukraine and Moldavia. Broad gauge power bogies are kept at Satu Mare, Iasi and Galati depots. The faster class 62 locos have recently been photographed in various versions of a startling new livery of blue, sliver and red, featuring delightful lace curtains in the cab windows!
Unfortunately, the Swiss - Roumanian connection did not last: the next order from Roumania was for electric locomotives, and went to Sweden.

Export Trade

The Roumanian built locomotives were constructed by three factories. Electroputere of Craiova built the electrical equipment: this firm is notorious in Britain for some of the BR class 56 heavy freight locos built in the 1970s, a sub contract placed for political reasons. The engines were constructed by UCMR Resita, and the mechanical parts by the '23 August' loco works of Bucharest. In addition to a total of 1484 locos built for the CFR and Roumanian industrial lines between 1960 and 1983, batches were built for other communist countries: 422 locos for Polish Railways (PKP, class ST43) between 1965 and 1978, 130 for Bulgarian Railways (BDZ class 06) between 1966 and 1975, and 265 for the People's Republic of China (class ND2) from 1971 to 1985. Most, but not all, of these were powered by the Resita copy of the Sulzer engine, known as the 12LDS28.

The Polish ST43

The locos built for Poland were intended for heavy freight duties, as shown by their classification: S for diesel ('Lokomotywa Spalinowa'), T for freight ('Towarowa'). The type is rated to haul a 2000 tonne train at 42 km/h up a 2 per mille gradient, or a 400 tonne passenger train at 100 km/h. However, they have always seen regular use on passenger trains as well, even though they are not fitted for any form of train heating. In winter, steam generator vans or vans with diesel generators are required; on some services steam locomotives (with faulty cylinders or superheaters making them unable to haul a train) could be seen attached behind the diesel loco just to supply steam for heating.

In 1966, the ST43 class was allocated to the 'Neptun' express from Warsaw as far as Gdynia; this train had an interesting formation, as an SN61 class diesel motorcoach and two coaches were coupled at the rear, to be detached at Dzialdowo as a through portion to Olsztyn.

Unlike some later Roumanian products such as the SP32 class and various narrow gauge railcars, the ST43 class has proved a success, although numbers are falling now due to the expansion of electric working; around 50% of the PKP is now electrified. In May 1993, 382 of the class remained in service, comprising 88  allocated to the Poznan division, 119 to Krakow division and 175 to Wroclaw.
The class carries the standard PKP colour scheme of dark and light green, very similar to the original Roumanian livery. Since 1988, following a series of level crossing accidents, most now have a yellow panel on the cab front. Over the years, the small headlamps originally fitted have been replaced by much larger Polish standard versions. St43 02 is now preserved in the railway museum at Jaworzyna (Lower Silesia), and ST43 01 is reserved for the museum at Chabowka.

The Bulgarian 06

The Bulgarian railways had been using diesel railcars in the 1930s, and a few diesel shunters, but it was 1960 before significant orders for main line diesels were considered. Test runs were made with Swedish, Austrian, East and West German locos, and it was the Austrian firm of Simmering Graz Pauker (SGP) which won the first order, and 50 locos of class 04 were delivered in two batches between 1963 and 1966. Today, nearly all these machines have been withdrawn and partly cannibalised.

The next order went to Roumanian industry; from 1966 to 1973, 130 of the Swiss licensed design were taken into stock as class 06. The few colour photo available show the class in a red brown livery with yellow stripes and the BDZ logo in cyrillic letters on the cab front, but it is possible that they were originally delivered in steel grey.
1977, two years after the delivery of the first 06, the last Bulgarian steam locos were withdrawn, and the 06 saw some service on passenger trains, although no heating facilities are fitted and heating vans have to be used in winter. Electrification has been progressing in Bulgaria; by 1987 half the 4000 km network had been completed, and it is likely that the age of the Swiss diesels is approaching its end.

The Chinese ND2

The last export order for the Swiss/Roumanian diesel came from the People's Republic of China. Larger cabs are fitted, and the Chinese standard centre buffer coupler; livery is dark green with the Chinese Railways 'rail cross section' logo on the cab front. The class works all types of trains, mostly in southern China between Shanghai and Nanking, and to the Hong Kong border.

Metre Gauge in the Zürich Oberland

Based on Schmalspurparadies Schweiz by Schweers and Wall

The towns of the hill country to the east of Zürich began to demand a rail connection after the standard gauge line through Wallisellen - Uster - Wetzikon - Rüti - Rapperswil was built in 1856 59. Various projects for narrow gauge feeders were advanced, but nothing was built, although a second standard gauge route, the so called 'Gold Coast' line along the coast of Lake Zürich, opened in 1894.

Wetzikon - Meilen Bahn

Eventually in 1903, a 20 km metre gauge line opened connecting Meilen on the lake coast with Wetzikon, the Wetzikon - Meilen Bahn (WMB). The line continued north of Wetzikon for 2.4 km to the village of Kempten, but this was always worked as a separate tramway. The line was electrified at 850 V DC from opening: initial motive power comprised three bogie motorcoaches (CFe 4/4 1 - 3), similar to those of the Trogener Bahn which opened in the same year, four four wheeled trams (CFe 2/2 11 - 14) for the Kempten section and two small freight motors (Fe 2/2 31 - 32.) An additional four wheeled tram, Ce 2/2 15, was obtained in 1909. The depot was at Grüningen. The WMB main line was laid out as a railway rather than a tramway, with proper station buildings. The timetable provided seven trains each way daily between Wetzikon and Meilen, with various extra short workings. The Wetzikon - Kempten trams ran 20 times a day each way. The short section from Meilen SBB station to Meilen steamer pier was only used by a few trains in connection with the Lake Zürich steamers, and closed in 1931.
The trams to Kempten, which ran parallel to the SBB Effretikon line, stopped running in May 1939, but the main section struggled through the war years, using all its original equipment as traffic had never made sufficient profit to justify any renewals. After the war, the Canton government decided that replacement by buses was the best option, and the decision was confirmed by a Cantonal referendum. A bus fleet was formed in 1946 under the name 'Verkehrsbetriebe Zürcher Oberland', and the trains finally stopped running in May 1950. Some of the equipment saw further service in Germany: Bogie cars 2 and 3 were sold to the Iserlohner Kreisbahn, and trams 11 and 14 to the Dürener Eisenbahn.

Uster - Oetwil

The Uster - Oetwil Bahn (UOe) had similar origins to the WMB: the original plan was for a line to run from Uster via Esslingen and Oetwil, crossing the WMB line at Langholz and terminating at Stäfa on Lake Zürich. In the event the line from Uster ended at Oetwil Langholz (10.7 km) where there was a track connection to the WMB. The UOe, which opened in 1909 was a less imposing undertaking than the WMB, with only three four wheeled motorcoaches (kept in a small depot at Mönchaltorf) which worked six times per day each way.

During World War II, the line's management was merged with the WMB, but after the war it also fell victim to the new bus services, closing on 2 October 1949.

Forchbahn (FB)

The only survivor of the Zürich Oberland narrow gauge network, the Forchbahn is now transformed from an old fashioned rural tramway into a modern light rail system giving good service to Zürich's commuters. It is the youngest of the three lines: first projected in 1907, building began in 1910 and the first train ran on 29 November 1912, quite a long construction period for a 13 km line by the standards of the day.

The metre gauge line was built at the lowest possible cost, leaving Zürich centre by means of the tracks of the city tramway system and running in the roadway for nearly the whole length of its run through the town of Forch and its surrounding area to terminate in a connection with the UOe at Esslingen. Electrified at 850 V DC, the line began operations with five two axle motorcoaches (CFe 2/2 1 5), but proved so popular with the locals that another car (CFe 2/2 6) was bought in 1915. On Sundays the city dwellers would head for the hills, and extra trains would be run augmented by trailer cars borrowed from the city tramways. During the 1920s and 1930s, commuter traffic increased steadily, and in 1933 two 1900 built trams were obtained from the city system, becoming Ce 2/2 7 8, to provide an extra service over the FB as far as Rehalp (3.4 km from Zürich Stadelhofen).

Freight traffic was not insignificant either: the FB had no direct interchange with the SBB, so its freight trains used the street tramway tracks to reach Tiefenbrunnen station where goods were transhipped. A speciality was the milk train bringing milk from the Oberland farms, which continued through the city beyond the normal FB terminus to Gessnerallee turning loop near Zürich Hauptbahnhof. At Esslingen wagons, and sometimes complete trains, were handed on to the UOe and could also be worked through on to the WMB.

After World War II, the original stock was virtually worn out, and two new bogie cars were obtained, BDe 4/4 9 10. The line was under severe threat of closure, especially as the street running through the towns on the route was blamed for road congestion, but its finances were in reasonable shape and it managed to survive the 1950s to a more enlightened time. In 1959 four new motorcoaches (BDe 4/4 11 - 14) and a driving trailer car (Bt 101) were delivered, and in 1961 a start was made on moving the line to its own right of way, the Rehalp - Zollikerberg section being the first to open. 1966 67 saw the arrival of two more motorcoaches (BDe 4/4 15 - 16) and seven driving trailers (Bt 102 - 108), making it possible to work the whole service with the modern 2 car sets. In 1966, freight traffic was transferred to road lorries, principally because the increased frequency of passenger traffic left no spare capacity. The overhead line power is 1200 V DC on the FB itself, although the trains also work on the 600 V of the city tram network.
Over the next 20 years, a programme of modernisation proceeded, moving the line to its own route wherever possible.  In 1970 Forch gained a new depot and station, and a modern block signal system was introduced in 1972. In 1976 the largest work of all was completed: a 1754 metre tunnel under the town of Zumkion. The same year, the first three of a new generation of motive power arrived, Be 8/8 twin powered sets (individual cars numbered 21 - 26).

As a result of all these improvements, the number of passengers carried increased by 30% between 1976 and 1979. Double tracking of the line as far as Neue Forch was completed by 1978. Two more Be 8/8 units (individual car nos. 27 - 30) and four driving trailer cars (Bt 201 - 204) arrived in 1981, joined by another twin unit (Be 8/8 31 - 32) in 1986. These new trains require no conductor; their general design is based on the 'Tram 2000' concept developed for the Zürich tramways. All the post war trains are still in stock in 1994: the oldest, no. 9, was rebuilt in 1982 as a service car for snowploughing etc. Of the old trams, no. 4 of 1912 is preserved by the company for special occasions.

For the future, it is planned to expand the depot at Forch, and instal more double track sections on the remaining single line between Forch and Esslingen, and possibly extend the service in Zürich over the tram tracks to Hauptbahnhof.

The Route Described

City terminus of the FB is the square outside the SBB station Zürich Stadelhofen (km 0.0), 410 metres above sea level. The FB train runs over the double track of the city tramway (passing the tram depot at Burgwies) as far as the terminal loop of Route 11 at Rehalp (km 3.4), although trains do not stop at all the tram stops. The line then takes to its own right of way, climbing at a maximum of 68 per mille to Zollikerberg station (km 5.3, 605 m.) After Waltikon halt (km 6.7) the line enters the underground section, which includes the stations at Zumikon (km 7.7) and Maiacher. Regaining the daylight, the line reaches Neue Forch (km 9.0) where the continuous double track ends. The modern, three track station at Forch (km 9.7) lies at the summit of the line, 676 metres above the sea; the modern depot is on the north side of the line.

After Forch there is a further tunnel, built in 1964 to carry the line under a new motorway. Beyond here, the line leaves suburban development behind and runs through countryside, with a spectacular view to the north over the Glatt valley and the Greifensee lake. The view to the south is dominated by the peak of the Pfannensteil, 853 metres high. Falling steadily, the train serves the villages of Scheuren (km 10.7), Hinteregg (km 13.4), Egg (km 14.1) and Langwies before reaching the terminus at Esslingen (km 16.6).

The basic service in 1995 is half hourly, alternate trains terminating at Forch except in the peak periods. The short workings are normally entrusted to the 1960s built units. In the evenings, a half hourly service runs, with the last train at 00.21 from Zürich, although a bus provides an even later working for night owls at 01.30! The first train leaves Esslingen at 05.30, even on Sundays. Journey time is 38 minutes for the 16.6 km, inclusive of 18 intermediate halts, of which all except Forch are request stops.

LOKI Aktuell 7/8 95

20 Years Ago...

...the Heitersberg line opened, allowing "Städtschnellzüge" (now known as InterCity trains) between Bern and Zürich to bypass Brugg and Baden. Three new sets of fully air conditioned EW III coaches (better known as "Swiss Express") entered service on the east west transversal route, Geneva  -  Bern  -  Zürich -  St Gallen   Rorschach.

Impuls 97

The SBB is planning a new timetable structure for its long distance services, for introduction in 1997. Better service between the main centres is the aim, including half hourly expresses on the St Gallen   Zürich, Zürich   Bern, Bern -  Fribourg and Lausanne  - Sion routes. A negative aspect for some passengers will be that the present Geneva -  St Gallen through trains will be cut back to Geneva  - Zürich.

New Sleeping Car Partner

Since the May 1995 timetable change, a new company known as Eisenbahn Service AG (EBS AG) has taken over passenger service duties on the SBB's sleeping and couchette cars, replacing the Wagons Lits (CIWLT) and Mitropa companies. The new company, based in Basel, is a 'management buyout' of the CIWLT Swiss operation; the SBB did not wish to renew its contract with the CIWLT. The immediate result is an 8% reduction in the supplement for sleeping berths and couchettes.

Station Festivals

Many places have seen station festivals this spring: two in particular deserve mention. On 27/28 May at the BLS group branch terminus of Schwarzenburg, the star of the show was privately preserved BLS engineers' 'draisine' or powered trolley Dm 9, which had travelled from Bern under its own power. For the occasion, owner Franz Däpping and his friends had produced an 'Aussichtswagen' from one of the little wagons designed to be hauled by the draisine. The tiny train made over 400 runs along a 100 metre route within the station yard.

The event of 20/21 May at Frick celebrated the completion of the 46.7 million franc rebuilding of the Bözberg line station. Stationmaster Hanspeter Müller and his team spared no effort to put on a good show for the public, including music concerts and oldtimer bus trips. For railfans there was the naming ceremony of Re 460 101 9 Bözberg, trips on an old SBB motor draisine, a goods wagon exhibition, a miniature steam railway on the station forecourt, and steam excursions on the Bözberg line with preserved SBB 'Haversack' Eb 3/5 5819. A unique highlight of the weekend was the meeting of all four of the Re 460 locos carrying advertising liveries at that time (Danzas, Ciba, Märklin, Agfa) plus BLS Re 465 003 Jungfraujoch.

AC Traction for Chur - Arosa

In late summer 1997, the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) Chur - Arosa line will begin working on the RhB main line electrical system of 11 kV AC in place of its current 2400 volt DC system. The line's two newest motorcoaches, ABe 4/4 487 and 488 of 1973, will not be transferred to the Bernina line as might have been expected, but will continue to run on the Arosa line with the help of transformer equipped driving trailers. The 1950s built (officially rebuilt) cars ABe 4/4 481 486 will be scrapped, and most trains will probably be worked by Ge 4/4 I locos transferred from the RhB main line. [The plan to rebuild the line in Chur city centre as a tunnel has been shelved due to expense - surely this will be the only place where 11 kV overhead wires exist along a busy public street? - C.H.]

Geneva Tram Renaissance

The once extensive tram network in Geneva had over the years been replaced by buses, leaving just a single route, 12. This trend has now been reversed, with a new line 13 opened at the end of May. Further plans exist for three more tram lines, and a Metro line between Meyrin and the city centre.

Swiss ICE names

The German Inter City Express units are now a familiar sight on Swiss metals. On the day of the first run to Interlaken, 28 May, Canton Bern senior executive Elisabeth Zölch baptised a unit with the name ICE Thuner See - notice the German style spelling as two words. Celebrating the weekend service to Lucerne, power car 401 585 5 carries the name Vierwaldstättersee, spelled as one word in the Swiss fashion. This train actually ran for the first time on the day before the new timetable started, 27 May, and ventured beyond Lucerne at least as far as Flüelen where it was photographed.

Brünig Panoramic Express

For a long time the SBB behaved rather like a stepmother to the narrow gauge Brünig line, with little real attempt to promote it. Lately however, things have begun to improve. In 1988, two coaches were rebuilt as a Bar coach and the 'Jasswagen' card playing coach, joining the salon car built for the 1939 Exhibition.
For some years now there has been a proposal on the table to lay a third rail over the BLS standard gauge route between Interlaken and Zweisimmen to allow metre gauge trains to work through over the so called 'Golden Pass' route from Montreux to Lucerne. No funding seems to be available at present, but a  'Golden Pass' link has been established with a change of train between the MOB's luxury 'Crystal Panoramic Express', salon cars on the BLS (SEZ) line, and Brünig trains which until now have not had special rolling stock.
As part of the improved Brünig marketing concept, however, it has been possible to obtain two brand new first class Panoramic Coaches, built by Schindler as a smaller version of the SBB's standard gauge cars. These now work in a new named train, the 'Brünig - Panoramic Express' which also includes the Bar and Jass cars as well as specially refurbished second class coaches. The train leaves Lucerne at 08.24 and 13.24, and returns from Interlaken at 10.40 and 16.40. No supplement is payable; first class passengers may optionally reserve a seat in the Panorama Cars.

Lokoop Ae 476 465

Following the two ex German locos turned out in overall advertising for banks, a third machine, Ae 476 465 (ex DR 142 103 1) now promotes the public transport attractions in the Schwyz area: the bus services of Auto AG Schwyz, the Stoos funicular and the Fronalpstock cable car. Basic livery is red, enlivened by yellow suns and cartoons by local artist Gibsy Kammermann. The buses of Auto AG Schwyz connect with Südostbahn local trains at Sattel Aegeri station.

From the end of August, Ae 476 465 will be allocated to the legendary 'Gipfeli Express' between the pilgrimage centre and hill resort of Einsiedeln and Zürich Altstetten. Before entering service on this duty, it will visit the Stadler company for installation of the rheostatic brakes which are so essential on the steep gradients of the Südostbahn.

Aktion pro MOB 16

Montreux Oberland Bernois motorcoach BCFe 4/4 16, built in 1905 and never rebuilt or modernised before being withdrawn by the MOB in 1993, is now in the care of a society called 'Aktion pro MOB 16' at Hub bei Krauchtal, a non rail connected village between Bern and Burgdorf. A shed is under construction around it to aid the process of restoration. For further information about the project, and details of souvenir items for sale, write to the society at Talweg 86, CH 8610 Uster.

Grauholz Line

On 28 May 1995 at 01.17 the first timetabled train passed through the new Grauholz Tunnel. Most trains on the Burgdorf - Bern route will now use the 9.5 km Grauholz line, which consists mostly of the 6.3 km tunnel, designed to avoid the congested junctions at Zollikofen as part of the 'Bahn 2000' scheme. A pre opening celebration was held on 23 May, attended by National Minister Adolf Ogi and SBB General Director Benedikt Weibel, accompanied by Reise Botty and his family - legendary troll like figures whose graves are said to lie under the Grauholz hill. A special train was run, featuring Re 460 000 3 Grauholz, five open wagons modified to carry passengers and painted in gay colours, and a specially lettered BDe 4/4 motorcoach.

Kandertalbahn Centenary

The Haltingen - Kandern line, which lies in Germany a few kilometres north of Basel, celebrated its centenary with an augmented steam service, culminating in a steam festival on May 1. Star performer was ex SBB 'Tigerli' E 3/3 shunting tank engine no. 8532, recently acquired by the Eurovapor organisation. [Liliput/Bachmann have recently reissued the H0 model of this type: the model is a little gem and runs beautifully.]

According to Eisenbahn Kurier, some of the trains on 20 April and 1 May were worked through via Basel Badische Bahnhof to and from Lorrach, using a historic electric loco. This line is now run as preserved line, but your compiler remembers a visit in the late 1970s when it still had a vestigial regular service run by the SWEG company using an amazingly ancient four wheeled diesel railcar.

More Emigrants to Austria

Two metre gauge motorcoaches from the Wynental  und Suhrentalbahn, Be 4/4 7 and 8, can now be found at the Vorchdorf works of the Austrian Stern und Hafferl group, awaiting rebuild for use on the Vöcklamarkt - Attersee line. Stern and Hafferl must be glad that their narrow gauge lines are metre gauge rather than the 760 mm common elsewhere in Austria, as it gives them a ready supply of 'new' stock!

Fresh Air to Engelberg

This summer until 17 September, weather permitting, the Luzern - Stans - Engelberg railway offers railfans the chance to travel in open 'Aussichtswagen' borrowed from the Brünig line and based on an idea by the RhB, or in nostalgic coaches. The train leaves Stanstaad at 10.35, returning from Engelberg, and normal tickets are valid. Extra runs may be made if demand is high.

Summer Events

Sumiswald, 13 August 1995

A steam festival at this EBT junction station on 13 August, featuring a through train from Balsthal on the OeBB. This train will comprise ex SCB Mallet loco Ed 2 X 2/2 196 and three ex SBB Seetalbahn coaches, and normal tickets will be valid plus a supplement of 10 SFr adults and 5 SFr children. Reservations can be made at Balsthal station, tel. 062 71 31 01. Timetable, outward, is Balsthal dep. 09.50, Solothurn 10.41, Burgdorf arr. 11.25 dep. 12.09, Sumiswald arr. 12.57.

Balsthal, 2 - 3 September

Oensingen - Balsthal railway open weekend, featuring the Mallet steam loco, a dual voltage railcar from the German Karlsruhe network (in service), an SBB Geneva - La Plaine Bem 550 railcar (not in service), the Red Arrow motorcoach, and an SBB push pull train with an Re 4/4 I loco.

Glarus, 27 August

A station festival at Glarus, featuring the naming ceremony of an Re 460 loco. A special train will run from Basel, steam hauled by American built 141 R 1244 from Brugg to Glarus and return. Outward this train will run along the direct route via the left bank of Lake Zürich, whereas the afternoon return journey will run via Sargans, the coast of Lake Constance, Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls bridge. Information from Eurovapor, 061 361 72 48.

Historic Tram Rides

The Geneva tram system can be toured on Sundays 6 August and 3 September, aboard historic tram no. 67. The 55 minute tours start at Cornavin hourly from 14.15 to 18.15, and cost 5 SFr payable on the car (or SFr 2.80 if you have a normal ticket. At Carrouge terminus, a sales stand offering books and postcards will be available.

At Neuchatel, on 6 August, 3 September and 1 October, recently restored tram Be 2/2 72 (built 1922) and trailer 1 (built 1894) will be on special duty over the scenic 9 km route to Boudry. A special fare will be charged on the trips, which leave Neuchatel (Place Pury) at 14.16 and 15.36.

The Swiss Language: a LOKI reader's letter

From A. Bolliger, Tivoli Hobby, Neuenhof.
On page 95 of LOKI 4 95 you write '...auf die Rigi dampfen.' The NZZ [Neue Züricher Zeitung - newspaper] which makes no mistakes, writes 'der Rigi' and the telephone directory has 'Kussnacht am Rigi'. As well as the spread of French words all over the country, we are seeing more and more High German and Anglo-American expressions creeping into the Swiss German press: Ablichten, ein Foto Schiessen, Kuvert, Scheck, Team Crew, etc. etc.

First published 1995 - this edition April 2009