Crocodiles belong in the zoo, not in the mountains of Graubünden. But the chances of spotting just such a creature along the RhB rail network are high – however, one clad in metal rather than scales: the Crocodile 414.
All eyes are drawn to the Crocodile 414 whenever its broad snout emerges from a tunnel or it is seen crawling across a viaduct: this locomotive, whose real name is 'Ge 6/6 414', has been loyally serving the RhB since 1929. Its 'Crocodile' nickname is derived from its appearance, which is reminiscent of the long nose, body and tail of this reptile. With the electrification of the rail network from 1913 onwards, steam engines slowly gave way to electric locomotives – including those of the RhB Ge 6/6 class: the Crocodile family. The first member of this series went into service in 1921. At that time, they were considered the world's most powerful narrow-gauge engines, capable of 1076 horsepower. It was a large family: the brown crocodile had 14 sisters. Only one of which, the 'Ge 6/6 415', still plies the rails in Graubünden today. The two 66-ton engines can reach a maximum speed of 55 kilometres per hour. In their heyday the Ge 6/6 locomotives hauled high-end trains such as the Glacier Express. From the end of the 1950s, newer engines pushed the Crocodiles out of their 'natural habitat'. For many years they mainly pulled goods trains. One of the decommissioned Crocodiles can be admired in the Albula Railway Museum.