Narrow Gauge News 4/2001 (October)
Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway
Construction works accomplished to plan
After last year's final push to open the line to Gletsch, this year's focus was on the renovation of the existing line. The avalanche damage in the Gletsch-Muttbach area has been repaired at a cost of 40,000 Francs. The radio-controlled signalling at the Muttbach level crossing has also been commissioned with the cable link to the Furka-Passhöhe network being laid during the Summer. The Gletsch turntable has also been installed and should be fully operational by the beginning of the Winter period. The official commissioning however is not planned until the start of next year's season.
RhB WR-S 3820 at the DFB
Another ex-RHB carriage was acquired by the DFB in August. The 1954 built and 1993 withdrawn WR-S 3820 that has since been used as a shop and "Cultural Station", was examined and returned to running condition in the main workshops. The carriage, now based at Realp, will be brought up to DFB standards and receive the well-known livery. The carriage, to be used for tour groups, is not equipped with brake gear and cannot therefore be placed at the rear end of train formations once it is in service.
Autumnal civil engineering
Train services between Sedrun and Andermatt were suspended between the 15th and 27th of October to allow the track base to be lowered and new lining installed in the Oberalp tunnel. New signalling will only be commissioned in conjunction with the station rebuild next year.
Renovation of the Farschen tunnel
The Farschen tunnel, which the Schollenen line uses to pass under the exit from Goschenen, was demolished and rebuilt during the summer. Thanks to careful preparatory planning the actual demolition only took two days. The entire line was open again by the 30th of July.
BDeh 4/4 45 withdrawn
September saw the withdrawal of the last but one remaining BDeh 4/4, number 45, out of a class originally totalling five. After numbers 42,43 and 44 were scrapped in 1995 and 2000, number 41 is now the sole survivor running on the FO. The 1941 delivered unit is still in regular service with one service per day between Disentis and Dieni. It is hoped that this interesting unit, dating from the electrification period of the FO, will be saved for posterity.
Services with a steam locomotive took place for the first time since the construction of the Gornergratsbahn. The DLM in Winterhur serviced BHZ locomotive HG 2/3 7 ran for the first time on the 28th of August between Zermatt and Findelenbach. In contrast to the rest of the line, the maximum gradient on this section is only 12.4%, so that no additional braking is necessary. The loco hauled the brand-new panoramic coach B 2226, which was still undergoing test runs to Gornergrat in early September. The saloon carriage AS 1144 also reached the terminus on the 25th of August for the first time when used for a special tour by RhB steam enthusiasts, hauled by unit Bhe 4/4 3062.
Montreux-Bernese Oberland Railway
Golden Pass Panoramic
The three railways MOB, Loetschbergbahn and Bruenigbahn have decided to rearrange their panoramic trains under the uniform label "Golden Pass Panoramic". An obvious sign of this cooperation can be found in the three new painted locomotives and the new gold-white coaches. Places in the trains can be reserved at each station between Montreux and Interlaken. Transferring in Zweisimmen, inevitable by the gauge change, was simplified. The trains of BLS and MOB now stop at the same platform and have good links.
Advertising on the MIB
Since certain railway management groups seem to have convinced themselves that it's possible to make money through advertising on rolling stock, the MIB has now decided to "decorate" unit Be 4/4 8 with advertising panels. The roof-mounted box section had to be of heavy construction to withstand heavy winds and seriously affects the unit's visual appearance.
Chief engineer retires
Willy Altermatt, chief engineer for many years, retired on 31st of July. His name will always be closely linked to the construction of the Vereina tunnel. The project management and construction of this massive civil engineering project were under his leadership since the 1970's.
Services to Arosa re-instated
The long standing break in the Chur-Arosa line was finally brought to an end on 16th November with the full timetable re-introduced. As has already been reported previously, the line was closed on 16th July due to the threat of collapsing rocks overhanging the line in the Calfreisen area. The temporary safety measures are now in place and a 25 metre long gallery will be built during the Winter to deflect any future rock falls. The overall physical costs of this drama to date have been over 4 million francs; with lost revenue estimated at 300,000 francs and the cost of replacement services at 1 million francs. The cost of stabilising the rock overhang and the construction of the gallery alone cost 2.5 million francs. Additional finishing work costs are expected to be at least another half a million francs.
Accident due to vandalism
A regional service collided with a rubbish container that had been thrown over an 8 metre high embankment wall on the 29th July. Fortunately no-one was injured. The locomotive and the first 4 carriages however were damaged with the repair cost estimated at 10,000 francs.
Vereina tunnel suitable for 40 tonners
Due to changing circumstances the RhB has commissioned tests to see if the Vereina tunnel, originally planned for HGVs up to 28 tons, can carry heavier vehicles. According to press spokesman Peider Hartli this is possible, however special persmission will be required on each occasion. HGVs of up to 32 tonnes can be so placed over two wagons so that the weight is equally spread.
Second unit in historical livery
Following the repaint last year of Abe 4/4 30, unit 34 of 1908 has now also received the Berninabahn yellow livery. A special train on 27th October from Poschiavo to Pontresina consisted of unit 34 together with C114, the ex-mess coach X 9079 restored by Club 1889. Photos of this event can be found on the Club 1889 website at http://www.club1889.ch/.
SBB - Brünigbahn
Double track planned
In order to reduce pressure on the overstretched Allmend-Horw section, the SBB is now planning to double it. The Hergiswil-Luzern section is used not only by the Brunigbahn but also carries long-distance and local traffic. The expansion is planned to start in 2003 and to be finished by December 2004. An additional expansion of the section to Horw is currently under discussion with the Cantons.
The Trogener Bahn is to receive two new low-floor units in 2003 to replace the 50 year-old train formations. This decision was taken by the Ausserhoder Canton committee on 24th September. The new three car units will have interconnecting gangways and have a seating capacity of 92. Considerably wider doors will aid boarding. The departure from the markedly small TB rolling stock is particularly noteworthy; in order to introduce wider trains to make use of the advantages of low-floor design many modifications will have to be made to track formation and stations themselves.
New stock finally ordered
The order for new WAB stock has finally been placed. A total of four low-floor panoramic trains Bhe 4/8 and three low-floor driving units are to be delivered by Stadler by the third quarter of 2004, at a cost of 33,5 million francs. The new vehicles are to be introduced on the Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen sides in conjunction with existing units.
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Copyright © 2001
Author: Stefan Dringenberg, last change on 2002-03-07
(translation by Bruce Smetham and Peter Bennett)