Due to the Corona pandemic, the bogies with convertible gauge for the new Goldenpass Express trains will be delivered later than planned. As a result, the start of scheduled direct connections between Montreux and Interlaken East had to be postponed.
With the opening of the Ceneri Base Tunnel, the last stage of the great NEAT project was successfully completed. Unfortunately, the opening ceremony had to be drastically resized due to the Corona pandemic.
Investigations are ongoing to clarify whether mistakes were made when disposing of the ballast from the Lötschberg summit tunnel and whether there is a connection with a fish die-off in the Blausee.
Since ENOTRAC was founded in 1987, the annual cartoons have become a tradition. Now is the time to end this series. If I managed to get a smile out of our customers, business partners and friends towards the end of the year, I am happy. If I scratched or injured someone with a pen that was too pointed, I am sorry. Dieter Würgler
Following the bankruptcy of Adria Airways, Swiss and SBB have launched train connections between Lugano and Zurich Airport as a substitute for the domestic flights between Lugano-Agno and Zurich. The airport Bern-Belp is also suffering. There are no more scheduled flights from Bern-Belp since the bankruptcy of the domestic airline SkyWork.
For safety reasons, overcrowded trains are not allowed to run through the Gotthard Base Tunnel. On several peak days, part of the passengers had to get off and wait for the next train.
The new Tango trains from Stadler for the Appenzell Railways had to be taken out of service after a short time because of excessive wheel wear. Meanwhile, the problem is resolved and the trains run between St. Gallen and Appenzell through a new tunnel, which replaces the previous rack section.
BLS has recently announced plans to cut up to 200 jobs over the next 5 years to reduce costs. Almost at the same time, the Swiss Federal Council decided to upgrade most of the Lötschberg Base Tunnel to double track by fitting track and catenary in the 14km long tube which is currently only used as rescue tunnel. With this extension, a total of 29 out of the 34 km long tunnel would be double track, compared with only 15 km double track section today. The Lötschberg Committee is promoting the upgrade to double track over the full length, but this would require cutting of 6km of the missing second tube. Perhaps there will be new opportunities for the employees affected by the planned job cut.
It is still unclear how the UK's exit from the EU will affect rail cooperation. The Eurotunnel connects the British railway network with the continental European network. The directives and technical specifications for interoperability have so far also been applied in Great Britain. Since Britain is not part of the Schengen Agreement, it is unlikely that much will change with regard to international passenger transport, but freight traffic is likely to be affected if Britain were to leave the Customs Union.
The procurement of the new trams by Zurich Transport Authority VBZ was delayed by objections. As a result, VBZ will not have enough trams to cover the expansion of their services as planned. Therefore, until the first Flexity trams from Bombardier will be delivered end of 2019, some ‘Mirage’ trams from the 1960s are temporarily taken out of the Tram Museum and used on specific lines. Incidentally, most of the ‘Mirage’ trams that have been taken out of service in Zurich by 2010 are not in the museum, but are still in daily use in Vinnytsia, a city in the Ukraine.
Siemens and Alstom have decided to merge their rail businesses. The two giants want to become more powerful in the global market to face the increasing competition from China. Two years ago, the two major Chinese state-owned companies CSR and CNR merged to become the world's largest railway manufacturer, CRRC.
ABB Sécheron is moving the production of traction transformers from its current location in Geneva to Poland. This is creating a bad mood in Geneva because ABB has recently supplied charging stations for the innovative TOSA wireless bus project. On the bus route to Geneva airport the wireless electric buses have batteries that are charged at the stops in a short time.
So far, SBB operates the entire long-distance rail services in Switzerland. In the recent re-tendering of the long-distance franchise, BLS has also applied for some long-distance services. The Federal Office of Transport intends to decide by mid-2018 whether SBB will have to relinquish some connections to BLS from 2019 onwards.
Operators of international long-distance bus routes have submitted applications to the Federal Office of Transport for bus services between the major Swiss cities. The Federal Office of Transport wants to look at opening of the market and decide on the applications in the coming months.
Heinz Voegeli and Dieter Würgler have been running and managing ENOTRAC AG since its foundation in 1987. At the end of 2016, they will hand over their company to the next generation. The new management team consists of experienced engineers who have been working in leading roles in ENOTRAC for several years. Michael Dalacker will manage the company as CEO, together with René Schär, Stefan Nydegger, Jens Schulze and Andreas Bleiker as directors. Michael and Stefan will also join Ziad Mouneimne on the board of ENOTRAC UK, replacing Heinz and Dieter.
The Swiss private railway operator ‘Südostbahn‘ (SOB) is investigating the feasibility of driverless trains on their routes. Other railways in Switzerland have similar plans. Postauto AG, the Swiss operator of post buses, is performing trials in Sion (Canton Valais) with driverless post buses. Maybe the railways could benefit from the experience of Postauto AG with these driverless buses.
Construction work on the railway line connecting Mendrisio and Stabio (Switzerland) with Varese (Italy) has been going on for several years. While the section on the Swiss side is ready and in operation since 2014, there is still a small gap of a few kilometres on the Italian side. Recently, the Italian authorities announced that this gap will soon be closed in order to start cross-border operation on this line in December 2017 when the timetable changes. This line will also allow the operation of direct trains between Lugano and Milano Malpensa Airport.
The French government has decided to order 15 TGV trainsets from Alstom to keep the factory in Belfort busy and to prevent its closure. SNCF has announced that, for the time being, these trainsets are not needed for the high speed network. Therefore, the trains will most likely be used for operation on the conventional lines.
The government of Canton Baselland is planning to integrate the narrow gauge Waldenburg Railway WB into the local mass transit operator Baselland Transport BLT. There are also plans to change the track gauge of WB from the current 750 mm gauge to 1000 mm. This would be the end of the vintage steam train, affectionately called 'Waldenburgerli', operating on this narrow gauge line.
The opening of the new cross-city line between Zürich main station and Oerlikon considerably increases the capacity of this rail hub. With its numerous bridges and tunnels, the track layout in Zurich could soon join 'Spaghetti Junction' of motorways near Birmingham in the Guinnes Book of Records.
Swiss Federal Railway SBB has announced the launch of its RailFit 20/30 cost reduction programme. SBB are planning to reduce staff by 900 people by the year 2020 and to reduce costs drastically. The details of how this should be achieved will be elaborated in collaboration with McKinsey by next summer.
Stadler Rail is taking over the locomotive business of Vossloh in Valencia. This means that Stadler has now also powerful diesel-electric locomotives in its portfolio.
The Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs), developed by the European Railway Agency ERA on behalf of the European Union, are now officially applicable also in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Parliament has finally ratified the second railway package as part of the bilateral treatiees with the European Union. The TSIs define the requirements for trains and railway lines to ensure a seamless rail operation across the borders in the European Union, and now also Switzerland. However, the TSI have been applied in Switzerland prior to the recent legal implementation, e.g. for the Lötschberg Base Tunnel and the Gotthard Base Tunnel.
The project CEVA is building a new link between Annemasse in France and the main station (Genève Cornavin) in Geneva. This will be the backbone of a significant cross-border regional rail network around Geneva, linking both sides of the lake. A substantial part of the cross-border commuters are expected to change from road to rail. These efforts seem to be in contrast with some recent political initiatives in Switzerland to limit immigration.
The award of large contracts in the public sector is often challenged by claims of the unsuccesful bidders. This was also the case with the decision of SBB to buy the new high speed trains for the cross-border traffic to Italy from Stadlerrail. The Swiss Federal Court of Administration has recently rejected the last pending claim, thus removing the last hurdle for the design and build of the 'BENE' trains by Stadlerrail.
The completion of the track in the Gotthard Base Tunnel was marked with the laying of a golden sleeper. The Swiss National Bank would find room for its complete gold reserves in this tunnel, camouflaged as sleepers. This would certainly satisfy the initiators of the public referendum stipulating an increase of the gold reserves of the National Bank, and for its storage exclusively in Switzerland. The referendum was rejected by a vast majority of the Swiss population.
Recently the first train with special guests crossed the complete Gotthard base tunnel from Bodio to Erstfeld. Some creative solutions were necessary to bridge the short gap where the track was not yet installed.
Because the electrification of the railway line through the Allgäu between Lindau and Munich is progressing rather slowly, SBB and DB AG are planning to offer Bus services between Zurich and Munich in addition to the Eurocity trains.
SBB is looking for rolling stock to replace the unpopular ETR 470 tilting trains operating between Zürich and Milano. The almost new Fyra high speed trains, recently taken out of service on the Brussels-Amsterdam route, might be a cheap alternative.
An alarming number of collisions with road vehicles have occurred on the new Glattal light railway in the northern parts of Zurich, despite the signals and warnings at level crossings. The reasons are unknown. In view of future similar projects, such as the planned Limmattal light railway, the traffic researchers will also have to consider unconventional solutions.
On their main lines, Trenitalia is facing competition from the private train operator NTV, founded by Luca di Montezemolo, the president of Ferrari. NTV’s ‘AGV italo’ is challenging the ‘Frecciarossa’ high speed trains of Trenitalia.
SBB has recently announced that some of their dining cars will be converted into rolling ‘Starbucks’ Coffee shops. SBB has also introduced at some stations new rubbish bins to facilitate waste separation. In a campaign at Zurich main station, SBB has stacked rubbish bags to demonstrate how much rubbish is collected every day in trains and station areas. Apple, famous for the staunch defence of its patents, has copied the Swiss station watch design for their new iPad. SBB has claimed and apparently received financial compensation from Apple for a licence to use the Swiss icon.
TPG, the public transport authority of Geneva, is launching the project TOSA together with ABB, the local electricity provider and other partners. On the line to the exhibition centre Palexpo, trolley buses equipped with energy storage systems will operate on sections without overhead wires. The batteries will be charged at specially-equipped station stops. Similar tests are ongoing with other public transport operators, e.g. in Lucerne. Several tram and trolleybus suppliers have different solutions for wire-free operation, a situation rather like the numerous plug-and–socket systems around the world.
The Swiss Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication has instructed the railway operators to check whether the railway lines with less than 50% revenue/cost ratio could be more effectively operated by buses. This would also apply to heavily-used commuter lines, such as some S-Bahn lines operated by BLS who is currently purchasing double deck trains from Stadler Rail. This request provoked a big outcry from the railway community in particular and the Swiss public in general.
For several months, owing to flange noise, the blue commuter trains from Worb stopped running through the city of Bern. During that time, new and hopefully quieter wheels were installed on the vehicles. With the 2011 timetable, the ‘Blaue Bähnli’ will run again as Line 6 to Fischermätteli.
The railways in Greece are in a dire state, technically and financially. A lot of money has been invested in recent years in the improvement of public transport in Greece. Today parts of the Greek railways are for sale. Maybe some of the run down lines and unused rolling stock will become the Greek ruins of modern times.
With the change of the time table, the Swiss railways abandon the sale of tickets also in long distance trains. Passengers without a valid ticket must pay a substantial fee. This will inevitably change the role and image of train staff. We wonder if the equipment of the railway police with fire arms has to be seen in the same context. Maybe the recently re-engineered jail coaches could help to keep unlawful passengers under control.
With the current exchange rate between the strong Swiss Franc and the weak Euro, it is very tempting to go shopping in the Euro-zone. Not only do Swiss house wives benefit from cheap meat, sausage and cheese bought across the border, but also Swiss railways and public transport authorities tend to purchase their rolling stock where it is cheaper.
From July 2011, the Swiss Federal Office of Transport requires Automatic Train Protection to be fitted on all standard gauge trains in Switzerland. This is a big challenge for the various owners and operators of historic railway vehicles. The installation of ATP on steam locomotives is technically difficult and costly. ENOTRAC has conducted a hazard and risk analysis for the Community of Historic Railways in Switzerland to find ways for the future use of historic railway rolling stock.
With the breakthrough of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, Switzerland is on track to build the longest railway tunnel in the world. Nowadays, new railway lines means almost inevitably: drilling of tunnels. The railway lines in Switzerland resemble more and more the famous Swiss cheese with its many holes.
Last summer, the hot weather in Germany caused some problems with the air conditioning equipment of the ICE trains. Now, with the cold and wet weather, the sauna-like temperatures could be marketed as part of a personal fitness plan for the increasingly health-conscious public.
In recent years, all global rolling stock manufacturers have formed joint ventures with the Chinese rolling stock manufacturers CNR and CSR, mainly for the development of high speed trains for the booming Chinese market. Also we have received contracts from Chinese manufacturers, enabling ENOTRAC to gain valuable experience.
Cisalpino, the operator of the international rail service between Italy and Switzerland, ceased to exist on 13 December 2009. The parent companies Trenitalia and Swiss Federal Railways SBB will split the rolling stock fleet consisting of the rather unreliable and unpopular ETR 470 Pendolino tilting trains, and the new ETR 610 high speed tilting trains which have been delivered several years late. This will create jobs for the re-painting of trains, a welcome ‘make-work scheme’ in the present economic climate! In the future, SBB and Trenitalia will again directly be responsible for the international rail traffic between the two countries.
All of Europe is in the hands of the European Union. All of Europe? Switzerland is not member of the European Union, but situated right in the heart of Europe. As part of the bilateral treaties with the EU, Switzerland is committed to apply the EU rules for interoperability and free access for freight and passenger trains. SCONRAIL has been created in a joint venture by PROSE, ENOTRAC and TÜV Rheinland InterTraffic GmbH with the aim to establish a 'Notified Body' (NoBo) in Switzerland for the assessment of conformity with the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI). SCONRAIL has obtained the accreditations for Inspections and Certifications in the railway domain and is successfully operating in the market. The accreditation as 'Notified Body' can only be obtained after the adoption of the EU rules in the Swiss legal framework. This process takes time and requires patience. The cartoon shows how the NOBOs are established in the whole of Europe except for Switzerland, where SCONRAIL is holding the fort.
Switzerland is keen on good connections of its national railway network with the high speed rail networks of the neighbouring countries. To achieve this, Switzerland is also prepared to make substantial contributions to the upgrading of the connecting railway lines. This cartoon makes reference to the planned upgrades of the Zurich – Munich and Zurich – Stuttgart lines, as well as some improvements between the Lake Constance region and the upper Rhine valley. The Swiss 'Chiefs' Mr. Merz (Finances) and Leuenberger (Transportation) hand over some bags with money to the commander of the German cavalry Mr. Steinbrück (Finance Minister). In his term in office, Mr. Steinbrück was eager to get the money Germans put on secret Swiss bank accounts to avoid the high German tax. He threatened to send out the 'Cavalry' if the Swiss 'Indians' were reluctant to support his mission.
Elvetino (now a subsidiary of Swiss Federal Railways SBB) is in charge of the catering services in Swiss trains. The Elvetino food trolleys have recently been equipped with battery driven coffee machines. Real freshly brewed Italian espresso can now be served to the passengers. No doubt, the quality of this coffee is much better than the coffee from the thermos jugs in the old days, but the power supply from batteries can be a bit tricky. Often the batteries are flat, and there is no coffee at all from the Elvetino rail bar. In our recent power supply studies for the trolley bus networks of the cities of Winterthur, St. Gallen and Bern, we were inspired with some ideas how the power supply of the Elvetino rail bars could be drastically improved.
The 20 years old NPZ commuter trains of Swiss Federal Railways are undergoing a comprehensive refit program (project name: DOMINO) at the SBB workshops in Olten and Yverdon. New low floor coaches from Bombardier are added to the train sets to meet the legal requirements regarding equal opportunities for handicapped passengers. The refurbished trains will be used in the Rhone valley by 'RegionAlps' and as 'Glarner Sprinters' in the eastern and central parts of Switzerland. In a consortium with Helbling Technik and PROSE AG, ENOTRAC is in charge of the engineering for the refit program. The cartoon illustrates some of the difficulties all involved parties had to cope with.
The power supply of the Bernina line of RhB (Rhaethian Railway) needs reinforcing to make full use of the powerful trains RhB has ordered from Stadler. At the southern end of the line in Tirano (Italy), an additional rectifier substation would be needed, but the AC supply of this rectifier across the border from Switzerland would cause tremendous difficulties with customs regulations. Therefore a controlled rectifier will be installed on the Swiss side of the border and Tirano will be fed from this rectifier via long feeder cables. Apparently, direct current (DC) can cross the border without any customs duties... An alternative solution with a battery wagon to raise the catenary voltage is shown on the cartoon. A similar concept, using supercaps, has already been realised by rolling stock suppliers such as Bombardier (Energy Saver).
MOB has developed, together with PROSE AG, a new bogie allowing a gauge change from meter gauge to standard gauge and vice versa. With this new bogie concept, passengers shall be able to travel on the Golden Pass route between Montreux and Interlaken without the need to change from the meter gauge trains of MOB to the standard gauge trains of BLS at Zweisimmen. In reality, the meter gauge trains will not look as narrow as shown on the cartoon when running on standard gauge track.
Recently, some ICE services between Zurich and Stuttgart had to be replaced by other rolling stock because of the additional inspections required on the wheel sets of the ICE trains. Since the new Cisalpino tilting trains will not be ready for the next change of the time table, temporary solutions will also be needed for these trains between Zurich and Milano Centrale. The rolling stock proposed on the cartoon as a replacement for these trains would be attractive at least for the railway enthusiasts.
Full scheduled service through the Lötschberg Base Tunnel started on the 9th December 2007. Under contract with BLS AG, and in collaboration with all parties involved, we have compiled the overall Safety Case. Occasionally, we may have been too critical in our role of “devil's advocate”. In the final phase, the strike of engine drivers in Germany caused extra stress. Planned tests could not take place as the freight trains from Germany failed to arrive.
The consortium formed by ENOTRAC, PROSE and HELBLING is in charge of the engineering for the refurbishment of the single decker commuter trains of SBB. The wishes expressed by the customer (SBB) and by the engine drivers for the layout of the driver's cab can inspire solutions similar to an aircraft cockpit.
Recently, the reputation of Berne as the cleanest and safest capital in the world has suffered: drugs, political demonstrations ending in riots, beggars, rubbish on the streets. The massive re-construction of the main station square is tempting: all unpleasant problems could be dumped in the huge building pit...
During the proof of electromagnetic compatibility of the new CAF-Bombardier trains with the signalling systems of the Roma-Lido line, we found unusually high interference currents in the rails. Initially, the cause was a mystery. There was even a suspicion that some entrepreneurial local residents were helping themselves to power off the Metro installations. Even if this was probably not the cause of the interference currents, theft of electricity and copper cables has become a serious problem for Rome Metro.
Starting in December 2006, high speed tests are planned in the new Lötschberg Base Tunnel up to a maximum speed of 280 km/h. In Switzerland, there are currently no suitable vehicles for such high speeds. The Cisalpino 'Pendolino' train sets of the next generation will run through the tunnel at a maximum speed of 250 km/h, but they are not yet available. Therefore ICE-S train sets have been hired from the German Railways DB AG for these tests. The alternative would have been to use a Cisalpino II mock-up as shown on the cartoon.
Legal proceedings have started following the award of the last major construction contract for the northern part of the Gotthard Base tunnel. The appeal by the unsuccessful bidder has caused delays and additional costs. The Swiss Federal Minister of Finance is certainly worried about the extra costs. The Minister of Transport, Mr. Moritz Leuenberger, tries to mediate between the disputing parties. On the cartoon he is shown as the Saint Niklaus von Flüe who arbitrated in a Swiss dispute in the 15th Century and prevented a civil war.
The Swiss Federal Railways are recruiting students as part-time engine drivers for the commuter trains in the Zurich area. The first six students have started their training in May 2006 and will be driving trains on two lines of Zurich S-Bahn on weekends from May 2007 onwards. Will these students arrange the driver's cabs of the new double decker trains as shown on the cartoon?
At the end of November 2006, the major creditors and suppliers have accepted a restructuring plan to put Eurotunnel on a sound financial basis. This increases the chances for the continuation of the railway operation through the Channel Tunnel. Several financial companies, among them Deutsche Bank, have made proposals to finance the restructuring process.
The Hungarian State Railway MÁV has ordered 30 commuter trains from Stadlerrail for the Budapest region. Bombardier has repeatedly appealed against this decision because, in Bombardier's view, the bidding process was not handled correctly. Despite the appeals, the contest ended in Stadlerrail's favour.
In England, the last slam door trains have recently been removed from service. For decades, these trains - often referred to as cattle trucks - have been a part of life for millions of commuters in the South of England. Now, as the much-criticised relicts from a previous railway era are disappearing, people start to miss these trains. Maybe the British Museum will exhibit the last specimen and preserve it for future generations.
The Swiss Federal Parliament and the Parliament of Canton Graubünden have approved the financial support for the preparation of an underground station in the middle of the future Gotthard Base Tunnel. This station called 'Porta Alpina' (door to the Alps) shall ensure direct access via a vertical shaft to the touristic areas Disentis and Sedrun in the Surselva region of Canton Graubünden, located 800 m above the level of the Gotthard Base Tunnel.
On line S1 of the commuter network of Berne, BLS Lötschbergbahn AG has made trial runs with double decker trains in passenger service. The trains were hired from CFL (Luxembourg railways) to explore possibilities of increasing the number of seats on busy routes. Maybe the clever use of double decker trains could help make the merger between BLS Lötschbergbahn and RM (Regionalverkehr Mittelland) more acceptable. Mrs. Barbara Egger, member of the Government of Canton Berne, is certainly grateful for any proposal to speed up this merger.
Rhaetian Railways RhB have taken delivery of two new powerful static frequency converters from ABB to supply their 16.7 Hz traction power supply network from the public 50 Hz grid. With the two 20 MVA converters, one located in Bever in the Engadin Valley, the second one in Landquart, existing turbines and 16.7 Hz generators in the hydroelectric power station of Küblis are to be replaced. Construction and commissioning of the two static converters took place in a record time in order to ensure a reliable power supply before the existing machines in Küblis are scrapped early 2005. Our nightmares that the turbines and generators in Küblis might end up on the scrap yard before the huge containers and transformers for the converter in Bever have made their way across the mountains and through narrow tunnels have fortunately not come true. We are proud of our contribution to this successful project.
In the past year, the news have reported fallen cranes on railway construction sites at a remarkable rate. Fortunately, this has not caused any serious injuries to staff. In the spirit of the 'Stop Risk' campaign launched by Swiss Railways to improve safety at work, we recommend that such cranes shall suitably be secured by the workers, in particular when lifting heavy loads (such as fallen cranes).
Hitachi has been awarded a contract to deliver new trains for operation on the new Channel Tunnel Rail Link between London and the Kent coast. Today, there are still some old 'slam door trains' operating on the commuter lines in the South East of England. Some of the commuters are now hoping that they will use Japanese-style 'Shinkansen' bullet trains on their way to work in London. Others fear that the old slam door Trains will be cascaded to the Kent routes only to be fitted with new aerodynamic nose andthat passenger comfort will just remain the same.
The Swiss Traffic Club (Verkehrsclub der Schweiz, VCS) is the public transport friendly alternative to the traditional Touring Club and Automobile Club of Switzerland, both focussing on motor cars. For its 25 years jubilee, the VCS has decorated a loco 2000 of Swiss Federal Railways in its colours for marketing purposes. For the inauguration, the VCS locomotive was waiting to carry a special train with guests at Berne main station. To mark the start of the celebration, a 'Confetti' gun was fired. To the surprise of everybody, the snowfall of confetti produced a short circuit on the roof of the locomotive. Guests had to leave the special train and use a spare train instead. In the same year, the VCS was much in the headlines in connection with a new planned stadium in Zurich for the European Football Championship in 2008. VCS has blocked the project with claims against shopping centres and a large number of car parks in the same complex. The VCS has gained high respect and credit with its support for environmental friendly transport, in particular rail transport in Switzerland. But there is a widespread feeling that in the case of the EM 08 stadium, VCS has been too rigid.
For the new line between Mattstetten and Rothrist (on the main line between Bern and Zürich), new ETCS (European Train Control System) level 2 signalling equipment is to be installed. ETCS level 2 does not need any signals along the track as the signalling information is displayed on a screen in each driver's cab. This concept is also referred to as 'cab signalling'. In the long run, ETCS shall be installed as a standard all over Europe to ease cross border operation. Due to delays in the engineering and development of this complex new technology, Swiss Federal Railways SBB has decided to install conventional track side signals as a fall- back option, to ensure that the line can be used when the timetable changes in December 2004, although at reduced speed. We have expanded this idea of conventional signalling as a fall-back option...
In Germany it is planned to give railway operators the freedom to choose the suppliers for the traction power supply. Our engineers' brains see promising business opportunities for the designers and manufacturers of overhead wires. For the current collection, we can revert back to solutions already used in the early days of electrification, such as the pantographs of the 3-phase high speed motor cars built by Siemens and AEG back in 1903.
The Italian government has decided to build a bridge across the strait of Messina. In 2011, the combined road and railway bridge will connect Sicily with the Italian mainland. We have had first thoughts about the most appropriate rolling stock.
The Matterhorn Gotthard Railway has recently been formed from the merger of the former Furka Oberalp Railway and the Brig Visp Zermatt Railway. We have taken the new name of the railway very litterally and tried to imagine how the trains could first climb the Matterhorn before they end up in the tunnels of the Gotthard.
The introduction of the new 'Cobra' trams on the public transport network of Zurich (VBZ) was connected with troubles. Due to cracks in the running gear, the vehicles even had to be removed from service for several weeks. Part of the existing Tram 2000 fleet of VBZ will be fitted with an additional low floor section in the centre of the tram. This low floor section is called 'Sänfte' (sedan chair) because it is supported by the two existing parts of the vehicle. There is no direct connection between the troubles with Cobra and the purchasing of the 'sedan chairs' for tram 2000, but the change from a defective Cobra into sedan chairs was a tempting subject for the cartoon.
The recent history of the Swiss economy is rather sad: flagships like Swissair have disappeared, former firm values such as Swiss Life, Winterthur and Zurich insurance companies or Credit Suisse are in a bad shape, industries such as ABB, von Roll, Ascom, Tornos or Micron are shrinking and being re-structured again and again. There is a highlight in this unpleasant situation: the fast growing railway manufacturer STADLER. New multiple units built by STADLER, such as the 'FLIRT' low floor EMU for subarban traffic, will be fitted with propulsion equipment from ABB. This means that ABB Switzerland is getting back into the railway business. Several years ago, ABB and AEG have transferred all their railway activities into Adtranz.
The Consortium of the newly built tram system in Nottingham (England) must demonstrate that stray currents from the tram cannot disturb the signalling and telecom equipment of the existing railtrack lines in the vicinity. This concerns mainly the section of Railtrack's 'Robin Hood Line' running in parallel to the new tram system. This explains the warning by Robin Hood that the tram should not stray any current...
Our artist has experienced the hazard of icy wooden sleepers on the railway level crossing just outside our office building. The accicent with the bicycle mid November resultet in complicated fractures of the right arm that needed surgery. Despite the plaster, thanks to surgeon steel, titanium and medical art, the cartoons could be produced with some delay.
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