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Bernese State Railway

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The Bernese State Railway (Bernische Staatsbahn, BSB) was a railway company in Switzerland. The BSB was owned by the Canton of Bern and was the first government-owned railway in Switzerland.


Government bond of the Bernese State Railway
Government bond of the Bernese State Railway
Passenger train locomotive no. 12 Aarberg/Bueren, built by the Maschinenfabrik Esslingen in 1864
Passenger train locomotive no. 12 Aarberg/Bueren, built by the Maschinenfabrik Esslingen in 1864

The BSB was established in 1861 from the bankrupt estate of the Swiss East–West Railway (Schweizerische Ostwestbahn, OWB), which began the construction of the La NeuvevilleBiel/BienneBernGümligenLangnauLucerneZugZürich line despite a lack of funds. Taking into account the subsidies of Swiss francs (CHF) 2 million that had already been transferred to it, the canton of Bern decided to take over the unfinished part of the line within Bern for CHF 7 million.

The rail network of the BSB initially consisted only of the La Neuveville–Biel/Bienne line that was opened by the OWB, which was leased to the Swiss Central Railway (Schweizerische Centralbahn, SCB) in 1864. Until then, the BSB did not have its own rolling stock. The Biel–Zollikofen (–Bern) and (Bern–) Gümligen–Langnau lines were put into operation on 1 June 1864. In order for the BSB to establish its own business, it procured 12 locomotives, 39 passenger cars and 130 freight wagons in 1864.

In 1875, the newly opened Bern-Lucerne Railway (Bern-Luzern-Bahn, BLB) acquired the Gümligen–Langnau branch line for CHF 7.34 million. It was hoped that the establishment of a continuous link to Lucerne would improve the profitability of the line. Due to excessive construction costs, however, the BLB became bankrupt in 1876 and was bought at auction by the canton of Bern for CHF 8.5 million in 1877. At the same time, the BSB was dissolved and the Zollikofen–Biel–La Neuveville section was sold to the Bernese Jura Railway (Chemins de fer du Jura bernois, JB) for shares worth CHF 11.56 million.

Financially, the BSB was quite successful. More than CFF 6.2 million flowed as profits to the state treasury from 1864 to 1877.

Rolling stock

The following is a list of locomotives used at the BSB:

Class BSB no. BSB name BLB no. from 1875 JB no. from 1877 JS no. from 1890 Manufacturer Build year Scrapped
from 1873: A
from 1874: I
from 1887: A2
(from 1902: Ec 2/4)
1 Bund 1 1 1 Esslingen 1863 1895
2 Seeland 2 2 2 1895
3 Mittelland 3 3 1888
4 Oberaargau 4 4 1889
5 Emmenthal 5 5 1888
6 Jura 6 6 6 1864 1890
7 Oberland 7 7 1888
8 Bern 8 8 1889
9 Biel/Nidau 9 9 9 1896
10 Neuenstadt 10 10 1895
11 Langnau 11 11 1888
12 Aarberg/Bueren 12 12 1896




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  • Frey, Thomas; Schiedt, Hans-Ulrich. "Bernische Staatsbahn". Daten zu den Schweizer Eisenbahnen 1847–1920 (in German). ViaStoria. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  • Ghidelli, Enrico. "Die Bernische Staatsbahn – the missing link" (PDF). Bulletins (in German). Bern: Scripophila Helvetica. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 March 2014. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  • Moser, Alfred (1967). Der Dampfbetrieb der Schweizerischen Eisenbahnen 1847–1966 [The steam operation of the Swiss Railways 1847-1966] (in German). Basel and Stuttgart: Birkhäuser Verlag.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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Bernese State Railway
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