Rail replacement helicopter service takes off in Switzerland

Rail replacement helicopter service takes off in Switzerland

In most countries around the world, a “replacement service” is public transport’s annoying uncle, as instead of a high-speed train or flight, you know you’ll be resigned to hours of trundling bus rides and missed connections. However, one community in Switzerland has turned this relationship on its head, with a helicopter now being used to replace a mountain railway.

Swiss mountain railway replaced with helicopter service

It’s likely the most extravagant public transport service in Switzerland right now: tourists and the residents of the town of Linthal, Canton Glarus are now able to use a helicopter to reach the car-free ski resort and village of Braunwald high above them in the valley. The new service will be in operation while major renovations are made to the Braunwaldbahn, the mountain railway that usually operates on the route.

Anyone with a public transport ticket to or from Braunwald will be able to use the helicopter while repairs are being carried out, weather permitting. The helicopters, run by local company Heli Linth, boast four seats each, with locals, workers and students given priority over tourists and other visitors. 

A flight in a helicopter, all for just 7,20 francs!

Each passenger has their name taken, and just seconds after closing the door the helicopter begins the 606-metre climb up to Braunwald. In total, the flight takes roughly two minutes and can be a bit bumpy if conditions are poor.

Speaking to 20 Minuten, Braunwald worker Carla Perissa said that “it was by far the cheapest flight of my life” - with a half-fare travel card (Halbtax-Abo), a return journey on the helicopter costs just 7,20 francs. “It was my first flight in a helicopter, it was a bit of an adrenaline rush for me,” she added. 

Helicopter replacement service to run until November 17

When asked about the cost of using a helicopter, Braunwaldbahn director Markus Hobi assured that the “costs of the helicopter flights are taken into account when upgrading the funicular” - it also needs to be noted that there are no roads connecting Braunwald with the rest of the world, so a helicopter does make some sense.

Do you want to hitch a ride on a rail replacement helicopter? You better be quick as the service will only run between November 6 and 17, 2023!

Thumb image credit: Roman Babakin /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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