Photo by Daniel SchneiterIn 1987 increased traffic volume and the imminent opening of the Vereinatunnels with auto transporter trains forced the RhB to consider the acquisition of new motive power. At that time, the new static frequency changer technology, which had proven its worth with the standard gauge railways, was the only logical choice for a substitute for the hitherto employed thyristor control. In 1989 the RhB ordered six, and in 1991 further three units of the new static frequency changer locomotive Ge 4/4 III at different Swiss industrial corporations.

An even more modern shape than that of the SBB Re 460 was chosen by the designers when the design of the locomotive body was finalised. The drive unit consists of two modular static frequency changers, which are assigned to one bogie each. Guidance electronics was to a large extent taken over from the SBB Re 460 (locomotive 2000). 
For the operation of the vehicle however the RhB adopted a completely new concept. The engineer controlled his locomotive by means of two multi-function joysticks mounted in each of the armrests of the engineer’s chair. Important information about the different parts of the locomotive, communication, signalling etc. is presented to the engineer on two displays - more conventional gauges and indicators. The displays also present various alerts, warnings and failure reports.
All in all a very leading edge approach. But in practice the operation proved much less satisfying than the Design studies of the cab had indicated, and the initial euphoria amongst the engineers quickly gave way to a general sentiment of disappointment. The following series of locomotives Ge 4/4 III 650 - 652, which were to be delivered in 1999, were ordered with traditional hand wheel controls known from the Ge 4/4 II. RhB even took it step further, and consequently assured the engineers, that with the first upcoming total revision the locomotives of the initial series would be retrofitted with conventional cab controls.

The multi purpose locomotives of the Ge 4/4 III class are mainly used to pull express trains on the Chur – St. Moritz route and to provide motive power for the auto transports through the Veriena tunnel. But since the revision of the timetable in December 2004 you can also come across them on the Disentis/Muster – Davos route where the locomotives along with cab control cars serve as shuttle trains. Many of the locomotives are designated as “rolling billboards” and sport a wide variety of commercial liveries.

In traditional fashion all six Triebwagen are named after locations in the area which they serve and carry the corresponding Wappen (coat of arms)

Technical data Unit names:
  • Designation               Ge 4/4 III

  • Delivered                  1993 / 94 / 99

  • Max. speed                100 km/h

  • Overall length            16.000 mm

  • Width                        2.800 mm

  • Service weight           62,0 t

  • Wheel arrangement    Bo'Bo'

  • Gauge                       1.000 mm

  • Operating voltage       11 kV ~ 16,7 Hz

  • Traction power           3.100 kW

  • Max load                   210t at 45‰

  • 641 Maienfeld                 

  • 642 Breil / Brigels           

  • 643 Vals                         

  • 644 Savognin                  

  • 645 Tujetsch                   

  • 646 Sta Maria / Val Müstair    

  • 647 Grüsch

  • 648 Susch

  • 649 Lavin

  • 650 Seewis im Prättigau

  • 651 Fideris

  • 652 Vaz/Obervaz Lenzerheide-Valbella

The model
Bernina Triebwagen ABe 4/4 51 - 56
by Jørgen Brandsborg

(work in progress, in-game testing of the first batch of proper textures)

Primary Sources:
  • H0 model
  • GeranMond - Gebirgslokomotive Ge 4/4 III
  • Schweers and Wall
  • photos and plans from the Internet
  • Special thanks goes to our new man in the field: Daniel "Spirit" Schneider for some excellent close-up shots of "critical areas"


Ge 4/4 649 sporting the colours of the Swiss Holcim corporation. Holcim specialises in building materials such cement, concrete, lime etc. etc. This is just one of more Holcim liveries which have been used on RhB's Ge 4/4 III's, Cornelia will have the rest of them (and more) ready very soon.

Other features:

  • Multi layer LOD

  • Animated mirrors - they pop out when loading or unloading passengers (and cargo) but only if the cab is manned.

  • Animated Hauptschalter (roof mounted main switch) Forget to switch it on and the locomotive will not move.

  • Weather dependant animated windshield wipers

  • Programmable light configuration

  • and more

The roof with most of the trimmings in place. The Hauptschalter is pretty much done now and some no slip matting have been placed on the footpaths, but we believe you get the general idea of how the final result will be.

The Current collector (Einholmstrohmabnehmer) needs a work-over. This one is a dummy we borrowed from a standard gauge Re 4/4 III which except for the "bow" is identical.

Almost forgot to show you this: the bogies are coming along too.

Again a screenshot from our little test layout. This time showing the roof with all the trimmings including no-slip matting. As you can see there are still some chairs missing in the cab. They are next on the to-do list and with those in place the body is as complete as it can be - LOD work excluded. The next step is the bogies and then ultimately the current collectors.


Project wishlist:

As always photos of your locomotive are most welcome - the better resolution the happier we will be. Especially side-on shots of the locomotive's full length and as close to its front and rear as possible will help the paint shop achieve the best results.

  • Side-on shots of the different Werbeloks (if you can manage to get a direct frontal shot too we can make almost any of the many skins avalilable)
  • close up photos of the bogies (Drehgestelle)
  • close up photos of the current collectors (Stromabnehmer) The ones used in the screenshot are from the Re 4/4 II + III which are almost similar.
  • anything with relation to the engineer's compartment (Führerstand)

All help will be duly credited.

Questions, wishes, corrections, what ever you might feel relevant, please contact :Project lead

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