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Water from Graubünden: moving RhB trains

Water in and from Graubünden is used in a number of ways. It can be turned into just about anything: from electricity to Calanda beer. We have put together a list of ten interesting facts about the water from Graubünden below. You could well be pretty sur

Johanna Burger, Corporate Communications trainee, 14. January 2021

1 Hydropower moving trains

We are committed to sustainability and therefore purchased certificates of origin for hydroelectric power from Repower AG for 96,000 MWh of electricity a year for the period 2021-2022.  This means that our trains will all be powered by water from Graubünden through 2021-2022. By using sustainable electricity from the canton, we are not only reducing our own carbon footprint, but also that of all customers of Rhaetian Railway (here is the certificate). 

2 Swiss electricity production

Hydropower is of great significance in Graubünden, not only for us as ecological energy users. More than 20 per cent of Swiss electricity production from hydropower comes from Graubünden. On average, that translates to 7.9 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) a year.

3 Record on the Bernina Pass

Water in the form of ice crystals brings joy to winter sports enthusiasts on the slopes of Graubünden every year. In April 1999, this joy probably gave way to great astonishment in many cases: that was when Meteo Schweiz announced a record amount of snowfall on the Bernina Pass for one day and also for two consecutive days: 130 cm of new snow on 15 April and 215 cm on 15 and 16 April 1999.

4 Beautiful but transient: our glaciers

Let’s stay in the cold: in Graubünden, there are hundreds of large and small glaciers. The cantonal office for forests and natural hazards is currently measuring the annual change in the glacier tongues of 19 glaciers. Of these, the Roseg Glacier is the largest in the canton with an area of 6.58 km2 (status 2015). The smallest is the Lischana Glacier with an area of 0.01 km2.

5 Across 626 bridges and viaducts...

To snow in melted form: the watercourse network in the Swiss canton of Graubünden is around 12,400 km long. That means you need lots of bridges and viaducts for our trains to be able to travel across the entire canton. Our tracks run across a total of 626 bridges and viaducts (status January 2021).

6 The joy of the fishermen...

Fish can be found in just under 1,700 km of the approx. 12,400 km of flowing water. Around 110,000 fish are caught in all of the canton’s streams and rivers – mostly brown trout. 

7 ... and in the summer the bathers.

Along with the rivers and streams, Graubünden also has a number of lakes: in fact, in total the canton has 615 mountain lakes!

8 The watershed at the Bernina Pass

Paths diverge on the Bernina Pass – not only those of different hiking groups but also those of water. The Pass is what is referred to as a watershed. The water from Lej Nair flows to the north into the Inn, later the Danube and ultimately into the Black Sea; the water from Lago Bianco flows south into the Poschiavino, then into the Adda river and the Po before flowing into the Adriatic.

9 The little grey man from Lake Toma

All this water seems to have fascinated the inhabitants of the canton decades and centuries ago. And that is why a lot of the canton’s legends centre on water, lakes, streams and glaciers. For a long time now, it has been said that a dragon, the Dragun da Macun, lives in the largest of the six mountain lakes in Val Zeznina above Lavin. There is also said to be a small, grey little man with an angular face and brightly shining eyes prowling around Lake Toma, the “Pazolamännchen” (even more fairytales).

10 Viva! Cheers! Prost! Santé!

Without doubt, many of the canton’s legends have been retold (or were perhaps even invented?) over a glass of beer. To produce Calanda beer in Chur – a beer known throughout Switzerland – they need water from the region – lots of water: it takes 4.6 hectolitres of water to brew one hectolitre of beer.

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