According to the Swiss association representing the interests of the country’s 500 mountain transport companies, there are 1,796 cable cars, ski lifts, funiculars and cog railways servicing Switzerland’s mountains. The highest takes tourists to a 3,820 metre-high station just below the summit of the Klein Matterhorn. Switzerland also boasts a rotating cable car, the world’s first double-decker gondola and plans have been drawn up for the first split-level gondola that has an open upper deck. Switzerland’s Alpine infrastructure is so integrated into society that cable cars and trams are part of the public transportation system, and depicted on road maps. Here are some examples of crazy Swiss mountain engineering.
The Hammetschwand lift built in 1905 to connect the Bürgenberg Hotel located at 874 meters.
The Lötschberg Tunnel is a 14.6 km (9.1 mi) railway tunnel through the Alps. Because of its length you drive your vehicle onto the train, lock your doors, let the train take you through, then drive off.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel is a railway tunnel beneath the Swiss Alps expected to open in 2016. With a route length of 57 km (35.4 mi) and a total of 151.84 km (94.3 mi) of tunnels, shafts and passages, it is the world’s longest rail tunnel, surpassing the Seikan Tunnel in Japan.
Trift Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge modeled after Nepalese rope bridges. It is 100 meters high, 170 meters long, and poised above the Swiss Trift Glacier.
The Stanserhorn Cable Car takes passengers from 711 meters to 1850m in the world’s only double-decker, non-enclosed tram.
The Gotthard Pass is a cobblestone, hairpin road, considered so formidable, not even the Romans dared to cross.
The Revolving Gondola to the Ice Grotto in Engelberg. The grotto is full of ice crystals, shimmering mysteriously blue, and crevasses open towards the top. Be sure to wear warm clothes because the temperatures never go beyond -1 degree Celsius, thanks to the position of the ice grotto, 20 meters below the ice.
The Jungfrau Railway takes passengers to the highest train station in Europe (3,454 meters). Requiring over 16 years of construction and completed in 1912, it climbs 1,400 meters and covers a distance of more than 9km (7km in tunnels).
Schilthorn Mountain Tram in the Bernese Oberland. It appeared in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. With a length of 6931 m (22,739 ft) in four separate sections, it is the longest aerial tramway system in the Alps. It gains over 2103 m (6900 ft) of elevation.
* images provided by myswitzerland.com