World's first fully automated cog railway to open in Switzerland

World's first fully automated cog railway to open in Switzerland

The world’s first fully automated cog railway is set to be opened in Switzerland. The railway between Rheineck and Walzenhausen will be given automated rail cars, with a full opening planned for 2026.

Rheineck to Walzenhausen railway to get a major upgrade

Situated in the Swiss mountains, the small town of Walzenhausen, Canton Appenzell Innerrhoden, would be isolated were it not for the cog mountain railway that connects locals with the town of Rheineck in St. Gallen. A cog or rack railway is a train that uses a teethed wheel in the centre of the train to mesh with a central track, pushing the vehicle forwards. The system allows trains to climb significantly higher gradients than regular services, with the Rheineck–Walzenhausen railway having to climb over 270 metres upwards at a gradient of 25 percent.

The connection, which brings locals to the valley floor, can be used to get to larger cities like St. Gallen and Konstanz. The 1,96-kilometre track originally opened in 1896 and the new fully automated cars will replace the ones bought back in 1958.

First automated cog railway in the world to open in 2026

“The new vehicle on the Rheineck-Walzenhausen line is the first fully automated overland adhesion and cogwheel railway in the world,” Appenzell Railways said in a statement. They were also quick to say that no one would lose their job because of the new trains, as their drivers are deployed on multiple lines.

Die Zahnradbahn «Liseli» der Linie Rheineck-Walzenhausen erhält eine Nachfolgerin: Die @app_bahnen planen zusammen mit #Stadlerrail eine vollautomatisierte und fahrerlos betriebene Bahn. Das ist eine Weltneuheit. Die Inbetriebnahme ist im 2026 geplant.

— Appenzeller Bahnen (@app_bahnen) September 28, 2022

The trains themselves will be built by Stadler, a Swiss international company, in Bussnang, Canton Thurgau. If something goes wrong, workers at each station are allowed to operate the train “by remote control.” The system will be fully operational by 2026.

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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