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The Gotthard route in Switzerland
had to be electrified in a hurry since Switzerland did not get anymore
coal from the neighbouring countries during World War I. Due to this
emergency the plan to test first the electrical traction between Bern
and Thun with some prototypes before ordering series locomotives could
not be realised. Therefore the series locomotives had to be ordered
before testing of the prototypes was done. The ordered series were
4/6 12303 - 12312, Be 4/7 12501 - 12506 and Ce 6/8 II 14251 - 14260.
the mechanical part was delivered for all locomotives from SLM, the
electrical part was shared amongst the three Swiss manufacturers of
electric equipment. The electrical part of Be 4/6 was from BBC, Be 4/7
was from Secheron (SAAS) and Ce 6/8 II was from MFO.
Ce 6/8 I
SBB ordered a first unit for this new type of
locomotive in 1917. It was
supposed to be of type Ce 6/6 (C= top
speed 60-65 km/h, e= electric, 6/6
means six driving axles out of
six total) and based on Be 4/6. With common
components less spare
parts were needed. In order to fit all equipment
distributed the weight properly the locomotive had to be extended
one trailing axle in both ends. Because of these funny suitcase-like
the locomotive was called Köfferlilok (Köfferli = small suitcase).
the trailing axles the locomotive was named Ce 6/8 14201, renumbered
later repainted from the original brown to green. This prototype was
the manufacturers SLM (Schweizerische Lokomotiv- und
for the mechanical part, and BBC (Brown, Boveri & Cie.) for the
and final assembly. With is 1750kW (2350 Hp) it was a very strong
and even slightly more powerful than the Ce 6/8 II. Only one prototype
made, but it was in service until 1982 and is now stored in the depot
at Erstfeld as a historic locomotive.
The first series, Ce 6/8 II
These real Crocodiles were made
between 1919 - 1922 and went straight on to take over practically
all freight traffic on the Gotthard route. With their top speed of 65
km/h (41 mph) and power rating of 1650kW (2210 Hp) they managed
430t at 35 km/h (22 mph) up the 2,6%
gradients, an astonishing accomplishment at that time! Compare
the 600t at 100 km/h (62 mph) nowadays. The Ce 6/8 II 14251-14283 was
delivered in brown
livery and single-contact-shoe pantographs, thus they needed to have
pantographs raised for optimal power collection. With these 33 machines
the name crocodile came into use. With the proportionally short cab
in the middle and long, low and bendy noses in both directions
they really resembled crocodiles crawling through the landscape. Since
side rod drives of the two halves are working independently which made
the crocodile rock slightly, the engineers also called it "Berceuse",
"the rocking chair".
The second series, Ce 6/8 III
traffic continued to grow there weren't enough crocodiles, a problem
coped with by ordering more of them. With all the experience gained
the already used crocodiles only a few things had to be changed when
the Ce 6/8 III. The easiest way to distinguish between II and III is by
looking at its wheel arrangement or more closely at the driving rods.
both series they used a layshaft for power transmission. The
difference comes after that: in II the power is transferred by a
triangle rod to the first driving axles with a jackshaft in front of
the first axle whereas in III the power is
straight pushed on the three driving axles with the so called
Winterthur diagonal rod. The prototype Ce 6/8 I used
a mirrored version of the latter. The Ce 6/8
III were numbered 14301 - 14318 and delivered 1924 - 1927 with slightly
more power, 1810kW. Thus they could take slightly more load, but had
the same top speed.
The crocodiles handled all the heavy freight over Gotthard for many
problems. In the 1940s the constant full utilization was starting to
show signs of usage on the crocodiles. With no good replacement in
sight a program to upgrade
parts of the fleet was started. Starting in 1941 13 of the Ce 6/8 II
upgraded with newer traction motors giving 2700kW (3620kW) . This
enabled the 13 upgraded
crocodiles to run at 75 km/h (46 Mph), which in turn led to renaming
them to Be
6/8 II (B stands for a top speed of 70 to 80 km/h) and renumbering them
to 13251 - 13265.
As they were upgraded they were painted green; the engines that
weren't part the upgrade got the green paint during normal
service. Now they looked even more like crocodiles!
of the Ce 6/8 III were also painted green, named Be 6/8 III and
renumbered 13301 - 13318 in the 1950s. The Ce 6/8 III had from the
beginning more powerful motors which could pull the trains at 75 km/h (46 Mph).
New engines emerged with new technology and the crocodiles started to
too slow with only 75 km/h top speed. 1954 the new faster
and more powerful Ae 6/6 (A for
top speed exceeding 80 km/h)
started to replace the crocodiles on the Gotthard route. The crocodiles
were pushed to flatter regions where they continued to pull freight
with great success. Due to wear and tear caused partly by the speed and
power upgrade some cracks started to emerge in the frames
around the couplings and the engines had to be restricted to 65 km/h (40 Mph).
Ce 6/8 II
14274 - 14283 were later rebuilt as heavy switchers, a perfect task
a very strong but slow engine. These engines got platforms for the crew
and better hand rails.
crocodiles are withdrawn from revenue service, but there are 7
preserved Ce 6/8 IIs and 3 preserved Be 6/8 IIIs. Some of them are in
working condition and some are also outside of Switzerland.
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Created for 4rail.net by Andreas Ehnberg, Peter
John McKey. Pictures by Ilkka Siissalo, Stanislav Voronin and John McKey.
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and Velaro Page
for these German prides!
new TGV-POS's pose in Paris Gare du Nord for the camera. Almost
brand new...the locomotives are new, while the coaches are from the
TGV-Reséau sets. Single story trains of 320 km/h serve well
numbers of passengers between France and Germany. once the volumes pick
up, it's guaranteed that the double decked coaches will be swapped to
these units. Picture
by Sanna Siissalo 2008.
Thalys PBKA number 4243 boarding in Paris-GNO. As 40% more passengers
are expected to travel the Thalyses within next 3
years, seventh daily
return trip between Paris and Amsterdam will be added beginning March
2008. Picture by Sanna Siissalo 2008.