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Two times Tramlink – two inaugurations in Switzerland: 1) Waldenburgerbahn

Waldenburg terminus | @OeLeticia on Twitter

In Switzerland, on this weekend of the European timetable change, two completely redesigned metre-gauge suburban trams are opening their scheduled service: the Waldenburgerbahn as line 19 in the Basel area and the Limmattal Bahn as line 20 of the Züricher Verkehrs-Verkehrsverbund. Both lines are equipped with seven-section low-floor trains of the type TRAMLINK from Stadler, and the route length of both lines is almost the same, a good 13 km each.

But of course there are also noticeable differences. Let’s start with the Waldenburg Railway. Opened in 1893 as a steam-driven narrow-gauge railway between the Liestal state railway interchange station and the municipality of Waldenburg, it has undergone vvarious modernisation processes from time to time in the course of its long existence. These have ensured its survival to this day. Electrified in 1953 and comprehensively modernised again in the 1980s, a few years ago the transport company Baselland Transport (BLT), which operates several metre-gauge interurban lines in connection with the urban tram network in Basel, also took over the direction of the nearby Waldenburgerbahn in 2016 and initiated the next  modernisation remodellation of the line which has now been completed. The most important featuremight be the conversion of the previously 750 mm-gauge railway line to metre gauge, which in the future could also allow the exchange of vehicles and connection to the rest of the Basel network.

Test rides in Liestal SBB | @OeLeticia on Twitter
Tramlink interior design | © BLT
Open depot facilities | @fmb128 on Twitter

The associated reconstruction of the infrastructure is more like a new construction in many places. It included in particular the redesign of both terminal stations: The Waldenburg station, including depot and workshop facilities, was completely renewed. As a new building at the entrance to Waldenburg, a new, attractive and central transport hub has been created. In Liestal, BLT also completely redesigned the connection and the transfer facilities at the SBB station. Along the route, several longer double-track sections were created, mostly by extending the previous passing loops, with the intention to allow the 15-minute intervals without problems in the day-to-day operation. The ten seven-car Tramlink railcars supplied by Stadler will partly run in double traction. All older, high-floor railcars and driving trailers were handed over to Slovakia in 2021, as we reported here: https://www.urban-transport-magazine.com/en/waldenburgerbahn-fleet-sold-to-slovakia/

Final day of the old Waldenburgerbahn at 750mm gauge – Hölstein in April 2021 | © BLT

1 ¾ years after the closure of the old 750mm-gauge line, the official opening of the new BLT line 19 took place on 10 December, today on 11 December 2002 revenue service started.

Waldenburg Bahnhof during the opening ceremony on 10 December 2022 | @OeLeticia on Twitter

Updated on 12 Dec 22


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1 year ago

We still have Ersatzbusse, because of some technical problems with the trains, and also because not all 10 units are here yet. But they are an improvement over the old, narrow WB units (at rush hour, the interior would put you off sardines for life).

Simon Artymiuk
Simon Artymiuk
1 year ago

Shame the WB steam loco G Thommen can’t run anymore though and has been incarcerated in a glass tank like a goldfish.