Switzerland - Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen - Mürren (BLM Mürrenbahn)

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BLM Mürrenbahn is truly one of the strange railroads of Switzerland. To understand exactly where it is, we must describe a little the surroundings:

Interlaken is a beautiful town between two picturesque lakes in central Switzerland and it´s also famous for its ski tourists. Many of the skiers stay overnight - and enjoy the night life - in Interlaken, but to get to their favourite slopes in the small villages high up, for example Mürren, they first in the morning pack their gear in the narrow gauge, partly cog wheel trains of BOB, Berner Oberlandbahn, which takes them in about an hour to Lauterbrunnen, a beautiful village at the bottom of a valley. From Lauterbrunnen, one can take either the WAB Wengernalpbahn cog wheel trains up to famous villages such as Wengen or over the mountain range, or on the other side try to get to Mürren. BLM Mürrenbahn operates firstly an aerial cablecar lifting people and their gear right up to Grütschalp, which is basically just one or two houses, literally hanging on a steep mountainside like on a shelf, where people switch from the cablecar to a narrow gauge train. This train is really in the middle of nowhere: it lies horizonally on a narrow rim, like a balcony, 1,5 km high, along the mountainside, it is only about 4,3 km long and it is leading from the cablecar of Grütschalp to the beautiful mountain village of Mürren and its ski slopes. Needless to say there are no cars in Mürren.

For the occasional visitor the first mystery is how on earth the Swiss have managed to get several normal sized EMU trains up there? The history has it that there used to be a cog wheel train instead of the present day cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp and they managed to use somehow miraculously the first cog wheel train to lift the train wagons right up. Later when the funicular was already dismantled, railway wagons had to be moved through the forests on steep slopes to reach the Mürrenbahn railway on this shelf-like railway high up. It's also a good question how in the name of all the Gods have the Swiss managed to run over one million kilometres (sic!) on both of the 1960s EMUs on a railroad which is only 4,3 km long !

This exotic piece of railroad history was opened to public service already 14.9.1891. Wheel gauge is 1 metre and as we are in Switzerland, the railroad is of course fully electrified - has been already from the beginning of the 1900s. The total length of the railroad is 4,3 km and it has one stop in the middle. The line is electrified with a very strange voltage of 550 V DC (!!). Nothing is standardised when it comes to Swiss trains.

The Swiss are truly persistent when it comes to railroads and mountains :-) But maybe that´s exactly why so many tourists want to come and see them.

This old CFe 2/4 no. 11 from 1913 of the BLM Mürrenbahn was replaced in 1967 by two newer electric motor units. However, the old train is kept in top shape and used for "nostalgy trips" along this short mountain railway.
Photo from Grütschalp in May 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.


The same old train as above, here on its way between Grütschalp and Mürren and with a nice view of the famous mountain Jungfrau in the background. This picture is from Roland Zumbühl from Picswiss. Roland Zumbühl is a retired teacher from Arlesheim, near Basel, who has published a lot of his pictures online. Thank you Roland ! This picture is published under the Creative Commons CC-BY SA 3.0 licence.. Picture has been published 30.8.2008.


This Be 4/4 no. 21 from 1967 has been used for by far more than 1 million kilometers on a railroad of 4,3 km total. Three units like this, numbers 21 to 23, from 1967 have managed to run most of the traffic since the late 1960s. In 2010 one more train, almost similar and dating back to 1966, was purchased from Aare Seeland Mobil and was managed to haul through the forests and along car-free patchs up there.
Photo from Grütschalp station in December 1998 by Ilkka Siissalo.


A view through the driver´s window of the BLM Mürrenbahn Be 4/4 on way from Grütschalp to Mürren. In some places the over 100 years old narrow track railroad runs on cliffsides where there is only a couple of meters space, with the mountain on the right and a free fall of about 500 m waiting on the left side of the track. No wonder the maximum allowed speed is a modest 30 km/h.
Photo from May 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.


Another view through the driver´s window of the BLM Mürrenbahn Be 4/4 on way through three meters high snow from Mürren to Grütschalp. The early 1999 extreme snowfalls and avalanches cut the 4,3 km long railroad in at least two places, so extreme care is needed in driving. The speed is between 5 to 10 km/h.
Photo in May 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.


One of the year 1967's trains no. 22 looks more or less like new in this picture taken by the Wikimedia user "Gestumbindli" who has kindly published this picture in the public domain for anyone to use. The picture is from the new station of the village of Mürren and it has been taken in 2010.


One of the year 1967's trains no. 22 on its way from Grütschalp towards Mürren near the only train stop in the middle of the line, Winteregg. In the background can be seen the carless village of Wengen, which can only be reached from the valley via the trains of Wengernalpbahn. Somewhere deep down in between lies the village of Lauterbrunnen where the Mürrenbahn connection starts from. This picture has been taken by David Gubler and it has been published 4.12.2013 at www.bahnbilder.ch under the Creative Commons CC-BY SA 3.0 licence.


The old trains from the 1960s are understandably quite old already. This is a computer generated graphic made and published by the Jungfrau Railways which nowadays owns the BLM Mürrenbahn. This is from the website www.jungfrau.ch depicting what the future Mürrenbahn trains - or trams - could look like. Copyright Jungfrau Railways !
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