Until now, it hasn’t been possible to run a single train on the scenic route from Montreux, on the shore of Lake Geneva, all the way to Interlaken on the shore of Lake Brienz. From 11 December 2022, Goldenpass trains operated by MOB, that currently only run as far as Zweisimmen, will carry passengers onwards to Interlaken, reported RTS.
The idea of a scenic rail link between Lake Geneva and Interlaken has been around since the 1870s. The challenge has always been how to construct a train that can run on two different gauges of track. The tracks between Montreux and Zweisimmen are only 1 m apart, while those between Zweisimmen and Interlaken are the more standard 1.43 m apart. Different gauged tracks have meant passengers must stop and change trains, which sometimes involves waiting outside, not ideal in an Alpine town in the middle of winter.
But with clever technology two Swiss companies have solved the problem. Alstom in Villeneuve built a wheel truck (bogie) system that can easily narrow and expand the distance between train wheels without altering the height of the train as it transitions from one gauge to another. The train can adjust as it switches tracks. The company Stadler in Thurgau also contributed to the new technology, which is the first of its kind in the world.
Trains travelling across many international border face a similar gauge difference issue. For example there is gauge difference between China and Russia. A solution often employed is to switch bogies. But this is a noisy time consuming process.
The new journey between Montreux and Interlaken will take 3 hours and 15 minutes. More information can be found on the MOB website.