From 11 December 2022 the Montreux Oberland Bernois Railway (MOB) in Switzerland will offer a service from Montreux in canton of Vaud to Interlaken in the canton of Bern. This route, famously known as the GoldenPass Line, now requires a train change at Zweisimmen in Bern as the gauge differs. But new rolling stock will be able to cope with that predicament.
Michael Portillo said it in BBC‘s ‘Great Continental Railway Journeys‘: the Swiss are great marketing their railways. GoldenPass, Glacier Express, Jungfraujoch, …
The GoldenPass is not one train, it’s even not one operator. But it’s one journey.
Part one takes you from Montreux to Zweisimmen. The trains are operated by MOB. Part two, from Zweisimmen to Interlaken, is operated by BLS. Part three, from Interlaken to Lucerne in the eponymous canton, is operate by Zentralbahn (helped by SBB CFF FFS).
Variable gauge bogies
But now, in December 2021, the MOB successfully tested variable gauge bogies. Part one runs on a narrow 1-metre gauge. Part two on the standard 1.435-metre gauge.
The idea of connecting Lake Geneva, Gstaad in Bern and Lake Thun and Lake Brienz was born in the 1870s, Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) reports.
The desire to bring together these major tourist sites reappeared on several occasions, in particular with the creation of the GoldenPass association, created in the 1920s. As early as the 1930s, people even considered building a third rail to pass from palm trees to glaciers in a single stint.
It is ultimately a new technology which will make it possible to overcome the obstacle: variable gauge bogies.
This installation not only makes it possible to change the vehicle’s track gauge by more than 40 centimeters, but also to adapt the body height to the height of the platforms. This is a world first.
MOB hopes to attract 4 million travellers per year. “We feel a great interest in distant markets, such as China, Taiwan, India, or Korea“, according to MOB spokesperson Jérôme Gachet. Gachet seems unaware the People’s Republic of China gets very upset when Taiwan is treated as an autonomous country.
New rolling stock
MOB has ordered new panoramic rolling stock. Famous Swiss train constructor Stadler from the canton of Thurgau or Turgovia. Alstom in Vaud will build the bogies.
An investment of 12 million Swiss francs, financed by MOB and the cantons of Vaud, Bern and Fribourg. The new trains will be delivered across 2023 and 2024.
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