Railway Pages Index


Part 3:
Interlaken - Visp - Zermatt - Gornergrat
and Mount Pilatus - Lake Lucerne

This page covers a trip taken from our hub at Interlaken to reach the Glacier Express at Visp, then on to  Zermatt, up the Gornergrat Bahn to the base of the Matterhorn and return to Interlaken. Next day we traveled to Mt Pilatus and Lake Lucerne.

We cruised through the Gotthard Tunnel to Visp on a sleek high-speed ICE, where we reached the route of the Glacier Express, then headed for Zermatt and the Matterhorn
on the Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn (MGB) (meter gauge). It was created in 2003 through an amalgamation of Furka-Oberalp-Bahn (FO) and Brig-Visp-Zermatt Bahn (BVZ). The name comes from the Matterhorn and St. Gotthard Pass. Its network is 144 km (89.5 mi) long and stretches from Disentis to Zermatt, by way of the Oberalp pass and Andermatt, the Furka tunnel, Brig, and Visp. From Andermatt, a branch line (the former independent Schöllenenbahn) extends to Göschenen, at the northern end of the Gotthard rail tunnel.

Between Realp and Oberwald, the line formerly crossed the Furka pass, at a crest elevation of 2162 meters (7093 ft) with a 1.87 km (1.16 mi) tunnel passing beneath the peak. Today, a new tunnel crests at just 1564 m (5131 ft) and is 15.34 km (9.53 mi) long. I was on the old line in 1995 and it was far more interesting than the present one.

The old line is operated by the Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke (DFB) using veteran steam engines. There is a connection to the Rhaetian Railway in Disentis and the Glacier Express runs from Zermatt to St. Moritz, using stock from both companies. Unfortunately, there was no time to get to this scenic trackage.







From Zermatt, we headed uphill on the meter gauge Gornergrat Bahn (GGB) cogwheel route. The construction  commenced in 1896. A total of 2400 workers were employed over a 2-year period. In 1898, the train on Switzerland's first electrical cog railway made its way towards the Matterhorn. 100 years ago, in 1909, the summit station was re-sited around 70 meters further up the mountain. This in turn made the Gornergrat Bahn Europe's highest open-air cogwheel railway. The Jungfrau is higher but in a tunnel.





Gornergratbahn to the Matterhorn

After a cruise on Lake Lucerne we climbed up to the summit of Mount Pilatus on board the steepest cog railway in the world, the Pilatus Bahn. First built in 1889, it changed to electrical operation in 1937. We then descended on the aerial cableway -- the last trip of the day for the gondola due to gusty winds -- a very exciting ride. After a brief bus ride and a walk around downtown Lucerne, we traveled back to Interlaken on another ICE.



Lucerne and the Lake




Mt Pilatus - Straight up on the cog and straight down on the cable.  

See also  Part 1   Part 2   Part 4