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Avalanche risk Rail link to stranded Zermatt reopens

Helicopter with worker from ski slope control

Specialists triggered avalanches with explosives to secure slopes and roads around some ski resorts.

(Keystone)

The Swiss mountain resort of Zermatt is once again accessible by train after being cut off by avalanches and rockfalls for four days.

Trains began running between Zermatt and the lower-lying village of Täsch at 17:00 on Wednesday evening. From Täsch to Visp the journey is being completed by replacement buses. 

The line had previously been blocked by a rockfall that occurred on Saturday night. Helicopter had been the only means of accessing the touristic village at the foot of the Matterhorn. 

Stranded travellers were ferried out in groups of four according to a lottery system. Some 1,300 people were flown in or out by Wednesday morning, according to local tourist authorities.

With travel plans severely disrupted, some visitors have had to reschedule long-haul flights. Some complained online that Swiss International Air Lines, for one, was not reimbursing flights missed due to the weather. 

Contacted by swissinfo.ch, the airline clarified its policy: "Special arrangements or so called waiver policies are generally issued in case of massive irregularities with a direct impact on the flight operations (e.g. storm, volcano eruption, snow at airport) which is not given in this case".

Elsewhere in Switzerland as of Wednesday evening, following a day of higher temperatures and clear skies, many areas were reported to be returning to normal, although the threat of rivers overflowing remains.

Heavy snowfall and rain since last weekend have caused waves of disruption across the country. It is the third time this month that road and rail links in parts of the Alps have been temporarily cut.

More snow and rain is expected on Friday, according to the weather services.

SDA-ATS/ug&dos

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