Jungfrau Railway

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Jungfrau Railway
The valley station on the Kleine Scheidegg
The valley station on the Kleine Scheidegg
Timetable field : 311, 312
Route length: 9.34 km
Gauge : 1000 mm ( meter gauge )
Power system : 1125 V, 50 Hz 
Maximum slope : 250 
Rack system : Strub
End station - start of the route
0.0 Kleine Scheidegg 2061  m above sea level M.
Route - straight ahead
Connection to the lines of the WAB
Route - straight ahead
from Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald
Blockstelle, Awanst, Anst etc.
1.0 Fallboden service station 2150  m above sea level M.
Tunnel - if there are several tunnels in a row
Gallery (84 m)
Station, station
2.0 Eiger glacier 2320  m above sea level M.
Tunnel (2320 m)
4.3 Eigerwand tunnel station 2864  m above sea level M.
Tunnel (1400 m)
5.7 Eismeer tunnel station 3158  m above sea level M.
Tunnel (3600 m)
9.3 Jungfraujoch tunnel station 3454  m above sea level M.
Logo Jungfrau Railways
Original planning including the part that was not built
View into the tunnel in the north face of the Eiger
Share for CHF 500 in the Jungfrau Railway Company dated December 17, 1898, Blankette

The Jungfraubahn ( JB ) is an electric rack railway in Switzerland . Since August 1912 it has led from the Kleine Scheidegg through the Eiger and Mönch to the Jungfraujoch with the highest railway station in Europe (tunnel station, 3454 m) and overcomes almost 1400 vertical meters over a length of 9.34 kilometers. A little more than seven kilometers of the route are in the tunnel. The railway is mostly located in the Bernese Oberland of the canton of Bern, the last meters from the height of the Sphinx observatory and the terminus are in the canton of Valais .


Overview / history

The Jungfrau was long considered the most famous mountain in Switzerland. Many poets, painters and scholars traveled to the Jungfrau region to marvel at the glaciers, mountain lakes and waterfalls near the triumvirate of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, to document them and to write poems about them. In a text from the year 1577/78 about the 4158 m high Jungfrau summit it says: "The Jungfrau is a very high mountain, staring from eternal snow and ice, therefore completely inaccessible".

This changed on August 3, 1811, when the brothers Johann Rudolf and Hieronymus Meyer were the first to climb the summit. Possibly it was the fascination that arose in connection with the summit success that triggered the desire to build a railway to the summit of the Jungfrau.

This desire took concrete shape at the end of the 19th century. The “mountain railway fever” was rampant throughout Switzerland. As a result, a whole series of cog railways came into being . The Jungfrau Railway was the peak of the building fever.

Preliminary projects

On the occasion of a mountain railway model exhibition in Bern in 1869 , Friedrich Seiler presented his idea of ​​a pneumatic railway from Lauterbrunnen to the Rottal at the foot of the Jungfrau. A secured mountain path should lead from the Rottal to the Jungfrauspitze. Seiler also wanted to organize sleigh rides with reindeer or polar dogs over the Aletsch Glacier into Valais. However, the whole project was quickly forgotten.

On October 16, 1889, the Zurich engineer Maurice Koechlin submitted a project to the Federal Council for a railway to the Jungfrau summit. It was to be a five-section train with an electric drive .

Six days later, the Aargau engineer Alexander Trautweiler presented to the Federal Council a plan for four independent cable cars that lead to the summit.

Another project came from the engineer Eduard Locher . Carriages should be moved with compressed air in two straight tubes. Since the Federal Council only wanted to grant a building license, it initially tried to bring the applicants to an agreement - initially in vain. In the early summer of 1891, the Koechlin project was granted the concession, but the realization failed because of the funding and the negative medical report, which was supposed to prove the harmlessness of stays at such heights.

The project for a tunnel rack railway to the Eiger summit suffered the same fate.

Project by Adolf Guyer-Zeller

After a mountain hike from the Schilthorn to Mürren , the 54-year-old industrialist and financial politician Adolf Guyer-Zeller had a new idea for the Jungfrau Railway. When he saw a train from the Wengernalp Railway against the Kleine Scheidegg, he made the decision to build a railway up to the Jungfrau from there. During the night he recorded the lines on a piece of paper.

On December 20, 1893, just four months after his migration, Guyer-Zeller submitted his application for a license to the Federal Council. This stated that construction of the Jungfrau Railway would not begin in Lauterbrunnen, but on Kleine Scheidegg. The electric rack railway should be above ground up to the first station, the railway will continue in a tunnel. On the way to the Jungfrau summit, it should stop at three stations, each of these stations having its own unique charm thanks to the different perspective and being a tourist destination in itself.

On December 21, 1894, Guyer-Zeller received the concession from parliament to implement his project. This time a required medical report was positive.

Guyer-Zeller was only granted the concession to build the Jungfrau Railway with the reservation that a railway at such great heights would be medically safe for the construction workers and later for the passengers. That is why he started an expedition from Zermatt to the Breithorn at 3 a.m. on September 15, 1894 . Seven test persons between the ages of ten and 70 were brought up to the 3750 m high plateau of the mountain by six to eight porters each. Since the evaluation of the test did not reveal any unfavorable findings, the proof was deemed to have been provided.

The project provided for a guided tour as far as the vicinity of the Jungfrau summit, see the map on the right. For economic reasons, however, the building remained until the Jungfraujoch. In addition, it would have been difficult to accommodate the many visitors in the summit area. The additional height could also cause problems with more visitors. The trains are already carrying emergency medical equipment against possible lack of oxygen in passengers.


Two BDhe 4/8 between Kleiner Scheidegg and Eigergletscher
903, the rock restaurant at the Jungfrau Railway station Eigerwand.  Photographed by the Wehrli brothers
1903, the rock restaurant at the Jungfrau Railway station Eigerwand. Photographed by the Wehrli brothers
Double pantographs of the Jungfrau Railway

On July 27, 1896, the secretary of the Jungfrau Railway, Dr. Friedrich Wrubel , the groundbreaking and construction began. The construction work initially concentrated on the open stretch between the Kleine Scheidegg and the Eigergletscher station . The two-kilometer section was covered without the aid of machines.

Despite the connection to the Wengernalp Railway, a different track width (1000 mm instead of 800 mm), a different rack ( Strub system instead of the Riggenbach system ) and three-phase current instead of steam operation were chosen, as this promised more power and greater safety. The line has a two-pole contact line so that the vehicles can be supplied with three-phase current . Double pantographs are attached to the vehicles themselves. The grounded runways serve as the third pole.

Drilling work during the construction of the Jungfrau Railway (around 1900)

On September 19, 1898, the first section was put into operation after more than two years of laborious manual work.

Now the blasting work in the tunnel began with three shifts of eight hours each. A serious accident occurred a short time after construction of the tunnel began. Six Italian workers lost their lives in a dynamite explosion. The cause of the accident could never be clarified because the bodies of the victims were completely disfigured. As a result of this accident, the construction management issued stricter regulations on the blasting procedure and the storage of dynamite. After the accident, the tunnel construction proceeded quickly again and in 1899 the cut to the Rotstock station took place at an altitude of 2530 m. However, this was the last success that Adolf Guyer-Zeller was allowed to experience, because barely a month later, on April 3, 1899, he died of pneumonia in Zurich at the age of 60. His death put the further construction in question, but his heirs continued the work after a brief interruption. Due to the insecure financing, the work made slow progress. The company lived from hand to mouth, and the building could only be financed thanks to short-term bank loans.

Jungfrau Railway poster from 1910

It was not until June 28, 1903, that operations could be opened to the Eigerwand station in the middle of the Eiger north face . From this station, travelers have a view over the abyss in the middle of the Eiger north face towards Grindelwald . Two years later, on July 25, 1905, the line to the Eismeer stop at 3160 m, also known as Kallifirn , was opened with a wonderful view of the glacier world. A tourist center was operated at this station until the completion of the railway. However, before construction could continue, the company had to raise new money. Guyer-Zeller's original plans were also changed by the construction management. Instead of stopping under the Mönchsjoch and the further route up to the summit of the Jungfrau, they decided to use the Jungfraujoch at 3454 m as the terminus.

The construction of the last 3.6 kilometers was considered to be easy to master, but unexpected obstacles arose: The rock offered resistance, in summer profitable passenger traffic had priority and in winter the water that was used to generate electricity for trains and machines in the valley dried up at times has been. Furthermore, the tough working conditions drained the workers' strength. In order to strengthen the work ethic, a special bonus was offered for the shift that made the breakthrough. However, this incentive also led to risk taking, and workers used as much dynamite as possible and more than allowed to be sure of the breakthrough. The breakthrough was finally achieved on February 21, 1912 at 5:35 a.m. and the shift gazed through the hole on the Jungfraujoch into the morning sky. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung announced:

“A great work, a triumph of modern engineering, was consecrated on February 21, 1912. At 5:35 in the morning, the decisive shot rang out. The shout of jubilation echoed on the mighty walls and the comrades sank into each other's arms in deep emotion. "

On July 29, 1912, the Federal Council issued the operating license for the Jungfrau Railway as far as the Jungfraujoch after Federal President Ludwig Forrer and Federal Councilors Arthur Hoffmann and Louis Perrier had visited the Jungfraujoch.

On August 1, 1912, just before noon, 16 years after the start of construction, the first festively decorated train with invited guests drove up the 9.3-kilometer route. Arrived on the Jungfraujoch, the guests walked through a two hundred meter long gallery. The last few meters of the way led through eternal ice. On the Jungfrau plateau was celebrated and the Swiss flag was hoisted.

The construction of the Jungfrau Railway cost around 16 million francs . Guyer-Zeller had expected costs of eight million francs .

Full operation

The Eismeer – Jungfraujoch section, opened in 1912, was used both in adhesion operation and in the last section shortly before the Jungfraujoch with cogwheel operation . Therefore, special friction and rack- and- pinion locomotives had to be procured. It was not until 1951 that the entire route was switched to continuous cogwheel operation in order to make operations easier. Electricity for the railway is generated in the company's own hydropower plant in Lütschental . The braking current fed into the catenary network by three trains traveling downhill is sufficient to supply a train traveling uphill.

Passenger numbers developed positively and exceeded expectations from the start. While Guyer-Zeller initially forecast 20,000 passengers and later 43,500, in 1912 there were already 77,000 people using the train.

In 2011 there were 765,000 passengers.

Until the end of 2009, the Jungfrau Railway operated a sled dog breeding facility at the Eigergletscher station . The dog sleds initially transported food and mail from Wengen to the Eiger Glacier in winter . From the 1930s, the polar dogs from Greenland were only used for tourist purposes.

With the commissioning of the new railcars 221-224 in 2016, which handle all traffic together with the existing units 211-218, it was possible to give up the consideration of the fixed speeds of the railcars with directly fed three-phase motors when drawing up the timetable. In order to be able to cope with the half-hourly cycle with three circulations, the driving speed was increased and the operation of the Eigerwand observation stop was also given up.

Since December 11, 2016, passengers can only get off at the Arctic Ocean. The travel time for the ascent is reduced by 17 to 35 minutes.

Records in height / high marks

  • Jungfraujoch station, 3454 m, highest railway station in Europe (Top of Europe)
  • Eigergletscher station , operational center of the Jungfrau Railway with the highest company kitchen of all railways in Europe.
  • Eigergletscher workshop, highest mechanic training place in Europe.

Vehicle fleet


Model of a row suit for the Jungfrau Railway from 1906

Locomotives to the rowan cars

  • He 2/2 1 and 2, (1898), discarded in 1960 and rowan suit with locomotive He 2/2 2 scrapped, rowan suit with locomotive He 2/2 1 is in the Lucerne Museum of Transport
  • He 2/2 3 and 4 (1900), scrapped in 1960
  • He 2/2 5 (1902), scrapped in 1960
  • He 2/2 6 (1904), in service until 1996, drew in 1997 at the Kleine Scheidegg depot , September 2008 to the Kerzers / Kallnach Railway Museum , handed over to the Tanvald-Harrachov rack railway in June 2017
  • He 2/2 7 (1908), scrapped in 1963
  • HGe 2/2 8 to 10. 1912, originally for the adhesion and rack and pinion operation, today He 2/2 8 to 10
  • HGe 2/2 11. 1924, originally for the adhesion and rack and pinion business, today He 2/2 11
  • HGe 2/2 12. 1929, for the adhesion and rack and pinion operation, scrapped in 1964

Passenger cars

  • Rowan cars 1 to 12


Train stop BDhe 4/8 212 in the upper tunnel


  • He 2/2 8 to 11. 1912, converted from HGe 2/2 number 11 with the Eiger Ambassador Express

Railcar and double railcar

  • BDhe 2/4 201 and 202 (1955), 201 canceled in 2016
  • BDhe 2/4 203 to 206 (1960/1961), 205 canceled in 2016
  • BDhe 2/4 207 to 210 (1964), canceled in 2016
  • BDhe 4/8 211 to 214 (1992)
  • BDhe 4/8 215 to 218 (2002)
  • Bhe 4/8 221 to 224 (2016)

Control car

  • Bt 25 and 26 1955, canceled 25 2016
  • Bt 27 to 30. 1960, 27 2012, 28–30 2016 canceled
  • Bt 31 to 34. 1964, canceled in 2016

Service vehicles

  • X red 51. 1937, snow blower
  • X 52. 1921, snow plow
  • Zekt 95 (1970/1994), water transport car, suitable for the double multiple units BDhe 4/8 211 to 218 (demolished in 2012)
  • Xhe red 12th 2012, self-propelled bidirectional snow blower with track plows and switch blower


The company is 100% owned by Jungfraubahn Holding and is operated by its management company, Jungfraubahnen Management .



  • Florian Inäbnit: Jungfrau Railway ; The Kleine Scheidegg – Jungfraujoch line of the Jungfrau Railways . Prellbock Druck & Verlag, Leissigen 2003, ISBN 3-907579-27-5 .
  • Ralf Roman Rossberg : The Jungfrau region and its railways . Hallwag, Bern / Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-444-06064-5 .
  • Niklaus Bolt: Svizzero . New edition. Reinhardt, Basel 1979, ISBN 3-7245-0436-5 . (A youth book from 1913, which deals with the tunneling of the Jungfrau Railway)
  • Wolfgang Finke: The vehicles of the Jungfrau Railways 1 . Tram-tv publishing house, Cologne 2010, ISBN 978-3-9813669-2-1 . (A book on DVD)
  • John Ball: The Alpine Guide, Central Alps. London 1866.
  • Jungfraubahn Management AG press release on the 100th anniversary of August 26, 2011.
  • Walter Gunthardt, André Hug, Niklaus Gurtner, Ueli Flück: Jungfrau. For the 75th birthday of the Jungfrau Railway . Jungfrau Railways, Interlaken / Brügger, Meiringen 1987.
  • Wolfgang Wahl-Guyer: Adolf Guyer-Zeller in personal reports. Seeing and longing in travel diaries and letters . Chronos, Zurich 2004, ISBN 3-0340-0647-0 .
  • Peter Krebs, Werner Catrina , Beat Moser, Rainer Rettner: Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe - Jungfrau Railway experience . Official anniversary book 100 years of Jungfrau Railways. AS Verlag , Zurich 2011, ISBN 978-3-909111-90-9 .
  • Bernhard Studer: Highest Railway. Anniversary on the Jungfraujoch . In: railway magazine . No. 8/2012 . Alba publication, August 2012, ISSN  0342-1902 , p. 32-37 .
  • Bibliography on Jungfraubahn Holding AG (JBH) at Bahn + Bus CH


  • Hannes Schuler, Manfred Baur: The conquest of the Alps, summiteer. Episode 3. BR-online, 2009. Documentation, 45 minutes. (In the 20th century, the cable cars and cogwheel railways enable high-mountain tourism in the Alpine countries).

The Jungfrau Railway can also be seen in several feature films. It is part of the action film On behalf of the dragon (The Eiger Sanction) and the mountaineering drama North Face . The opening sequence of the horror film Curse of Chucky also shows a picture of the train as the protagonist Nika is planning a trip to Europe.

Web links

Commons : Jungfraubahn  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. NZZ: Hiking in the World of Four Thousands , July 29, 2011
  2. ^ Bernhard Studer: Highest Railway. In: Railway magazine. 8/2012, p. 34.
  3. ^ Bernhard Studer: Highest Railway. In: Railway magazine. 8/2012, p. 34.
  4. ^ Chronicle of the Jungfrau Railway ( Memento from January 14, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) Overview on Swissrails.ch
  5. Hartmut Biesenack u. a .: Energy supply for electric railways. Teubner-Verlag, 2006, chapter "7.1.4 Three-phase systems".
  6. The roof of the railway (section The three-phase contact line ) ( Memento of the original from December 21, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed December 21, 2014. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.lokifahrer.ch
  7. 1903 Three photographs of the Eigerwand station on the Jungfrau Railway
  8. Hanspeter Mettler: Deep in the Hades of the Eiger and Mönch . In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . No. 168 , July 21, 2012, p. 15 ( article on NZZonline ).
  9. ^ Bernhard Studer: Highest Railway. In: Railway magazine. 8/2012, p. 36f.
  10. Luděk Čada: Švýcarský Unikát ve Výtopně Kořenov. Retrieved July 26, 2017 (cs-CZ).