[CH] SBB to refurbish HGe 4/4 II locomotives for Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn

The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB) awarded SBB with a contract for refurbishing nine of its rack rail locomotives, type HGe 4/4 II, plus three control cars. SBB will also provide spare parts to MGB.

MGB tendered the refurbishment of its meter gauge HGe 4/4 II locomotives, three model BDt control cars and a spare parts package for the vehicles. SBB’s offer prevailed against several competitors, the contract was signed in Oktober 2018. The refurbishment of the locomotives will take place at SBB’s Industriewerk Bellinzona – making them ready for another 25 years of revenue service. The order has a value of SFr. 35,4 million.

MGB 106 in the Hospental on 09.07.2016 – Photo: Henk Zwoferink Fotografie

Work on the first MGB locomotive has already started, after it was taken from Brig to Bellinzona early October 2018. The other locomotives will follow one by one. The revision of the nine locomotives should be completed by 2022, and will be followed by the conversion of the three control cars.

Short HGe 4/4 II history

The HGe 4/4 II is a mixed adhesion and rack rail locomotive in use by the Zentralbahn (former SBB Brünigbahn) and the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (former Furka Oberalp Bahn + Brig Visp Zermatt Bahn) since 1985. In total, 23 machines were built, of which 13 (no. 1-5 and 101-108) are now owned by MGB, that used these for pulling Glacier Expresses, car transport, freight transport and infrastructure work.

The Glacier Express in a white mountain world pulled by a HGe 4/4 II locomotive – Photo: Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn

Refurbishment of the HGe 4/4 II and control cars

During refit of the approximately 30-year-old locomotives, the electric drive technology of the locomotives will be replaced. Modern converters will be installed, based on IGBT (or Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) technology. New asynchronous motors will improve energy-efficiency, together with new software and control technology.

Train driver’s view from a HGe 4/4 II – Photo: Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn

The locomotive’s bodywork will be renovated, a new train protection system will be installed, as was a new fire alarm. The driver’s cab will be enhanced, new displays will be installed. Modern diagnostic systems will monitor the locomotive’s condition at any time, its data will be remotely accessible. This will support both the driver and engineers to optimise its availability and support with trouble shooting.

The contract also includes three BDt control cars (no. 4361-4363) for the MGB car trains. These will be adapted for the new control technology of the locomotives and the cab equipment will be standardized.

MGB 106 in Tujetsch on 04.08.2016 – Photo: Henk Zwoferink Fotografie