Bellinzona–Mesocco railway

The Bellinzona–Mesocco railway (Italian: Ferrovia Bellinzona–Mesocco; BM) was a Swiss metre gauge railway that linked the towns of Bellinzona, in the canton of Ticino and Mesocco, in the canton of Graubünden. The line was built by the Società Anonima della Ferrovia Elettrica Bellinzona-Mesocco and later became part of the Rhaetian Railway. Before complete closure, the section of the line between Castione-Arbedo, and Cama was operated by the Società Esercizio Ferroviario Turistico (SEFT) as a tourist railway known as the Ferrovia Mesolcinese.[2]

Bellinzona–Mesocco railway
Ferrovia Bellinzona-Mesocco1.jpeg
Train at Cama in 2007
Overview
StatusPartially closed and removed
LocaleCantons of Ticino and Graubünden, Switzerland
Termini
Stations17
History
Opened1907
Closed1972 (BellinzonaCastione)
1978 (CamaMesocco)
2013 (Castione - Cama)
Technical
Line length-1972: 31.3 kilometres (19.4 mi)
-2013: 12.7 kilometres (7.9 mi)
Track gauge1,000 mm (3 ft 3+38 in)
Minimum radius80 metres (260 ft)
Electrification1500 V, DC, overhead
Maximum incline6‰
Route map

km
elev
in m
0.0
Bellinzona BM
227
2.0
Molinazzo
236
3.5
Arbedo-Castione
241
4.2
Castione Villaggio
5.7
Lumino
258
6.9
8.1
Valmoesa
(
factory
siding
)
262
9.1
San Vittore
275
Moesa (75 m)
10.8
Roveredo
294
Moesa (81 m)
11.2
San Antonio
302
12.2
Grono Bahnübergang
325
12.7
Grono
332
13.3
new depot
15.2
Leggia
340
16.2
Cama
351
17.6
Piani di Verdabbio
367
18.7
Sorte
403
21.4
Lostallo
423
23.3
Cabbiolo
446
25.4
Vigna
486
Piotta tunnel (42 m)
Capella tunnel (31 m)
28.5
Soazza
620
San Giovanni tunnel (13 m)
31.3
Mesocco
766

Source: Swiss railway atlas[1]

Project and constructionEdit

The Gotthard railway opened in 1882, providing a transport link to the communities of the valley of the Ticino River. In order to provide a link to the communities of the Val Mesolcina, a concession for the Bellinzona–Mesocco railway a committee was formed in 1891, which led to a concession being granted in 1899.[3] The tributaries of the Moesa river carry large quantities of rock, which historically had occasionally dammed the Moesa and changed its course. The route had to be chosen for resilience to this risk, resulting in an initial estimate of CHF2.7 million.[3] Raising the capital proved difficult, so the budget was very tight. As a consequence,[3] although intended as a feeder line to the Gotthard railway, the Bellinzona terminus of the BM was located some 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the main line station, and the main transfer point was Castione-Arbedo station further north.[4] The original line was 31.284 kilometres (19.439 mi) long, and rises 538.4m,[3] mostly in the last 7km after Cabbiolo. There were 17 stops, a maximum gradient of 60‰ and a minimum radius of 80 metres (260 ft). 160,000m3 or earthworks, four short tunnels and 27 bridges were required.

OperationsEdit

AC traction being still in its infancy, the line was electrified at 1500 V DC using overhead lines. A power station was built at Cebbia, using two Pelton wheels powering 1500kVAC and 10kVAC generators. The AC power was transmitted to Roveredo, where it was converted to DC.[3]

Initially, six 240hp passenger railcars were procured. With a gross weight of 34 tons, they could haul 50t up the 60‰ ruling gradient at nearly 20km/h. There were also similar goods railcars, four four-wheeled carriages and 28 four-wheeled goods wagons. In 1942 the line was merged into the RhB, without a physical connection, and in 1956 new railcars interchangeable with the Chur–Arosa railway were introduced.

In 1955, a transfer station for standard gauge wagons was installed at Castione-Arbedo.[5]

San Bernardino railway projectEdit

An extension under the San Bernardino Pass to Thusis was planned, in order to provide a rail connection to the Rhaetian Railway (RhB).

Decline and closureEdit

In 1972, all passenger traffic ceased and the line between Bellinzona and Castione-Arbedo was closed, whilst freight traffic continued on the rest of the line.[4] In 1978 the upper section of the line was damaged by a bad storm, and was never repaired. The remnant of the line between Castione-Arbedo and Cama continued carrying freight traffic until the closure of the factories on the line removed that traffic. In 2003, freight traffic ceased and the remaining 12.7 kilometres (7.9 mi)line[2][4] was transferred to SEFT for operation as a tourist line.[4] It was finally closed at end of 2013.

Rolling stockEdit

 
BDe 4/4 491 shunting freight wagons in Mesocco (1977)
 
Railcar 42 shunting standard gauge wagons on Rollbocks at the Valmoesa steelworks in the 1980s
 
Railcar BDe 4/4 491 of the Ferrovia Mesolcinese in Cama (2006)

Bellinzona-Mesocco Railway between 1907 and 1942Edit

When the Bellinzona – Mesocco railway line opened in 1907, three BCe 4/4 railcars were put into operation. The cars were given the road numbers 1 to 3 and were henceforth used on the entire line. Two identical vehicles with the numbers 4 and 5 followed in 1909. An Fe 4/4 luggage railcar, number 501, was procured for freight traffic. The bodywork and chassis of all six railcars came from the Ringhoffer wagon works in Prague while the electrical part from Maschinenfabrik Rieter in Töss, who were also responsible as a general contractor for the railway construction as a whole.

Rhaetian Railway between 1942 and 2003Edit

After the merger, the Rhaetian Railway renumbered the railcars of the BM to 451–455 and 471 respectively and modernized them. To rejuvenate the vehicle fleet, it put the railcar RhB BDe 4/4 no.491 into service in 1957. The two ABDe 4/4 nos. 483 and 484 of the Arosa Railway could occasionally be seen in the Mesocco on a temporary basis. In 1969 three railcars (451, 455, 471) were damaged in collisions. As a replacement, the Rhaetian Railway rented the 1933 vintage ABe 4/4 no. 41 from Appenzell Railways (AB), until 1972. After the 1978 storm, the Rhaetian Railway scrapped the ABDe 4/4 no. 452 and sold no. 453; 454 was brought on the road to the lower part of the route, where it served from then on as a reserve for the BDe 4/4 491, which carried the main load of the remaining traffic until 2003. 491 came to Landquart for an overhaul in 1980, during which time it was replaced by the ABe 4/4 no. 42 of the Appenzeller Bahn. In 1987 this railcar was rented long-term from the Rhaetian Railway and labeled Ferrovia Retica.

Ferrovia Mesolcinese/SEFT since 2003Edit

With the transition to preservation line, the Rhaetian Railway also transferred the MC’s entire rolling stock (railcars 42 and 491 and some passenger cars) to the Ferrovia Mesolcinese. In addition, the latter also acquired the second “Appenzeller”. Other Swiss narrow-gauge vehicles later found a new home here. Initially, the Ferrovia Mesolcinese had the following railcars, some of which are no more (where noted):

  • Numbers 1–2, formerly AB ABe 4/4 41–42
  • Number 3, formerly FLP ABe 4/4 3, demolished in 2007 after an accident, parts to Agno
  • Number 4, formerly RhB ABDe 4/4 454, original BM railcar, in poor condition, inoperative, demolished on March 22, 2011
  • Number 5, formerly BA ABe 4/4 5
  • Number 6, formerly RhB BDe 4/4 491

Post 2012 DiasporaEdit

On April 27, 2021, the RhB BDe 4/4 491 was transported with a low loader from Grono via San Bernardino to Landquart. Restoration in the RhB main workshop in Landquart was completed in May 2021. From mid-June 2021, the plan was to move the railcar to a new location in front of the Albula Railway Museumin Bergün/Bravuogn, to be exhibited as "Grotto 491".

The ABe 4/4 No. 5 went to the WAGI Museum in Schlieren [6]

The B 51 passenger car is in Winterthur as a café-bar on the former premises of the former Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works. The B 52 was acquired by the Brohltal railway in Germany.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Eisenbahnatlas Schweiz [Swiss railway atlas]. Schweers + Wall. 2012. pp. 48, 49. ISBN 978-3-89494-130-7.
  2. ^ a b Eisenbahnatlas Schweiz. Verlag Schweers + Wall GmbH. 2012. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-3-89494-130-7.
  3. ^ a b c d e Marshall, John (1974). Metre gauge railways in south and east Switzerland. Newton Abbot [England]: David & Charles. pp. 174–183. ISBN 0715364081.
  4. ^ a b c d "Bellinzona–Mesocco". www.eingestellte-bahnen.ch (in German). Archived from the original on 2018-03-08. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
  5. ^ "RhB-BM - Geschichte". www.rail-info.ch (in German). Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  6. ^ "Neue Heimat für Fahrzeuge der Misoxer-Bahn". Die Museums-Eisenbahn (3): 7. 2021.

External linksEdit