Swiss Railways for Manchester

This site is for all  enthusiasts of Swiss Railways, especially those in the Manchester and north-west England area.


The bridge on Wikipedia

Bridges of the Upper Rhine, by Karll Goetsch

A picture report on the Koblenz festival

A page about the festival with many links

SBB timetable 701 for 2009 (PDF)

Waldshut-Tiengen tourism

Waldshut - Koblenz - Turgi: 150 years

Based on an article by R. Wanner in Eisenbahn Kurier 8/2009.

The international line between Waldshut (Baden) and the Swiss railway junction in Koblenz (Aargau) celebrated its 150th Birthday on 18 August 2009. The railway across the Upper Rhine between the two places is the oldest rail link between the two states. Today's much more intensively-served border links in Basle, Schaffhausen and Konstanz came later.


Jointly responsible for the construction and operation of the line were the "Großherzoglich-Badische Staatseisenbahn Carlsruhe" and the Schweizerische Nordostbahn (NOB), which from 1902 became part of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). The national border - the middle of the Rhine - has played and still plays a crucial role in the financing of the route.

The contract of 1857 which remained in force for almost 100 years,  covered the construction and operation of a railway between Waldshut and Turgi. At the time, it was thought it would be busy with international freight and passenger traffic, but in retrospect this was unlikely in view of the routes taken by the various alpine crossings.

The 17 km route was laid out for possible later doubling of the track, but this never took place. When the Rhine bridge was overhauled in 1913, the single track, previously placed on the east side of the bridge, was relaid in the centre.  The same thing happened in 1999 for the electrification of existing single, 180-metre-long tunnel on the Swiss side.


From the beginning, the NOB operated the trains the Rhine. After the blocking of the bridge for strategic reasons in the Second World War, in 1947 when the operation started it was West German trains which made the crossing. Meanwhile, however, the Swiss line to Koblenz had been electrified so that the through operation of trains Waldshut - Turgi was not resumed.

DB traction used across the Rhine to Waldshut included steam locos of classes 50, 64 and 75 4, 10-11, and later V 90 diesels. From February 1959 Uerdinger railbuses of class VT 95 tppk over the passenger traffic, iniitially from Waldshut depot, then from October 1959 Konstanz depot, and from 1968 Radolfzell depot . Because of the phasing-out VT 95 (later class) 795 units, from the 1979 summer timetable the twin-motored Class 798 railbuses took over the duty, initially from Radolfzell depot, then from May 1983 Tübingen.  From the May 1994 timetable change, two-coach railcar sets of class 628 / 928 from Haltingen depot were used until the end of diesel operation.

Folliwng the electrification of the route, from the start of summer timetable May 1999, operation was handed over to the to the SBB. In 2009 the servive is operated by Stadler-built low-floor units  of the Mittelthurgaubahn subsidiary THURBO, which today belongs to the SBB, every half-hour across Rhine bridge, once in the hour from Baden to Waldshut, and the other half-hour as S-bahn line S 41 to Winterthur. This, on the triangle Bad Zurzach / Waldshut there is a half-hourly link, sometimes with a change at Koblenz. In the peak hours, Mondays - Fridays, there are direct trains for commuters between Waldshut and Zürich Stadelhofen.

Description of the line

Waldshut, a historic town on the upper Rhine, was first connected to Basel by rail in 1856, the line being extended to Koblenz (Switzerland) in 1859, and to Schaffhausen in 1863. Schaffhausen is in Swiss territory on the north bank of the Rhine, and in the late 1880s the Baden State Railway built their 'strategic line', the Wutachtalbahn, mainly for use in times of war, from a junction at Lauchringen, 10 km east of Waldshut, to Immendingen in the Danube valley, keeping within German territory and crossing a range of hills between Weizen and Blumberg by means of loops and a spiral tunnel: that section, the Sauschwänzlebahn, has been operated at a heritage railway since 1977.

The line over the bridge to Waldshut, in addition to its local traffic, also brings many people across the border from Switzerland to shop for bargains at lower German prices, and  the recent development of a shopping centre, linked to the station by a subway, on the site of the demolished Walshut goods station, has served to encourage this traffic.

On departure from Waldshut, the train passes on the left the closed sidings to the former Lonza chemical works. Following an embankment with a bridge over the heavily-trafficed Bundesstraße B 34 comes the Rhine bridge and then the tunnel, beyond which the the track descends at 12 per mille gradient to Koblenz station.
Of the four lines meetinng at Koblenz, the one most recently built, the 1892 extension to Koblenz of the branch from Stein-Säckingen to Laufenberg,  cyrrently has no passenger service.

Leaving Koblenz the Turgi line climbs at up to 11 per mille to a summit beyond Döttingen station. Here there is the line's last remaining unguarded level crossing, over a minor road, where the train whistles to warn users. It is expected to be equipped with barriers in 2009. On a last remaining here, unguarded WegUbergang of minor importance, the user is warned with a whistle, a straBenseitige hedging in 2009 is expected. After the stop in Siggenthal-Würenlingen the line descends to original terminus at Turgi, now notable for its round station building. The junction at Turgi is on the line Zurich - Brugg,  then as now of great operational significance. Turgi station was fully rebuilt between 1994 and 1998.

The Station buildings at of Koblenz, Dättingen and Siggenthal date from the opening of the line, and were built to the standard design of the period. Electrification of the single-track KIblenz - Turgi took place in 1944 , brought about by the high price and shortage of coal.

Electric since 1999

After the 1944 electrification of the Koblenz - Turgi section in 1944, passengers were obliged to change trains at Koblenz for the last 3.5 km to Waldshut, until 1999 when electrification to Waldshut was finally untertaken. This enabled a through service to operate, with 74 services now crossing the border each day.

In Waldshut station, only one track, the bay platform previously used by the DB railbuses, was equipped with overhead wires. Unfortunately passengers have to cross to platorm 1 by an unprotected crossing, and also the walk through  the customs area remains manadotry, even since  the accession of Switzerland to the Schengen Agreement on 14 December 2008.

The DB remains responsible for the maintenance of the line on the right bank of the line, and Waldshut was operated by a local signalbox, until he mechanical interlocking and semaphore signals were replaced in 2001 by an electronic remote control system operated from Karksruhe. Previusly, in 1973, the block between Koblenz and Waldshut had been equipped with the Swiss Integra system. Since 1987, the DB Upper Rhine line between the Badischer station at Basel and Waldshut has been double-track.

The signalling on for the Swiss section has been simplified to a one-train-on-line system, with only one train allowed north of Koblenz. With this concept, however, through trains to Germany, or even the resumption of the once lively freight traffic is no longer feasible.

The historic Rheinbrücke

(picture: Wikipedia)

The greatest enginnering work on the line is the orthogonal crossing of the Rhine by a 130 metre-long iron truss grirder bridge, a pioneering work worthy of protection. The next German railway bridge over the Rhine at the time of its commissioning was 600 km down river in Cologne - the Dombrücke - also opened in 1859 and later replaced by today's Hohenzollernbrücke, opened in 1911. The Basel railway connection between the Badischer station and the SBB station Basel did not come into operation until 1873.

Two 14 m high brick piers are set in the river bed so that the flow of the river is not unduly hindered. The side spans are 37.55 and 37 metres, and the centre one 54.9 metres. The  ironwork was delivered on the German side by the Benckiser company in Pforzheim. On the side of the Swiss shore is a brick appriach viaduct with six arches. Design and construction of the bridge, as well as the line itself and the railway between Waldshut, the upper Rhine, Schaffhausen, Singen and Konstanz, by the firm of Robert Gerwig, the builder of the Black Forest line, the Höllentalbahn Valley and the Gotthard North ramp.

German army units were ordered to destroy the bridge on 24 April 1945, but the plan was not carried out.

The Bridge has given good service despite increasing axle weights, and discussions about possible closure of the line: since withdwaral of freight traffic, a speed limit of 40 km/h and an axle-loading of 18 tonnes has been in force with aim of granting the bridge a further life of 40 years.

The Draisine Collection in Koblenz shed

Waldshut loco depot once had more than 30 steam locos allocated; the small shed at Koblenz was of lesser importance, because it was mainly used for rolling stock. It dates from the construction of the line in 1859 and was extended several times. Today, there are still five tracks inside, but the turntable and water crane have disappeared. The shed, of timber truss construction is one of the oldest such buildings in Switzerland. The storm, 'Lothar' in 1999 damaged the roof and its doors; it was to be demolished in in 2004, but at the last minute it was saved and handed over to the  Association Draisinen-Sammling Fricktal (DSF) which has renovated and improved it. In 2007, the project won an Aarau heritage award.

In the preserved depot are the DSF's draisines (powered trail trolleys) and other stock kept.

150th anniversary festival

The 150th anniversary celebtrations of the line took place on 22 -23 August 2009,  with a railway festival in Koblenz station with exhibits from of SBB, SBB Historic, Thurbo, the DSF, the Oensingen-Balsthal Bahn station and many others. It was the biggest Swiss steam gathering of the year,  including, inter alia,  recently restored original Engerth-Lok Ec 2/5 No. 28 Genf of 1858, the Central Railway Mallet tank Ec 2x 2/2 No. 196, the Jura Simplon (JS) railway steam Eb 2/4 No 35, the JS E 3/3 No. 853 ('Tigerli'), SBB E 3/3 No. 8492 ('Tigerli').
Südostbahn Ed 3/3 No.4 Sehwyz,  UeBB E  3 / 3 No. 401 and the original Kittel steam railcar No 31 of the NOB. A steam-hauled service ran on all the DBB lines out of Koblenz, and between Koblenz and Waldshut a shuttle service was maintained by a preserved DB railbus, whilst the Draisinensammlung Fricktal presented their whole collection - and the weather was fine!

Page by Charlie Hulme October 2009