The idea of linking Lake Geneva, Gstaad and Lakes Thun and Brienz dates back to 1873. It was already a question of linking three major tourist regions.
In the end, the routes were built differently: metric (1 m) between Montreux and Zweisimmen and normal (1.435 m) between Zweisimmen and Interlaken.
The project has resurfaced several times. In 1924, the GoldenPass association was created. And in the 1930s, they were thinking of building a third rail.
MOB relaunches the project
At the end of the 2000s, the MOB starts on a totally different concept: instead of changing the rails, modify the bogies, those removable carriages that guide the cars. With a variable-gauge bogie and a gauge ramp, the train will be able to move from one track to the other. The principle is as simple in theory as it is difficult to achieve in practice.
Since the beginning of 2019, the MOB has carried out numerous tests. The variable gauge trucks travelled 2783 km on metric track and 742 km on standard track. They also passed the Zweisimmen gauge station 1020 times. A success!
In the final stretch
- 58 bogies were manufactured by Alstom.
- 19 cars were ordered from Stadler’s.
- 3 classes: the cars will include a 1st class and a 2nd class, as well as a premium class. They will benefit from a catering area.
- 4 disabled accessible cars will join the GoldenPass Express fleet.
- 76 million francs: the approximate cost of the operation.
The MOB, which is carrying out this project together with the BLS, can count on several partners, starting with the cantons of Vaud, Bern and Fribourg and the Federal Office of Transport.
The MOB is looking for an industrial partner to realize its concept. Alstom is the designated company. From January 2019, four prototypes are delivered and tested.
In Zweisimmen, the gauge ramp is built.
Only the cars are equipped with the famous bogies. This supposes that one locomotive will tow the train between Montreux and Zweisimmen and another one between Zweisimmen and Interlaken.
A train designed by PininFarina
The GoldenPass Express, which is out of the ordinary in many ways, also had to stand out for its aesthetics. With this in mind, the MOB has entrusted the design to the prestigious PininFarina workshops. The colours are inspired by the great European express trains of the end of the 19th century, while remaining modern.
The GoldenPass Express is launched at Stadler
It is in Bussnang (Thurgau), in the Stadler workshops, that the future train is manufactured. The first vehicles should be delivered soon.
The new prestige class, a must
- In addition to a 1st and 2nd class, the GoldenPass Express will offer a prestige class.
- The eighteen seats rotate so that you can enjoy the view to the fullest. They will offer exceptional comfort.
- The panoramic windows will be exceptionally large. The prestige part will be raised. The passenger will be practically inside the landscape.
- A catering service will propose an offer based on local products.
- March 2019 – February 2020: carrying out the tests.
- Spring – summer 2020: delivery of the first crates by Stadler.
- 2020-2021: type-approval and certification of the 19 new cars equipped with the bogies.
- 2021: Completion of the track gauge ramps on tracks 6 and 7 at Zweisimmen station.
- 13 June 2021: First commercial GoldenPass Express trip.
An exceptional project
- For technology: changing distance (+43%) and height in a few seconds is completely new.
- For tourism: a direct train service between Montreux, Gstaad and Interlaken will increase the attractiveness of three tourist centres. Montreux will get closer to the Jungfrau and Lucerne. The realization of an old dream.
- For MOB customers: the introduction of the GoldenPass Express will increase the offer by around 15%. The commuters will benefit significantly in terms of speed.
- For the Swiss railway landscape: this project removes the barrier between metric and standard gauge. It’s like crossing the border between the land of mountain railways and the land of fast trains. This opens up promising prospects.