Of Swiss cheese and trains which run on time

It has taken me a while, but I finally got around to sorting my photographs and videos taken during my trip to Switzerland two months ago. I had signed up with some friends for a week long tour with the UK based Railway Touring Company to explore the Berner Oberland by rail and our base was the Swiss alpine village of Wengen.

Here is the first installment of my Swiss travel adventure.

A map of the Berner Oberland. Wengen can be found pretty much in the middle of it. The second map shows the public transportation in the area. 

Map of the Berner Oberland

Map of the railways and cable cars in the Berner Oberland

About 4200 feet high in the Jungfrauregion, the village of Wengen is at the base of the Jungfraujoch. The Jungfraujoch has the distinction of having the highest railroad station in Europe at 11330 feet, served, not surprisingly, by the appropriately named cog railed Jungfraujochbahn

Wengen is an automobile free town. Only utility vehicles are allowed and most of those are electric. Direct access to Wengen is only via the Wengernalpbahn from the town of Lauterbrunnen down in the valley and the train station of the same name.

Village church in Wengen: The view from my hotel room.

Another bucolic view of Wengen

As I mentioned everything has to be hauled to Wengen by train. People, food stuffs, everyday goods, the mail and even beer goes by train!

 Here is the early morning delivery of beer from Rugen Bräu via the Wengernalpbahn.  

 More about the Wengernalpbahn. It is a cog railroad, using the Riggenbach cog system, with a gauge of 2 feet and 7 1/2 inches. Overhead electrification is at 1500 volts DC. The railroad is just over 11 miles long and runs between Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald, via Kleine Scheidegg summit station at around 7200 feet. Trains do not run through from Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald or vice versa. Passengers wanting to go through must change at the Kleine Scheidegg station. Kleine Scheidegg is also the transfer point to the Jungfraubahn.

This is because, like most rack railroads, the WAB for safety reasons always has the locomotive towards the valley (downhill). On the new electric multiple units the cog driven power trucks are also always facing the valley. Further the seating in the new trains is designed so there is a specific mountain and valley side on the EMUs. Thus a train going uphill from Lauterbrunnen to the top at Kleine Scheidegg would be fine, however going down from Kleine Scheidegg to the bottom at Grindelwald, the train would not be positioned correctly. There used to be a turntable at the Kleine Scheidegg station to turn the trains around, however that was abandoned quite some years ago. To facilitate a turn around for the equipment the railroad now uses a "wye" track built into the mountain. 

For it's scheduled services the WAB currently uses panorama EMU's. Two of the units form a train. Each unit has three parts, the middle part being low floor and "panoramic". Stadler Rail of Switzerland built all of these, delivering four to the WAB in 2004. Six more units were delivered in 2014. In the Swiss rail classification system they are called Bhe 4/8. 

A WAB train composed of two EMUs (Bhe 4/8) at the Wengen train station

For charter trips the WAB uses older BDeh 4/4 units like this one:


Another WAB train at the Kleine Scheidegg station awaiting departure to Grindelwald:


A charter train leaving the Wengen station for the climb to the Kleine Scheidegg. Swiss railroads use a single white light, instead of red tail lights, to signify the end of a train. A scheduled service train for Kleine Scheidegg is waiting on the right.


A train on the way down to Grindelwald from Kleine Scheidegg:

Here is a video I did a couple of years ago of the Wengernalpbahn and the Jungfraujochbahn: