Kathi’s Swiss Rail Adventure

Posted by Kathi Kube
on Friday, August 26, 2011

Swiss Railways
Switzerland has too many charms to name, but it's definitely also a railfan's paradise. In October 2010, I had the very good fortune to go to Switzerland as part of a tour the Swiss government arranged to try to raise awareness of Switzerland as a tourist destination, especially for railfans. I'll be describing my trip here in several installations.

At first blush, it was easy to see why a railfan would want to go to Switzerland, besides the country's well-known charms. Switzerland isn't a large country, by any stretch of the imagination, measuring 137 miles north to south and 217 miles east to west, but its total area is 15,940 square miles - obviously mainly vertically. 

Swiss Railways

In this relatively small area, though, Switzerland squeezes in 3,215 miles of track plus another 93 miles of cogwheel and funicular lines, 140 railway and bus companies, and 41 urban transportation companies.

The first day there, several of us in the tour group took the train to Grindelwald in the Jungfrau region, then took the cable car to First (pronounced Feerst).

Swiss Railways

In this photo, you're looking down back into the cloud level from First. We rode a zipline back down the mountain - and through the clouds - to Schreckfeld (which means "scary field"), and rode trottie bikes (like scooters) back down the mountain to Grindelwald. We even had to pull off to the side of the road for a short bit while a rancher moved his herd of cattle.

The train station at Grindelwald is right outside the Hotel Derby, and it's quite busy with trains.

Swiss Railways

OK, I know I'm turning into quite a tech-nerd, but this was the most bizarre-looking coupler I've ever seen. Interesting, huh?

Swiss Railways

And then we were off again. Until the grade crossing protection caught me eye. Did I mention I'm turning into a tech-nerd? Can't help it. The technology involved in railroading just fascinates me.

Swiss Railways

And yes, those are more cows dotting the mountainside. They really are all over. And they all wear bells. Simply adorable!

In no time at all we were back at Interlaken, which has two train stations. This is Interlaken Ost.

Swiss Railways

I had some questions (go figure, right??) so I tried finding someone there who spoke English. It really didn't take too long, and everyone was very nice. I even found a "driver" who was kind enough to let me into the cab to get a look at the controls. They're not that dissimilar to our locomotives, the primary difference being that the throttle and brake are on a wheel. No, that's not for steering, silly!

Swiss Railways

I wandered about the station area for a little bit. Here's a view of Interlacken Ost from across one of its lakes. ("Interlaken" means "between the lakes.") These are the tracks that lead into the station. The glacial lake is so pale-bluish green, even against the cloudy gray sky.

Swiss Railways

By now my tummy was grumbling and it was time to rejoin the tour group for dinner. In my next installation, we'll take the journey to Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe.

Comments
To leave a comment you must be a member of our community.
Login to your account now, or register for an account to start participating.
No one has commented yet.