Terminal Combiné Chavornay SA, Switzerland

It’s been a while since I wrote a post about a modelable European intermodal yard so today I thought we could take a look at the Terminal Combiné Chavornay SA (TERCO) intermodal yard in Chavornay, Switzerland.

In lieu of any photos of the complex, here’s a satellite image of the yard and its immediate surroundings:

So far so ordinary perhaps, but this yard caught my eye because it’s indirectly connected to the Swiss national railway system by an intriguing little Swiss short-line called the Orbe-Chavornay railway.

Read on to find out more…

Chavornay is a town and municipality located in the French speaking west of Switzerland, north of the city of Lausanne.


View Larger Map

On the right of the map is the SBB mainline running north-south between Yverdon-les-Bains and Lausanne. From Yverdon-les-Bains it’s possible to travel onwards to Basel/Zurich and other locations in Europe.

The Orbe-Chavornay short-line railway is shown on the left of the map running east-west between Chavornay station and the town of Orbe via Les Granges and Saint Eloi.

At first glance Chavornay seems like an unlikely location for an intermodal terminal as it’s a relatively rural location, however there is a surprising amount of industry located both around Chavornay train station and in the Les Granges industrial area further to the east.

Here’s a map of the area around the TERCO terminal (the perimeter of the terminal is shown in grey):

The terminal covers an area of about 390m x 80m which is about 2.4m x 0.5m (8ft x 1.6ft) in N scale. With a bit of selective compression it’d be possible to squeeze most of the terminal onto two of my 105cm x 40cm modules.

Although this post is meant to be about the TERCO yard I got a bit carried away and started measuring up all the nearby rail-served industry too. There’s real potential for a modular industrial layout with mainline station and inter-change sidings. Something like this:

Anyway, back to TERCO yard… Unfortunately, there aren’t many photographs of the yard available online but as you can see from the satellite image at the top of this post and the plans/pictures on the TERCO website the yard has four tracks on a fairly simple concrete apron.

Although there is equipment for storing a range of container types there are no gantry cranes, all containers are unloaded using reach-stackers. If you don’t fancy scratch-building, N scale reach-stackers have been produced by a number of manufacturers; this thread is a useful starting point.

Modified Version Of: SBB Cargo Re482 With A Freight Train Crossing The River Reuss Near Oberrüti by Kabelleger/David Gubler – Own work, (Modified by kaʁstn)
CC BY-SA 3.0, View Image

The only thing that is slightly puzzling about the TERCO yard is the fact that the TERCO website says it is served daily by an SBB container-train service called Swiss-Split.

Swiss-Split trains transports containers from Swiss intermodal hubs to private rail-served facilities and smaller intermodal yards (such as TERCO) through-out Switzerland. The reverse journey is also available, with containers being collected from smaller intermodal yards/private rail-served facilities and delivered to Swiss intermodal hubs for onward transport to other locations. Sounds great and it’s something I think should be happening throughout Europe.

So why is it puzzling that TERCO say they are served daily by SBB Swiss-Split trains? It’s puzzling because the yard is only accessible from track owned by the Orbe-Chavornay railway. So either there is a step missing and SBB only delivers/collects container wagons to/from the yard at Chavornay station with Orbe-Chavornay locomotives moving the containers between the station and TERCO yard or SBB locomotives have trackage rights to the TERCO yard and collect/deliver container wagons directly themselves.

It’s unlikely that a train operating a service such as Swiss-Split would be allocated time to travel up to TERCO yard and marshal a train which adds weight to the idea that Orbe-Chavornay locomotives do the transfers/marshalling. However it’s also possible that an SBB locomotive based in/around Chavornay station is used to marshal and transfer trains to nearby industries. It could be a combination of both. I did find a video (see 19:15 onwards) that shows an SBB liveried locomotive running up the Orbe-Chavornay tracks to deliver some sliding-wall wagons to a rail-served industry in Chavornay. Ultimately, unless you insist on prototypical operations, the decision as to which company serves your version of TERCO yard would be up to you.

DSC07167 by gnm2010. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Although the Orbe-Chavornay line and station is electrified the eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted that the tracks to and from TERCO yard and nearby rail-served industries are not electrified. So trains to and from the yard are hauled by a range of diesel locomotives including:

Travys Am 842 705-6 by FlugZüge. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I never thought I’d nit-pick like this but I think the tag on the image above is slightly wrong as Travys refer to this locomotive as an Am 4/4 . Oh dear, does this make me a proper train geek?

Travys/OC:Chavornay-VD:30.09.2015″ by Olivier Vietti-Violi.
Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

And even re-branded ex-SBB Class Em 3/3 diesel shunters. A full list of the locomotives Travys use on the Orbe-Charornay line can be seen on this page of the Travys website.

Minitrix has produced an N scale AM 842 in SBB livery but I’ve not seen one in Travys livery. I don’t think anyone currently produces an EM 3/3 although Minitrix have in the past. The availability of various Swiss locomotives in N scale is discussed in this thread on the N Gauge Forum.

If that wasn’t enough, TERCO yard doesn’t just handle ISO containers, it’s also been used as a municipal waste collection and trans-shipment depot. Giving you the potential to add further operational interest if you fancy scratch-building European waste containers…

That’s it for now but I’ve only scratched the surface of the Orde-Chavornay area so more posts are sure to follow soon.

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