Furka - Gletsch

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Report about the journey Furka - Vertex tunnel - Muttbach - Gletsch

Furka-vertex tunnel

After the order of departure the cobalt blue train disappears in the Furka vertex tunnel which starts immediately after the station. The tunnel is crossed today with signals. In the open observation coaches shutters protect against smoke nuisance. The 1874 m long tunnel passes under the 2758m high Blauberg mountain. This mountain range forms the border between the cantons of Uri and Wallis und the Furka road pass..

The geological conditions in the tunnel did not  give difficulties only during its construction in 1923-1916. The restoration in 1990s required a big effort also. That's why the through line from Realp  to Gletsch could open on 14th July 2000 only.

After about 10minutes of driving through the dark vertex tunnel, sunbeams announce the western tunnel portal , which leaves the train into the mountainous Wallis.

 Crossing station Muttbach-Belvédère (2120 m)

Directly after the tunnel mouth another station allows a crossing of trains. The station is built on the excavated material of the vertex tunnel and has got its name from the creek coming down at the left hand side from the Mutt glacier. The term Belvedere refers to the famous lookout point up near the Rhone glacier and the ice grotto, where the hotel with the same name thrones.   

The landscape here is under European protection and ensures enthusiasm and admiration. After the last switch of the crossing station the descent run begins with the 1 to 8,5 gradient, again with a Abt rack rail. Stomping and hissing the train composition drives downhill . The steam is also used for braking of the 44to heavy locomotive. But also the gear wheels of the coaches help to keep the slow speed. On the right hand side the hill leads down to the bottom of the valley overgrown with a rare flora.

Level crossing of Muttbach

On the right hand side you can see now the road coming down from the Furka pass, road we will cross soon. Lots of people remember the former level crossing which for car drivers was an annoying obstacle with the rack rail slightly higher than the road level and which had to be crossed very carefully, especially dangerous also for cyclists. After the vertex tunnel, this level crossing was the second major challenge for the DFB which had to be solved with reasonable costs. First a subway was planned but because of the high cost rejected. The solution was finally found in modifying the gradients of the railway line so that the part over the road could be built without the rack between the rails.

The steam train has now reached the level crossing Muttbach. Formerly with red warning flags, now protected with traffic lights, activated by the locomotive driver by radio.

Again with a gradient 1 to 9 we drive down to Gletsch. At your right, high up you can see the road to the Furka pass which in nice summer days is full of motor cars, post and other busses, motor bikers and cyclists. You can also see the hotel Belvedere which today marks the end of the Rhone glacier with its ice grotto. The hotel was built before the railway line and could be reached at that ime by horse coach or by foot only.  There it  is possible to visit the 100m long ice grotto or to make a guided hiking tour over the glacier.

 Historical settlement of Gletsch

The train is approaching Gletsch and on the right hand side the so called Blauhaus (Blue house) and the former Seiler Hotel Glacier are visible. The train reduces its speed. A second time the Furka pass road must be crossed.  A traffic light stops the road traffic so that the train after having left the rack rail, can carefully cross the road. The train enters the station area of Gletsch (1762m) with a shrill whistle. About 90 minutes have passed since the train has started in Realp. The guests who haf left here the train walk over the Rhone on a steel bridge to the station building. There is the DFB kiosk where interesting souvenirs are presented.   The yellow PostBus  stops for the Grimsel pass to Meiringen or for the Furka pass to Realp and Andermatt are located at the main road. It is also recommended to walk along  the nature trail  in the Gletschboden (plane of the valley)  to discover the flora.

The steam train continues, after a short stop in Gletsch, its journey in direction of Oberwald.



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