Take control of the unique UNESCO Branded Ge 4/4 III in this enhancement pack add-on for Train Simulator.
The opening of the Vereina Tunnel, what would become the longest tunnel on the RhB, was projected to cause a major spike in both passenger and freight traffic across the mountainous network. In anticipation of the increase, RhB came together with Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works (SLM), and ASEA Brown Boveri (ABB) in 1989 to develop new traction. The new locomotives would utilise three-phase AC electric technology and GTO Thyristors.
The original plan to produce a 6 axle variant of the RhB Ge 4/4 II was quickly replaced with a more universally capable 4 axle design. A much more modern bodyshell was used for the new loco, and by the end of 1993, the first Ge 4/4 III, numbered 641, rolled off the production line, entering service on December 3rd of the same year. A further 11 locomotives would enter service between 1994 and 1999.
The Ge 4/4 III fleet is now the principal motive power for traffic on the Albula Railway, the universal design paid off as they can effortlessly cope with either freight or passengers across the mountains, and also command the Glacier Express, known as the slowest express in the world. While originally shipped in classic RhB red, with each loco brandishing a unique coat of arms, the entire fleet has since been decorated with various advertising liveries.
To commemorate the classification of the Albula Line as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2008, locomotive no. 650 ‘Seewis im Prättigau’ was re-liveried into a UNESCO-specific scheme. While 650 retained most of its red front, the rest of the body was given a light blue coating, upon which a graphic depicting a train crossing the Landwasser Viaduct, as viewed from below, is present.
Albula Hauling, Passenger & Freight
Several years after the introduction of the first Einheitswagen (EW) for RhB, it was decided that the next iteration of coaches would focus on passenger comfort and reducing weight. The Einheitswagen II, introduced in 1975, provided more spacious seating, ventilation and heating, plus double glazed windows that were also tinted. The body was extrusion pressed out of aluminium, to not only reduce weight, but also increase strength.
The RhB ordered two main variants of the Einheitswagen II, those being ‘A’ and ‘B’, where A denotes First Class seating throughout, and B is purely standard seating. Neither of these Einheitswagen II models are capable of holding any substantial quantity of passenger’s belongings, so RhB also ordered Baggage Cars which could take care of any storage issues. Luggage and bikes could now be stored away from those aboard, which became even more vital as tourism continued to grow. Some Baggage Cars were fitted with a pantograph to supply heating and air conditioning, taking the strain away from the loco itself.
Of course, the Albula Line is also a key freight route within Switzerland, and a wide variety of tonnage capabilities are seen day in, day out. The Swiss wood industry owes its success to the railways, and the Albula Pass is no exception. ‘Sp-w’ flat cars are often used for transporting roundwood, these wagons are an all-round excellent example of reliable engineering that helps the railway and surrounding area grow.
Another industry, popularly seen curving through the Swiss Alps, is fuel. ‘Za’ tankers transport up to 39000 liters, or 33 tonnes of petroleum a piece, and have a safe and efficient operating history. The mountainous terrain necessitates fuel, and thanks to the Albula railway, plus the readily capable Ge 4/4 III and Za tankers, successful deliveries can be expected promptly.
Ease back on the Throttle
One vital operation across any railway in the world is track maintenance. While maintenance is being carried out Temporary Speed Restrictions (TSRs) are imposed to reduce the speed of movements through the section of line being worked on. The line can be kept open and operated safely instead of shutting it completely for engineering works.
Temporary magnets are placed on the track to warn drivers of an upcoming restriction, of any speed limit, and then once the rear of the consist has passed the area, regular operating speed may resume. This practice is seen worldwide, and while it adds a few minutes to the journey, it is a regular part of railroading activities for drivers to learn and observe.
- Unique Dynamic Pantograph height system
- RhB GE 4/4 iii 650 Unesco and EW II Coach consist
- Sp-w Flatbed Wagon in Clean and Rusty Timber variations
- Za Tank Wagon in Clean and Rusty variations
- Accurate driving characteristics
- Coach windows drop automatically if the weather is nice and is daytime
- Coach lights vary depending on time of day and their current use
- Coaches have customisable destinations
- Range of Temporary Speed Restriction signage included
- Quick Drive compatible
- Three challenging career scenarios for the Albula Line: St Moritz - Thusis route, also available on Steam