The Rhaetian Albula Line
window with flowers

This gallery presents photographs of the famous Albula line, which is located in the Swiss Alps. The Albula line is part of the Rhaetian Railroad network. For geographical orientation click on the area map left.

The line's construction is one of the most spectacular I know. People who's heart beat increase when facing breath taking railway viaducts and fine civil engineering structures should not miss visiting that line in minimum once.

The description starts at the valley of the Landwasser river, crosses the Albula pass and leads to the upper Engadin valley.

window with flowers

Unique at that line is the very complex tracking between Filisur and Preda. In order to climb up the necessary vertical feet, a train needs to pass exactly 4 turns with full 360° - screwing up the mountain partly open, partly in tunnels. Travellers easily may get confused when using such train.

The dominating RhB vehicle colour is red like that of the flowers above. This window style from Berguen is typical for the region. But since the class Ge 4/4 III was introduced, not all rolling stock is red any more. Today some locos show total advertisement paintings with not one red pixel any more. The Rhaetian network is built as 1000 mm gauge track system (meter track). All Rhaetian lines perform adhesive operation (no rack railroads). Scroll down to the image section now!

More ebepe RhB galleries: Engadin line, Bernina line, celebration in Filisur. Filisur - Chur and
100 years Albula

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  Rhaetische Bahn - Viafier Retica - Ferrovia Retica, three different wordings for the railroad company this article deals with. The first is German, the second Romansh and the third is Italian. All three languages are spoken in different parts of Rhaetia. We start our journey close to Filisur, which is the real starting point to the mountain ramp. Our train is passing the famous Landwasser viaduct and will approach Filisur in a few minutes (08/2002).
  Entrance points of Filisur. The train takes the final inclination when approaching the station coming from Chur. In Filisur the hourly scheduled train crossings take place. In the background the tracks to Davos are visible (08/2002).
  When the train from the mountain ramp appears, the other one from Chur is usually already waiting in the station. Very slowly the loco Ge 4/4 III 649 "Lavin" is passing the entrance points. The blue carriage is called "Gourmino" (08/2002). (top of page)
  The shuttle to Davos starts after both main line trains departed. But there is enough time for the passengers to transfer. About 10 minutes to the full hour, the shuttle returns from Davos and waits for the next schedule crossing (08/2002).
  There is a very nice view over Filisur and the station from the Greifenstein ruin. More than one way is getting up there. The shuttle to Davos is not waiting, because the train at 11 a.m. just went between June 16th and October 13th. But this image was taken on October 20th. Before trains reach the slope visible in the background, they have to pass the Landwasser viaduct (10/2002).
Landwasser viaduct
approach Filisur from Chur
approach Filisur from Albula
Davos shuttle
Filisur from above
Departure to Albula
  Today the majority of express trains are hauled by Ge 4/4 III engines. In 1992 when this image was taken, most of that trains were headed by Ge 6/6 II locos still. When all passengers will be on board, the 706 "Disentis/Mustér" will enter the ramp section immediately behind the station (05/1992).
(top of page)
  During summer 2003 some reconstruction works started at the Filisur station. They plan to build some platforms with roofs. At the right the cordons securing a deep hole are visible. Earlier track 1 was located there. The uphill train at the right has some car transportation waggon clutched. Left the Davos shuttle (06/2003).
  Now is already September 2004. I don't replace the old photographs, in order to make comparisons possible. This is the north entrance of Filisur. The double track section has been extended a lot in direction to Landwasser viaduct (09/2004).
  The new platform was under construction still, when I took this picture. Today here a platform partly equipped with roof exists. The access is built via the underground, no more crossing of tracks as before is necessary any more, when transferring between trains. Usable track lengths also grew. Just the two double flip turnouts and the former flair is history (09/2004).
  After departing Filisur, a train has to pass the first of four 360° turns, a part of it in the Greifenstein tunnel. Later it will pass Stugl/Stuls, a station far away from any village. Later in direction towards Berguen, there are some sections directly built adjacent to the motorway. The 641 with its train is running downhill (10/2002). (top of page)
  A bit later uphill, the valley opens again. The locos Ge 4/4 III 649 "Lavin" and 650 "Seewis" together haul the train Glacier Express towards Berguen. The 4 brighter panoramic carriages are from the FO company, the darker one from BVZ. Then the blue Gourmino and finally a lot of red standard coaches (08/2002).
  This is Berguen station in summer 1987 when I visited the line first. At that time the Ge 4/4 II 623 "Bonaduz" was about 3 years old and still operating standard green carriages. The blue overhead platform signalization as seen today did not exist yet (05/1987).
  Behind Berguen the most interesting section of the line starts. Here the Ge 4/4 II 631 "Untervaz", it's hauling a freight train uphill with speeds of about 32 mph. Locos of that class they have 2300 hp and are controlled by thyristors. Maximum speed is about 57 mph (05/1992).
Filisur station construction
Filisur north
Filisur reconstruction
close to Stugl/Stuls
line inclination approaching Berguen
Berguen in1987
behind Berguen
  For better orientation click on the map too. It shows the line track between Filisur and Preda. The line passes four 360° turns, and between Berguen and Preda the tracks climb 416 vertical meters at a line distance of 12.6 km. Point to point distance is below 6 km. (top of page)
  Hiking a bit uphill from Berguen, a beautiful panoramic view is possible. Left the church and over the loco the so called "Roemerturm". The large building which I have seen on an old image from 1903 in the middle obviously was destroyed by fire in the meantime (08/2002).
  This train has passed the Plaz tunnel short time ago and is now running towards the God tunnel section. After passing the God tunnel, the train will appear from the right side entering the visible tracks in the foreground (05/1992).
  This one I shot when waiting for the special train on October 19th. The Ge 4/4 III 642 "Breil/Brigels" passed this location close to the God tunnel at about 10.40 a.m. on time. For a certain time the 642 had attached some advertising posters on both sides. In this light, one can see the spots where such posters were positioned before (10/2002). (top of page)
detailed line map
Berguen panorama
2nd floor above Berguen
Ge 4/4 III 642
approaching Fuegna gallery
 

Going downhill this train is leaving the Albula viaduct 1 and will enter the Fuegna gallery in a few moments. Behind Fuegna the Muot station is located. The Ge 4/4 III has 2 bogies and most of the engines display some advertisement painting (06/2003).

  This Ge 6/6 has the same position like the last waggon on the image before. In the background visible is the exit of Rugnux tunnel and obove the track of the line following the upper Rugnux exit. The position of the viaduct visible on next image, is right of this place. The train passes the Albula viaduct 1 (06/2003).
  Some other perspective of the Albula viaduct 1. "Go far.come close" is the Swisscom ad message on this Ge 4/4 III. The slope bridge in the back is the subject for the next image. The Rugnux spiral tunnel lays in between (09/2004). (top of page)
  This train hooked to a loco Ge 6/6 II has already passed the Rugnux tunnel and will enter in a few moments the Albula viaduct 2. The pin-joint in the body center only allows vertical movements. It prevents, that the middle bogie comes to the air when passing immediate inclination changes (08/2002).
  This is Albula viaduct 2. The track is changing to the opposite valley slope. In a few moments it will arrive at the Toua tunnel entrance, then spiral up by 360° and via Albula viaduct 3 it will return to the former valley side. Most passenger trains are today transported by Ge 4/4 III engines (06/2003).
  This is the famous Glacier express, the panorama coaches of the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway are significant for this train. Bright sunshine together with the white color of this Holcim loco is a difficult test for the camera's exposure control. Unfortunately I did not work with the RAW format, this would better capture such high contrasts (09/2004).
  Albula viaduct 3 from hill side. The visible freight train first has passed the viaduct and later the Toua tunnel. The image gives an impression about the altitude distance which results after the 667 meters long tunnel (08/2002). (top of page)
  This is Albula viaduct 3 from valley side. My position is right above the lower tunnel portal. The machinist of the 641 "Maienfeld" probably already can see the entrance portal of Toua. Ge 4/4 III locos have 3265 hp and a modern GTO drive (08/2002).
  This train we already know. It's the same one like two images before. The tandem composition passed an avalanche gallery short time ago which is built on the opposite mountain slope and now is visible on Albula viaduct 3 (08/2002).
  This is the last view of Albula viaduct 3, taken with a Tele lens from the hill side. The light blue 651 Pontresina loco drives downhill. If trees will further grow, after a certain time no construction will be visible any more (08/2002).
  The penultimate loco of the Ge 4/4 II class is the 632 "Zizers". At that moment the train is leaving the avalanche protecting building and entering the Albula viaduct 4. Unfortunately I do not know a location from which the complete line track in this section is visible in total (05/1992). (top of page)
  Now the spectacular spiralling section is over. Here begins the more open structure, that the next images will show. In a few moments the train will enter the two track section, which was extended from Preda till here in order to make train crossings more flexible (09/2004).
  Now the line has nearly reached the final elevation. The Ge 4/4 III 645 "Tujetsch" is the second loco advertising for Radio Rumantsch. It is visible on the two track buffer section close before the Preda station which was constructed about 1997 (08/2002).
Albula viaduct 1
before Rugnux tunnel
behind the Rugnux tunnel
Albula viaduct 2
Glacier express
Albula viaduct 3
Albula viaduct 3
Albula viaduct 3
Albula viaduvt 3
Albula viaduct 4
Sweisscom mobile
approaching Preda
approach Preda
 

This one was taken nearly from the same position like before. The Ge 4/4 III 644 "Savognin" is the first advertising loco of Radio Rumantsch. Like in the former times the RhB practices to clutch some freight wagons to express trains if usual. Behind the Gourmino two such "freighters" are visible (08/2002).

  The red Ge 4/4 II 620 "Zernez" has approached the Preda station which is the highest altitude of the line. Today this view would just show 2 tracks, because of the reconstruction works in 1996 - 1998. The turntable here still located at the end of the foreground tracks, was removed and transferred to the "Dampfbahn Furka Bergstrecke" at that time (05/1992).
(top of page)
  This is the view if you turned by 180° from the position of the previous image. It also shows the situation of before 1996. In the background the portal of the Albula summit tunnel is visible. The tunnel is 5865 meters long and is the highest tunnel in the Alps (1823 m). The point signals are mounted in a higher position for better visibility in winter with snow pack (05/1987).
  Now the opposite side of the Albula tunnel. I remember like yesterday when the green loco appeared. I was totally disappointed not to see a nice red loco. Today I am glad about this picture, because it shows the Ge6/6 II 702 close to the original layout, as it was constructed in June 1958. The train passes the Spinas station.
Preda
Preda
Spinas
Navigation: Rail world select - RhB: Bernina, Engadin, Filisur celeb, Filisur-Chur, 100 years Albula
Last Update: August 2005 - send me an email
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