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European Railroad Discussion > Metre gauge in Switzerland


Date: 05/12/24 09:34
Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: 86235

Just returned from a brief four day visit to Switzerland to renew my acquaintance with Die Zentralbahn (ZB) in Luzern, which I rode last summer, and to ride the Rhatische Bahn (RhB) and Matterhorn Gottard Bahn (MGB), which I've not done for almost 15 years. It was a curate's egg of a flying visit, mixed weather and I hadn't accounted for Ascension Day (Thursday May 9th) being a public holiday in Switzerland, which meant little or no metre gauge freight was moving on the RhB. And I only worked that out shortly before mid-day on the day itself, having spent the morning cursing the lack of freight trains which the RhB freight timetable confidently predicted would be running! Friday was better, the morning and early afternoon Albula Line freight trains ran, but those to Ilanz on the Disentis-Müster line through the Hinterrhein gorge, which serve the Walser mineral water plant did not run. I'm guessing it wasn't worth Walser's while to start operations just for the Friday before shutting up shop again for the weekend.

Starting with the ZB in Luzern, Tuesday was pretty damp, I was mainly interested in the xx:10 departures from Luzern to Engleberg, the so called Luzern-Engleberg Express which are still locomotive hauled , although I believe replacement Stadler EMUs are on order.

1:  ZB HGe 4/4 series II 101 961-1 alongside Lake Luzern between Horw and Hergiswil on the 10:10 Luzern to Engleberg
2: 101 964-5 approaching Stans on the 11:10 ex-Luzern
3: With no sign of the rain relenting I rode the 13:10 ex-Luzern up to Engleberg, this is the terminus. It was too wet to hang around so i rode the train back to Luzern, leaving the ZB behind and heading to Arth-Goldau and eventually Chur.








Date: 05/12/24 09:55
Re: Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: 86235

4: To escape the ongoing damp weather in Chur I rode the RhB and MGB from Chur across the spine of the alps to Brig, on the route of the Glacier Express. I'm not a fan of cruise trains, preferring the type with opening windows you can lean out of. The journey from Chur to Brig is split into three segments with two cross platform changes of train; Chur to Disentis-Müster on the RhB, Disentis-Müster to Andermatt and Andermatt to Brig on the MGB. And this is my Andermatt to Brig train arriving from Brig in Andermatt, with an old style Deh 4/4 Motor Luggage Van and conventional cars with big opening windows.
5: Between Andermatt and Brig the train passes through the nine and a half mile Furka Base Tunnel, between Realp and Oberwald. The MGB operates a car carrying service through the tunnel behind their HGe 4/4 series II, which are almost identical to the ZB's HGe 4/4s. Weather's improving!
6: The MGB features a number of rack equipped sections and one spiral tunnel, here we're descending off a rack section nearing Fiesch








Date: 05/12/24 10:03
Re: Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: 86235

7: The MGB famously terminates in the Bahnhofplatz in Brig, the square in front of the SBB Station. I was last in Brig in 1988, not surprisingly there have been a few changes, including a line relocation removing the MGB line to Andermatt from the suburb of Naters where I took a picture on that visit 36 years ago! My train from Andermatt waiting to leave on the final leg of its journey to Visp.
8: The 14:23 Brig to Andermatt leaving the Bahnhofplatz station
9: For a change of scenery I walked half a mile or so west along the line to Visp for the second of the day's Glacier Expresses, no.903 from St Moritz. I returned to Chur on the SBB via an IC service to Berne and Zurich and an IR service onward via Thalwil, Pfaffikon and Sargans to Chur. 



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 05/12/24 14:01 by 86235.








Date: 05/12/24 10:18
Re: Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: 86235

10:It's Thursday 9th, Ascension day and a public holiday in Switzerland, virtually no freight was moving, at least not on dedicated trains. By the time the penny dropped I decided that I'd take myself off to St Moritz. I'm a child of the 1960s and to me the name St Moritz means glamour, the Cresta Run, apres ski and hanging out with actors like Sean Connery and Roger Moore. And that's where I was going.
11 & 12: For the Chur to St Moritz service the RhB has invested in new loco hauled push pull trainsets, which are strengthened with conventional cars depending on traffic levels. The new trains have one extraordinary feature, the observation section, the front third of a second class car is kitted out with floor to ceiling glass and a glass roof, no seats just a padded bar down the centre of the area on which to lean, but the really great thing is that the windows open and close at the touch of a button. 








Date: 05/12/24 10:30
Re: Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: 86235

13: Of course riding the Albula Line to St Moritz means crossing the Landwasser Viaduct on the approach to Filisur, junction with the line to Davos.
14: I got out at Filisur and walked the 25 minutes or so to the viewpoint overlooking the viaduct, waiting for the next train, which, lo and behold, featured one of the older series of Ge 4/4s and a train of conventional cars with a modern driving trailer at the far end. 
15: Back to Filisur and the next train onward to St Moritz. Beyond Filisur the Albula Line performs all sorts of gyrations to gain height, until it reaches Preda and the Albula Tunnel. On one of the spirals above Bergun I looked at the back of the train and saw there were two freight wagons with refrigerated containers. So freight was moving!  I guess ed they would be dropped at Samedan, just this side of St Moritz, and the location of an intermodal facility. As it turned out only one was dropped, the other was taken on to St Moritz to be transferred to a Bernina Line train for onward connection to Poschiavo. Here's the other about to be picked up by a diesel tractor








Date: 05/12/24 10:40
Re: Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: 86235

16: Approaching Samedan is the Glacier Express 
17: In St Moritz Station diesel tractor 112 shunts the arriving stock of the Glacier Express to the servicing road, waiting to return to Brig or Zermatt tomorrow
18: And finally, the second section of the day's Glacier Express arriving in St Moritz, Ge 4/4 611 Landquart has been restored to its original green livery. I love the double slip its just about to pass over arriving on track 3.

If this has wetted your appetite you can see what freight activities I did get to see on https://nick86235.smugmug.com/Trains/2024/Roaming-Switzerland-by-train








Date: 05/13/24 07:31
Re: Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: BlaineM

Many super photos in my memory bank.  My wife and I spent two weeks in 2015 touring Switzerland by rail, great fun.
Blaine
American Fork



Date: 05/13/24 21:20
Re: Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: dwatry

Nick - great photos and looks like a very fun visit, despite the rain.  Personally, I always like photos in the rain.  Hoping to see some of this in a few weeks when we ride the Bernina Express.  One question though - we colonials are unfamiliar with the phrase "a curate's egg of a flying visit"!!!  Translation, please!
 - Duncan



Date: 05/14/24 03:01
Re: Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: 86235

dwatry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> One question though - we colonials are
> unfamiliar with the phrase "a curate's egg of a
> flying visit"!!!  Translation, please!
>  - Duncan

Ha ha, it means part good / part bad, derives from a 19th century story of a young curate having breakfast with his Bishop. The Bishop apologises that the egg the curate's been offered is bad. The curate is so desperate not to offend that he replies "no, no my Lord, parts of it are lovely".



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/14/24 08:52 by 86235.



Date: 05/14/24 15:12
Re: Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: 55002

Great collection of photos, Nick. I've always enjoyed Switzerlad. I've just returned from Germany,and got caught out by the Ascenion Day hols. chris uk.



Date: 05/15/24 03:01
Re: Metre gauge in Switzerland
Author: 86235

55002 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've just returned from
> Germany,and got caught out by the Ascenion Day
> hols. chris uk.
In a way that makes me feel better, not just me then!



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