Image by Darkroom Daze
When is a tram not a tram? When it’s the New Allegra train of the Rhaetian Railway (Rhätische Bahn, RhB), as seen here in a siding at St.Moritz, Graubünden, Switzerland.
View shows one of the two electric motor units at each end of these 3-car sets, the other sections being out of sight. Design is in RhB tradition of looking strongly purposeful rather than cosmetically sleek. The front looks vaguely crustacean. But make no mistake, these things are really powerful. The whole set is really an articulated double passenger-carrying locomotive which can haul long trains up some of the steepest traction lines in the world. ‘Allegra’ means ‘happy / cheerful’ and also a ‘hello’ greeting in the local language Romansh/Romantsch.
RAILWAY NOTES: THE RHAETIAN RAILWAY
The Rhaetian Railway (Rhätische Bahn, RhB) is a 384 Km narrow gauge (metre gauge) system, and is the regional rail network of the Swiss canton of Graubünden. It connects to the Swiss national standard gauge network at Chur and Landquart, with the Italian national standard gauge network at Tirano, and with the metre gauge Matterhorn-Gotthard railway at Disentis. Although some of the Rhaetian network was steam-hauled when first built, it is now all electrified. Amongst its many claims to fame is that it runs in almost all weathers, including the Alpine winter, and over several mountain passes.
There is a huge amount of documentation of the Rhaetian Railway in numerous languages, including the official RhB website, Wikipedia and www.rail-info.ch/RhB/index.en.html. The Albula Line and Bernina Line have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
RAILWAY NOTES: THE TRAIN
EMU Class: Allegra ABe 8 / 12 (ABe 4 / 4 – 35101 + Bi – 35,601 + ABe 4 / 4 – 35001) (Bo’Bo ‘+ 2’2’ + Bo’Bo ‘), Narrow gauge (metre gauge).
This particular train is unidentified (at the moment, Allegras don’t carry names or numbers on the front, only at one place on each sideon each side of the two motor units). At the time of this photo, RhB had only just started to run Allegra trains (May 2010) and the one we mostly saw was set 3501 ‘Willem Jan Hoebel’, named after the Dutch founder of the RhB (Landquart – Klosters – Davos Line).
These railcars are dual voltage (1Kv DC and 11Kv AC) with changeover possible while train is in motion, allowing regular continuous running between main network (Albula Line etc. on 11Kv AC) and the Bernina Line (1Kv DC), without former need with older RhB traction to change locomotives or trains at Pontresina or St.Moritz. However at time of photo, Allegra units were in use mostly over Bernina Line only, and in this photo, haulage was being changed at St.Moritz in the customary way. Allegra here was probably waiting to be coupled to a set of Bernina Express panoramic coaches from Chur, or had just been uncoupled from a set from Tirano.