Everyone knows that Swiss trains run like clockwork. Now, they can jump tracks and grow taller!
The Problem And The Solution
Swiss engineers have finally accomplished a goal that was set in 1873. They were looking for a way to connect Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps. The problem: there were two track gauges to deal with — metric and standard. Metric and standard gauges differ in width, height, and voltage requirements. The result of this discord is that passengers had to change trains to get from Lake Geneva to the Alps.
Switzerland — Beyond Clocks and Chocolate
On December 11, 2022, Switzerland revealed its innovative solution. Passengers on the fantastic new GoldenPass Express (GDX) from Montreux via Gstaad to Interlaken no longer need to change trains at Zweisimmen. Their trip is now uninterrupted between the two towns — and the journey to Lucerne in the German-speaking north is easier.
Montreux-Berner Oberland-Bahn (MOB) operates the train, which combines state-of-the-art design with revolutionary technology. The new design and engineering allow the train to “morph” into a taller and wider vehicle while maintaining the same voltage throughout the run. The variable gauge juggernaut was at Zweisimmen station. Now, the train flies over the gauge adjustment ramp at Zweisimmen, and its flaps are raised while the cars reposition themselves.
The new $96 million train augments the GoldenPass experience, which was already a breathtaking ride through areas of incomparable beauty. Compartments are comfortable, with rotating seats and cafes that serve gourmet meals and snacks. Now, GoldenPass is even better, as passengers no longer have to change trains. What luxury!
How Does It Work?
Variable gauge mechanisms are not new. In Spain, Talgo has been using them for ages. So what is new? GoldenPass trains stretch even more and are the first to shift between the two types of gauges. In addition, GPX trains feature complex “trucks” under each carriage. These trucks can change the carriage height to meet the higher platforms of stations between Zweisimmin and Interlaken. The coaches take just seconds to elevate from 13.8 inches to 21.7 inches (350 mm to 550 mm).
The Engineers And Designers
Swiss train manufacturer Stadler Rail teamed with international transportation giant Alstom to make 23 vehicles. Pininfarina, the designer of Ferrari, Peugeot, and Eurostar’s modern, sleek exterior color scheme, collaborated on the design.
Where Does The Goldenpass Express Go?
Now, travelers can board at Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva and disembark in the foothills of the Jungfraujoch glaciers near Interlaken. The Express also connects with Gstaad, a ski resort town, on its 72-mile (115.34 km) route.
The new GPX trains run from Montreux to Interlaken and back just once a day. They leave Montreux at 9:35 a.m. and Interlaken at 9:08 a.m.
Beginning June 11, 2023, there will be more frequent return trip service — travelers can choose from four return trips daily. The last trains leaving Montreux and Interlaken are at 2:35 p.m. and 4:08 p.m., respectively.
In 2023, the cost for adults traveling first class from Montreux to Interlaken will be $121.27 (including the reservation fee). Second class will cost $78.34. There is also a “Prestige” category in which passengers can enjoy food and drink from local vendors. Travel in the Prestige class requires a first-class ticket plus a reservation supplement of $37.56 per person. Should you choose Prestige travel, don’t miss the fantastic Swiss cheeses and chocolates. Tickets can be purchased online.
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