I very much like the Swiss metre guage railways, and have been fortunate enough to visit them a couple of times in recent years. Off and on I’m working on a [Rail3D] layout of the mgb/fo line from Zermatt to Brig and Brig to Disentis.

The Route

A few years ago, this was two railways, the Brig Visp Zermatt between Brig and Zermatt and the Furka Oberalp between Brig and Disentis. The two lines shared a station at Brig and to some extent stock and there were through working between the two lines, and onto the rhb at Disentis, including the Glacier Express which runs from Zermatt via Brig and Disentis to Chur on the Rhb and on to St Moritz on the Rhb. These days the bvz and the fo are combined to form the mgb. Through workings to the rhb still operate.

The mgb is a mixed rack and adhesion railway, mostly adhesion working but with some long stetches of rack on the Abt system.


Mark Hodson has made some excellent models of the mgb loco’s and coaches, and I have used them as examples when developing the sound code, (see Layers Of Sound)

My Layout

After several false starts I have now started a new layout - and this time set out from the start to use real world maps and set it up for import of dem data.

I currently have two main layout files - one for Zermatt to Brig and one for Brig to Disentis. I also have some smaller “portion” files for small sections of the layout that I’m working on at any one time.

I have laid out the main route throughout from maps, and graded using gradient profile from the prototype. The maps have also been calibrated to allow import of dem data for the terrain.

Zermatt to Brig

The track layout for this section is reasonably complete. I have imported dem terrain throughout and am in the process of comparing the layout with maps and cab-ride videos to adjust the details of the terrain near the track.


For ease of editing (especially when generating terrain), I’ve split the fo into two sections (east and west) by dividing the layout in the Furka tunnel. This has the advantage that I don’t have to worry about joining up terrain and the division is fairly easy to manage.

Both sections use a common map and the map is set up to allow dem import.

Furka-Oberalp (west)

This section covers the line from Brig to the Furka tunnel.

  • Brig station is not modelled, but is set up as a simple fiddle yard with enough tracks to hold the required trains. As I have modelled Brig station more accurately in the Zermatt to Brig layout, I won’t do so in this layout, but ultimatly will combine the layouts.
  • I have not imported the dem data between Brig and Betten as yet, the stations are in place and are signalled to allow trains to run to timetable.
  • dem data has been imported for the remainder of the layout from Betten to the Furka tunnel.
  • Betten viaduct has been created in Google Sketchup and exported to a Rail3D model, see Sketchup A Viaduct
  • Between Betten and Niederwald, the parallel road and river have been added and the terrain adjusted to fit. This is the most complete section. Detail of the line has been gathered from sources such as Google Earth, Swiss maps website and a driver’s eye dvd - this latter is most useful for locating signal positions etc.
  • From Niederwald to Oberwald the track has been laid and dem data imported, but the terrain has not been fine tuned. I’m working along the line as time permits.

Timetable and Diagrams

I have set up this section with trains operating to timetable and using diagrams to change route numbers at each end of the line. Timetables have been taken from the current (2008) swiss railways timetable (www.sbb.chMGB).

It takes about 3½ hours for the local train to get from Brig to the Furka tunnel and back. In order not to have to set up timetables for the whole 24hr period (nothing happens at night anyway) I have only set up the timetable for a four hour period from 1030 to 1430. To achieve this, one of the trains has a script so that when it returns to Brig (at about 1420) it resets the clock to 1030. This of course may effect other trains, so the other trains have timetables with two sets of times, eg “Fliesch 10:45 14:45″. Trains may also get stuck if they are stopped waiting timetable time when the clock is reset, so the script also needs to reset the start times.

5/4/08: You can download the current state of this layout from the Yahoo file library: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/railway3d/files/2b.%20Layouts%20in%20progress/ Don’t forget it’s a work in progress, so don’t expect a complete, finished layout. Comments on the layout are very welcome (via the Rail3D Yahoo Group, railway3d@yahoogroups.com) especially if you are able to help!

Furka-Oberalp (east)

This section includes the remainder of the route from the Furka tunnel, through Andermatt and over the Oberalp pass to Disentis.