Rhaetian Railway - Bernina line - Description
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Other lines: Main Network |
The Bernina Railway was built and brought into operation as a tourist
railway in an era of rapidly increasing tourism. At the beginning, its
service was limited to the sommer season. It was in the interest of the
outlying valley of the Puschlav, that the service was extended to the whole
year in 1910. For several decades, the Bernina Railway represented the only
winter connection between the Puschlav and the rest of of Switzerland.
Correspondingly great efforts were - and still are - made to keep the line
open even under the most adverse conditions; this is only possible due to
the use of all technical means avialable an to the high devotion shown by
the staff. The Bernina line is the only railway cross the Alps from the
north to the south without a tunnel, reaching heights of more than 2000
meters. Even its maximum gradient of 1 in 14 is outstanding. There was never
any question of using rack-and-pinion sections.
For this reason it is quite astonishing that, in the last few decades,
transit goods traffic across the Bernina has become very important both for
the railway and the Canton. Today, there are not only tourists who follow
the inviting sign "Bernina- Tirano- Milan- Venice etc.", but also numerous
goods trains carrying fuel oil and petrol, fodder and grain and many other
goods from the border station of Tirano inland. In addition, the passenger
trains carry tourists to the various cable cars in the Bernina massif, which
especially in winter attract huge crowds of sport addicts.
The railway has constantly been improved and modernized since it was taken
over by the RhB in 1943. Back in the thirties, the track on the plateau of
he Bernina Pass was relaid in several places in order to give a better
protection from snow-drifts and avalanches. In the last few years, the
electric installations and the rolling stock have been completely replaced.
But, with a little bit of luck, you can see some of the old railcars from
1908 still working. Famous is the Bernina-Express which is a link between
Chur (capitol of Grison) and Tirano in Italia.
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Copyright © 1996
Stefan Dringenberg, last change on 2001-03-01