SWITZERLAND REPRISE -- 2009
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.
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
PILATUS and LAKE LUCERNE
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.
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
Lucerne and the
Mt Pilatus - Straight up on the cog and straight down on the