The International Steam Pages

Steam on the CF De Jura (Switzerland)

Thomas Kautzor reports on steam hauled trains on the metre gauge CF de Jura (Wikipedia -, official website  

In early August I was in the Jura mountains and caught CP E 164 in use on the Chemin de Fer du Jura. I was told the larger and newly-retubed E 206 would be in use on August 28/29th, so went back that weekend, but was disappointed to find that it was again the small E 164 working the trains on both days. Even though they are not authentic, in my view the two Portuguese Mallets are the most interesting and beautiful steam locos operating on metre gauge track in Switzerland, much unlike the ugly SLM-designed locomotives in use elsewhere.

‘La Traction’ ( was founded in 1993 to operate historic trains over the ‘Chemins de fer du Jura (CJ)’ network. As there were no suitable steam locomotives available for purchase anywhere in Switzerland, two Mallets were bought from Portugal and restored to working order:

  • CP 0-4+4-0T E 164 (Henschel 7022/1905, 42 tonnes, 390 kW, 1947 ex Minho e Douro No. 404, in use until 1978) was acquired in 1992, restored at Meiningen from 1998 and brought into service on April 19, 1999;
  • CP 2-4+6-0T E 206 (Henschel 12281/1913, 60 tonnes, 535 kW, 1947 ex Minha e Douro No. 456, in use until 1978), also acquired in 1992, was brought to Meiningen for restoration that same year and brought into service on July 12, 1993. It has just been through a retube of its boiler during the past winter.

A steam shed was built at Pré-Petitjean station, northeast of Saingelégier on the line to Glovelier. While the steam trains can operate over the entire CJ network (74.2 km - see to understand what follows), most public trains operate from Saignelégier to either Bollement or Glovelier (25 km). On that line, the train has to change directions at Combe-Tabeillon station, and as there are no turning facilities anywhere on the network, it only operates smokebox first from Combe-Tabeillon towards Glovelier as well as back towards Saignelégier. As the return trips are in the afternoon, they are in good light.

At least once a year, there are public trips from Saignelégier to La Chaux-de-Fonds (26.5 km, smokebox first to La Chaux-de-Fonds, but normally with the train coming out of the light) and to Tavannes (smokebox first from Pré-Petitjean to Saignelégier and Le Noirmont and on the return from Tavannes to Le Noirmont, 23 km, and in good light). The more powerful E 206 is generally favored for these trips, especially on the line from Tavannes with its steep gradients.

On its longer excursions, the train includes a restaurant and a bar carriage, inside which fully-cooked three-course lunches are served to the passengers. The Franche-Montagne region through which the train travels is horse-raising country and some of the trains are attacked by horse-riding Western movie outlaws during the course of their journey, but generally there is a happy outcome.

Elektrodiesel locomotive Gem 4/4 122 (256 kW) was acquired in 11/1996 from ‘Regionalverkehr Bern-Solothurn (RBS)’, where it had been converted from SZB baggage electric railcar Fe 4/4 33 (Schlieren/MFO 1916, 1955 ex ESB Fe 4/4 21) in 1973 and fitted with a Deutz diesel engine to allow it to work freight and works trains. It saw use on the first train of the season in 2015, as there was a steam ban due to the dry weather.

La Traction also operates a restored CJ electric train from the early 1950s as the “Train des Horlogers” (Clockmaker’s Train). Railcar BDe 4/4 601 (SIG/SAAS 1953) and driving trailer Bt 702 (SIG/SAAS 1952), now again CFe 4/4 601 and Ct 702, had already been sold (601 in 2003 to the Berner Oberland Bahn (BOB) as No. 321 and in 2006 to the Lausanne-Echallens-Bercher (LEB) as No. 28, and 702 in 2006 to the LEB as No. 53) and were bought back in 2010, restored to a very high standard. 601 retrieved its original wooden seats, while 702 was turned into a saloon car with comfortable sofas. The “Train des Horlogers” operates some out-of-season regular trains, but is used mainly on private charters.

Diesel shunter Tm II 10 (RACO/Saurer 1956, 95hp) was acquired from the ‘Meiringen-Innertkirchen Bahn (MIB)’ in 08/2011 and is used to shunt the unelectrified Pré-Petitjean depot. It was built for SBB as a standard gauge locomotive and converted to metre gauge for use on the Brünig line in 1987. In 2000 it was sold to MIB.

Some years ago, La Traction acquired Ferrocarriles Vascongados “Crocodile” 4004 from FV/ET in view of restoring her and using her on the CJ. Work on the locomotive was started but never completed. It is still at Pré-Petitjean, with the frame and body sitting on a transporter wagon.

The attached photos were taken in 2007, 2010 and 2015.

E 164

E 164 being prepared for the days train to Bollement at Pré-Petitjean shed, 5th August 2015
E 164 being overtaken by CJ BDe 4/4 614 coming out of the tunnel at Bollement, 5th August 2015
crossing CJ BDe 4/4 611 at Les Bois, 21st August 2010
near Le Bémont, between Pré-Petitjean and Saignelégier, 5th August 2015

E 206

E 206 after its retube at Pré-Petitjean depot, 5th August 2015.
E 206 shunting two standard gauge timber wagons loaded on transporter wagons at Pré-Petitjean depot, 28th July, 2007.
E 206 with the restaurant car train at Tramelan, on the line from Tavannes to Le Noirmont, 28th July, 2007.

E 164 and E 206 working together on 21st August 2010

Shunting in front of the Metropole Shopping Center in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
Between Tramelan and Les Breuleux
On the steep gradient above Les Breuleux
Le Boéchet
Departing Les Bois
Arriving at Le Cibourg
Departing Le Cibourg
Some street running entering La Chaux-de-Fonds

Non-steam power

Elektrodiesel locomotive Gem 4/4 122 at Pré-Petitjean depot, 5th August 2015
ex-SBB Tm II 10 at Pré-Petitjean depot, 5th August 2015
Pilot trailer Ct 702 of the “Train des Horlogers” at Pré-Petitjean depot, 5th August 2015
FC Vascos “Crocodile” 4004 stored on a transporter wagon, 5th August 2015



Rob Dickinson