The first train hurtled through the Lötschberg Tunnel in 1913. Thanks to the railway tunnel, the journey time from German-speaking Switzerland to Valais was significantly reduced. A major advantage for the Gornergrat Railway.
110 years ago, the railway company BLS opened the 14.6 km Lötschberg Tunnel, a connection between the cantons of Bern and Valais. The railway tunnel between Kandersteg and Goppenstein is the heart of the Lötschberg mountain line and has significantly reduced travel time between the regions since it was opened.
Three and a half hours less travel time
The new connection was very much to the advantage of the Gornergrat Railway. The book “Gornergrat Chronicle” states:
“The Swiss still don’t visit the Gornergrat enough! […] You can see the reason in the time-consuming trip there: eleven hours from Zurich to Zermatt, eight hours from Bern. The opening of the Lötschberg railway will cut travel times from Northern and Eastern Switzerland by 3.5 hours.”
And it helped. The 1913 annual report of the Gornergrat Railway states that the opening of the Lötschberg Tunnel, which took place in the middle of the summer season, resulted in a pleasing increase in passenger numbers.
Fifty million loaded cars
The option of travelling under the Lötschberg by car was increasingly used as private transport increased: in the autumn of 1970, BLS celebrated its millionth car using the transport service. An occasion that was fittingly celebrated:
Traffic on the Lötschberg rolling road has increased dramatically over the years. In 1960 there were 13,000 cars, 10 years later one million and in 2018 50 million cars were loaded onto the train at Lötschberg.
Valais is becoming a suburb
The 34.6-kilometre Lötschberg Base Tunnel was opened in 2007 as part of the major Swiss project “New Railway Link through the Alps” (NRLA), which aims to improve north-south transit traffic by rail. As a result, travel time for passenger transport was reduced enormously. In figures: the 74-kilometre journey from Spiez to Brig or vice versa takes 33 minutes instead of the previous 56. As a result, Valais became an agglomeration of Bern, Zurich and Basel.