A Bern Adventure

Brunnhof (Line 5), Bern, Switzerland

I have been inspired to embark upon a major photographic project. If you’ve been following my writing for the past few weeks (or, indeed, if you are family or friend) then you will know that I have begun working for a company in Bern. Coming into a city once more after several years in the sticks–or in my case, the village-based, lakeside offices of my previous employer–I am now doing battle twice a day with other commuters and tourists making their way through the public transport system of Switzerland’s capital city and the geographically central junction point of the Swiss national transport system.

Most of my journey–at least geographically–is done by train, but what really fascinates me is the tram system once I arrive in the capital. I’m not used to trams, having grown up away from any realistically useable public transport system and relying on intercity and inter-regional trains since arriving in Switzerland. Buses are also heavily used in the capital, but the trams, powered by overhead cables and following precise train-like tracks laid in the streets, are almost totally new to me.

Coming from the area of England near London, and spending a lot of time there with friends and family, I often heard stories and read up on the London Underground system, becoming quite interested in disused stations such as those in the area of Aldwych. (I shan’t write more here, as there is a huge amount of information available about all of the closed stations on the London Underground History website.) My inspiration for my project, for which I have already begun taking test shots, was inspired mainly by Simon James’ documentary book Mind the Gap, for which he photographed all of the “end of the line” London Underground stations. From the summary of the book, it’s “…a book about the great adventure that is open to anyone prepared to stump up for an All Zones Travelcard“.

My adventure is on a less geographically grand scale, but will still cover a huge area and take some time to complete. My recent purchase of my own “travel card”–namely, the Swiss national travel pass–will allow me to travel across the whole of Bern, photographing all of the tram stops in the Bern Mobil network. I may well extend the project and photograph all of the bus stops too: a total of 219 places in the city through which people pass every day, to which many will never go. Tourists to Bern will never have heard of most of the stops and will only know of the far-flung destinations as names on the front of a passing tram or bus.

You can see the test photos as I make them in my Flickr photostream: low resolution for the time being. The actual photographs for the project which will be shot on film and finally, when the project is complete, compiled into a book: details of which I’ll post nearer the time.