Friday, 12 September 2014

Blindly following the GPS: car meets train in the Lötschberg tunnel

So we were driving from Zurich to Saas Grund, going wherever Google Maps tells us.  After a stop at a cafe for lunch run by the world's surliest Swiss German woman we started climbing up into the mountains.  We saw some strange train cars next to the road and the conversation went like this:
Me: "Huh, those are weird train cars"
E: "Looks like there's a toll"
Me: "Holy shit it's 24 francs, that's crazy expensive even for Switzerland!"
E: "Wait, is this a train?"
Me: "What?"
E: "Look at the sign, it has cars on a train!"
Me: "Shit, we don't want to get on a train, we just want to drive there..."
E: "Hi, we want to go to Visp, is this the right way?"
Swiss lady: "Yes, 24 francs"
E: "We don't want to take the train, we want to drive there"
Swiss lady: "No, no more road, train"
E: "But.."
Swiss lady: "24 francs"
E: "OK..."
After we'd paid our money it was painfully obvious that she was absolutely right, there was a giant mountain with a train tunnel in it and no more road. Ah, OK, I guess we're going on a train then! In defence of Google Maps it does actually say "this route includes a car transport" :)

Loading cars onto the train
"Put the car in park, apply the handbrake, and turn off the engine". You can't get out of the car while it's on the train.
Passing another train before entering the Lötschberg Tunnel, completed in 1913.  There's also another much newer and larger tunnel, the Lötschberg Base Tunnel that runs 400m below this one!
Inside the tunnel.  No lights, barely wide enough for a train in each direction.  The kids freaked out a little and we had to turn on the car's internal light.  It was a weird experience!  The actual travel time was about 20min, almost all of which is inside the tunnel.
Emerging at Goppenstein.
This was a completely unplanned but very fun way to get to our destination. Highly recommend it!

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