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A glance back

A city stroll and mountain adventure in one: 105 years’ Chur–Arosa

Two years is all it took to build the track between the cantonal capital and the popular spa resort.

Erika Suter, Editor, 12. December 2019

A 105 years ago today, on 12 December 1914, the arrival of the first train from Chur in Arosa marked a historic moment. People lined up to welcome the festively decorated train at an altitude of 1,793 metres, overjoyed to finally be able to make the 26-kilometre journey from the cantonal capital into the mountains by train. By the end of the 19th century, Arosa had grown into a popular spa resort. It soon became clear that the Schanfigg road between Chur and Arosa, which was completed in 1890, would not be able to cope with the increasing traffic. Following the submission of various building proposals for a railway line, an agreement was finally reached in 1911 to build the Chur–Arosa Line.

Overcoming obstacles to achieve success

Construction work on the Arosa Line began in the summer of 1912 under the direction of Gustav Bener. Despite a number of difficulties such as damaged retaining walls, buried tracks, warped spherical caps, collapsed arches and the general mobilisation at the beginning of the First World War, which involved many a construction worker and engineer being called up for military service, it was possible to open the line on 12 December 1914 after a construction period of just two years. Although the Chur–Arosa Line was a financial success for many years, it was only integrated into the RhB network in 1942 due to the crisis years and increasing road traffic. For 77 years, the Arosa Line climbed thousands of metres for the RhB – in no more than an hour. A feat almost as impressive as the distance covered.

A magnificent journey past impressive buildings – then and now

What starts out in Chur as a leisurely train stroll through the city quickly transforms into a mountain adventure with spectacular views. A total of 19 tunnels and 52 bridges line the track between Chur and Arosa. Despite the difficult terrain, high demands were placed on the design of the engineering structures. Particularly famous is the Langwieser Viaduct, which, with a main arch span of 100 metres and a length of 284 metres, is the biggest bridge in the RhB network. The impressive structure was designed by Graubünden local Richard Coray. Thanks to the pioneering days of railway building, travellers have been able to enjoy views of the numerous engineering structures and unspoilt mountain landscapes along the Schanfigg road from high above the Plessur District – for no less than 105 years.

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