Roger Waller

Dipl. Ing. Roger Waller

After graduating in Switzerland in 1977, Waller was employed by the Swiss Locomotive Machine Works (SLM) at Winterthur.  In 1982 he joined the South African Railways and worked as an assistant to David Wardale during the latter stages of the tuning-up and testing work on the Red Devil.  He returned to SLM in 1984 where he initiated the revival of steam traction at SLM.

At SLM, Roger was responsible for the development of the Class H2/3 rack locomotives.  In 1992, three prototypes had been built, followed by a batch of further five virtually identical locomotives in 1996.  Four are now in service in Switzerland (on the Brienz Rothorn Bahn) and four in Austria (on the Schafberg railway).  These all-new engines embody a number of advanced features, including light oil firing giving very low exhaust emissions, one-man operation, external electric pre-heating, roller bearings and light weight construction, which is very important on steep mountain railways with gradients of 1 in 4.  By comparison with the 1933 design from which they were developed, the new locomotives are 25% lighter and develop 36% more power, this resulting in 61% less fuel being consumed per passenger trip, with a top speed 56% higher. They are thus operationally equivalent to diesel locomotives yet retain the commercially important appeal of steam traction.

Following on the success of these locomotives, in 1998/99 Waller and his team at SLM extensively rebuilt ex-Deutsche Reichsbahn 52.80 Class 2-10-0 No. 8055, which incorporates some of the features of modern steam technology that had been developed for the rack tanks, such as light oil firing, very efficient thermal insulation and roller bearings on axles and rods.  The purpose of this heavy rebuilding was to provide clean steam traction for the popular Nostalgie Orient Express (NOIE) dining trains of a Swiss Travel agency. Up to 200 operating days had been planned, but due to financial problems not linked with the NOIE, the travel agency went into liquidation, leaving 52 8055 without work.  After a period of inactivity in Germany (caused by regulatory authorities), the locomotive returned to Switzerland in 2003 under the ownership of DLM where it is since used for special services.

S/S Montreux

In the same period 52 8055 was rebuilt, Waller initiated the revival of steam traction for paddle ships on Lake Geneva (CGN).  Four paddle steamers had been converted in the 1960’s to diesel-electric drives, but their life span being much shorter than the one of steam engines, they needed replacement.  Waller proposed new steam drives incorporating an automatic boiler and a remote-controlled steam engine to avoid the additional staff necessary on old paddle steamers.  The first of these having been installed in 2000 on the S/S Montreux. The new 650 kW diagonal, non-condensing twin steam engine with high superheat proved the point, but a change in management (a former diesel salesman become CEO) also changed the policy.  Whilst the four original paddle steamers and the re-equipped Montreux are used in normal services, two of the remaining three diesel-electric paddle ships have been equipped with new diesel-electric drives since.

The steam engine of the Montreux had been the very last order for SLM and the end of this famous company was just a matter of time.  Sulzer,Ltd. the only share holder of SLM, sold the engineering and renamed the remaining workshop to Sulzer Winpro.  Waller and his steam team thought that it is time for a management buy-out and founded the new company Dampflokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik DLM Ltd.

An initial contract with the then Brig-Visp-Zermatt Railway to overhaul its only steam locomotive type HG 2/3 No. 7 “Breithorn” meant a good start for DLM.  The locomotive was equipped with a new boiler, light-oil firing and Lempor exhaust, but no further improvements were allowed in view of its historic value.

In recent years, Waller purchased two fireless steam locomotives for the purpose of promoting this form of traction for industrial use.  One of these has been modified with a few modern features including solar panels on its cab roof to replace its steam turbogenerator.  See http://www.dlm-ag.ch/en/news?start=30 for further information.

Puffing Billy Railway No 14A newly fitted with oil-firing.

Most recently, Roger was engaged by the Puffing Billy Railway in Victoria, Australia, to convert one of their locomotives to oil-firing.  This work was completed in 2018.  See http://www.dlm-ag.ch/en/news for further information.


In Feb 2003 Waller presented a paper titled “Modern Steam – An Economic and Environmental Alternative to Diesel Traction” to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Railway Division under the auspice of the “Sir Seymour Biscoe Tritton Lecture”.