History of The GoldenPass Express

The pioneer's dream comes true

The idea of linking Lake Geneva, Gstaad and the lakes of Thun and Brienz dates back to 1873. Since back then the idea was to connect three of the country’s economic centres by opening up the mountain regions. The railway network got built but with different gauge widths: metric gauge (1 m) between Montreux and Zweisimmen and standard gauge (1.435 m) between Zweisimmen and Interlaken. The project was rekindled several times. In 1924, the Goldenpass Association was founded. In the 1930s, the idea was to install a third rail. As a result of numerous technical and financial challenges, the project never came to fruition.

The fatal blow came in 2006 since due to various factors making it impossible to cross Spiez station without an underground track. The explosing costs brought the project of the third rail to an end. In 2008, MOB relaunched the project. Since it was not possible to modify the tracks, it was decided that the coaches would be adapted instead. Thanks to variable gauge bogies and a gauge adapting ramp, the train can travel seamlessly from one gauge with to another. The dream is becoming reality.

Key Dates in the Project

Late 19th century. At that time, railway projects were flourishing everywhere. The idea of linking the Riviera with the lakes of Thun and Brienz region existed before the creation of MOB. A first written record dates of 1873. 1901. Opening of the first MOB metric gauge section between Montreux and Les Avants adapted to the steep profile of the area. At the same time, the Interlaken – Zweisimmen line is gradually taking shape, but as standard gauge. 1916. It is possible to travel by train from Montreux to Lucerne with two changes (at Zweisimmen and Interlaken) known as the GoldenPass Line. 1928. In the period after the First World War, tourism picks up. The idea of building a third rail comes up once again. However the project never progresses beyond studies. 1986. Edgar Styger, Director of MOB, initiates the idea of a third rail once again. 2006. Combining standard and metric gauge in the station of Spiez is impossible without the construction of an underground track. The rising costs finally end the proposal for a third rail. 2008. Faced with the difficulty of adapting the tracks, MOB announces that the barrier between the standard and metric gauge will be crossed using revolutionary variable gauge bogies. The announcement stuns the railways industry. 2010. MOB having designed and developed a new variable gauge bogie (called EV09) presents it to the press in Montreux. The concept is good, but further development is required. 2018. At the initiative of Georges Oberson, Director of MOB, Alstom is entrusted with the development and construction of variable gauge bogies. The new bogie, which is more complex and heavier, is called the EV18. 2019. The initial tests on the gauge adapting ramp in Zweisimmen are successful. The new bogie is presented to the press in May. 2021. MOB begins the long approval process on the metric gauge, the standard gauge as well as over the gauge adapting ramp. The launch of the GoldenPass was planned for June but postponed due to the consequences of the pandemic. 2022. The first commercial journey on the GoldenPass Express will take place on 11th December.

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