On 21 May 1966, the local rail company closed the line between the two small towns of Blonay and Chamby, in Switzerland’s Riviera region, on the eastern reaches of Lake Geneva. Too few were catching the trains on this stretch of track, that had opened in 1902. As the last few trains made their way up and down the hill, train enthusiasts, gripped with nostalgia, wondered about using the route to create a working train museum. By December of the same year their thoughts had given birth to an association, and the beginnings of a museum. Two years later, on 20 July 1968, they had their first historic trains, and coal smoke and steam filled the air.
Today, as well as the steam trains, which ferry people up and down the hill, there is a museum and restaurant in Chamby. This year the Chamby Train Museum, which displays over 60 trains and carriages, turns 50. The collection includes fifteen locomotives from around Europe, the oldest, from Mulhouse in France, dates from 1883.
The roughly 2.5 km train journey from Blonay to Chamby takes around 10 minutes and takes passengers over bridges, through trees and tunnels. Lake views are also included. The trip from Vevey is longer.
The Blonay-Chamby heritage railway runs every Saturday and Sunday from 8 May to 30 October 2016. The train runs from Vevey station (platform 7) to Blonay and then onwards from Blonay to Chamby where there is train museum, a small restaurant, and a train station, of course!
Details of times are set out here. The longer return trip from Vevey to Blonay costs CHF 20 for an adult, CHF 10 for those 6-16, and is free for those under 6. The shorter return trip from Blonay to the museum in Chamby is CHF 12 for adults, CHF 6 for children 6 – 16, and free for under 6s. If you’d like to enter the museum, it costs a little more. The operation is run by volunteers, so the money goes towards the track, trains and buildings.
Harry Potter fans won’t find any half platforms to swallow them up and sweep them into another world. They will however, experience trains from another time and travel through a magical landscape.