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Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen Mürren (BLM)
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A BLM railcar approaches Mürren from the north beside the parallel bike and foot path - 18 May 2015 William Slim.
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 Internal link     Introduction

Now here's something a little different, for Switzerland at least. It's a conventional adhesion electric metre gauge railway, no rack or pinions, isolated from any other railway but connected by an aerial cable car at one end. Your journey would typically start upon arrival at the Berner Oberland Bahn's (BOB) Lauterbrunnen depot. A short walk, directly across the street, lies the cable car terminus where passengers board for a ride that climbs 2,264 feet (690 metres) for a distance of 0.9 miles (1.4 kilometres) straight up the mountain to the Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen Mürren (BLM) railway station at Grütschalp. This aerial cableway is relatively new having begun operation in 2006.

 Image Prior to 2006 a funicular connected Lauterbrunnen and Grütschalp. What remains of the funicular may still be viewed when travelling on the cable car. Rumour had it the old funicular was used to transfer BLM rolling stock to and from the rail line but this seemed unlikely until this blurry photo was discovered. In 2013 triebwagen (railcar) number 31 was trucked over the hazardous mountain roads to replace old number 11 and augment service on the line. The difficulty in replacing rolling stock perhaps explains why the current BLM railcars, class BDe 4/4 built in 1967, haven't been upgraded and are still in operation.

 Internal link     Funicular Replaced by Cable Car
 Photo The original funicular that began operation in 1891 was water and gravity powered. In 1902 it was converted to electric power. This drawing dated 1905 shows the details of a funicular car built by Schweizerischen Locomotivfabrik at Winterthur. The old funicular connection between Lauterbrunnen and Grütschalp started at the lower terminus on the Hauptstrasse (main street). A newer building replaced the original 1891 structure at some point but the terminus still remains at the same location. The funicular joined these two locations until it was abandoned in favour of an aerial cableway in 2006. The abandonment was mainly due to land slips which at one point had deformed the funicular's trackage. The aerial cableway was chosen as the most cost effective solution over the protests of local citizenry who wanted to retain the funicular. In addition to carrying passengers the funicular also provided for freight transport with an open top container. This metal box rode behind, or below, the funicular as it climbed the 2,264 feet up the side of the mountain to Grütschalp. Once there the container and its load was transferred to a flatcar pulled by one of the triebwagen (railcars) for delivery to Winteregg or Mürren at the end of the line. Or vice versa, what goes up, must come down.

During 2006 most of the funicular was demolished during construction of the replacement aerial cableway. Today, as the cable car travels up and down the mountainside, the container hangs beneath the cable car. At Grütschalp, the container is transferred to a railway flatcar for delivery along the line by a sophisticated, specially designed, double forklift machine. This interesting five minute video shows two containers being interchanged between flatcar and cable car. Passengers at Grütschalp load or unload while a container transfer is in progress. The whole system is very inventive.

 Internal link     The Line
This metre gauge (3 feet 3 3/8 inches) adhesion railway (no rack and pinions) is just 2.6 miles (4.27 kilometres) in length and connects Grütschalp to Mürren with an intermediate stop named Winteregg where there are two platforms, passing track, and a restaurant. Due to the poor road access the line and connecting cable car at Grütschalp provides a vital link for passengers and freight from Lauterbrunnen, at the base of the valley, to end of track at Mürren, high on a shelf overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Mürren's modern station opened in 1965 and there is a freight depot located next to the station. Travelling along the line there are views of the Eiger, Mönch, Black Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains on the opposite side of the valley. The railway is owned by Jungfraubahn Holding AG, a holding company which also owns the Wengernalpbahn and Jungfraubahn. The railway opened in 1891 then was converted to 560 Volt Direct Current operation in 1912. The maximum grade is 5 percent.

 Internal link     Rolling Stock
There are currently four triebwagen in operation, numbers 21, 22, 23, and 31. The cars carry approximately 40 persons each and are capable of 30 kph. Number 11 was last photographed on 3 Oct 2012.
NumberClassBuiltGaugePowerV max
BLM 1Ge 2/218911 metre560 VDC? kph
BLM 11CFe 2/419131 metre560 VDC25 kph
BLM 21BDe 4/419671 metre560 VDC30 kph
BLM 22BDe 4/419671 metre560 VDC30 kph
BLM 23BDe 4/419671 metre560 VDC30 kph
BLM 31Be 4/419661 metre560 VDC30 kph

 Internal link     Swiss Railcar Classification

The Swiss classification system was created by the Swiss federal railways department, and applied originally to the rolling stock of private railways, operating under government concessions. In 1902, when the Swiss Federal Railways was founded as a government railway, that new railway also became bound by the system. Unlike the Whyte notation system which is used to classify wheel arrangements, the Swiss system, in both its original and updated forms, takes into account a number of different variables. The Swiss system is also less precise than other systems in the way it deals with axles, because it refers only to numbers, rather than to arrangements of powered axles, and axles as a whole. Therefore the Swiss system is more a method of classifying locomotive and railcar types and series than a method of classifying wheel or axle arrangements.

Facilities  Meaning
A  Vehicle with first class compartment.
B  Vehicle with second class compartment.
C  Vehicle with third class compartment.
D or F  Vehicle with luggage compartment.
G  Narrow gauge locomotive for adhesion operation.
K  Covered freight railcar.
O  Open freight railcar.
R (leading)  Multiple unit with Vmax of at least 110 kph.
R (trailing)  Restaurant or Buffet.
S  Vehicle with special compartment.
ST  Self-propelled special flat wagon.
X or V  Service vehicle.
XT or VT  Self-propelled service vehicle.
Z  Vehicle with post office compartment.
Type  Meaning
blank  Steam powered.
a  Battery powered.
e  Electric powered.
m  Fuel powered (diesel or gasoline).
h  Rack and pinion drive vehicles.
Notes:  1. The series is indicated with Roman numeral superscript such as I II III etc. and indicates the latest ongoing version according to type.
 
2. The letter "G" is actually a locomotive classification rather than a railcar classification. It is included here because BLM numbers 1 to 3 were locomotives, not railcars.
 
3. With pure rack and pinion vehicles, the letter h comes in first place after the capital letters. With combined rack and pinion with adhesion drives, h comes at the end. (Example:  A rack only railcar might be Bhe 4/4. A combined rack and adhesion railcar would be Beh 4/4.) Confusing... huh?
 Internal link     Classification Examples
FacilitiesTypeDriven AxlesslashTotal AxlesSeries
CFe2/4 

CFe 2/4 - This is an adhesion only railcar with third class seating and a luggage compartment powered by electricity with only 2 driving axles out of 4.

FacilitiesTypeDriven AxlesslashTotal AxlesSeries
BDe4/4 

BDe 4/4 - This is an adhesion only railcar with second class seating and a luggage compartment powered by electricity with 4 driving axles out of 4.

FacilitiesTypeDriven AxlesslashTotal AxlesSeries
Bhe4/8 
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Bhe 4/8 - This railcar has second class seating and is rack only railcar powered by electricity with 4 driving axles out of a total of 8. It's known as a "Panorama" railcar built by Stadler for the Wengernalpbahn.

FacilitiesTypeDriven AxlesslashTotal AxlesSeries
Abeh8/12 
 Drawing

Abeh 8/12 - This railcar has first and second class seating. In this case, for some strange reason, a lowercase "b" is used to indicate second class compartments. It is powered by electricity and is a rack and adhesion railcar with 8 driving axles out of a total of 12. It's the first manufactured version of this type of railcar known as the "Allegra" built by Stadler for the Rhätische Bahn.

 Internal link     News Articles


2005 - Canton Parliament Wants to Replace Funicular
 
22 Mar 2006 - New Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen Mürren Aerial Cableway Construction
 
19 Jul 2006 - Cable Car Valley Station is Erected
 
16 Dec 2006 - New Lauterbrunnen Grütschalp Aerial Cableway in Operation
 
30 Oct 2008 - Jungfraubahnen Operation Back to Normal
 
11 May 2011 - 50 Percent More Electricity from as Early as June
 
20 Jun 2012 - Open Air Cinema at Winteregg
 
3 Sep 2013 - Aerial Cableway Back in Operation
 
9 Jul 2015 - Four Climbers Die in Lauterbrunnen Accidents
 
28 Jan 2016 - New Manager of Lauterbrunnen Car Park
 
1 Feb 2016 - Jungfraubahn Holding AG Takeover Bid

 Internal link     Poster
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 Internal link     Postcards
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 Internal link     Associated Links


Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen Mürren  (part of Jungfraubahnen)
 
Drawing of 1890's BLM locomotive and personenwagen
 
Switzerland by Rail
 
Railfan Europe Picture Gallery
 
Funimag
 
YouTube Video BLM Triebwagens
 
YouTube Video Grütschalp Forklift
 
Lauterbrunnen Car Park
 
Paper Model BLM No. 1-3
 
Swiss Heritage Railways
 
Hotel Bellevue Mürren
 
Swiss Info
 
Prellbock Druck & Verlag

 Internal link     Bibliography
Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen Mürren
Hansruedi Brawand
2006
Prellbock Druck & Verlag Dorfstrasse 12 3704 Krattigen Switzerland.
Hardcover
320 pages, 322 images, 88 maps, tables, and diagrams, CHF69.00
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On 14 Aug 1891 the mountain railway from Lauterbrunnen to Mürren began operation. It consisted of two sections, the funicular from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp with a length of 1,217 metres and a maximum gradient of 61 percent which was a water-powered ballast funicular at that time. The second section was a metre gauge electric powered adhesion railway from Grütschalp to Mürren with a length of 4,323 metres and a maximum gradient of 5 percent. The funicular underwent various modifications being converted to electric operation in 1902 then modernized between 1948 and 1951. Due to geological difficulties the funicular eventually had to be replaced by a cable car in 2006. Since 1967 third generation BLM rolling stock has been in use. The BLM still owns an historic motor coach from 1913. Text is German.
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