Sven Mooser and Jonas Lauber are enthusiastic train drivers. When the Gornergrat Railway ordered five new POLARIS trains in 2019, they were looking forward to working with the latest technology. In an interview, they explain the challenges they had to overcome in order to get the new engine into operation.
What impressed you about the new trains?
Sven Mooser: “Participating in the commissioning of POLARIS was a new challenge for me. In our profession it doesn’t happen very often that you are allowed to inaugurate new rolling stock.”
Jonas Lauber: “Being one of the first people to drive the train was special. The first trips were correspondingly exciting, and sitting in the driver’s cab, the train seemed incredibly massive.”
How is POLARIS different from older models?
Sven Mooser: “The perspective is different from what you are used to. Think of it like a new car. Although you know it fits into the garage, you’re a bit timid at first. That’s certainly how I felt going into the depot during profile trips, where we had to test how to enter due to the narrow gates.”
Were there any breakdowns during the introduction?
Jonas Lauber: “When POLARIS was supplied with electricity for the first time on 20 April 2022, there were a few stumbling blocks. In the first attempt, the engine only moved six metres. In addition, the handling was unpleasant at first, with a lot of rattling and jolting. Fortunately, we were able to drive up to the Gornergrat on the third day.”
What exactly did you do?
Sven Mooser: “We had to work with the manufacturer to find the reasons for the irregularities and remedy the defects. We tested all functions according to a checklist and were able to identify problem areas.”
What is changing for train drivers?
Sven Mooser: “In POLARIS, the train driver has access to new technology. So getting familiar with the displays, for example, was challenging.”
Jonas Lauber: “There were three of us train drivers responsible for commissioning. Our tasks also included presenting the new engines to other train drivers, accompanying them on the rails and explaining the new instruments to them.”