1st February 2016 - Bernina Bahn
Monday 1st February 2016.
By choice we would have moved on from Filisur this morning but couldn’t be bothered with all the hassle of changing hotels for just one night so we decided to stick around on the RhB for one more day as it was a few years since our last visit of more than the odd day. After checking that 703 was not down to work (it was still on repairs at Landquart) we decided to have a trip on the Bernina Bahn as it was possible to have a ride over most of the line using the two diagrams for the old (well, 1980s) ABe 4/4ii motor cars.
The 9:02 from Filisur to St Moritz allowed us around 40 minutes to observe the goings on, take photos and grab a drink. We watched the pair of motor cars arrive from the Pontresina direction but, rather than run straight round their train, they went into the sidings and brought out two more coaches. The shunting tractor which we had seen being delivered on Saturday was stabled in the sidings with one of the doors to the engine compartment open; they hadn’t broken it already, had they?
The motor cars pushed the two extra coaches onto the pair that they had left in the platform and set the whole lot back towards the buffer stops but the rearmost pair of coaches were then uncoupled and left behind when we departed on time at 10:48. Ten minutes later we were in Pontresina where the Bernina Express coaches were to be added, this used to be done by a shunting loco so we got off to see it that was still the case and to try and “blag” a ride only for the doors to shut as soon as we stepped onto the platform and the train, complete with bag and tea, departed towards Tirano!
Fortunately, the train stopped just off the end of the platform to wait for the BEX coaches to turn up, their arrival being preceded by the grinding of the OHL switching gear as it changed the voltage from the Bernina Bahn’s 1,000V DC to the standard RhB 11kV AC. The loco, 623, was uncoupled and crossed over to the opposite line then the switch gear ground into action again to change the voltage back to DC ready for the two units to back their train ono the BEX portion; by the time they returned to the platform, the tea was just the right temperature to drink.
By now, the early mist had cleared to bright sunshine meaning we would get some great views of the mountains on the way to the summit near Ospizio Bernina and a clear views down the valley on the descent to Poschiavo. We had to get off at the penultimate station of Campocologno as the train we were aiming for departed from Tirano at the same time as the one we were on arrived but as we had done the line before that wasn’t an issue for us. The twenty minutes we had here was not quite enough time to walk down the road and try to get a picture of the shunting loco in the freight terminal, but there were some of the open “panorama wagons” stabled around the station that get attached to some services in the summer season.
We had to catch one of the new “Allegra” units to get back to Poschiavo for the other pair of ABe4/4s and weren’t overly impressed with the door between first class and the vestibule that wouldn’t stay shut, nor the toilet that didn’t flush properly; modern rubbish!
Numbers 54 and 55 had already arrived when we got to Poschiavo and were in the process of running round their train so photographs were taken along with De 2/2 no. 151 on a works train in the yard and former ABe 4/4 no. 48 which had been converted into a service vehicle.
The journey back up to Alp Grum and Ospizio Bernina was most enjoyable, the line winds its way up the hill with wonderful views to the south as the train zig-zags up the mountain, accompanied by the whine of traction motors from these powerful EMUs. There was a distinct shortage of snow around the summit of the line though the weather had started to cloud over some maybe there was some much-needed “white stuff” on the way.
Rather than go back to St Moritz and return straight to Filisur, we decided to change at Pontresina and go round in a circle via Klosters and Davos to avoid getting back too early. 633 was our loco to Sagliains then it was 619 for the trip through the Vereina tunnel which was flowing a bit better today, probably due to less car traffic as one of the sets was parked up in the siding at the Selfranga loading point. Klosters was reached on time which gave us six minutes to grab a photo of 701 on a one-wagon train carrying two waste containers and dash through the subway for the train to Davos.
Unfortunately the train to Davos was an Allegra unit, though it should have been a Ge4/4iii loco according to the diagrams but we had to go that way now as the journey via Landquart and Chur would take over twice as long. There was a half hour wait at Davos where the unit dropped off the coaches attached on the rear and we grabbed a photo of shunting loco no. 120 and a cup of tea from the kiosk before re-boarding the same unit for the remainder of the journey to Filisur.
It was dark now and hard to see outside with the bright lights in the unit but it did look as if there was more snow on the ground in this area, perhaps something to do with all the hot air from the annual World Economic Forum which had been held in Davos just over a week previously!
There was time for one last photo attempt at Filisur then into the nice warm hotel for one final meal before settling our bill with the lady of the house as we wanted to be on the 8:01 departure in the morning. Browsing idly on the internet later reminded us that this trip was about to end with the news that the West Coast main Line was in chaos yet again, this time due to a landslip near Bletchley; yes it was, despite the National Rail Enquiries site consistently saying the problem was near Watford Junction!
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