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With the complete opening of the V-Cableway on 5 December 2020, Jungfrau Railways has entered a new era. In the tradition of the visionary pioneering achievements in the construction of the Jungfrau Railway from 1896 to 1912, two cable cars, a new public transport link, a multi-storey car park as well as a terminal as the valley station and a modern summit station with a connection to the historic Jungfrau Railway were built in eight years from the announcement on 19 December 2012. The realisation of the project succeeded thanks to great perseverance, tenacity and a lot of patience.
Since 5 December 2020, the Eiger Express tricable gondola takes guests from Grindelwald to the Eiger Glacier station in just 15 minutes. The impressive trip in 26-seater cabins takes you past the world-famous Eiger North Face. At the new Eiger Glacier mountain station, guests can transfer directly to the Jungfrau Railway towards the Jungfraujoch. Many hurdles had to be overcome before this could happen.
In a first stage of the evaluation, Jungfrau Railways questioned everything in the Wengernalp and Jungfrau Railway area in a master plan in 2008/2009. This also included the idea of a new, completely underground Kleine Scheidegg railway station at a cost of CHF 145 million. From this pot of ideas, the Jungfrau Eiger Walk was realised in 2011 and the Alpine Sensation on the Jungfraujoch in 2012.
A winter sports Ecosign study was also commissioned. One component was an aerial gondola with the two branches Männlichen and Honegg. This sub-project was also further developed. In 2010, the so-called Y-project up to Kleine Scheidegg was announced. However, resistance from mountain communities and environmental organisations was great, which is why the project was abandoned in 2011.
In 2012, Jungfrau Railways celebrated its 100th anniversary. So it was fitting that the new generation project V-Cableway with its eight integrated components was announced on 19 December 2012. Next followed the phase of elaboration and planning of the entire V-Cableway with a general planner. The ideas were substantiated; the model for the terminal was, in the broadest sense, an airport.
During this phase between 2013 and 2015, there was also a great deal of resistance to the project. This was followed by round tables with federal and cantonal offices, consultations in the mountain communities and the municipalities. In Grindelwald, over 1,476 citizens gathered at the ice rink for the vote on 24 October 2014. And the Wärgistal mountain community first rejected the project on 15 October 2014 before approving it in a second vote on 21 October 2015.
On 25 September 2015, the structural plan was approved – another milestone had been reached. This allowed the planning permission process to begin in spring 2016. Two intensive years followed in which the settlement of 17 objections took centre stage. On 11 April 2018, the project was approved by the Office of Community and Spatial Planning and on 31 May 2018, the Federal Office of Transport granted planning permission. This was followed by the building permit from the district governor.
The green light for the construction was given on 11 June 2018, and the official ground-breaking ceremony took place on 3 July 2018. Up to that point, planning costs of over 12 million Swiss francs had been incurred. It would then take 908 days until the entire V-Cableway project could be inaugurated.
The effective construction time was 908 days. Construction work on the valley, middle and summit stations of the new Grindelwald-Männlichen Cableway (GGM) had already begun in June 2018. By November, the 31 support foundations for the GGM had been completed and work continued in the terminal for the new BKW transformer station. On 18 December 2018, a heavy transport delivery took place for the new transformer station. The first three supports for the Eiger Express tricable gondola were also assembled during this time.
On 15 March 2019, the breakthrough of the connecting tunnel at the Eiger Glacier summit station for the new Eiger Express tricable gondola was celebrated. On 31 March 2019, the existing GCM ceased operations and in April the existing aerial gondola was demolished. In May, construction work began on the new multi-storey car park at the terminal, with the excavation of the building pit and the shell of the building. In July and August 2019, several heavy transports again took place for the Eiger Express tricable gondola train and suspension cables. Construction work began on the new ski slopes on the Eiger Glacier, and in autumn the mountain station for the Eiger Express tricable gondola took shape.
On 31 August 2019, the public was invited to see the progress of construction at Grindelwald Grund for themselves on the occasion of the Construction Site Open Day. On 14 December 2019, the new Männlichen Railway, the first part of the terminal and the new BOB station were able to start operations. At the same time, work continued in Grindelwald Grund and on the Eiger Glacier.
From October to December 2019, numerous storms already disrupted construction work, especially on the Eiger Glacier, where 22 days were lost. From March 2020, the global Covid-19 crisis was added to the mix. On the construction sites, adjustments to the protective measures had to be made time and again. But thanks to the good implementation, the construction sites could always remain open and the V-Cableway generation project began to take shape.
From May 2020, the Eiger Express tricable gondola was assembled, followed by the cable hoist and cable splice in the summer. The first test runs with the modern 26-seater cabins were carried out from September 2020. The 3S cabin ATRIA was already awarded the renowned “Red Dot Award” before the opening. The jury praised the “timeless elegance”, but also the “incomparable functionality”.
The inauguration on 4 December 2020 could only take place on a small scale because of Covid-19. Since its opening, however, many winter sports fans have already been using the Eiger Express tricable gondola, benefiting from the fast arrival by public transport as well as from the parking spaces in the new multi-storey car park. And the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe can be reached from Grindelwald in around 45 minutes.
The V-Cableway secures the medium and long-term successful future of tourism throughout the entire Jungfrau Region as a top destination in Swiss tourism throughout the year. “The generation project will bring us a lot of pleasure over the next 30 to 50 years”, explained Jungfrau Railways Director Urs Kessler at the inauguration. The project forms the cornerstone for the development into a premium destination. Switzerland is thus a top international destination in winter and summer.
Click here for the 15 episodes of the construction diaries documenting the construction of the V-Bahn: