Gornergrat-Monte Rosa Railways - Description

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The Gornergrat Railway begins at the BVZ station in Zermatt and is a pure rack and pinion railway (Abt system). It began service in 1898 as the first electric mountain railway in Switzerland. The 9.3 km long railway uses three-phase current and, like the BVZ was built as a pure tourist railway for operation only in summer. With the increasing popularity of winter sports, it extended operations to the winter season. In order to do this, many avalanche protection structures had to be built in the upper section of the line. GGB started off by using "Rowan-trains" half of whose first coach was supported by the banking locomotive: the Jungfrau Railway later followed this example.

After the World War II, fast, light-weight railcars were purchased and their number increased with the years to 18. Three of the old locomotives are still available for use as goods and service trains. The line runs from Zermatt with a gradient of 20,0 % via the stations of Riffelalp, Riffelberg, Rotenboden, to the Gornergrat mountain station at an altitude of 3089m above sea level. During the entire trip the view of the Matterhorn gradually unfolds in all its splendour . From the Gornergrat, a vista of the entire circle of 4000 m high mountains around Zermatt opens up before the passenger: Monte Rosa, Dom, Wei▀horn, and Dent Blanche. In the winter the GGB provides access to an excellent skiing region; heavy winter sport traffic led the GGB to double-track parts of its line. The line section between Riffelalp-Riffelboden and Riffelberg-Rotenboden-Gornergrat are, in great measure, double-tracked. The GGB depot is located near by the Zermatt station and tracks of the depot are in acavern under Sunegga mountain. In 1993 the GGB bought four comfortable new railcars (Bhe 4/8) which have increased the speed to 28 km/h (1898 7.2 km/h, 1965 14 km/h).

In face to 100th anniversary the GGB was renamed in 1998 from Gornergrat Railway to Gornergrat-Monte Rosa Railways.

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Copyright © 1996 Stefan Dringenberg, 09-14-98