Saturday, September 22, 2012

Innsbruck to Wien (Vienna)

This morning we again took the rail jet 663 out of Innsbruck after breakfast and checking out of the hotel. The ride to Wien was fairly uneventful except for a full train out of Salzburg and some slow orders and 200 KMH running in segments. After arriving in Salzburg we took a tram to our hotel and got checked in, and then took the tram back to the westbahnhof for lunch at McD's. McD's had an interesting self-ordering kiosk, like the one in berlin; it comes in multiple languages and makes ordering easy. Like in Germany you have to pay extra for ketchup, but for your .20 you get a decent cup of ketchup. After lunch we took the subway downtown, and while walking towards the Danube we found a hobby shop. A magazine and a model of a Salzburg trolleybus later... we make it to the Danube where I photographed the trams, including some 40+ year old trams still in daily service. Eventually we got on one on the 2 line and rode it out to one end in the trailer. The trailer car must have been ten years older than the motor car, as it had wood paneling on the walls and the fluorescent lights had a very old grill over them. At the end of the line we changed to the lead car and ride it through town to the other end. The line went through downtown where they had a street festival going on today. Greenpeace had something to do with it; and I think it was on conjunction with National Parking Day. After going to the other end of the line and reversing direction we got off at parliament and walked through the festival. I stopped to write a message on the pavement and take pictures of the trams going by. After making our way back to westbahnhof we found dinner at a local pizzeria.

A E2 Tram passing by some sidewalk chalk artwork in the street

A 1971 Tram still in daily service in Wien

The other side of the tram and its trailer at its terminal in Wein

Friday, September 21, 2012

Day 15: Salzburg

This is the last day of the tour, and it was planned to be a free day in Innsbruck. A small tour to Salzburg was arranged, and this morning everyone got on Railjet train 663 to Wien (Vienna) via Salzburg. The rail jet trains are normally packed, and today was no exception. We had to kick 2 people out of our reserved seats when we got on this morning. The ride to Salzburg took us through Germany, on the nonstop train.

At Salzburg we walked over to the start of a coach tour that had been arranged for. On the way I was busy photographing the trolleybuses that passed. Today is national Park-ing day, and the local transit agency in Salzburg had one of their trolleybuses parked in the town square with sod placed infront of and inside the coach. Salzburg has an extensive trolleycoach system, with around 100 vehicles manufacgtured by Graft+Sift, VanHool, and Solaris. The bus tour of Salzburg was less than interesting. For 31 euros that included a boat tour and was a very basic tour of some things in the outlying areas. The couple stops we made we didn’t even see much except for distant views of castles, and a stop for the restroom. We didn’t even bother going on the boat tour. Instead we went on a walking tour of the old town, through an impressive 17th century church and up to the castle on the funicular. After that we went back to the Hbf and got on a local train back to Worgl and then a transfer to Innsbruck.

This route took us through the countryside on a different route than we took this morning. At Worgl we connected to train IC 866 to get back to Innsbruck. This train is conventional co rail equipment and has a number of compartment cars. Compartments for those who don’t know, are rooms in a train car with 3 or 4 seats across facing each other and each compartment has a door facing a hallway on one side of the car. Usually they are a glass wall but sometimes can be a solid wall with windows. They are nice if you know other people in the compartment but it can be a bit awkward if you don’t know the others in the car. Its archaic and a waste of space by todays stanards. The IC886 was running late and we were able to catch it. This got us into Innsbruck about an hour earlier than we had planned. Plenty of time to have dinner, and again I went to pizza Palermo. It’s only a couple of blocks from the hotel and very good.

The Local Train we rode from Salzburg to Worgl

A DB Train headed for Munich in the Salzburg depot

A castle from the Sound Of Music. The tour we went on made a couple of photo stops like this but it was overall pretty bad.

Salzburg as viewed from the castle on the hill

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day 13: Steam on the Zillertalbahn and the Atchensee

Today’s adventures took us for a steam ride on the Zillertalbahn, one of 3 remaining narrow gauge lines in Austria. We took a S-Bahn train out of Innsbruck to Jenbach. At Jenbach we transferred to a Zillertalbahn train to Zell am Zell. The Train was steam powered and had ten or so twenty foot cars in tow. The rest of the group got off an Zell am Z. However I stayed and rode the rest of the line to Maybach. At Maybach I wandered through the town until I found a pizzeria, called Mamma Mia. This place is trying to be a trendy Italian pizzeria. The music playing is techno, and the atmosphere is retro modern Italian. The food was ok, the salami was kind of bland but it overall was good. Afterwards i got onto train R148 which is the train the rest of the group should be riding on. the equipment is a newer self-propelled DMU. It looks like one section is setup for 2nd class (2+2 seating, and one is setup for first class (2+1 with leather headrests). However the cars are not marked out for 1st or 2nd class.
Upon arriving at Jenbach we transferred to the Achenseebahn Steam Cog Ry. Co. This line was built in 1889 and still uses the locomotives and equipment from that era. After our ride to Achensee, we got on a boat for a cruise around the largest natural lake in Austria. The lake cruise was nice; the boat was actually a passenger ferry making routine stops around the lake. Once we were done with the lake cruise we took the steam cog Ry. down the hill and took a regular OBB train back to Innsbruck. Once we arrived in Innsbruck we decided to ride the "STB" tram however we didn’t get far as the tram schedule was gone due to track work and a closed passing siding on a single track line. We got off our 20 minute plus late tram and got on one heading the other way before service closed for the night.

One of the Steam locomotives employed by the Zillertalbahn.

The menu for the Mamma Mia in Maybach.

One of the 1889 Steam Locomotives for the Achensee Steam Cog Ry with two cars of the same vintage.

a "STB" Tram laying over at the Hauptbahnhof.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 12: Chur to Innsbruck

Today’s adventures took us to Innsbruck, Austria. After breakfast in the morning, we got on a SBB regional train to Sargans using co rail equipment, however this time we rode in 2nd class from Chur to Sargans. 2nd class is nice; the seats are 2 and 2 arranged into groups of 4. At Sarganns we got on an OBB rail jet train to Innsbruck. The OBB rail jet trains, are fixed consist sets of cars about equal in size to co rail cars, however they are newer Siemens stock and they are very nice. The cars have free Wi-Fi and a restaurant car and all the modern features you would expect, and are capable of 200 KMH, however they never get that fast on this line.
Once we arrived in Innsbruck we did some sightseeing and tram car riding. We rode the tram cars on part of the 1 and 3 lines. They make a loop around the downtown core and off into other parts of the city and are well used.
After that we saw the museum district. We first went to the court church where we saw the tomb of Emperor Maximilan I and the 28 bronze statues of the emperors relatives and ancestors from the 16th century. After that we saw the hofburg, the home of Maria Theresa and her husband through their rocky marriage. The place is filled with historic paintings and her old apartment was restored for display.
After that we saw the golden roof in Innsbruck, built in 1500, the balcony roof is covered in 2657 gilded tiles, giving it the name. They have a small museum that explains the structure and emperor maximilian I.
Than we rode the #6 tram line to its terminus at the Igls bahnhof. This line leaves the city and goes up a hill and through forests, a park, a corn field until it finally reaches its terminus at... it’s really surprising this kind of line can survive but it has, it even has a streetcar loop at the end which is little used with the modern fleet of low floor trams.

The Golden Roof in Innsbruck

An Innsbruck Tram on the #6 Line at Igis Bahnhof

A 1920s Pullman Diner in the yard in Chur

A RhB locomotive in Chur

An SBB CoRail car in a branded scheme in Chur

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day 11: Albula Pass Railway Museum / Landvasser Viaduct

Today was our "free" day in Chur. A short tour was arranged to take the post bus over Julierpass on a post bus to St Moritz. This post bus line used some MAN "Lyons City" Regio intercity buses running over a very impressive pass and through some very narrow streets. At St. Moritz, while waiting for the connecting train we saw a pair of 1920s Pullman day coaches in the yard. There we transferred to a Rhätische Bahn train to Bergün to see the new Albula Railway Museum (

The museum was good; it was pretty new but had some interesting exhibits about the Albula tunnel and even a retired "Crocodile" locomotive on display out front. They had various exhibits and displays, and many interactive displays, informational videos, and even a couple of games. In the basement they had various artifacts on display that were not quite part of the museum, this included an end of an old dining car, various switch and signal equipment, and racks of other material on display.

Once we were done with the museum, we missed the train so we waited for the next one which took us to Filisur. There we went searching for the famous Landvasser viaduct. There are signs pointing trails out all over Switzerland, however they can be hard to find at times. Our first attempt was failure as we wound up at a gate with a couple burrows staring us down. The next attempt we wound up in the middle of the field. Finally we found the right trail which descended to the valley and lead us to another trail and took us to the bottom of the bridge. The bridge is impressive and we saw a couple of trains pass before we ascended back up to Filisur. Got a good couple mile hike in today from all that wandering around. From Filisur we got back on the train for Chur, and after a brief stop at the hotel went to a pizzeria in the old town area for dinner.

the Landvasser Viaduct

Saw this in the Post Auto office and it had to join the fleet.

The MAN Lyon's City Regio that we rode over the Julierpass Line. A very nice intercity coach. has room for 1 W/C, has rear doors, and Luggage bins. These are very nice coaches, MCI should pay more attention, or MAN should market these in the US.

A retired Rhätische Bahn "Crocodile" built in 1922 infront of the Albula Pass railway museum in Bergün

Monday, September 17, 2012

Day 10 Tirano and the Emmental Valley

Today’s trip was a ride on the Bernina express to the town of Tirano in Italy. We had done this ride before in 2009 when it was covered in snow. This time there was no snow to be seen, but you could see the lakes and stuff that. We did get to see some glaciers on the way down, but like most glaciers they are receding. The ride each way is about 3 hours, long over some pretty impressive grades, bridges, and tunnels. There are several sections of switchbacks, and curved tunnels to change grades. When we got to Tirano we had lunch at small pizzeria on the other side of the station and got on the train to go back. The ride back was nice, and we got off at Samedan and rode the Engadin line train that used a little used connection into the Vereina line tunnel and eventually got us back to Landquart where we transferred to a local train to Chur. Overall, it was a pretty uneventful day. Chur is an interesting city; there are very few restaurants in general in its downtown core/old town area. A few bars, but few restaurant’s to speak of. In absence of anything else that I could find decent, tonight’s dinner was had at Mc Donald’s, afterwards stopping by the train station to get a coke from the convince store before calling it a night.

Glacer near Alp Grum

RhB Trains in Tirano, Italy

Our Glacier Express train corssing the Kreisviadukt Brusio

A log car on a Bernina line train going to Tirano, Italy at Pontresina

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Day 9: Reichenbach Falls; and Furka Pass

Today started out as a ride on a chartered Grindelwald bus. The coach was a setra of some sort and our path took us on some very narrow back roads over the grosse Schidegg which are only used by the locals and the Grindelwald bus (who has the local post bus contract). These roads are barely big enough for a 35ft coach and have a lot of blind curves. Our Grindelwald bus was equipped with a Swiss postal bus horn as well.

Dr. Moriarty died. Although a brief stop it was fun to see. After that we went for a walk through the narrow Aare River Gorge. This walkway is built out over the river and through tunnels. It’s quite impressive to walk through it narrows up through the canyon.

After that we went on a steam train ride over the original Furka pass from Oberwalp to Realp. This line was built as a steam powered line and electrified in the 1930s to a line in Vietnam. This line was replaced with the Furka base tunnel in the early 80s and was mothballed. A group of volunteers rebuilt and reactivated line after it had closed, and even located the locomotives that were sent to Vietnam and hadn’t been used since WWII started.

The steam train ride also has shuttles that are operated by an outfit that has old restored post buses. There were two or three buses used for the shuttle, all looked to be good shape and running in service for this shuttle.

The train we rode today was pulled by one of those locomotives that were rescued from Vietnam and rebuilt and restored to use. The ride was fun; it was slow as it was mostly on cog. After the steam train ride we took a regular Matterhorn gotthard bahn train from Realp to Andermatt, we had a reserved coach for this 20 minute stretch. At Andermatt we went to change trains however the train we changed to did not have a first class car, but we finally saw the MGB crew switching the coach off our previous train onto the new one. After that small fiasco we got to Disentis/Muster where we got dinner on a chartered "glacier express" diner on the Rhatische Bahn. The dinner was a catered meal and I passed on it. The car was nice, it was an articulated diner built in the 30s but it had been modernized over the years. After that we arrived at Chur and got checked into the hotel.

RhB Train at Chur

Damphfbahn Furka bergstrecke at Ferka DFB

The Aareschlucht

One of the restored Postal Buses used on the shuttles for
the DFB operated by

The Aareschlucht

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Day 8. Not so free day around Grindelwald.

Today was supposed to be a free day to see the sights around Grindelwald. We managed 20 different trips on the same number of vehicles.

We started the day taking a bus from the bahnhof to Grindelwald Grund where we got on the gondola to Mannlichen. This was a long and impressive 30 minute long gondola ride up to a scenic viewpoint. We were climbing higher in the Alps today and I saw a cloud moving below me. After that we got on an Ariel tramway to the car free city of Wengen.

This ride took maybe ten minutes to bring us down the other side of the ridge. After walking through the city, we got on a train to Lauterbrunnen. This trip on the Wenger Alpen Bahn was covered on our Swiss pass since Wengen is car free and the WAB is the only railroad into town (it normally doesn’t cover tourist type lines).

At Lauterbrunnen we got on the cable car to Grutschalp and on the train to the car free city of Murren. At Murren we walked through town, I got a T-shirt at the souvenir shop, and we had lunch at the restaurant in the terminal for the Ariel tramway to the Shilthorn.

The Shilthorn is 9748 feet above sea level, and you ascend in two stages. The ride from Murren to Birg is the first section, and that raised us up through the clouds. The whole car broke out into oohs and aahs as we popped through the cloud cover. From Birg to Shilthorn we rode another cable car to the mountain house on top. This is where an opening sequence of James Bond was filmed (I forget which movie but it was one of the newer ones). Up top we got some impressive photos of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau from above the clouds. After making a circuit through the gift shop we ascended back down to Murren and then got on another Ariel tramway that took us to Stechelberg via Gimmelwald which was no more than a transfer spot.
From there we took a postal bus back to Lauterbrunnen and we got on the Wenger alp Bahn or WAB to Kleine Schidegg. We had ridden a portion of this track earlier today and the whole line 3 years ago.
At Kline Schidegg I got some pictures of the jungfraujoch and got on a train back to Grindelwald. this stretch of track was new for me and Jim as 3 years ago it was closed due to an avalanche. This line was kind of neat as it used two different rack systems, and had a switchback in the middle of it. This took us back to Grindelwald, where we got on the First gondola to go to the First viewpoint.

The first viewpoint got us some views overlooking Grindelwald had had a nice gondola ride each way where the gondola changed cables 3 times automatically. A neat ride, we saw some cows and sheep and got some views of the Alps. After that we came back down, and Jim and I went to get dinner at Bonigen, at the pizzeria La Boheme in the hotel Seiler. 3 years ago they had very good pizza when we stayed there on Carl’s spring time tour. Tonight was no exception had had some very fine, and very hot pizza.

After dinner we walked back to the train station in Interlaken OST since we had plenty of time before the train came (They run every hour). After that we took the train back to Grindelwald, and that was relatively uneventful except for no one checking the tickets.

The WAB (WengerAlpenBahn) as Viewed in Lauterbrunnen

Grindelwald bus in Grindelwald with the Eiger in the background

On board a BOB Train, with a Die Zentralbahn (SBB) Train and a DB train adjacent Tracks

The Eigher, Monch, and Jungfrau as viewed from the Shilthorn above the clouds

Friday, September 14, 2012

Day 7 Schynige Platte and Brienz-Rothorn Bahn

This morning Jim and I went to do some tour planning with Carl and his assistant Jan. We took an early train to Wilderswil and got on the train to Schynige Platte. The rail line to Schynige Platte is a 2.6 foot narrow gauge electric cog railroad that runs up to the hotel, restaurant, and viewpoint at Schynige Platte (Rough translation sunny plateau). The viewpoint has a garden you can walk through and has a wonderful view of the Monch, Eiger, and Jungfrau mountains.

After walking the trail and getting on the next descending train we got back to Wilderswil and got on a train for Interlaken OST. At Interlaken OST we waited for the rest of the group to arrive travelling on their own from Grindelwald. While there I decided to get some snacks, and noticed that they had some German railroad magazines. They were ten euros a piece, so I thought their cost in Swiss francs would be roughly similar. I was quite wrong. For the 4 magazines i got, the prices doubled on them and I was out the door 75 dollars later! Oh well, some were special editions and had DVD’s with them.

The group came down from Grindelwald a short while later and we got on the train to Brienz.
When we arrived in Brienz we got on the Brienz - Rothorn Bahn. This is a steam powered cog railway that ran up the side of the hill to Rothhorn. The train we rode up had modern cars and a steam locomotive built in the early 90s. It takes about an hour and had stunning views of the Thunersee and the area. After waiting for one interval of the trains we got back on and this time with a 1938 steam locomotive and equally as old cars went back down the hill. 

Upon arriving in Brienz we got back on a train and went back to Interlaken for our connection to Grindelwald. The rest of the night was uneventful. I went down to the co-op before they closed (just about everything non restaurant in this town is closed by 730 pm) and got some cokes and Swiss Landjaugers. I also bought a new hat because I lost mine on a train somewhere, and it would have been helpful today.
Dinner tonight was at the restaurant in hotel Spinne. They had very good and spicy salami on the pizza.

The Tunersee

The Eiger, Monk, and Jungfrau in from Rothhorn

The Brienz rotherhorn bahn at Rotherhorn and the swiss alps

 A Brienz Rotherhorn bahn steam locomotive at Rothernhorn

An DB ICE Train heading for Berlin in Interlaken. They have 6 trips a day to Germany from Interlaken, yet we had a hell of a time getting a 2nd Amtrak train to vancouver BC without our two governments squabbling and almost getting the train cancelled.

And How do you get Beer up to the top of the Schynige Platte? By Train of course.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 6 Interlaken and Grindelwald

Today was a day full of changes. Originally we were to take a euro city train from brig to Thun, however with the unreliability of those trains thanks to the Italians we took a regional train instead. At Thun we took ICE train #5 which started in Hannover at midnight to Interlaken. The train was only a few minutes late despite being on the rails for 11 hours at that point. At Interlaken we changed to the paddle steamer Lotschberg to Brienz.

The paddle steamer was built in 1914 and gave a terrific ride across the lake in regular service. At Brienz due to terrible weather on the Brienz Rothorn Jim and I broke off from the group and took the next train back to Interlaken. The rest of the group went to see a wood carvers museum while we went back to Interlaken.

We got to Interlaken Ost and got on a train to Interlaken West. At Interlaken west we walked up to the Heimwehfluh. The Heimwehfluh is a funicular up to the top. At the top they have an observation tower, restaurant, and a model railroad exhibit. The model railroad show was interesting as they had the trains running with narration and music, along with day and night lighting. They also have a toboggan ride down the mountain, which is sort of like a monorail. But damn is it fun, you go fast on it and i mean fast. After getting to the bottom we proceeded east to the harder Klum.

The harder Klum funicular takes you 4337 up the side of the harder Klum. When you get to the top, there is a short walk to the restaurant and hotel and observation platform. The platform juts out beyond the hillside and has impressive views of Interlaken, the Brienzersee, and the Thunersee.

After our decent we watched some trains across the river that connects the brienzersee and thunersee, and then rejoined the group at Interlaken OST. From there we took the train to Grindelwald where the group had dinner at the hotel and i went to another local hotel pizzeria for dinner. It was good a good meal although was a bit pricy.

The Heimwehfluh Funicular

Interlaken from Harder Klum

The Brienzersee as vieweed from the Heimwehfluh

The Toboggan ride down the heimwehfluh

The BLS Lotschberg on the Brienzersee at Brienz

The BLS Lotschberg on the Brienzersee

Bonigen and lake Brienzersee

The BLS Lotschberg

Builders plate on the Lake steamer Lotschberg

ICE Train in Interlaken

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Day 5: CIMA (Center International for Musical Automations) and Bern Streetcars and Buses

We started out the day by taking a Regional Train to Ste Croix, in the French speaking part of Switzerland. To get there we had to change trains 3 times, We first took a SBB IC train to Lausanne, where we changed to a ICN (high speed tilt train) for twenty minutes to Yverdon-les-bains. At Yverdon-Les-Bains we transferred to a regional train operated by the SBB and Travys the local cantonal transit system to get to Ste-Croix. The Line to Ste-Croix was a narrow guage line, and was not quite up to the standards featured in the rest of the country. The line’s speed was fine, however many stations lacked platforms. Part of the line went on a steep incline to get up to Ste-Croix which offered stunning views of the Jural Mountains on the ascent.
Travys Train at St Croix with a load of lumber being hauled as freight.
At Ste-Croix we arrived shortly before one, and after waiting at the train station a few minutes we walked up to the museum. CIMA (Center International for Musical Automations) has a fascinating display of historical music boxes and musical automations (machines that play music and have automated dancing figures and the like) They have several working 100+ year old machines, and go through the history of how they came to be, and how they work.  At the end they have a large auditorium where they play several of their larger pieces, including a full automaton band from the Netherlands and other older and larger machines, as well as a player piano. The player piano is operated by foot pedals, so now you know why the guy playing the piano at The Bon Marche sounds so good.
A Music box from the netherlands and equipment to manufacture music boxes on display.

After that musical feast we boarded the train for the return trip. Both ways on the line to Ste-croix were packed. Our group took up much of the car, and the school kids commuting did the rest. Upon our arrival in Yverdon-les-bains we got on a regional SBB train that took us through the rarely visited farming villages of the Swiss mittleland. That train again had a lot of school kids going from school on it. This train took us to Fribourg where we got on a main lane for Bern.
At Bern I broke off from the rest of the group to go film and ride the light rail and trolleybuses. Since I dident have all day I got on a #8 Tram and went to the end at Brünnen Westside Bahnhof. The end of the line appeared to be relatively new along with the cars. The old 1960s/1970s stock I remember from my visit 3 years ago appears to be retired now and replaced with Siemens cambinos. The Brünnen Westside Bahnhof is an interesting place, there is a lot, and I mean a LOT of new development around it, and a lot of parcels still under development. My suspicion is the extension was part of the redevelopment project in the area. The bus terminal at the bahnhof has a two track loop and is also home to a couple of postal bus routes. The bus and streetcar loop is in essence a large paved area, with no real dedicated lanes that I could tell for buses to turn around, they just kind of made their way around the center section and off they went. Coming from one side the buses had access from a dead end street via the use of hydraulic bollards that would lower just for the buses. I see a similar thing here in Brig for buses going through the city center. They would remotely call for the bollards to be lowered, and once they were lowered and the bus passed through they would rise up again. This is something I think our transit agencies could use to keep people from driving in some of our exclusive bus only areas. After filming the trams at the bahnhof I rode the line back to Loryplatz and had dinner at restaurant pizza lorry. They had good pizza, and for a very good price.
After dinner, I got on a #17 motor coach back to Bern hbf. This line was interesting because it had several sections of mixed bus and bike lane. It was a full width lane for a bus but bikes were also allowed in it. As a bus driver myself I have to wonder how safe that is at times. At the hauptbahnhof I got on a #12 trolley coach and went out to the bear garden. I did see the two bears sleeping for the night in a newly constructed area for them by the river.
After getting back at the hbf, I had time to get a coke at the Kiosk in the station and go board my train. While waiting for my train a DB ICE showed up on  the adjacent track and I got some pictures of it. My train finally showed up. The ride back was uneventful except for the fact we stopped in the Lotschberg tunnel. My train finally arrived in brig 20 minutes late after dragging through the rest of the tunnel and all the way to Brig via Visp. There is a lot of congestion on this line which accounts for the delay.
A Bern Trolleybus at the bern Bear Garden

                                   The Bern Bear Garden with two bears sleeping for the night