Forch railway

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Forch railway (S18)
Forchbahn - Stadelhoferplatz 2012-03-15 14-17-50.JPG
Type Light rail
System Zürich S-Bahn
Status Operational
Locale Canton of Zürich, Switzerland
Termini Zürich Stadelhofen station
Stations 20
Services 1
Opened 1912
Owner Forchbahn AG
Operator(s) Forchbahn AG
Depot(s) Forch
Line length 13 km (8.1 mi) (railway)
3 km (1.9 mi) (tramway)
Number of tracks Single and double track
Track gauge Metre (3 ft 3 38 in)
Electrification 600/1200 V DC Overhead line
Route diagram
VBZ from Bellevue Zurich tram route 11.PNG Zurich tram route 15.PNG
Zürich Stadelhofen Zurich S-Bahn service S18.png
Zürich Kreuzplatz
VBZ to Römerhof Zurich tram route 15.PNG
Zürich Hegibachplatz
Zürich Balgrist
0.00 Zürich Rehalp Zurich tram route 11.PNG
1.08 Waldburg
1.48 Spital Zollikerberg
1.99 Zollikerberg
3.45 Waltikon
Zumiker Tunnel (1758 m)
4.25 Zumikon
5.02 Maiacher
5.59 Neue Forch
6.40 Forch
Forchtunnel (282 m)
7.41 Scheuren
9.00 Neuhaus bei Hinteregg
10.09 Hinteregg
10.75 Egg
11.48 Langwies ZH
12.20 Emmat
13.06 Esslingen Zurich S-Bahn service S18.png

The Forch railway (German: Forchbahn, FB or Frieda) is a local railway line in the Swiss canton of Zürich. It is owned and operated by the Forchbahn AG, and is branded as line S18 of the Zürich S-Bahn. The standard Zürcher Verkehrsverbund (ZVV) zonal fare tariffs apply to the line.[1][2]

The line opened in 1912 and links the towns of Esslingen and Forch to Rehalp, an outer suburb of the city of Zürich. From Rehalp, trains continue over the Zürich tram system to a terminus outside Zürich Stadelhofen railway station in central Zürich.[1]

The line is built to metre gauge (3 ft 3 38 in gauge). Between Esslingen and Rehalp the line has a length of some 13 km (8.1 mi), with the continuation over the Zürich tram system adding an extra 3 km (1.9 mi) of route.[1]


The Forch railway line opened on November 27, 1912, with the trip taking 67 minutes. As built, the line from the Zürich city boundary to Esslingen was a single track tramway, largely mixed in with road traffic. At Esslingen, the Forch line connected with the Uster-Oetwil line and, indirectly via that, with the Wetzikon-Meilen line. These two metre gauge tramway lines had both closed by 1950.

In 1950 it was proposed that the line should be replaced by buses, and a two-week test bus operation was undertaken with moderate success. The conclusion of the experiment was that retaining the line was the best solution provided that the line could be separated from the street and modernized. In the following decade separation of rail and road traffic was increased. New bogie rolling stock was acquired, similar to two cars built for the line in the late 1940s.[3]

In 1970, a new depot and station was built at Forch, together with a new section of line and underpass under the new main road. Between 1973 and 1976 a tunnel was built under the village of Zumikon, eliminating the street section through that village. In 1976, new Tram 2000 trains were introduced and a regular 15-minute train frequency was introduced. By 1979 the line had been doubled as far as Neue Forch.[3]

Projected extensions to Zürich Hauptbahnhof and Wetzikon were under consideration as early as 1979, but have yet to become reality. In 1990, the line was added to the ZVV transportation network, and in 1995 a new terminus was built at Esslingen. In 2004, new low floor cars were acquired from Stadler to replace the 1950s stock. In 2007, the terminus at Stadelhofen was realigned.[3][4]

The line in Zollikerberg in 1915 
A train at Neue Forch in 1982 



The line starts from a stop at Stadelhofenplatz, outside the main line Stadelhofen station, where the line terminates on a loop with its own platforms. The Forchbahn platforms are flanked by platforms for tram routes 11 and 15 of the Zürich tram system, which share tracks with the initial stretch of the Forchbahn.[4]

Between Stadelhofen and Rehalp, the Forchbahn trains use the tracks of the tram system, owned by the Verkehrsbetriebe Zürich (VBZ), which are electrified at 600 V DC and are largely situated in the street. Between these two points, Forchbahn trains serve intermediate tram stops at Kreuzplatz (where tram route 15 diverges), Hegibachplatz and Balgrist.[1]

At Rehalp tram route 11 has its terminus, and the Forchbahn trains enter the line's separate Rehalp station. Here they join the Forchbahn proper, which is electrified on the overhead system at 1200 V DC. From Rehalp to the Waltikon station the line uses a roadside double track alignment, and serves the intermediate stations of Waldburg, Spital Zollikerberg and Zollikerberg.[1]

Immediately after leaving Waltikon station, the line enters a double track tunnel under the village of Zumikon, serving the underground stations of Zumikon and Maiacher. The line surfaces just before entering Neue Forch station, where it resumes its roadside alignment. The next section of line, between Neue Forch and Forch, is single track. The line's headquarters is situated at the modern Forch station, which includes a depot complex.[1]

After Forch the line passes under the new main road before returning to its alignment alongside the old road. The remainder of the line is single track, and serves intermediate stations at Scheuren, Neuhaus bei Hinteregg, Hinteregg, Egg, Langwies and Emmat. All these stops include passing loops, with the exception of Langwies and Emmat. The line terminates at the modern Esslingen station, which has three tracks and an overall roof.[1]

Forchbahn and city trams at the Stadelhofen terminus 
The station and depot at Forch 
A train on roadside single track in the countryside 


The passenger services on the line forms part of the Zürich S-Bahn, branded as the S18. The standard Zürcher Verkehrsverbund (ZVV) zonal fare tariffs apply to the line.[2]

During the day, trains calling at all stops run every 15 minutes from Stadelhofen to Forch, with every second train continuing to Esslingen. At peak periods, four express trains per hour run to Esslingen without stopping between Rehalp and Forch, whilst another four trains per hour provide a stopping service as far as Forch. Stopping trains take about 35 minutes to cover the full journey, with express trains some 5 minutes faster.[2][5]

Rolling stock[edit]

The line uses the following rolling stock:

Image Numbers Type Notation Year Notes
Forchbahn CFe 4.JPG 4 CFe 2/2 1912 Four wheeled motor car from the original fleet purchased for the opening of the line. Preserved in the line's original blue livery, and used on special services.[6]
Forchbahn BDe 10 cropped.JPG 10 BDe 4/4 1948 Bogie motor car from the generation of vehicles that formed part of the renewal of the line in the 1950s. Preserved and used on special services.[7][8]
Forchbahn C 11.JPG 11 C 1912 Four wheeled trailer car from the original fleet purchased for the opening of the line. Preserved in the line's original blue livery, and used on special services.[9]
Forchbahn Stadelhofen.jpg 21/22-31/32 Tram 2000 Be 8/8 1976-1986 Units comprising pairs of motor cars permanently coupled back-to-back with a drivers cab at each end of the unit, and doors on both sides.[7][10]
Forchbahn Be 4-4 Stadelhofen.jpg 51-58 Tram 2000 Be 4/4 1994 Motor cars, with a cab at one end and doors on both sides.[7][11]
Forchbahn Bt 202.JPG 201-204 Tram 2000 Bt 1981-1982 Unpowered driving trailer cars, for use with units 21/22-31/32, with a cab at one end and doors on both sides.[7][12]
Forchbahn - Stadelhoferplatz 2012-03-15 14-19-56.JPG 61-73 Stadler Be 4/6 2004 Articulated motor cars, with a cab at one end and doors on both sides. Cars have a partial low flow, with low level entry. The cars were built by Stadler Rail to a custom design, but including components from their GTW standard product.[7][13][14]

A further trailer car, B 119, is preserved in the Zürich Tram Museum, which is located at Burgwies, alongside the Forchbahn's route through the city.[15]

After they were rendered surplus by the new Stadler cars, the 1950s built Forchbahn motor cars BDe 4/4 11 to 16, and driving trailers Bt 101 to 106, were donated to the municipality of Antananarivo in Madagascar. The vehicles were shipped to Madagascar in 2004/5, for use in creating a suburban train service, but by 2012 they were reported still in store there.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Eisenbahnatlas Schweiz. Verlag Schweers + Wall GmbH. 2012. pp. 12–13,64–65. ISBN 978-3-89494-130-7. 
  2. ^ a b c "Partners within the ZVV". ZVV. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  3. ^ a b c "Chronik" [Chronicle] (in German). Forchbahn. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  4. ^ a b Moglestue, Andrew (October 2007). "New tram layout for Stadelhofen". Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  5. ^ "Zürich Stadelhofen–Forch–Esslingen" (PDF). Bundesamt für Verkehr. Retrieved 2013-05-17. 
  6. ^ "Motorwagen CFe 2/2 Nr. 4" [Motor car CFe2/2 4] (in German). Verein zur förderung historischer Forchbahnfahrzeuge. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Fahrzeuge und Streckendaten" [Vehicles and route data] (in German). Forchbahn. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  8. ^ "Motorwagen BDe 4/4 Nr. 10" [Motor car BDe4/4 10] (in German). Verein zur förderung historischer Forchbahnfahrzeuge. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  9. ^ "Anhängewagen C 11" [Trailer car C 4] (in German). Verein zur förderung historischer Forchbahnfahrzeuge. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  10. ^ "Forchbahn - S18 - Triebwagen Be 8/8 - Typ Tram 2000". (in German). Retrieved 2013-09-16.  External link in |work= (help)
  11. ^ "Forchbahn - S18 - Triebwagen Be 4/4 - Typ Tram 2000". (in German). Retrieved 2013-09-16.  External link in |work= (help)
  12. ^ "Forchbahn - S18 - Steuerwagen - Typ Tram 2000". (in German). Retrieved 2013-09-16.  External link in |work= (help)
  13. ^ "Stadler relies on tailor-made trains". Railway Gazette. 2004-06-01. Retrieved 2013-09-20. 
  14. ^ "Low-floor Multiple-unit Be 4/6 for the Forchbahn, Switzerland" (PDF). Stadler Rail. Retrieved 2013-09-20. 
  15. ^ "Anhängewagen B 119" [Trailer car B 119] (in German). Verein zur förderung historischer Forchbahnfahrzeuge. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  16. ^ Moglestue, Andrew (June 2012). "Madagascar: Swiss stock update". Retrieved 2013-09-19. 

External links[edit]