SWITZERLAND: Always innovative, Switzerland has never let the magnitude of its alpine geography stand in the way of great transportation opportunity. Ever since hoteliers and railway engineers pooled their talents to create the most efficient transportation network in the world, the Swiss have been creating wondrous new ways to see their country.
Way back in 1893, for example, in the tiny village of Stans (about a 20-minute train ride from Lucerne), locals began using public transportation to make their way to nearby Stanserhorn Mountain for hiking.
Rising nearly 6,000 feet above sea level, the mountain is famous for its views of Lake Lucerne more than a mile below.
Fast forward to June, 2012 when the new double deck open top “CabriO” cable car was unveiled. The CabriO actually allows passengers to ride on top of the car, with room for 30 people on top and 60 more in the lower cabin.
Unlike earlier cable car incarnations, the “CabriO” is not suspended by a single cable from the top. Instead it glides along two cables at the side of the cabs making the ride considerably smoother and far less jarring when it crosses transfer points.
Surprisingly, there is very little sensation of height other than the breathtaking scenes that surround the passenger’s magnificent unimpeded views of alpine pastures and mountain peaks during the six-minute journey to the top.
In December 2016, the Swiss opened the most “boring” rail project in history
With the inauguration of the 35.5 mile Gotthard Base Tunnel, the Swiss opened the longest and deepest railway tunnel in the world.
In so doing, they trimmed more than 30 minutes from the commute between northern Switzerland and southern Switzerland. This making the tunnel not only an engineering marvel but adding even greater efficiency to an already superbly efficient transportation network.
For decades it has been possible to cross the massive St. Gotthard Pass by rail or car (weather permitting) but the new tunnel saves valuable time for businessmen who have little interest in sightseeing.
Among the more recent developments in Swiss transportation was unveiled between April 6-8 of 2018, with the introduction of the “Staubern”, a cable car that transports passengers from the Rhine Valley to the top of Staubern Mountain in eastern Switzerland.
In a country that has more cable cars than Holland has tulips, why would the Staubern make news? The answer is simple: it’s the world’s first solar-powered cable car. Operating to the Staubern Restaurant and Guesthouse at an altitude of just under 6,000 feet, the Staubern brings new meaning to the term “cablevision.”
Travelers should know that all Swiss cable cars, funiculars, rack railroads and other forms of mountaintop transportation, always have restaurant and restroom facilities at the summit.
Situated between the cantons of St. Gallen and Appenzell Inner Rhodes (a Swiss canton is similar to a state in the U.S.), the Staubern is on the cutting edge of cable car technology.
The village of Zermatt is preparing to open the highest cable car in the region. Known as the “Matterhorn Glacier Ride” the high wire act will connect Trockener Steg with Klein Matterhorn (Little Matterhorn). At 12,740 feet, it is Europe’s highest cableway station.
Nicknamed the “Ferrari in the air”, the state-of-the-art lift has the capacity to transport 2000 people per hour to the Matterhorn glacier while reducing travel time to just 9 minutes.
The Matterhorn Glacier Ride is scheduled to open September 29th.
Travelers wishing to experience all of the newest transportation services in Switzerland need only wait until March of 2019. That’s when arguably the most famous Swiss train, the Glacier Express, will inaugurate Excellence Class service on the 7-hour journey between Zermatt and St. Moritz.
Excellence Class will feature high-quality full service and modern design as guests are treated to a truly exceptional journey across the Swiss Alps and their majestic panoramas. Among the features, each traveler will enjoy a window seat.
Excellence Class offers personal travel guidance, a trendy bar area, a premium multi-course lunch and many more amenities – all included. Capacity in the coach has space for 20 guests with a surcharge of CHF 420, regardless of the type of ticket a passenger is holding.
You see traveling in Switzerland is mountains of fun, where the Swiss never fail to rise to the occasion and where the sky is NEVER the limit.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime
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