Crocodiles in Switzerland ?

Crocodiles in Switzerland?

By Roger Heid

 

You may be able to find some in a heated zoo environment, somewhere in Switzerland. Otherwise, crocodiles are indigenous to Africa and Australia, as far as I know. So, what are crocodiles doing in Switzerland, besides freezing to death? Well, I was told they are pulling heavy trains through the mountain passes, on electrified lines. Can you imagine pantographs mounted on top of this menace? I suppose the one shown in the picture must be a Diesel.

 

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During a trip in Switzerland, I found out the truth about this. The Swiss Crocodile is an electric locomotive with a wheel configuration of 1-C+C-1. It is almost 64 feet long. The whole thing consists of three sections, two long snouts and a center section. The connections between the three sections are articulated to facilitate negotiation of tight curves. The snouts contain two motors each, the center section holds the crew cabs and a transformer; two pantographs are mounted on top of it.

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The first time I saw one was in Lucerne, which is the starting point of the Gotthardbahn. This line goes through the famous Gotthard Tunnel and finally winds up in Chiasso, on the south side of the Alps, where the Swiss speak Italian. I am told this scenic trip is quite something. I may take that trip, some day.

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These locomotives were first built between 1919 and 1921. They were designed to pull heavy loads from Lucerne to Chiasso, the Gotthard Bahn. They were known by the Ce  6/8 designation. On a good day, they were able to go about 28-30 mph. Between 1942 and 1947, they were rebuilt and somewhat modernized. In 1956, they saw an upgrade, allowing higher top speeds. Their new designation was Be 6/8.

Crocodile locomotives were also used on several narrow gauge lines, such as the Bernina Railway and the Zermatt Bahn.

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Very similar locos also saw service in Austria. In Germany, a different version came about, called ‘Alligators’ because of their shorter snouts and overall length. They were known as the E93 and E94. Their wheel configuration was 1-B+B-1.

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No, I never had a chance to ride on neither one, regrettably. The reptile versions of these, I do not wish to ride, neither on nor in it, you may understand. You can’t ride them all, I found out. At least, I saw them. The ‘Alligator’ I saw frequently during my childhood. I don’t think neither one of them are still in use, nowadays. I have not been to Europe for quite some time. Maybe someone knows. Both are a legacy of early electric locomotives.

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On my layout I don’t do catenaries, as it does not call for that, therefore, I don’t have neither in my collection. However, Maerklin always has both in their catalogue. I am certain other makers also do.

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