SWITZERLAND – DAMPFBAHN FURKA BERGSTRECKE


 

 

19 Sepember 2009

Another day trip, this time a big circle encompassing central Switzerland. The day started early at Wiedlisbach, from where the local train took us to Langenthal; on from there, the SBB carried us to Bern. A change of trains there took us right through to Brig, on the other side of the Lötschberg. We travelled through the then new Lötschberg base tunnel, which, at 34km, was quite an experience.

At Brig, we changed for the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB). This train would have taken us all the way to Andermatt, but we alighted at Oberwald, the station at the Western end of the Furka base tunnel.

A quick bite to eat was had there, while waiting for the post bus to go up to Gletsch. This tiny hamlet high in the mountains was then the terminus of the Dampfbahn Furka Bergstrecke. The last missing piece of the line to Oberwald was not re-opened until a year later.

The steam train was already there, waiting for us. Gleaming from top to bottom, the locomotive and rolling stock had been beautifully restored. The smell of smoke and warm oil hung thick in the air, when at last, the departure signal was given.

The engine had to earn her keep immediately outside the station limits, climbing the first of many rack sections with a steady, solid hiss and chug. The further up we went, the sparser the landscape became. Before long, there was not a tree to be seen! The summit was reached inside the old Furka tunnel, at an altitude of 2,160m above the sea.

A short rest on the far side to top up the water and build up a new head of steam was timetabled, before the descent to Realp. This is the eastern terminus of the DFB and it is also where the base tunnel emerges from the ground. Its opening in 1982 was the end for the old mountain line, as it provides for year-round traffic on the line.

A local train took us to Andermatt, and another from there down to Göschenen, at the Northern entrance to the St. Gotthard tunnel. Yet another change of trains for the InterRegio to Lucerne, on SBB metals once again. I decided to upgrade to first class for this leg, so that I could enjoy the view from the panorama coach, which was well worth it!

By the time we reached Lucerne, it was already getting late. So late, that by the time we got to Olten, we had missed the last connecting train home. Luckily, my uncle lived nearby and he gave us a lift in his car the rest of the way.

 

  

 

 

 

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