The Highest Mountain Railways In Switzerland

Jungfrau Railway traveling from Jungfraujoch to Kleine Scheidegg in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland.
Jungfrau Railway traveling from Jungfraujoch to Kleine Scheidegg in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland.

Switzerland is known for its high altitude railways that zig-zag their way through the mountainous terrain of the Swiss Alps. They connect tourist destinations in the country with each other. Jungfrau Railway is the highest railway in Switzerland as well as in all of Europe

The Highest Railway Systems of Switzerland

1. Jungfrau Railway

Jungfrau Railway is a 1,000 mm meter gauge railway track that runs for 9 km almost entirely through the Jungfrau Tunnel but into the mountains. The railway line runs between the Kleine Scheidegg mountain pass at 2,061 m to Jungfraujoch at 3,454 m. The Jungfrau Tunnel has two stations at its middle where passengers can disembark to enjoy the spectacular mountain scenery outside through windows built into the mountain. The Jungfrau railway was opened in 1912 and is currently owned by Jungfraubahn AG.

2. Gornergrat Railway

Europe’s second highest railway station, the Gornergrat railway station, is located at an altitude of 3,090 m on the summit of the Gornergrat mountain. It is served by the Gornergrat mountain rack railway that links it to the Zermatt resort village at 1,604 m. The Gornergrat Railway is the continent’s tallest open-air railway. The railway runs for around 9 km. It was opened in 1898 and is currently owned by BVZ Holding. Tourists are the main passengers of the Gornergrat Railway. The Gornergrat mountain is a starting point for many hikes. It is surrounded by many lofty Alpine peaks and numerous glaciers.

3. Bernina Railway

Switzerland’s third highest railway, the Bernina Railway, is a single-track, 1,000 mm meter gauge railway line. It runs between the St. Moritz spa resort in the Swiss Canton of Graubünden and the Italian town of Tirano. On its way, it traverses the Bernina Pass. The railway has a maximum elevation of 2,253 m above sea level. It is one the world’s steepest railways and Europe’s highest railway crossing. In 2008, the Bernina Railway became part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although the third highest in Switzerland, it is Europe's 5th highest railway, passed by Germany's Zugspitze (2,650 m) and France's Mont Blanc (2,372 m).  

4. Brienz Rothorn Railway

The Brienz Rothorn Railway is Switzerland fourth highest railway. It is a tourist rack railway that links the municipality of Brienz on the northern shores of Lake Brienz with the Brienzer Rothorn mountain’s summit at an elevation of 2,244 m. Interestingly, this railway runs on only steam which acts as a major attraction for tourists.

Swiss Trains Tours

Switzerland is an extremely popular tourist destination in Europe and Swiss train tours are a major attraction for visitors to the country. Such tours include scenic journeys across the Alpine mountain landscape and the thrill of adventure associated with the steep inclines of the rail routes. Thus, many travel companies operating in the country offer train tours as part of their itinerary.

The Highest Mountain Railways In Switzerland

RankRailwayCanton(s)Highest pointHighest elevationMaximum incline
1JungfrauBern/ValaisJungfraujoch3,454 m (11,332 ft)25%
2GornergratValaisGornergrat3,090 m (10,138 ft)20%
3BerninaGraubündenOspizio Bernina2,253 m (7,392 ft)7%
4Brienz–RothornBernBrienzer Rothorn2,244 m (7,362 ft)25%
5RiffelalpValaisRiffelalp Resort2,222 m (7,290 ft)5%
6Furka Cogwheel Steam RailwayValais/UriFurka railway station2,163 m (7,096 ft)11.8%
7PilatusObwaldenPilatus2,073 m (6,801 ft)48%
8Lauterbrunnen–Kleine Scheidegg–GrindelwaldBernKleine Scheidegg2,061 m (6,762 ft)25%
9Andermatt–ChurUri/GraubündenOberalp Pass2,043 m (6,703 ft)11%
10Montreux–Glion–Rochers-de-NayeVaudRochers de Naye1,968 m (6,457 ft)22%

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