Narrow Gauge News 2/1999 (May)


Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen - Murren

Damage caused by avalanches
As a precaution, rail service on the BLM line was closed on 6 February 1999. Only 3 days later on the evening of 9 February 1999 an avalanche destroyed a bridge over the so called Staubbach. The bridge re-opened on 5 March 1999 following temporary repairs.


Bernese Oberland Railways

Chaos caused by heavy snowfalls
Due to an avalanche BOB's line Zweilütschienen-Grindelwald was closed on 7 February 1999. It was not possible to re-open the line until 12 February 1999 due to heavy snowfalls and the constant danger of further avalanche. The population had to be served by helicopter on some days. The service had to be restricted again between 18 February and 1 March 1999. Heavy trains composed from 3 or 4 railcars of type ABeh 304-313 were used to maintain service inspite of the danger of further avalanches.


BVZ Zermatt Railway

Re-introduction of goods traffic
In conjunction with Pflanzer Transport AG BVZ have re-introduced a freight service last used in 1996 when Swiss Railways transferred goods traffic (Cargo Domizil) to road transport. The new BVZ service started on 1 February 1999 and allows freight to be shipped into or from Zermatt in special containers.

Kipferbrucke damaged by avalanche
The bridge between Kalpetran and St. Nikolaus was completely destroyed by an avalanche on 21 February 1999. As a replacement a temporary bridge was installed by the SBB. A through service between Brig and Zermatt re-commenced on 6 March 1999.


Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway

Winter of the Century
DFB's tracks were covered with up to 15 m of snow. Several avalanches hit the line. Anyhow no major damages were reported so far. Even the Realp station was covered with up to 6 m of snow. The DFB made an appeal for volunteers and donations of money to commence snow clearance and any necessary repairs on 15th May 1999 to be ready in time for the start of the operating season.

New Rolling Stock
With the opening of FO's new depot and maintenance facilities in Brig-Glis DFB received the DZ 4351 that was still parked in the old depot near Brig station. The car was brought to Steinen (SZ) were all usable components were removed. The remaining chassis will be used to build a new AB or B type passenger car.
In addition DFB acquired the former B40 of the Luzern - Stans - Engleberg railway which had begun life with the Brunnigbahn (C829). It will require new bogies as the originals were retained by the LSE.
The former RhB non-compartment mail coach is now intended to be re-used as a workshop in place of the four-axled track maintenance wagon.


Furka-Oberalp Railway

Consequences of the winter
The Furka and Oberalp car-shuttle service had to be closed on 28 January 1999 due to heavy snowfalls. The rail service on other sections of the FO network had to be closed on 7 February 1999. Car-shuttle services were due to re-commence from Andermatt instead of Realp on 11 February 1999, however the first train, hauled by Ge 4/4 no. 81 ran into an avalanche at Zumdorf causing a further day's delay to the re-introduction of services.
FO's infrastructure was destroyed by various avalanches. A full service over the route was not restored until 7 March 1999.


Rhaetian Railway

Restored Coach C2012
After more than 5000 hours of voluntary work the historic C 2012 passenger coach built 1889 was introduced to the public. This car - numbered C 34 at that time - was most probably used in the first train between Landquart and Klosters in 1889. It was converted into a exhibition car in 1936 and used as a workshop after 1940 - designated X 9034.

Settlement of legal delays
After the settlement of legal delays the construction of Fuchsenwinkel station, a important step in the course of the Vereina project, can be continued. The regional administrative court found in favour of the RhB in what the construction work was concerned.

Inauguration of the Rhätia - Stübli
The RhB made use of an old parcel van originally from the Bernina Railway (Xk 9028 formerly D 4043 built in 1913) and totally restored it to its original condition with lettering to suit steam haulage. It is now designated D 4042. A new such car was required as the old D 4042 used to compose historic trains was damaged heavily on 25 July 1998 and had to be scrapped.

New halt at Chur West
Planning permission is being sought with a view to completion of the new halt in May 2000.

Damage to a further historic steam train carriage
The historic passenger coach B 2247 built 1932 for the Chur-Arosa line was destroyed while shunting at Landquart on 4 March 1999. The association "Dampffreunde der Rhätischen Bahn" has launched an appeal for a suitable replacement.

Rescue of the Bernina Crocodile?
The Bernina Crocodile Ge 4/4 182 was not scrapped as reported in the Swiss "Eisenbahn-Amateur" magazine. This interesting vehicle was parked on the premises of the La-Mure museum railway in France and is in a terrible state now. As reported by a RhB engineer a association to transport this vehicle back to Switzerland was introduced. It is planned to do some repainting and than display the historic locomotive in Samedan. This follows an aborted plan to use Ge 2/4 no 221 which was scrapped in the meantime.

New bridge in Landquart
Due to the rebuilding of Landquart station a new bridge is being built. Upon completion of this bridge, the old steel bridge will be demolished.

Trial runs for the new Vereina car carrying wagons
The new Vereina car carrying wagons are operated nightly between Trimmis and Haldenstein for trial purpose. The test train is composed from Ge 4/4 III 648, BDt 1741 (former RBS) and several new car carrying wagons.

Merciful escape from winter disruption
Only minor damage was caused to the catenary. The threat of avalanches forced occasional closures.


Wengernalp Railway

Winter damage
The WAB also suffered from this year's abnormally high snowfalls. The track and the adjacent cafe Oberland were damaged by a powder snow avalanche during the night of 7/8 February 1999 killing two people. Services were not restored until 12 February 1999. Further closures were necessary on the lines between Grindelwald and Brandegg, and between Lauterbrunnen and Wengen between 18 and 26 February and the catenary was damaged once more at the cafe Oberland on the 22nd. Normal services were resumed on the railway from 1 March 1999.


Schweizer Eisenbahn-Revue
Pressedienst Jungfraubahnen
Pressedienst Rhätische Bahn


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© 1999 by Klaus P. Canavan 06-17-99 (with the kind assistance of Bruce Smetham)