Pilatus Bahnen new railcar

SWITZERLAND: The world’s steepest rack railway is to introduce new rolling stock and modernise its stations to enable an increase in services.

Pilatus Bahnen has ordered eight passenger railcars and a freight vehicle for its 800 mm gauge line, which uses the Locher rack system to climb 1 635 m in 4·62 km.

The railcars have been designed by Küchler Design and will be manufactured by Stadler, with a control system developed by Actemium LeitTec.

The vehicles are scheduled to be delivered between summer 2021 and May 2023, ready for use from the summer 2023 season.

Pilatus Bahnen new railcar

The cars will be ‘stylish vehicles with high-quality materials’, said Chairman Bruno Thürig. They will have panoramic windows and a capacity of 48 passengers, and will use regenerative braking on the downhill run to reduce electricity consumption by 30% compared to the current fleet of Bhe1/2 vehicles manufactured by SLM in 1937, two of which will be retained.

Services are to be increased, with pairs of railcars running every 30 min between Alpnachstad and Pilatus Kulm. The maximum speed on the uphill trip will be increased from 12 to 15 km/h and the journey time reduced from 30 to 19 min, while the speed on the downhill trip will be increased from 9 to 12 km/h and the journey time reduced from 40 to 28 min.

Alpnachstad station will be modernised with a second platform to remove the need to shunt trains, while a lift and widened waiting hall will improve accessibility at Pilatus Kulm.

‘This is adventure travel in the 21st century combined with state-of-the-art passenger safety’, said CEO Godi Koch.

The SFr55m investment is being largely financed through the operator’s own funds, although it is not fully self-funded because of revenue shortfalls during the coronavirus pandemic.