is truly one of the strange railroads of Switzerland. To understand
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.