Saturday, February 20, 2010

Transport: Solving a Railfan Mystery

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Of late, I have been spending some time updating the list of every railroad locomotive I have ever noted. The list is organized by railroad in alphabetical order. Since 2004, the first railroad listed has been Aare-Seeland mobil (ASm), which is what amounts to a regional transportation agency in an area along the Aare River between Zurich and Bern, Switzerland. A single locomotive of class Em3/3 (meaning diesel switcher with three powered axles of three total axles) with locomotive number 1 was listed as being spotted in Langental, Switzerland on 15 February 2004.

This entry has always bothered me, since it didn't make sense. Essentially the whole ASm system in meter-gauge. Their sole Em3/3 standard-gauge switcher was assigned to the interchange with the standard-gauge system at Niederbipp, Switzerland. It should not have been in Langental. Furthermore, my notes from the day state that the locomotive was green "and had no notable markings other than the Em3/3 class marking and a large 'M'". In every picture I have ever seen of an ASm locomotive, including the standard-gauge switcher (the best one is on the European Rail Server), it has been orange in color. Furthermore, the pictures did not indicate that it had the number "1", and I don't make up numbers. Had a green locomotive been repainted orange, it didn't seem likely that it would be renumbered from "1".

So, staring at the entry every time I opened the document since it was right at the top, I finally decided to do further investigation. After rather extensive Googling (notably, Bing was useless) I stumbled onto this picture. It's at Niederbipp, not Langental, but it shows a standard-gauge green Em3/3 switcher with a big "M" on the side. It was numbered 2 underneath the "M," but if there's a 2, there's likely a 1 also. I had almost certainly seen its sister locomotive.

Further research revealed that the locomotive was owned by Makies AG, a construction company that runs its own trains about 20 km southeast of where I saw the locomotive. I never turned up a picture of locomotive #1, but it seemed clear enough that my entry needed to be changed. Aare-Seeland mobil has been deleted, and Makies AG added. I no longer have to stare at a suspect entry.

"A" to "Z" in my locomotive listing now runs from the Achenseebahn to the Zillertalbahn. Ironically, both of these lines are narrow gauge railroads out of Jenbach, Austria! I wonder how many railfans have the same bookends, even if what is in between is very different.

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