Zürich S-Bahn - History


The first step in developing Zurich's rail system which eventually led to the establishment of the S-Bahn was the establishment of the so-called Gold Coast Express (German: Goldküstenexpress) on 26 May 1968 between Zürich Stadelhofen and Rapperswil via Meilen along the wealthy north shore of Lake Zurich, popularly known as the Gold Coast. It operated a regular schedule every half hour, with the total journey time for the distance of 36 km reduced from the previous 60 to 40 minutes. After World War II, there was a rapid expansion of commuting to Zurich from the former wine-growing villages along the railway line, which originally opened in 1894. As a result commuters complained that the trains were overcrowded, slow and often delayed.

The canton of Zurich began to develop a project to improve the railway in the 1950s. Because it was not used by either long-distance passenger or freight trains, improvements in local services were possible. Double track sections were built between Kuesnacht and Herrliberg and between Stäfa and Uerikon, along with new stations. The main problem was finance. Development of the line would only serve local interests and would not lead to increased revenue for Swiss Federal Railways (SFR). At the time the canton and cities affected could not fund improvements to an SFR line, so the law was changed to allow local contributions.

The most striking feature of the improved railway was the three-car claret-coloured RABDe 12/12 electric multiple units. These had good acceleration and braking performance and immediately became known as "Mirages", after the jet fighters. The modern features of the Mirages included automatically closing doors, which allowed short stops at stations and a reduction in travel time.

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