As part of the 175th-anniversary celebrations of Swiss railways, Rhaetian Railway (RhB) is officially attempting to operate the longest passenger train in the world on October 29, 2022. The 1,910-metre-long train with 100 coaches will travel along the Albula/Bernina UNESCO World Heritage route from Preda to Bergün and over the Landwasser Viaduct. The corresponding tests for technical feasibility and safety assurance have taken place over the past few months.
It is world-famous and just one of three: the railway line between Chur and Tirano, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. Where otherwise observation-car trains such as the Glacier Express and Bernina Express operate, an unparalleled world record attempt is set to take place on October 29, 2022. The world’s longest passenger train of 25 railcars will travel along the Albula Line through the internationally renowned spiral tunnels of Preda and Bergün. Companies from Switzerland and Germany – all leading expert partners from the fields of technology, industry, services and tourism – are on board for this pioneering Swiss feat.
These images will not only cause a sensation among railway enthusiasts around the world: when Rhaetian Railway makes an official attempt to operate the world’s longest passenger train on Saturday, 29 October 2022, it will be a record-breaking performance in Swiss public transport. The 1,910-metre-long train with 100 coaches will travel along the Albula/Bernina UNESCO World Heritage route from Preda to Bergün and on over the Landwasser Viaduct – the trademark of the UNESCO World Heritage line. Like all Rhaetian Railway passenger transport, the train is supplied with sustainable energy from 100 per cent local hydropower. The world’s longest passenger train is made up of 25 compositions of the latest Capricorn type. These will be acquired by Rhaetian Railway by 2024 as part of the largest procurement of rolling stock in its history and will give the Graubünden railway a major push towards modernisation. Founded in 1889 between Landquart and Davos, the narrow-gauge railway has operated ever since over a 384-kilometre rail network through Switzerland’s largest canton, which is also the number one holiday destination. The Albula Line, on which the world record attempt is to take place, has been part of the Rhaetian Railway since 1903.
Pioneering feat thanks to engineering and technological know-how
The record attempt – assuming it is successful – is to be entered in the Guinness Book of Records. A total of 15 well-known partners are on board for the world record attempt. They underpin the pioneering and innovative spirit that has always distinguished Switzerland as a railway and travel destination. The world record attempt would not be possible without the financial and technological support from the partners to the tune of around one million Swiss francs. StadlerRail will act as presenting partner. The leading international manufacturer of rolling stock is also responsible for the construction of the Capricorn railcars at Rhaetian Railway. “Switzerland is a railway country like hardly any other in the world. This year, we are celebrating 175 years of Swiss railways. With this world record attempt, Rhaetian Railway and its partners want to play their part in achieving a pioneering feat that has never been seen before. In addition, we also want to generate long-term attention for our railways, and for the holiday region of Graubünden and Switzerland as a travel destination.”
The other engineering services are provided by ABB and Sersa as companies of the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group. ABB stands for energy efficiency and Sersa for constructing and maintaining the railway infrastructure. The main partners are complemented by Märklin, a specialist for model railways, which distributes its models worldwide.
Record-breaking in several dimensions
Never before has such a long passenger train travelled anywhere in the world, let alone in the high mountains on a narrow-gauge railway with tight curve radii, lots of tunnels and viaducts. This gives rise to various challenges that must be overcome before and during the journey. The figures from the Rhaetian Railway’s world record attempt on the Albula Line speak for themselves: 789.4 metres in altitude have to be overcome. The starting point in Preda is at 1,788.7 m a.s.l. and the finishing point in Alvaneu at 999.3 m a.s.l. The world-record train will travel at 30 to 35 km/h. The actual record-breaking journey takes around 46 minutes. The weight of the record-breaking train is around 2,990 tonnes. The world-record train has a total of 4,550 seats, 150 of which will be occupied by invited guests. Communication within the train is ensured by means of a field telephone almost two kilometres long by the Swiss Civil Defence. In addition, 7 train drivers and 21 technicians will be at work on the train to ensure its operability.