[passenger] Stadler: How to deliver a new train to one of Switzerland’s most isolated railway lines?

The Grütschalp-Mürren adhesion railway of the Lauterbrunnen-Mürren mountain rail- and cableway (BLM) is awaiting new EMUs. But how do you get these new trains to a railway line, which is not connected to any other network, up there in the mountains?

Well, on top of a radio-controlled road vehicle, if the season and weather allow you to. This article shows how to transport half of a new class Be 4/4 adhesion train for BLM. It is not the first unit to arrive, as a similar transport was completed in November 2023. The first train was commissioned during the past winter months, and the findings from the winter tests were channelled directly into the completion of the other two multiple units.

Stadler: The rolling stock has been delayed because several of Stadler’s suppliers are struggling with supply bottlenecks due to the war in Ukraine and the pandemic, and testing and stabling facilities are restricted due to limited track capacity. The type tests at 1600 metres above sea level at night in very wintry conditions with lots of snow were also highly challenging and took a lot of time.

BLM adhesion EMU on its way to the new tracks – May 2024 © Stadler
BLM adhesion EMU on its way to the new tracks – May 2024 © Stadler

About the project

The four-kilometre-long railway is perhaps one of Switzerland’s most isolated railway lines. Due to the steep inclines, a cable car must make part of the journey from Lauterbrunnen to Mürren (CH). Thus, the Berner Oberland Bahn network has no direct rail connection.

As part of the Federal Disability Discrimination Act, the rail system got a thorough upgrade:

  • Barrier-free toilet facilities on Grütschal;
  • Lift in the renovated Mürren station;
  • new restaurant on the roof terrace of Grütschalp station;
  • The Winteregg crossing was also renovated;
  • the Grütschalp workshop was modernised;
  • The Winteregg station was renovated, including lifts and a passenger subway.

These are part of a CHF 63 million, four-year construction project for the total renovation of the adhesion railway. The journey time will shortened, and capacity will be increased by raising the maximum speed from 30 to 50 km/h, which allows a new operating concept with a double circuit. This will contribute to improving the attractiveness of the car-free village of Mürren.

Several thousand tonnes of ballast, around 8000 new oak sleepers and around 9600 metres of track have been laid in several stages. The acceptance of the new trains will mark the completion of the project.

BLM currently operates a fleet of motor cars dating from the 1960s.