Thursday, December 04, 2008

the bernina railway

The train at St Moritz.

1st class luxury observation coach - fantastic!

Typical view from the window.

The return train at Tirano.

We made a fantastic trip from St Moritz to Tirano over the Bernina pass today.

The observation car on the down trip was incredible - hard to believe the line is metre gauge. We were shadowed most of the way to the summit by a helicopter filming the train. At the summit the snow cuttings were a good fifteen feet deep. After the summit we entered Italian Switzerland with the language, architecture and culture changing. The last mile or so is actually in Italy and is a former Italian tramway so runs through the streets, quite impressive with a 9 coach train!

At Tirano the Rhatische Bahn has its own station, next to the Italian State Railways standard gauge one. Customs and passport control consists of two genial Italian policeman standing by the front door of the station who just waved us and everyone else through with a smile. This will all finish in ten days' time when Switzerland joins the Schengen group and passport and customs control will stop altogether.

Tirano's a lovely small Italian city with nice shops, a great atmosphere, dozens of restaurants and all surrounded by towering mountains.

The train back was very different. A power unit pulling one coach. It was very congenial, we were sat with an American, his Croatian wife and Italian-speaking 6 year old son, and we chatted most of the way. All in all a great advertisement for both swiss trains and Alpine scenery, with the added benefit of a very nice Italian town at one end and the glistening Swiss number one resort at the other.

The scenery all the way is, needless to say, breathtaking!
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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

St Moritz and Davos

Top three St Moritz, bottom Davos Platz - all taken today, 3.12.2008

It's great to be in Switzerland again!

We flew to Geneva from Bristol on Monday, then took trains over to St Moritz. Surprisingly all the trains were late or had problems - the line between Bergun and Preda was closed due to the avalanche risk. So we changed at Landquart and came via the Vereina Tunnel and the Engadine branch (all new territory to me). There was quite a lot of snow here!

Today we took a short trip on the now open line to Filisur and on to Davos Platz. Tomorrow it's the Berninabahn, then back to Geneva on Friday.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

excellent webcam

This webcam at Grindelwald was, until recently, pretty awful. But over the last few days it looks like they've revamped it and the new pics are superb. Today was fun watching a team of rail workers clearing the rack by shovel of the fresh snow before the trains came. Looks like they'll be doing the same tomorrow morning too!
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008


A few shots from Switzerland's narrowest gauge line from 1987.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

BVB on Bex webcam

This is the view from the Bex webcam. In the foreground is the Place du Marche halt on the Bex Villars Bretaye line. Twice an hour you'll see a BVB train appear! The webcam refreshes every few seconds so it's almost real time ...

Some shots from 1987 of the tramway style route through Bex. The line eventually ends high in the Alps, using several rack sections.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

mystery location

Spotted on the Swiss Camion webcam today is this intriguing location which appears to be a double track standard gauge industrial line worked by a yellow diesel somewhere in the Aarau area. Any ideas? I love the avalanche shelter over one of the lines which seems a little excessive, even in Switzerland!
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

swiss reopening

Above shots are of Niederbipp, 1987.

A Swiss line closed in 1943 is being rebuilt. This is the line between Niederbipp and Oensingen - reopening is expected in 2010 or 2011. As a prelude to the reintroduction of metre-gauge trains a half hourly bus service has started operating on the route of the new railway. Hopefully the route to Melchnau, closed to passengers in the 1980s, will follow!
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Sunday, March 23, 2008

swiss rail facebook group

This site needs new members! Let's all work together to make it one of the best facebook sites dedicated to railways.
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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

mystery narrow gauge track

I've been watching this webcam whilst the MOB one has been down. It follows a lorry's journey round Switzerland, and often has railway shots.

This is a puzzle - a length of metre(?) gauge track on an industrial estate. It's probably near Bern. Any ideas?
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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bex Villars Bretaye

(All pics copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)


The Bex-Villars-Bretaye line links Bex on the SBB main line to the ski resort of Villars with an extension up to the Col du Bretaye. It has some very nice street running in Bex (pics 1 and 3), a mountain street/roadside section from Gryon to Villars, and a real mountain section from Villars to Bretaye. Until quite recently there were genuine tram operations on both the Bex-Bevieux section and Gryon to Villars, supplementing the (frequent) trains.

Winter conditions can be quite testing (pic 4), we saw over a metre of fresh snow on this day, with no delays to trains!