Welcome to the website of the Historical Railways Association of Switzerland (HECH).
HECH has members today in all the three language areas of Switzerland. The majority of members have local or regional interests and concern themselves with their historical inheritance: railways in all forms, namely locomotives, passenger coaches, service coaches and freight wagons. All methods of locomotion are of interest: steam, diesel and electric, as well as some exotic vehicles. Of interest are standard and narrow gauge railways as well as trams, light railways, funiculars, that is to say everything that moves on rails. And of course to this must be added the related infrastructure: the tracks and the stations. Increasingly important are the partnerships that bring all these elements together and in some form or another being utilised commercially, because without money nothing can preserved of our heritage.
We, our members and other people in connected associations and clubs could well be regarded as eccentric, or slightly mad even depending on viewpoint, but we do engage ourselves enthusiastically for our goals.
We are seeing a strong development: ever more historical railways, whether as owners of historical vehicles, as operators of such vehicles within a Swiss railway undertaking, or as owner and/or operator of a railway infrastructure are members of the umbrella association HECH.
We support all efforts and activities designed to increase the awareness of historical railways and promote them as an ongoing concept.
There is a lot to do and it is becoming more urgent. The former nostalgic operation and presentation of our gems is no more; the pressures of regulation and hectic have us in their grip. We must show how we can operate on a level playing field given the current realities. Nothing can be allowed to go wrong, we cannot afford mistakes. Many eyes are watching us, waiting for us to make a mistake; this simply cannot be allowed to happen.
Here you will find a small (and still incomplete) picture of what it needs to be able to show our children and grandchildren, the families and others, where we come from and how it was in earlier times. How can we arrange our future effectively if we do not know where we came from?
In order that an historical rail vehicle may operate on its home infrastructure needs a lot of attention. The Swiss Federal Transport Department (BAV) is responsible for most of the following permissions/ authorisations . The following description is a somewhat simplified version.
The Railway Undertaking (RU)
Basically all RU need an access permission (NZB) and a safety certificate (SiBe) for any usage of their own or a third party infrastructure (railway system). Every EVU must obtain public liability insurance for CHF 100 million per incident. It is exactly this that is the first and most basic service that the HECH offers its members, working in close association with the Public Traffic Insurance system (VVST).
In order that an EVU can obtain an SiBe it must have a safety management system (SMS) which shows how safety is organised and (where applicable) how the specific demands for (railway) traffic on the specific route or network are met and arranged.
All vehicles (and that means all forms of powered locomotives and wagons) that operate within Switzerland need a valid permit. Only vehicles that ensure operating safety at all times may be used. All vehicles that are intended to be put into operation must be entered in the Rail Vehicle Register (the Swiss national vehicle registration NVR).
An additional Safety Permit (SiGE) is necessary for the building and operation of every infrastructure concession.
Inspection and assurance of compliance with these requirements
The first Inspection (which is extremely thoroughgoing) is made during the application process. Thereafter during the currency of the permit the EVU and the infrastructural operator will be kept informed of potential risks and monitored by way of spot-checks.