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The Lötschberg route - mythbuster

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Jun 21, 2022 - 11:33 PM

The railway route from Spiez to Brig is part of the world famous Bern - Lötschberg - Simplon Railway built in the early 20th century to link northern Europe to the 'belle epoque' destinations of northern Italy.

The railway runs south from Spiez up the scenic Kander river valley to Frutigen (via Mulenen where the Niesen mountain funicular is located)

Mountain route:

From Frutigen the old Lötschberg mountain section then climbs ( via a compacted S-shaped switchback loop at Mitholz and one spiral tunnel) to Kandersteg. The original 1913 Lötschberg tunnel runs under the mountains for 15km to Goppenstein. From Goppenstein the line runs along a side valley then emerges (at Hohtenn) onto the side of the Rhone river valley, high above the valley floor, gradually descending to the valley floor at Brig

Thus, the two key scenic sections are the 'north ramp' between Frutigen and Kandersteg. and the south ramp between Hohtenn and Lalden.

This is the line traversed by the hourly Regio Express Lötschberger train

Base tunnel route

The base tunnel runs from Frutigen to Raron emerging right by the river Rhone and quickly reaching Visp

HOWEVER, it is a myth that the 'new' base tunnel route is 'not scenic' . The fast north south trains now run up to Frutigen, enter the Lötschberg base tunnel and emerge at Raron. The tunnel transit is fast, so you are not in the tunnel for long. For the rest of the journey you still see nice mountain, river and farming landscape views.

The base tunnel route is advantageous for anybody travelling from Bern or Interlaken to Zermatt as it reaches Visp (the jumping off point for the railway up to Zermatt) within 26 minutes instead of 1 hour and 20 minutes via the mountain route via Brig


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