Jungfrau (Virgin) Train – The Cog Wheeled Train to Jungfraujoch

Kleine Scheidegg Swiss Alps Train 2150405_ExtraSmallAdolf Guyer-Zeller presented the plans to build a cog wheel railway route up to the Jungfraujoch in 1893.  A cog wheeled train is driven forward with cog wheels additionally.  This is necessary when immense gradients have to be overcome.  The construction began three years later.

The mountain station Kleine Scheidegg, which had already been opened for the Wengernalp train, should serve as the starting point for the Jungfrau train.  Thanks to Guyer-Zellers ambition, the highest train station in Europe was built in Switzerland, on the Jungfraujoch.  Only a few people used the Jungfrau train after it was put into service.  It took thirty years to reach the figure of one million passengers. Today it is totally different.  A journey with the Jungfrau train to the Jungfraujoch is popular, now a half a million passengers per year can be counted!

The journey with the Jungfrau train commences at the station Kleine Scheidegg on the famous north wall of the Eiger.  The cog wheeled train has to pass through two tunnels – through the solid mountains Eiger and Mönch – to get to its destination.  These tunnels make up the largest portion, a little more than seven kilometres, of the nine kilometre route.  At the station Eismeer, you find yourself in an icy glacier world up at over 3000 m.  From here onwards, the Jungfrau train travels with a moderate gradient of only 6 percent to the last station, Jungfraujoch.

The Complicated and Ambitious Building Plans of the Jungfrau Train

The tracks were laid up to the station Eigergletscher really quickly.  They were finished after only two years.  Guyer-Zeller suspects that the whole route will be finished by 1904.  The ambitious man did not experience this.  In 1899 he suffered a serious lung infection.  At this time nobody could guess how long it would take before the Jungfrau train really could be driven.

Before the rails could be laid, the solid mountains had to be made passable through tunnels.  Immensely hard rock made it difficult to break though, but this also had advantages: the tunnel was stable without any additional walls.  However, the workers didn’t manage much more than one metre tunnel per day.  The workers were at risk, there were injured by explosions or surprised by falling rocks.  The viewing platform Eigerwand was opened solemnly in 1903.  It took sixteen years before the complete route of the Jungfrau train could be opened, finally in 1912!

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