Re: The RhB rail car revolution begins...

Brian Stephenson

I have been following the discussion about the new MGB/RhB 'super-power' railcars with interest. Having been photographing Swiss Railways on and off for 44 years it is part of the continuous evolution seen on European railways.

The only times I have photographed Arosa trains they were hauled by motor coaches of series ABDe 4/4 Nos 481 to 488 prior to the power supply being converted to ac current when the Ge 4/4 I were drafted in.

Marcus mentioned the former Bondensee Toggenburg BDe 4/4 motor coaches Nos 50 to 53. I saw them when they were new displacing the Be 4/4 locos. I was not happy then but now I learn Nos 51 to 53 have gone for scrap just over 40 years old. Will the Flirts be able to take tail traffic as those railcars did?

Another line that made great use of powerful motor coaches was the Mittel Thurgau Bahn when it was electrified in 1965. I well remember seeing one hauling a heavy freight up the gradient from Kreuzlingen with an Ee 3/3 shunter pushing at the rear. They were only just over half the power of the BT units though and the MThB purchased an Re 4/4 II No 21 in 1969 for freight work. This loco is now SBB No 11172 (II). But in 1964 the freights were all worked by steam with three Ec 3/5 2-6-2Ts and three ex SBB Eb 3/5 2-6-2Ts. Another sad but inevitable loss. The passenger service was normally worked by diesel railcars - a rare machine indeed in Switzerland.

Over the next few weeks I hope to add photos of these various types to the photo albums on this website. I have started one on the RhB already.

Helena Moretti laments the passing of the first Re 4/4 II No 11141 - this was only the second machine of this type that I photographed and will add that as well. Mention has been made of the cargo locos working to Lindau on the Munich trains. Well, back in 1964 that was a job for the little Re 4/4 I or an Ae 4/7 that were fitted with a DB pantograph. The Gotthard had Ae 6/6 or an Ae 4/6 on the express trains then while the locals either had an old rod-drive Ae 3/6 or an Re 4/4 I on them. Maybe some redundant Re 4/4 II will be transferred to the Cargo sector if their use in Germany increases.

The message is travel on and photograph the old types while they are still with us but accept that trains wear out like almost everything else. Back in 1964 I was using a 6 x 6cm Rolleicord camera made in 1957 using black & white film. We progressed to slide film a few years later and then to improved medium format cameras in the Pentax range and now to digital Nikons that can take photos far superior to those earlier cameras. Nothing would tempt me to go back to the camera of 1957 good though it was.

Brian S.

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