The driver of Z14 is on his cell phone, while the guard waits to hear whatever news he has. Perhaps he was finding out if the mountain top station was open on such a dull, rainy and cloudy day. This is a scene at St. Wolfgang on the SchafbergBahn. This is a mountain rack railway in the beautiful Salzkammergut in Austria. Early in the 1990's, a former steam locomotive builder in Winterthur, Switzerland re-entered the business after a nearly 40 year absence. This was the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works (SLM), at this time a division of Sulzer, a large Swiss manufacturing company and famous builder of diesel engines. One of their engineers was convinced that there was a market for new steam locos. Several rack railways in Switzerland, the UK, and India still operated SLM-built steam locos and there appeared to be at least a market for spare parts. Production of some replacement parts was resumed to fill this need. He finally convinced Sulzer management that there was a market for new, improved steam locomotives and he pursued this possibility. Eventually, this led to orders for new rack steam locomotives, incorporating Porta thermodynamic principles and modern construction techniques. SLM built 8 new modernized rack steam locomotives in the 1990's in Switzerland for mountain tourist railways in Switzerland and Austria. While the engines replaced locos previously built in 1891 and 1933 by SLM, they were of completely new design incorporating Porta's principles, using modern construction techniques and technology. They feature welded boilers, roller bearings, modern drafting arrangements, light oil firing, extensive thermal insulation, and are arranged for one-man operation. They have now been operating very successfully for over 10 years. The boilers are so well insulated that they will maintain a head of steam overnight, allowing the engine to leave its shed under its own power in the morning and attain full working temperature and pressure in only 10 to 15 minutes after lighting the fire. An interesting innovation on these engines is the provision of an electric boiler pre-heater. This is used to pre-heat the boilers after their monthly boiler wash to save fuel. The thermal efficiency of these locomotives is over 10%.
The loco seen here, no. Z12 was built in 1995.