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Tourists can now reach Zermatt under head of steam


(BVZ Zermatt Railway)

The Zermatt Railway is putting a steam locomotive back on track - exactly 110 years after the first train chugged into the mountain resort. The nostalgic train will resume regular service between Brig and Zermatt at the end of July.

When the train line from Visp in the Rhone Valley to Zermatt was inaugurated in 1891, it led to a threefold increase in visitors to Zermatt in its very first year.

It was the beginning of the Belle Époque and the birth of the mountain railway. Engineers overcame steep mountainous inclines by developing an array of operating systems - from funicular to cog railways.

In the case of the Zermatt railway, the builders decided on a combination of adhesion and cog for the narrow gauge line. The rolling stock in 1891 consisted of four locomotives, 10 passenger carriages, six freight cars and three for baggage.

The nostalgic composition will be pulled by the "Breithorn" locomotive. Once needing 1,200 kilogrammes of coal for each direction, it has been refitted with a modern oil-burning furnace for safety and environmental reasons.

The restored carriages include a luxury Pullman sleeping car that has been transformed into an open panorama carriage, and the faithfully restored "Salon" carriage boasting luxurious first class seating, second class compartments and hard wooden benches in third class.

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