From the first station, passengers actually only had to climb around 120 metres in altitude to the summit of the Gornergrat. But that was not an easy task for them because they were not used to the altitude. Theodor Ammann, Director of Operations at Gornergrat Railway at the time, knew they had to find a solution.
The first Gornergrat Railway summit station was 71 metres lower than today. From there, passengers had to walk a distance of several hundred metres to the Kulmhotel covering a difference of 113 metres in altitude.
For many passengers, the route was difficult to overcome as they were not used to the thin air at this altitude. That’s why between 1898 and 1909, professional chair carriers picked the rail passengers up at the terminus. For a fee, they carried them to the summit of the Gornergrat within 15 to 20 minutes.
Employees provided Theodor Ammann, Director of Operations at Gornergrat Railway, with feedback from passengers on a regular basis. The suggestions mainly concerned getting from the terminus to the hotel, the insufficient restoration and the hotel, which detracted from the view. The first hotel was built in 1894 on what is now the viewing platform, the highest point on the Gornergrat ridge.
Start of construction work
As early as 1905, Ammann began negotiations internally and with the municipality of Zermatt to move the Gornergrat Railway’s terminus further up the mountain. An agreement was finalised in 1907 and construction began on the railway extension and the new station building.
In compliance with the building permit, the construction materials for the railway embankment, in particular the stones, had to be used from the surrounding area.
From 1 June 1909, the train travelled to the terminus which was then 71 metres higher than the original. This improvement was appreciated by all visitors to the Gornergrat without exception. Ammann was satisfied.
Traces of the old station
The buildings of the old Gornergrat station remained intact for some time and served as accommodation for workers when they had to clear snow or carry out maintenance. The tracks and overhead lines were dismantled.