Train ferry: from the rails onto the waves

Does the expression “train ferry transport” ring any bells? It means “the loading of railway carriages onto ships”. This form of transport was used on Lake Constance for a long period of time. The railway line along the lake also played an important role in the process. 150 years Lake Line + train ferry is a double anniversary.

The first section of the railway line from Romanshorn to Rorschach was opened in 1869, and the train ferries from Romanshorn to Friedrichshafen and Lindau began operating at the same time. This created cross-border connections which were used to transport grain freight wagons in particular. Despite interruptions during the World Wars, the train ferries continued to operate until 1976. This mode of transport was twice as expensive as rail transport over land, but also twice as fast.

The Lake Line, meanwhile, is still in use today. It continues to be a vital link for the region and was expanded when the Swiss Federal Railways last changed its timetable.

The anniversaries of the Lake Line and the train ferry will be celebrated at several locations around Lake Constance on the first weekend of May 2019. And, of course, a number of special trips on water and by rail will be on offer.

The special stamp worth CHF 1 depicts the train ferry with the railway carriages. The stamp with a face value of CHF 1.50 illustrates the current coexistence between the SBS Schifffahrt ferry company and the Thurbo regional railway.

Jürg Freudiger

The “MF Schussen” being loaded, 1949. © Walter Schön, Konolfingen Berne

A special Swiss Post branch, including special cancellations, will operate from an old Railway Mail Service mail car at the Romanshorn harbour festival (4 and 5 May 2019). It will be open from around 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The stamp designer Willi Spirig will also be at the branch from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the Saturday. Detailed information can be found in PhilaNews no. 4/2019 and in the online edition of Focus on stamps.