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Adventures

A visit to the Albula Railway Museum

A report on a Sunday excursion to the Albula Railway Museum in Bergün.

Fabian Bleuler, Marketing Communications & E-Business trainee, 25. October 2019

Thusis, Platform 3, Sunday 10:20 am. The sky is pretty dark and has not fully woken up yet. Along beside me, more and more people are arriving, also heading in the direction of St. Moritz. Commuters, but mostly tourists. It is Sunday after all. At spot on 10:30 am, the Inter Regio to St. Moritz pulls into Thusis. I am not travelling to St. Moritz today, but to Bergün, the meeting point for railway fans from all over the world.

The train starts moving and over the loudspeaker, we learn that we are travelling on a legendary section of track. Since 2008, the section between Thusis and Tirano has been a World Heritage site. The section through the Albula Valley over the Bernina Range to Italy is a masterpiece of railway engineering. It has various unparalleled tunnels, helical tunnels and unique bridge constructions. Shortly after departure, the train enters the Schin gorge which is impressive with its wild nature and steep rock faces. Occasionally, the breathtaking view is interrupted by a short tunnel, although that in no way lessens the fascination this stretch of track has. 

The minutes go by, we pass a few grazing cows and then reach the highlight on the Albula Line just before we get to Filisur: the Landwasser Viaduct. The photogenic man-made structure is amazing, not only because of its elegant round arch structure, but also because of the dramatic finale with the disappearing of the train into a vertical rock face.

My photo tip:
In my opinion, the best spot to catch this on camera is not from the train but from one of the viewpoints above or below the viaduct. These are easy to reach on foot on a trail from Filisur.

Shortly after the viaduct, we pull into Filisur station. Even today, this small station has the charm of a bygone age because it still has a signal that cheerfully announces the arrival of a train with a “ding, ding”.

Filisur station

As the trip from Filisur to Bergün only takes around 10 minutes, I start getting ready to get off the train. Although there is no hurry because the Railway Museum is right next to Bergün station and is thus a perfect destination to get to by train.

Outside view of the Railway Museum in Bergün

In front of the grand museum building, I am greeted by an old coach in RhB red as well as the GE 6/6 I, the Crocodile locomotive with the number 407. It contains a driving simulator which is open every afternoon and provides plenty of entertainment for people of all ages.

The driving simulator

Having looked around outside, I enter the museum building. In the lobby, there is a restaurant which I don’t go into immediately because I want to visit the exhibition. The museum offers a cross section through the entire history of the Rhaetian Railway, from its origins back in 1889 as the narrow-gauge railway Landquart – Davos right up to the present day. It explains the origin and the difficulties of building the railway in Graubünden step by step with lots of recordings and videos. Along with the many contemporary witnesses in the form of various exhibits, the museum also offers plenty of interactive stations on the subject of the railway, such as operations in a railway control centre and the driving simulator. Children can have a go at building their own viaduct out of wooden bricks and in the process learn about the construction of these architectural masterpieces. Fans of model railways will also be in their element here as there are plenty of locomotive models to see. Along with a 0m-gauge model railway, with trains regularly going round the model system, there are also larger and more detailed models on display in the cabinets.

The thrilling tour of discovery through the Albula Railway Museum has made me hungry. So I go back to the starting point of my tour - the lobby with the restaurant. It still seems pretty full in spite of the fact that it is already after 1 pm. So I decide to pop into Bergün and have something to eat there. Luckily, the centre of the picturesque village of Bergün with its traditional houses in Engadin style is just a five-minute walk away.

Bergün village centre

After a short walk through Bergün and a small snack in one of the restaurants, I head back to the station to catch the next train back to Thusis. It has been an informative and fun-packed day. In the meantime, the weather has also improved. Overall I can say that I very much enjoyed my visit and would recommend a trip to the Albula Railway Museum to both railway enthusiasts and families. It is a particularly good option when the weather is poor.

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