Wengernalp Railway and Schynige Platte Railway celebrate their anniversary at the Lauberhorn

The Schynige Platte Railway (SPB) and the Wengernalp Railway (WAB) are turning 125 years old and together celebrating 250 years of mountain railway history. Today, Wednesday 10 January 2018, the two cogwheel trains met at the start of the anniversary year on Kleine Scheidegg. The WAB travelled in its new birthday outfit for the first time.

The Wengernalp Railway (WAB) and the Schynige Platte Railway (SPB) are superlative mountain railways. While the WAB, at 19.11 kilometres, is the longest fully cogwheel railway in the world, the SPB is the only train in Switzerland to operate daily with vehicles from the early years of 1909-1914. Both opened in 1893 and are turning 125 years old. They will be celebrating a combined 250 years of mountain railway history in 2018. On the occasion of the 88th International Lauberhorn ski races, Jungfrau Railways invited guests and media to an anniversary kick-off on Kleine Scheidegg today Wednesday, 10 January 2018.

The WAB showed off its new birthday outfit for the first time. The otherwise yellow-green train caused a surprise with colourful sketches. Depicted were the WAB’s passengers, indulging in their leisure activities amidst this fascinating landscape in front of the world-famous triumvirate of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The highlight of the trip was the arrival on Kleine Scheidegg, where the WAB met the Schynige Platte train, which was "two-timing" for the day on the WAB rail network.

In operation 365 days a year
Initially launched as a summer railway, today the WAB operates 365 days a year. From Lauterbrunnen (via Wengen) and Grindelwald, it opens up Kleine Scheidegg as a starting point to Jungfraujoch and for hikes in the Jungfrau Region. In winter it is the feeder to the Kleine Scheidegg ski area and thus the longest descent of the Ski World Cup on the Lauberhorn. The WAB also transports visitors and locals to the car-free town of Wengen (public transport route) and supplies the stations along the route with goods. In connection with the international Lauberhorn ski races, it transports 2,000 tonnes of material annually. The number of visitors on the WAB increased from 37,742 in its founding year to 1,819,932 in 2017. For a round trip, passengers paid CHF 9 in 1893. Today the Lauterbrunen - Kleine Scheidegg - Grindelwald journey costs CHF 61.80 per person.

Nostalgia and tradition
The Schynige Platte railway still operates today with vehicles from the early 20th century and embodies Switzerland's unique railway romance. The pylons, station buildings and facilities date back to 1900. With Francine Jordi as a brand ambassador, alphorn players every day and a nature cinema, Schynige Platte stands for Swiss tradition. To this day, the SPB is only in operation during the summer season and runs from the end of May until the end of October on the 7.252 km cogwheel railway route. While 21,404 passengers used the Schynige Platte train in its opening year, a total of 117,485 visitors travelled to the excursion destination at around 2,000 metres above sea level in 2017. The price for a return trip in 1893 was CHF 10. Today, passengers pay 64 Swiss francs for a return ticket.

Facts & figures / technical info

Wengernalp Railway (WAB)

Construction period

- June 1890: Granting of a concession by the Federal Assembly and granting of the construction contract to the company Pümpin & Herzog.

- 20 June 1893: Opening of the Lauterbrunnen - Kleine Scheidegg - Grindelwald route

Cost

- Construction contract to Pümpin & Herzog for CHF 4 million (established as a fixed price)

Final construction bill: just under CHF 4.3 million

Track length

Length: 19.11 km – longest fully cogwheel railway in the world

Rack system

Rack system Riggenbach-Pauli, today: slats rack system

Track gauge

Track gauge: 800 mm

Rolling Stock

1893 – 1909: First generation, steam operation:

16 cogwheel steam locomotives and 27 passenger cars. Number 1 has survived and operates to this day on the Brienzer Rothorn Railway route

1909 – 1947: Second generation:

15 He 2/2 electric locomotives and 46 passenger cars

1947 – 1988: Third generation:

24 electric railcars with 31 control and middle cars

1988 – today: Fourth generation:

10 modern panoramic railcars and 4 double railcars + 9 low-floor control cars, 2 freight locomotives

Operating times

 

1893: From 20 June to 15 October (118 days)

1894: Extension of summer operation to 142 days

Until 1910, the WAB was only in operation during the summer

Today: The WAB is in operation 365 days a year

Visitor number and

ticket prices

1893:

Visitor numbers: 37,742 visitors

Price: CHF 9 per person (Lauterbrunnen – Kleine Scheidegg – Grindelwald)

2017:

Visitor numbers: 1,819,932 visitors (+4822% on 1893)

Price: CHF 61.80 per person 1893)

Schynige Platte Railway (SPB)

Construction period

- 1870: Bern government official / district engineer Aebi and Federal Councillor Jakob Stämpfli propose a project for a railway from Interlaken to Schynige Platte.

- Construction firm Ott & Cie develops a project for a railway from Bönigen to Schynige Platte with normal track width

- 4/11/1871: Awarding of concession to engineers Naeff (St. Gallen) and interested parties for construction & operation of a railway from Interlaken to the "Gumihore" (Schynige Platte)

- Project fails. The reason: construction costs could not be raised

- 1887: First submission and modification of route for a train from Gsteig to Schynige Platte

- Sept. 1890: Awarding of concession by the Swiss Parliament

- 04/10/1890: Construction approval from Swiss authorities

- Construction contract to Pümpin & Herzog 

- 14 June 1893: official start of operations

Cost

- Construction contract to Pümpin & Herzog for CHF 2.85 million.

- Final construction bill: CHF 2.92 million

Track length

Length: 7,257 metres

Rack system

Riggenbach-Pauli rack system

Track gauge

Track gauge: 800 mm

Rolling Stock

1893 – 1914: First generation, steam operation

6 steam locomotives, type H2/3 of SLM 1891 to 1894

Open passenger cars B4 1-6 from 1893

Steam locomotive no. 5 from 1894 and 4 cars still in operation today

Electrification to date: second generation

1913: Electric locomotives He 2/2 no. 11-14

1964-1996: Takeover of used WAB locomotives

1964-1970: Takeover of used WAB cars until 2002, partial reconstruction and modernisation

Operating times

 

The Schynige Platte train is only in operation during the summer season, just as back then.

Start time: 150 days

Today 156 days

Opening times 2018: from 26 May to 28 October

Visitor number and

ticket prices

1893

Visitor numbers: 21,404

Ticket price: CHF 10 per person (return)

2017

Visitor numbers: 117,485 visitors (+549% on 1893)

Ticket price: CHF 64 per person, return (+640% on 1893)