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Hunting Lions in Zürich

John Chandler




JOHN CHANDLER tells us about his recent trip to Switzerland.

Introduction

Okay, so it sounds ludicrous, but there are actually lions in Zürich which roam freely (well, relatively) around the city and its suburbs and outside of Zürich Zoo! I say 'relatively' because they are somewhat constrained to roaming solely on the rail network around the city.

In short, the 'Lion' is a new kind of commuter train with locomotive-hauled stock. Each set comprises an Re420 locomotive and a minimum of three double-deck coaches including one partial first class. It is intended that two sets run coupled back-to-back with up to 4 additional coaches added as required.

Given that I would be in Switzerland over Christmas and New Year, I decided to spend some time 'hunting' these trains and finding out more about them.

Background

pdfThe Lion programme in summary.

In short, rather than invest in new stock to increase capacity on the Zürich commuter routes, SBB decided to refit some 30 Re420 locomotives, built between 1964 and 1985 along with several of the current class 450 stock coaches which are being replaced with new low-floor stock.

Currently, I am aware of 8 diagrams worked by these sets but more will follow as the programme progresses.

pdfLion Diagrams.

Prior Research

Before arriving in Switzerland, I researched into the routes and timings of the Lions and decided that Winterthur and Zürich would be good vantage points.

'Lion' is an appropriate name for this series of trains; as you can see from the diagrams, they exhibit the feline quality of sleeping for most of the day and coming out to play in early morning or evening! In between times, they curl up at the yard nearest the end of their diagram for preening and any maintenance work.

Given the nature of my visit to Switzerland, I determined to catch some sets at rest before Christmas before riding some afterwards.

The Hunt is on!

First day of my hunt: off early to Winterthur. From the platform, it was possible to see most of the yard and, off to one side, a sleeping Lion, unfortunately so far out of my camera's range to not get its identity.

Hunting Lions In Zurich

Distant sleeping Lion.

However, a quick assessment of the layout of the depot suggested I could get closer, and after a few minute's walk, I found myself face-to-face with the tail set, fronted by 420 220

Hunting Lions In Zurich

Dormant Lion

Hunting Lions In Zurich

Identity (the UIC code used to identify this loco will be subject of a future article!)

Hunting Lions In Zurich

The Cubs.

More careful photography on the return to the station shows its mate to be.

Hunting Lions In Zurich

420 226

Hunting Lions In Zurich

Staring the Lion in the face.

Having now bagged two Lions, I head back to Zürich where just after Hardbrüke station, I see another in hibernation. En route back to base at Wilderswil, I spy another four Lions resting for their evening's outing. Bagged seven Lions in one day; not a bad haul!

A few days later, and having relocated to Luzern, I am now in a position to see the Lions at their most active!

playLion 19167 entering Platform 44 at Zürich station en route to Schauffhausen.

I decide to take this train to Stadlehofen as a first experience in a Lion's stomach. Returning to Zürich Hauptbahnhof, I await the next Lion to Schaffhausen, number 19173 and determine to ride it the full route. Accommodation is not too different between First and Second class, both being 4 seats across.

Upper Deck, First Class.

Upper Deck, First Class.

Upper Deck, Second Class.

Upper Deck, Second Class.

Lower Deck, Second Class.

Lower Deck, Second Class.

Lower Deck, First Class.

Lower Deck, First Class.

The information displays in each coach give clear detail of the train's schedule.

The information displays in each coach give clear detail of the train's schedule.

At each station, the displays give details of all connecting services.

At each station, the displays give details of all connecting services.

My Lions from Zürich to Schaffhausen comprised the following stock:
91 85 4 420 223-0 CH-SBB (loco)
50 85 26-33 083-4 CH-SBB (2nd coach)
50 85 36-33 164-0 CH-SBB (1st / 2nd coach)
50 85 26-33 069-3 CH-SBB (2nd coach)
50 85 26-33 045-3 CH-SBB (2nd coach)
50 85 36-33 163-2 CH-SBB (1st / 2nd coach)
50 85 26-33 080-0 CH-SBB (2nd coach)
91 85 4 420 230-5 CH-SBB (loco)

Finally, it was time to bid my Lions 'Good Night' and let them return to their den in readiness for tomorrow's arduous schedule, a hard day shuttling between Schaffhausen and Winterthur on Diagram 2.

playSeeing the Lions to bed at Schaffhausen.

Cubs

Okay, so how can I have my own tame Lions at home?
Both Fleischmann (in 'N') and Roco (in 'H0') produce various variants of the Lions; DCC and analogue versions are available, as are two additional coaches to allow an 8 car pride to be formed.

Please consider:

Roco H0:
RC61442 and RC61444 Analogue
RC61443 and RC61445 DCC Sound
RC64131 Additional Coaches

Fleischmann N:
FM734006 and FM734007 Analogue
FM734076 and FM734077 DCC Sound
FM815406 Additional Coaches

We like it when John goes over to Switzerland, because he always brings back lots of chocolate...

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