Product Features and Details
Model: Fulgurex's model of the Ae6/6 are exquisite. They are handmade out of brass with extensive detail which include full cab interior, functional doors that open and close, and exquisite detailed bogies. Model features full cab, motor compartment and exterior illumination, spring loaded puffers, directional lighting, finely detailed pantographs and extensive exterior details. Models are equipped with an ESU loksound decoder, high efficiency "Faulhaber" type brush-less iron-less motor. The Ae6/6s are extremely limited with only 175 produced worldwide. We believe they would make a nice addition to any collection, especially for the collectors that love iconic Swiss electric locomotives. We expect delivery early part of May 2012.
PROTOTYPE: The Swiss Ae 6/6 locomotives are one of the most iconic Swiss electric locomotives. The Ae6/6 is sometimes also referred to as canton locomotive ("Kantonslokomotive") because the first 25 locomotives were named after the canton regions of Switzerland. Each locomotive carried the canton's coat of arms on the side and chrome embellishments and the Swiss coat of arms on the front, between the chrome stripes. These adornments made them internationally famous. The other 95 locomotives received the names of capital cities of Swiss cantons and other towns and cities, but without the chrome embellishments. The namings were held as ceremonies in the respective cities. Originally designed for heavy services on the Gotthard route, as many Swiss locomotives were, the Ae 6/6 was one of the classic Gotthard locomotives. All locomotives were originally painted in the SBB CFF FFS green livery, with the number, and either SBB CFF, or SBB FFS on each side, all raised numerals in chrome. Nowadays about half are painted red, and a proportion of the fleet have been repainted in SBB Cargo livery, with all raised chrome embellishments removed apart from the Swiss coat of arms on each end. These locomotives have been renumbered (as class 610) in line with the current Swiss numbering scheme. Before the advent of the Ae 6/6, trains on the Gotthard route were hauled mainly by Ae 4/6, Ae 4/7 and Be 6/8 ("crocodile"), which were underpowered by contemporary standards. This led to many trains needing bank engines on the Gotthard ramps, and adding them was a tedious, uneconomical and impractical procedure.
Demands on the Ae 6/6:
SBB needed a more powerful locomotive. The specification, created in 1949, included that the locomotive to be developed must be able the pull a 600 tonne train over the 26‰ gradients of the Gotthard line at 75 km/h. The first prototype with the number 11401 was scheduled for delivery in 1952.
Experiences with the prototypes:
Intense trial runs were made with the prototypes. They had bogies with fixed axles, which led to heavy rail and wheel flange abrasion. Despite some early technical issues, the SBB-CFF-FFS were convinced they were on the right path with the development of the Ae 6/6. After introducing side-elastic wheelsets and making the wheel flanges of the middle axles smaller, the series production started in 1954, resulting in the first series locomotives delivered in 1955.
Operations until the 1960s:
In its heyday, the 1950s and 1960s, the Ae 6/6 was the Gotthard locomotive par excellence, both for passenger and freight traffic. They were also used on the route through the Simplon tunnel. They were used in turns to ensure regular servicing in the main maintenance facility at Bellinzona. In the late 1960s, the two prototypes were retired from service on the Gotthard line; gradually followed by the rest of the class, although occasional workings continue to this day. After the introduction of the Re 6/6 locomotives, most Ae6/6 were reallocated to services in the Swiss plateau. Since this time, they have been mostly used for freight trains, because they are too slow for the faster passenger services. An exception were those units hired by the BLS, which were sometimes used to haul relief and intercity trains over the Lötschberg route.
The First Prototypes:
The locomotive 11401 was delivered in 1952, and put on test runs. 11402 was completed in 1953. They were tested in a two-day programme on the Gotthard route, where they run up to 900 km in one day. Temporarily, however, there were one or two of the six motors broken, which were replaced by ballast to keep the correct weight. The locomotives with broken motors where then used in services normally run by the less powerful Ae 4/7. The series locomotives 11403-11520 were delivered from 1955 to 1966. They first replaced the Ae 4/7 and later the newer Ae 4/6. For about 20 years, practically all heavy freight and passenger trains on the Gotthard route were hauled by this locomotive.
Locomotive Canton and Capital City Namings:
Locomotive namings were a feature introduced to Switzerland with the Ae6/6, a custom adopted from Britain. All Ae6/6 were decorated with a coat of arms of cantons or communes. Theye were grand events at the time, and every canton was proud to get its "own" Ae 6/6. Locomotives 11426 to 11520 got coats of arms of communes.
In 1999, all 120 locomotives were assigned to the SBB-CFF-FFS cargo division (SBB Cargo) following the internal reorganisation of the SBB-CFF-FFS. The Ae 6/6 is still a very reliable locomotive for freight traffic. Due the fact that the Ae 6/6 have three-axle bogies, they are deemed "rail killers" because of the higher rail abrasion compared to engines with two-axle bogies. This was especially considered an issue for freight runs on the Chemin de fer du Jura route Porrentruy-Bonfol. One of the biggest disadvantages of the Ae 6/6 is said to be the lack of multiple unit train control, which makes operating two engines together impractical. At one time, retrofitting this feature was proposed, but these plans were discarded due to the uncertain future of the locomotive. It was also considered to equip some of the newer engines with cab signalling, to allow them to run on cab signalling only-routes. This was tentatively done on the 11512 «Horgen». The remaining operational locomotives are still used for freight trains, but often they just stand about in larger shunting yards. After the coats of arms were found to be being stolen repeatedly (mostly as a souvenir, because it is generally assumed that the Ae 6/6 won't stay in service much longer and will eventually be scrapped), SBB Cargo ordered their removal in March 2005 and will presumably turn them over to SBB Historic. In 2009-04-06 SBB-CFF-FFS announced that 65 of the class will be withdrawn from service because of the slump in demand caused by the recession. 53 will be stored pending an upturn whilst 12 will probably be scrapped or cannibalised. Retirements from service. The first locomotive to be withdrawn was 11410 «Basel-Stadt», due to an accident in 2002. Since then more of the class have been withdrawn, among them the prototypes 11402 «Uri» and 11401 «Ticino». The rate of withdrawal accelerated in 2009.