Legendary Railways of the Swiss Alps
Awesome. Breathtaking. Dynamic. Superlatives that describe not only Switzerland’s majestic 14,000-foot-high mountain peaks, flowing streams, cavernous gorges, and crystalline glaciers, but also three of the world’s great cogwheel railways—the panoramic Glacier Express, the scenic Gornergrat Bahn, and the dramatic Pilatus Railway—and the ingenuity and engineering achievements it took to create them. Appreciate the visionary work and vast scope of these magnificent railways as you experience the sublime majesty of the iconic Alps from incredible, up-close perspectives.
The Gornergrat Bahn is Switzerland’s oldest electrified cog railway, in operation since 1898. In the brief span of five miles, you will climb 4,868 feet from Zermatt to the lofty Gornergrat. En route, look for stunning views of the great Matterhorn, hanging glaciers and the robin’s-egg blue waters of mountain lakes. Lucerne’s Pilatus Railway, completed in 1889, offers breathtaking bird’s-eye views of Swiss farms and coniferous forests along its three-mile run from the shores of Lake Lucerne to the summit of Mount Pilatus. Its vertical ascent of 5,364 feet over a grade as steep as 48 percent is highlighted by its stunning 360-degree views.
No feat, however, required greater skill and determination than the laying of the track for the Glacier Express in 1930 across the spine of the towering Alps. Enjoy this spectacular and leisurely journey showcasing unmatched views of the Swiss countryside: weathered chalets and mountainside farming hamlets, picturesque trails dotted with hikers, livestock grazing on green grasses, and ice-blue snowcapped mountains. A true engineering marvel, the railway penetrates the mountain barrier separating the cantons of Valais and Uri through the nine-and-one-half-mile-long Furka Tunnel and crosses arched stone bridges that span the tumbling headwaters of the rivers Rhine and Rhône.