27.01.2023 lecture on the (vehicle) history of the NOB

The development of the rolling stock of the NOB

The development of the NOB’s rolling stock

A technical lecture by Werner Hardmeier, railway historian and publicist

Friday, 27 January 2023, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Olten train station buffet

Preliminary information to the lecture „development of the rolling stock of the NOB“ (PDF)


SGEG expert lecture on the NOB 1853 – 1902

On 27 January 2023, the SGEG invited to an expert lecture by Werner Hardmeier in the Olten train station buffet. The topic was the development of the rolling stock of the NOB and its predecessor railways between 1853 and the nationalisation in 1902. About 50 interested people accepted the invitation and filled the auditorium almost completely.

Werner Hardmeier captivated everyone with his well-founded lecture, which was delivered in a very relaxed and witty manner, and the 1½ hours flew by in no time with a precise end at 8 pm sharp.

Basic topics were explained, such as the choice of system (American system (locomotives with leading bogies, 4-axle centre-aisle cars and bumpers with flat bars with coupling pins) versus the English system (locomotives with a fixed frame, compartment cars with side doors to the outside and side buffers and screw couplings)) and also illustrated with drawings and photos. The NOB opted for the American model, the French-speaking Swiss railways for the English one. The Swiss compromise that finally prevailed: American centre-aisle cars with English buffers and couplings…

Then the Northern Railway (Spanish Brötlibahn) and its legacy to the NOB was discussed. It was about the fate of the four locomotives and the wagons, whose steerable axles turned out to be a faulty design. Not only as a native of Bülach did he go into detail about the Bülach Regensberg Railway: one of the oldest and most famous railway photos shows a train of this railway. Enlarged sections, but also rediscovered files prove that rolling stock of the Northern Railway was used here. Finally, he recalled the unbelievable rediscovery of a wagon underframe at Otelfingen.

This was followed by an insight into the period from 1853 to 1862 under Engine Master Krauss. Locomotives were built that were not very advanced and only saw the SBB years briefly and in small numbers. However, small, very economical 2/2 coupled locomotives were also built for the aforementioned Bülach Regensberg Railway, which then also proved themselves well in shunting service and were to serve as the basis for the next generation of NOB locomotives.

From 1865 to 1876, the NOB was under the technical leadership of Heinrich Maey. He further developed these 2/2 coupled locomotives into economy locomotives by simplifying them and adding a tender. The concept was further optimised and a more powerful 3/3 coupled version was built in various designs and larger numbers for the NOB.

For passenger service, the NOB only procured two-axle vehicles from 1861 onwards. Some of these survived for quite a long time.

In 1880, as is well known, the Nationalbahn experiment came to an end with a crashing bankruptcy and the NOB took over a number of assets from the bankruptcy estate. Some of the locomotives were immediately resold and there was no picture and little known about their further fate. Now a picture of locomotive B7 has surfaced, which was probably shown publicly for the first time in Switzerland.

Subsequently, the era under Chief Engine Master Haueter was discussed, where the NOB had very advanced and also beautifully designed locomotives built, which were still in service under the SBB for several decades.

Finally, comparisons between the large Swiss private railways were very interesting. It was about toilets in coaches (at the NOB in 1901 43%, at the VSB 35%, at the GB almost 100%), lighting (oil / petrol / gas / electric), brake equipment and heating (coal / briquettes / steam).

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