Wengernalp Railway

Wengen, Switzerland | C.1893

Photo Credit: Marwan Kawadri

High in the Bernese Alps, the Wengernalp Railway winds its way through the Kleine Scheidegg mountain pass at 2,061 meters above sea level. As the longest cog railway in the world it transports passengers through nine villages – one of its most traveled stops is to Wengen, a village without cars.

Records of the town date back as early as the 13th century, and still to this day Wegen is free of traffic, cars, and even roads for that matter. Established as a hiking destination in the 1800s, the village later evolved into a winter ski resort after the addition of the Railway.

Today, traveling by train remains the only way to access Wengen. Its isolated location in the Swiss Alps has heightened its appeal as a destination for skiing, with many popular races developing in the twenties. But, its hard-to-reach locale was later taken advantage of for more treacherous reasons when in WW2, Wengen was a POW camp for Allied prisoners.

After the War, the Railway purchased motorcoaches and then a “turning triangle” or wye, which is a junction built into the mountainside. This allows a train to be turned if it needs to be used on the other side of the mountain pass. Today, an average of 1.8 million passengers ride the Railway in its signature yellow and green-painted railcars, including the two of the earliest railcars Number 101 and 102 built in 1947.

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