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      January 2012 > Jungfrau Railway - 100 Years of Awe-Inspiring Views

Jungfrau Railway - 100 Years of Awe-Inspiring Views

In 1894, German engineer and industrial visionary Adolf Guyer-Zeller started work on a truly inspirational, to say nothing of seemingly impossible (madcap?), engineering feat in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Switzerland was already a popular destination for people wanting to experience outstanding views of snow-covered mountains while enjoying a leisurely walking holiday.

His vision, however, was to take them out of their comfort zone, way up high amid the soaring peaks – but without the obvious dangers of tackling the ascent with ropes, hobnail boots and ice axes. His answer was the Jungfrau Railway. 

Work on the Eiger tunnel began in 1896, though Guyer-Zeller was not to see his dream achieved. He sadly died in 1899, but it was a further thirteen years before the tunnel was completed in 1912, 100 years ago, making 2012 its centenary year.

The Jungfrau train begins its ascent towards the EigerThe result is the chance to enjoy what must be one of the world’s greatest and most exhilarating rail journeys. Short it may be, but what it lacks in distance it certainly makes up for in altitude – and with each metre it ascends, the views increase exponentially in their sheer drama, grandeur and awe-inspiring majesty.

The Jungfrau railway travels up through the inner core of the Eiger and Mönch to reach its terminus at the col, the Jungfraujoch, between the Eiger and Jungfrau, just below the summit of the The Sphinx, at an altitude of 11,333 feet. This is the highest railway station in Europe, indeed the very “Top of Europe” for most people, which overlooks the Great Aletsch Glacier, the longest in Switzerland.

The cog-assisted line, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site due to its remarkable engineering, starts at Kleine Scheidegg, between Grindelwald and Wengen, and makes two stops within the mountain – the first offers the chance to peer out through thick observation windows from the infamous North Face of the Eiger; while the second looks out onto the peak of Schreckhorn.

The views from the summit terraces are awe-inspiring at any time of year, though in summer it’s somewhat more hospitable than in the height of winter – though there is snow cover all year round. If you ever find yourself on a walking holiday in the Bernese Oberland, travelling between Grindelwald and Wengen, you simply must make time to include this remarkable, not-to-be-missed detour.

What better way to gain a truly unique perspective of the Alps, than by ascending the Jungfrau Railway in this centenary year? Even the most leisurely of walkers can take the train up to the Jungfraujoch where there are restaurants, an observatory, an ice palace and even the chance to have a sleigh ride pulled by huskies. Best of all, venture out onto one of the lofty terraces to experience, albeit for a few minutes, the thrill of what it’s like to stand upon the summit of an Alpine peak.

Walking amid the Swiss Alps


Posted: 18/01/2012 09:19:22 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: heritage, nature, Switzerland, transport, walking

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