Switzerland – September 2018 (Mega Bernina Gala)
As soon as the Blonay Chamby Railway’s Mega Bernina Gala was announced, I made sure I had time to do at least one of the weekends in September that it was operating over. As it happened the only weekend I could do was the last weekend of the event.
Booked through Easyjet
EZS8466 1155 Gatwick – Geneva
EZY2052 1050 Geneva – Luton
Stayed at a friend’s in Vevey
Booked through www.interrail.co.uk
Interrail One Country Pass Switzerland – 4 days in 1 month
Saturday 22nd September 2018 (An unplanned day with Switzerland at my whim)
I’d flown out from Gatwick to Geneva with Easyjet the previous afternoon, then done SBB Re4/4II 11157 from Geneve Aeroport to Vevey on the first of the evening commuter’s, IR1927 1620 Geneve Aeroport – Sion, to meet up with fellow Class 31 aficionado Tohm; who just so happened to live in Vevey! After we’d discussed the merits of covering the Blonay Chamby Railway’s Mega Bernina Gala on either the Saturday or the Sunday, we decided on Sunday; based on the fact Tohm had been the previous weekend, had the railway’s timetable and loco allocations on a line diagram and he’d created a simplifier too. Being pre-armed with the loco allocations would serve us better, so I decided to make full use of the spare Saturday I had and was up and out by 0730.
I’d decided to head to Neuchatel first as I’d never been to La Chaux-de-Fonds on the BLS Re465s. There were two options to get to the BLS circuit from Vevey, one being the long way around via Visp to Bern, which would have me on the 0953 from Bern, or the shorter way, which I opted for, was to do 460043 to Lausanne on IR1808 0624 Brig – Geneve Aeroport for a pair of ICN EMU’s to Neuchatel on IC1515 0815 Lausanne – St Gallen. This allowed me to view both the 0853 Bern – La Chaux-de-Fonds & 0902 La Chaux-de-Fonds – Bern; which met at Neuchatel with the trains ex Bern being a plus 5’ onto he trains ex La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Along the way, at Lausanne, SBB Re 4/4II’s 11195/11197 were either end of a push-pull commuter set, 11156/11172 were stabled just off the platform ends, not on sets, and at Neuchatel 11159 was stabled in the yard with a commuter rake, along with BLS’s 465007 with the spare rake for the La Chaux-de-Fonds circuit. It turned out to be a good call heading to Neuchatel as 465008 was first in with RE3914 0853 Bern – La Chaux-de-Fonds and while I was sat on board waiting to leave, 465011 arrived with RE3917 0902 La Chaux-de-Fonds – Bern; which I’d make sure I had later in the morning.
The run up to La Chaux-de-Fonds is quite scenic and I was grateful of there being a declassified 1st class coach in the rake as the rest of the 2nd class was wedged. The trains are double manned from Neuchatel as when the trains reverse at Chambrelien they only have 2 minutes to do so! After the reversal, the line climbs quite steeply away from the station but the Re465 made the gradient non-existent; and I was surprised at how well the train accelerated up it.
At La Chaux-de-Fonds the turnaround for the sets is only 5 minutes, again not enough time for one driver to get from one end to the other and prepare the set for departure; hence the double manning. The guard was directing everyone into the declassified 1st class coach on the return journey, so it wasn’t as empty as it had been on the way up. She was almost insistent that I should change at Neuchatel for Geneve and I couldn’t get it into her head that I wasn’t going to Geneve! When I was still on the train beyond Neuchatel, she looked a little confused but thankfully left me be. I can’t imagine what her thoughts were when I got off at Kerzers, to do 465011 back to Neuchatel!?
Having passed the 3rd BLS Re465 turn at Neuchatel, while coming back down from La Chaux-de-Fonds, doing 465011 back to Neuchatel on RE3918 1053 Bern – La Chaux-de-Fonds for what turned out to be 465010 back to Bern on RE3921 1102 La Chaux-de-Fonds – Bern topped the morning off nicely and knowing that Hans was nedding about on the MOB Montreux – Zweisimmen line persuaded me to keep the BLS theme going for the afternoon as he might spot something I needed and had already confirmed that one of the BLS Re420 turns was 420501; which just so happened t be the turn I’d decided to head to Spiez to cover, to get me to Zweisimmen.
After a very good, as always, Chinese takeaway from one of the places downstairs at Bern station, I arrived into Spiez courtesy of 460118 on IC1069 1131 Basel SBB – Interlaken Ost. I did have a brief thought about doing it through to Interlaken and heading to Wilderswil to do the Schynige Platte Bahn but as the SPB had withdrawn the free use of Swiss Passes on their services, it now meant paying for the privilege, so I was leaving it for another day; and was a little annoyed that I’d not done the SPB more than once during the brief period they’d allowed free travel with Swiss Passes, which only lasted about 14 months!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I can never get bored of the view from outside the station at Spiez, which offers great views of Spiez Castle and Lake Thun towards Interlaken. It was a fantastic day too but the thing missing from the panoramic view was snow on the mountain-tops! That would have topped it off nicely. Still, I spent a while admiring the view and pointing my camera in different directions, before heading back onto the station to spot some trains. Crossrail’s 186903/186905 were soon heading through with a freight, which got stopped to await BLS’s 1312 departure to Brig go, which ended up being a single 535 EMU due to an air leak from the coupler between the leading two of three sets! It was a little cozy when it left. Over the back of the station, an EMU obscured most of the stabled locos but BLS Brownies 170/177/189 were visible, with a crew in and they were all multi’d up ready to head off somewhere. 173 was stabled just behind the EMU with a couple of Vectrons.
For a while during the early part of the Summer one of the two BLS Re420 turns had been regularly an EMU vice, but I was glad to find 420502 on RE4073 1308 Interlaken Ost – Zweisimmen and a nice afternoon move then fell into place. Having been bowled by an EMU the last time I’d attempted to do RE4072 1338 Zweisimmen – Interlaken Ost, which had resulted in me doing a 1907 built steam paddle ship on Lake Thun instead, I was happy that 420501 had stuck to diagram and having done 420502 out to Erlenbach im Simmental, I joined Hans on RE4072 with 420501 all the way through to Interlaken Ost; and randomly, said 1907 built steam paddle ship was just arriving into the dock at Interlaken West, as we did on 420501.
I’d only ever done the BLS part of the Golden Pass route to Zweisimmen once, on my first trip to Switzerland in 2013, so was pleased the afternoon worked out nicely with 420501 taking me the full length of the BLS part of the Golden Pass route from Interlaken Ost to Zweisimmen on RE4077 1538 Interlaken Ost – Zweisimmen. The last time I’d been west of Erlenbach the trains had still been in the hands of BLS Brownies!
Unfortunately, after a nice relaxing journey, disappointment met me at Zweisimmen when I found MOB’s IR2127 1625 Zweisimmen – Montreux “Belle Epoque” service with EMU cars 9301/9201 wrapped around the nice pullman coaches that formed the service. It wasn’t very sporting of MOB to have their Belle Epoque formed with EMU cars vice loco-haled; but, it meant I now had a 40-minute fester for the next train over the MOB portion of the Golden Pass route and an hour later a 48-minute later arrival into Montreux!
All my concerns were soon put at bay when a driver clambered into MOB GDe4/4 6006 in the MOB carriage sidings and put the pantographs up. MOB’s GDe4/4 6004 & Ge4/4 8001 were both present in the carriage sidings but didn’t look like they’d be doing anything of an evening. When Ge4/4 8003 arrived with R2228 1453 Montreux – Zweisimmen, it was immediately detached and 6006 shunted out and dropped onto the opposite end of the stock to work straight back with R2229 1705 Zweisimmen – Montreux.
The train had arrived with a lot of tourists, but it was getting late in the day for tourists and when we set off for Montreux, I was the only person in the front coach and during the journey there were never more than three people in my coach at any one time. It was a nice relaxing journey, with good scenery, peace & quiet and a new loco to boot! Trains coming from Montreux were a mixed bag with only 2 of 5 being hauled; IR2130 1544 Montreux – Zweisimmen being GDe4/4 6002 in the middle of a set and R2234 1753 Montreux – Zweisimmen being Ge4/4 8004. R2232 1653 ex Montreux, R2236 1853 ex Montreux and R2238 1953 ex Montreux were all formed with EMU cars either end of their respective sets. Also noted en-route were the following departmental locos: Gm4/4 2003 on Zweisimmen shed, Gm4/4 2004 at Rossiniere, Gem2/2’s 2502/2503 at Jor and Gem2/2’s 2501/204 at Chernex, along with diesel shunter #V121.
The view over Lake Geneva, when coming down the hill from Chernex was fantastic and it was a very moody evening. I was glad that 460076 promptly delivered me back to Vevey on IR1730 1757 Brig – Geneve Aeroport as I had just enough time to get down to the lake’s edge and get some photos of the red skies over the lake as the sun sank. They were a stark contrast to the skies over lake that morning, which had been almost clear, but for the crisscrossing vapour trails left behind by a plethora of planes; which had been heading in all directions early of a morning. Having had an excellent day on the bash, the evening was spent in awe of the scenery surrounding Lake Geneva at Vevey; I could get used to these kinds of views on a daily basis, which were never the same on two different days, it was amazing.
Gen for Friday 21st September 2019
460105 IR2529 1550 Geneve Aeroport – Luzern
460094 IR1720 1258 Brig – Geneve Aeroport, IR1827 1602 Geneve Aeroport – Brig
460049 IR1822 1327 Brig – Geneve Aeroport, IR1729 1625 Geneve Aeroport – Brig
460044 IR2522 1300 Luzern – Geneve Aeroport
460052 IC720 1225 St Gallen – Geneve Aeroport
460002 IR1722 1358 Brig – Geneve Aeroport
11157 IR1927 1620 Geneve Aeroport – Sion
11129 in Geneve Yard dragging an ICN set
11195/11197 T&T push-pull set at Lausanne
11198 IC rake at Lausanne
11156/11172 stabled off sets at Lausanne
Moves for Friday 21st September 2019
|91120||Doncaster||Kings Cross||1A03||0605 Leeds – Kings Cross|
|700105||St Pancras International Low Level||Gatwick Airport||0734 Bedford – Gatwick Airport|
|HB-JYF||Gatwick North Terminal||Geneva||EZS8466||1155 Gatwick – Geneva|
|11157||Geneve Aeroport||Vevey||IR1927||1620 Geneve Airport – Sion|
Photos for Friday 21st September 2019
Gen for Saturday 22nd September 2018
460043 IR1808 0624 Brig – Geneve Aeroport
460118 IC1069 1131 Basel SBB – Interlaken Ost
460046 IC972 1300 Interlaken Ost – Basel SBB
460073 IC821 1248 Brig – Zurich Hbf
460045 IC816 1202 Zurich Hbf – Brig
460064 IC971 1259 Basel SBB – Interlaken Ost, IC978 1600 Interlaken Ost – Basel SBB
460034 IC1073 1331 Basel SBB – Interlaken Ost
460076 IR1730 1757 Brig – Geneve Aeroport
11195/11197 T&T push-pull set at Lausanne
11156/11172 stabled off sets at Lausanne
11159 stabled on commuter set at Neuchatel
465008 RE3914 0853 Bern – La Chaux-de-Fonds, RE3919 1002 La Chaux-de-Fonds – Bern
465011 RE3917 0902 La Chaux-de-Fonds – Bern, RE3918 1053 Bern – La Chaux-de-Fonds
465010 RE3916 0953 Bern – La Chaux-de-Fonds, RE3921 1102 La Chaux-de-Fonds – Bern
465007 stabled on spare set at Neuchatel
420502 RE4073 1308 Interlaken Ost – Zweisimmen, RE4076 1538 Zweisimmen – Interlaken Ost
420501 RE4072 1338 Zweisimmen – Interlaken Ost, RE4077 1508 Interlaken Ost – Zweisimmen
170, 177, 189, 173 Spiez station at 1330
8001, 6004 Zweisimmen shed at 1700
9201/9301 IR2127 l1625 Zweisimmen – Montreux
8003 R2228 1453 Montreux – Zweisimmen
6006 R2229 1705 Zweisimmen – Montreux
6002 IR2130 1544 Montreux – Zweisimmen
9201/9301 R2232 1653 Montreux – Zweisimmen
8004 R2234 1753 Montreux – Zweisimmen
EMU R2236 1853 Montreux – Zweisimmen
9203/9303 R2238 1953 Montreux – Zweisimmen
6001 & 6003 at Montreux at 1900
2003 Zweisimmen shed
2502 & 2503 at Jor
2501, 2504 & V121 at Chernex
Moves for Saturday 22nd September 2018
|460043||Vevey||Lausanne||IR1808||0624 Brig – Geneve Aeroport|
|500037||Lausanne||Neuchatel||IC1515||0815 Lausanne – St Gallen|
|465008||Neuchatel||La Chaux-de-Fonds||RE3914||0853 Bern – La Chaux-de-Fonds|
|465008||La Chaux-de-Fonds||Kerzers||RE3919||1002 La Chaux-de-Fonds – Bern|
|465011||Kerzers||Neuchatel||RE3916||0953 Bern – La Chaux-de-Fonds|
|465010||Neuchatel||Bern||RE3921||1102 La Chaux-de-Fonds – Bern|
|460118||Bern||Spiez||IC1069||1131 Basel SBB – Interlaken Ost|
|420502||Spiez||Erlenbach im Simmental||RE4073||1308 Interlaken Ost – Zweisimmen|
|420501||Erlenbach im Simmental||Interlaken Ost||RE4072||1338 Zweisimmen – Interlaken Ost|
|420501||Interlaken Ost||Zweisimmen||RE4077||1508 Interlaken Ost – Zweisimmen|
|6006||Zweisimmen||Montreux||R2229||1705 Zweisimmen – Montreux|
|460076||Montreux||Vevey||IR1730||1757 Brig – Geneve Aeroport|
Photos for Saturday 22nd September 2018
Sunday 23rd September 2018 (Blonay Chamby Mega Bernina Gala – A rare circular trip from Vevey)
As Tohm had already been to the Bernina Gala at the local Blonay Chamby Railway the previous week, he already had the line-diagram timetable that was applicable to Sunday 23rd September and had done a simplifier using the details from it, which listed the departures from Blonay, Chamby and Chaulin Museum, along with their allocated locomotives. In two minds what to do, we eventually decided on starting at the Chamby end of the line and did SBB 460092 Vevey to Montreux on IR1811 0802 Geneve Aeroport – Brig for MOB GDe4/4 6002 up the hill to Chamby on IR2118 0944 Montreux – Zweisimmen. As opposed to walking to Vevey station and doing ex Berninabahn (BB) Ge4/4 #81 up to Chaulin Museum on the 1105 from Vevey; which we ended up watching go by the Museum on its way up to Chamby to reverse, after a misunderstanding of the line-diagram timetable that the railway had produced.
After alighting at MOB’s Chamby request stop, I was immediately gob smacked by the view over Lake Geneva and after purchasing my CHF30 Day Rover and watching Ex MOB BCFe4/4 #11 depart with 10E 1005 Chamby – Chaulin Musee, I got talking to the guy running the small Blonay Chamby station booking office. He’d been volunteering at the railway for years and spent most of his spare time at Chamby admiring the view, which I’m sure you couldn’t get tired of! He worked in air traffic control but had a big passion for railways and it was absolute please to chew the cud with him while I waited. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the CHF3.5 million price-tag that was attached to the old restaurant at the side of the station, which overlooked the lake, so I’d have to make do with admiring the view while I got the chance.
It was a busy 30 minutes at Chamby with there being three departures for the museum and ex RhB pairing Ge2/2 #161 & BCe4/4 #35 were next up as they arrived with 07E 0950 Blonay – Chamby and departed soon afterwards, propelling towards Chaulin Musee, with 12E 1011 Chamby – Chaulin Musee. After Tohm had headed to the Museum on #11, my plan was to do RhB Ge4/4 #182 down to the museum and the sun came out just in time for it coming up the hill into Chamby with 13E 1015 Blonay – Chamby; sadly though, that was the token bit of sunshine until the early afternoon.
Having done #182 down the steep hill to Chaulin Musee on 16E 1032 Chamby – Chaulin Musee, I managed to find Tohm pottering around the place taking photos. While I’d been up at Chamby the nice station master had told me that loco #2, shown on the line-diagram to work one trip per day, was in fact knackered and hadn’t featured at all during the month-long Gala. So, we decided to do Ex MOB FZe6/6 #2002 out of the museum on 20E 1045 Chaulin Musee – Blonay. When 2002, which has no on-board passenger accommodation, departed without dragging any stock with it, it was then we realised the error of our understanding of the line-diagram timetable. We’d wrongly assumed that everything shown was passenger carrying, when in actual fact only the trains advertised on the PDFs, produced in advance, by the Blonay Chamby Railway, were passenger carrying trains. That error resigned us to over an hour festering at the museum site but at least we got to watch the morning precession of trains come up from Blonay. With the museum site overlooking the main line to Blonay down below, which gave ample photo opportunities, I then began to understand the layout of the railway now I’d seen it with my own eyes. The line from Blonay to Chamby is uphill all the way ad it passes by the Chaulin Musee site a short distance from Chamby. So, to get from Chaulin Musee to Chamby trains just run straight out and keep going up the hill but those trains that ran from Chaulin Musee to Blonay without calling at Chamby first, simply ran out of the museum and reversed once clear of the points, to then head down the hill to Blonay.
Having photographed the interesting precession, which included a run-by with the museum’s snowblower, we eventually departed the museum with Ge2/2 #161 & FZe6/6 #2002 T&Ting 36E 1205 Chaulin Musee – Blonay, which we did down to Blonay, where there were ample photo opportunities available from the road that runs adjacent to the railway up to the level crossing about 200 yards from the station. Randomly, to run the arriving locos round their set at Blonay, the stock is propelled out of the station, the loco is then dropped onto the opposing road in the station and the stock is then rolled back into the station using gravity to get it there; with the crew on the stock using the handbrake to stop the set in the platform. Th loco is then dropped back onto the opposite end of the set ready for departure.
When RhB pairing Ge4/4 #182 & BCe4/4 #35 arrived with 42E 1245 Chaulin Musee – Vevey, that was our cue to complete our unplanned circular journey back to whence we’d came from that morning; and we sat in #35 for the downhill journey to Vevey, as the sun eventually came out and gave the day the glorious weather the forecast had predicted. During the course of the month-long Gala, Blonay Chamby had been running their trains between Blonay & Vevey or Chamby & Montreux on alternate days of each weekend. While Chamby – Montreux is covered by loco-hauled trains every day of the week, Blonay – Vevey is not, and when it is it’s usually with the museum’s steam loco anyway; so, doing Blonay – Vevey with a heritage electric loco was extremely rare and most welcome, even if the return fare for that section alone was CHF20.
There were plenty of people out photographing along the way and at Vevey the train arrived into the back siding, alongside the MVR EMU forming the next train up the hill to Blonay/Les Pleiades. To get onto the platform people either clambered up into the adjacent carpark and walked round or walked across the ballast and between the gaps between the EMU’s and onto the platform; and not an eyelid was blinked while it all happened!
Having sought some lunch from one of the two Coop’s at Vevey station, and realising that we’d done the full loco-hauled circle from Vevey, anti-clockwise via Montreux, Chamby & Blonay, we now decided to do the full loco-hauled circle from Vevey, clockwise via Blonay, Chamby & Montreux; if MOB would oblige at Chamby.
RhB pairing Ge4/4 #182 & BCe4/4 #35 led back up from Vevey with 65E 1420 Vevey – Chaulin Musee, which we only did to Blonay as I still needed to get Ge4/4 #81, which was already sat in ready to follow with 069E 1525 Blonay – Chaulin Musee, and we did it up to Chamby; where MOB did oblige with Ge4/4 8004 producing on IR2123 1425 Zweisimmen – Montreux and then T&T SBB Re460’s 460049/460114 had us back at Vevey on IR1724 1457 Brig – Geneve Aeroport only 2h07m after we’d departed on 65E to Blonay. As it was too early in the day to give up, we did the EMU on R1445 1638 Vevey – La Pleiades back up to Blonay for RhB pair Ge2/2 #161 & BCe4/4 #35 back on 84E 1650 Chaulin Musee – Vevey; then called it a day.
Despite the 29-degree temperatures during the day, which turned out to be the last day of the Swiss heatwave, the wind soon got up of an evening and the clouds soon came rolling in; making it another moody evening over Lake Geneva. I’d been in awe of what the Lake had shown me during my stay and was very pleased with the photos I’d taken of it during the course of the weekend, even with the rather large fork that protruded from it by the Vevey Food Museum!
The following morning, I headed back to whence I’d come from and did the first of the three morning commuter turns, booked for Re4/4II, to Geneve Aeroport; with SBB Re4/4II 11200 on IR1904 0551 Sion – Geneve Aeroport with IC stock. Then I flew home with Easyjet from Geneva to Luton, caught the bus to Luton Airport Parkway, waited for the first EMT train into St Pancras, walked over the road to Kings Cross and LNER’s 91131 took me back to Doncaster on 1S19 1330 Kings Cross – Edinburgh. A thoroughly good weekend it had been too.
Gen for Sunday 23rd September 2018
460092 IR1811 0802 Geneve Aeroport – Brig
460049/460114 (T&T) IR1724 1457 Brig – Geneve Aeroport
6002 IR2118 0944 Montreux – Zweisimmen, IR2130 1544 Montreux – Zweisimmen
8004 IR2123 1425 Zweisimmen – Montreux
9203/9303 R2232 1653 Montreux – Zweisimmen
2501, 2504 & V121 at Chernex
Mega Bernina Gala
Locos – 81, 161, 181
EMU/MLV – 11, 35, 2002
Moves for Sunday 23rd September 2018
|460092||Vevey||Montreux||IR1811||0802 Geneve Aeroport – Brig|
|6002||Montreux||Chamby||IR2118||0944 Montreux – Zweisimmen|
|182||Chamby||Chaulin Musee||16E||1032 Chamby – Chaulin Musee|
|2002||Chaulin Musee||Blonay||36E||1205 Chaulin Musee – Blonay|
|182||Blonay||Vevey||42E||1245 Chaulin Musee – Vevey|
|182||Vevey||Blonay||65E||1420 Vevey – Chaulin Musee|
|81||Blonay||Chamby||69E||1525 Blonay – Chaulin Musee|
|8004||Chamby||Montreux||IR2123||1425 Zweisimmen – Montreux|
|460049||Montreux||Vevey||IR1724||1457 Brig – Geneve Aeroport|
|7505||Vevey||Blonay||R1445||1638 Vevey – La Pleiades|
|161||Blonay||Vevey||84E||1650 Chaulin Musee – Vevey|
Photos for Sunday 23rd September 2018
Gen for Monday 24th September 2018
11200 IR1904 0551 Sion – Geneve Aeroport
11192 stabled in Geneve Yard on a push-pull set
11120 stabled in Geneve Yard
Moves for Monday 24th September 2018
|11200||Vevey||Geneve Aeroport||IR1904||0551 Sion – Geneve Aeroport|
|G-EZTR||Geneva||Luton||EZY2052||1050 Geneva – Luton|
|222012||Luton Airport Parkway||St Pancras||1112 Nottingham – St Pancras|
|91131||Kings Cross||Doncaster||1S19||1330 Kings Cross – Edinburgh|
Photos for Monday 24th September 2018