Swiss locomotives to get energy-efficiency boost

The familiar red locomotives that have hauled Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) passenger trains for almost 20 years will be modernized so they can operate for another two decades while using less electricity, the state-owned rail operator says.

Swiss locomotives to get energy-efficiency boost
Photo: SBB

A total of 119 of the RE 460 locomotives, symbols of the Rail 2000 project, will be overhauled between now and 2022 at a cost of 230 million francs ($237 million), SBB said on Tuesday.

An upgrading of the engines, to be done at an industrial workshop in Yverdon-les-Bains in the canton of Vaud, will allow the rail operator to save 27 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually, it said.

The energy savings are enough to provide power for 6,750 homes, the equivalent of a town such as Olten in the canton of Solothurn, SBB said in a news release.

New equipment will be installed in the electric-powered locomotives to allow energy from braking to be recuperated, the rail operator said.

Every day the locomotives collectively travel around 104,000 kilometres and each is capable of pulling enough carriages to accommodate 700 passengers, SBB said.

They were introduced as part of the Rail 2000 project, approved by voters in 1987, to improve the quality of the Swiss rail network.

The first stage of the project was completed in 2004 at a cost of 5.9 billion francs, while the second stage, estimated at 7.5 billion francs, is expected to be complete by 2022.

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Rail services to remain disrupted in Switzerland in the coming days

Snow and sub-zero temperatures over the weekend caused havoc on some train lines, mainly in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

Rail services to remain disrupted in Switzerland in the coming days
Snow has slowed down train traffic in Switzerland. Photo by AFP

Freezing temperatures cut off the power on some lines, disrupting train traffic in several regions.

Internationally, traffic between St. Margrethen in St.Gallen and Munich was interrupted due to heavy snowfall. EuroCity trains between Zurich and Munich were canceled.

Before it resumes normal service, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) must clear a thick layer of snow from trains and remove fallen trees from tracks, the company said on its website.

The train between Basel and Zurich airport will be canceled until Tuesday evening. 

But SBB says it will resume most of its traffic on the main lines on Monday, though at reduced frequency.

Shorter train formations and longer journeys should also be expected in the next few days.

READ MORE: Swiss railways releases new time table: Here's what changes in 2021

How can you know ahead of time about any last-minute cancellations or delays?

The timetable is also constantly updated on the SBB Mobile App. 

Any delays or last minute cancellations are indicated there in real time.

On Twitter, @RailService and @railinfo_cff provide information on possible disruptions as well.

READ MORE: MAP: Return of night trains across Europe comes a step closer