Semmering Pass

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Semmering Pass

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Apr 08, 2017 11:10 am

I trust by now TRAINS subscribers have glanced at the article regarding Semmering Pass.

This pass is on the route between Vienna, Graz, and several Italian destinations such as Trieste. All told, it is not at a loss for traffic.

I first learned of this pass about 1960 when both the Rio Grande and Southern Pacific ordered Diesel-Hydraulic locomotives built by a German concern, and were tested over Semmering. TRAINS had a write up at that time.

The results on US railroads were "mixed". Rio Grande wanted nothing more and sold their units to SP. SP further ordered a fleet from Alco licensing the trchnology.

But otherwise, Austria OBB is now boring a 20 some mile tunnel to relegate the pass to local and excursion services. Expected service date about 2025.

Unlike over here, it is a reasonable assumption it will be "on time, on budget".

Considering how there has probably been more spent "higgling and piggling" over the two Corridor tunnels needed, all I can say is "they build, we bicker".

Here is YouTube video of a ride over the Pass:

https://youtu.be/3k--q_m9RY8
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Re: Semmering Pass

Postby johnthefireman » Sat Apr 08, 2017 12:01 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:about 1960 when both the Rio Grande and Southern Pacific ordered Diesel-Hydraulic locomotives built by a German concern, and were tested over Semmering. TRAINS had a write up at that time.

The results on US railroads were "mixed". Rio Grande wanted nothing more and sold their units to SP. SP further ordered a fleet from Alco licensing the trchnology.


A bit off your main topic, but I'm interested in the diesel hydraulic issue. They never really caught on in the UK (locos such as the Hymek, Warship and Western formed a relatively small part of the overall BR diesel fleet and didn't remain in service very long), and you suggest they were not overly popular in the USA either, and yet in Germany they appear to have been the mainstay of diesel traction. Anybody know why there were such mixed reactions to diesel hydraulic traction?
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Re: Semmering Pass

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sat Apr 08, 2017 6:52 pm

John, here is much more about the Krauss-Maffei diesel hydraulic locomotives and which were found to be unsuitable for service over here:

http://www.american-rails.com/ml-4000.html#Top

Lest we forget, during 1960, the standard locomotive over here was 1750hp. A unit rated at 4000hp was simply "unheard of".
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Re: Semmering Pass

Postby johnthefireman » Sun Apr 09, 2017 8:11 am

Thanks, Gilbert. Very interesting indeed for those of us who are not so familiar with US railroad practice and history. I was struck by this paragraph towards the end:

Once again they appeared to be performing admirably and meeting expectations. However, as time went on the D&RGW found the KM's unsatisfactory in rugged mountain service, eventually selling its trio to SP in 1964 which became #9021-9023. Southern Pacific came to a similar conclusion, relegating the original cab units to low-grade service in California's Central Valley.


I have vague memories that the British diesel hydraulics needed a lot of maintenance, so "rugged conditions" might not sit well with this class of traction? Perhaps German railways had less rugged conditions and a more intense maintenance regime?
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Re: Semmering Pass

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Apr 09, 2017 11:15 am

johnthefireman wrote: Perhaps German railways had less rugged conditions and a more intense maintenance regime?

Indicative of this is the German terrain away from Bavaria (SE; Munich) and that the units were sent to Austria, which except for the Danube's plain from Linz (not really on the tourist "must see" list) to Vienna, is one big mountain range.
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Re: Semmering Pass

Postby philipmartin » Sun Apr 09, 2017 2:09 pm

The Mau 2017 Trains Magazine has an eight page, well illustrated feature on the Semmering. Your YouTube ride is a nice compliment to go with the Trains article.
Trains recently did a feature article on the Ferro Caril Centeal Andino, and now this feature on the Semmering.
Isn't it nice that the magazine is giving exposure to spectacular railways worldwide.
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