Second only to the Matterhorn itself, the Gornergrat railway is one of Zermatt’s icons. It links the centre of the village at just over 1600 m, directly to the summit of the Gornergrat at more than 3000 m making it the second highest railway in Europe after the Jungfrau train in the Bernese Oberland.
Lunch, high altitude shopping and a hotel, all with unbeatable views
Whilst there are four principal intermediate stations along the line, the top station not only gives direct access to the ski pistes but also boasts an impressive shopping mall, two restaurants, a chapel, an observatory and the comfortable Gornergrat Kulmhotel. Not least of all are the vistas with panoramic views of 29 peaks over 4000 m, including the Matterhorn, together with numerous glaciers.
Zermatt’s 117 year old ski lift
First put into service in 1898, the electrified rack and pinion railway was initially only open during the summer months but this was extended to year-round operation in 1929, at least as far as Riffelalp, and then in 1941, to the summit.
The track is 1 metre gauge and almost uniquely, the engines are powered by a three-phase electrical supply via two overhead wire conductors with the rails serving as the third.
Article by Ed Mannix, owner of www.matterhornchalets.com