On the Rhaetian Railway Through the Grisons

Most railroads in Europe are government owned, but Switzerland has an interesting combination of government and private railways. Perhaps coincidentally, Switzerland also has the highest railway usage, per capita, of any European nation. The private railways are mostly meter-gauge tourist lines while the Swiss themselves mostly use the standard-gauge government lines.

Click to download a 19.8-MB PDF of this brochure.

Scans of these 1966 brochures for two Swiss railways were sent by a Streamliner Memories reader who asked to remain anonymous. The first shows the Rhaetian Railway, which served Grison, Switzerland’s largest but most thinly populated canton. As it happens, in 2002 I rode the Rhaetian Railway through Grison, which I called “paradise.” The railway included many spirals like the Canadian Pacific’s spiral tunnels, but one of the spirals–pictured on page 9 of the brochure–was completely above ground. As the photo below shows, the spiral still exists and is used daily by red Rhaetian Railway trains.

Click image for a much larger view. Wikipedia commons photo by David Gruber.

A second brochure today describes the Transalpine, a Triebwagenschellzug (express train) that is jointly operated by Swiss Federal Railways and Austrian Federal Railways. Today, a train of that name connects Zurich, Switzerland with Graz, Austria. But from 1958 to 2010, the train linked Basel, Switzerland with Vienna, and that is the route shown in this brochure.

Click image to download a 4.5-MB PDF of this brochure.

Most of the brochure is a colorful map showing the route of the train in 1966. Unlike the Rhaetian Railways brochure, which is in English, French, German, and Italian, the Transalpin brochure is only in German. Fortunately, other than place names there are only five sentences of text. As near as I can tell (with the help of Google Translator), they read,

The Trans Alpine, the modern and comfortable express train of the Austrian Federal Railways, covers the 900-kilometer route between Vienna and Basel in less than 12 hours!

The 3400-hp high-performance six-unit train reaches a top speed of 150 kilometers per hour and offers 66 seats in first class and 171 seats in second class to comfortably allow a total of 237 travelers.

The Trans Alpine has an air-conditioned dining car for 34 guests offering exquisite cuisine.

As the name suggests, Trans Alpine travelers will enjoy many panoramas of the Austrian and Swiss Alps in conjunction with a fast and pleasant journey. Reservations are required and may be made at ticket counters or travel agencies.


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