top of page

Stories from Gletsch

The Furka Mountain Steam Railway

IGRG Logo.png

- Story 8

In 1912, ground was broken for the construction of a meter-gauge railroad link from Brig via Gletsch and Andermatt to Disentis/Mustér. The 100 km long line with several rack and pinion ramps includes the 1874 m long Furka summit tunnel as its centerpiece. At the outbreak of the First World War, the section between Brig, Oberwald and Gletsch was opened. The rest of the route was not completed until 1925 and opened on July 3, 1926 as the Furka-Oberalp Railway (FO). The steel bridge over the Steffenbach ravine on the Uri side is still considered a special attraction today. It can be dismantled into three parts and folded back sideways during the winter months to protect it from avalanche snow.


From 1930, the first Glacier Express trains with through coaches between Zermatt, Chur and St. Moritz ran past Gletsch. The connection was electrified in 1942. Some steam locomotives were sold to Indochina (Vietnam).

The Furka Base Tunnel, completed in 1982 with a length of 15.44 km, made year-round rail service between Oberwald and Realp possible for the first time. Subsequently, the mountain line via Gletsch was to be shut down and demolished. But there were many people who did not want to give up this unique connection. To save it, an association was founded with sections in Switzerland, Germany and Holland. Front-line workers renovated the 17.8 km route, brought several Swiss steam locomotives back from Vietnam and made them operational again.


By 2010, the line was back in operation between Oberwald, Gletsch and Realp. Since then, the nostalgic trains of the Furka Steam Railway have been running during the summer months, transporting around 25,000 passengers on each of the 50 operating days. The steam train trips are an attractive excursion offer for tourism in the mountain valleys of Goms and Urseren.

bottom of page