Trainpics: Switzerland - Bernina

The Bernina-line of the Rhätische Bahn is not only the steepest adhesion-only line crossing the Alps, it is also the highest alpine (railway-) crossing which doesn't have a tunnel on its peak. This gallery is about the northern part of the line, which runs from St. Moritz via Pontresina, the Berninapass and Poschiavo to the  Italian town of Tirano. Take a seat and enjoy the ride up to an altitude of 2.253 m (7.392 ft.) ...

On the left ABe4/4 41 and 56 have almost reached Pontresina (4th October 1991).

Not yet very steep is the line between Celerina Staz and Pontresina, so that ABe4/4 53 on the 4th October 1991 (left) and ABe4/4 52 and 42 on October 3rd, 1991, (right) don't have any difficulties hauling their trains.

The snow-caps on the mountains in the backdrop remind locals and tourists, that winter is near ...

The line continues to Morteratsch through Val Bernina, the Bernina valley. The line runs close to the mountains on the western side of the valley, to avoid the swampy grounds near the stream Ova da Bernina. There's already a glance of the first fall colours, as ABe4/4 52 is rolling downhill between Surovas and Morteratsch on October 5th, 1991. Just a little earlier, ABe4/4 56 has been passing in the opposite direction.
South of Bernina Lagalp we're above the tree-line - only a few trees can survive in remote places at this altitude. Otherwise, there's just brown grass, rocks and rubble.

As the valley is getting wider, the line makes a large loop to gain height. The old electric railcars ABe4/4 31 and 32 with just one sinlge coach are on their way to Alp Grüm on October 5th, 1991. Whilst in 1991 all through-trains were operated by the series 41-49 and 51-56, which have been built in the 60s to 80s, the over 80-year-old railcars were still used on this service.

On the 5th October 1991, ABe4/4 45 and 46 roll through the loop near Bernina Lagalp (left).

On the right, a railcar of the 41 to 49 series and ABe 4/4 53 struggle to get their train up the hill (3rd October 1991). On the Bernina-line freightcars are usually attached to passenger trains, until these reach their allowed maximaum weight. This train has a bunch of tankcars at its end.

At the upper end of the loop, there is a (almost american looking) steel-trestle, on which the line crosses a small gorge.
On the left, Gem4/4 801, one of two dual-mode-locomotives of the Berninabahn, is coasting downhill together with ABe4/4 51 on the 3rd October 1991. ABe4/4 48 and 49 have crossed the bridge with the southbound Bernina-Express some minutes earlier (right).
A number of flatcars full of wood are attached to the end of this train, that is hauled by ABe4/4 51 on the 5th Oktober 1991 south of Bernina Lagalp (left). The long passenger train with ABe4/4 41 and 48 on the point does not allow extra freightcars to be attached (4th October 1991).
Some minutes ago ABe4/4 45 has left the top of the pass and thus the station Ospizio Bernina. For now the descent is not very steep. But soon the engineer will have to apply the brakes to keep the train at a gentle speed. ( October 3rd, 1991).
Near Ospizio Bernina the line runs along the Lago Bianco and the much smaller Lej Nair. Why the two lakes have got these names, which mean "white lake" and "black lake" in English, is pretty obvious if you look at the upper left image.

ABe4/4 41 and 56 haul a long passenger train along the lakes on the 3rd day of October 1991 (upper left). On the upper right, ABe4/4 48 and 49 navigate around the curves with the Bernina-Express on October 4th, 1991.

On the lower two photos, we meet ABe4/4 31 and 32 again, as they travel to Alp Grüm on 4th October 1991.

Shortly, ABe4/4 46 and 45 will arrive at the summit on October 4th, 1991 (left); whilst ABe4/4 42 and 52 have just left Ospizio Bernina - a few hours earlier on the same day.

At the summit our ride up the Bernina pass ends for now. Who still has not seen enough of the red RhB trains in the mountains, there are some winter-pics down below ...

In Winter, you can get great shots of the Bernina-line, too. But, with several feet of snow, temperatures well below the freezing point and strong winds, warm clothing is an absolut must. Also, one should never walk alone when leaving the public roads in these adverse conditions.
A selection of what one can accomplish if one obeys the above rules can be seen here.

On the left, ABe4/4 41 and 48 leave Morteratsch on February 26th, 1991 and start to climb up to the top of the pass at the maximum gradient.

ABe4/4 45 + 47, Bernina Lagalb,
February 17th, 1991

ABe4/4 53, Bernina Lagalp,
February 26th, 1991

ABe4/4 47 + 45, Bernina Lagalp,
February 27th, 1991

Abe4/4 54, Bernina Lagalp,
February 26th, 1991

ABe4/4 56, Bernina Lagalp, February 26th, 1991

ABe4/4 47 + 45, Bernina Lagalp,
February 26th, 1991

ABe4/4 56, Bernina Lagalp,
February 27th, 1991

ABe4/4 51, Bernina Lagalp,
February 26th, 1991

Abe4/4 51, Bernina Lagalp,
February 27th, 1991

ABe4/4 41 + 48, Ospizio Bernina,
February 26th, 1991

ABe4/4 44+51, Ospizio Bernina,
February 26th, 1991

ABe4/4 48 + 41, Ospizio Bernina,
February 26th, 1991

Last update: 09th June 2002