Main > Reference > Ilkka's Archives of the Heritage Rolling Stock

Reference   Train Recognition Guide
   Super High Speed Main

   European Countries
  > Switzerland
      Swiss RR Gallery
      Electric Multiple Units
      Diesel Multiple Units
      Electric Locomotives
      Diesel Locomotives
    > Ilkka's Vintage Pages
      Rhätische Bahn

    United Kingdom

    North America






Welcome to Ilkka Siissalo's Page of Swiss Heritage Rolling Stock!
To choose the subject please click first the tile below. You can return to this menu any time by clicking the "Top of the page" -link.

Many of the articles on this page have previously been published by Ilkka on the Finnish University Network FUNET.
Created for by Ilkka Siissalo and John McKey. Pictures by Ilkka Siissalo.

Mozilla Firefox
SBB vintage re441 still at revenue work in Basel, Switzerland
Re441 Vintage Electrics of the SBB were common on the Basel switching workl no more than a decade ago.

SBB vintage Ae66, Switzerland
The Ae66 of SBB served many year on Gotthard Bahn as a generic heavy electric locomotive.

  - - - Discuss Page at -    

To the top of the page

""In the mid- and late 1800s Switzerland was already full of different railroads, almost none of which cooperated in any way. The technical systems as well as ticketing and timetables were a full mess. Industrialisation of the country pressed on and the need for efficient railroad connections and goods transport became more and more obvious. There was by no means a lack of railroads: at the end of the 1800s this small country had already 3091 km of normal gauge, 507 km narrow gauge and over 270 km tram railroad. Finally, in a popular vote - as the Swiss tradition goes - on the 20th February 1898 the Swiss people decided it was time to socialise the most important railroad companies and "buy them back to the state". The idea of the Swiss state railways had been born. SBB saw finally daylight as an organisation in 1902 after several complicated political discussions. Important railroad companies such as the Vereinigten Schweizerbahnen VSB and the Jura-Simplon-Bahn JS were rapidly bought. After extremely difficult political play also the strategic Gotthard mountain route through the Alps was forcefully taken over from its owners and added to the SBB network in 1909. SBB got its first at the time modern locomotives in 1907 when the strong and fast A 3/5 steam engines started pulling first state express trains.

It hasn't been all smooth sailing and the socialisation was never properly completed, but nevertheless, today's SBB is clearly one of Europe's leading train companies with a large network, modern and impressive trains and surprisingly numerous users - operating on difficult mountain lines with punctuality taken almost to perfection - something that most other state railroads can only dream about.""


Vintage Electric Locomotives of the SBB

  SBB/CFF Class 441
SBB vintage re441 still at revenue work in Basel, Switzerland

""The first generation Re 4/4 locomotives of Switzerland have all but disapperared. A couple of them are still used by the private BLS Lötschbergbahn to drag heavy car trains. But the BLS Re 4/4 I is not the same as the SBB Re 4/4 I - in fact the BLS construction is from the mid-sixties and based on modern thyristor technology, whereas the SBB Re 4/4 I series is from the mid-fourties. SBB has three or four of them still at the Basel station to perform switcher locomotive tasks, mainly to move passenger coaches through their wagon washing line. This SBB Re 4/4 1. series no. 10037 seen here at the Basel station was built in 1950. It weighs 57 tons and has a maximum speed of 125 km/h. Its original number in the 1950s was no. 437.""

Photo in May 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo



SBB vintage re441 still at revenue work in Basel, Switzerland

""Two first series Re 4/4 locomotives of 1950 still in switcher work at the Basel station.""

Photo in May 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo

To the top of the page

  SBB/CFF Class Ae66
SBB vintage Ae66 in Delemont, Switzerland

""After the 2. world war traffic on the mountainous Gotthard and Simplon pass railways increased quickly and bigger and stronger locomotives than the pre-war 1. series Re 4/4´s were quickly needed. This led to the development of a six axle Co´Co´type locomotive, designed as a universal loco for both fast passenger trains and heavy cargo trains. The type Ae 6/6 - Swiss pride of the fifties - is powerful, 4300 kW. Prototypes were built in 1952-53 and the type became so popular that all together 120 units were built between 1952-66. Numbers 11401-11425 look different from the others, with a broad chromed stripe on the sides (see the red front of a second Ae 6/6 on the left of the picture showing the chrome band). Number 11500 shown on this picture was built in 1955 by the SLM-BBC-MFO group. It is 18,4 m long, weighs 120 tons and is designed for speeds up to 125 km/h. The Ae 6/6 was for tens of years the most popular engine in front of fast passenger trains. However, the stiff 6 axle Co´Co´design of the heavy Ae 6/6´s causes by far more stress and damage to railroad tracks than more modern locomotives and since mid-seventies the type was quickly replaced in passenger train use by smaller and more versatile Re 4/4 3. and 4. series locomotives. Today the old Ae 6/6 is used mainly with slow and heavy cargo trains.""

Picture in July 1999 at Delemont station by Ilkka Siissalo

SBB vintage Ae66, Switzerland

"" The second view of an Ae 6/6 six axle allround locomotive from the fifties. This number 11416 is from the long series built in 1955. Every Ae 6/6 got its own name. The first ones were named after the Swiss Kantons, but as these soon ended, the next ones were named after Kanton capital towns and cities. This one also shows the characteristic broad chrome stripes around the whole locomotive, which were very typical of the Ae 6/6. Still as late as end of the sixties this type - then painted dark green - was the most often seen locomotive in front of fast passenger trains and it took care of almost all traffic on the Gotthard and Simplon mountain routes until finally replaced by the Re 6/6 in late 70s and beginning of the 80s. The original Ae 6/6 shown here is 18,4 metres long, weighs 120 tons but has only 4300 kW of pulling power - less than the much smaller Re 4/4, yet it stressed and broke railroad tracks much more than the smaller Re, especially in curvaceous mountain lines. Maximum speed of the Ae 6/6 is 125 km/h. Today the Ae´s are seen only pulling second priority slow but heavy cargo trains at flat land lines.""

Picture in July 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.

SBB vintage Ae66 in Bulach, Switzerland "" These Ae 6/6 locomotives were the proud of the fifties, but now only used on the flat land routes with heavy cargo trains or "Rollende Landstrasse" services, pulling lorries. Several of them have been sidetracked as a reserve, just like these two, the no. 11488 which carries the name "Mendrisio" and no. 11409 "Baselland" which in June 2001 were sitting idly on a side track at Bülach station. "Baselland" in the back still has the characteristic chrome stripes by the sides, "Mendrisio", whose front shows properly on the picture has never had them. Both are in the original green colours of the fifties - and as far as the rust can tell - have not received much attention since they were built in 1955. The problem of the Ae 6/6 was the extreme length of the stiff Co´Co´ type bogies which are 4,30 metres long. This means that in steep curves the first and the last wheels of the bogies cause extreme stresses to the railroad tracks and grind and break them - and Switzerland has more curves than any other railroad country: 15% of the whole SBB network is curve.""

Picture in September 2001 by Ilkka Siissalo.
SBB vintage Ae66 in Bulach, Switzerland

"" Closeup of the front of Ae 6/6 no 11409 "Baselland". If it were not so dirty and rusty it would still be a good and fairly modern looking locomotive. The designers of SLM and BBC did a good job in mid-fifties.""

Picture in September 2001 at Bülach station by Ilkka Siissalo.

To the top of the page


To the top of the page


To the top of the page

Main > Reference > Ilkka's Archives of the Heritage Rolling Stock
© Railroad Reference 2004 - 2011   -   Created 27.9.2011 Ilkka Siissalo & John McKey, updated 10.11.2011