Thursday, 26 July 2018

Blame It All On Napoleon (2)

Yesterday we explored (in a somewhat whimsical fashion) the town of Rheinfelden, a few miles to the east of Basel.
Historically, the town was at the centre of numerous political and military shinanagens involving France (Dukes of Burgundy etc), Germany and Austria (Hapsburgs), The Holy Roman Empire, even Sweden and a few Swiss civil wars as well.
Fortifications were built on the little island, torn down, rebuilt, blown up and rebuilt at fairly frequent intervals. But, thanks to Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1803 the border between German and Switzerland was fixed down the centre of the Rhein.

The German Rheinfelden (which would prefer to be Swiss, really) is known as "Rheinfelden Baden", its name including a shortened version of Baden Wurtemburg the German "state" which borders Switzerland at this point.

So both halves have their own public transport infrastructure and today's blog will deal with the trains.

It would be simple to say that Deutsche Bahn (DB) trains run from Basel via Rheinfelden Baden (north bank of the Rhein : coloured YELLOW) ...
... and SBB Swiss Railway trains run via Rheinfelden (GREEN).

Certainly The YELLOW line service runs from Basel Badischer station (Basel Bad Bf on the map)  ...
... which is owned and run by DB. Indeed the station is effectively part of Germany with its exit via the two nations' customs posts, largely ignored by passengers. (click on any of the maps for an enlargement).

The trains look like DB trains painted in DB red.
But the RB code on the line tells us that it is operated by the Hochrheinbahn, a DB subsidiary which still exists because of the political complexity of the line. 
After the end of the YELLOW route, longer distance trains pass through Switzerland (again!) to call at Schaffhausen, a station jointly manged by DB and SBB, then back into Germany before terminating at Konstanz. To add to the international fun, Konstanz is a Germany city north of the Rhein, but it has a little nibble south of the river totally surrounded by water and Switzerland.
The YELLOW service run to Waldshut ...
... and is marketed as part of the Basel S-Bahn (suburban railway) network and overseen by Swiss Railways. But this line is operated by DB. The timetable shows these S-Bahn/RB/YELLOW trains plus longer distance services which continue beyond Waldshut..
A half hourly service runs for an extended peak period on Mondays to Fridays (note  1 ). Don't worry it only gets worse.
Waldshut (DB Station, DB trains to Basel and Zurich) is also the terminus of a Swiss Railway electrified line numbered S27.

Note, in passing, that there are two Laufenburgs with the Baden version perched on an attractive embankment at the north bank of the Rhein.
Across the river, on the south bank community is the other Laufenberg station ...
... which is at the end of one of the branches of the GREEN line, or S1. (remember?)
The S1 is simple (?); it is always in Switzerland and it is always operated by SBB. It does carry Inter Regio trains to Zurich as per the timetable below.
They call at Rheinfelden but not at Laufenburg!


But not quite. Just as you thought it was safe to get into the muddied waters of Basel's intertwined and international local rail network, you might like to know that the GREEN line (or S1) used to run across Basel and on to Mulhouse (pronounced Mull-Ooze).
Almost all of that bit of S1 is in France and, guess what, the whole of the S1 GREEN line was once operated by SNCF (French Railways) via their subsidiary TER.
Fortunately, that has now changed and SNCF (TER) only runs between Basel and Mulhouse as a pink but unnamed or numbered line ...
... with the "Omnibus" trains terminating at Basel SBB station (French end!)
Un train omnibus (ou train local) est un train, généralement de voyageurs, qui dessert toutes les gares de son parcours. Les trains omnibus assurent le plus souvent des services locaux sur des distances relativement courtes. Leur lenteur, due au grand nombre d'arrêts et au temps perdu pour ralentir et accélérer leur a valu parfois le surnom de « tortillard ».

So that is the simple railway set-up at Rheinfelden. Tomorrow, the buses!

Meanwhile - In Northampton ...
Alan writes ...
fbb can only conclude that bus companies would prefer it if people simply did not use their services.

 Next Rheinfelden blog : Friday 27th July 


  1. Alan should try at northampton main road depot, daventry library, rugby travel shop main road or the tourist info in rugby, village hopper contact highway group in Wellingborough which I might do myself as I might need them on Saturdays and the library suggests I should download a PDF instead of having them in the timetable rack!! Red rose, Mk kube travel shop opposite the point!!

  2. Oh and Leicester for centrebus!!

  3. I regularly tour the county seeking out leaflets Mr and Mrs Average potential passenger are not going to do this. Why should they have to travel to Main Road or Milton Keynes railway station to get a leaflet?

    Stagecoach Wellingborough and Kettering area times change on August 19th. What are the chances of finding a complete set of current leaflets for Stagecoach and Centrebus at Wellingborough Library, Museum or Kettering Museum in late August? Fairly low I suspect.

    There is a guide to Centrebus services in Northamptonshire dated 22nd July but it only contains times for routes 16 and W8: so no information on 8, 18, 59, 60 or RF1.

    Absence of printed publicity is a symptom of
    “ on our website-itis” Read the wise words of Roger French in “Buses” , August 2018, page 19, especially his point number 4.

    1. Leaving aside that the 16 & W8 are the only commercial services, the rest are council contracts or that the RF1 already appears in the Rutland leaflet the big issue is timing. The 59 & 60 were only awarded a week before commencement, the 8 & 18 the week before and neither was certain to be awarded until it was if Centrebus had waited until they were confirmed there would have been no publicity for the extensive changes to the commercial routes as it takes more than a week for leaflets just to be printed & delivered (let alone time for the designing whether in house or by an external designer). The RF1 is due to change during September as it is being retendered, the result of which is still unclear so if it was included the leaflet would be out of date almost immediately incurring wasted costs on a very marginal network where publicity is already available via another leaflet covering the area the route actually runs through.

  4. There has also been a lack of Stagecoach printed timetables in Kent following a major service revision in June affecting their network in the Folkestone and Ashford areas.

    Reports indicated that they were being issued a few at a time, and weeks after the change a number had still not been seen at local Stagecoach enquiry points.

  5. "But the RB code on the line tells us that it is operated by the Hochrheinbahn, a DB subsidiary which still exists because of the political complexity of the line."

    No, RB in a German rail context just means "RegionalBahn", i.e. an unnumbered stopping train service.

    1. And apart from a 2.042km in Schaffhausen, is entirely owned by DB (English wikipedia is wrong!).
      Hochrheinbahn is merely a description, similar to "Windsor Lines" or the "Berks & Hants" route.

  6. if all this cross border stuff seems to work quite happily there why are the UK & the EU getting in such a pickle re the Irish Republic?
    (I probably don't want an answer to that as it would fill up the internet!)