The opening of the railway to Zermatt promotes tourism

Story 91

The Visp-Zermatt Railway went into operation in 1891. This significantly shortened the journey time to Zermatt and the number of visitors to the Gornergrat increased rapidly. This gave rise to the idea of building a railway to the summit. 

Zermatt – accessible by train 

The Visp-Zermatt Railway first reached Zermatt in July 1891. For the first 40 years or so, the railway only ran in summer. In 1892, the steam train, which was electrified in 1929, was already transporting 38,000 passengers. The previous nine-hour journey from Visp to Zermatt was reduced to two and a half hours. Parallel to the increase in the number of travellers, the number of hotel beds in Zermatt also increased steadily following the development. In 1895, the hotels in Zermatt were already offering 1,170 beds. 

Gornergrat as a vantage point 

The number of visitors to the Gornergrat area increased significantly, even though at that time the Gornergrat was only accessible on foot or with the help of horses, mules and porters. Friedrich August Volmar, a Bernese transport politician and professor of traffic law, wrote in the 1958 Gornergrat Chronicle: “Only a modern means of transport was able to cope with the increase in demand summer for summer.” As early as 1892, rail infrastructure projects were launched. In an advertisement published in the Tagblatt newspaper of the city of St. Gallen in 1896, those responsible described the advantages and opportunities of a railway up the Gornergrat as follows: “The Gornergrat (3,136 metres above sea level) is the most visited vantage point in Zermatt (1,607 metres above sea level) and created like no other to show visitors the splendour and majesty of the Alpine world.” 

Opportunities thanks to the Visp-Zermatt Railway 

In the same article, readers also learned: “Since the opening of the Visp-Zermatt Railway, the frequency of hotels in Zermatt and the surrounding area has doubled, and it can be assumed that after the opening of the line on the Gornergrat, there will be an even greater flow of visitors, not to mention the further increase that the opening of the Simplon line would bring.” The successful development of the Matterhorn village by the Visp-Zermatt Railway accelerated the construction of the Gornergrat Railway, which went into operation in 1898. 

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