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Swiss Snippets

Page last updated 28th May 2017

This page will be used for short news items relevant to Switzerland sent by members.

The newest item will be at the bottom of the page and most items will also be on the Society’s Facebook page.

January 14th 2016:

Michael Donovan has sent us the following two items:

Five short listed for Merseyrail EMU fleet. 

Merseytravel announced on January 11 that five bidders had been shortlisted to supply the new Merseyrail EMU fleet. Tender documentation is due to be released on January 22, with bids due back by April 30. According to the OJEU notice published on October 2 2015 (RBI496 p6), Merseytravel expects that around 50 trainsets with a nominal length of 60 m will be needed, although bidders will be asked to propose the configuration and exact number of trainsets. The preferred bidder is expected to be chosen towards the end of 2016, says Merseytravel, when the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority ‘will be asked to commit to the project going ahead’. The new fleet is due to enter service ‘by the early 2020s’. Overall cost is estimated at around £400m, including upgrading the traction power supply and enhancements to depots and stations. 

Merseytravel said the project would be financed with ‘a variety of funding mechanisms’, including a reserve which has already been established. There would be no additional costs to local taxpayers, with the investment to be recovered over the operational life of the EMUs by leasing them to the operating concessionaire. 

All of our five candidates have extensive experience of providing trains, maintenance services and depots’, said Merseytravel Chair Councillor Liam Robinson. ‘As part of the process we’ll be interested in how the bidders may be able to tap into the local labour market and make the most of UK-based opportunities.’ Amongst the shortlist, RBI notes the presence of Mitsui of Japan, bidding in consortium with Alstom and J-TREC, the rolling stock manufacturing business of East Japan Railway. The Merseyrail competition is also noteworthy for the participation of Swiss supplier Stadler, which would be  entering the UK heavy rail market for the first time.

SBB/CFF in favour of second Gotthard road tunnel

Basler Zeitung, 03 Jan 2016. The Swiss national rail network provider SBB/CFF has unexpectedly expressed its support for a second road tunnel to be built in Gotthard, Switzerland. It will support the project as long as the current capacity limitations are kept in place on both a national and international level. Swiss citizens will have the opportunity to vote in favour or against the second tunnel on 28 February 2016.

John Law has sent us the following:

RTS.CH has two notes on CFF changes at Lausanne. One is that the old loco depot by the station has finally been cleared for conversion to a fine art museum  and the station buffet has just auctioned off all it's fittings and equipment as it is closed during the station renovations. The new buffet retains the murals but will otherwise be entirely upgraded.

22nd January:

Malcolm Bulpitt has just learnt that SBB will be withdrawing all the Minibars from their services by the end 2017. There is much uproar in the Swiss media, but economically they are apparently a basket case even with the high prices they now charge. Even the Swiss are not prepared to pay over the odds when takeaway coffee, etc. is now available on most stations at a much lower unit price.

1st February:

The final breakthrough of the western bore of Switzerland's 15.4km Ceneri base tunnel was achieved at noon on January 21, with a deviation of only 2cm horizontally and 1cm vertically. http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/europe/final-breakthrough-in-ceneri-base-tunnel.html?channel=537.

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has announced it will invest SFr 37m in its workshops at Olten over the next two years to adapt the facility for the maintenance of SBB's growing fleet of multiple units. http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/europe/sbb-to-upgrade-olten-works.html?channel=537.

Swiss PostMail  recently unveiled its newly-commissioned fleet of Habbiillnss sliding wall bogie freight wagons at its Härkingen sorting centre in central Switzerland.  http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/rolling-stock/new-swiss-postal-wagons-unveiled.html?channel=529.

2nd February:

France: Province-province TGV connections cut.

The SNCF is cutting several province-province TGV connections. Notably concerned are Lille-Bordeaux and Bordeaux-Lyon (via Toulouse) round trips, and Lyria connections between Lille and Geneva and between Marseilles and Geneva.

The first of the new Jungfraubahn trainsets are being delivered to Grindelwald from the Stadler works. http://www.jungfrauzeitung.ch/artikel/141815/

10th March :

A Swiss-Italian consortium has been awarded the £200m Glasgow subway trains deal. Details are here.

SBB are to pilot ticketless travel. http://www.thelocal.ch/20160307/swiss-trains-pilot-ticketless-fare-system.

21st April:

On Friday, 8 April 2016, at Swiss Federal Railways headquarters in Bern, Switzerland, UNIFE, the European Rail Industry Association, represented by UNIFE Director-General Philippe Citroën, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Cooperation with Swiss Federal Railways, represented by Mr Dietmar Gessner, Director of Strategy Sourcing (CFF-SBB-FFS Operating) and Mr Patrick Hadorn, Director of Quality, Safety & Environment (CFF-SBB-FFS Operating) on the advancement of IRIS.

The objective of this MoU is to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between the signatories on quality standards in the rail sector. This cooperation is expected to focus on increasing the exchange of knowledge and experience in a bilateral context on a number of relevant topics such as quality methods, operational and integration maturity levels, and risk transparency, among others specified in the MoU.

Andreas Perren informs us that the transN-line La Chaux-de-Fonds - Les Ponts-de-Martel will close on 30th April. From 1st May a bus will serve the villages along this line (the bus journey is much longer than the train). The traffic-government in Berne said there could no longer be a train service because there are more than 50 level crossing, mainly farm vehicle crossings, along the route. The authorities say it is trial for 3 months, but we all know what this means, that it is closing for ever. Andreas thinks it is the first time, that the Swiss traffic-government has closed a line with such little warning.

The first BLS Vectron has been completed. It can be seen here:http://www.railcolor.net/index.php?nav=1405330&id=8802&action=dview

28th April:

From The Railway Gazette:

Appenzeller Bahnen announced a SFr36m order for four Stadler Rail electric multiple-units on April 7, three days after a groundbreaking ceremony for the St Gallen – Riethüsli diversion which is being built as part of the St Gallen Durchmesserlinie project to enable through running between its Trogen and Appenzell routes. The 1·5 kV DC metre-gauge EMUs are to enter service in mid-2018 to replace the existing units used on the Gossau – Appenzell – Wasserauen route. There is an option for a fifth unit.

The three-car units will be 58·8 m long and 2 650 mm wide, with 161 standard and 15 first class seats, space for 123 standing passengers, and a multi-purpose area for bicycles, prams and luggage. They will have a maximum speed of 80 km/h, air-conditioning and step-free access including an accessible toilet.

Meanwhile, a ceremony on April 4 officially launched construction of the St Gallen – Riethüsli diversion including the 705 m Ruckhalde tunnel which will replace a steeply-graded section line which currently uses the Riggenbach-Klose rack system. Opening is scheduled for October 2018. The St Gallen Durchmesserlinie project will allow AB to operate a train every 15 min between Trogen, St Gallen and Applenzell. The infrastructure works are being funded by the cantons of St Gallen (SFr16m), Appenzell Ausserrhoden (SFr26m) and Appenzell Innerrhoden (SFr7m), with a further SFr41m from the federal government which gave the go-ahead in November 2015. The narrow gauge platforms at St Gallen station are being rebuilt, and the project also requires the lengthening of two passing loops, the provision of a passing loop and stop at St Gallen goods yard, and increasing the voltage on the 9·8 km Trogenerbahn from 1·0 kV to 1·5 kV DC.

8th August:

Current plans will see Lausanne (not the station area) to Villeneuve switch to ETCS on 23.04.2017 (  SBB Infrastructure - pdf).

For Stamp Collectors interested in the Gotthard.  https://www.post.ch/en/private/discover-stamps/collecting-stamps?shortcut=philatelie

Thanks to Boyd Misstear for the above items.

Still on the subject of postage stamps - The Swiss Post has decided to replace the existing standard stamps (showing different plants) within the next three years, starting in September 2016.  The remarkable thing is, that these standard stamps will show railway station buildings. The most used value of 0.85 CHF (B mail) will be Brig. CHF 1.00 (A mail) Luzern, 1.50 Bellinzona, 2.00 Genève. More stamps will appear during 2017 and 2018. https://www.magazine-focus-on-stamps.ch/current-issue/focus-on-stamps-3-2016/swiss-railway-stations/

Some more Swiss postage stamps featuring railway stations have been announced:

2017: Appenzell,  Interlaken Ost,  Scuol,  Zug,  Zürich
2018:  Alp Grüm,  Bern,  Fleurier, Huttwil, Zweisimmen

The 1.50 CHF will be the most familiar to members as that is the present cost of a “Priority” stamp to the UK.

11th August:

In conjunction with the award of the Anglia Franchise to  Abellio they have announced massive new rolling stock orders which include dual power Stadler FLIRT units. The order is for 383 Flirt electro-diesel and electric multiple-unit cars. The Stadler vehicles will need to be reduced in height and/or width compared with the Swiss units due to the smaller loading gauge.

http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/passenger/single-view/view/stadler-and-bombardier-to-supply-trains-for-abellio-east-anglia-franchise.html .

14th August:

Ken Lowe has sent us the following information for those interested in Swiss Stellwerks (Signal Boxes). Here are a few changes. 

Brig 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 stellwerks all closed on Sunday 25th October 2015 -  all control migrated onto Spiez Signalling & Control Centre. 

Wylersfield (Bern) stellwerk also closed on Sunday 25th October 2015  control being centred on a new electronic box which opened on the same day. 

Bern stellwerk closed during Autumn 2015 (no actual date known) & operation migrated to the new Olten Signalling Centre.

 Olten stellwerk closed Spring 2015 (no actual date known) & operation migrated to Olten Signalling Centre.

Goppenstein stellwork is due to close on Monday 3rd April 2017& migrate to Spiez Signalling & Control Centre.

24th August:

Don Newing has informed us of the following collision on Lake Lucerne.

On Friday 19th August at 13.30 there was a collision between two paddle steamers, PS Unterwalden and PS Schiller on Lake Lucerne. Passengers on the Unterwalden were transferred to the MV Gotthard, and the Schiller was able to proceed with its voyage. A formal investigation has been launched by the Swiss safety authorities. Information is from Neue Luzerner Zeitung.

1st September:

Neil Wheelwright has found the following about the Swiss Post testing robotic delivery:


25th October - updated 26th November :

The 2017 Swiss timetable is now available on-line.  This is the last year that a printed version of the Official complete timetable (Kursbuch) will be available.

The complete Swiss Kursbuch is available as PDFs in a ZIP file and can now be downloaded without login:

The file is updated daily with recent information.

26th November:

Don Newing reports that the first of the RhB Albula line driving trailers have been delivered.

The RhB diagrams for December 2016 to March 2017 are now available:


These show that the new fixed rake coaches will be hauled by Allegra units and not conventional locos as had been expected.  

4th December:

Michael Donovan reports that with just weeks to go before the start of full commercial operations, Switzerland’s Federal Transport Office (BAV) has approved the use of Bombardier Traxx locomotives in the Gotthard Base Tunnel following the installation of an ETCS software update. http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/freight/bombardier-locomotives-approved-for-use-in-gotthard-base-tunnel.html?channel=527

21st December:

Stadler are to supply the new fleet of trains for Merseyrail. http://www.globalrailnews.com/2016/12/19/merseyrail-to-get-new-train-fleet/.

28th December:

We have learnt that as well as rebuilding Nätschen station the MGB is planning a new covered station at Andermatt, this would involve the demolition of the present workshops. Details are here: http://blog.andermatt-swissalps.ch/de/2016/12/09/neuer-bahnhof-in-andermatt/ (in German).

17th February 2017:

From 13th February the majority of Crossrail trains will be operated by SBB Cargo (International) who will also operate some of the motive power on lease. A sale of the 4 Re 4/4 III to Widmer is still possible if a price can be agreed. Depots in Brig and Muttenz will close and drivers will be hired to SBB-C and possibly other operators. Crossrail will retain the status of a railway operator (EVU) and their safety certificate. Crossrail services operated by BLS or DB on their behalf will not change.

BLS has agreed to sell a 45% stake in its freight subsidiary BLS Cargo to SNCF Logistics, the French national railway’s freight business. The deal announced on February 16 is subject to regulatory approval. BLS would remain the majority shareholder with a 52% stake, and Ambrogio Group would retain its 3% holding. The corporate structure, Bern headquarters and existing management would remain unchanged, as would arrangements for the use of drivers, locomotives and workshops.

3rd March 2017:
Alan Snowdon has found the following film on Youtube of the BLS Lötschberg route dating from it’s opening in 1913.

9th May 2017:
This could only happen in Switzerland -  “The Local” reports that train drivers are to be “rewarded” with chocolate for stopping at the correct place in stations - https://www.thelocal.ch/20170505/swiss-train-drivers-to-get-chocolate-as-reward-for-being-precise.

12th May 2017:
The Glacier Express is introducing short sections: Travellers can now book parts of the route at a reduced surcharge and spend a wonderful couple of hours enjoying scenic highlights along the way. https://www.glacierexpress.ch/en/offers/short-sections/

The Swiss Post Office has released a 1 CHF stamp to commemorate the centenary of the Brienz Rothorn Bahn.

27th May 2017:

Don Newing reports from Railway Gazzette that the first of the 250 km/h low-floor trainsets for the Gotthard Base Tunnel was rolled out on 18 May following a ceremony at Stadler’s Bussang works. http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/passenger/single-view/view/250-kmh-low-floor-trainset-for-the-gotthard-base-tunnel-rolled-out.html.

RhB Historic now has a new website, http://www.historic-rhb.ch/ which includes a downloadable version of their annual magazine, “Die Bündner Kulturbahn”. RhB Historic inaugurated their new storage facility at Samedan on 29th April.

Detailed Information about the RhB, rolling stock, paint colours etc can be found at: http://www.rhb-info.ch/

http://www.sporenplan.nl/ is a Dutch website with track plans of the majority of Swiss stations,  locate the page with map of Europe on it and click on Switzerland,

 http://www.egtre.info/wiki/Switzerland has information on Lines with Obscure or Sparse  passenger services.

Swiss PostBus have purchased 19 double-decker buses from the UK, manufactured by Alexander Dennis. https://www.postauto.ch/en/news/first-postbuses-united-kingdom.

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