SBB RAe 4/8 1021 - SBB RAe 4/8 1021

RAe 4/8 «Churchill-Pfeil»
SBB RAe 4/8 «Churchill Arrow»
Construction year 1939
Company numbers (1939) 301
(On 1948) 651
(On 1959) 1021
Company numbers ( UIC ) RAe 591 021
quantity 1
Number of items today historical (1) *
operation area Excursion train
Discarding 31. Dec. 1979
Technical specifications
Vehicle type electric railcar
Manufacturer SLM Winterthur
SWS Schlieren
BBC Baden
MFO Zurich
SAAS Genève
Wheel arrangement 2'Bo '+ Bo'2'
Top speed 150 km / h, today only 125 km / h
Travel speed 100 km / h
power 835 kW
Hourly traction ? kN
Starting tractive effort ? kN
Measurements and weight
Length over buffers 46'200 mm
width 2905 mm
height 3750 mm
Weight 93 t
Train formation RAe-RAe
Seats 112
in first class 112
in second class 0
Special features «Churchill Arrow»
* One machine has been preserved as a historic locomotive:
No. 1021 at SBB / RailAway

The RAe 4/8 1021, a so-called " Red Double Arrow ", is a railcar of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), which was built for the 1939 Swiss National Exhibition . Because it was used in 1946 to drive Winston Churchill through Switzerland as a state guest, it is still known today as the “Churchill Arrow” or “Churchill Double Arrow” .

Two more "Red Double Arrows" were put into operation in 1953 as 1022 + 23 and finally broken off after a collision (1022/1977) and fire (1023/1985). These two railcars lacked the two characteristic low stems. The interior was similar to the 1021.


The “Churchill Double Arrow”, designed as a rental excursion train, has a minibar in the middle of the vehicle. Since it was never intended as a conventional passenger train, but always as a charter train, it has always had only one "carriage class" in the form of 28 tables for four people, which together offer space for 112 guests. In the three-class system until 1956, the double arrows had the series designation RBe , which indicated the second class. With the elimination of the third class, the double arrows were upgraded to the first class ( RAe ) without any changes to the equipment . As historical vehicles, the "arrows" still bear their historical series designations today.

Built as a prestige vehicle for the “Landi”, the “Churchill Arrow” had a top speed of 150 km / h, which, however, could never be used in regular traffic. While this speed can be reached on the route side in Switzerland today, age and comfort limits must be taken into account for the vehicle, which make the information a purely historical-theoretical value. In the passenger transport service, the travel speed, which still offers reasonable driving comfort, is a maximum of 100 km / h. In the case of transfers on a straight route, where comfort hardly plays a role, speeds of up to 130 km / h can still be achieved. The maximum speed indicated by the «Churchill arrow» in the driver's cab is 125 km / h.


The «Churchill Arrow» can be recognized by its light red color (in contrast to the dark red RAe 2/4 «Red Arrow» ) and the typical elongated nose. It consists of two parts with the minibar in the middle. Until the general overhaul, the sides read SBB - CFF or SBB - FFS in chrome letters , today there is no separator between SBB CFF and SBB FFS .


The national exhibitions served as a performance show at which Swiss institutions and companies presented the country's capabilities. For Landi 1939 , the Swiss rolling stock industry, headed by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Factory (SLM) in Winterthur , designed a “Red Double Arrow” based on the “ Red Arrows ” ( RAe 2/4 ). In addition to the SLM, the Schweizerische Waggonfabrik Schlieren (SWS), Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC), the Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon (MFO) and the Société Anonyme des Ateliers de Sécheron (SAAS) also participated in the construction of the vehicle .

The result of this collaboration was the highly developed Re 4/8 301 express multiple unit , which was put into service in May 1939 and had a theoretical maximum speed of 150 km / h, which at that time could not be used anywhere on the Swiss rail network.

From 1941 the double arrow was released for charter traffic, the cruising speed, which at that time did not exceed 100 km / h, is still valid today, as a comfortable maximum speed for passengers. During the Second World War, the army planned to convert this vehicle into a baggage car for possible war missions. However, this project failed due to the vigorous defense of the train conveyance and workshop service of the SBB. In 1944 the double arrow was given the series designation RBe 4/8 .

Two years later, Sir Winston Churchill , the former British Prime Minister, announced that he would be visiting Switzerland, and the double arrow with the number 301 at the time was used in September 1946 to carry the state guest. Since its legendary use, this train is hardly known by its numerous type designations, but rather as the «Churchill Arrow» . Its official name changed again in 1948, the double arrow RBe 4/8 was given the road number 651.

In 1953, the RBe 4/8 661–662 from SWS and BBC put two more “Red Double Arrows” into operation. Mechanically and electrically, these deviated significantly from the «Churchill arrow», had a normalized maximum speed of 125 km / h and a slightly higher performance.

It was not until 1956 that the three double arrows received their last valid series designation: when the third class (C) was abolished, the double arrows were upgraded to RAe 4/8 . In 1959, the double arrows were finally given common, consecutive company numbers: RAe 4/8 1021 ("Churchill arrow") and RAe 4/8 1022-1023 ("Red double arrows").

An extensive renovation was carried out on the «Churchill Arrow» from 1968 to 1969. After a collision in January 1977, the double arrow 1022 was parked. In 1979 the «Churchill Arrow» was subjected to a major overhaul, but when it was put back into service, the vehicle suffered fire damage and was also parked. While the accident 1022 was canceled in the course of 1980 by the main workshop in Zurich, attempts were made to accommodate the inoperable 1021 as a historic vehicle in the Museum of Transport in Lucerne .

Since this did not succeed, the defective vehicle was parked in various places over the years before it was sold to the private interested party Intraflug in March 1985 at scrap value . As early as mid-1985, the future of the remaining Double Arrow 1023 appeared uncertain; its fate was finally sealed by a fire in November 1985, which led to its demolition.

The ownership of Intraflug came through its sale in 1994 to the Mittelthurgau travel agency , a subsidiary of the Mittelthurgau Railway (MThB). In September 1996, the MThB succeeded in re-commissioning the “Churchill double arrow”, which was refurbished on behalf of MThB by the Saturdayern workshop of the Südostbahn (SOB). The vehicle restored as RAe 4/8 1021 received the MThB-UIC designation RAe 506 605 .

With the bankruptcy of the Mittelthurgau Railway, whose bankruptcy assets were largely taken over by the SBB in 2002, the historic vehicle came back to the SBB. At the end of 2004 the parade vehicle was completely overhauled and has since been available to anyone interested as a charter vehicle for journeys through Switzerland. The “Churchill double arrow” now belongs to the Passenger Transport division of SBB and is marketed by SBB Charter. At the beginning of 2019, the "Churchill double arrow" was extensively revised and is used for individual charter trips and public adventure trips. At the SBB, the vehicle is listed as RAe 591 021 .


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