Lucerne - Swiss Transport Museum (Verkehrshaus) - Day 3

by - 22:12

Located on the banks of Lake Lucerne and set against a stunning Swiss Alpine backdrop of Mt Pilatus and Rigi, the city exhibits a natural charm that continues to draws in hoardes of visitors every year and was even voted as the fifth most popular tourism city by Tripadvisor.com in 2010. In addition, the central Switzerland city is also an important telecommunications and transport hub for the region. The places which we had visited in the two days in Lucerne are shown in the map below (map courtesy of Google Maps).

Photobucket

Backpacker’s Lucerne

With several star attractions in the city, Lucerne is understandably a heavily touristed city and this had led to many hotels being significantly priced above our budget or had received too many negative reviews for our liking. Hostels had became increasingly popular in recent years as most hostels now do not have an age limit and private rooms are also available for a slight premium. Backpacker’s Lucerne is no exception and came highly recommended by a friend who had stayed there during his visit last year, and it is also the top-rated specialty accommodation in the city on TripAdvisor.com for its excellent service, clean rooms and value.

We were under the impression that our hostel is far from the main road so we decided to walk there directly along the shores of Lake Lucerne instead of confirming the buses routes that we could take. It was a decision we very much regretted as the walking distance was much longer than we had thought.

Backpacker's Lucerne is located at the end of the tree-lined Alpenquai by the shores of Lake Lucerne and occupy the first and second storey of an existing student hostel. Simply love the retro German registered cars parked at the parking lot in front!
Photobucket

The well maintained rooms are simply furnished with a pair of double-deck bunk beds and desks. Moreover, the room also had a balcony which was accessed through a door that could also be hinged at the bottom to become a 'hopper' window by turning the handle in the other direction. The private quad room cost CHF32 per person per night and while there was no private bathroom, there were no issues with the availability or cleaniless of the shared bathroom.

Photobucket

View of the common corridor on the second floor of the hostel. A common room with wifi is also available on the first floor of the hostel.
Photobucket

We decided to swap our plans for Day 3 & 4 to visit the Swiss Transport Museum instead of making the ascent to Mt Pilatus as the weather was decidedly overcast for the day and the view from the summit of Mt Pilatus would probably be obscured. Exhausted from the long walk from the station building earlier (which definitely took more than the 12mins walking time that was stated in the reservation confirmation), we decided to explore a way out to the main road instead to catch a bus. We were pleasantly surprised when we stumbled upon a VBL bus depot that was tucked behind our hostel. Adding on to this unexpected find, we also managed to obtain decent photographs of a retired VBL Volvo B10MA with Hess bodywork that was being used as an information centre for the city's road modification project.
Photobucket

We passed a service 6 Swiss Trolley 3 and decided to ride an old NAW trolley bus on service 8 to the Swiss Transport Museum. It was also an interesting to experience to hear the onboard generator working to provide electrical power to drive the bus at a noticeably reduced speed along a section where no power was available from the overhead cables.
Photobucket

Swiss Transport Museum (Verkehrshaus der Schweiz)

The Swiss Transport Museum, or Verkehrshaus, is located along the banks of Lake Lucerne and it is a must visit for any transport enthusiast. Unlike other similar museums around the world where it is generally regarded as a gathering place for enthusiasts and geeks, the Swiss Transport Museum is a very popular place of interest for other tourists and locals as well. The museum was expectedly crowded during our visit as it was a public holiday (Witt Monday). Swiss Pass & Swiss Card holders get to enjoy 50% off the steep admission cost (CHF18.50 vs CHF37).

The distinctive facade of the Vekehrshaus with a myraid display of wheels and propellers which represent the museum's extensive and diverse range of transport related exhibits.
Photobucket

The feature wall continues inside the museum in an eclectic display of chrome and polished wood.
Photobucket

We decided to grab a quick lunch at the self-service restaurant next to the ticketing counter where a range of choices from salads and sandwiches to main courses were offered. The maturity of the Swiss society was immediately evident as the trust system in place meant that patrons were obliged to make their way to the centralised cashiers to pay for their meal after collecting their food despite a total absence of crowd control measures in the packed restaurant.

We decided to settle on the quitessential option (much akin to Chicken Rice and Nasi Lemak is in Singapore) of Schweinen Schnitzel mit Pommes Frites (Pork Cutlet with Fries). We were also pleasantly surprised that there were no obvious mark-up in the price of the food despite the location.(CHF 18.50) The portion and quality of the meal were decent where an average meal in the country would cost approximately CHF20.
Photobucket

Rail Transport Gallery

We began our tour indoors since there was a light drizzle after we had finished our meal. The first exhibition hall was the railway section and it is the largest of all the galleries in the museum. There was much to see as visitors were able to have an up-close look at the numerous historic locomotives and rail cars that are displayed on over one kilometre of railway track.

Ce 6/8 II electric locomotive, fleet number 13254. Also affectionately referred to as 'Crocodile' due to its unusual appearance, they were built between 1919-1927 and were developed for pulling heavy goods trains on the steep tracks of the Gotthardbahn from Lucerne to Chiasso, including the Gotthard Tunnel. An articulated design which comprised of two powered nose units that are bridged with a pivoting center section containing the operator cab and the heavy transformer provided both the flexibility to negotiate the tight curves of the Alpine railways and to provide adequate support for the heavy body mounted electric motors.
Photobucket

Apart from interactive exhibits and activities, some of the exhibits also had 'cut-away' views that expose the inner mechanisms of the powerful locomotives. This particular electric locomotive, a Ce 4/4 No. 1 and named 'Eva', served as an experimental prototype by the Oerlikon Engineering Works MFO. Built at the dawn of the rail electrification in 1904, it was used by MFO to test various electrical configurations on the Seebach-Wettigen section and provided vital experience for the eventual electrification of the Swiss rail network. It was eventually found that single phase AC (instead of three phase) provided the best efficiency and minimal losses, and had since been adopted by SBB and the private railways till today.
Photobucket

An elevated walkway spans the length of the gallery and allow visitors to have a quick overview of the exhibits through the different regions and eras. The distinctive double ended red electric railcar in the background was built as a SBB initiative to improve the service on low frequency lines in the 1930s. The RCe 2/4 203 could reach a top speed of 120km/h (phenomenal in the 1930s!) and was well loved by the Swiss who bestowed the name of 'Red Arrow' as a reference to its appearance and speed. Unfortunately, the experiment was not really successful and only a limited number of units were built.
Photobucket

The rail gallery also houses an extensive collection of steam powered trams and locomotives. A steam operated tramway in the past often consists of a seperate 'drive' unit which houses the steam engine that is coupled to a passenger carriage, as shown in this beautifully restored SLM (Winterthur) 0-6-0Tram that was operated by Berner Tramway Gesellschaft and was built in 1894.
Photobucket

Tipping the scales at over 128 tonnes, the C 5/6 was aptly named the 'Elephant' and also had the distinction of being the final large steam locomotive to be produced by SLM Winterthur in 1916. No. 2965 was built for the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), and was only withdrawn from service after nearly half a century of active service in 1964.
Photobucket

Apart from the large steam locomotives, this smaller Class E 2/2 11 is a 0-4-0WT that was built in 1881 to support the construction of the Gotthard Pass line.
Photobucket

The Pilatus Bahn is the world's steepest rack railway and unlike other conventional racks where the cogwheel might slip off the vertical teeth at higher gradients, it employs a pair of horizontal double rack with the teeth facing outwards. The line was opened in 1889 using steam operated railcars such as No. 9 until the railway was eventually electrified in 1937.
Photobucket

This Xtrot m No. 100 steam powered rotary snow blower was operated by Gotthardbahn to clear the heavy snow fall that often obscures rail traffic in the mountain passes during the winter season. It was built by Henschel & Sohn, Kassel in 1896 and the 3m high blower unit could direct the ejected jet of snow up to 90m sideways and 18m in the air.
Photobucket

Visitors can also try their hand at showing off their skills (or lack thereof) in driving a train at one of the three popular train simulators located in the gallery. We certainly had much fun hauling a SBB Re 460 locomotive coupled to a IC 2000 double deck trainset (which had the highest operating speeds of the three) with some of us performing 'stunts' such as ignoring stop signals and overshooting the station platforms.
Photobucket

Road Transport Gallery
The road transport gallery is perhaps the most distinctive gallery in the compound as the exterior is adorned with 344 Swiss road signs.
Photobucket

The bus simulator at the museum is a retired VBZ Mercedes Benz O405N which had been converted into an inertial simulator. This exhibits aims to educate visitors about the hazards when travelling in a bus and a helpful visitor offered to translate the guide's explanation in German into English for our benefit. The 'wobbly ride' lasted only three minutes and the acceleration was rather weak in comparison to what we had gotten used to on the Mercedes Benz OC500LEs and Scania K230UBs back home.
Photobucket

This Migros Sales Vehicle made its final trip in 2007 in Valais and closed the chapter on such mobile 'supermarkets' after eighty years since the idea was born. The reason for the termination of the service was primarily due to high operating costs and increasingly stringent hygiene requirements, rather than customer dissastifaction with the choice of products available as they got to pick from the 1,100 products that was routinely carried on the truck. This 1989 NAW truck was bodied with frech-Hoch body and also represented the last generation of Swiss trucks produced by the company before it was absorbed into Mercedes Benz at the turn of the century.
Photobucket

Before the advent of low floor apron buses (of which Swiss-based manufacturer COBUS is currently a market leader), Zürich-Kloten airport utilised Ford trucks which were coupled with a low floor trailer section to ferry passengers between the terminal building and aircraft that were parked at remote stands.
Photobucket

Occupying over two storeys and housing 80 different carriages, bicycles and automobiles dated between 1860 and 2005, the autotheatre is by far the most popular exhibit in the road transport gallery and attracts a steady stream of curious on-lookers throughout the day. This innovative exhibit was developed by Klaus Multiparking GmbH and was opened to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vekehrshaus in 2009.

Visitors participated like a gameshow audience and voted for the car that would be brought down by the automated robotic lift system by furiously hitting on the red button in front of them. The car that received the most 'votes' would then be retrieved and displayed on the turntable in front of the audience.
Photobucket

However, most visitors enjoyed themselves by hammering the buttons vigorously and the chaotic scene often resulted in unexpected results - we certainly saw the disappointment on the faces when this antiquated early iteration of an automombile from the 19th century was displayed instead of a sleek coupe from the 1960s!
Photobucket

The gallery also houses one of Europe's largest and most complete collection of Matchbox models which are presented within 40 cylindrical cases of 100 models each in a very neat conveyor system . Visitors can simply use a touchscreen display to select a display case of interest that would be transported to them for closer examination at eye-level. Unlike the autotheatre, vigorous hammering of buttons are not required at this exhibit as the display cases would be retrieved and 'queued' for a close-up look.
Photobucket

To avoid disappointment, we queued in advance and managed to be amongst the first to “volunteer as crash test dummies” at a very popular crash test simulator. We were also required to remove our spectacles and leave our belongings outside the safety cage for safety reasons. The Volkswagen Golf was accelerated along a guide-way and brought to an abrupt halt to simulate a collision at 13km/h. Although the thrilling experience only lasted for a split second, the uncomfortably sharp deceleration force that were already present for such a low speed collision served as a poignant reminder of the importance of wearing seatbelts. A similar car was wrecked in a 50km/h frontal collision is also suspended from the ceiling to further drive home the message and demonstrate the sheer forces that were involved at higher collision speeds.
Photobucket

Aviation & Space Travel Gallery

The aviation gallery houses more than 30 historic aircraft and 300 other aviation and space exhibits to showcase the rich history of aviation and space exploration to the general public.

Commercial aviation had progressed at a tremendous pace over the past 70 years from the humble DC-3 to the modern twin engined widebody aircraft that we had taken for granted today.
Photobucket

Swissair DC-3 HB-IRN on static display outside the Aviation Gallery. However, it was a pity that visitors are unfortunately unable to access and inspect the cabin of this historic aircraft. Swissair had operated a total of 16 examples between 1937 and 1964 and DC-3s can still be found operating nostalgia flights and charters over the skies of Switzerland today.
Photobucket

The successful flight of the Dufaux 4 by Armand Dufaux on 27th August 1910 over the Lake Geneva marked the beginning of motorised flight in Switzerland. The four-stroke piston engine produced a maximum power of 44.1kW and the aircraft had a paltry range of only 66km.
Photobucket

The exhibition hall also contains a large number of scale aircraft aircraft models and interactive exhibits such as air traffic control games.
Photobucket

A Swissair Lockheed 9C Orion, fleet number 167. The Orion was twice as fast as other similar aircraft when it was first introduced into service in 1932 on the Zürich-Munich-Vienna route.
Photobucket

Visitors are also drawn to the diverse range of flying machines which were cleverly suspended from the ceiling, such as this Piper PA-18-150 Piper Cub HB-OPR that is equipped with floats that enable takeoff and landing on water.
Photobucket

The Breitling CAP 232 is famed for its extraordinary maneuverability capabilities and is a fixture at many major acrobatic airshows around the world. The renowned Swiss watch manufacturer is also the main sponsor of Europe's largest civilian aerobatic team and also sponsored the recent restoration of an iconic Lockheed Super Constellation.
Photobucket

The centrepiece of the aviation collection is a beautifully preserved Swissair Convair 990 HB-ICC 'St Gallen' which is proudly displayed outside the aviation exhibition hall and accessed through the second storey of the museum.
Photobucket

Upon entering the cabin through the rear door, we were immediately transported back in time to the golden era of the jet age where plush cushioned seats in economy class and a dedicated lounge area for passengers to relax on long haul flights were to be expected of a premium legacy carrier then.

View from the rear of the cabin. The aircraft interior with the original fabric seats had also been preserved, as well as the old baggage racks and overhead passenger service units.
Photobucket

Cabin view from the front of the aircraft. The Convair 990 served as Swissair's main long haul airliner before the arrival of the DC-10s in 1972. Affectionately known as the 'Coronado', the Convair boasts one of the highest cruising speeds of any commercial jetliner even by today's standards. However, the fuel crisis of the 1970s soon took hold and the Convair 990 was abandoned by many carriers and replaced with more fuel efficient types.
Photobucket

A spacious lounge at the front of the aircraft at a time when airlines are not overly concerned with cramming in as many seats as possible on an aircraft.
Photobucket

Visitors were also able to peek into the cockpit through a clear perspex screen. It was certainly a feast for the eyes as some of us with a keener interest in aviation tried to take in and admire the complex manual cockpit with its huge assortment of dials, levels and gauges. This was definitely a far cry from the glass cockpits today which contain a minimal amount of analogue instruments and switches for a clutter free flight deck.
Photobucket

A video was also screened in the aft cabin where visitors were taken through the pre-flight preparations and the spectacular approach of a Swissair Convair 990 into Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport that was widely regarded as one of the world's most dangerous airports to operate into. The videos are also available on youtube:- Part 1 of 2


Part 2 of 2 has some beautiful footage of the approach path into Kai Tak through the western offshore islands and airport scenes at the former Hong Kong gateway.


We stopped by briefly at the Swiss International Airlines exhibit which featured a mock-up of the national carrier's A340-300 cabin product (albeit the seat pitch was definitely exaggerated as compared to the actual aircraft). The airline now operates a full Airbus fleet apart from BAe146s that are used on short haul regional routes.
Photobucket

Visitors were also afforded a glimpse into the different activities that go on behind the scene at the airport. A row of screens also show real time arrival and departure information at Zürich-Kloten airport, which is also the nearest international airport to the Transport Museum.
Photobucket

Navigation Gallery

The navigation gallery of the museum showcases a variety of nautical exhibits and also housed the Swiss Arena that featured a satellite image of Switzerland which visitors can walk on with slippers. In addition, the 160 year old SS Rigi is also exhibited outside the gallery and is regarded as the oldest surviving form of motorised transport in the country as well as the oldest suviving example of a flush deck side wheel paddle steamer in the world. She was built by Ditchborn & Mare, London in 1848 and had a sedate cruising speed of only 19.7km/h.
Photobucket

A ridable 240mm gauge minature railway makes a loop around the navigation museum. The crammed seating conditions are definitely a far cry from the spacious and comfortable mainline railway carriages in the country!
Photobucket

One of us stayed at the simulator till the very last minute to perfect his train driving skills while the rest of us left earlier to browse around the souvenir shop. We did not buy anything as the souvenirs and other merchandise were somewhat expensive although there were a number of high quality scale models to admire at.
Photobucket

Stepping out of the Swiss Transport Museum, we headed to the waterfront to admire the view of Lake Lucerne. Despite the overcast conditions, it was simply a wonderful feeling to take in one of the 'standard postcard views' of Switzerland - a combination of towering mountains, lush green rolling hills and a steam paddle steamer in a peaceful lake. Unterwalden was photographed calling at the Verkehrhaus-Lido pier which serves the transport museum.
Photobucket

We were kept occupied for quite some time chasing for photos of ducks and swans along the banks of the lake.
Photobucket

Photobucket

After another intentional wait for an old NAW trolleybus on service 8, we decided to try a ride in the trailer section instead. The next destination and estimated arrival time are displayed on the Passenger Information system in the Hess built trailer section.
Photobucket

A Ride on the Volvo 7700 Hybrid

Photobucket

We unaminously had our eyes set on a ride on one of the six Volvo 7700 hybrids operated by VBL upon our return to the Lucerne Hauptbahnhof bus terminus. The Volvo 7700 is a single deck version of the Volvo B5L and is bodied as an integral product by the Swedish bus manufacturer.

Fleet number 74 awaiting her next departure on service 19 to Kantonsspital-Friedental. The Volvo 7700 hybrids carry a slightly modified version of the standard livery to reflect the environmental benefits of the hybrid drive system. The bus is expected to be able to save up to 35% in fuel consumption and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide to the environment.
Photobucket

Refreshing lime green seats adorn the interior and was a very welcome change from the standard drab blue seat fabric preferred by many Swiss municipal operators.
Photobucket

The ride quality was superior in every aspect as compared to the Sunlong and Zhongtong hybrid demonstrators that were being trialed back home in Singapore. There was a very clear distinction between the electrical and diesel drive modes with a very smooth transition to diesel mode at higher speeds courtesy of Volvo's own I-SAM parallel hybrid drive system coupled to the I-shift gearbox (see youtube video below). This was in spite of both the Eaton gearbox (used by the Sunlong and Zhongtong demonstrators) and the Volvo I-shift being semi-automatic gearboxes.


The Volvo 7700 also handled slopes without much difficulty with a comparitively measly 5 litre engine, even though the slight revving of the engine produced a sound that was reminiscent of an old Toyota Crown taxi!

Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal)

The large and busy coach park provided a very useful reference for us in identifying the correct bus stop to alight at and visit the famed Lion Monument which is located at Gletschergarten near Löwenplatz. Mesmerised with the huge variety of tour coaches at the bus park, we decided to spend some time to photograph a selection of coaches before moving on to the park.
Photobucket

A Volvo integral coach operating for one of the more prominent European tour operator,Trafalgar Tours.
Photobucket

A VBL NAW BT5-25 working service 1 to Maihof. These trolleybuses were first introduced in 1988-89 but were soon deemed inadequate to cope with the increased demand by the late 1990s. In perhaps a stroke of ingenuity, 16 trailers were introduced in 3 batches after a successful trial where a tailer was coupled to the rear of the existing rigid trolleybuses. A further effort had been made to refurbish the buses in 2010 and with the bulk of the trailers already being wheelchair accessible, it is highly likely that they would continue to remain in revenue service in the near future.
Photobucket

A fortunate encounter with a passing sightseeing road train that was operated by City Train Luzern eliminated the guesswork and we simply followed it and arrived at the park entrance in no time. These diesel driven road trains are often used to operate city sightseeing tours in many European cities.
Photobucket

Carved in a former sandstone quarry, the monument serves to commemorate the bravery and loyalty of the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution. The sculpture depicts a mortally wounded lion being impaled by a spear and covering a shield bearing the fleur-de-lis (stylized lily) of the French monarchy. Another shield lies beside the lion and bears the coat of arms of Switzerland. The monument is dedicated Helvetiorum Fidei ac Virtuti, which means “To the Loyalty and Bravery of the Swiss” in Latin.
Photobucket

The names of the officers and approximate numbers (in Greek numerals) of soldiers who died (DCCLX = 760) and survived (CCCL = 360) are inscribed below the sculpture which was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen and hewn in 1820–21 by Lukas Ahorn. The lion lies within a nook in the shape of a pig as a result of protest by the sculptor over the reduced payment for his work due to insufficient funds raised to establish the monument.
Photobucket

There were very few visitors when we arrived at the park and we had the entire place to get group and individual photos of ourselves with the symbol of Lucerne that was famously described by Mark Twain as 'the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world". We managed to get the necessary photos just before the place was swarmed by a tour group, but we also made full use of the opportunity and stayed behind to listen to the guide’s explanation!

Following which, we retraced our steps to Löwenplatz where we deliberately missed a service 1 trolleybus in hope of riding an interesting vehicle on service 22, but it was unfortunately not to be the case when a Citaro G pulled up at the bus stop.
Photobucket

After combing through the Lucerne Hauptbahnhof for dinner options, we decided to settle upon the station's Burger King, making it the first fast food meal of our trip. It is often said that the cost of an average fast food meal is indicative of the city's cost of living, thus we were not surprised to discover that a standard "medium" (regular) menu meal such as the Crispy Chicken meal shown below costs approximately CHF12. Upsizing to "Large" and "King" size meals cost CHF1 and CHF2 respectively. Moreover, it is also a common practice for fast food restaurants in Europe to charge for sauces, and the packet of Heinz 'Pommes Frites Sauce'(French Fries Sauce, which is actually mayonnaise) cost us an additional CHF0.30. It was interesting to note that the outlet restricts toilet access to patrons by requiring an access code printed on the receipt for entry.
Photobucket

After dinner, we had our first good look at an old Re 420 electric locomotive that was operated by the Swiss Federal Railways. Once a common sight hauling intercity trains across the country, they had been progressively replaced with the newer Pininfarina designed Re460, or 'Lok 2000' electric locomotives. This particular example only bears the abbreviation of the Swiss Federal Railway's German (SBB) and French division (CFF) and not the Italian division (FFS)
Photobucket

Photobucket

Next Post: Mt Pilatus - Day 4

Previous Post: Zürich Uetliberg - Day 3

You May Also Like

0 comments