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Furka Oberalp Bahn (FO):

Key contributor to the region’s development

The Furka Oberalp Bahn – the central element of the narrow gauge rail network from Zermatt to St. Moritz – travelled over viaducts, through high valleys and along the Rhone on a 96-kilometre route from Brig to Disentis. During its first years of operation, the narrow gauge railway contributed significantly to the development of the mountain valleys along its route and breathed new life into Goms, the Urserental and Travetsch. The railway line initially passed through the Furka-Scheitel Tunnel at an altitude of 2100 metres. The route was only passable in summer, just like the route over the pass on the Oberalp. In 1942, when the railway was electrified, the Oberalp section was expanded and winterised, and the planning of a tunnel through the Furka Pass began in 1970. After overcoming geological and financial problems, the Furka Base Tunnel was opened in June 1982 along with the winter operations of the Furka Oberalp Bahn. Today, the Furka car train conveys up to 180,000 vehicles annually from Oberwald to Real.

Key contributor to the region’s development 

The Furka Oberalp Bahn – the central element of the narrow gauge rail network from Zermatt to St. Moritz – travelled over viaducts, through high valleys and along the Rhone on a 96-kilometre route from Brig to Disentis. During its first years of operation, the narrow gauge railway contributed significantly to the development of the mountain valleys along its route and breathed new life into Goms, the Urserental and Travetsch. The railway line initially passed through the Furka-Scheitel Tunnel at an altitude of 2100 metres. The route was only passable in summer, just like the route over the pass on the Oberalp. In 1942, when the railway was electrified, the Oberalp section was expanded and winterised, and the planning of a tunnel through the Furka Pass began in 1970. After overcoming geological and financial problems, the Furka Base Tunnel was opened in June 1982 along with the winter operations of the Furka Oberalp Bahn. Today, the Furka car train conveys up to 180,000 vehicles annually from Oberwald to Real.

Nostalgic Furka mountain rail line

The old Furka mountain rail line was no longer used after the opening of the base tunnel. Since 1992, it has been operated by the “Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke” association. Original steam engines from the Furka Oberalp Bahn travel on the updated rail line. The railway had sold several locomotives to Vietnam after the line was electrified in 1942. However, because the engines in Vietnam had been falling further and further into disrepair since the 1970s, Switzerland made great efforts to regain ownership of the locomotives. In 1990, one of the engines as well as individual parts were brought back to Switzerland.

 

Important transporter during World War II

In the course of its long history, the FO was not only used to move tourists around. In World War II, it was a strategic transporter that carried troops and supplies. During the construction boom in the 1950s and 1960s, it also transported vast amounts of building materials to the power plant construction sites in Goms, Urseren and Travetsch. Finally, the narrow gauge railway played a key role in the construction of the Furka Base Tunnel from 1973 to 1982.

With the introduction of the world-famous Glacier Express, a continuous train connection from Zermatt to St. Moritz, the Furka Oberalp Bahn became a successful part of Swiss railway history. The merging of the BVZ Zermatt-Bahn with what is known as the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn today took place on 1 January 2003.