Narrow Gauge News 2/2001 (April)

Articles AB | BAM | BOB | BVB | BVZ | DFB | GGB | LSE | RhB | YSteC


Appenzeller Bahnen

New Club Car
The AB have rebuilt B82, originally built in 1964, into Club car Ast 181 "Rubino" at Ramseier & Jenzer. It seats 30 and can be rented for specials. The bodywork was almost totally rebuilt and fitted out as a driving trailer, so that it has to be planned into push-pull operations. One problem is that the carriage is not fitted with an on-board toilet. As push-pull units do not have a corridor connection at the driving ends, passengers can only use toilets in the adjacent carriage during station stops.



Service reduction
BAM is withdrawing the majority of it's services on the L'Isle branch and transferring them to buses at the request of the Public Transport Office of Kanton Waadt. During schooldays there will be 3 morning, 2 afternoon and 4 evening return trains on Mondays to Fridays.


Berner Oberland-Bahn

Purchase of 2nd hand driving trailers
As part of the planned refurbishment of older rolling stock BOB have taken over 5 driving trailers built in 1980 from Regionalverkehr Bern-Solothurn (RBS). The units will be used in expansion modules in the same manner as on the SBB. The five Abt 203-207 cars will be adapted to BOB standards at the Zweilütschinen workshop, and are planned to be in service from 2002.



The 44 and 37 year old He 4/4 31 and 32 locomotives have taken on a much more modern look following their latest refurbishment. Apart from new pantographs and headlights, as seen on other lines, they have also received a new livery. One loco is already running with observation saloons Bs 52 and Bst 53.


BVZ - Zermatt-Bahn

Following the application of an advertising livery to He 4/4 II 5 for the Visp icehockey club, there are now 4 other locos of the class running with the following slogans advertising the BVZ in silver coloured script: He 4/4 II 1 "Winter Fun Gornergrat Snowpark Rotenboden", 3 "With safety guaranteed - guaranteed enjoyment" and 5 "www.bvz.ch".

Steam romance
BVZ will be providing increased services using last remaining oil burning steam loco HG 2/3 7 "Breithorn" from July onwards in the hope of attracting more passengers. 2002 will see regular timetabled steam-hauled.

Rebuilding the Riffelalptram
With the construction of the new Riffelalp Resort Hotel an almost forgotten line will return to glory. The Riffelalp tram will connect the hotel with the GGB Riffelalp station. Services are planned to run from the end of July dependent on the last of the winter snows not hampering work on the permanent way. Updates on the construction work can be found on the BVZ homepage.


Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway

75 Years of the FO
Specials are planned for the 3rd and 4th July for the 75th Anniversary of the FO in conjunction with the DFB. 3rd July will see an He 4/4 1 from the DFB heritage collection haul a train from Disentis to Andermatt over the Oberalppass. There the train will be taken over by DFB HG 3/4 1 "Furkahorn" to Gletsch via Realp and Furka. A special photo run-by is planned for the 4th July. Further information can be found on the DFB homepage or via e-mail at dfb-reisedienst@goms.ch.

Improved services
DFB will be providing an enhanced service over last year. The high season and weekends will now see two timetabled Realp-Gletsch services instead of one. It is only planned to use the three serviceable locos, the return to service of FO steam loco HG 3/4 4 having been put back again.



Major refurbishment of Bhe 4/8 3043
Twenty seven year-old double multiple unit Bhe 4/8 3043 has been refurbished. During the works, the electrical control systems were improved and door control systems installed. The interior received new upholstered seats and new lighting. In addition to soundproof flooring, a passenger information system was installed. The new paint scheme is particularly eye catching, the previous plain brown livery being enhanced with the lower part of the body now dark grey with white lining. A blue band has been painted just below the roof guttering. It re-entered service on 23rd December.



Sod cutting on new line
After years of planning the first sod was finally cut on 15th March for the tunnel on the new line which will reduce the current maximum gradient from 24.6% to 10.5% easing the severe operating restrictions of the past. Capacity will also be increased, the 3 car units only offered 140 seats which was hardly adequate for the service to Engelberg.

The new line will consist of a 4043 m long tunnel between Grafenort (Mettlen) and Engelberg. It will be 340 m shorter than the old line. Although it still requires rack and pinion, higher speeds can be reached because of the reduction in gradient. The work should be completed for Winter season 2005/06 and the first phase will see an increase in capacity from between 400 and 750 to 1,000 passengers per hour.


Rhaetian Railway

A sucessful year
2000 saw the best results for RhB in many years with receipts growing by 6% with a net profit of 1.6 million Francs. The main reason for this is the success of the Vereina line, appearing in the company accounts for the first time for a full financial year.

Uneven wheel wear on the Vereina car carrying service
The transporter wagons bought in 1999 for the car carrying service through the Vereina tunnel are showing signs of damage, with above average wear being detected during routine servicing. This has given rise to vibration and noise, thereby considerably reducing ride quality. Those affected have been taken out of service and overhauled. Up to 4 bogies per day had been dismantled at the Selfranga maintenance depot; with wheelsets being sent to the main workshops at Landquart for turning. In order to reduce wear until the root of the problem could be identified the maximum speed of trains was been reduced to 75 kmh. Use of the spare set of wagons ensured that the timetable was maintained. Speeds have since been increased to 80 kmh, not because the cause of wear has been identified, but because a considerable energy saving was measured.

Service restrictions at the world trade forum
RhB services were cancelled between 07:45 and 17:45 on 27th January because of feared rioting at the world trade forum at Davos. An emergency timetable using buses was introduced on the Klosters-Davos and Filisur-Davos routes. In order to cover any eventuality both the front and rear cabs were manned on all trains, so that trains could be run quickly back to the previous station in case of difficulties. Trains from Filisur terminated at Davos Glaris where a bus service was provided to Davos Platz.

Subsequently four passengers made official complaints to the Transport Ministry as a result of these changes on the grounds that the RhB infringed their service obligations. BAV spokesman Heinz Schoni said that investigations would look at whether the RhB was justified in taking these precautions. Article 3 states that the company has a duty to maintain a service, as long as it is not hindered by events beyond it's control.

Snowliner with dedicated rolling stock
Over the past few years the "Snowliner" has been running between Landquart-Davos-Filisur-St. Moritz and back using a panorama observation cars from the Furka-Oberalp-Bahn. Now that the the RhB owns its own panoramic vehicles, these have now replaced the older carriages. The train runs from Tuesday to Thursday consisting of two B and one A hauled by a 50 year old Ge 4/4 I which is amply sufficient for hauling the train.

Return to service of WR 3814
In 1987 the ex-Mitropa dining cars WR 3813 and 3814 were taken out of service and sold to the Furka-Bergstrecke steam railway. They were then left out in the open at Klus near Oensingen for many years where they visibly deteriorated and were vandalised. After DFB were unable to find any use for these carriages, the "Furka Classic" preservation group was formed to try and prevent their imminent scrapping. Shortly after the group's formation they were able to purchase both vehicles, but sold WR 3813 immediately on to the RhB who were experiencing an increasing demand for on-train catering.

During renovation the carriage was returned to its original state as a pure dining car with the removal of the kitchen installed in 1944. The wooden body frame was in such bad condition that it needed major rebuilding. In addition the vehicle also received EW IV prototype bogies, bought cheaply from Stadler by the RhB. The now elegantly dark blue liveried carriage has received the same livery as the restored carriages 1141-44 and the lettering "Gourmino". It is planned to build a similar vehicle using steel-bodied A 1211 which will receive the number of the old 3813. The other existing carriages WR 3810-3812 will receive the same livery as they return to the workshops for routine maintenance.

Disruption on the Chur-Arosa line
Boulders fell from the rock face above Sassal on the 5th of January blocking both the railway line and the adjacent road. A bus service was introduced to enable rail passengers to reach Arosa. This location has been known as a problem area for many years, just last year a landslide caused lengthy disruptions to services. The RhB has since closed Sassal halt due to the danger of falling rocks, low passenger numbers, and problems getting on and off trains at this location. An alternative service is provided by Chur town bus services which run through to the civil defence centre in Meiersboden.

Second heritage carriage planned for the Bernina line
Railcar ABe 4/4 34, which suffered slight derailment damage last winter at Alp Grüm is to be repaired and given a new livery. Because the tractive effort of ABe 4/4 30 is insufficient for longer trains, 34 will now be repainted in the historic yellow livery. Both units are already capable of being run in multiple, giving rise to their nickname "Kessler Twins" in recent years.

Future for Misoxer railcar?
Railcar ABDe 4/4 454 which had been in store at Stabio, was returned to ist home on 28th November 2000. The Società Esercizio Ferroviario Turistico (SEFT), who run tourist trains on the Bellinzona-Mesocco line, saved it at the last minute from scrapping. The rescue was made possible by donations, to which the Graubünden Kanton also contributed, so that normal train operations were not affected financially. The society plan to use 454 coupled to their existing unit but unpowered. Full return to service as a powered unit will come at a later date, finances permitting. The overall aim is to restore it to original condition for a return to service for the 100th Anniversary of the line which will be celebrated in 2007.

No steam trains to Scuol
Due to increased traffic between Sagliains and Scuol-Tarasp, steam trains are now restricted to Engadin - Lavin only with locomotives being turned by using the Vereina and Sasslatsch II Tunnel triangle due to the lack of a turntable.

New advertising loco
Ge 4/4 III 651 has been advertising Pontresina with a blue livery since December 2000. The local authority has now signed a three year contract stating that no other tourism organisation may advertise on RhB locomotives. The new livery remained secret with the locomotive wrapped in plastic foil and hauled by a Ge 6/6 II to Pontresina for the official presentation The last Ge 4/4 II now remaining without an advertising livery is 652. This loco will retain it's original livery so that a "neutral" loco can be used for filming contracts.


Yverdon-Ste. Croix

New units
A second new articulated multiple unit GTW 2/6 has arrived after the first was delivered in early February. Both will be in regular service after Easter. Driving trailer Bt 51 has now received the YSteC livery similar to the GTW.

Sources Berner Oberland-News Peter Schmid
BVZ Zermatt-Bahn
Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke
Die Südostschweiz
Press service Rhätische Bahn
Schweizer Eisenbahn-Revue

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Copyright © 2001

Author: Stefan Dringenberg, last change on 2001-05-24
(translation by Bruce Smetham and Peter Bennett)