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Increased capacity thanks to twin-coach multiple units

Story 65

Visitor numbers increased sharply from the mid-1950s onwards. In response, Binz, the director, and his team looked at new ways of improving passenger capacity. The spotlight fell on new twin-coach multiple units. 

Initial investigations 

1959 saw the Gornergrat Railway carry over one million passengers for the first time – some 30% more than in the previous year. In order to keep pace with the influx of visitors, the company put four additional light-alloy railcars into operation in 1961.

However, the continuing growth in passenger traffic obliged Binz to consider more far-reaching solutions. One idea was to procure twin-coach multiple units. The new design was elaborated by the company working alongside Schweizerische Lokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik Winterthur (SLM) and Brown Boveri & Cie in Baden. 

Double the capacity 

The new twin-coach multiple units consisted of two single coaches coupled together, which could be controlled from one driver’s cab. Thus one train and one driver could carry 230 passengers – 120 seated and 110 standing: more than twice as many as in a single railcar.  

A compelling solution 

The company’s investigations showed that twin-coach multiple units could largely be built using the same proven components as those used in the existing light-alloy railcars. This meant the suppliers could continue to ensure spare part availability for the old vehicles as well as the new ones. The twin-coach multiple units thus offered an elegant solution to increasing efficiency and greatly boosting passenger capacity. 

Approval by the board of directors 

In 1962, Binz the director presented this solution to the board of directors, which approved the CHF 2.4 million needed for the purchase. June saw the Gornergrat Railway order two type Bhe 4/8 twin-coach multiple units.  

Following a series of tests and trial runs, the new trains (numbers 3041 and 3042) were put into service on 28 December 1965

Another new order 

The new twin-coach multiple units proved their worth. As a result, the Gornergrat Railway ordered two more trains (numbers 3043 and 3044) of the same type.  

Based on lessons learned, these featured improvements such as electro-hydraulic folding doors and removable ski racks. Commissioning took place in 1974.

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