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Proud Earthling

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We return to Brusio on August 20 2014. Gathering less attention than the viaduct, but still very nice, are the two loops leading down into the station. R 1629 was about to pick us up on the last leg towards Tirano.

Red and yellow companies in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland.

Stopping only shortly at Brusio we actually managed to visit and photograph the most prominent Bernina Railway spots in one day by train and on foot. At the RhB-terminal Tirano you were offered a connection to the Italian standard gauge network or to a bus towards the Gotthard line. Also, the town features tourist attractions like the massive pilgrimage church. Generally it is a place to pass through as the abundance of cafés around the station area was indicating.
We already know this double header from Brusio loop viaduct: ABe 4/4 III 54 "Hakone" (on occasion of the RhB-partnership with the Japanese Hakone-Tozan-line) and 53 hauled local 1660 through the streets of Tirano. Elsewhere along the route, at Le Prese, another stretch of RhB street running could be found, too.

Along the mainstreet Viale Italia I walked back to the station and caught this glimpse of typical Italy... at Tirano RhB terminal.

Towards St. Moritz we were hauled by class ABe 4/4 III double header 52/56 with Bernina Express 978 – the last express service of the day.
Who is the fairest one of all RhB? ;-)

Up north it actually had been rainy the whole day, at St. Moritz – the town with 320 sunny days per year – the most uncomfortable weather of the tour greeted us. Also, the massive construction site at the station and cool concrete hotels did not seem inviting, so we quickly took a hot chocolate at the station bar and then returned to Filisur for a lovely dinner.

August 21 2014 had been forecast as nice and sunny, in the morning fascinating wafts of mist were rising from the still wet forest floor...
We started in style in front of our hotel Grischuna at Filisur with the old electric hauling RE 1120 St. Moritz - Chur, and it was not about to be the last time that day.

First spot was Preda, here a view down the loops of Albula Pass. RE 1121 to St. Moritz with Ge 4/4 III 650 in UNESCO world heritage ad livery can be seen on two of them.

The sun broke through the fog, RE 1121 was approaching Preda and the Albula Tunnel on the top level. A second tunnel tube complying with modern safety standards was just being built turning the usually tranquil Alpine hamlet into a construction site. Down here this could not be noticed.

Some direct Bernina Express trains take the route via Albula Pass, for example BEX 951 Chur - Tirano in lovely mood shortly before reaching Preda. Next we rode to Bergün/Bravuogn – a lot was planned that day, so we decided against a full hike down the Albula Line.

As promised, Ge 6/6 II 707 was spotted more often that day – here three times with RE 1129 Chur - St. Moritz as part of the Bergün-süperpanorama, immediately after I had walked uphill from the station.

Now we change inside the first loop, around noon freight 5140 rolled downhill on the second level. Diesel Gmf 4/4 242 and a crane were part of the consist.

Soon Ge 6/6 II 703 "St. Moritz" appeared again below my position. After a few more scheduled trains we returned to the station, on the way I spotted the last operational class Ge 4/4 I locomotives, 605 "Silvretta" and 610 "Viamala". Overall a rate of old electrics of 5/7 at Bergün.

After a lunch break at the Filisur hotel my next stop was Davos Wiesen.
How many RhB-workers need how much time to clean one timetable information post? Well, at least half an hour, and at least two plus one safety guard... :0)

The whole week "Rhaetian Crocodile" Ge 6/6 I 414 was operating specials between Davos and Filisur twice daily, I waited for the afternoon run. The train stopped a while at Davos Wiesen so the passengers could walk ahead across Wiesen Viaduct and take a picture of the special crossing this giant bridge.

After the crocodile had passed I walked back across the viaduct on the rather wobbly seeming planks in great height, when I was met by a - horse!
Subsequently I waited above the station for the return of the crocodile. Ge 6/6 I 414 traversed Wiesen Viaduct on its run from Filisur back to Davos.

The heritage special matched the lovely ensemble around Davos Wiesen station, in time I caught the crossing regular train to Filisur.


After hiking through the valley from Filisur we reached the classic Landwasser Viaduct observation platform. Ge 4/4 III 641 in "Coop"-livery with RE 1156 St. Moritz - Chur rolled out of Landwasser Tunnel into the warm evening light. Of course a connection to Davos is offered every hour at Filisur, so you can spot the Allegra EMU as R 1844 on the other line in the background.

Bernina Express 950 Tirano - Chur on Landwasser Viaduct taken in the valley next to the river of same name.


Ge 6/6 II 703 "St. Moritz" took freight train 5157 in evening glint across Schmittentobel Viaduct, often in the shadow of its famous neighbor.

Walking home from Landwasser Viaduct freight 5162 popped into view in best evening light – a picture that had to be taken!
Even better, it was hauled by 1958-built prototype Ge 6/6 II 702 "Curia", one of the last RhB engines featuring round headlights, departing Filisur station.

On August 22 2014 we changed region and accommodation, first stop in the morning was local hub Thusis, where the first unexpected crocodile-meeting took place. Ge 6/6 I 415 (the other preserved heritage vehicle of that class, next to 414 the day before) was coupled to Ge 4/4 II 633 hauling a freight train.

We left the railroad for a bit and ate breakfast Italian style at "Bundy's Bistro". Thusis station featured a modern design, also I saw the same female commuter as on two days before – Grisons is quite small after all... ;-)
In the background you can spot an Allegra as S2 towards Chur.

We had reserved a postbus express service to Bellinzona and took our seats on the top level of the double decker. We first passed through Via Mala, the gorge of the Posterior Rhine, via Splügen to San-Bernardino-Pass. Our express course took the tunnel route, but the pass would still have been in fog anyway. After a short break at San Bernardino village we drove down the spectacular switchbacks into Val Mesolcina. A narrow gauge railroad operated by RhB to Mesocco existed here, but it was abandoned after environmental damage. However, you can still see the old embankment and some infrastructure, it would have been a lovely line.

Old electrics at Bellinzona station.

From Bellinzona an IR took us up Gotthard Pass to our next place of accommodation, Göschenen. We quickly checked into our hotel which could be reached after a 5 minute walk from the station, offering a great view at Damma Glacier.

Soon we caught a bus to nearby Wassen where a classic Gotthard Line photo session followed.
View at the second of three levels of the Wassen loops with 9796 ft high Chli Windgällen in the background. Northbound IR 2276 Locarno – Zürich approached shortly having turned back south.

Even on Gotthard Pass apples already were ripe in August. ICN 680 Lugano - Basel passed the Middle Meienreuss Bridge, a proper "Alm-Öhi" appeared out of the adjacent hut...

IR 2173 "Wilhelm Tell Express" Basel - Locarno emerged from Leggistein loop tunnel unto the Upper Meienreuss Bridge.

IR 2182 Locarno - Basel traversed the Middle Meienreuss Bridge. The "Alm-Öhi" in the meantime had mowed some grass with a scythe, put it into his backpack and now slowly walked downhill lighting a cigar every few feet.

Views of lovely Wassen.

At Amsteg we got off the bus to capture mighty Chärstelenbach Bridge, here with IR 2280 Locarno - Zürich. From Amsteg busses run more frequently towards the Bay of Uri of Lake Lucerne.

We spent the evening at Flüelen on Lake Lucerne.

After we had travelled back up Gotthard by IR, the second crocodile surprise of the day awaited us in form of Ce 6/8 II 14253 operated by SBB Historic. To the right you can spot the MGB narrow gauge train to Andermatt.

Saturday, August 23 2014, offered the last highlights of the trip. Our postbus left Göschenen at 8:10 a.m.. We drove through Schöllenen Gorge to Andermatt, passed the lovely village Hospental, then tackled Furka Pass.

View from the switchbacks of the mountain pass road towards Realp in slightly steamy atmosphere.

Shortly before reaching the summit we met a car carrying a sign "attention cycling race". For the next hours cyclists were streaming across the pass, along with bikers and other tourists – sometimes it seemed like a grand prix.

We reached our destination Belvédère Furka, Muttbach Glacier in the background.

The stay became a foggy thriller, the cloud situation changed from minute to minute, and we only could hear the first uphill run of the Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway (DFB).

The easiest access to an Alpine glacier can be found here, only a few hundred feet from the parking space and bus stop.

With the first DFB downhill run we were more in luck, if you look closely you can detect steam.
As impressive as the panoramic view of the Rhône Glacier is its decrease in size. In the 19th century it still had reached down into the valley to Gletsch, where you can see the curves of the road. The lake in the foreground only formed since 2006! This creek is the source of the Rhône (locally: Rotten) – as the name says – and joins Muttbach in the valley. In front you can see the Gärstenhörner peaks, on the rightmost edge Galenstock and Gross Furkahorn.


You can access an artificial glacial cave, this part of the glacier has been protected from the sun by a sheet cover, the ice is several feet thicker here.

At 12:45 p.m. the third train of the day left Muttbach-Belvédère station at the western portal of Furka summit tunnel partly in sunshine, which still was very lucky considering the general weather situation and the few runs on this line per season.

The train moves especially slowly to allow passengers to enjoy the scenery, for railroad photographers it is a relaxed affair.

After crossing the Furka Pass road.

On towards Gletsch along the new Rhône, the view into Valais region revealed a massive picturesque wall of low-lying clouds.

After a lunch break at Hotel Belvédère Furka we took the postbus to the other side of the pass at Tiefenbach, where banks of fog were shifting constantly, but always stayed down in the valley. So, we walked down a path a further 1000 ft to the valley floor. First the DFB train stopped for a while at Tiefenbach station, then it departed emitting a spectacular steam cloud. It mixed with the fog to a mystical entity...

After an exhausting climb above 6500 ft altitude we warmed ourselves in a restaurant. Later a postbus took us to Gletsch, where we had a connection to Oberwald. The driver of the second bus doubled as a tour guide and told us about the sights along the way, for example the DFB loop tunnel. At Oberwald station we boarded a Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn-train to Andermatt and after train partition proceeded directly through Schöllenen Gorge to Göschenen.

The morning of our departure, August 24 2014, it was raining and blowing hard at Göschenen, so we took breakfast conveniently at the hotel. Only for the train at 9 o’clock we took our luggage to the station.

In the picture you can see the northern portal of the current Gotthard summit tunnel, Schöllenen Gorge and the rack railroad line from Andermatt to the right, where Deh 4/4 I 55 "Brig" "just" rolled the last feet onto the station square.

With IR 2170 we finally left the land of magnificence, from Arth-Goldau again in sun an ICN took us to Zürich, where we spent two hours looking around and shopping before our Railjet to Vienna departed. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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