about us

Company Furrer+Frey

Over several decades we have been striving for e-mobility, have designed and built overhead contact lines and have offered our customers optimal solutions.

Founded in 1923, Furrer+Frey is presently an international leading and innovative, mid-size supplier of overhead contact lines. Apart from our head office in Bern and our branches in Bellinzona, Montreux and Zurich, we also have offices in Guangzhou, London, Rom and Berlin.

Furrer+Frey AG is an independent family enterprise, which pursues constant objectives.

The advantages of our independence are used in order to realize additional benefits for our customers, our associates and our employees.

History, facts and figures

History

 
1923

Emil Furrer and Arnold Frey, both engineers and active in power lines construction, found the company at Thunstrasse 39 in Bern with a maintenance area in Bümpliz Nord. Their business objective was to support railways with electrification and also carry out power lines construction work.

1931

Relocation to Thunstrasse 35, which is still the present office.

1946

Emil Furrer passes away. His son, Hans Jörg Furrer, enters the company.

1954

Arnold Frey leaves the company.

1957

The maintenance area in Bümpliz is abandoned and relocated to a new building at Stauffacherstrasse. Furrer+Frey produces overhead contact lines material.
The power lines business is closed down.

1970

An additional warehouse in Rüfenacht is put into use.

1973

At the company’s fiftieth anniversary all staff members were invited to the Jungfrau Joch.

1975

Beat Furrer enters the company.

1979

The detailed design phase for the expansion of the BLS mountain section to double track starts. It’s the beginning of an intensive business relationship that lasts to this day.

1980

Purchase of several maintenance areas at Morgenstrasse in Bern, they include rail track access.

1983

At the company’s sixtieth anniversary all customers and employees are invited to a special presentation at the maintenance area. After the presentation they are brought to Interlaken by boat to enjoy a gala event. The next day one could choose to either visit the Ballenberg Museum or go on a trip to the Brienzer Rothorn.

1984

Furrer+Frey is co-founder of UPAG, Bern.

The first conductor rail installation is realized as a trial project. This installation is still in operation.

1985

Hans Jörg Furrer retires and his son Beat Furrer takes over the company.

1988

Acquisition of Nobs Maschinenfabrik AG in Thun (Gwatt), together with their manufacturing facilities and storage areas.

1991

Relocation of the material warehouse to Thun (Gwatt). Production, warehouse and workshop are now all at the same location.

1991

Niche strategy abroad pays off: the Korean National Railroad purchases conductor rail material for about 32 km. This reflects the start of international business. In the next decades Furrer+Frey will deal with worldwide projects and found several sub-companies.

1992

Furrer+Frey turns into a limited company owned by the Furrer family.

1993

The activities of Nobs Maschinenfabrik AG are ceased, the site for warehouse, manufacturing and workshop facilities in Thun (Gwatt) are maintained.

1994

The manufacturing activities are abandoned. The company restructures into a streamlined organisation, as bigger railway projects like Bahn 2000 slow down. Procurement of materials is arranged with associates.

1995

Furrer+Frey collaborates with partner company Spie Enertrans (today TSO Caténaires) from France and operates in Germany for the first time.

1996

To be able to plan independently from each other, Furrer+Frey reorganises and separates designing activities from construction work.

Pre-dimensioning of the overhead lines for Alp Transit Gotthard.

1997

The export of the conductor rail is successful: flexible conductor rail equipment for five swing- and folding-bridges for Amtrak, North East Corridor, USA.

International consultancy is successful too: concept design for Israel Railway Authority and first construction plans.

The overhead catenary system FL 200/FL 260 is approved by DBAG (German Railway). This system was first implemented at the Bern Neuenburg Bahn and in the meantime has become a CH-standard.

1998

Prestigious mandates in connection with Bahn 2000 for overhead contact lines design.

Launch of the first in-house narrow-gauge diesel locomotive.

Order for electrification of the Vereinatunnel.

The company’s 75th anniversary is celebrated at the university of Neuenburg with a special seminar about overhead contact lines for customers and competitors.

1999

Inauguration of the new railway station at Spiez by BLS. Furrer+Frey design the complete catenary system and introduce portal structures with a range of more than 50 meters, a novelty. Another novelty was the collection and digitalisation of all data of the existing installation by photogrammetry.

 

2000

Hans-Jörg Furrer passes away after short disease at the age of 80.

Furrer+Frey develops, designs and builds the overhead contact lines for the first SBB high speed connection: the Zimmerberg-Basistunnel.

 

2001

Furrer+Frey is founding member of the VSBTU: Vereinigung Schweizerischer Bahntechnik Unternehmungen (Swiss Railway Technology Enterprises Association)

Conductor bar’s first appearances in Germany: Frankfurt and Rummelsburg.

Furrer+Frey has been SN EN ISO 9001 certificated for the first time.

Furrer+Frey works together closely with ELBAS Germany and ELBAS Switzerland, especially in the area of the development of the planning tool ELFF.

 

2002

We supply conductor bars to mainland China and on the east coast of Taiwan the first ones are installed.

We take part for the first time at Innotrans 2002 in Berlin.

2003

We put the first Schörling Brock road-rail vehicle into operation.

We start with the design of the conductor bar > 200 km/h for the Sittenbergtunnel in Austria . At the same time we implement the conductor bar for 160 km/h in the Kerenzerberg Tunnel at the Walensee and in the Vingelz-Tunnel at the Bielersee.

The overhead contact line system FL200 and FL200T evolves to a Swiss standard, as not only the BLS but also the RhB and MGB (formerly FO and BVZ) use this system for conversion and new works.

2004

Furrer+Frey attains approval for the urban rail overhead contact line system FL100 and succeeds in acquiring the assignment for the Glattalbahn-overhead contact line system.

The first Palfinger crane with backwards folding arm is obtained.

2005

Our overhead contact line measurement device, DCM (Dynamic Catenary Monitoring), attracts a lot of interest.
The overhead conductor rail is certified by EBC for 220 km/h.

2006

The overhead conductor rail is realized in Berlin Nord-Süd.

Rico Furrer enters the company and represents the 4th generation.

Successful development of our planning tool ELFF: we are now designing overhead contact lines in 3D.

Furrer+Frey Italia sarl is founded.

2007

Assignment from Network Rail for the modification of the existing, old, fixed wires of Great Eastern with a track length of 300km, east of London.

The electro team presents the first LED Lower Pantograph Signals.

We receive the order to design and build an overhead conductor rail for the railway station at the new Berlin international airport.

We build the overhead contact lines for the new railway station at Visp and a dual track for the RBS in the Worblental.

2008

Another milestone is the structural design, delivery and installation of the 56 meters portal structure in Mannheim.

We have our first contract for works in Russia. We equip a depot in St. Petersburg. Our electric team makes a significant contribution, since we also implement the local safety control system.

In Bordeaux, France, we equip several swing bridges with conductor rails.

We convert the railway station in Gstaad for the MOB.

At our maintenance facility we build a testing area.

It’s decided that in the future we design the construction drawings in 3D.

2009

As part of the project Tram Bern West, we do not only equip the depot on the Bolligenstrasse, but also build the overhead contact lines to Brünnen and Bümpliz.

Huge material orders for the Great Eastern project in London challenge our logistics department.

The Metro project in Turkey (Otogar – Bagcilar) is put into operation with our conductor rail.
Together with TSO we equip five tunnels at the “Carpathians line” Bourg-en-Bresse – Bellegarde.

We celebrate the 25th anniversary of UPAG.

Three motor driven flat cars TWA with a hydraulic cradle together with a VEL 400, a maintenance vehicle with a measuring pantograph, a crane and a hydraulic platform, are put into operation.

2010

In cooperation with Opbrid, a Swedish company, we design and build the mechanical equipment of rapid charging stations for hybrid and electro busses.

FL200 is put into operation between Sugiez and Ins.

We design the components for the overhead contact lines in the Gotthard tunnel.

The Arlberg and the Lainzer tunnels are equipped with F+F conductor rails.

2011

After almost 20 years we are allowed to supply South Korea again with conductor rails for tunnel extensions.

The Oslo tunnel is put into operation.

We offer Network Rail Series 1, our newly developed overhead contact rail system, which could be used on the Great Western track. And we receive the order.

We establish ourselves in London with a London based office: Furrer+Frey GB Ltd.
We also found a company in Mainland China: Furrer+Frey Electrification Equipment (Guangzhou) Limited.

We equip another swing bridge with conductor rails in Portland, Oregon, USA. The movement sequences of the bridge prove to be a real challenge.

We want to be closer to our customers in the French speaking part of Switzerland and therefore open up a branch in Vevey, which in the future will be relocated to a bigger office in Montreux.

2012

In cooperation with Opbrid we build several rapid charge stations for busses in Göteborg.

The Austrian BMVIT authorises F+F conductor rails up to 250 km/h for single- and 230 km/h for double traction use.

The dual track line of WAB Wengen was successfully put into operation before the winter holidays.

The asm track is extended from Niederbipp to Oensingen with FL 200. Along with SBB’s R-FL, FL 200 can be referred to as a Swiss standard.

RhB equip both the Albulatunnel and a tunnel in Samedan with our conductor rail.

The tramway contact line system is complemented with components for a catenary and is put into operation at the Rigibahn and on Neuenburg Public Transport.

2013

In summertime we open our branch in Zurich with a visiting day.

We secure several mainline railway tunnel projects in China and Taiwan, each with about 60 km conductor rail.

We renovate our buildings in Thun-Gwatt for energy efficient reasons and modernize the facade.

At the ninetieth anniversary of the company all employees and their partners are invited to a special trip to Karl’s Kühne Gassenschau “Fabrikk” in Olten.

2014

Furrer+Frey is contacted by the consortium responsible for the railway equipment of the Ceneri base tunnel (15 km). We are requested to design the overhead contact lines for the tunnel approaches and the tunnel itself, as well as to supply the materials needed.

The SBB put the movable conductor rail and the control system of the service unit Herdern II into operation.

We receive the order to electrify the new city railway tunnel in Stockholm.

In the Austrian Sittenbergtunnel, our conductor rail is successfully tested with a speed of 302 km/h, a world record for conductor rails.

Furrer+Frey is turning into a software provider. The planning tool ELFF attracts more and more interest. Several dozens of licences are in use in England, negotiations are in progress in France and Germany as well. Having the best planning tool is a decisive factor in winning a tender offered by SBB.

2015

We purchase the most powerful and efficient assembly device in our history: the MTW 100 of Plasser & Theurer.

The warehouse, maintenance and outdoor areas in Thun-Gwatt are expanded.

The order for overhead contact lines alterations at the so-called 4-metres-Corridor between Basel and Chiasso is given to Furrer+Frey.

Never ago we sold as much overhead line material in our history as we do now. Our main customer is Network Rail in the UK and their assigned installation companies, who use Series 1, which was developed by F+F, to electrify the Great Western route from London to Bristol/Cardiff.

After extensive operational testing in Austria and test runs with the ICE of the German Railway, the certificates of German EisenbahnCert and Swiss Federal Office of Transport now allow unrestricted operation with speeds up to 250 km/h according to TSI-ENE.

2016

Our planning activities in the Ticino prompt us to open an office in Bellinzona.

We are also very happy that we will electrify the Limmattalbahn west of Zurich.

We found Furrer+Frey Deutschland GmbH in Berlin and take over Opbrid.

2017

General management is handed over to the fourth generation of the Furrer family.

A TTC Cantilever, initially developped for the Great Western, is for the first time installed in Switzerland on the SOB Railway.

Furrer+Frey's largest vehicle, the MTW100, is put into operation.

In Cardiff a White Paper for Developping Sustainable, Agile, Mutlimodal Transport solutions for Wales is published.

2018

The firs light weight Aluminium Cantilevers FL200 light are installed on the Tyne & Wear Metro.

Tmf 2/2, a diesel tractor equipped with vacuum and air brakes as well as adaptable couplers for all metre gauge railwys in Switzerland as well as an improved conductor bar lifter are put into operation.

 


Facts and figures

  • Founded in 1923 by Emil Furrer and Arnold Frey
  • Swiss and global presence
  • Locations in Switzerland: Bern, Thun, Bellinzona, Montreux, Zurich
  • Locations outside Switzerland: London, Guangzhou, Rome and Berlin
  • 300 employees worldwide
     

Fields of activity

Overhead contact lines design

Our overhead contact lines designers, engineers and project managers, work in close cooperation with our customers from the initial design to a ready to implement project stage. Our staff members use a worldwide unique overhead contact lines planning tool called ELFF, which was developed in-house and is continually optimised.

Electric team

Our electric team is specialized in Railway Control Systems for depot facilities. This involves the safety aspects concerning earthing, access to stairs on working platforms, crane control and a locking mechanism of the movable overhead conductor rail connected with corresponding signals.

Construction of overhead contact lines

Based on our own design concept or on that of the customer, we install complete overhead contact line structures. This includes the planning, the organisation of the assembly team, the purchasing of all necessary equipment, the provision of all installation aids and the coordination with third-party companies if necessary.

Provision of assembly-specialists for our customers

We provide our customers with skilled overhead contact lines workers for short or long term projects.

Rental of equipment

Whenever there is a demand for track-related assembly devices, we offer our devices either manned or unmanned. This development led to the start-up of UP AG Bern in 1988. This company lets out working platforms on a broader basis, not only to track related projects and has more than 200 devices to its disposal.

Export

After being successful in Switzerland over many years, we decide in the early nineties to offer our services outside of Switzerland as well. Presently our export department is operative in more than 20 countries with projects all over the world, from Australia to Norway and from the UK to South America. We focus on system designs, material supply and site engineering. We have developed a global network of associates and agents, who are able to assist us locally.

Development

We are frequently faced with special assignments. Small tunnels, low bridges and long tunnels are challenging, just like complicated conversion works and re-electrifications. These projects are quite demanding and therefore we have acquired the skills to solve difficult issues in a short period of time. We use these challenges to our advantage, it capacitates our employees and makes sure that our knowledge of our core business is kept on the highest level.

The Furrer family

Entrepreneurship, quality awareness and the willingness to take risks: these three principles are what F+F stands for, and they form the basis for continuous development. The foundation was laid by pioneers Emil Furrer and Arnold Frey with first electrification works in Switzerland, back in 1923.

The 2nd generation of the Furrer family with Hans-Jörg Furrer (1920 – 2000) expanded services, after the resignation of the Frey family, with new innovative products and overhead contact lines systems. He made the first steps into the mechanization of catenary construction in Switzerland, this led to building an own construction area for the production of overhead contact lines equipment.

The 3rd generation with Beat Furrer (1948) took the first steps abroad. The development of the conductor rail and overhead contact line systems for high speeds were the main focuses. The organisation of the company was adapted to the current conditions and presently covers the following areas: overhead lines construction, engineering, export, logistics, finance & personnel, development/construction and back-offices, including several branches in Switzerland and subsidiaries in Italy, China, Great Britain and Germany.

The 4th generation with Rico Furrer (1977) has taken over the management of the company on the 1st of January 2017. The 3rd generation is gently withdrawing from daily business and will support the further development of the company in a consultative capacity and as a member of the Board of Directors.

What will not change is the effort we make for satisfying our customers, our motivated employees, our constant innovation and our controlled growth, which is financed by the company’s own resources. The company should remain independent. These have been the pillars of our company’s philosophy, since four generations.