29th January 2016 - Would you like jam with that?
Friday 29th January 2016
Time to move on again, this time to Filisur on the narrow gauge RhB railway but not before we had a final stab at the Cargo Re4/4 locos, though we chose not to get up earlier to allow extra time to pack the cases and check out of the hotel before heading to Zürich HB in time for the 8:36. We dumped the bags in a left luggage locker and returned to the station, noting that the 8:40 to Graz hadn’t left yet so started walking briskly down the platform to see what was on the front. We never did find out as the train pulled out when we had got halfway down its length so we carried on to the subway and changed platforms to see what was on the 9:09 to München. That was one of the same two Re4/4s that we had seen on the EC trains over the last couple of days so it was off to platform 7 to get the first non loco-hauled train since we had arrived in Switzerland.
This was a pair of class 500 ICN units which would take us to Arth-Goldau to connect with the Re4/4-hauled IR to Locarno, so we went to the front unit working on the basis that there was less of a walk to the other platform at Arth-Goldau. Just before departure time we noticed a school party walk past outside, cutting it a bit fine we thought then the peace was shattered as some of the school party clutching snow boards and toboggans started to walk through inside the train. We expected them to carry on towards the front but they proceeded to plonk themselves down in our coach though we doubted that they had 1st class tickets and would be surprised if such a large group did not have a reservation of some sort somewhere in the train. A couple of teachers turned up but rather than move the children on, they sat down as well and the conductor walked past and just smiled at everyone without checking tickets so we were stuck with them. To be fair they were well behaved but as one would expect with a large group of young people on an outing they were quite boisterous so peace and quiet was in short supply for the next 35 minutes.
The school party got off at Arth-Goldau as well and we were a bit miffed to see that opposite platform was out of use having some work done on it so we had to go down the subway which was also undergoing some work to change trains. An Re10/10 (Re4/4 plus Re6/6) combination was in the loop opposite our train so we grabbed a quick photo expecting to be held up whilst the school party came across but there was no sign of them. We eventually spotted them as the train pulled out, lugging their sliding equipment along the road towards the Rigi Bahn station which had still not returned to its rightful place above the main SBB platforms.
As the train was already in the platform and we got on at the rear end we hadn’t seen the loco but assumed it should be 11193 going by yesterday’s diagrams; but you know the old saying about assuming (it makes an ASS of U and ME) so a little 10 coach long walk was in order. It was 11193 but we had already noticed locos not following the diagrams around from one day to the next so it was best to make sure. Göschenen was the furthest we could go and guarantee being able to complete our planned moves via Basel and get back to Zürich in time for the 16:07 departure; on this occasion we decided to sacrifice a full trip over the Gotthard in favour of getting more different Re4/4s for haulage and it gave a chance of grabbing a photo of the freight that we saw at Arth-Goldau which followed the IR train south.
11157, a new loco for this trip, was the motive power for the journey to Luzern and 11164 took over from there to Basel, proving the point about locos swapping diagrams as it should have been a different loco. Particular attention was paid at Basel, the loco on the IR to Locarno was not required but the Zürich IR was tucked away in one of the bay platforms with the loco hidden behind other trains. There was also the odd IC turn departing at 14:07 which was booked for an Re4/4 rather than a class 460, the number of which we also didn’t catch as we were running in although we could tell that it wasn’t worth rushing round for as it the loco had the older style pantograph marking it out as being one of the lower numbered passenger sector ones.
With a few minutes to spare, we grabbed a drink and a snack before toddling along the bay platform to see what was on the front of the IR and could hardly believe our eyes; it was 11245 – where had that been hiding? Perhaps we should have got something a little stronger than tea to mark the occasion!
It was a good run via Frick to Zürich and left plenty of time for a look round before retrieving the cases and making our way in good time to grab some seats on the 16:07 to Chur as we expected it to be busy. Once we had settled in and stowed the cases, it was time for a stroll to the front end to see what was there and it was 11243; four down and two to go! Our virtual “jam pot” was working overtime today. This loco had actually been spied on one end of a line of Re4/4s opposite Hardbrücke station yesterday but it had disappeared this morning though there was no way of finding out where it went or what it actually did.
11243 efficiently whisked us to Chur where we had 36 minutes to spare before the connection to Filisur, time which we used to collect the previously arranged tickets for a steam hauled trip on Sunday. This trip had been advertised on the RhB website and had been booked by phone and guaranteed with a credit card. All we needed to do was go to any RhB ticket office with the booking number that was e-mailed to us and pay, there was even an FIP (“priv”) rate – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Ge4/4iii 651 was waiting for us on the 17:58 to St. Moritz so our “jampot” must have departed somewhere between Zürich and Chur but, to be honest, our chances of getting our last RhB loco, discounting shunters and preserved / heritage locos, (Ge6/6ii 703) on this train were rather remote. We were rather surprised to still be the only two people in our coach when the train departed until we looked out of the window and realised that the booked connection, the 16:37 IC from Zürich had not arrived. It should have been a six minute / cross platform connection and must have been extremely late otherwise the RhB train would have waited; none of this no connections held nonsense you so often see in the UK. The next train to St Moritz was an hour later and wasn’t booked to have a restaurant car like this train did so there were probably a few people not having the best start to their weekend of winter sports.
Filisur was noticeably colder than Zürich but it was only a short walk to the Hotel Grischuna which is actually at the end of the platform and has rooms overlooking the station which can be requested if you would like a view of the railway. Ownership of the hotel had not changed since our previous visit six years ago and the lady who runs the hotel side of things said she actually remembered us from back then. Her husband is the chef in the restaurant and the food there is excellent; we had been looking forward all afternoon to a meal here and it didn’t disappoint.
Update: the hotel was put up for sale a few months after our stay and, as far as we can tell, hasn’t yet been sold as of January 2017. According to the website family Uffer are still running the hotel though we haven’t stayed there since this trip or have tried to make a booking.
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