Brienz Rothorn Bahn

Brienz Rothorn Bahn

The Brienz Rothorn Bahn (BRB) is an RailGauge|800 gauge tourist rack railway in Switzerland, which climbs from Brienz, at the eastern end of Lake Brienz, to the summit of the Brienzer Rothorn mountain. The two designers, engineer Alexander Lindner and contractor Theo Bertschinger were supported by the mountain railway pioneer Roman Abt, who had responsibility for equipping the line with his newly developed double lamella rack system.


The railway was opened on 17th June 1892, after a two years construction period but was quickly in financial difficulties. The line was designed to carry 25,000 passengers per year but only managed 5,000 passengers in the first year. Tourist traffic was further affected by the opening of Schynige Platte Railway in 1895 and the Jungfraubahn in 1898.

The train service was suspended on 1st August 1914 as a result of the First World War, but did not re-open when the war ended. Essential maintenance was carried out and a small amount of timber traffic was carried from Planalp in 1918. Carriages were hired to the Schynige Platte Railway in 1924 and 1925, providing money for the maintenance work.

The line was finally re-opened on 13th June 1931, the first train to reach the summit in 17 years having run 4 days earlier. The railway was in good condition because of the continuing maintenance. Unlike other Swiss mountain lines, the BRB was not electrified and this made the railway a special attraction as from 1953 to 1990 it was the only steam-operated line in Switzerland. Although other Swiss mountain railways offer special "steam" trips this is the only line which offers a full steam service, the diesel locomotive only being used for additional trains and for light traffic periods.


The BRB is 7.5 km long with a maximum gradient of 1 in 4 (25%) and includes 5 tunnels. It begins in Brienz at 566 m above sea level, opposite the station of the Swiss Federal Railways Brünigbahn. The Brünigbahn did not open here until 1916 so early travelers mainly arrived by boat.

The railway is single track with three passing loops. The first passing loop is at Geldried, 1019 m above sea level. The halfway passing loop of the line is Planalp station at 1341 m above sea level. The older steam locomotives stop to take water. The third passing loop is at Oberstafel, 1819 m above sea level.

The upper terminus of the line is Rothorn Kulm station at 2244 m, a little below the summit of the mountain.

Locomotives and Rolling Stock

All steam locomotives are Class H2/3, indicating that 2 axles of the 3 are driven, giving a wheel arrangement (Whyte System) of 0-4-2. The older locomotives are a side tank, "kneeling cow" design of a standard SLM product. The modern steam locomotives use an efficient "light oil" fired steam technology and were built by SLM (Schweizerische Lokomotiven und Maschinen Fabrik) of Winterthur.

A prototype diesel locomotive, class Hm2/2 ,number 8 , was delivered in 1973 but sold to the Chemin de fer Montreux-Glion-Rochers-de-Naye in 1995 as their number 4. New diesel locomotives were constructed by Ferdinand Steck Maschinenfabrik [ FSM] and are of (Whyte System) 0-4-0 wheel arrangement to a "kneeling cow" design.


Trains depart Brienz at 06h00(a), 07h33(b), 08h33, 09h33, 10h05, 10h40 and every hour until 15h40, 16h20(c), 17h50(d) and 18h30(e).

Trains depart Rothorn at 08h30(b), 09h33, 10h35, 11h10 and every hour until 16h10, 16h45, 17h20(c), 21h40(d)and 22h00(e).

(a) Sunrise Trip, Operates October 1st 2006 only.

(b) Diesel operated train, operates Sundays, 13th August to 24th Sept. 2006

(c) Operates between 17th June and 3rd September 2006.

(d) Operates on Swiss National Day, 1st August 2006, only. Fare includes Swiss Buffet and Folk music.

(e) Special service operates on Thursdays Only, 29th June to 5th October 2006. Fare includes dinner at the summit restaurant.

Except where shown all trains are steam operated. Additional trains may be run in between those shown and these may be steam or diesel-operated.Journey time apprx. 55 minutes uphill, 60 minutes downhill.

ee also

* Rail transport in Switzerland
* 800 mm (2 ft 7½ in)
* [ A 360 degree 'virtual reality' panorama from the top of the Rothorn Bahn]

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