Switzerland’s first electric cog-wheel railway has been travelling from Zermatt up to the Gornergrat since 1898, enabling visitors to enjoy a comfortable view of the ‘mountain of mountains’ – the Matterhorn. For the first thirty years the cog-wheel train only operated in summer but in 1929 it began to operate all year round.
The downward trip provides energy thanks to regeneration
Since 1898 the Gornergrat railway has been making use of the energy that is generated when the train is going downhill. It works like this: the motor coaches are fitted with asynchronous motors.
On the upward journey the asynchronous machine runs sub-synchronously; this means it takes its electricity from the overhead cables to power the train. The sub-synchronous machine works like a motor.
On the downward journey the same sub-synchronous machine runs over-synchronously and it releases energy. The released energy flows back to the cable network providing electricity for other trains, or alternatively, it is sent back to the transformer in Findelbach to the EWZ electricity company.
Three downward-running trains regenerate enough power to supply one or two-upward running trains!