«The tremendous speed of modern life makes the spirit and eye become accustomed to half-understood and false judgments, causing everyone to become like a traveller who knows a land and its people only from a passing train.»
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was no railway enthusiast. He likewise had no way of contemplating his beloved Engadin region from the heights of the Bernina Pass, or to know the beauty of Poschiavo from riding the rails. Still less was he able to experience all this from the train driver’s footplate. For it is from here that the mountains can really be appreciated in all their towering majesty.
On the rails through the land of eternal ice, under an azure sky! The existential experience of the mountains, from deep among the glaciers of the Bernina Pass! Forbidding and yet of great beauty… and all this before even considering Poschiavo, the Alpine valley that conjures up visions of the Mediterranean! Yes, the Bernina Line offers great experiences at any altitude.
That’s railway fever for you! At the front of the train on the driver’s footplate: a feast for the eyes and the senses, passing through this land of mighty the glaciers! Offering a sense of untrammelled freedom. Happiness on rails! Childhood dreams come true as the urge to wander is fulfilled.
All this, with a footplate ride on the Bernina Line. This book will give you a taster of what it’s really like. It accentuates the harmony between nature and technology that characterises the Bernina Line. Plus the railway stations and mighty hydroelectric power plants that dot the landscape in this world of glaciers. The book is also designed to act as a guide during your trip. A trip like no other, as it gives you a privileged view of where the train is going. The raw experience of the landscape, converted into high enjoyment. The Rhaetian Railway wishes you a pleasant and interesting trip.
Km 0.0 | 1775 metres above sea level > St. Moritz station
The Albula Railway reached St. Moritz, which was by then a former farming village with a fifty-year history as a world-famous spa town, in 1904, somewhat later than planned. As the municipality did not want a railway station that was likely to obstruct the views of the lake and mountains, going so far as to ask for the train to run in a tunnel below the town, the railway builders decided, for reasons of cost, to choose a site that would allow the line to continue on to Chiavenna, via the Maloja Pass, without any further complications. The present site of the station was the result of the dispute being resolved by the Swiss regional government department. The Bernina Railway, which was built in stages between 1906 and 1910, was then made to run into the existing railway station.
After two extensions, the station building was beginning to look a bit of a mess, so – with the impending 1928 Winter Olympic Games in mind – the decision was taken to carry out a complete rebuild. The railway company called in Nicolaus Hartmann, the architect just previously responsible for designing the stations at Alp Grüm and Bernina-Hospiz on the Bernina Line. Before his work on railway stations, Nicolaus Hartmann had also designed the giant Hotel Margna, the showy façade of which was echoed in the new station. His take on the railway building consisted of putting the various facilities into a single cube with a hipped roof, out of which the clock tower still protrudes today. One special feature stood out right from the beginning: the electrically-illuminated hands of the clock.
Km 0.2 | 1774 metres above sea level > Inn Viaduct
The Bernina Railway between St. Moritz and Ospizio Bernina began operations on July 1st 1909, while the entire route connecting Tirano and St. Moritz started running on July 5th 1910. The Inn Viaduct, with its 18-metre-wide main arch, soon became one of the line’s favourite photo opportunities. Way down below the viaduct, the picturesque river Inn rushes over the rocks from its source in Lake St. Moritz, before meandering gently into the area known as Champagna, at the same altitude as Celerina and Samedan. A road now also passes under the viaduct.
Km 0.5 | 1766 metres above sea level > Charnadüra Tunnel II
At 689 metres, the longest tunnel on the Bernina Line was originally not even planned, as the line was supposed to run through the forest of Stazerwald. But there was opposition from the municipalities concerned, and from the bodies responsible for what would now be called environmental protection, to the railway crossing the forest’s moorland areas. The railway builders then reached an understanding, as they did not want to have to bear alone all the resulting costs. A few years later, it was the protection agencies that came round to realising that the Albula and Bernina Lines were in fact unique pieces of model infrastructure, which actually added to the character of the landscape.
The Charnadüra Tunnel I takes the railway through the mountain on the opposite side of the gorge to part of the Albula Line.
Km 2.0 | 1716 metres above sea level > Celerina Staz
The chalet-like station building of Celerina Staz, which was built in 1922, stands 1716 metres above sea level, at the lowest point of the northern section of the Bernina Line. There is an uplifting view of the nearby church of San Gian with its twin towers. The smaller of the two towers, built in the Romanic style, dates from around 1100, while the larger Campanile tower is from the Late Gothic period. It once had a spire, but this went up in flames after being struck by lightning in the year 1682. Celerina also boasts of two railway stations, to match its church with two towers. The name «Staz» was added in order to differentiate it from the Celerina station of the Albula Line when this was merged with the Bernina Line, in 1944, as part of the Rhaetian Railway. It had earlier been referred to simply as «Celerina BB», with the double-«B» standing for Berninabahn, the name in German of the Bernina Railway.
Km 3.5 | 1736 metres above sea level > Punt Muragl Staz
«Muottas Muragl offers the visitor the best panoramic overview of Oberengadin with its beautiful valleys and lakes, along with the silver-peaked chain of mountains between Piz Palü and Piz Kesch, against the backrop of the Bergeller chain above the Maloja Pass.» These words were used in the 1905 share prospectus aimed at potential investors in the Muottas Muragl cable-car line. The railway was built two years later.
There are two halts of the Rhaetian Railway near the cable-car line. While the halt at Punt Muragl Staz once belonged to the then-independent Bernina Railway (when it was known simply as «Punt Murail BB»), the opposite bank of the river Flaz is the location of the Punt Muragl station of the Rhaetian Railway line from Samedan to Pontresina, which was opened in 1908.
Km 5.8 | 1774 metres above sea level > Pontresina station
An Alpine village with an Arab name? It has never been entirely clear whether the name Pontresina is derived from Pons Sarasina, or «Saracens’ Bridge». We do know however that the Saracens, who by the tenth century had dominated the Iberian Peninsula, made incursions into what is now the Grisons / Graubünden. Pontresina is not just marked by this historic question however, but also by a structure that has become historic in its own right: the majestic railway station building, opened in 1907, which is the largest of the Rhaetian Railway.
The station served two different railway companies for a long time: the Rhaetian Railway and the Bernina Railway. When the latter line merged with the Rhaetian Railway in 1944, the result was a single mountain railway useful for tourists and the completion of the planned power station at the southern end of the Bernina Pass. It is no surprise therefore that the Bernina Line was electrified from the very beginning, unlike the original Rhaetian-Railway-owned Albula line, which remained steam-powered until 1919.
The difference between the two railways is still apparent in the station at Pontresina: the Bernina line started off using DC power, while the Rhaetian Railway favoured AC. Platform 3 at Pontresina is in fact equipped to handle locomotives running on either type of current. Another witness of this old mode of operation is the four-track engine shed.
Km 6.3 | 1793 metres above sea level > Ova da Roseg Viaduct
South-west of Pontresina lies Val Roseg, the primeval valley in which the legendary hunter Gian Marchet Colani stalked the hard-to-catch chamois. Legend has it that Colani, the hunter and mountain guide immortalised in Jakob Christoph Heer’s 1900 novel The King of Bernina, killed over 2700 of these elusive goat-like creatures. Here, at the entrance to Val Roseg, the Bernina Line follows a gently curve to continue on over the 20-metre-wide arch of the Ova da Roseg Viaduct that crosses the river of the same name.
Km 12.2 | 1896 metres above sea level > Morteratsch station
«Mort Aratsch, Mort Aratsch!» The saying is attributed to a young woman, lamenting the loss of her beloved. Legend has it that a young herdsman cursed on hearing this lament, whereupon the glacier slid forward to cover the mountain …
The legendary lament lives on in the name of Morteratsch. But the glacier, which still towers over the station, is not sliding forward any more; it is in fact retreating. At the turn of the twentieth century, the local hotel stood almost at the foot of the glacier. There were plans even at this stage to make the village accessible. This involved building a tramway from Oberengadin to Morteratsch, but in 1908, the Bernina Railway arrived. The line from St. Moritz to here was envisaged from the beginning as an all-year-round service, which is why the station is also equipped with a siding.
Km 12.2 | 1896 metres above sea level > Ova da Morteratsch Bridge
Stone is the building material par excellence of the Grisons / Graubünden. Iron, on the other hand, is anonymous industrial stuff. This, in a nutshell, was the criticism levelled in traditional circles against the Ova da Morteratsch Bridge, built over a mountain stream known as Morteratschbach. In certain cases, especially in the case of bridges that were lower in height, stone was in fact not a suitable material. For this reason, iron was used in 1934 to rebuild the bridge, along with others further up the Bernina Line.
Km 12.4 | 1910 metres above sea level > Ova da Bernina Viaduct
The Berninabach Falls were already a tourist attraction before the railway was built. The arched stone bridge that came with the construction of the railway actually adds to the natural setting, standing not as a symbol of artifice dominating nature, but rather as a feature that forms a harmonious whole with the surrounding landscape.
Km 13.0 | 1952 metres above sea level > Montebello Curve
According to the original plan, the Bernina Railway should have followed the road that runs along the eastern slope, crossing the Ova da Bernina, the river that flows along the valley. But this was changed due to the need to provide visitors with access, via the station at Morteratsch, to the glacier of the same name. The Montebello Curve thus marks the place where the road and railway cross and diverge. This sharp switchback curve, with its tight radius of just 45 metres, is justly famous for providing train passengers with panoramic views of the surrounding glaciers.
Km 13.9 | 2015 metres above sea level > Tomato House
An early feature of this electric railway was the battery station at Montebello, which owes its name to a storehouse used to keep tomatoes in – usually in the form of purée packed in barrels – while they awaited onward transport.
Km 15.7 | 2046 metres above sea level > Bernina Suot station
An open-air turntable was built here in 1910 for the use of steam-driven snowploughs. Five years later however, the danger of avalanches made it necessary to build an engine shed with a covered turntable. Modifications were also carried out to the station master’s house, which was built in 1912 by Nicolaus Hartmann, the architect also responsible for the covered turntable. The house was built in the typical style of the Engadin region. Ten years later, the house was converted into the station building, before being extended five years after that and finally, in 1992, being replaced by a passenger shelter.
As in the early days of railway operations, the line between Bernina Suot and Bernina Lagalb still follows the road that was widened while the railway was being built, although the road itself has now been lowered. There are still traces along this section of line of the original road bridges and crossing points, which have since been widened by two metres.
Km 16.8 | 2082 metres above sea level > Bernina Diavolezza station
As the Bernina Railway was designed to follow an overland (rather than an exclusively mountain) route, it was possible to add stations at a later date. The halt at Diavolezza was thus added in 1956 to provide a connection for the then recently-inaugurated Diavolezza cable-car line. This was however not the first time that Diavolezza had been opened up to the outside world: in 1893, there was already a mountain hut at an altitude of 3000 metres, near the present location of the new mountain station of the cable-car line.
Km 17.9 | 2099 metres above sea level > Bernina Lagalb station
1962: The Lagalb cable-car line is now running. The valley station is far from the nearest populated areas, never mind the major tourist zones. This is where the Bernina Railway plays its part, with a station designed specifically to provide access to the cable-car line. The new station replaces the old Diavolezza / Alp Bondo crossing. But isn’t Bondo the name of a village in Bergell, the valley that lies to the south-west of the Maloja Pass? The name is simple to explain: The inhabitants of Bergell were, back in 1429, already doing land deals in the Bernina region. These often involved the exchange of land for chestnuts, due to the widespread hunger suffered in Oberengadin in those days.
Km 18.5 | 2117 metres above sea level > Berninabach bridges
In 1934, as a result of the danger of avalanches, this section of the Bernina Line was relaid to follow the western slope. This involved extending the section of line, which had previously measured 1.8 kilometres in length, by about 400 metres, which in turn required the construction of two new bridges over the Berninabach mountain stream: the upper and lower Berninabach bridges. They are of similar appearance to each other and also to two other iron railway bridges. Although the abutments are of stone, the bridges themselves are of simple girder construction, supported by hinged pillars.
Km 19.9 | 2224 metres above sea level > Arlas Cutting
Built in 1910, this is the largest wind-protection cutting on the Bernina Line. The need for avalanche protection became apparent after an accident involving the old stretch of line built north-west of this point, which was moved for this reason in 1934. On March 16th 1920, an avalanche resulted in the death of eight line workers. A memorial stone now marks the spot where the accident happened.
Km 21.0 | 2234 metres above sea level > Lago Bianco
1891. Two small lakes mark the high-point of the Bernina Pass. There is no trace of a railway or dam walls. But in this year, far away in Frankfurt, Germany, a new invention is presented: a system for transporting high-voltage electricity over distances of up to 175 kilometres. This heralded a boom in power-station construction, as it was now possible to transport energy to users far away from such sources as the lakes high up on the Bernina Pass. Two dam walls were built here between 1910 and 1911. The northern wall also marks the watershed. The waters to the north naturally flow via the Danube and into the Black Sea, while the waters to the south end up in the river Po and the Adriatic Sea.
In 1927, water started to flowed from the lake behind the dam, 280 metres down a high-pressure conduit and into the Palü hydroelectric power station. Some two decades later, the height of the dam wall was increased by four metres to augment the capacity of the lake to more than 18 million cubic metres. The station is supplied from a lake divided in two by a third wall, with the water coming not only from the milky-white Cambrena Glacier, but also from Palü Lake, which lies to the south of the Bernina Pass and is used for interim water storage in the summer, for pumping into Lago Bianco in the winter. As the level of Lago Bianco always drops in winter, water is also pumped from the northern, lower-lying lake into its southern counterpart.
Km 22.3 | 2253 metres above sea level >
“The Bernina Railway opens up an extensive tourist area of great significance and with magnificent countryside, which could previously only be reached with difficulty by post carriers or carriages running along tortuous valley and mountain roads, until the completion, in 1865, of the Bernina Road, which – over the years – has given rise to an ever-growing tourist industry that we wish to retain”, wrote an engineer in 1912, recalling the construction of the Bernina Railway. The new railway created enthusiasm from the very beginning, although the major structures along its route were not be built until later on. The station building and mountain inn at Bernina-Hospiz, the highest point of the Bernina Line, was not built (as an extension to an existing structure) until 1925.
The architect responsible, Nicolaus Hartmann, already had plans to construct a stone building at this point, 2253 metres above sea level. The building was to follow the neoclassical formula, with a three-cornered gabled roof and stone structure designed to do justice to the Spartan, and yet at the same time majestic, setting of the Bernina Pass.
Hartmann also designed the covered turntable that stands adjacent to the transformer station built in 1910 and the station master’s house of 1912.
Km 22.9 | 2241 metres above sea level > Lake bridge
The line originally followed the bank of the lake at this point, with a cutting to protect it from avalanches. In 1949, the railway was diverted over the bay at the end of the lake via a steel bridge designed to let drifting snow drop below it.
Km 24.5 | 2234 metres above sea level > Scala Cutting
The line once followed a loop at this point, offering breathtaking views of Puschlav. In 1924 however, the track was rerouted over an embankment to protect it from the rigours of winter. An earthwork of this type had in fact been envisaged in the original design, but it had been ruled out for financial reasons. Traces of the old track can still be seen as the train crosses the original route, which continued to be used as a siding until 1941. The Scala Cutting, which dates from 1911 and thus from the early days of the Bernina Railway, consists of concrete-clad walls and a corrugated-metal roof designed to protect the original loop of track.
Km 25.2 | 2185 metres above sea level > Lunga Cutting
At 631 metres in length, the Lunga Cutting is in fact a combination of the Pozzo del Drago and Scala tunnels and the adjacent Sassal Mason cuttings.
Km 27.0 | 2091 metres above sea level > Alp Grüm
The station building and inn at Alp Grüm form a fine part of the mountain landscape, standing before the looming presence of the Palü Glacier. The natural-stone brickwork of the buildings fully expresses the respect for nature that the structures, despite their imposing size, were designed to encompass. The architect responsible, Nicolaus Hartmann, took into account the burgeoning possibilities of modern techniques when he accepted the commission in 1923. This can be seen in the balcony on the side facing the valley, which consists of thin concrete panels with an elegant iron railing. The structure, though it appears somewhat «gentrified» in this rough mountain setting, provides an excellent viewing point for visitors.
The exposed position also made the buildings necessary in order to provide protection for the railway. Just after Alp Grüm, the Rhaetian Railway runs through the 264-metre-long Grüm Cutting. Beneath the station, a section of curving track on a matching embankment, known as the Rotonda, offers impressive views of the area around Cavaglia, Puschlav and the distant Bergamasker Alps.
Km 27.6 | 2049 metres above sea level > Palü Tunnel
Despite the mountainous terrain that it has to tackle, the Bernina Line passes through relatively few tunnels. By way of comparison, the Albula Line runs through 42 tunnels on the section between St. Moritz and Thusis. The Bernina Line includes just thirteen tunnels in all. One of these is the Palü Tunnel, a helical structure of 24 metres in length, with avalanche-protection cuttings at both ends, the Upper and Lower Palü cuttings respectively, which are each nearly as long as the actual tunnel.
Km 28.6 | 1923 metres above sea level > Palü power station
Thanks to its prominent position, this building – which resembles the keep of a mediaeval castle – can be seen from the train on several parts of its run. The industrial purpose of this building, which was designed by Nicolaus Hartmann, is barely discernible from the outside, giving little idea of the mighty machines housed within.
The amounts of force handled here are nevertheless impressive. Water from Lago Bianco on the Bernina Pass reaches the Palü power station, via a special conduit, at a pressure of 28 bar, i.e. more than eight times that of a garden hose. When the station is running at full capacity, 4500 litres of water flow into it every second, causing its turbines to rotate at a speed of around 150 kilometres per hour.
Km 29.5 | 1934 metres above sea level > Stablini Crossing station and tunnel
The crossing station, which was rebuilt in 2001, had previously been in operation from 1913 to 1960. Although the station was not in use from the Bernina Line’s very beginning, the inclined section on the natural terrace just below the 289-metre-long Stablini Tunnel had already been flattened out for the construction of the line.
As with nearly all crossing stations, Stablini is also the site of a current rectifier designed to supply the network with 1000 volts of DC power. The rectifiers are in turn supplied via a 23,000-volt cable from Campocologno, which normally runs in parallel with the railway line. Alternating current was originally converted into direct current with transformers and then with mercury-vapour rectifiers, which have since been replaced with silicon units.
Km 29.9 | 1906 metres above sea level > Val da Pila helical tunnel
The route followed by the rails belies the mountainous terrain, as the Bernina Line curves back and forth to cheat the incline of the Bernina Pass. Despite this steepness, tunnels are not always required. However, the 227-metre-long Val da Pila tunnel, along with the adjacent footpath that runs from one entrance to the other, date from when the line was being built.
Km 31.7 | 1780 metres above sea level > Val da Pila curved viaduct
In the early days of mountain-railway construction, natural valley confluences were used as artificial line extensions in an attempt to even out excessive inclines. This use of this technique is evident on the Semmering and Brenner railways, and also on some parts of the Pennsylvania Railway. A good example of this can also be found on the northern section of the Bernina Railway, on the stretch of line at the entrance to the valley of Val Roseg. There is another example on the Val da Pila stretch of the southern section. This is also the location of the curving viaduct of Val da Pila, with its three ten-metre arches. Despite the pronounced sloping movement, the viaduct could be supported by rebuilding the lower abutment, which threatened to crush the arch, and fitting the permanent way with a stabilising section.
Km 33.1 | 1692 metres above sea level > Cavaglia
The high expanse of Cavaglia is a picturesque sight, dotted here and there with traces of its old irrigation system. At the northern edge of the forested area, there is another building connected with water: the Cavaglia hydroelectric power station, designed by architect Nicolaus Hartmann as a mixture of a castle (evident in the large gateway) and a typical Engadin house.
In 1912, a private hotel was built beside the line. It was acquired in 1925 by the Bernina Railway and converted into a station office and waiting room. At the north end of the station, we can still see the building that formerly housed the buffer battery used to provide the line with extra power for the steep climb up the southern section of the Bernina Pass. Looking up from the station, we can see – high up on the mountainside – the outward curves of Stablini and Alp Grüm.
Km 35.8 | 1503 metres above sea level > Upper Cavagliasco Tunnel
The Cavagliasco Tunnel might be short, but it was extremely difficult to build. The section was meant to run just 32 metres into the mountain, but it required two-metre-thick walls to ensure that the structure could withstand earth movements. But the walls alone were not enough: In 1968, it became necessary to split the tunnel and build a secure reinforcing wall.
Km 35.6 | 1517 metres above sea level > Cavagliasco bridges
In the original plan, there was to have been a single large loop-back curve above Poschiavo to carry the line onwards to Bernina. This would have involved two crossings of the wild valley of Val Varuna. The decision was thus taken to include a series of tighter curves in the area of the Cadera Alpine hut, with the intention of having to cross the Cavagliasco Gorge only once. Two identical bridges (both with two-metre arches, making them the biggest viaducts on the Bernina Line) once went over the gorge. Both of them have since had to be replaced. The upper Cavagliasco Viaduct was replaced with a reinforced-concrete and composite bridge in 1989, while the lower
Cavagliasco Viaduct was substituted by a steel-trellis structure in 2002.
Km 43.6 | 1014 metres above sea level > Poschiavo railway station
When through-train operations began on the Bernina Line in 1910, there were few large station buildings along the railway. The biggest ones between Tirano and St. Moritz were those of Pontresina and Poschiavo. The two stations served as operational and technical centres for the sections of line to the north and south of the Bernina Pass respectively. However, while the station at Pontresina belonged to the Rhaetian Railway from the very beginning, Poschiavo – now the site of a station building designed by architect Theodor Hartmann – dates in its present form only from 1962. The workshop buildings and engine sheds on the other side of the tracks still bear witness to the early days. The workshop continues to play a key part in the maintenance of the railway’s rolling stock.
Km 48.2 | 962 metres above sea level > Lago di Poschiavo
The steep mountainsides provide the evidence: Lago di Poschiavo, bordered to the south by the villages of Miralago and by Le Prese in the north, exists thanks to a prehistoric landslide. A particularly picturesque section of the Bernina Railway has run along the banks of the lake since 1908 – using sections of the old road, which protrudes out from under the rocks in places, to be held up by pillar supports.
Km 51.1 | 965 metres above sea level > Poschiavino Bridge at Miralago
The Poschiavino, the approximately 30-kilometre-long river that flows along the valley, runs from its source near the Forcola di Livigno Pass to Tirano, where it flows into the Adda. At Miralago, the railway crosses it on a 22-metre-wide steel-trellis bridge dating from when the line was built.
Km 51.2 | 960 metres above sea level > Brusio-Miralago embankments
The section between Brusio and Miralago is subject to rock falls. This danger has led to it now having a unique, protective feature: The embankments at this point were built using sections of paving, which makes them both high-quality examples of workmanship in their own right and, given their overall size, the only structures of their type in the canton of the Grisons / Graubünden.
Km 54.8 | 717 metres above sea level > Brusio Circular Viaduct
The outstanding aesthetics and gentle poetic harmony with the surrounding landscape of the Circular Viaduct at Brusio make it the one of the main landmarks of the Bernina Line. The actual viaduct, on which the track describes a quarter-circle with a radius of 70 metres, is however only one part of a grand design: This section of the line is spiral in shape, allowing the line to double back and pass through the fourth of the nine arches of its own viaduct.
The spiralling railway line, with which the viaduct and its regularly-spaced ten-metre-wide arches seems effortlessly to stand in harmony, was however not designed merely to please the eye; its purpose is to extend the line artificially and allow trains to tackle a considerable difference in height within a confined space.
The incline is nevertheless seventy millimetres per metre at this point. When building railway lines for steam locomotives, it was assumed that a rack system would be required for any incline in excess of 50 millimetres per metre. The Bernina Line was however electrified from the start, allowing it to cope, using conventional wheel adhesion, with an extra 20 millimetres per metre of incline. And the line manages to tackle a considerable difference in height in a particularly stylish way, thanks to the Circular Viaduct of Brusio.
Km 57.9 | 553 metres above sea level >
Campocologno hydroelectric power station
A border village with a gigantic, high-pressure hydroelectric power station that was then the biggest of its type in Europe: this was Campocologno in around 1906/1907. A striking landmark of the time was the six-line pressure conduit designed to carry water from Lago di Poschiavo, via a surge tank, to the machines in the turbine hall, which was in turn housed in a 100-metre-long building of impressive proportions. The station was already running at an increased capacity of 30,000 kilowatt-hours soon after its inauguration.
Progress really made itself felt here in Campocologno, with this demonstration of the force of technology in the midst of the wild landscape. While Poschiavo is more famous today for its natural attractions, the newspapers of the day were full of their visiting reporters’ accounts of what was going on at Campocologno. The station was extended in 1950 to include a second plant, and the old building was replaced in 1969. The six-line pressure conduit also stopped being a feature of the landscape, as it was replaced with a single pipe. The original building – once the largest of its kind – from the pioneering days of hydroelectric power therefore no longer exists, although Poschiavo is still the home of the historic power plants at Palü and Cavaglia.
Km 57.6 | 553 metres above sea level > Campocologno railway station
While the Bernina Line was still being built, the decision was take to equip Campocologno with a proper station building, rather than the simple halt originally planned. The reason for this is clear: Campocologno stands on the border between Italy and Switzerland. The present station building, with its slight hint of Italian baroque, was not actually built until 1948, four years after the Bernina Line merged with the Rhaetian Railway.
A structure to the south of the station and customs building, designed by the St. Moritz architect Arnold Rietmann, encapsulated the entire history of the Bernina line. This is the old transformer building, which has meanwhile also been used as a cattle pen for keeping export livestock in. The building is not merely a witness to the early use of electricity instead of steam for powering railways; it also marks the significance of the railway as a means of moving goods. The Bernina Line was in fact not originally planned to be purely a tourist attraction, even though the area of unique natural beauty through which it runs ended up having this effect.
Km 60.7 | 429 metres above sea level > Tirano railway station
1927. The Bernina Line has been running here for two decades now, and its southern terminus is finally being adorned with a new station, of an urban design reminiscent of both the Italian liberty style and art deco. During the same decade and 1500 metres up in the heights of the Bernina Pass, other important railway buildings, such as those at Alp Grüm or Bernina-Hospiz, have also been constructed.
Now that the Bernina Line has long been world-famous, the station handles some 200,000 passengers every year. These are in addition to the 55,000 metric tons of timber that are transported from here. Onward rail connections are provided by the Ferrovia Alta Valtellina, which has been connecting Tirano with Sondrio since 1902, and which now forms part of Trenitalia, the Italian state railway network.
Facts to the Bernina Line
Start of building work: July 1906
> Pontresina – Morteratsch, Poschiavo – Tirano: 1st July 1908
> Celerina Staz – Pontresina, Morteratsch – Bernina Suot: 18th August 1908
> St.Moritz – Celerina Staz, Bernina Suot – Ospizio Bernina: 1st July 1909
> Ospizio Bernina – Poschiavo: 5th July 1910
(Total length of Bernina Line)
Initial construction costs: CHF 11,698,000
Construction costs per kilometre: CHF 192,760
Power system: 1000V DC
Line length: 60,688 m
Min./max. heights above sea level: 429.3 metres above sea level (Tirano) / 2253 metres above sea level (Ospizio Bernina)
Maximum incline: 70 ‰
Minimum curve radius: 45 m
Tunnels and cuttings: 13
Total length: 4072 m
Longest tunnel: 839 m
Proportion of length of line: 6.7 %
Bridges: 52 (span width ≥ 2 m)
Total width: 722 m
Longest bridge: 116 m
Original rail type: 24.3 kg/m
Current rail type: 46 kg/m
Original length of rail: 12 m
Current length of rail: 30 m
The Rail Service of the Rhaetian Railway can be reached daily from 7 am to 7 pm 7 days a week. Whatever you want to know about, be it flat-rate fare offers or special trains, prices of season or standard tickets, we are glad to helb you.