Dewi's Trains,
Trams & Trolleys

Swiss Holiday 1947:
Hergiswil SBB station

Hergiswil appeared to be both a suburb of Lucerne and a tourist town. The station carried passenger traffic for both functions,
and also some local freight traffic. It was a passing place on the metre-gauge Brünig line.

The track layout can be seen in the signal/switching control box, which was on the station platform, open to view, and frequently unattended. It looked to me as though anyone could wander up and alter some of the switches, though perhaps there was a key which had to be inserted before the switches became "live".

The controls were in fact in a lockable cabinet, though the telegraph instruments were outside this cabinet. The lights were fed from the traction circuit, and flickered at that frequency (16 2/3Hz). (16 August 1947)

Comments/corrections to: Dewi Williams

[Track control cabinet] os_033

Passenger trains on this line were mostly made up of modern centre-entrance cars with folding doors, though there were one or two older cars with platforms at the ends (there's one at the far left of this photo). There were 3 classes of accommodation, which was new to me as British trains only had 1st and 3rd. Third class in these cars had wooden seats.

[Metre gauge passenger car] os_032

[Metre gauge passenger car] os_031

Freight was mostly on standard-gauge freight cars carried on metre-gauge carriers, though there were metre-gauge vans as well. The first car here is parked on the siding at the back of a factory or warehouse which appears in a previous photo (os_032). In that photo, the second word of the name appears to be "Glas", i.e. "glass".

[Standard gauge car on metre-gauge carrier] os_029

[Standard gauge car on metre-gauge carrier] os_030

When a freight train had to drop off some cars, the electric loco would place them in the sidings. However, to spot the cars at the freight depot and move them to or from the platform, Hergiswil had a little petrol/gasoline shunter, or track car.

Before unloading or loading took place, the staff always went through a routine.

  • Unlock a padlock on a lever on one of the overhead line supports;
  • Swing the lever, which opened a knife-switch at the top of the pole, disconnecting the siding overhead line from the
    main-line power;
  • Re-lock the padlock;
  • Clamp a ground wire onto one running rail of the siding;

  • Hook the other end of the ground wire over the overhead line in the siding, using a long pole attached to the ground wire.

This was always done by two people: I never saw one man do it alone.

[Petrol/gasoline shunter] os_025

[Petrol/gasoline shunter] os_026

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This page last updated 2005-08-11