Jura–Simplon Railways

The Jura–Simplon Railways (JS), (French: Compagnie des Chemins de Fer Jura–Simplon[2]) was a railway company that was formed in 1890. It was nationalised in 1903 as the largest railway company in Switzerland and integrated into the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB).

Jura–Simplon Railways
Openedmerger 1890
Closedto SBB 1903
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge[1]
Route map

Combe Maran (237 m)
Crosettes (1618 m)
Fluhmühle[n 2]
Pontarlier (France)
line of the PLM
Jougne (France)
border   Sion
Simplon Tunnel
(under construction from 1898)

Without intermediate stations and without connecting tracks.

  1. ^ now Basel SBB
  2. ^ connecting with the Olten–Lucerne line of the Centralbahn


Eb 2/4 No. 13 at a water crane. The wagon in the background still bears the inscription: S.O.S. (Suisse-Occidentale-Simplon)
Bond of the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer Jura-Simplon, issued 17 October 1894

The Jura–Simplon Railways was a railway company, which was formed from the 1890 merger of the two most important western Swiss railway companies, the Jura–Bern–Lucerne Railway (JBL), including the Gümligen–Lucerne line belonging to the canton of Bern, and the Western Swiss Railways (Chemins de fer de la Suisse Occidentale; SOS). The Federal Government also participated in the merger by means of a voluntary share purchase. The Pont–Vallorbe Railway (Chemin de fer Pont–Vallorbe), operated by the SOS, was purchased on 1 January 1891.

The share capital of the new company was formed of Swiss francs (CHF) 52 million of preferred stock and CHF 34 million of common stock. The preferred shares comprised 38 million existing JBL shares and 14 million SOS shares. The nominal value of an SOS ordinary share was reduced from CHF 500 to 200 and the amount of CHF 52.4 million exempted from the stock reconstruction was applied to depreciation. The Swiss government was given the right to repurchase the JS.

Construction of the Simplon TunnelEdit

North portal of the Simplon tunnel near Brig during construction
The Simplon Express hauled by locomotive B 3/4 at Geneva-Cornavin station, which was inaugurated after the opening of the tunnel

Although the Jura-Simplon Railway was a railway company for only 13 years, it helped break the impasse over the building of the Simplon Tunnel from Brig to Iselle in Italy after decades of effort by Bern and Romandy. Studies prepared to support the construction of the tunnel had already been submitted by the SOS to the federal and cantonal authorities. In 1891, JS, as a new entrepreneurial railway company, presented the Federal Council with a definitive project for the Simplon Tunnel.

On 25 November 1895, a treaty was signed with Italy for the construction of what would be the longest tunnel in the world. The construction costs for the single-track tunnel were estimated at CHF 58,820,000. The treaty obliged Switzerland to provide funding of CHF 15 million and Italy to provide funding of CHF 4 million. Italy was represented by four directors on the JS board. Construction began on the 19,803-metre-long tunnel in 1898. The tunnel was the longest railway tunnel in the world[3] until the opening of the Seikan Tunnel in 1988.


The JS was able to pay a dividend every year.

The Jura–Simplon Railways operated several other railway lines:

The Münchenstein disaster cost the lives of 73 passengers.

On 14 June 1891, the Jura–Simplon Railways suffered the Münchenstein rail disaster, the worst railway accident in Swiss history. The railway bridge over the Birs, which was built by Gustave Eiffel, collapsed below the village of Münchenstein under a train from Basel. Three carriages and the two locomotives crashed into the flooded Birs. 78 people were killed and 131 were injured. A soldier died of injuries sustained during the cleanup. The accident led to a stricter supervision of the railways. The railway bridges were systematically examined and the first building standards were created.[4]

In the Zollikofen train crash on 17 August 1891 in Zollikofen, a Bern–Paris express ran into an "extra" (not listed in the timetable) train waiting at a red home signal. The impact killed 14 passengers and injured 122 on the extra train. The accident was caused by mistakes at various operating points. The express has been released to run through an occupied section. A deactivated air brake also reduced the braking effect.[5][6]

Despite investing in the construction of the Simplon tunnel, JS was able to pay a dividend every year.


Thee Jura-Simplon Railway advertised with a series of posters. Some of them were designed by Hugo d’Alési.


During the construction of the Simplon tunnel, the national referendum of 20 February 1898 agreed to the nationalisation the Jura-Simplon railway and the other four main railways. The Jura-Simplon Railway was taken over by the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) on 1 May 1903 and it completed the Simplon Tunnel in 1906.

Graphic summaryEdit

Overview of the history of the Jura–Simplon Railways (T: takeover):

railways of the SOS
railways of the JB
Western Switzerland-
T: 1.1.1890
Jura-Bern-Lucerne (JBL)
inc. Gümligen–Lucerne
T: 1.1.1890
Pont–Vallorbe (PV)
T: 1.1.1891
Swiss Central
(SCB)[note 1]
T: 1.1.1902
Swiss Northeastern
(NOB)[note 1]
T: 1.1.1902
United Swiss
T: 1.7.1902
Jura–Simplon Railways (JS)
T: 1.5.1903
Gotthard Railway (GB)
T: 1.5.1909
Swiss Federal
Railways (SBB)

Infrastructure and vehiclesEdit


The stations of Basel, Bern and Lucerne of the Central Railway (SCB) and Geneva of the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranean (PLM) were shared by the Jura-Simplon Railway.


Network of the Jura-Simplon Railway

The route network of 937 km ran from Basel, Geneva and the Jura border crossings of Delle, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Les Verrières and Vallorbe to Brig and Lucerne. In addition, the narrow-gauge Brünig Railway from Lucerne to Brienz was part of the 937 km-long route network. It consisted of the combined lines of its predecessor railways:


An express train hauled by a two-cylinder compound locomotive of class A 2/4 on the double track at Auvernier.
A 2/4 No. 110 in front of the Lausanne depot.

The Jura-Simplon Railway continued the track duplication of its predecessors. When SBB took over JS in 1903, 131.20 km (14%) of the network was duplicated.

Railway line Section Double track opened on
Lausanne–Biel LausanneRenens VD 5 May 1856 by Western Swiss
Renens VD–Bussigny 1897
Bussigny–Cossonay 21 August 1895
Cossonay–Daillens 1 June 1896
AuvernierNeuchâtel 1 June 1898[note 2]
Lausanne–Geneva 1868–1879 by Western Swiss, Western Swiss-Simplon and LFB
Lausanne–Bern Lausanne–La Conversion 1 May 1902
Lausanne–Brig Lausanne–Lutry 1 June 1900
Lutry–Cully 1 June 1899
Cully–Rivaz 1 October 1892
Rivaz–Montreux 1 June 1892
Montreux–Villeneuve 10 October 1891
Granges-LensSierre 24 June 1901
Bern–Biel Lyss–Busswil[note 3] 1877 by Bern-Lucerne-Bahn

Rolling stockEdit

The Jura-Simplon Railway named their rolling stock according to the then nationwide classification system.

The JS operated the following locomotives. The class name that was valid from 1902 is listed in brackets.

Class JS no. SBB No.[note 4] from 1903 Manufacturer Build year Scrapped image
A2 (Ec 2/4) 1–12 Taken over in 1890 from the Bern-Lucerne Railway (BLB; see there) 1888–1896
A2 (Eb 2/4) 13–16 5441–5442 Taken over in 1890 from the Bernese Jura Railway (JBL; see there) 1900–1917
17–32 5451–5476 1900–1947  
33–42 Esslingen, SLM Winterthur 1880–1892
A2T (B 2/3) 51–63 Taken over in 1890 from the Western Switzerland–Simplon Company (SOS; see there) 1890–1902
A2T (B 2/3) 63–67 1892–1896
A2T (B 2/3) 69–73 1890–1892
A2T (B 2/3) 74–79 1074–1079 1904–1907
A2T (B 2/3) 80–82 1080–1082 1903
A2T (A 2/4) 101–130 101–130 SLM Winterthur 1892–1896 1917–1926  
A3T (B 3/4) 201–204 1421–1424 Taken over in 1890 from the SOS (see there) 1917
205–212 1561–1568 Taken over in 1890 from the JBL (see there) 1924–1932
213–222 1569–1578 SLM Winterthur 1891 1912–1932
A 3/5 231–232 701–702 SLM Winterthur 1902 1926–1964  
(Nachbau SBB) 703–811 1904–1909
B2 (Ec 2/4) 251–262 6195–6199 Taken over in 1890 from the Lausanne–Fribourg–Bern Railway (see there) 1895–1905
B2 (Ec 2/3) 263–267 6398, 6399 Taken over in 1890 from the SOS (see there) 1909–1923
A3T (B 3/4) 301–375[note 5] 1601–1675 SLM Winterthur 1896–1902 1923–1945  
(Nachbau SBB) 1676–1747 1903–1907
B3T (C 3/3) 401–416 2401–2403, 2406–2412, 2413 Taken over in 1890 from the SOS (see there) 1900–1911
417–419 2404, 2413 1898–1909
421–424 Taken over in 1890 from the BLB (see there) 1898–1902
425–431 2405, 2415–2416 Taken over in 1890 from the JBL (see there) 1900–1911
C3 (Ed 3/3) 451–457 7291–7297 Taken over in 1890 from the BLB (see there) 1906–1916
C3T (D 3/3) 501–505 3351, 3368–3369, 3699 Taken over in 1890 from the SOS (see there) 1901–1913
506–508 3364, 3370–3371 1907–1913
509–511 3372–3374 1909–1914
512–519 3352–3353, 3375–3378, 3390 1897–1925
520–539 3354–3359, 3363–3367, 3379–3386, 3389, 3391 1901–1925
540 3387 JS (Yverdon workshop) 1892 1924
541–546 3360–3361, 3392–3393, 3399 Taken over in 1890 from the JBL (see there) 1904–1913
547–555 3362–3363, 3388, 3394–3398 1902–1917
561–565 3421–3425 SLM Winterthur 1890 1916
B3 (Ec 3/4)[note 6] 601–612 6501–6512 SLM Winterthur 1901 1934–1955  
(Nachbau SBB) 6513–6529 1904–1910 1933–1961
E3 (E 3/3) 751–752 Taken over in 1891 from the Pont–Vallorbe Railway (see there) 1924–1948
F2 (E 2/3) 801 Taken over in 1890 from the SOS (see there) 1891
F3 (E 3/3) 851–852 8571–8572 Taken over in 1890 from the JBL (see there) 1911–1913
853–856 8574–8576 SLM Winterthur 1890 1911–1916
857–866 8431–8440 1901 1947
Locomotives of the narrow gauge Brünig Railway:
G2 (G 3/3) 901–906 101–110 Taken over in 1890 from the JBL (see there) 1911–1916  
907–910 SLM Winterthur 1887–1901 1915–1942
HG2 (HG 2/2) 951–958 1001–1008 Taken over in 1890 from the JBL (see there) 1908–1911
959–963 1009–1013 SLM Winterthur 1894–1901 1911–1912



  1. ^ a b Including the Aargau Southern Railway, the Bötzberg Railway, and the Wohlen-Bremgarten-Bahn [de], which were owned jointly by the Central Railway and the Northeastern Railway.
  2. ^ Neuchâtel-Vauseyon–Neuchâtel previously parallel tracks of the two lines to Lausanne and La Chaux-de-Fonds
  3. ^ Shared section of the Bern–Lyss–Biel line of the JS and Lyss–Solothurn line of the Central Railway
  4. ^ The SBB renumbered the locomotives taken over after the completion of boiler revisions.
  5. ^ Locomotive No. 301 initially bore the company number 231.
  6. ^ Locomotives 6513, 6515 and 6517–6529 were rebuilt from 1922 to 1928 in the SBB main workshops of Rorschach and Biel as Ec 3/5 6601–6615.


  1. ^ "unknown". The Locomotive Magazine: 44. 17 January 1903. {{cite journal}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  2. ^ "Traité entre la Suisse et l'Italie pour la construction et l'exploitation d'un chemin de fer à travers le Simplon de Brigue à Domodossola" (PDF) (in French). Government of Switzerland. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  3. ^ Bärtschi 2011.
  4. ^ "Das Eisenbahnunglück bei Mönchenstein". Schweizerische Bauzeitung (in German). 17 (25): 50. 1891. Archived from the original on 2018-01-29. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  5. ^ "Ueber das Eisenbahnunglück in Zollikofen bei Bern". Schweizerische Bauzeitung (in German). 18 (8): 50. 1891. Archived from the original on 2018-01-29. Retrieved 2019-07-22.
  6. ^ "Eisenbahnunglück bei Zollikofen". Schweizerische Bauzeitung (in German). 18 (9): 54–55. 1891. Archived from the original on 2018-01-29. Retrieved 2019-07-22.


  • Bärtschi, Hans-Peter (30 November 2011). Jura-Simplon-Bahn (JS) (in German). Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  • Frey, Thomas; Schiedt, Hans-Ulrich. "Jura–Simplon". bahndaten.ch. Daten zu den Schweizer Eisenbahnen 1847–1920 (in German). ViaStoria. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  • Moser, Alfred (1967). Der Dampfbetrieb der Schweizerischen Eisenbahnen 1847–1966 (in German). Basel and Stuttgart: Birkhäuser Verlag.
  • Wägli, Hans G. (2010). Schienennetz Schweiz und Bahnprofil Schweiz CH+ (in German). Zürich: AS Verlag. ISBN 978-3-909111-74-9.
  • Weissenbach, Plazid (1913). Das Eisenbahnwesen der Schweiz (PDF 14.8 MB) (in German). p. 66. Retrieved 22 July 2019.