The Jungfrau Railway - A Pioneering Work

The Jungfrau Railway, a pioneering masterpiece among mountain railways, went into service in 1912. The cogwheel railway takes passengers from Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe, which at 3,454 metres is Europe’s highest-altitude railway station in a world of rock, ice and snow. The journey to Europe's highest railway station. Seven of the nine kilometres of railway are in a tunnel hewn in the rock of the Eiger and Mönch. The train stops for five minutes at each of two intermediate stations, the Eigerwand (Eiger Wall) and Eismeer (Sea of Ice), where passengers can marvel at the fascinating mountain world through panorama windows. The Jungfrau Railway climbs a height difference of 1400 metres in around 50 minutes.

1893 Vision & Planning

On 20 December 1893, industrialist Adolf Guyer-Zeller applied for a concession to build a rack railway from the station of the Wengernalp Railway (WAB) on Kleine Scheidegg to the summit of the Jungfrau, via a long tunnel through the Eiger and Mönch mountain. The Federal Council granted the concession on 21 December 1894. From the very start, Guyer-Zeller planned for the Jungfrau Railway to be driven by electricity and thus obtained the water rights to the two Lütschinen rivers. On 10 June 1896, he was granted the concession to build a power plant.

1896 Construction Begins

On 27 July 1896, ground was broken for the construction of the Jungfrau Railway. Despite the connection to the Wengernalp Railway, other systems were chosen: a different gauge (1000 mm instead of 800 mm), another rack rail system (Strub instead of Riggenbach) and three-phase current instead of alternating current as this promised increased power and reliability. Construction progress was slow and laborious. On 19 September 1898, the section in open terrain from Kleine Scheidegg station to the Eigergletscher (Eiger Glacier) station at the foot of the Eiger was put into service. The official opening of the Eigergletscher station was marked by a religious service held by Gottfried Strasser, the "“Glacier Priest”" from Grindelwald. Guyer-Zeller’s intention was to reach one additional station each year and open it as quickly as possible.

1899 One New Station Each Year

On 7 March 1899, ground was broken at the Station Rostock, which was operated only temporarily. The station facilities are now largely dismantled. Today, only a door that leads into the open there serves as a reminder of this station. On 7 March 1899, workers at the head of the tunnel reached the intended site of the Eigerwand station. Adolf Guyer-Zeller, the driving force behind the Jungfrau Railway, died on 3 April of the same year. Guyer-Zellers Söhne continued the construction, but it was 28 June 1903 before the Eigerwand station in the middle of the Eigerwand (2865 m above sea level) could be officially opened. Passengers were subsequently able to enjoy a view towards Grindelwald from the terrace. Two years later, on 25 July 1905, it was possible to open the section to the stop at Eismeer, some 3,160 metres above sea level, providing guests with a stunning glacier view. The railway's temporary tourist centre was also housed in the Eismeer station . The original plans were changed as a result of finances becoming stretched as well as due to Adolf Guyer-Zeller’s death. Instead of planning a station below the Mönchsjoch and continuing the railway to the Jungfrau summit, the Jungfraujoch became the end of the line.

1912 Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe

The history of the construction of the Jungfrau Railway is marked by blasting accidents, strikes and financial problems. It was not until 1912 that the section to the Jungfraujoch, 3,454 metres above sea level, was completed – nine years later than originally planned. It is noteworthy that the Eismeer to Jungfraujoch section first operated as an adhesion railway and then as a cogwheel system in the last section before the Jungfraujoch. Therefore, special locomotives for use with adhesion and cogwheel systems had to be acquired. It was not until 1951 that the entire railway was converted to a cogwheel system, thus simplifying operations.