United Swiss Railways

The United Swiss Railways ( VSB, or VSB ) is a former railway company of Switzerland. They were the smallest of the five railway companies that were nationalized after 1902.

Establishment and financing

The United Swiss railways originated on May 1, 1857 through the merger of three railway companies, who put all of them in financial trouble:

  • The St. Gallo- Appenzell Railways ( SGAE ) took between 15 October 1855 to 25 October 1856, the route Winterthur -Wil -St. Gallen -Rorschach in operation. During the construction of the railway line had to be created a number of important bridges. For the final payments of the ongoing construction work lacked the financial resources.
  • The Swiss Südostbahn (SOB ) - not to be confused with today's Swiss Südostbahn - aimed at the construction of a railway Lukmanier that had been stimulated as early as 1839 by the engineer Richard La Nicca. The Company was incorporated on September 1, 1853 with a share capital of 25 million francs. The capital came from the cantons of St. Gallen and Graubünden and especially of English banking houses. The start of construction work performed by English entrepreneurs was unsatisfactory. The senior engineer Pickering was dismissed. Due to financial difficulties, came the construction of routes Rorschach -St. Margrethen -Sargans -Chur, Sargans -Weesen - brick bridge -Rapperswil and Weesen -Glarus in halt. The section on Lake Walen related to the construction of many tunnels. The lines Südostbahn would have become lucrative access lines in establishing a railway Eastern Alps.
  • The Glatthalbahn ( Gl- TB ) opened on 1 August 1856, the route Wallisellenstrasse - examination. However, there was no money for the continued construction of the line to Rapperswil.

The financial problems of the VSB start stir among other things, therefore, that the construction costs were far too deeply appreciated, which led to an increased demand for capital in the amount of approximately CHF 20 million. As an investor, a French investor was found. The Parisian banker Isaac Pereire of the Crédit Mobilier sought a Ostalpentransversale as a link between the French railway companies Chemin de fer du Midi, Chemins de fer de l' Ouest and Chemin de fer de l' Est railway with its investments in the Balkans.

Further development

The CDB support up in the 1890s, projects for Splügenbahn, but remained a chance due to lack of funding. After all, it succeeded the VSB, for the important connection to Zurich a shared right to the line - Wallisellenstrasse Zurich of the Swiss Northeastern Railway (NOB ) prevail.

Since the construction of a railway from Chur Eastern Alps towards Italy was defeated on the Gotthard railway, the Rhine Valley Railway from Rorschach to Churchill remained a regional line. Over time, Rorschach was displaced as the leading port city on the Swiss shores of novel horn. The NOB built the harbor in Roman horn and took their own steamships in operation. Opened in 1869, the NOB the Seelinie Rorschach Roman horn, and between Rorschach and Rorschach came to rest next to the VSB, the track of the NOB. The Seelinie the NOB and in 1876 went into operation Bischofszellerstrasse train Gossau -Sulgen subjected to the VSB from some traffic. Since the NOB had started operations in 1875 on the west bank of the shorter Zürichseebahn Zurich - Thalwil brick bridge, lost the former main line Wallisellenstrasse -Rapperswil important. The CDB managed to hold thanks to the utmost frugality. In the workshop Rorschach developed under the direction of Adolf Klose mechanical engineering achievements and locomotive designs that received attention and recognition.

In connection with the merger negotiations, the VSB could take over the concession for the realization of a Bötzbergbahn on 16 July 1857. 1864 gave the VSB this concession to a lack of financial opportunities.

The VSB concerned the operation of some other companies, so in 1870 asked in operation Toggenburgerbahn (TB ), which opened in 1876 Ruti Forest Railway ( WR), and at times the Zurich - Gotthard Bahn ( CC).

Until the 1870s, the VSB suffered from lack of international connections. On 1 August 1872, the Vorarlberg train (VB) gave the compound of Lindau -St. Margrethen and on 20 October 1872 Section Feldkirch -Buchs the operation, which led to a revival of the traffic. A significant influence on the development had opened on September 6, 1884 Arlbergbahn. With the opening of the narrow gauge railway land quart Davos in 1889 and the route to Chur in 1896 the Rhaetian Railway, the VSB were to their access line.

Under the economic crisis of the late 1870s, the VSB had many other companies suffer greatly as. Their share prices fell dramatically. In contrast to the NOB or the Swiss Central Railway VSB could each pay a modest dividend since 1871. Because after 1859 the VSB was denied a further network expansion, the financial base with a low level of debt was very solid.

Route network

Rolling stock

The locomotives were procured by the VSB or its predecessor railways, reached an average age of 38.7 years, one should allow the eight machines of Glatthalbahn away, sold after 5 to 7 years to Italy, to get even an average age of 93 other machines of 41.6 years. The last VSB steam locomotive was scrapped at the SBB 1933.

The fleet consisted of the following machine types:


Due to rising timber prices, the VSB were looking for alternatives to the firing of its steam locomotives and secured 1857 large deposits of peat in Möggingen in Radolfzell. As a means of mass transportation, the railroad provided access to foreign coal reserves. 1861 at the VSB, the change was largely completed on coal combustion.

1865 violated the VSB by the electrical signal discs recently introduced the telegraph shelf. 1872 cars and locomotives have been converted to the buffer system.

From 18 to 27 July 1874, the Federal shooting match took place in St. Gallen. Within ten days of the VSB transported 140 000 people to St. Gallen, which is only with the support of staff and rolling stock of the NOB and VB was possible.

On December 31, 1879 derailed a train coming from Winterthur in Vonwilbrücke at St. Gallen. The two locomotives were left and right of the railway track to lie, the car slid into each other. The accident killed two people and more, some of them critically injured. → Main article: Railway accident in Vonwil

The National Exhibition in Zurich in 1883 brought a first continuous train of Rorschach St. Gallen to Zurich. Previously had to be switched in Winterthur by the VSB to the NOB trains. On 1 June 1894, the Bernese time by Central European Time ( CET) has been replaced. Since June 1, 1896 perverted direct car between St. Gallen to Geneva.


1901 took over the VSB shortly before the nationalization Toggenburgerbahn (TB) of compensation from the Canton of St. Gallen, indirectly subsidized so that the construction of the fabric tunnel. On 1 July 1902, the VSB was nationalized and then became part of the Swiss Federal Railways ( SBB).

Part of the old corporate structures has been preserved a long time. From the headquarters of the CDB in St. Gallen in the then SBB District Directorate arose IV had the former SBB main workshop Chur its roots in the SOB. From the main workshops of the CDB in the course of time the now closed SBB locomotive depot was Rorschach. In type still exists from the time of VSB, the oldest ring segment with Lokremise hub of Switzerland. The depot has been restored and now serves as a depot and locomotive workshop of the steam train association Zürcher Oberland, which operates the heritage railway line Bauma Hinwil.

With the electrification of the replacement of the Sitter, smooth, Uze and Thurbrücken between St. Gallen and Wil and the wooden bridge over the Rhine at Ragaz matured from 1925 to 1928. The stone bridge over the Goldach was preserved and used double track since 1993.

Has not changed the chainage of the routes of the former VSB. The kilometer data begin still in Sargan, where the mileage is 0.