INTRO: Rhaetian Railway has launched panorama cars on its Bernina Express route

MORE THAN half the passenger fleet on Switzerland’s metre-gauge Rhaetian Railway is over 30 years old. The railway’s express services are very popular, and RhB is acutely aware of the need to raise comfort standards.

RhB has made a start on updating its long-distance stock by introducing a small fleet of panoramic coaches, the last of which was due to be delivered in June.

Built by Stadler Altenrhein AG, they have been pressed into service on the scenic Bernina Express service from Chur and St Moritz to Tirano and from this month also on the Heidi Express tourist service between Landquart and Tirano via Davos.

There are three first class cars with 34 seats arranged 2+1 and seven second class cars with 50 seats in a 2+2 layout. All are air-conditioned and have retention toilets.

Particular attention has been paid to achieving good levels of sound insulation - a challenging task with large curved windows stretching into the roof of the car. The sealed gangways using fire-resistant materials were supplied by Woodville Polymer Engineering of Great Britain.

The 16·4m long panorama cars were built as part of a SFr26m order placed in 1998 that included supply of eight 37-seat driving trailers with low floors for use on Vereina tunnel services. All vehicles use bodies of light alloy construction. n

CAPTION: One of Rhaetian Railway’s latest locomotives heads a rake of Stadler-built panorama cars on a demonstration run on May 19

Photo: P Pagnoni Trainsphoto