New cableways, new stations and great comfort and quality – Jungfrau Railways are heading off into the future with the V-Cableway
Two speakers and two eagles were at the heart of the small but perfectly formed official opening of the V-Cableway major long-term project on Friday, 4 December 2020. With the opening of the Eiger Express tricable gondola and the terminal itself, featuring shops, ski depots, a public transport station and a car park, Jungfrau Railways, Switzerland’s largest mountain railway company, are setting an example in challenging times – for the Jungfrau region, the Canton of Bern and Switzerland.
From Saturday, 5 December 2020, visitors will enjoy a quicker, more comfortable, high-quality journey to the winter sports area around Eigergletscher and Kleine Scheidegg, as well as to the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe. Visitors from all over Switzerland will save 47 minutes on their journey with the Eiger Express – thanks to the direct public transport link with the Berner Oberland-Bahn (BOB) stop at the terminal in Grindelwald Grund.
The modern terminal offers shopping options across several floors, catering offerings, a sports shop and ski depots for rental. Anyone still wishing to travel by car will find a space in the multi-storey car park, which has over 1,000 spaces and allows prior reservation. The two cableways (the Eiger Express and the Männlichen gondola) can transport 4,000 guests per hour.
Persistence and dedication
Jungfrau Railways director Urs Kessler spoke of the “masterly performance of all participants” as he looked back at the 908 days of construction time required to complete the 470-million-franc project. In his speech, Federal Chancellor Walter Thurnherr stated: “With dedication and unbelievable commitment, with a great deal of thought for sustainability and a love of detail, a great cableway has been created along the mountain.”
Thurnherr also remarked that Switzerland’s development will not progress by itself, neither in tourism nor elsewhere. “It requires individuals who take the initiative, who pursue an idea with persistence and convince others, who overcome setbacks and ultimately realise a vision.”
Bernese Cantonal Councillor Christoph Ammann described the V-Cableway as "the calling card of the Bernese Oberland" and the Canton of Berne as having "international appeal". Once the situation returns to normal the new tourist infrastructure will act as a "turbo-boost". Thomas Bieger, Chairman of the Board at Jungfraubahn Holding AG, was also convinced that "the coronavirus crisis will be followed by an era of new growth in international tourism". According to Bieger, the V-Cableway is geared towards today's Generation Y and subsequent generations.
To those present, Urs Kessler said that the idea for the V-Cableway was based on “the conviction that standing still and resting on your laurels is not an option”. He went on to say that the coronavirus pandemic has provided Jungfrau Railways with major additional challenges. “But it is the V-Cableway that renders us competitive and fit for the future on the front line to an unimagined degree,” continued the Jungfrau Railways director. A film showed Victor the eagle providing a bird’s-eye view of the V-Cableway route, before Sherkan the eagle flew through the terminal with the scissors for the cutting of the ribbon.
Sustainability and the latest technology
With a view to the future and the generations to come, a great deal of emphasis was placed on the latest technology when designing and constructing the cableways and the new stations, but without losing sight of the unique landscape and sustainability. The Eiger Express transports guests from Grindelwald to the Eigergletscher station in 15 minutes, with the cableway requiring only seven supports. This is achieved thanks to tricable (3S) technology, which allows large spans to be traversed with just a few supports, helped by two track ropes. This system also ensures wind stability, and no paths have to be cut through forests.
Within the context of environmental construction supervision, an agronomist monitored the success of the measures realised. These included the range of existing plant species for re-planting, construction periods that took the breeding season of ptarmigans into consideration and the creation of new breeding ponds for the midwife toad in Grindelwald.
Economic significance and future of tourism
The V-Cableway is also of importance from an economic perspective. Value creation in general can be increased. Additional tax income can be expected for the municipality of Grindelwald, as well as for the rest of the Jungfrau region. New jobs have also been created.
The V-Cableway will ensure the success of tourism in the Jungfrau region as a whole in the medium and long term, making it a year-round destination for Swiss tourism. It provides the foundation for the region's development into a premium destination and will provide Switzerland with a top winter and summer destination with modern public transport connections in the face of international competition.
The popular hiking routes between Männlichen and Kleine Scheidegg or below the Eiger North Wall can be accessed much more quickly and easily with the cableways. The start of the Eiger trail and Jungfrau Eiger walks can be reached in 15 minutes without any changes thanks to the new 3S Eiger Express cableway. Kleine Scheidegg will be relieved of people travelling to the Jungfraujoch and will therefore become more attractive for excursions and hikers. It becomes the meeting place of the Alps. At the same time, Kleine Scheidegg will be freed up, and the Eigergletscher station will gain in significance as a junction and transfer point.