Sunday, 9 July 2017

Some Mountain Railways of the Bernese Oberland

I have just returned from a fortnight in Switzerland, my annual summer holidays. I now find myself faced with a mountain of photos and difficulty in choosing a subject for Five on Friday.

The Jungfraubahn

This is the railway that serves the highest station in Europe. Here one of their new trains sets off from Kleine Scheidegg. It will climb using the cog railway system through a tunnel through the Eiger, the north face of which is pictured behind the train, to a station at Jungfraujoch at 3,454 metres above sea level. In 2015 this fleet of trains took over 1 million of visitors to the station which is at "At The Top of Europe".

The Wengernalpbahn

This is another wholly cog railway which has 2 lines which both run into Kleine Scheidegg to serve the trains taking tourists to the Jungfraubahn. One line runs from Grindlewald. This is photo is taken on the other line at Wengeneralp station. This is on the line from Lauterbrunnen which ascends through Wengen. Here the single tack has a "loop" where the up trains wait for the down trains to pass on a short section of double track. The view from the seats on the open station platform is quite stunning.

The Berner Oberland-Bahn

This is the third of the 3 linked mountain railways. It takes passengers from its lower terminus at Interlaken Ost to the two lower termini of the Wengernalpbahn at Lauterbrunnen and Grindlewald. Here at Zweilutschinen Junction the trains to and from Interlaken are coupled and uncoupled to serve the two valleys of the Lutschinen River. Here the new train (on the right) to Lauterbrunnen has just been separated from the older train running to Grindlewald. It is able to run at a faster speed because it is not entirely cog driven. The train slows noticeably to engage the cog for a few short sections.

The Schynige Platte Bahn

This railway is particularly steep and runs out of Wilderswil (between Interlaken and Zweilutschinen) to Schynige Platte which is 1,967 metres above sea level. Here it serves the famous Alpine Garden and a Mountain Restaurant. The rolling stock is all much older, or has been made to keep the vintage appearance. Like most of these mountain railways it was built solely to serve the tourist market.

Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen Murren

This railway is now 125 years old and here a train waits in the goods terminus at Murren to be loaded. The goods capacity is all in the very small truck visible at the back of the train. This is because the line runs to the cable car at Grutschalp about 3 miles away and all the goods have to be transferred into a carrier under the cable car to be transported to Lauterbrunnen. Until a direct cable-way was built into Murren village in the late 1960's this was the only method of transporting goods to the mountain village of Murren. The railway is almost level and has no need of cog drive. The single rail cars shuttle all day long passing each other at the intermediate station of Winteregg.

These railways together with four related cable-ways are owned by a single company which drives much of the economy of the the region. They provide employment for over 500 individuals, they provide most of the transport into the tourist villages of Murren and Wengen (which are not accessible by car) and to Grindlewald (which is also accessible by car). They drive the local skiing economy by operating ski-lifts. They generated some 36 million Swiss Francs of earnings (before interest and tax) for the Swiss economy. Without them this part of Switzerland would be very different today.

My thanks to Tricky and Carly at FAST for hosting Five On Friday.

Hope you having a great weekend.


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