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 December 1995

LOKI Aktuell 11- & 12-95

Cheese and Milk Locos

As we briefly mentioned before, the latest SBB Re 460 loco to appear in advertising livery is Re 460-021-1, which has been in service since September 15  in all-over white with large lettering for Tilsiter Switzerland, and some large illustrations of the company's two types of cheese in their red and green packaging. After unfortunate experience with the earlier white loco sponsored by Ciba, a harder-wearing white paint has been used this time.
Another white machine took to the rails on October 9, in time for the national farming and milk production exhibition which ram from 12-22 October. Sponsor this time is the Society of Swiss Milk Producers. Re 460 021-9 rejoices in the name 'Lovely', after the dancing cow which features in TV adverts and on the sides of the loco. This is likely to be the last advert loco for 1995, but various firms have expressed an interest for next year.

MECH Crocodile

On Sunday 10 September, the '13302 group' of the Modeleisenbahnclub des Bezirks Horgen (MECH) ran their annual excursion for their patrons. Their preserved loco, Be 6/8 13302, hauled the train from Rapperswil via Pfäffikon and the Südostbahn to Arth-Goldau, where the party transferred to the Arth-Rigi railway's motorcoach no. 6, dating from 1911 and thus considerably older than the 1926-vintage crocodile, for the rack-and-pinion climb to Rigi summit. The Crocodile is looking very good just now, having spent some months in the SOB Samstagern works receiving cosmetic improvements including a repaint and a good polish for the brass window-frames.

It made another appearance on 14 October with a special train bringing members of the Austrian Roco Enthusiasts Club to the Model Rail show at the Lucerne Transport Museum. The train, formed of the six stainless-steel coaches now owned by the Roco company, arrived at the Swiss border behind Austrian Crocodile 1020.42, where SBB Re 460 019 (the Miele advert loco) took over for the run to Pfäffikon where the Crocodile was added to the train for the run over the steep gradients of the Südostbahn.

Brünig 50 Years Ago

The newly-founded society 'Freunde der Brünig - Nostalgie - Bahn' ran a special train on 30 September with the slogan 'Ride like 50 years ago.' The aim of the society is to save some of the line's historic equipment, such as one of the legendary Dhe 4/6 motor vans, from the scrap metal merchants. The special train was hauled over the rack section by a pair of Dhe 4/6, and from Meiringen to Interlaken by G 3/4 steam loco no. 208. In the consist were three of the old green coaches usually seen with no.208, an old open-balcony bogie coach of the LSE, and The Brünig's bogie first-class saloon. For more information about the society, write to: Freunde der Brünig - Nostalgie - Bahn, Postfach 4925, 6002 Luzern, Switzerland.

50 Years of Schindler Waggon

This year the rolling stock manufacturer Schindler Waggon AG of Pratteln celebrates its 50th birthday. In the course of half a century the company has developed from a small wagon repairer to the No.1 coach builder in Switzerland. LOKI prints three photographs to summarise the company's history: (a) staff posing in front of the 500th war-damaged French Railways goods wagon, October 1946; (b) A luxury passenger train for Mexico being hauled through Gümligen SBB station by SBB Re 4/4 no. 448 on a test run in May 1953; (c) Schindler's brand-new tilting test train, with coach bodies built of fibre-based materials. A free 16-page Jubilee booklet can be obtained from Schindler Waggon AG (Jubiläumzeitung),  CH-4133 Pratteln 1. 

Sursee - Triengen Events

The Sursee - Triengen Bahn, a 7-kilometre private line in the Suhr valley in Canton Lucerne, one of the few lines of any significance in Switzerland not to use electric motive power, is principally a freight hauler, having transferred its passenger traffic to buses  some years ago. The lack of overhead wiring gives it a pleasant period atmosphere, even though the signalling is all color-light, and in recent years the ST has built up a popular programme of weekend steam specials.

The daily freight traffic is handled by two Em 2/2 diesels obtained in the 1960s; the diesels took over from a variety of steam locos, including an ex-SBB 'Tigerli' 0-6-0 tank engine. Two 'Tigerlis' are kept in working order for the specials: E 3/3 5, ex-SBB 9479 of 1907, and SBB 8522 of 1913. No. 8522 was one of the locos which during the World War II  coal shortage was fitted with electric heating elements to heat the boiler, and a pantograph on the roof to collect current! Coaching stock comprises two ex-BLS open-platform bogie coaches similar to the 'Seetal' type modelled by Roco, and three ancient six-wheelers.

TGV and ICE news

Soferail, a subsidiary company of the French Railways, is acting as consultant to the Russian Railways in the development of a high-speed train service to begin in the year 2000, between Moscow and St Petersburg. The Netherlands Railways (NS), on the other hand, have ordered three trains of the German ICE design for delivery in 1998.

The Number's 007, 465 007...

The BLS has yet to follow the SBB's example and use its locomotives as advertising hoardings, although the new Re 465 class has been tastefully named after local tourist attractions served by public transport. On 10 October, Re 465 007 was christened 'Schiltorn - Piz Gloria.' We wonder if it is a coincidence that the number 007 has been allocated to this name, when the Schilthorn and its restaurant famously appeared in one of the filmed adventures of that great British hero James Bond, or 007 as he is known to his friends.

ICE in Zug

Occasionally, the German Railways (DB) ICE high-speed trains can be seen away from their usual Swiss routes from Basel to Zürich, Lucerne or Interlaken. On 17 September the Cantonal bank of Zug chartered one to give its customers a circular tour around Lake Zug, with two runs around the route Zug - Walchwil - Arth-Goldau - Küssnacht am Rigi - Lucerne - Zug. Passing the Lucerne Transport Museum, the train passed preserved SBB Ae 8/14 11852, proudly displayed in a siding alongside the main line; in its day this was hailed as the World's most powerful locomotive.

Stern & Hafferl News

The two metre-gauge motorcoaches, Be 4/4 7 and 8, sold in 1994 by the Wynental- und Suhrentalbahn (WSB) to the Austrian Stern und Hafferl company, are still at StH's Vorchdorf works, awaiting overhaul. It is intended that they will replace the ex-Trogener Bahn cars currently used on the Gmunden - Vorchdorf line. Also in use on this line are ex-Birsigtalbahn motorcoaches,  an end-platform  bogie coach once owned by the Vereinigten Bern - Worb - Bahnen, and now the 'Traunstein Bar', and an open-sided coach (used as a tourist attraction) 

Grey Mice Trapped

On 29 September, ex-TEE II train set RABe 1054, and some of the coaches from sister train 1052, were hauled from Zürich to Kaiseraugst from scrapping. However, the SBB has stated that the remaining three sets will continue to work the Bern - Frasne TGV connecting service until 1999. 

Tilting Times

Times are now available for the Italian-built 'Pendolino' trains which will be running between Milan and Swiss cities from the 2 June 1996 timetable change. One train will run from Milan (14.40) to Lausanne (17.41) and Geneva (18.17), returning next day at 10.39 to Lausanne (11.13) and arriving back at Milan at 14.12. The second working will leave Milan at 12.25 for Bern (15.30) and Basel (16.38), returning immediately at 17.02 to Bern (18.17) and Milan (21.23.) The third train, 16.44 from Milan, runs to Zürich (20.28), returning next day at 07.30 to arrive at Milan 11.10. In the following months,  additional workings to Zürich and Geneva will be introduced.

Meiringen - Innertkirchen

A new four-axle motorcoach is under construction at the works of the Stadler company in Bussnang for the MIB, to replace its second-hand trams. 

Advertising on the Südostbahn

SOB locomotive Re 446 446, formerly SBB Re 4/4 IV 10102, which has been running without ownership lettering, has now appeared in an all-over advertising livery of blue with large white lettering and logo for the Seedam-Center, a large shopping centre in Pfäffikon which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. The loco will wear this scheme for five years, and two of its fellow 'containers' (as the type is nicknamed because of its boxy shape and corrugated sides) are also expected to appear in advertising colours soon. The fourth loco, SBB 10101, has not yet been accepted by the SOB as it is not in working order. 

Vevey - Chexbres

The 7.82 km standard gauge line from Vevey up  the vine-covered hillside to Puidoux-Chexbres, although it appears to be an SBB branch on casual inspection, is in fact a private railway, although its train service has always been provided by the SBB. As well as its local shuttle service of 17 daily pairs of trains, which also offer a useful shortcut for passengers between Vevey and the Fribourg - Bern direction, the line is also useful for diversions and relief trains. 
The line is very steeply-graded, however, up to 40 per mille (1 in 25) and to make matters worse the overhead wiring and power supply did not have sufficient capacity to feed two electric locomotives at once, so heavy trains had to have a diesel locomotive as pilot, usually an Am 4/4.

This year, all that has changed: the 50-year-old electrical system has been replaced, and a block signalling system installed. And on 29 September, a new train was allocated to the local service in the shape of an NPZ 'Kolibri' unit in yellow livery with the crest of St Saphrin and the legend 'Train des Vignes.' Presumably the old BDe 4/4 car has gone to the scrapman. The new equipment was used to the full on 24-26 October when a a series of charter trains between Zürich and Montreux were routed this way, formed of a German ICE set.

First published 1995 - this edition April 2009