Less travelled narrow gauge trains


John Lovda
 

I will be returning to Switzerland for train photography in the middle of October after missing last year. I am looking for some interesting narrow gauge trains that can be taken on one day, Zürich round trip excursions. Something a little popular than the main tourist ones.

I have already been on the popular routes; RhB (including Bernina), MGB, Gornergrat, MOB, Brünig, CJ, MO (Martigny), Pilatus and Rigi.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,
John


Alan McMillan
 

What about the AL, AOMC and ASD lines out of Aigle? Not as interesting as it used to be since the rebuild of Aigle Station but still a nice set of metre gauge lines. Take a walk, or the train, up the AL line to the depot at the top of the town. You'll not be disappointed.

Regards

Alan


Andrew Moglestue
 

If you are based in Zürich, and want to do some non-touristic narrow-gauge lines that nevertheless have their charms and are scenic, I would recommend the Bremgarten Dietikon. I would travel from Zürich to Dietikon on the S-Bahn. Highlights of the Bremgarten Dietikon include street running at the Dietikon end (and a short bit in Bremgarten), the hairpin curves on ascending the Mutschellen and the bridge over the Reuss in Bremgarten. Much of the line still runs through unbuilt green land and offers some panoramic views in places.

You could make a round trip out of this by not going back the same way but changing to the SBB in Wohlen. You could go from there to Lenzburg and ride the Seetalbahn to Luzern. This is not narrow gauge but a very pretty line nevertheless that runs along the roadside in many places, cutting through the middle of picturesque villages. Once in Luzern you could catch the narrow gauge to Engelberg, another much underrated line in my opinion, and if time allows, maybe even fit in a trip on a lake steamer.

This would probably be my favourite round trip. when starting from Zürich

If you like more bread and butter type narrow gauge (as I do) that are maybe not quite as scenic but still have that special narrow gauge atmosphere about them, two more you can easily fit in in day trips or even half-day trips from Zürich would be the Frauenfeld Wil and the AAR lines from Aarau. Another of my favourites is the Bipperlisi which goes from Langenthal to Solothurn and also has some street running and lots of quaint little details. On reaching Solothurn you can transfer to another narrow gauge line with quite a different feel to it. This is the RBS that you can ride to Bern, and then come back to Zürich by SBB.

When in Zürich and you just have an hour or so to spare in between things or to keep you amused in the evening, there is Forchbahn starting from Zürich Stadelhofen. It starts off as a tram, sharing tracks with the urban tram system, and the turns into a proper narrow gauge line on leaving the city. You probably never realized that such pretty areas existed so close to Zürich. In a similar vein, the BLT lines around Basel are worth exploring, most prominently the line to Rodersdorf which actually cuts through a short bit of France.

Then of course back to more mountainous stuff there are the various lines of the Appenzeller system which you can easily fit in in a day trip with time to spare.


csipromo
 

Reinforcing what was said above...
I think that Aigle is a good place to view some narrow gauge traffic. There used to be a number of companies which connected the town to various destinations north and south. I don't know whether these companies have experienced the same types of mergers as has been seen in other areas.
The other area that might be of interest would be the narrow gauge network in the St. Gallen area (Appenzeller Bahn, etc)
If you want to revisit areas, the MIB is now part of the Zentralbahn and this has meant some changes in the service in the Meiringen area.
There is also the introduction of the gauge changing coaches on the MOB which might be of interest.
There is also the Interlaken area with BOB to Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Murren, etc. I don't know how much travel you have done there.
You could also check out the Gruyere area (BAM, etc).
Your list does not mention the Centovalli (FART) nor the FLP (Lugano)
For the record, the Rigibahn is standard gauge, but even there, there are new trainsets, making it potentially worth the revisit.

Regards

Mike C


John Lovda
 

Thanks so much for all your replies. I now have a lot to chew on over the next two weeks. Aigle sounds interesting. Of all the places I have visited I have always subconsciously avoided the French section of the country because the language is like Chinese to me. When I was in Moutier I saw an MBC locomotive. Any interesting MBC rides? I did forget to mention I have been on the Centovalli, BOB, WAB and Chamoux lines.

John


Guerbetaler
 

Some "amendments"

Am 22.09.2021 um 16:53 schrieb csipromo via groups.io:
Reinforcing what was said above... I think that Aigle is a good place
to view some narrow gauge traffic.
However, Aigle - Le Sepey is closed, not sure when they will have
repaired the line.

There used to be a number of companies which connected the town to various destinations north and south. I don't know whether these companies have experienced the same types of mergers as has been
seen in other areas.
It's all TPC now.

The other area that might be of interest would be the narrow gauge network in the St. Gallen area (Appenzeller Bahn, etc)
All narrow gauge East of RhB and Forchbahn is now Appenzeller Bahnen,
including Frauenfeld Wil. Also included the standard gauge rack railway
Rorschach - Heiden. Very recommended on sunny days when they convey the
old open coaches of 1875!! Take the Post bus to Trogen and enjoy a ride
with the new Tango trains of AB down to St. Gallen with partly
marvelsous views to the Bodensee (Lake of Contance). AContinue with the
same train to Gais where the rack railway down to Altstätten branches
off. Return to Gais and continue to Appenzell, from where you can take
another AB train down to Gossau with trains to Zürich. The third rack
railway of AB, Rheineck - Walzenhausen with 1200 mm gauge has bus
replacment becaus of a defect on the only motor coach (of 1958).

If you want to revisit areas, the MIB is now part of the Zentralbahn and this has meant some changes in the service in the Meiringen
area.
No services changes yet, only the colour changed!

There is also the introduction of the gauge changing coaches on the MOB which might be of interest.
Not yet. Only test rides.

For the record, the Rigibahn is standard gauge, but even there, there
are new trainsets, making it potentially worth the revisit.
The new trainsets look somewhat special but are not yet in service. Enjoy the old trains for the last time...

Not yet mentioned was the Chemins de fer du Jura. You can reach La Chaux-de-Fonds in two hours from Zürich. CJ also has freight trains. standard gauge wagons on transporter trucks and garbage in coantainers.

Markus, Gürbetal


Guerbetaler
 

Am 22.09.2021 um 20:04 schrieb John Lovda via groups.io:
When I was in Moutier I saw an MBC locomotive. Any interesting MBC rides?
MBC owns one standard gauge locomotive so it might technically be possible to meet it in Moutier. But MBC's home base is Morges (between Lausanne and Genève). MBC has freight traffic on transporter bogies. However, the freight trains don't go every hour like the passenger trains....

Markus, Gürbetal


tudor erich
 

How about the Centovalli?
Bernard


David Prior
 

Appenzellerbahn routes maybe ?

Or Zentralbahn, Luzern-Engelberg/Interlaken; ZB also operates Innertkirchen branch from Meiringen.

Certainly easy to cover in a day if based in Zürich.


gordonwis
 

On Wednesday, 22 September 2021, 15:53:15 BST, csipromo via groups.io <csipromo=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

I think that Aigle is a good place to view some narrow gauge traffic. There used to be a number of companies which connected the town to various destinations north and south. I don't know whether these companies have experienced the same types of mergers as has been seen in other areas.

The Aigle network couldn' t be more mergered if it tried!

All now one company TPC Transport Public du Chablais

Original companies
A-L (Aigle - Leysin)
ASD (Aigle Sepey Diablerets)
AOMC (Monthey - Champery) Itself an earlier merger of AOM and MC
Bex - Villars - Bretaye


jpnoiville
 

About Aigle : Aigle-Leysin has spectacular street running in Aigle especially when going against the traffic in a single lane street. But I would recommand the BVB line out of Bex (between Aigle and St-Maurice). There is extensive street running in Bex, then a cogwheel section to Gryon, and from there to Villars the train runs by or on the road, with blind corners and very sharp curves. Worth a visit !

Envoyé de mon iPhone


gordonwis
 

MBC stands for Morges - Biere - Cossonay. It has one funicular (at Cossonay), buses and one metre-gauge railway line In 'old money' it was the BAM (Biere - Apples Morges) [sorry but I much preferred the 'old days' in Switzerland with all separate lines each with their own initials].

BAM is metre gauge and runs from Morges to Biere, with a junction from Apples to L'Isle Mont la Ville. I'm somewhat surprised you haven't heard of this line as there have been quite a few English language articles over the years making linguistic fun of the fact that two of the main stations sound like foodstuffs. Like most lines, this has gone over to '21st century' units but they still have some metre gauge locomotives because there is still occasional heavy military train and freight traffic. In recent years new quarries were opened on the line, and a large new fleet of wagons was bought.

The loco you saw was the MBC's one and only standard gauge Re4/4. This was purchased to operate the standard gauge section of the quarry service between Morges and Gland.

I saw an MBC locomotive. Any interesting MBC rides? 


gordonwis
 

I initially avoided mentioning places too far west as the original post talked about trips in a day from Zurich. Aigle / Bex area is too far from Zurich for it all to be done in one day.

However as the discussion seems to have widened to the whole country, no one has mentioned the extensive CJ (Chemins de Fer du Jura) network (possibly because it does not serve Graubuenden he said cheekily)


gordonwis
 

Gais - Altstaetten should be near the top of John's list.
In my opinion it is the only section of the Appenzeller Bahnen remaining with any 'character' - the rest is still good for scenic views but the 'supertram' type vehicles are rather 'urban' in style and not as characterful as traditional 'typical Swiss metre gauge railway train' style vehicles were.

Guerbetaler wrote:
... to Gais where the rack railway down to Altstätten branches
off.


Robin Jorimann
 

Nearer Zurich how about the Forchbahn or Bremgarten - Dietikon? 
Wherever you go have a great trip - I am definitely getting withdrawal symptoms! 


From: main@SwissRail.groups.io <main@SwissRail.groups.io> on behalf of gordonwis via groups.io <gordonwis@...>
Sent: Wednesday, September 22, 2021 11:54:56 PM
To: main@swissrail.groups.io <main@swissrail.groups.io>; main@SwissRail.groups.io <main@SwissRail.groups.io>
Subject: Re: [SwissRail] Less travelled narrow gauge trains
 
Gais - Altstaetten should be near the top of John's list.
In my opinion it is the only section of the Appenzeller Bahnen remaining with any 'character' - the rest is still good for scenic views but the 'supertram' type vehicles are rather 'urban' in style and not as characterful as traditional 'typical Swiss metre gauge railway train' style vehicles were.

Guerbetaler wrote:
... to Gais where the rack railway down to Altstätten branches
off.


John Lovda
 

My goodness. Thank you all for the number of suggestions. I am cutting and pasting all your comments and putting them in one document that I can highlight, refer to and do research on.

I did mention CJ earlier. Three or four years ago I ventured "into the French area" and took the CJ train from Glovelier to La Chaux-de-Fonds. It was described in an SBB travel brochure as one of the scenic train routes in the country. I noticed it was missing the following year. Unfortunately, about half way into the ride, because of construction, all the passengers departed the train and took buses for the remainder of the journey. Actually the most unusual thing I remember was the standard BLS ride back to Neuchatel where the train stopped at a dead end in the middle of nowhere and switched directions. Is this the standard route to travel down the mountains?


Guerbetaler
 

Am 23.09.2021 um 15:01 schrieb John Lovda via groups.io:
Actually the most unusual thing I remember was the standard BLS ride
back to Neuchatel where the train stopped at a dead end in the middle
of nowhere and switched directions. Is this the standard route to
travel down the mountains?
Chambrelien is between La Chaux-de-Fonds and Neuchâtel. The line is currently closed for tunnel refurbishment. After that it shall be kept in service for another ten years or so and should then be repalced with a faster, more direct ... and steeper line.

https://map.geo.admin.ch/?lang=en&topic=ech&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo.pixelkarte-farbe&E=2552340&N=1202025&zoom=6&crosshair=marker

The other possibility to travel down the mountains is the line from La Chaux-de-Fonds to Biel/Bienne. To/from Zürich this is the preferred connection.

The other switchback station in Switzerland is on the CJ-line from Glovelier to Saignelégier. That's Combe-Tabeillon.

https://map.geo.admin.ch/?lang=en&topic=ech&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo.pixelkarte-farbe&E=2578735&N=1240283&zoom=7&crosshair=marker

It is interestingto mention that only in the Jura mountains you can find switchbacks but not in the Alps. Chambrelien was opened in 1859 and at that time there were no railways in the Alps.

Markus, Gürbetal


Guerbetaler
 

Am 23.09.2021 um 00:54 schrieb gordonwis via groups.io:
Gais - Altstaetten should be near the top of John's list.
In my opinion it is the only section of the Appenzeller Bahnen remaining with any 'character' - the rest is still good for scenic views but the 'supertram' type vehicles are rather 'urban' in style and not as characterful as traditional 'typical Swiss metre gauge railway train' style vehicles were.
May be true for Trogen - St. Gallen - Appenzell and Frauenfeld - Wil, but "not always" for Rorschach - Heiden and Gossau - Wasserauen. Heiden on sunny days sees old open stock being pushed and in Gossau the Stadler three car units may get additional coaches and driving trailers of older build or even open plattform Buffet coach attached. Especially interesting when running as Quöllfrisch-Express, promoting a local beer... ;-) Unfortunately no more dates for 2021.

Markus, Gürbetal


jpnoiville
 

the most unusual thing I remember was the standard BLS ride back to Neuchatel where the train stopped at a dead end in the middle of nowhere and switched directions.
The switchback station is Chambrelien. The only other one is Combe-Tabeillon on the meter gauge CJ line between Glovelier and Saignelégier

Envoyé de mon iPhone


gordonwis
 

On Thursday, 23 September 2021, 16:16:51 BST, John Lovda via groups.io <jlovda=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Actually the most unusual thing I remember was the standard BLS ride back to Neuchatel where the train stopped at a dead end in the middle of nowhere and switched directions. Is this the standard route to travel down the mountains?
Yes, that is the legendary Chambrelien. It is a real throw back to the early days of railways in mountainous regions. It's still great fun to experience, but I can remember back to the days when the loco even had to run round the train.