The Rhaetian Bernina Line

This gallery presents photographs of the Bernina line which is located in the Swiss Kanton of Graubuenden. The Bernina line belongs to the network of the Rhaetian Railway and starts at the upper Engadin.

The line climbs up the Bernina pass via gradients up
to 70 ‰ as an adhesive system! The elevation of the Bernina pass at the station "Ospozio Bernina" is 2253 meters above sea level.

The south ramp continues to the Puschlav valley with the final destination Tirano, already located in Italy.

Most trains are headed by ABe 4/4 railcars and in summer additional open platform coaches enable direct environment feeling. When using this railroad, the message: "the way is the real destination" gets new nourishment. Shots taken in 1992, 2002 and 2004. The standard color of the Bernina line is the RhB red and sometimes former Bernina yellow. For geo details click on the area map left.

Beside this gallery you may also visit my Rhaetian galleries about the Albula line, about the
Engadin line
, the celebration in Filisur, 100 years Albula and the Filisur - Thusis - Chur line. If
you stay in this area once, don't miss using the Rhaetian Railroad maybe just for scenic pleasure.

Scroll down and click on thumbnails to get the enlarged view.

  The Bellaval hotel is located directly at the St. Moritz railway station. St. Moritz is the starting point of many trains departing to cross the Bernina pass. Railcars class ABe 4/4 of different delivery generations move the trains across the mountain ramps (7/1992).
  Now the Pontresina station. Here the Bernina line effectively starts. The line from St. Moritz and the rest of the Bernina line is energized by 1000V DC. The section towards Samedan is energized by 11 kV AC. A maintenance train is departing to Samedan (9/2004).  

At the right the Pontresina station building, left a train with 6 observation coaches is ready for departure. The catenary section of track #3 may be switched between 1000V and 11 kV. In the back the local mountains of St. Moritz are visible (9/2004). (top of page)

  The famous steam operated snow blower engine Xrotd 9213 is presented in front of the Pontresina depot during my visit. Year of construction was 1910. Both driving engines and the separate blower engine may be studied thoroughly (9/2004).

Within 5 km the line climbs up 100 vertical meters. Pontresina is at 1800 m and the shown Morteratsch station already at 1900 m above sea. From here one may access the glacier area via a hiking trail. Check the immediate inclination increase after departing the station, visible in the foreground (9/2004).

  Close behind the Morteratsch station at the line crossing with the mountain road, this outlook place is located. Piz Palue, Piz Bernina, Piz Moretratsch and Piz Boval are beautifully visible together with the name giving Morteratsch glacier (9/2004). (top of page)  
  Here the rail tracks often follow the mountain road. This road is pleasure as well for car as also for motor cycle drivers. Because of that, it was part of one of my first motor cycle journeys mid of the 80s too (7/1992).  
  Another 4 km distance uphill the Bernina Diavolezza station is located. Two trains are crossing this moment. The uphill composition is headed by two old timer railcars 34 and 30. Since a few years they returned to their original yellow color. Left the door of an avalanche proof turntable housing for snow blowers is visible (9/2004).  
  Like a large S the line climbs uphill after having passed the Bernina Lagalp station. Frequently some freight coaches are clutched to regular passenger trains, like visible on this image too (9/2004). (top of page)  

That's the uphill view. Right visible is Piz Cambrena (3604m) of the Piz Palue group. After exiting the protecting building, the line directly follows the mountain road. The tandem railcar headed train moves downhill between stations Ospizio Bernina and Bernina Lagalp (9/2004).

  Now our both old timers also pass the S curve. Using the Diavolezza cable car one may reach the Diavolezza mountain, which's slopes are visible left. In the back Piz Uertsch of the Albula mountains is visible (9/2004).

After passing some avalanche protection building visible in the background, the line approaches its highest elevation at the Ospizio Bernina station. In the meantime we are far beyond timber line (9/2004). (top of page)

  Railcar ABe 4/4 number 41 with train approaching from Bernina Lagalp. Directly opposite of the Ospizio station, an artificial water reservoir is located. The melting waters of the glaciers are used for energy generation (7/1992).  
  Ospizio Bernina in 2253 meters above sea level. Despite of the enormous elevation, whole year through traffic operation is performed here. Close to this station an auto road leading to some tax free zone called Livignio starts (7/1992).  
  Train crossing at the Bernina pass. Between stations the line is constructed as a single track. Behind the reservoir lake a mountain peak called Piz Palue with some top elevation of about 4000 m is visible for travellers for a long time (7/1992).
(top of page)
  The early railcar Fe 2/2 51 built in 1909 was modernized several times. In 1980 the former wooden loco body was replaced by a sheet metal one. Today the car is numbered as De 2/2 151 and is mainly scheduled with maintenance trains (9/2004).  

Behind the pass, the downhill section starts. In several hairpin bends the line descends valley wards. The station of Alp Gruem will be the next stop (7/1992).

  A total view of the Alp Gruem station. This shot is a service for everybody who wants to build a model of this famous mountain station. In the back an avalanche protection building is still visible (9/2004). (top of page)

The descent down to the Puschlav valley starts immediately behind the Alp Gruem station. The unbelievable bend diameter of the following 5 + 4 hairpin curves is little as 36 meters. The uphill train with supporting loco Gem 4/4 802 will stop at the Alp Gruem station in a few moments (9/2004).

  This image gives some impression about how the line descents within a very short distance. About 9 hairpins are necessary to reach the valley. The visible Lake di Poschiavo is not jet the lowest position. Tirano as final destination is located at about 8 kms behind the lake and about 1800 m lower than the pass (7/1992).  
  In case of fine weather conditions, one may strongly propose the use of the open platform cars. Ticket check by the conductor included ... (7/1992). (top of page)  
  Now the Poschiavo station. Left a train is waiting for the crossing with the descending train in the background. Between Alp Grüem (2100m) and here (1010m) an altitude difference of 1100 m has to be passed on a direct distance of just 6,5 km. The hairpin construction extends the line length up to 16,5 km. That's really worth a journey … (9/2004).  
  From here to Tirano another 580 vertical meters need to be descended. In Poschiavo people already use the Italian language. The train with many tourists from UK and the US is waiting for crossing (9/2004).  
  In 1911 the former Bernina railroad company furnished two Ge 2/2 locos - 161 and 162. In 1971 the former Lyra called pantograph was replaced by today's one leg pantograph. Today both locos mainly are scheduled for shunting jobs and maintenance trains (8/2002). (top of page)
  Gem 4/4 801 is the first of two twin power engines. The 801 and 802 locos are equipped with both, electrical and diesel engine drives, which makes them available for universal scheduling. Both were built in 1966 (8/2002).
  Now our train passes the Lake di Poschiavo, which was visible since the mountain top (7/1992).  
  Close to the station of Brusio some curiosity of the line appears. It is a 360° viaduct dedicated to "annihilate" vertical feet. The image shows the entrance bend as seen from inside the train (7/1992). (top of page)  
  After passing the full rotation, the train leaves the construction through one of the viaduct arches (7/1992).  
  View from outside. The train came from the right, entered the viaduct through one arch, turned left until the position shown and will leave the viaduct using the mountain slope visible in the background (7/1992).  
  Train crossing at a station close to Tirano. In the background visible are the mountain ramps which are taken by the line (7/1992). (top of page)  
  The final destination Tirano is located already in Italy. Many passengers just make some short strolling walk and then return to the Swiss Engadin using the next train back (like I did) (7/1992).  
  In Tirano there is connection to the Italian standard gauge state railroad network of FS. The elevation is about 450 m (7/1992).  
Navigation: Rail world select - RhB: Albula, Engadin, Filisur celeb, Filisur-Chur, 100 years Albula
Last Update: November 2004 - send me an email
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