Over 150 people evacuated by helicopter after Niesenbahn breaks down
Over 150 people were evacuated from a mountain in Switzerland on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, after a technical fault was detected on the local mountain railway. Those stranded on the Niesen in Canton Bern were airlifted to safety by the emergency services, with authorities now saying it is unclear when Niesen Railway (Niesenbahn) services will resume.
Niesen Railway in Switzerland breaks down
According to a report from 20 Minuten, the operation began after a technical fault was detected on the Niesen Railway at 6.50pm on Saturday evening. The fault occurred between the half-station and the railways’ terminus near Lake Thun. Engineers told the newspaper that the defect was likely related to the train's electrics, meaning services could no longer continue between the valley floor and half-station.
As a result, between 6.50pm and 7.30pm, the Niesen Railway began to ferry passengers down the mountain using an emergency backup. Unfortunately, it was then that the emergency service itself broke down, leaving hundreds still stranded at half station.
Over 150 people airlifted to safety by Rega
As a result, Niesen Railway called Rega which then deployed two rescue helicopters to help airlift guests to safety. 150 were taken from half-station by helicopter to Reichenbach Airport, and were then given taxis or bus tickets to get them home. The operation ended at 1.30am with all guests safe and accounted for - although 25 guests at a nearby mountain hotel were also airlifted into the valley on Sunday morning.
Speaking to Blick, the managing director of the Niesenbahn, Urs Wohler, said that they are still trying to fix the fault with the original train and the emergency backup. Sadly, those looking to use one of the longest funiculars in the world on August 21 will have to wait, as authorities confirmed that services are yet to resume as their “troubleshooting has not progressed far enough.”