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Zurich Rehalp – Esslingen
Route of the Forchbahn
Timetable field : 731
Route length: 13.060 km
Gauge : 1000 mm ( meter gauge )
Power system : 1200  =
Maximum slope : 69 
Dual track : Zurich Rehalp – Neue Forch
Zurich tram
0,000 Zurich Rehalp 520  m above sea level M.
Stop, stop
1.080 Forest castle 585  m above sea level M.
Stop, stop
1.480 Zollikerberg Hospital 600  m above sea level M.
Stop, stop
1.990 Zollikerberg 605  m above sea level M.
Stop, stop
3.450 Waltikon 640  m above sea level M.
Zumiker Tunnel (1758 m)
4.250 Zumikon 650  m above sea level M.
5.020 Maiacher 665  m above sea level M.
Stop, stop
5.590 New research 675  m above sea level M.
Station, station
6.400 Forch 675  m above sea level M.
Tunnel - if there are several tunnels in a row
Research tunnel (282 m)
Stop, stop
7.410 Shame 655  m above sea level M.
Stop, stop
9.000 Neuhaus near Hinteregg 605  m above sea level M.
Stop, stop
10.090 Hinteregg 560  m above sea level M.
Stop, stop
10.750 Egg 545  m above sea level M.
Stop, stop
11.480 Langwies ZH 525  m above sea level M.
Stop, stop
12.200 Emmat 515  m above sea level M.
End station - end of the line
13,060 Esslingen 485  m above sea level M.

The Forchbahn , also popularly known as (Tante) Frieda or Fri (e) da Bünzli , is a meter- gauge narrow - gauge railway in Switzerland that runs between Zurich and Esslingen . The name comes from the village of Forch and the pass of the same name ( 676  m above sea level ) between Lake Zurich and Lake Greifensee , which the train crosses about halfway.

The Forchbahn is closely connected to the Zurich Transport Authority (VBZ) through joint management and operations management and represents a link between trams and railways . The operator is Forchbahn AG ( FB ) based in Zurich, which is owned by the municipalities it serves, among others . Their share capital is distributed as follows: Confederation 32.8%, Canton Zurich 31.5%, City of Zurich 11.3%, Municipality Egg 6.8%, Municipality Zollikon 6.6%, Municipality Zumikon 4.9%, Municipality Küsnacht 3.3%, municipality of Maur 2.1% and private 0.7%.

Route and operation

Forch depot and train station, the center of operations for the railway

The distance traveled is 16.407 kilometers long. Of these, the 13.060 kilometers between Zurich Rehalp and Esslingen belong to the Forchbahn, with continuous signal protection and Vignol rails . On the Forch and Zumikon there are tunnels with a length of 282 and 1758 meters respectively. The 5.758-kilometer route between Zurich Rehalp and Neue Forch has two lanes and is designed for track-changing operations, with normal driving on the right. The stops Neue Forch and Emmat are request stops .

In Zurich, the 3.347 kilometers of the Zurich tram network is shared between Rehalp and Zurich Stadelhofen train station . It is driven on sight and on grooved rails and the Forchbahn vehicles are specially equipped with direction indicators. The Zurich city section belongs to the Zurich public transport company and, like all Zurich tram routes, has two lanes. It is generally used in the facility. The bi-directional vehicles of the Forchbahn are available to change tracks at Hegibachplatz and at the Burgwies tram depot in the event of operational disruptions . The tram stops Friedhof Enzenbühl, Burgwies, Wetlistrasse, Hedwigsteig and Signaustrasse are not served by the Forchbahn - partly because the platforms are too short - with up to 16 axles, the Forchbahn trains are longer than the maximum twelve-axle urban trams.

Driving is electrical with a direct voltage of 1200 volts. The urban tram network to Rehalp is electrified with a direct voltage of 600 volts.

In the beginning, Forchbahn transported milk in particular from the countryside to the city of Zurich. Today it is mainly used to transport commuters to Zurich and excursionists to the Pfannenstiel region. The trains run every 15 minutes during the day and every half hour in the evening. In addition, there are accelerated courses during rush hour, which do not stop between Zurich Rehalp and Forch and thus shorten the travel time from 35 minutes to 30 minutes. They were up in the 2010s express train called today the company speaks of express trains .

An extension of the Forchbahn to Zurich main station has been discussed several times without these plans being implemented. According to the VBZ line concept 2025 , this extension should be implemented in infrastructure stage 4 by 2025. In the updated network strategy 2030 , however, implementation was postponed for an indefinite period.


Street part in Zollikerberg around 1915

Forchbahn AG was constituted on June 20, 1910 and began regular rail operations on November 29, 1912. Then she set off a Founded in 1905 and with Martini buses operated bus route from Zurich from to Egg, which was unusual for that time. From 1836 to 1906 there was also a stagecoach service according to the timetable from Zurich via Forch to Grüningen and Wald .

The travel time over the entire route of the Forchbahn was 67 minutes when it opened, initially five motor vehicles and four trailers were available. In Esslingen there was originally a connection to the meter-gauge Uster – Oetwil Railway (UOe), which was opened in 1909 and with which the Forch Railway jointly maintained the station. The Uster – Oetwil railway, in turn, had a connection in Langholz to the Wetzikon – Meilen railway (WMB) opened in 1903 . A merger of the three railways never came about. The Uster – Oetwil railway ceased operations in 1949, a year later the tracks were demolished and the Wetzikon – Meilen railway was also shut down.

On October 5, 1941, two trains collided head-on on the single-track line between the Forch and Scheuren stations . The driver of one train was killed, the other suffered only minor injuries. Three passengers were seriously injured and eight were slightly injured. The cause of the collision was a misunderstanding between the station staff: Due to a train delay, the station manager on the Forch wanted to have the two trains cross in Scheuren, but the corresponding instruction was misunderstood there.

After a two-week trial bus operation in 1950 was unsatisfactory, the Board of Directors decided in 1951 to maintain and extensively modernize the railway. For this purpose, large parts of the route were relocated from the road to a separate track in the 1950s and partially expanded to double tracks. In 1954 the board of directors approved a loan of 2.2 million Swiss francs for the double lane between Zurich Rehalp and Zollikerberg and the procurement of new vehicles. In 1966, goods traffic ended on the route.

In the 1970s, further expansion steps followed, which significantly shape the Forchbahn today: In 1970, the new construction of the Forch depot facility, the associated Forch station and the Forch tunnel under the Forch autostrasse (A52) that was built at the same time were opened. A year later it was decided to tunnel under the center of Zumikon , construction work began in 1973 and in 1975 it was decided to extend the tunnel during construction. The 1758 meter long Zumikon tunnel with the two tunnel stops Zumikon and Maiacher was opened in 1976 and almost completely undercuts the municipality of Zumikon.

The operational planning drawn up in 1974 indicated a need for around ten new double multiple units, i.e. two closely coupled four-axle vehicles, for the next two decades . The concept for the new rolling stock had been worked out with the VBZ and their suppliers and was based on the new VBZ tram type Be 4/6 “Tram 2000” . The Forchbahn derivative "FB 2000" consisted of two closely coupled Be 4/4 railcars, which, in contrast to the six-axle VBZ counterpart, managed without a joint and had doors on both sides and a wider car body . At the same time as the first new VBZ trams, the first three Be 8/8 double multiple units were put into operation in 1976. Another three double railcars and four matching four-axle control cars followed by 1986 . These double railcars were still designed in classic electrical engineering with serial / parallel switchover. This enabled the switchover between 1200 volts on the overland section and 600 volts on the tram network to be reliably implemented with the technology of the time. The vehicle generation of the Neuchâtel tram , which was in operation until 2020, was derived from the Be 8/8 . The Tram 2000 vehicle type was delivered for the last time in 1994 in the form of eight freely configurable Be-4/4 double railcars, these are equipped with converters and three-phase motors.

Since the Zürcher Verkehrsverbund (ZVV) began operating in 1990, Forchbahn has also been part of it and is also integrated into the Zurich S-Bahn network as line S 18 , its color code is red. During night traffic on weekends, line SN 18 runs every hour as an alternative, but only to and from Egg. Originally, the Forchbahn trains were signposted with the black line signal F on a white background. At the time when the rolling stock was also painted in the Zurich city colors blue and white, this served to better distinguish it from the city tram lines. With the introduction of the independent cream-red paint scheme in 1959, this marking was omitted, as the Forchbahn trains were now recognizable from afar.

In 2004 Forchbahn received thirteen low - floor half - trains of the type Be 4/6 from Stadler Rail.

The six BDe-4 / 4- railcars 111-116 and some control cars were given away to Madagascar in 2008 , where they - equipped with diesel engines - should be used as a light rail on the revitalized tracks of Antananarivo , which is due to this day (2020) the financial situation did not work.

Apart from the party tram BDe 4/4 10 and the CFe 2/2 with trailer C 11, most of the older vehicles have been handed in or scrapped. It is planned to prepare some vehicles as museum vehicles.

The coupling linkage of the 107 control car was so badly damaged that it was scrapped at Hügler AG in Dübendorf.

In 2009 the Stadelhoferplatz was rebuilt so that the Forchbahn and tram traffic can be handled via separate rails and reversing loops.

In 2017 just over six million passengers were carried.

Rolling stock

genus Numbers number Years of construction comment
Forchbahn CFe 4.JPG CFe 2/2 1-5 05 1912 out of service, number 4 has been preserved as a historic vehicle
Forchbahn C 11.JPG C. 11-15 05 1912 later renumbered 111–115, out of service, number 11 has been preserved as a historic vehicle
Trains du Forchbahn (Suisse) (6339891876) .jpg CFe 2/3 6th 01 1915 with three-axle steering underframe , nickname Brigitte , was scrapped due to severe rust damage
Ce 2/2 7-8 02 1900 Used in 1933, acquired by the Limmattal tram , out of service since 1958/1967
C. 501-502 02 1909 Used in 1939, acquired by the Zurich city tram, out of service since 1967
Forchbahn BDe 10.JPG CFe 4/4 9-10 02 1948 BDe 4/4 converted into a company vehicle Xe 4/4 9 (snow plow), BDe 4/4 10 has been preserved as a party tram, is under revision in 2020. These two railcars were built in the Schlieren wagon factory. They are closely related to the CFe 4/4 No. 5 and 6 of the former Sernftalbahn .
BDe 4/4 11-16 06th 1959-1966 later renumbered 111–116, given to Madagascar
Bt 101 01 1959 off-duty
Forchbahn B119.JPG Bt 118-119 02 ? Used in 1962, acquired by the Transports publics de la région Lausanne , the Bt 119 is in the Trammuseum Zurich , the Bt 118 was scrapped.
Forchbahn Bt 104.JPG Bt 102-108 07th 1967-1968 except Bt 107 delivered to Madagascar
Forchbahn Stadelhofen.jpg Be 8/8 21 / 22-31 / 32 12 1976-1986
Forchbahn Bt 202.JPG Bt 201-204 04th 1981-1982
Forchbahn Be 4-4 Stadelhofen.jpg Be 4/4 51-58 08th 1994
Forchbahn Be 4-6 Kreuzplatz.jpg Be 4/6 61-73 13 2004-2005


  • Thomas Fischer: 75 years of Forchbahn. Zurich 1987. ISBN 3-906681-04-1
  • Werner Neuhaus: From the annals of the Forchbahn. Stäfa, 2nd edition 1982.

Web links

Commons : Forchbahn  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Forchbahn AG (Ed.): Annual Report 2018 . 2018, p. 7 ( [PDF; accessed on January 22, 2020]).
  2. Peter Haslebacher: Frieda. In: May 28, 2019, accessed January 22, 2020 .
  3. Christine Weder: Label fraud. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung. November 29, 2012, accessed January 22, 2020 .
  4. What does the future hold? The VBZ line concept 2025. In: (PDF)
  5. VBZ network strategy 2030 (PDF)
  6. a b c 100 years of Forchbahn - history / short chronicle / history on, accessed on January 24, 2020
  7. ↑ Collision at the Forchbahn. (PDF; 342 kB) In: Liechtensteiner Volksblatt. October 7, 1941, p. 2 , accessed October 20, 2013 .
  8. Extra trips. Retrieved on February 23, 2020 (Swiss Standard German).
  9. Forchbahn. In: Aktion Pro Sächsitram. Retrieved January 18, 2015 .
  10. ^ Christian Lehmann: Un tramway suisse à Antananarivo. In: July 22, 2004, accessed January 18, 2015 (French).
  11. Extra trips. Retrieved on February 23, 2020 (Swiss Standard German).