The Swiss Society for Railway History (SGEG) was founded in 2004 in an emergency action, as the entire picture archive of Bombardier Switzerland – including the picture archives of the former SWP (Schindler Waggon Pratteln), SWS (Schweizerische Waggonfabrik Schlieren) and FFA (Flug- und Fahrzeugwerke Altenrhein) – had to be saved from destruction within a very short time.
The following reasons also led to the founding of the SGEG:
- For numerous private collections, the succession arrangements in case of death are unclear, and the continuation and preservation of such life’s work is thus unsecured.
- Commercial archives are being dissolved or reduced in many companies. In many cases, the existing institutions have reached the limits of their capacity. The existence of such important testimonies of industrial cultural development as part of the overall history is thus acutely endangered.
- Private initiative is therefore urgently needed to preserve the witnesses of Swiss railway history for future generations.
As a result, the archive could be taken over by Bombardier and stored in a protected location for the time being. The archive contains about 100,000 pictures and will require a great effort of maintenance in the future.
Already in the first year, the SGEG began to organise excursions on industrial history (mainly on railway topics), which are open not only to members of the association but to all interested parties.
Today, the SGEG is well established in railway circles. It looks after a comprehensive archive, organises interesting and unusual excursions and also offers information services in the field of railway history.
From Adliswil via the Zurich State Archives to a new storage location
The photo agency Ex-Press is moving its headquarters from Adliswil to Zurich. This means that SGEG’s Ex-Press premises are no longer available for storing the extensive Bombardier photo archive. Between 2012 and 2019, the complete archive could be stored in the premises of the State Archives of the Canton of Zurich. The storage room was specially air-conditioned, cool and dry and offered ideal conditions for the professional storage of the archive material. In the spring of 2019, differing opinions on how to digitise the archives led to the SGEG being forced to look for a different solution for storing the archive material. Since the end of April, the archive has been housed in a new, protected location. A major advantage of the new solution is that the archive material is finally under direct access by the SGEG again and requests for images can thus be answered within a reasonable time. Publication will continue to take place via www.bahnarchiv.ch.
A new database for Bahnarchiv.ch
On the Ascension weekend 2012, Bahnarchiv.ch was converted to a new database solution. This made the SGEG’s image collection even more searchable and networked, and the approximately 2300 images already online (as of May 2012) easier to find.
Unfortunately, this database solution could no longer be used from the end of 2020, so that Bahnarchiv.ch is no longer available interactively online.
We are intensively looking for a new solution and hope to be able to offer you this service again shortly.
Irrespective of this, the collection of images registration, so that the number of available images continues to increase constantly.
In addition to maintaining the Bombardier picture archive, SGEG also offers assistance in the succession management of private archives. Over the years, a number of private archives have been added to the SGEG collection, such as the archives of the VCS Neuchâtel section or the archives of renowned railway photographers Hans Waldburger, Josef Tanner, Rainer Siegenthaler, Daniel Heer and Hans Dellsperger. After digitisation, the archives are made accessible on Bahnarchiv.ch.