Travelling on the Albula Line in the winter

Bergün, also known as Bravuogn in the Romansch language, is a village situated at the northern end of the Albula line which is itself part of the Rhaetian Railway in Graubünden in eastern Switzerland.

RhB train arriving Bergun.

The entire line between Thusis in the north right down to Tirano in the south (just inside Italy) is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The line southwards from Bergün is probably the most exciting part and certainly one of the finest pieces of railway engineering anywhere in the world. The track is one metre narrow gauge and relies entirely on adhesion throughout. Immediately on leaving Bergün the track begins to climb and for the next 15 minutes moves through several spirals, tunnels and viaducts before reaching the next station at Preda some 417 metres above and 12.50 kilometres beyond!

RhB museum at Bergun.

At Bergün there is a superb museum of the railway in one of the old station buildings and should be visited it possible to give a much better idea of how the line was built and how it affected the locality than could possibly be described here. In winter the road between these two villages is closed to traffic and becomes a unique sledging track for the downhill trip from Preda where you can hire a sled: and then of course come back up on the train and have another go! There is an hourly rail service in each direction, and if you want to stay a few days in the area the Weisses Kreuz hotel in Bergün comes highly recommended. The next station north from here is Filisur at which you can change for the eastbound line to Davos and Klosters or alternatively stay on the train and very shortly you will cross the famous Landwasser viaduct.

Beyond Preda travelling south you immediately enter the Albula tunnel and shortly thereafter reach Samedan where you can change onto the Bernina line or continue the short distance to St Moritz. From Samedan you go one stop along the Engadine valley to Pontresina where you join the southbound train coming from St Moritz and continue on an amazing journey past glaciers and lakes climbing to the high point at Ospizio Bernina, 2,500 metres above sea level. From there it is downhill via Alp Grüm all the way to Poschiavo, the spiral at Brusio and on to Tirano, a vertical drop of 2,100 metres from the high point with no rack and pinion to assist!

Map of the section of the Albula line between Bergun and Preda showing the complexity of the route with its spiral tunnels and viaducts.