Crocodiles from Switzerland

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In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the “Crocodile” locomotive, the Swissmint has issued a 50-Swiss francs commemorative coin in gold. The coin was designed by Raphael Schenker, a graphic artist from Zurich.

The famous Ce 6/8 II electric locomotive, also affectionately known as the “Crocodile”, celebrates its 100th birthday in 2019. The “Crocodiles” are more than just “old locomotives” for many people, and not just for Swiss railway enthusiasts. They combine Swiss cultural heritage with lively enthusiasm for a technical masterpiece created 100 years ago.

The powerful “Crocodiles” are among the SBB’s most durable locomotives. In the spring of 1918, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) ordered ten “heavy mountain freight locomotives” from the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Factory (SLM) for use at the Gotthard. The specifications for these electric locomotives stipulated that they could cover the Goldau-Chiasso route twice within 28 hours with a train of 860t trailer weight. The special thing about the construction of the “Crocodiles” was the movable bearing between the drive frames and the locomotive box. Between 1919 and 1921, the series was increased to 33 units. The demands on the electric freight locomotives for the mountain route were enormous.

One of the Ce 6/8 II locomotives being transferred from Oerlikon to Bern.

After the “Crocodiles” at the Gotthard were replaced by more powerful locomotives in the mid-1950s, they took over the transport of gravel trains weighing up to 1,200 tonnes in the Mittelland region. Some specimens have been preserved in working order to this day SBB Historic offers special trips with the “Crocodile”, and the electric old timer can also be admired in the Swiss Museum of Transport.

More information on this and other issues by the Swissmint is available online.

SBB has published a more detailed history of the “Crocodile” on the official website.