Modelable European Intermodal Facilities #2

Here’s the second part of what will become a series of posts about modelable European intermodal facilities.

Rheinhafen-Dreiländereck…Basel – Panoramio by Pierre Likissas – Own work, CC BY 3.0, View Image

For this post I’m looking at an intermodal facility in Basel, Switzerland; an important European rail hub and Switzerland’s only port city…

SwissTerminal, Basel, Switzerland

Huge volumes of containers and bulky freight such as aggregates and oil are transported by ship and barge along the river Rhine; this freight moves between small ports in industrial areas all along the Rhine and often to and from the massive international Atlantic port in Rotterdam.

Ports in Basel connect land-locked Switzerland to the rest of the World and it’s postion on the borders of three European countries (France, Germany and Switzerland) has led to it becoming an important intermodal/freight hub.

The SwissTerminal intermodal facility is located in the Kleinhüningen neighbourhood of north Basel. The facility is tri-modal and can transfer containers between barges, road vehicles and trains. Despite it’s relatively small size the facility has three tracks (one of which is probably kept clear to allow access to other facilities further down the harbour) and a large crane.

Below is a view of the terminal from the opposite bank of the harbour that runs alongside the facility. A wall of containers would make an excellent back-drop and it’d be a fun scratch-building project to replicate that harbour crane.

Port Basel Klein Hüningen by Tristan Liardon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, View Image

Here’s a map of the SwissTerminal facility. The whole facility is about 200m long by 100m wide which is about 125cm by 60cm (4ft x 2ft) in N scale.

The facility is a little too big to be modelled as a single T-Trak module (the blue and green squares) but you could model part of the port area maybe using the terminal crane as a scenic break at one end. You could make a double module to include more or join two single modules together as shown below. You could even add a small water module/s at the front if you want to model a boat.

The red square on the map above represents my original module design which is 105cm wide x 40cm deep. Still a little small to fit the entire facility but you could add another module to fit the entrance area/canal bridge just visible at the very bottom of the map and/or another at the other end to model some of the other industries further down the harbour (more on those in another post).

Here’s a picture looking north down the harbour. You can see the lower container storage area alongside the harbour.

Basel – Rheinhafen Kleinhüningen Bild 8 by PantaRhei – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, View Image

Here’s a close view of that interesting crane.

Basel – Rheinhafen Kleinhüningen Bild 7 by PantaRhei – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, View Image

Finally, here’s an older shot of the facility (note the branding on the crane) with a barge being loaded/unloaded. You can just about see a container car between the legs of the crane.

Basel2004 img 3164 by Gürkan Sengün – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, View Image

The tracks in the SwissTerminal do not have cantenary so trains are brought in by diesel or bi-mode electric/diesel locomotives that can operate away from cantenary for short periods. Some of the pictures of the area show a slightly unusual locomotive that has been tagged as an “ISS Em 4/4” but I can’t find any further details. In any case a number of manufacturers produce diesel shunting locomotives that wouldn’t look out of place on a SwissTerminal layout.

The Kleinhüningen neighbourhood where the SwissTerminal facility is located is dense with tracks and rail-serverd industrial buildings. Here’s the OpenRailwayMap for this area.


The yellow line is the branch line that connects this area to the orange mainline that passes north/south through the area. The brown lines represent industrial spurs and black lines are sidings. The pink lines are tram lines that serve the area.

Basel would be a perfect spot for creating a European version of one of Lance Mindheim’s US-prototype industrial switching layouts. I’m sure I’ll come back to this part of Switzerland soon to write-up some of the other industries in the area.

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