Swiss Northeastern Railway

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Iron bridge across the Thur, built in 1856/7 as part of the line between Winterthur and Schaffhausen which was put into service in 1857 (lithograph from 1857)
Bond of the Schweizerische Nordostbahn-Gesellschaft, issued 15. April 1884

The Swiss Northeastern Railway (German: Schweizerische Nordostbahn) or NOB was an early railway company in Switzerland.

In 1853 the Swiss Northern Railway (German, Schweizerische Nordbahn, SNB) merged with the Lake Constance and Rheinfall Railways (German: Bodensee- und Rheinfallbahnen) under the name Swiss Northeastern Railway. The main instigator was Alfred Escher of Zürich. The NOB immediately began working on a direct link from Zürich to Lake Constance over the heights of the Romanshorn. This put them in direct competition with the efficient and successful United Swiss Railways (German: Vereinigte Schweizerbahnen) or VSB with its head office in St. Gallen.

The attractive village of Romanshorn grew, thanks to the NOB, into one of the most important transport hubs in eastern Switzerland. In 1855 the NOB took began operating ships on Lake Constance and in 1869 a railway ferry between Romanshorn and Friedrichshafen (Germany) was started. This expansion led to an upgrade by the NOB of the railway station and the construction of the largest port on Lake Constance, in terms of area.

In 1858 the Northeastern Railway completed the line from Baden via Brugg to Aarau, where it connected with the Swiss Central Railway (German: Schweizerische Centralbahn, SCB) network. At last, Zürich and Basel were linked. From 1870–1875 the NOB and SCB jointly built the Bözberg Railway (German: Bözbergbahn) with its 2,526 metre long Bözberg Tunnel, as well as the access route to the Gotthard Railway (German: Gotthardbahn) from Brugg to Immensee, the Aargau Southern Railway (German: Aargauische Südbahn) in 1882.

Former rivals were absorbed, so that the Zürich – Affoltern – Luzern and Singen – Zofingen lines (1879) joined the competition against the Swiss National Railway (German: Schweizerische Nationalbahn, SNB). But ruinous projects to rival the SNB put the NOB into financial trouble.

Following Alfred Escher's death, Adolf Guyer-Zeller ran the NOB. Demands for better pay and work conditions by the employees were not resolved until 1897 after a strike by the 5,000 railway workers and this industrial dispute paved the way for the nationalisation of the biggest private railways.

On 1 January 1902 the NOB, with its network of 853 km of track and the Swiss fleet on Lake Constance, went into the hands of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB).

Predecessors[edit]

  • Swiss Northern Railway (Schweizerische Nordbahn or SNB, 9 August 1847–30 June 1853)
  • Lake Constance Railway (Bodenseebahn)
  • Rheinfall Railway (Rheinfallbahn, 1853-4 November 1856)
  • Bülach-Regensberg Railway (BR, 1 May 1865–31 December 1876)
  • Bischofszeller Railway (SG, 1 February 1876–31 July 1885)
  • Effretikon-Wetzikon-Hinwil Railway (EH, 17 August 1876–31 December 1885)
  • Zürich-Zug-Luzern Railway (ZZL, 1 June 1864–31 December 1891)