Swiss Trains

Trying to get things going.
When running German railroads, one can add a Swiss or Austrian train to the mix, after all all three countries use the same electric system. Norway and Sweden do too. Denmark does not. After all, why would they use the system all teir neighbors have. It would just make too much sense. While Germany and Austria are fully compatible, the Swiss zigzag of the catenary is smaller than in the former. This is why Swiss locos have narrower pantos, which can be a real pain when you have installed catenary for your German loco, and then buy a Swiss loco, and the panto jumps out from under the catenary. Used my BLS Ae 4/4 for all catenary installation. Speaking of BLS and SBB, one can happily mix passenger cars from both railroads in one train. Seemed to be the way it was done. Just make sure they are in blocks. BLS locos withe pure SBB consists are possible, as are some German or Italian cars in the mix.



  • RailwriterRailwriter Durham, NC

    There are, of course, locomotives that have both a German/Austrian pantograph and a Swiss pantograph. In that case, you probably want to run them with the wider pantograph -- if your catenary had adequate clearances.

    This is more typical with some more modern electric locomotives, which have up to four pantographs -- but this has existed for some time. The Austrian 4010 train sets ran all the way to Zurich decades ago by having two different pantographs on the power car.

    And, as I've mentioned before, between the Swiss border with other countries and the first major Swiss station, there is so-called compromise catenary. This catenary has the narrow zig-zag, so that Swiss work trains can operate, but it also has wide clearances for wider pantographs. So, Austrian and German locos, even if they only have the wide pantographs, can operate at least as far as the first Swiss station.

    I was going to report on this elsewhere, but never got around to it: The SBB series 421, which Roco offered within the last year and which are now sold out at the factory, are upgrades of older Swiss electrics which have been equipped with an Austrian/German pantograph -- and, though lettered for SBB Cargo, are also being used on passenger trains into Germany. They run through a short section of Austria to reach Germany. So, these locos are appropriate for all three countries.

    -- Ernest

  • BR42BR42 Auburn


    This is exactly how catenary is constructed: German clearances with Swiss zigzag. Have two BLS loco (Ae 4/4 and Ae 6/8). Sure, they never ran into Germany, but I just love their looks, as well as an Ae 6/6 and Ae 3/6. I wanted to get a Liliput Ae 4/7, but the Ae 3/6 from Fleischmann looks and feels more solid. All metal body for weight, but still good detail.


  • I have a DB locomotive that pulls an SBB consist. Looks good to me.

  • BR42BR42 Auburn

    Yes, this is quite realistic. For instance, D96 ran from Geneve to Munich. For many years of its existence, it consisted only of SBB coaches till it reached Lindau. In Lindau, a German half-diner (and depending on the day of the week a few other German cars) were added. A similar example is a D-Zug that ran from Basel to Wilhelmshaven. At one point, its consist was made entirely of SBB coaches, with a DSG diner plus one or two additional cars added along the way.


  • These days the DB locomotive has been replaced with a Roco Re/420.
    And I'm still waiting on me new Bemo Allegra.

  • BR42BR42 Auburn
    edited May 2020


    Germany, Austria and Switzerland all use the same system for their electric locomotives, 15 kV, 16 2/3 Hz originally, now 15 kV, 17 Hz. Low frequency AC motors have less problems with induction than 50 Hz motors, and behave more like DC motors. However, low frequency AC could still be transformed which is not possible with DC. The induction problems were not easy to control with 1910 technology. Electronic developments between the war had solved that problem making 50 Hz power supplies feasible since the mid 1930s (Hoellental in Germany). 50 Hz has always been preferred since this way the railroads would not need their own power plants. Norway and Sweden adopted the German system too, and their is actually a treaty between the five countries from before WW 1 stipulation 15 kV, 16 2/3 Hz as the system for electrification. Demonstrating the "spirit" of cooperation in the EU, Denmark electrified in the 1970s with 25 kV, 50 Hz. After all, why would one choose a system which is incompatible with that of all one's neighbors.


  • BR42BR42 Auburn

    To continue the series of pictures, here are two pictures of the engine service facilities. The first is for the main station:

    The second for the stubstation:


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