Brienz Rothorn Railway

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Brienz Rothorn Railway
Planalp Station.jpg
Steam train with old coach halting at Planalp
Overview
Native nameBrienz Rothorn Bahn
StatusOpen
LocaleCanton of Bern, Switzerland
TerminiBrienz
Brienzer Rothorn
Service
TypeRack railway
History
Opened17 June 1892,
reopened 13 June 1931
Closed1 August 1914
Technical
Line length7.6 kilometres (4.7 mi)
Number of trackssingle track with passing loops
Rack systemAbt[1][2][3]
Track gauge800 mm (2 ft 7+12 in)
ElectrificationNone
Highest elevation2,244 m (7,362 ft)
Maximum incline25 %
Route diagram

km
elevation (M)
or length (m)
0.0
Brienz BRB Zentralbahn
566 M
Wellenberg bridge
Schwarzfluh tunnel
18 m
2.1
Geldried
1,019 M
Erd tunnel
119 m
Fluh tunnel
290 m
3.6
Planalp
1,341 M
Chüemaad tunnel
133 m
5.7
Oberstaffel
1,819 M
Schonegg tunnel I
37 m
Schonegg tunnel II
133 m
7.6
Rothorn Kulm
2,244 M

The Brienz Rothorn Railway (German: Brienz Rothorn Bahn, BRB) is a tourist rack railway in Switzerland, which climbs from Brienz, at the eastern end of Lake Brienz, to the summit of the Brienzer Rothorn. The railway is 7.6 kilometres (4.7 mi) long, is built to 800 mm gauge (2 ft 7+12 in gauge), and uses the Abt double lamella rack system. Unusual for Switzerland, the line is not electrified, and most trains are operated by steam locomotives.[1][2][3][4]

The Brienz Rothorn Railway reaches a height of 2,244 metres above sea level and is the fourth-highest railway in Switzerland.[5]

History[edit]

Share of the Brienz-Rothornbahn-AG, 1892

The railway was opened on 17 June 1892, after a two years construction period. The two designers, engineer Alexander Lindner and contractor Theo Bertschinger were supported by the mountain railway pioneer Roman Abt, who had responsibility for equipping the line with his newly developed Abt double lamella rack system.

The line connected at Brienz with the Brünig railway line, which had been opened in 1888 from Brienz eastwards towards Lucerne. However, the Brünig railway was not extended westward to Interlaken until 1916, so many early travelers to the Rothorn had to arrive by boat service on Lake Brienz.[6]

The line was quickly in financial difficulties. The line was designed to carry 25,000 passengers per year, but only managed 5,000 passengers in the first year. Tourist traffic was further affected by the opening of Schynige Platte Railway in 1895 and the Jungfraubahn in 1898. Train service was suspended on 1 August 1914 as a result of the First World War, but did not resume when the war ended.

Essential maintenance was carried out and a small amount of timber traffic was carried from Planalp in 1918. Carriages were hired to the Schynige Platte Railway in 1924 and 1925, providing funds for the maintenance work. The line was finally re-opened on 13 June 1931, the first train to reach the summit in 17 years having run four days earlier. The railway was in good condition because of the continued maintenance.

Unlike other Swiss mountain lines, the BRB was not electrified and this made the railway a special attraction as from 1953 to 1990 it was the only steam-operated line in Switzerland. Although other Swiss mountain railways offer special "steam" trips, this is the only line to offer a full steam service, the Diesel locomotive only being used for additional trains and for light traffic periods.

Route[edit]

The BRB is 7.6 kilometres (4.7 mi) long with a maximum gradient of 1 in 4 (25%) and includes five tunnels. It begins in Brienz at 566 m (1,857 ft) above sea level, from a terminusopposite the Brienz station of the Zentralbahn company's Brünig line. Also nearby is the quay used by the BLS AG shipping services on Lake Brienz.[4]

The railway is single track with three passing loops. The first passing loop is at Geldried, 1,019 m (3,343 ft) above sea level. The halfway passing loop of the line is at Planalp station at 1,341 m (4,400 ft) above sea level (the only stop on the line). The older steam locomotives stop to take water. The third passing loop is at Oberstafel, 1,819 m (5,968 ft) above sea level.[4]

The upper terminus of the line is at Rothorn Kulm station at 2,244 m (7,362 ft) above sea level, a little below the summit of the mountain.[4]

A popular hiking trail runs between the summit station, and the Brünig-Hasliberg station at the point where the Brünig line crosses the Brünig Pass.[7]

A diesel train at the bottom station
Wellenberg bridge on the Trachtbach
Two steam trains meeting at Geldried
Diesel train above Mittlischten
Two steam trains at the summit station. One with a historic coach and the other with a modern coach

Locomotives and rolling stock[edit]

All steam locomotives are Class H2/3, indicating that two of the three axles are driven, giving a wheel arrangement (Whyte System) of 0-4-2. The older locomotives are a side tank, "kneeling cow" design of a standard SLM product. The modern steam locomotives use an efficient "light oil" fired steam technology and were built by SLM (former Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works) of Winterthur.

A prototype Diesel locomotive, class Hm2/2, number 8, was delivered in 1973, but sold to the Chemin de fer Montreux-Glion-Rochers-de-Naye in 1995 as their Number 4. New Diesel locomotives were constructed by Ferdinand Steck Maschinenfabrik and are of (Whyte System) 0-4-0 wheel arrangement to a "kneeling cow" design.

Brienz Rothorn Bahn Locomotives
BRB No. Builder(s) Works No. Year Built Type Notes
1 (I) SLM 688 1891 Steam Scrapped 1961
1 (II) SLM 693 1892 Steam Ex-MGR, 1962 1892-1941 was Monte Generoso 7
2 SLM 689 1891 Steam
3 SLM 719 1892 Steam Out of service since 1993. Withdrawn 2005 and displayed at the Steck premises at Bowil. Now returned to the depot in Brienz.
4 SLM 720 1892 Steam Out of service since 1993
5 SLM 690 1891 Steam Ex WAB1 1912
6 SLM 3567 1933 Steam — Geared
7 SLM 3611 1936 Steam — Geared
8 Reggazoni-Buhler-Caterpillar 1973 Diesel-hydraulic Prototype Class Hm2/2. Sold to MGR, 1995
9 Steck - 1976 Diesel-hydraulic Class Hm2/2
10 Steck - 1976 Diesel-hydraulic Class Hm2/2
11 Steck - 1986 Diesel-hydraulic Class Hm2/2
12 SLM 5456 1992 Steam
14 SLM 5689 1996 Steam
15 SLM 5690 1996 Steam
16 SLM 5457 1992 Steam Ex-MGR 1, 2005
Coaching Stock of the Brienz Rothorn Bahn.
BRB No. Builder Date Built No. of Wheels (Bogies) Seats Notes
B1 1892 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 40
B3 1972 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 56 Arched Roof
B4 1972 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 56 Arched Roof
B5 1972 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 56 Arched Roof
B6 1972 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 56 Arched Roof
B7 1972 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 56 Arched Roof
B8 1972 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 56 Arched Roof
B9 1972 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 56 Arched Roof
B11 1892 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 48
B12 1892 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 48
B14 1987 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 60 Lightweight
B15 1987 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 60 Lightweight
B16 1933 8 (2 x 2 axle bogies) 48
B21 1892 4 28 Semi-open
B26 1933 4 32
B27 1933 6 40 "Bistrowagen"

Timetable[edit]

Passengers preparing for boarding at the summit station

The Brienz Rothorn Railway operated 7 days per week from June 4 to October 23, 2016, all the way up to the Rothorn. They tried to ensure that all their services are steam-powered.

Departures from Brienz
Brienz BRB 07:30* 08:36 09:40 10:45 11:45 12:58 13:58 14:58 16:36
Planalp 07:56* 09:03 10:07 11:12 12:15 13:27 14:27 15:27 17:03
Rothorn 08:25* 09:31 10:35 11:43 12:45 13:57 14:57 15:57 17:31
Departures from Rothorn Kulm
Rothorn 08:30* 09:38 11:15 12:20 13:28 14:28 15:28 16:28 17:40
Planalp 09:02* 10:10 11:50 12:58 14:02 15:02 16:02 17:02 18:12
Brienz BRB 09:30* 10:38 12:20 13:30 14:32 15:32 16:32 17:32 18:40

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Technical details of the Brienz Rothorn Bahn". Brienz Rothorn Bahn AG. Archived from the original on 2014-09-14. Retrieved 2014-09-14.
  2. ^ a b "BRB — Facts". www.rail-info.ch. Retrieved 2014-09-14.
  3. ^ a b "Zahnstangensysteme" [Rack systems] (PDF). www.schmalspur-europa.at (in German). Railway — Media — Group. Retrieved 2014-09-14.
  4. ^ a b c d Eisenbahnatlas Schweiz. Verlag Schweers + Wall GmbH. 2012. p. 33. ISBN 978-3-89494-130-7.
  5. ^ After the Jungfrau, Gornergrat, and Bernina railway
  6. ^ "History of navigation on Lakes Thun and Brienz". BLS AG. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  7. ^ "Brünigpass". Hiking in Switzerland. SwitzerlandMobility. Archived from the original on 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2013-01-06.

External links[edit]