Narrow Gauge News 4th quarter 97


Aigle-Sépey-Diablerets railway

New pullman driving trailer for the ASD
the ASD which has been struggling for survival for almost 15 years, put a new driving trailer, the Arst 433, into operation. The vehicle is based on a former BLT driving trailer (Bt 433) and is now used with the Brs 421 for the transportation of larger groups. The vehicle is equipped with skylights on one side and was given a very remarkable color scheme. It was named " Chez rose ".

Rebuilding of the BDe 4/4 2
The BDe 4/4 2, which is used by the ASD mainly for service purposes, has been rebuilt. Similar to traction unit BDe 4/4 1 which was modified in 1992, it received a color scheme, which fits in with the design of the "Trans Ormanan" express.


Bière-Apples-Morges railway

Severe accident near Bussy-Chardonney
One person was killed in a train accident on October 27, 1997. A train heading towards Bière collided with a tractor at a railroad level crossing, derailed and crashed head-on into a metal mast of the railway catenary. The traction-unit driver was killed instantly. Four injured persons were brought to the hospital in Morges.


Lauterbrunnen-Muerren railway

New catenary
On the line from Winteregg to Saggibach the BLM replaced the old catenary that was installed in 1891. A helicopter was used to help in the course of the constructigon works. The replacement had become necessary since the old wire was worn down. Due to a new technique, fewer masts were required.


Bernese-Oberland railway

Traction unit ABDeh 4/4 306 rebuilt
The renovated tractive unit ABDeh 4/4 306 was named Loetschental " on July 13, 1997. The traction unit serves as a reserve for the ABDeh 4/4 units (311-313). This vehicle is equipped with new electrical installations, a modernized interior, and has a new exterior color scheme in the new design, a public-address system and a modern door control.


Biel-Taeuffelen-Ins railway

New motor coaches GTW 2/6 for the BTI
The first of the 7 new traction units GTW 2/6 of the BTI was put into service in July 1997. The tractive unit is dervied from the module principle GTW 2/6 by Stadler AG, Bussnang. Similar vehicles with Diesel traction are already in operation on the "Seehaesle" line of the Mittelthurgau railway (Radolfzell-Stockach). Similar traction units, likewise metre-gauge, with DC traction are supplied to the Chemins de fer électrique Veveysans (CEV).

Pending retirement from service of the BDe 4/4 512
The motor coach BDe 4/4 512, built in 1916, was used for years for pulling standard gauge cars loaded on pulley bucks. The delivery of the GTW 2/6 mentioned above makes it dispensable now.


Bex-Villars-Bretaye railway

Historical tram car rebuilt
The historical tram car Be 2/2 9 was rebuilt and put again into operation in December 1996. This traction unit was built in 1916 for the VBZ as tram car 225. For a couple of years it was used for shunting service in Villars. After the renovation of this historical vehicle, the oldest cog wheel locomotive still operable and named "La Grisette" (built 1898), is to be also renovated.


Brig-Visp-Zermatt railway

New BVZ director
Remo Perren retired from the BVZ after 24 years for reasons of health. New head of the BVZ is the engineer Bruno P. Melnik from Zurich.


Chemins de fer électrique Veveysans

New future for BDe 4/4 105
A defect in the electrical equippment of traction unit BDe 4/4 105 occured in 1996. Since then it was parked in Les Avants. The motor coach was transferred to the "Association of 105" on April 18, 1997 to a shed in Vevey, that was equipped especially for this purpose with additional meter-gauge tracks.


Chemins de fer du Jura

Extension of the CJ with three-rail track?
The three adjoining owner cantons of the CJ, Jura, Berne and Neuchatél, decided to extend the network of the railway from Glovelier to Delémont. It is planned to achieve this by a third rail in the SBB track. This idea already came up in 1985, however it was rejected at that time by the SBB due to the heavy freight traffic to France on this line. But now the French state railways SNCF has shut down its line for freight traffic.
With this extension, changing trains in Glovelier becomes unneccessary. The request was already passed on by the canton Jura to the Federal Office for Transportation on September 2, 1996. The costs are estimated to amount to approx. 18.3 million SFr.


Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway

New passenger record on the Furka line
DFB representatives counted 36,781 passengers in summer season 1997. In comparison to the previous year this means an increase of 29 %. The operating cost could be covered by 50% with ticket sales. The remaining costs were covered by souvenir sales, the bar coach, the numerous sponsors and club members.

Work in the canton of Wallis
The gap in the canton of Wallis on the way to Gletsch was finally closed at the end of September 1996 after many years of hard work. The first official train is to arrive at Gletsch station in September 1999. Regular operation will be taken up in the year 2000. However the Furka Scheiteltunnel has to be rebuilt first. If work is according to plan, a reopening of Muttbach station might be possible in autumn 1998. The rebuilding of the last section to Oberwald will cost three to four million SFr. The construction work will take more than 10 years. These large investments require an increase of the club's capital of around 600.000 to 10.8 million Sfr. The cooperation with the FO could be improved due to a change in the board of directors of the FO: A permanent switch linking the stations Realp FO and Realp DFB will be installed in 1998. The old management of the FO estimated the costs of the installation and modification of the protection systems to amount 400.000 SFr. Now the costs are expected to amount to only 40,000 Sfr. A further success is achieved with the hiring of the steam locomotive FO HG 3/4 4. This vehicle was only used occasionally by the FO for special trips since the end the steam aera.

Reconstruction at Chur The two steam locomotives HG 2/3 6 and FO HG 2/4 4 were brought to Disentis by a FO locomotive on October 28, 1997. From Disentis the HG 3/4 4 was brought to Chur on its own. Additionally, the service car X 4911 of the FO was sent to Chur to bring some spare parts of the FO 4 to Chur.


Jungfrau railways

New partnership
The JB started a partnership with the operator of the canal tunnel, Euro Tunnel, on September 25, 1997. On this day, the Euro Tunnel locomotive 9025 was named Jungfraujoch". In return, the recently rebuilt composition 109 the JB was designated "Euro Tunnel".


Luzern-Stans-Engelberg railway

New function for LSE traction unit
Due to the extreme slope of 24,7 % on the LSE line, the push-pull trains always have the traction coach downhill-side and the driving trailer uphill-side. In contrast, the driving trailers taken over from Regionalverkehr Berne-Solothurn are exactly in reverse. Since these two driving trailers are always in service, it was decided to keep the driving trailer ABt 23 (built 1964) as a reserve. It was necessary to turn this vehicle around. However there is no turntable of suitable length on the entire meter-gauge network between Luzern and Lauterbrunnen. Thus the driving trailer was loaded on a standard gauge trailer and turned on the large turntable in the SBB depot of Luzern.


Meiringen-Innertkirchen railways

New motor coach
MIB acquired the motor coach Be 4/4 74 of the RBS (regional transport authority Berne-Solothurn). It will serve as a reserve for unit Be 4/4 8. Since the delivery of the Be 4/4 7 to the RBS in 1961, the vehicle covered more than 2 million km.


Bruenig Golden Pass

Third rail for the Golden Pass route in 2001?
The community of interests "Golden Pass" plans to implement the meter gauge connection between Zweisimmen and Interlaken before 2001. In 1997 a new concept was presented on September 10, 1997. The costs of the project are reduced by 12 per cent to 55.6 million SFr. by equipping only one of the two tracks with a third rail between Spiez and Interlaken The entire route Montreux-Luzern, which is called "Golden Pass", has a length of 190 km and possesses a standard gauge section 53 km long in the central segment . For this reason the travelers still have to change trains in Zweisimmen and in Interlaken. With the installation of an additional third rail, the entire line can be used by meter gauge trains. The new concept provides for three direct trains in each direction daily. The operation is limited by the missing cross-over (?) possibility within the three-rail section. Between Montreux and Meiringen the MOB locomotives of the Ge 4/4 series are to be used to haul the trains. These locomotives are already prepared for the conversion to dual-system locomotives (800 V DC / 15 kV AC). SBB locomotives are to haul the trains between Meiringen and Luzern over the Bruenig pass.


Rhaetian railways

End of an era
An era ended after 83 years with the conversion of the Chur-Arosa line from DC to AC operation on November 29, 1997. After 83 years the line was converted from 2400 V DC to AC operation (11 kV 16.7 cycles per second used on the main network. Thus the number of current systems used by the RhB reduces from four to three. The multiplicity of current systems was an inheritance of the mergers in the 40's. With the increasing age of systems and vehicles, the purchase of spare parts became extremely expensive. For reasons of economy it was therefore decided to equip this line with the same current system as already installed on the main network. Thereby the usage of the same rolling stock on the main network and on the Chur-Arosa line is ensured in the future. Only a few vehicles cannot be operated on the Chur-Arosa line due to its sharp curves. With the conversion, the depot in Chur Sand will be closed. Until a final decision is made on the modernization of the city line in Chur, the depot remains in use. Various adjustments of the existing systems of the Chur-Arosa line had to be made. The power supply in Chur was modernized and the railway catenary was prepared for the higher voltage during the months before the conversion. Structural adjustments had to be made on the entire line in order to gain the necessary distances for the insulation.
The total costs for the modernization of the Chur-Arosa line amount to over 58 million SFr, five times more than the original building of the line (12 million SFr). On the date of the conversion, the old motor coaches of the line were taken out of service. The ABDe 4/4 481-486 will be scrapped in case they cannot be sold. At the moment, the La Mure railways are regarded as a potential buyer for one to four motor coaches. The two other ABDe 4/4 487-488 will be converted for use with the current system of the Bernina line as soon as the financing is secured. The line between Chur and Arosa is now operated with locomotives of the Ge 4/4 II series. As a reserve the) locomotives of the Ge 4/4 I series will be used.
On the day of the conversion, a new state of the art express train, the Arosa Express, was launched. In the tradition of the famous express trains such as the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express the new Arosa Express offers a most enjoyable and comfortable ride. The train set consists of the driving trailer Bt 1703 that was equipped with a new front section, the first class coach As 1256 with large panorama windows similarly to the cars of the Bruenig railway, the AB 1570, the B 2319 and the BD 2481 that are also equipped with panorama windows. All cars of the train set are painted in "Arosa-blue" and decorated with painted mountain flowers . The whole train set is designated for nonsmokers, only the BD has a smoking compartment.

New current collectors for the Ge 4/4 I locomotives
All locomotives of the Ge 4/4 I series were equipped with new current collectors. Due to this measure, these vehicles can be now used on the Chur-Arosa line.

ABe 4/4 503
Because of serious damage in the electrical equipment, the motor coach ABe 4/4 503 cannot be operated any more. Since the RhB has a lack of driving trailers, the former motor coach is now used as driving trailer "ABt 503". All the roof aggregates, the traction motors and the transformer were removed.

Serious accident
A railway service worker was killed and two were seriously injured in an accident between Davos Wolfgang and Davos Laret on Saturday morning, December 13, 1997. The locomotive Ge 4/4 III 648 hauling a regional train collided frontally with the service vehicle Tm 2/2 82 that was operated with a snow plow. The line was closed to traffic until Sunday evening. Despite the operation of the emergency brake , the engine driver of the regional train could not prevent a collision . None of the seven (!) passengers were injured.

Fund- raising for the Pullman coaches successful
The fund-raising for the repair of the historical RhB Pullman coaches was very successful so far. The RhB management decided to release the cars for restoration. The first two coaches are expected to be put into operation again next year. The intention to rebuild all four Pullman coaches before the spring of 1998 still remains . For this purpose the fund-raising will be continued. Further information can be obtained from the association "Pro Salonwagen RhB", P.O. box 662, CH-7002 Chur, telephone +41 81 254 95 76. The last service of all four Pullman coaches in the old state took place on October 25 and 26, 1997.
Two coaches will be outfitted with the electrical equipment for the Bernina line, the two others will be equipped with a cog-wheel brake for use on the FO and BVZ. The decor is to be changed from red creme to blue.

RhB advertising locomotives
The coming up of advertising locomotives leads to the fact that in the meantime only two locomotives of the Ge 4/4 III series are not used for advertising purposes (645 and 646). The others advertise for:

641 Heidiland Bernina express
642 changing posters
643 Ems Chemie
644 radio Grischa
647 Graubuendner Kantonalbank
648 RhB Vereina line
649 Buendner Cementwerke Untervaz

Financing secured
The financing of the RhB is regulated again thanks to an agreement between the Swiss federation and the canton of Grisons. Higher subsidies are guaranteed to the RhB now. Mainitem of the new agreement is a cost sharing system between federation and canton. For the operation of the line, a total of 100 millions SFr is available annually in the future.


Rheineck-Walzenhausen railway

Motor coach damaged in accident
The only motor coach of the Rheineck-Walzenhausen railway was damaged in an accident with a truck on July 1, 1997. The driver of the truck had ignored the warning light atthe railroad level-crossing. The truck-trailer tilted over and damaged two cars waiting at the level-crossing. The heavily damaged motor coach was brought to Stadler AG Altenrhein, where it was repaired.


Bruenig line

New dining car "Chez Béatrice"
The SBB Bruenig line put a new dining car designated WR 426 into operation. Thirty persons can be seated at round tables and at the bar. The car is managed by Mitropa Suisse.

Rebuilding again took place 1997 between November and December in the hilly segment. Therefore the entire line from Giswil to Meiringen was closed for construction works between November and December 1997 at the cog-wheel segment. Besides the replacement of the catenary system, the rails were also replaced.

Car swapping between SBB and BOB
SBB and the BOB agreed to an exchange of rolling stock. Due to the exchange, the SBB possesses the first class coach A 217 of the BOB now. This car corresponds to the Bruenig line type III coaches, it is however somewhat shorter. It will be equipped with panorama windows like the A 211-216. In return, the BOB received several second-class light alloy cars from the Bruenig line. These are to replace the older BOB coaches with open platforms


Zurich Transport Authority

Extension of the network
After 12 years, the network of the VBZ was extended for the first time. The first 280 meters of new tracks were installed on August 30, 1997. The tram line 11 will be extended from Oerlikon station to Zurich fair. This is the first stage to the new tramway line Zurich north from Oerlikon viathe exhibition grounds, Airgateand Glattbrugg to Kloten airport and via Wallisellen to Duebendorf.


Wengernalp railways

New station in Wengen
the second stage of the reconstruction of Wengen station is completed. A modern passenger terminal now exists in Wengen. Thus approximately 110,000 tickets and 35,000 ski passes are sold annually. WSB - Wynen and Suhrental railways A motor coach of the WSB crashed into a damaged barrier on October 10, 1997. Nobody was injured. The accident was caused by a car driver, who crossed the level crossing despite the red light. His car damaged the lowering barrier. The driver of the approaching train realized the danger and initiated an emergency stop. Nevertheless, the impact could not be prevented. The barrier damaged the front section of the motor coach and penetrated several seats in the passengers compartment.


Bündner Zeitung (newspaper, CH),
Eisenbahn-Amateur (CH),
Eisenbahn-Magazin (D),
Klaus P. Canavan, Stefan Dringenberg, Manfred Luckmann
Schweizer Eisenbahn-Revue (CH)
Swiss television SF-DRS
Jungfrau railways
Rhaetian railway

Translations by Klaus P. Canavan


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© 1998 by Stefan Dringenberg 25-01-98