Historic visit of Swiss loco to Llanberis

THE visit of Brienz Rothorn Bahn (BRB) rack locomotive No. 2 and BRB coach No. B1 to the Snowdon Mountain Railway (SMR) came to fruition through the month of September.

The unprecedented project had been five years in the planning, and is unlikely to be repeated.

No. 2 was built by Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthur, Switzerland (689/1891).

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Worked by a Swiss crew, BRB No. 2 and coach No. B1 steam away from Llanberis station past the loco shed on September 10. The angle at which the BRB loco is constructed to accommodate working on steep gradients is noticeable. CLIFF THOMAS

This was the first time a locomotive has visited Snowdon’s 800mm-gauge (2ft 7½in) Abt rack system line, the first time another Winterthur-built loco has appeared alongside SMR’s resident Winterthur-built steam locos, and the first time a train normally operated in Switzerland has visited a UK railway.

The BRB train was expected to work up to Waterfall station, but post-arrival trials revealed a technical issue concerning compatibility of the Swiss loco’s pinion and SMR’s rack hence the BRB loco was not cleared to work passenger trains up the steep gradient of Afon Hwch Viaduct.

However, the free train rides over some 250 yards of track from Llanberis station across the river and up to the foot of the first viaduct proved very popular, with additional trains added to the publicised four daily trips.

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