Swiss Rhaetian Railway Sets Spectacular World Record!

© schmidli

On Saturday, October 29, the Rhaetian Railway (which operates almost all of the train lines in the canton of Graubünden), set an amazing world record for the longest passenger train on a narrow gauge track: A 1.906 km-long train (about 1.2 miles) wound its way along a 24.9 km long route from the Albula tunnel in Preda to Alvaneu, including the spectacular crossing of the Landwasser Viadukt! (The route itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site.) The record has been certified by the Guiness Book of Records.

The train consisted of 25 compositions with four carriages each of the new Capricorn railcars that were lined up one after the other. The train weighed almost 3,000 tons and traveled at a speed of 30-35 km/h, covering the route in about 1 hour. Seven train drivers and 21 technicians were at work on the train to ensure its operability and coordinate all activities. Especially important: ensuring that all drivers could engage the breaks at exactly the same time in order not to put any undue strain on the connections between the carriages. To make this possible, the Swiss army installed a special field telephone so that the coordinating driver could give the command in real time, with out any technical delays or risk of loss of cell phone signals.

Breaking was particularly important since the train covered a difference in altitude of almost 790 m, and the track is by no means straight—in between its 48 bridges and 22 tunnels it includes numerous turns of 180 degrees and more. Even for normal trains, the route is spectacular, but it in this case, it resulted in amazing photos of the front sections of the train crossing underneath sections towards the rear.

Thousands of spectators turned out at the start and end points of the record-breaking ride and lined the hills and mountains overlooking the route to watch the spectacle and celebrate the record that was attempted by the Rhaetian Railway as part of the 175-year anniversary celebrations of the SBB. Several festival sites were set up along the way, and at the site in Bergün the model-train manufacturer Märklin had set up a model of the train at a scale of 1:22.5—even the model was 80 meters long!