Narrow Gauge News 3/1999 (October)


Blonay - Chamby Museum Line

Re-commissioning of preserved RhB As 2
Saloon carriage As2 built in 1903 for the RhB was re-commissioned over the Whitsun weekend. It was replaced during the 1930's when the current saloon carriages were acquired and subsequently modified after WW II to an observation carriage on the Bernina Railway, unfortunately the modification saw removal of its grand interior decor and replacement by 44 plain rotating seats.
Towards the end of the 1960's, it was itself replaced and donated to the Blonay - Chamby Museum where it was used as a stationary souvenir shop until 1988. Financial constraints prevented restoration to its full former glory, and thus the reconstruction was a compromise however the restroation has been carried out to a high standard, and has been well received by the public.


Berner Oberland Bahnen

Double track in operation
Operation of the double track section between Wilderswil and Zweilütschinen commenced on 30th May after four years of construction. This has already resulted in considerable journey time reductions due to the higher permitted speeds, improved reliability, and increased efficiency in the use of staff and rolling stock (see below). The works were part of the SFr 32m "Bahn 2000" project, and were designed to eliminate conflicting movements at Zweilütschinen.

Power Car sold abroad
The BOB has sold cogwheel power car ABeh 4/4 309 to the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn (BZB) where it will be used in conjunction with two former Bern - Solothurn (RBS) trailers on the line between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Eibsee. As it is neither fitted with the necessary safety features, nor meets dimensional clearances, it is unlikely to see operation on the 25% gradients beyond Eibsee/Zugspitzplatt. It will receive the blue and white livery of the BZB before entering service.
It became surplus to requirements as a result of the reduction in the number of train sets needed from seven to six following the completion of the double tracking project between Wilderswil and Zweillütschinen, and further savings are anticipated.

Wengen signalbox operational
April 23rd saw the opening of the new Wengen signalbox. Based on the tried and tested Siemens Domino 69 system, it is designed to optimise operation of the busy station and allow simultaneous operations at each end.

Restoration of A182 completed
Carriage A182 dating from 1971 has been refurbished. Its worn and faded upholstery was no longer considered fit for a 1st class carriage. The opportunity was also taken to remove asbestos insultaion, fit a door locking system and a full repaint given. Seating capacity has been increased from 36 to 48.


Furka - Bergstrecke AG Steam Railway

Severe damage to locomotive No 9
Locomotive HG 3/4 number 9 "Gletschhorn" (formerly No 2) was severely damaged on August 5th when a crank pin sheared causing severe damage to the entire inside drive mechanism. Recovery of the engine to Realp depot proved difficult, and with repairs likely to be protracted, and in the region of SFr 200,000, its participation in the opening of the line to Gletsch in 2000 must be in doubt.

FO loan to DFB
In addition to steam locomotive No 4, the FO has agreed to loan several carriages including some damaged by snow over the winter of 1998/9. These include service cars X4913 (ex C206), X4919 (ex C210), and passenger carriages AB4163 (ex AB4557) and X4231 (ex BC 4152). It is intended that the two damaged carriages will receive new bodywork, and, together with the others be repainted in the old FO red livery carrying the name "Furkabahn" to operate with No 4.

DFB No 6 returns to Realp
Following completion of modifications in the workshop at Chur, locomotive HG 2/3 No 6 "Weisshorn" (ex BVZ) returned to Realp on July 8th by road. Due to the need to complete rectification work, it was not possible for the locomotive to operate on its return, and it therefore missed the end of the 1999 operating season.

Snowplough set up in Oberwald
Former RhB snowplough Xk 9104 has found a new home at Oberwald. Donated by the RhB some years ago, it has been restored by the North East Switzerland branch of the Furka-Bergstrecke association in DFB blue livery and set up as an eye-catcher in Oberwald station advertising the Bergstrecke and the plans to complete the restoration of the line.


Furka - Oberalp - Bahn

Reconditioning of Xrotm 4934
Following 20 years of exemplary service for the FO, rotary snowplough Xrotm 4934 has been sent to its original manufacturers Beilhack in Rosenheim (Germany) for a major overhaul including replacement of its two air-cooled 12 cylinder diesel engines by one large water cooled engine. It is due to return in time for the onset of the 1999/2000 winter.


Rhaetian Railway

New advertising livery for Ge 4/4 III 648
Locomotive 648 "Susch" which was painted in a livery advertising the Vereina Line construction works in 1997, was returned to traffic on May 10th in an updated version of the same livery incorporating a larger Vereina Line slogan and portraits of the RhB staff.

Trial runs with car transporters
Extensive nightime trials were carried out in the months prior to opening of the Vereina Tunnel with a typical car transporter rake with the driving trailer at the Klosters end, and a Ge 4/4III at the Sangliains end. The trials, which ran from Sangliaians up to tunnel marker 11.4 km (approx. 900 m ahead of the crossing station), began by running unladen, then with varying complements of cars, coaches and lorries to fully laden trials to assess the rolling stability, ride quality, and braking characteristics of the trains.

Delivery of low-floor driving trailers
In April 1998, the RhB ordered 8 new driving trailers BDt 1751 - 1758 from Stadler in Altenrhein for use throughout the system on shuttle or tourist services. A feature of these vehicles is a new design of low floor doorway area to facilitate access by wheelchairs, prams, and luggage trolleys. The carriages, which will be designated as non-smoking, are not fitted with toilets however, and are fitted with PA90 bogies manufactured by FIAT-SIG similar to those applied to the EW IV carriages some six years ago. 1751 differs from the rest being equipped with a pneumatic brake system for use on the car transporting trains to be used as a standby for this service. Provision has been made to retrofit the rest of the batch in due course. All eight were expected to be in service by the end of November 1999.

Exceptional load
In conjunction with extension works at the Scala dam on the Lago Bianco, it was necessary to transport a crane on June 18th from Ospizio Bernina to the site. The crane's height of 3.85 metres meant that it could not be loaded onto a wagon due to the fact that the clearance with the overhead contact wire was only 4 metres in places. A solution was found in mounting the crane on auxiliary bogies with Gem 4/4's 801 and 802 providing the motive power.

Lightweight birthday party
Lightweight power car ABe 4/4 501, otherwise known as the "Fliegender Rhatier" celebrated its 60th birthday with a special run in the Uterengadine. It pulled two lightweight steel carriages from the batch acquired at the same time in 1939. Of the origional batch of four, only 501 and 502 remain in service, the other two have been withdrawn for scrap.

Return of the Bernina Crocodile
The previously mentioned rumour of the repatriation of Bernina Crockodile Ge 4/4 No 182 is gaining more in substance. The club 1889, who have already restored carriage C2012 to its original condition have formed a sub branch ("Associazione 182") with the aim of saving this unique locomotive to serve as a "mobile memorial". The prospect of achieving this aim seems more assured following kind donations from a St. Moritz hotel proprietor and various companies. The intention was to move the locomotive in the week prior to the opening of the Vereina Tunnel from St Georges- de- Commiers to Samedan . Further information is available by accessing the club's website: http://www.club1889.ch/

Return to service of Diesel Locomotive Gm 4/4 241
Gm 4/4 241 has been owned by the RhB since purchase second hand from Germany in 1989. It owes its origins to the DB series V51 and V52, and was acquired for works trains on the Vereina line. Unfortunately it failed to impress, and was relegated to a siding next to the main workshops in Landquart. The decision was taken in 1998 to prepare the locomotive for service, and work has concentrated on the fitting of a new motor and gearbox. Now painted in the latest RhB livery, the locomotive is employed on heavy shunting duties at Landquart and Untervaz.

Reconstruction of Disentis station
Work has continued on the reconstruction of Disentis station which was deemed to have insufficient capacity for modern levels of traffic. Services were interrupted at weekends up to 7th May whilst the new Disentiser tunnel was brought into use, whilst work has continued through the summer on revisions to the track layout, and the addition of another platform to avoid passengers from having to cross the tracks. the station is being extended to meet forecasted growths in traffic particularly the Glacier Express, and trains serving the Alp Transit (NEAT) construction works.

New bogie well container wagons
The RhB has purchased new low floor bogie well wagons to allow the carriage of standard size containers throughout the network following the decision of the Swiss postal service to convey all parcels in future by container. They can work on the Bernina line, and therefore serve the Puschlav. The early morning train from Chur to St Moritz can be observed daily pulling up to eight of these wagons.

Further Ge 4/4 III
A follow-on order of three Ge 4/4 III was placed to cope with increases in traffic created by the Vereina Line. Whilst the locomotives are broadly similar to their older sisters, they have been fitted with the traditional control handwheel instead of the high tech joystick control. The rest of the class will be retrofitted with this modification with the exception of 647 which was modified as part of its accident damage repairs in 1997. The latest batch was delivered and commissioned in time for the tunnel opening.

Modifications to AB carriages
Several standard type I AB carriages have been refurbished and converted to single class vehicles as a result of changes in demand. Modified are AB 1519 to 1526 which are to become A 1243 to 1250, and AB 1527 to 1534 which are to become B2290 to 2297.

Return of restaurant car WR 3814
Not only is the Bernina crocodile returning to the RhB, but also the former Bernina restaurant WR 3814. The coach was built in 1928 for the Bernina railway, but withdrawn in 1987 due to the poor condition of its bodywork. Sold to the Furka Bergstrecke with WR3813, it lay untouched and deteriorating on blocks at the OeBB Klus station as they did not have the means to effect a restoration. Due to a shortage of restaurant cars on the RhB, it was decided to repurchase and refurbish the saloon to the similar stylish appearance of the 1940's without a galley when operated on the Bernina.


Bergbahn Rheineck - Walzenhausen

Narrow gauge tracks extended
In conjunction with the reconstruction of Rheineck station, the opportunity has been taken to extend the RhW tracks into the former platform 1. This provided the rare event of regauging from Standard to narrow gauge (1,200 mm) tracks. The RhW was built and operated as a funicular railway in 1896 until conversion to a cogwheel line in 1958. Only one item of rolling stock is owned - a single power car BDeh 1/2 No1.


SBB Brünigbahn

Derailment at Sachseln
A shuttle train was derailed on 31st May due to the points being changed under it whilst it was entering Sachseln Station. Fortunately nobody was injured despite both bogies of the trailer car jumping the tracks.

Landslide causes service disruption
The service between Hergiswil and Alpnachstad was suspended for several days after heavy rainfall caused a landslide on 22nd May. The nearby motorway A8, and the cantonal highway were also affected. A temporary service was operated from Hergiswil via the Luzern - Stans - Engelberg railway to Stans where passengers were transferred to buses. A through bus was provided from Hergiswil from 30th May.

Special livery for the Brünig - Panorama - Express
The carriages operated on the BPE have all been painted in the special livery applied to the recently delivered panoramic carriages. They bear a red livery with black and white stripes covering the window area.


Transports publics du Chablis

TPC is the operating name for the new company formed by the merger of the former AL (Aigle - Leysin), ASD (Aigle - Le Sepey - Les Diablerets), AOMC (Aigle - Ollon - Monthey - Champery), and BVB ( Bex - Villars - Bretaye) companies. In practice, the companies had been working together as a group for many years so a merger was entirely logical.


Berner Oberland news by Peter Schmid
President Jungfraubahnen
President Rhätische Bahn
Schweizer Eisenbahn - Revue


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© 2000 by Klaus P. Canavan 01-23-2000 (courtesy of Bruce Smetham, UK)