Working with your own hydropower

Story 40

The Gornergrat Railway is a technical masterpiece. The decision to operate it as an electric cog railway was evolutionary at the time. But that’s not all: the management wanted to generate the electricity for the railway from hydropower. It was a courageous step because electricity was not a given in the mountains back then. 

Responsible tasks 

The two employees Bernhard and Peter were aware of the importance of their duties. Bernhard was the man for everything to do with water. He was responsible for taking the water from the Findelbach stream and designed his own frame for the pressure line to the waterworks. The excess water formed the beautiful waterfall in front of the power station. Bernhard had to remove the sand from the water frame every day until an automatic desanding plant was built in 1922.  

Powerhouse in Zermatt 

As an electrician, Peter supervised electricity production at the headquarters. Right from the start, it delivered a voltage of 40 hertz. The water powered three generators, each with 180 kilovoltamperes (KVA). In 1929, the power plant was expanded by five transformer stations and voltage increased to 50 hertz. 

From power generator to event venue 

In 1933, the hydropower plant was shut down. Since then, the Gornergrat Railway has obtained 100% of its hydropower from the Zermatt power plant. 

In 2014, the headquarters was converted into an event venue called “Turbina” and it is still a popular venue for parties and events today. The old generators can still be admired.

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