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A new funicular for Zermatt: Opening on 15 June 2013

Renewal from A to Z A
fter 32 years of almost uninterrupted day-to-day operations, the funicular is to undergo a complete refit. By early summer 2013, you will be able to glide up to Sunnegga on new tracks aboard an ultramodern railway. Carrying capacity is to be increased, but there is also a focus on greater comfort for passengers. Entirely new equipment will be installed in the existing tunnel. The necessary structural modifications will be made this summer as well as during the regular autumn break in operations. During an eight-week period in spring 2013, the electromechanical equipment, tracks and rolling stock will be completely replaced. A total investment of about 12 million Swiss francs is planned.

Soaring to Sunnegga …
The refurbishment promises a tangible improvement in passenger comfort: the sprung undercarriage and sound-proofed interior will make for a quiet journey. LED lighting will create a pleasant ambience. Passengers will have more room, with the space available for each seat increasing from 0.17 to 0.21m2. The seating capacity of the trains will rise from 170 to 200, which equates to 2570 passengers an hour. To make this possible, the trains will be longer: 30 metres, with three coaches, each of four compartments. The greater length means the floor of the upper compartment will come to a stop level with the station exit. The speed of travel will increase from the present 10m/sec (36km/h) to 12m/sec (43.2km/h). The folding front door will give easier access for goods transport.

Opening on 15 June 2013
The general installation work was completed during the routine inspection period in spring 2012, and the building work on the new operations and machine room on Sunnegga has been going on over the summer. The building work on the track and the valley and mountain stations will be carried out during the autumn inspection period, from 15 October to 23 November 2012. Water seepage points will be sealed to protect both rolling stock and track. All the electromechanical components (bullwheel, drive etc.) will be brought up to Sunnegga in the autumn and stored for the winter. The end of the winter season on 22 April 2013 sees the start of eight weeks of intensive work (using a multiple shift system) on all fronts. The aim is to ensure the new funicular is ready for handover and can start operations when the summer season opens on 15 June 2013. Generally speaking, the work will be spread over three seasons, occupying the normal inspection and maintenance periods, in order not to interrupt operations on Sunnegga. Only the spring maintenance period will be extended, by two weeks.
Intensive building period in spring 2013
As soon as the winter season is over, the old rolling stock will be disposed of, the cables wound up, and the winches for fitting new cables and the assembly dolly will be installed. All the rails and fastenings will be replaced, the drive dismantled and all cables, including the transformer station, removed. Next, concrete work will carried out in the machine room on Sunnegga and a completely new drive will be fitted. A new cable pull will be installed, and then the new rolling stock will be pulled through the tunnel and set on the track. If everything goes according to plan, we will fete the opening with you on Saturday, 15 June 2013! Zermatt Bergbahnen AG is looking forward to the next 30 years and to carrying another 30 million or more passengers on a state-of-the-art funicular.

A brief history

The Sunnegga area was opened up in 1942 with the installation of a ski and walking lift, which was replaced in 1946 by a chair lift. In the 1970s, with capacity bottlenecks an increasingly frequent problem, it was decided to build a funicular railway. After four years’ construction and a total investment of CHF 26.93 million, it was opened on 28 November 1980. The funicular was recognized far beyond the borders of Switzerland as a genuine innovation in tourist transport systems and soon became a popular attraction. On 3 March 1982, after only 15 months’ operation, the railway was able to celebrate carrying its millionth passenger. By the time of the merger in 2002, the number of passengers had surpassed 17 million. Since then, Zermatt Bergbahnen AG has carried a further 14,129,218 passengers on the Sunnegga funicular, so there is no doubt that it has earned an overhaul! Starting in the winter of 1985/86, the Swiss Federal Office of Transport allowed driverless operation at a reduced speed (5m/sec) and from May 1996 onwards, at the full speed of 10m/sec.

Building activities for the new funicular Sunnegga

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