Thursday, October 6, 2016

Thursday 6 October - Gotthard Pass

Going through Zurich station on a weekday there is always somebody giving away free samples.  If you go back to the same location or find one of several where the free stuff is available a good haul can be had.  The other day I picked up several packets of Balsam flavored Kleenex tissue, yesterday there were several different types of cookie and today there were chocolate wafer biscuits available.

Having checked out the curves on the climb up to the old Gottard tunnel we decided to go to Wassen today to see trains on this route before the new tunnel is opened completely in December.  After that time all freight trains will use the new tunnel as will most of the passenger trains.  This was an opportunity which will be lost as of December.  The weather was good with strong sun most of the day.  The air was cool in the mountains but we managed to find a good photo spot with good sun but well protected from the wind.

We took a train from Zurich to Zug and changed to a local train for Ersfeld where we had time for a coffee before catching the bus to Wassen.  The lady in the cafe was zapping mosquitoes with an electronic tennis raquet.  The bus was crowded with walkers who gradually got off as we climbed up the hill.  The bus follows the old road which has lots of sharp curves and luckily not much traffic.

The train journey up the hill to Goschenen is notable because there are so many reverse curves in tunnels that the train actually passes the Wassen church three times in its climb.  It is difficult to take pictures from a moving train so today I was able to take a picture of Wassen church from terra firma.
In fact I took a large number of pictures of this well known landmark.  This is a favorite as it shows the mountains in the background
It was quite a climb up from the village.  We passed the middle line and went up to see the view from the top level.  In the end we settled for a location on the second level above the village and just waited for the trains to come by. There was a pattern to the train movements.  First would come a fast passenger train, tilting around the curves, then would follow a local passenger train and finally one or two freights.  The freights were interesting in that they could be headed by Swiss locomotives, quite often a 10/10 and many with a banker 4/4, German trains quite frequently had four locomotives on the point, while BLS trains had a couple of Traxx locomotives. There was also a light engine and some work equipment.  At times we could see a train coming down and a train going up.  
An hourly local train coming down
A Swiss high speed tilting train
This work equipment was running hard
A Swiss 4/4 leading a 6/6 in the old green livery on a freight climbing the hill.  There was a 4/4 banking as well
A down bound freight with four DB locomotives
A Swiss 4/4/ light engine
An Italian class 610 high speed tilting train
It was a wonderful location.  This was the main reason Paul and I had wanted to come to Switzerland and at this time before the new tunnel was fully open.

We had our sandwiches and finally decided to walk back into Wassen and take the bus up into Goschenen which is at the northern entrance to the old tunnel.  Here it was interesting to see the way trains were regulated through the double track tunnel. Northbound freight trains exiting the tunnel have to cross to sidings on the west side unless they have a margin to get down the hill. Freights might have to wait 45 minutes to get a margin either to move down the hill or to get a path into the tunnel.
This German freight train waited a long time to get a path down the hill.  When it got the road it set off quickly.
This Swiss ICN tilting train was what the German freight was waiting for.
The air gets cold early in the mountains and there was a nip in the air when we boarded the local train back to Zurich.  Included in the consist was one of the special first class cars modified for the Gotthard route with high curved panoramic windows.  A perfect way to end the day.

1 comment:

  1. Spectacular railfan photographs in spectacular surroundings, Colin. Nice to see you and Paul enjoying yourselves on yet another great rail journey!