Compartment Red Train Albula Railway

The UNESCO World Heritage of Albula Railway – Switzerland

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Albula Railway connects Thusis to Sankt Moritz crossing the beautiful valley shaped by the Swiss Alps and traveling on spectacular engineering projects. The nature along the railway line is amazing.

rhaetian railway company

We woke up early to leave our Airbnb in Tamins village and go to Thusis. We are in the canton of Grisons in Switzerland and we wanted to take the Albula railway. Grisons is the only canton where three official languages ​​are spoken.

Village Engadin Albula Railway

Romansh is spoken among the Albula Alps, which are mountains that take their name from the Albula river, which is only 36 km long. The fourth official language of Switzerland is used to communicate in sporadic Alpine valleys and derives from the ancient Rhaetian languages.

Evangelic Church Bergun Albula Railway

In 1888 the Rhaetian Railway company was established in the city of Chur. Initially, the company built the infrastructure to connect Thusis to Chur. In 1904, the same company inaugurated the Albula railway line using a steam train to connect Thusis with the most famous ski resort Sankt Moritz in the Alps.

Albula Valley Rhaetian Railway
Filisur Village Albula Railway
Mountain Albula Alps Rhaetian Railway

In 1908, the Rhaetian Railway company completed the Bernina Railway line, which connects Sankt Moritz to Tirano in Italy. Finally, in 2008, UNESCO declared the Bernina and Albula railways a World Heritage Site.

Little Church Albula Valley

the Albula railway train

The Albula railway is now electrified and is characterized by the red color of the train and the narrow-gauge track. In fact, the tracks are just 1 meter apart, while the standard distance is 1.435 meters. Engineers used the technique to be able to draw curves with a smaller and tighter radius.

Landwasser Viaduct Albula Railway
Two Churches Bergun Albula Railway

From 1930, the Glacier Express began using the Albula railway. This express train only stops at the main hubs to connect the two most important ski resorts in Switzerland: Zermatt and Sankt Moritz. The Glacier Express is considered the slowest express train in the world, covering 219 km in 8 hours.

Valley Cyclism Albula Railway

In summer, it is easy to buy tickets to Sankt Moritz from the small station of Thusis. As of May 2022, same-day return tickets cost 62 Swiss francs. If you know the travel date, you can purchase tickets in advance on the Rhaetian Railway official website.

Far away Landwasser Viaduct Albula Railway
Tiefencastel Church Albula Railway

The view of the albula valley

This is how we begin the 62 km route that from 697 meters above sea level at Thusis leads to 1775 meters above sea level at Sankt Moritz. The route crosses 55 bridges and 39 tunnels and shows breathtaking views of the Alpine valleys, especially those of the Albula and Engadine. The intermediate stops are: Sils in Domleschg, Solis, Tiefencastel, Surava, Alvaneu, Filisur, Stugl, Bergun / Bravuogr, Muot, Preda, Spinas, Bever, Sameda and Celerina.

Mountains Albula Alps Rhaetian Railway

Between the Alvaneu and Filisur stops, travelers encounter the Landwasser viaduct, named after the river of the same name that flows 65 meters below. The engineer of Greek origin Alexander Acatos designed a viaduct consisting of 6 tall and narrow arches. The viaduct rests on 5 Dolomite limestone rock pillars only 20 meters apart, and the route draws a curve with a radius of only 100 meters.

Bergun Town Albula Railway
Red Train Viaduct Albula Railway
Arriving Engadin Albula Railway

The engineering work is also of great value because the construction took place without the help of scaffolding, but with only the use of two cranes. At the end of the viaduct, you get the spectacular view of the train that flows directly into the Landwasser tunnel, through an entrance placed on a vertical mountain wall.

Entering Landwasser Tunnel Albula Railway

Written by Enrico, Translated by Hua and Photo from Hua

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