POLARIS arrives at Gornergrat


Two and a half years ago, Gornergrat Railways and Stadler Rail signed the contract for the delivery of five new cogwheel trains for the journey from Zermatt to the Gornergrat with its sweeping view of the Matterhorn. On 1 September 2022, the first of the new double motor coaches were ceremoniously unveiled and presented to the public at the “roll-in”.

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“A new chapter in the history of the Gornergrat Railway”

More than 100 invited guests experienced the POLARIS live for the first time when it was driven from the depot into Zermatt station, with an accompanying smoke and light show. This was followed by the first official ride on the new train from Zermatt to the Gornergrat, where the vehicle was presented and open for detailed inspection.

For Fernando Lehner, CEO of the BVZ Group which includes Gornergrat Railways, it was a very special day: “The new motor coaches are a milestone in the further development of the Gornergrat as a natural excursion mountain. We are starting a new chapter in the history of the Gornergrat Railway here today.”

“As a Swiss rail vehicle manufacturer, it makes us proud to be able to supply the new vehicles for the prestigious Gornergrat Railway. The cogwheel trains offer passengers a unique travel experience in terms of comfort, safety and reliability,” says Dr Ansgar Brockmeyer, Deputy CEO and Executive Vice President Sales & Marketing at Stadler.

Extensive test drives and advance checks

After the transfer and delivery of the first train in April of this year, extensive test runs and static tests followed in preparation for the technical operational safety inspection by the Federal Office of Transport scheduled for mid-August. The double motor coaches were thoroughly tested in single, double and mixed traction (with vehicles from the existing fleet) and the operating permit was issued at the end of August. Scheduled operation is due to start at the end of 2022/start of 2023, just in time for the 125th anniversary of the Gornergrat Railway next year. The order for five double motor coaches is worth CHF 45 million.

More customer comfort in an exclusive, timeless design

The new POLARIS vehicles are intended to supplement and replace existing trains, some of which are up to 57 years old and have reached the end of their service life. The vehicles have low-floor entrances and a modern customer information system. They are also quieter and travel faster. Responsible for the futuristic, exclusive and yet timeless interior and exterior design of the trains is the renowned Italian design studio Pininfarina, which has created the designs of numerous vehicles for world-famous car manufacturers such as Ferrari and Maserati.

Close to the stars – BVZ Group inspired by astronomy

By naming its trains POLARIS, BVZ is following the path taken a few years ago using terms from astronomy. POLARIS stands for "POpular LAndscape Railway In Switzerland". An astronomical term was used for the first time on the regional trains of the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway, which went into service in 2007. These operate under the name KOMET, which means “comet” and stands for “comfortable meter-gauge motor coach”. Successor models scheduled to come into service from 2023 follow the same system. Known as ORION, they stand for “optimal regional train in local public transport”.