On a Great Rail Tour of Europe in the summer of 2013, we were lucky enough to take the Jungfraubahn cog railway to the Jungfrau railway station at 3,454 m (11,332 ft.), the highest railway (and station) in Europe.
To see more pictures, take a look on my Jungfrau flickr stream
This is an amazing journey, even if you don’t really like trains – the engineering feat, constructed well over 100 years ago is a truly outstanding achievement; and one that Michael Portillo and millions of tourists have marvelled at for many a year.
In 1893 Adolf Guyer-Zeller conceived of the idea for a railway tunnel to the Jungfraujoch to make the glaciated areas on the south more accessible.
The building of the tunnel took 16 years and the summit station was not opened before 1912. The goal was in fact to reach the summit of the Jungfrau with an elevator from the highest railway station inside the mountain.
The complete project was not realized because of the outbreak of the World War I.
Somehow the 07.55 am Trans-Pennine Express to Leeds has now lost some of its allure, this was a proper train for proper mountains, and the scenery is nothing short of breath-taking!
The train into the mountain leaves from Kleine Scheidegg, which can be reached by trains from Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen via Wengen. The train enters the tunnel running eastward through the Eiger shortly above Kleine Scheidegg.
Before arriving at the Jungfraujoch, it stops for a few minutes at two other stations, Eigerwand
(on the north face of the Eiger) and Eismeer (on the south side), where passengers can
see through the holes excavated from the mountain.
The journey from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch takes approximately 50 minutes including the stops; the downhill return journey taking only 35 minutes.
A large complex of tunnels and buildings has been constructed at the Jungfraujoch, mostly into the south side of the Mönch.
There is a hotel, two restaurants, an observatory, a research station, a small cinema, a ski school, and the “Ice Palace”, a collection of elaborate ice sculptures
Another tunnel leads outside to a flat, snow-covered area, where one can walk around and look down to the Konkordiaplatz and the Aletsch Glacier, as well as the surrounding mountains.
We had an amazing day out here, returning to Interlaken in the evening with memories that will stay with us for a very long time.
I would urge everyone who goes to Switzerland to do this trip, and take a jumper!