Wynental and Suhrental railway

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Wynental and Suhrental railway
Overview
Locale Canton of Aargau, Switzerland
Number of lines 2
Technical
System length 32.3 km (20.1 mi)
Track gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
Minimum radius of curvature 27 metres (89 ft)
Electrification Direct current 750 Volts

The Wynental and Suhrental railway (German: Wynental- und Suhrentalbahn, WSB) is a privately owned narrow gauge railway company in the canton of Aargau in Switzerland. It operates under the brand AAR bus+bahn, together with the Busbetrieb Aarau (the regional bus service of Aarau)

The railway consists of two branch lines, from Aarau to Menziken (Wynental) and from Aarau to Schöftland (Suhrental). Its main operation is passenger traffic. On workdays until 8PM, and on Saturdays until 6PM there is a quarter-hourly service, in the evenings and on Sundays the trains run every half-hour. There is also a limited freight service in the Wynental, mainly to the metal works of Alu Menziken.

Technical data[edit]

  • whereof in tunnels: 0.26 km
  • Maximum gradient: 4.5%

Route description[edit]

Both branches begin in Aarau south of the SBB railway station. There is a separate station called Aarau WSB with an own station building and three passenger tracks.

The Wynental branch runs partly on, partly near the main road to Suhr, with rather tramway-like characteristics. After the station Suhr Ausweiche, the line crosses the SBB railway Lenzburg-Zofingen on a level crossing, then follows the main road to Gränichen. In the village of Gränichen the WSB line runs about 100 meters away of the road - in earlier years the line was even on the road, which consistently lead to conflicts with the motor traffic. Further on, the line again follows the main road until Oberkulm, then separately to Gontenschwil and Zetzwil, again next to the main road until Reinach. Between Reinach and Menziken (the terminal station), the WSB line is now using a part of the track of the abandoned SBB line Beinwil am See - Beromünster (Seetalbahn).

The Suhrental branch first leads to a short tunnel, then follows the main road via Unterentfelden, Oberentfelden, Muhen, Hirschthal to Schöftland. Like in Suhr, the WSB line crosses the SBB line Lenzburg-Zofingen on a level crossing in Oberentfelden. In Oberentfelden, there is still a small part on the road; in Muhen, the railway line has been diverted from the main road in 2004.

The main workshops are in Schöftland next to the passenger station.

History[edit]

1905 AS Railcar in Suhr

In 1871, several municipalities in the Wynental founded a committee requesting a concession for two railway lines, from Aarau via Oberkulm to Reinach, and from Beinwil am See via Reinach to Menziken. Both were planned as standard gauge lines operated with steam engines. A year later the project was granted by the authorities of the canton Aargau, but was not executed, mainly due to disagreements over the exact line through the narrow valley. Only the section between Beinwil am See and Menziken was built and opened in 1883 - this however by the Seetal Railway (now SBB). Later on, this route was extended to Münster (today Beromünster).

In the Suhrental too, there were thoughts about constructing a railway. Here, however, from the beginning on, a narrow gauge electrically powered line was planned, in the largest part of the route to be operated as a tramway. The project of the company Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC) received the license and soon thereafter the construction works began. The Aarau-Schöftland railway (AS) started operation on November 19, 1901. The planned extension of the AS from Schöftland to Triengen (connecting to the Sursee-Triengen-Bahn) was never realized.

Meanwhile, also the Wynental came to the conclusion that a narrow-gauge electric tram would be more economic. In January 1903 construction works were started. The opening of the Wynentalbahn (WTB) between Aarau and Reinach was on March 5, 1904, the extension to Menziken followed a few weeks later on 1 May. Both lines had their starting point on the north side of the SBB railway station of Aarau.

In 1924, the Wynentalbahn opened an own station at its present location south of the SBB railway lines. The Aarau-Schöftland-Bahn kept the line through Aarau downtown and the station on the north of the SBB station, this meant that the direct connection between WTB and AS was lost. The increasing motor traffic caused more and more problems, therefore, most parts of the railway lines have been moved away from the main roads. On June 24, 1958 the two companies AS and WTB were merged to the Wynental- und Suhrentalbahn (WSB), although the lines were still not connected. This was only restored in 1967, when the Suhrental branch was moved away from Aarau downtown and relocated into a 260-meter-long tunnel leading to the Wynental station on the south side of the SBB train station.

The transfer of the rails away from the road made great progress. In the villages however, space was often limited, so the railway line had to be separated from the road completely. A main step was the complete change of the route in Gränichen in 1985. Nevertheless, there were still many long stretches with tramway-like characteristics, in particular in Reinach and Menziken in the upper Wynental. There were often accidents with significant damage. In 1991, passenger traffic on the SBB line Beinwil am See - Beromünster was abandoned, and plans were set for the relocation of the WSB route to the now vacant SBB route. The adaptation work started in 1999 after the cessation of freight traffic. The new section Reinach Nord - Menziken was finally opened on 15 December 2002. Two years later, on December 5, 2004, another important project went into operation: the separation through Muhen. In 2008 - 2010, WSB replaced the former 3.6 km Aarau - Suhr - Buchs route (which used standard gauge track and ran on congested Kantonsstrasse K 242) with a new 4.47 km narrow gauge track, incorporating former SBB right of way with a major new underpass.[1] This section was operational on 22 November 2010.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hartmann, Silvan (14 Oct 2010). "Die Mängelliste der WSB ist vier Seiten lang" [The list of shortcomings of the WSB is four pages long]. az Aargauer Zeitung (in German). Aarau: AZ Medien. Retrieved 25 Mar 2012. 

Literature[edit]

  • Peter J. Walker (1964). Rails through the Suhre and Wyna Valleys, Switzerland. Part 1: History, Early Development and Near-Disaster. London: Light Railway Transport League. 

External links[edit]