Monday, October 3, 2016

Monday 3 October - Appenzellerbahn and the Voralpen Express

Zurich not in the rail, but the rain started later.
We took the 0839 train from Zurich to Gossau and the narrow gauge Appenzellerbahn train to Appenzell.  We had hoped to spend the half hour or so walking in this pleasant town but the rain put paid to our plans.  The whole area is surrounded by rolling hills with green fields.  The grass is very short and a bright green.  I have seen some modellers create grass fields in the same way like using a salt shaker to distribute the scenic material.  This is very unrealistic for Canadian fields but around here it would be perfect.
We took the next train on to Gais and quickly found the train to Allstetten.  This is different in two ways in that it has a bicycle carrying car at one end, fitted with train brakes and automatic gates.  It is fitted with the Strub rack for going over the very severe gradients down to Altstetten. (The Appenzellerbahn uses the different Riggenbach rack on the section into St. Gallen - more about that later.)
The Gais to Altstetten train is distinguished by its custom made bicycle carrier fitted with air brakes and automatic couplers
Paul and I went all the way down the hill to Altstetten last time we were here and thought we would try something different this time.  The train from Gais runs down to Altstetten then comes back straight away up to Gais. There are several halts shown on the map, including one at Warmesberg which is actually on a rack section.  All instructions on the train are in German but I knew enough to realize that "Auf falangan" means "request stop".  Searching the compartment I found a button marked thus and pressed it when the stop was announced.  Straight away, a "stop" sign in red came up on the timetable screen and the train stopped for us.
Our train departing from Warmesberg
The pigs formed a welcoming committee
The station is on a bit of a gradient!
The cattle took no notice of us.
Warmesberg is really a road crossing.  There are no houses close other than a couple of farms.  It is evident that few people use this station by the warm welcome that some nearby pigs gave us.  They obviously hadn't had visitors for ages.  By this time the weather had improved and we had good views into the Rhine valley.
The train rounds the bend on its way up the hill
The train gave warning of its approach when the crossing bells started to ring.  However, there was no button to press or a flag to wave to let the driver know we wanted him to stop.  A wave produced a wave in return and we were ab;e to regain the train and return to Gais.

We then went on to St. Gallen in the Appenzellerbahn train fitted with the Riggenbach rack for descending into St. Gallen.  This goes around the steepest, sharpest curve in Switzerland but will be eliminated in a couple of years through the construction of a tunnel as part of the St. Gallen metro system.

We had a sandwich in the platform at St. Gallen while waiting for our train to Nesslau.  The station was busy with the normal diet of passenger trains with a few freights thrown in, including one hauled by a Re 6/6.
Paul's picture of the Re 6/6 at St. Gallen
This afternoon we took a train from St. Gallen to Nesslau - Neu St. Johann which is up in the hills close to the mountains.  The ride was through pleasant farming country, punctuated by high viaducts and long tunnels.  This is a purely local centre and there wasn├Ęt a great deal to hold us so we took the first train back as far as Wattwil where we caught the Voralpen Express right through to Luzern. The name has been applied to a bunch of old passenger cars which have been renovated and repainted on the cheap in an effort to capture some of the business of the Golden Panorama express out of Montreux.  The SudOst Bahn  (SOB) has a long way to go.  The best that could be said was that the scenery was magnificent and the toilets worked.  We went through Rapperswil, over the causeway across Lake Zurich to Pfafficon then Arth Goldau to Luzern.  We arrived at Luzern about a minute late, the worst so far on the trip.
Nesslau - Neu St. Johann
We took the first train back from Luzern to Zurich.  A long, tiring day.

Click here to see all pictures taken on the Appenzellerbahn

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