By Shi Xin Wu – 24th Mar 2021

Pilatus 13

Switzerland – Mt. Pilatus and its Cogwheel 

Switzerland in Central Europe is undisputedly the land of the Alps, capped by the Dufourspitze at 4634m, the highest peak on the Swiss side of the Italian border. The country is also home to other well-known mountain ranges frequented by many like The Matterhorn, Titlis, and Jungfrau. Over the years, these stunning mountaintops have been prominent landscapes featured in various media platforms – adored and beloved by climbers, hikers, and travelers from all around the world.

Public transportation in the region comes in many forms, with dense networks of roads and railways. It is one of the most sophisticated and advanced transit systems in the world. There are buses, trams, trains, boats, and even a grid of cable cars. An affordable means, which is very popular among visitors, is the Swiss Travel Pass – only available and sold to non-residents of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The pass entitles tourists to unlimited rides on the Swiss Travel System, covering all modes of transportation. It also includes free admission to more than 500 museums and discounts on the majority of mountain excursions.

The Pilatus Railway Station (German: Pilatus-Bahn, PB), a mountain railway in Switzerland and is the steepest railway in the world.

The peaks familiar to most tourists are Mt. Titlis and Jungfrau, especially for the Indians as Yash Chopra, the great Bollywood movie maker, directed the biggest blockbuster Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge in the Jungfrau terrain. The place has grown in popularity to the extent that it has become a pilgrimage to visit. They journey from their home country (India) to locations featured in films, like “The Top of Europe”, to feel and touch the snow. Asian tourists also make it a point to travel around Mt. Titlis, another popular tourist spot and typical stop in their tour itinerary. Other peaks such as Gornergrat, Stanserhorn, and Mt. Pilatus (homestead of the world’s steepest cogwheel) are less traveled and unknown to foreigners but are equally captivating.

Pilatus Railway operates the steepest cogwheel train, connecting Alpnachstad to a terminus near the summit (Pilatus Kulm) of Mt. Pilatus at an altitude of 2132m. The track climbs a slope of 1635m in only 4618m with an average gradient of 38%, and reaching a maximum of 48%, making it the sharpest track railway in the world. It was first opened on June 4, 1889, using steam-driven propulsion, traveling at just 4km/h, taking over an hour to reach the terminus. And for the past 80 years, it has now been running on electricity at more than 9km/h. Good thing the ascending time is not much reduced, only by just 30mins., being that the skyward journey on the cogwheel is the defining moment of the trip. A breathtakingly fascinating experience that makes you want to shout aloud “Ricola” on your way up!!

The Pilatus cogwheel railway, running on electrical propulsion, using an overhead power line at 1550V DC.

The 40-passengers electric car arriving at Mt. Pilatus summit, where the mountain adventure begins. Once at the pinnacle, the exciting and thrilling escapade starts. Several travelers come and spend the whole day enjoying all of the many activities. Most of them prefer to stay in either one of these hotels – having a view of the Alps and Lake Lucerne, the Hotel Bellevue, or the historical Hotel Pilatus-Kulm (built 1890).

Do check out what Mt. Pilatus can offer at their official website: PILATUS – Mountain adventures near the city | Pilatus Bahnen Lucerne Switzerland

Hotel Bellevue, sunset over Mt. Pilatus with the view of Lake Lucerne.