JUST months after the innovative gauge-changing Golden Pass Express (GPX) fleet was introduced to much fanfare on the metre-gauge Montreux-Oberland Bernois (MOB) and standard-gauge Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon (BLS) railways, a problem has emerged that has halted through running.

Operating as a luxury service on the scenic route between Lake Geneva and the Bernese Oberland via the upmarket ski resort of Gstaad, the new fleet has been withdrawn from the BLS section due to unusually high wear being detected on the 1435mm-gauge pointwork.

BLS is reported to have noted the wear during a routine inspection of the Zweisimmen - Interlaken line in February, and then took the decision to bar the route to the new GPX gauge-changing rolling stock until the problem had been further investigated. Both MOB and BLS are carrying out examinations of rolling stock, track and infrastructure to identify the cause of the wear, which has not emerged as a problem for BLS with previous builds of rolling stock.

A winter snowscape view of the GoldenPass Express running over the metre gauge MOB part of the route. Photo credit: MOB

The new GPX rolling stock is continuing to operate over the MOB metre-gauge part of the route, but passengers are for now once again having to change to a different BLS train at Zweisimmen.

“Due to a technical fault between Zweisimmen and Interlaken Ost, GoldenPass Express trains are no longer running [throughout] this section, but only between Montreux and Zweisimmen,” states the MOB Golden Pass Express webpage. “BLS and MOB are working together to determine the cause of the problem. Between Zweisimmen and Interlaken Ost, the journey will be made by another BLS train, until the situation is clarified.”

“With an innovative product like this, all stakeholders are constantly learning,” says MOB CEO, Mr Georges Oberson. ”We measured bogie data on the BLS section. All the data are identical to those observed during the approval process. We are convinced of the reliability of our new trains.”

“We are analysing the results with MOB and hope that the Golden Pass Express service will soon be able to resume on the BLS network,” says BLS CEO, Mr Daniel Schafer. “Our customers really appreciate the trains.”

GoldenPass Express cars undergoing testing over the gauge-switcher at Zweisimmen station. Photo credit: MOB

The technology incorporated in the new train bogies was developed by Prose and Alstom after more than a decade of the MOB advocating the concept of a through train able to switch between the line’s two gauges. The GPX trains designed and built by Stadler entered service on December 11 2022 following extensive testing of the new fleet and the gauge-changing installation at Zweisimmen.

Last month, Mr Christoph Gyr, of Prose, explained in an IRJ feature how the technology helping to avoid the need for passengers to change trains had been designed and developed.

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