The electrification programme of the Swiss railway network was given renewed vigour during and immediately after World War 1 due to a shortage of coal (a resource that Switzerland was not naturally endowed with). This period saw a good variety of electric loco designs introduced to the Swiss railways, and at 114 examples one of the largest such fleets was the Ae3/6 I type.
The Ae3/6 Is were also to have a greater longevity than any of their counterparts. The time from the entry of the first machine to traffic to the withdrawal of the last was a whopping 72 years 9 months!
The most striking thing to the observer (I find, at least) is the wheel arrangement – 2-Co-1. The mechanical components for all of the locos came from SLM in Winterthur, whereas the electrics came variously from BBC (10601 to 10686), MFO (10687 to 10712) and SAAS (10713 and 10714).
The general modernisation and acceleration of train services in Switzerland in the inter-war years saw 10637 to 10714 increased from 90km/h to 110km/h (10601 to 10636 were not so modified as their traction motors were deemed unsuitable).
Withdrawal of the Ae3/6 Is was a drawn-out affair and took a quarter of a century to complete. Their star began to fall in 1970 when they began to be displaced by new Re4/4 II and Re6/6 machines. Withdrawal of the last class members occurred on 31st May 1994.
Six Ae3/6 Is survive. Two – 10664 and 10700 – are operational museum pieces with SBB Historic, the former at Rapperswil and the latter at Olten. Another loco, 10650, is a reserve machine at Olten.
A further three (10601, 10639 and 10693) are privately owned and are under the Swisstrain banner.
10664 is advertised to work a railtour on Saturday 10th November 2018.