Autumn / Winter 2013 / 14
The magazine of the Rhaetian Railway
A man with a plan:
Multi-culti world of
the Glacier Express
A journey in the 19 th century
Before we commence our wanderings through the hitherto untravelled
valleys around the Bernina, it may be useful to gather together a few of the
principal characteristics of a region at present but little known in England.
or more luxuriant vegetation", than in the Grisons. "It contains more
other district in the exhibition of those wonderful contrasts of sternness
and beauty in which Nature gives play to her caprices."
To no part of the canton can this description be more truly applied than
to the Ober-Engadine and its many lateral valleys, which spread their
branches far into the mountain region round the Bernina, extending upwards
until they meet the chilling embraces of the glacier, or are enveloped
in a mantle of snow. Nature is here seen in her most varied and attractive
forms, – sparkling, transparent lakes, enshrined in rich pastoral
by giants of the Alpine world, in their wildest, most imposing, and most
© Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, London 1862
(available print on demand from Amazon through the British Library
Historical Print Editions programme)
Traditionally at the forefront
For almost 125 years now, the Rhaetian Railway has been
going strong. It's impossible to now imagine Graubünden
or Switzerland without it – one of the world's foremost
railways. However, the rapid progress made by the RhB,
even in the 21 st century, cannot be taken for granted.
And it is not so easy to achieve as might be supposed. We
are currently ordering traction units and commuter trains
Head of Rolling
be operating in 40 years' time. It takes vision to predict
how and how often people will be travelling by train that far ahead. Anyone
without a century of experience will be lost, or consigned to the sidelines.
I guarantee that you will be able to rely on an
ultra-modern RhB now and in the future.
Rielle La Bella
Head of Human
Everyone knows the RhB is an attractive employer in
Graubünden, the third-largest in this mountainous canton.
It focuses on the long-standing, but not the old fashioned.
Around 1,400 employees keep our railway moving – and
keep it young. At present, we are training 107 apprentices
while also seeking to attract more women train drivers. Of
course not all the company's talent works full-time: some
pursue other careers, such as airline pilot or oenologist,
as well as driving trains. They are all prepared to go that
extra mile for the RhB – like veteran track worker Walter
Gubser, whom we accompany in this edition of "Contura".
I wish you lots of fun on your literary journey
with the RhB and its employees.
PS: Keep up to date with the exciting RhB newsletter –
subscribe today: www.rhb.ch/newsletter
Customs Annual traditions of Graubünden
20 32 46
a full-bodied juice
UNESCO World Heritage RhB
Bernina: mountain of
legends and passion
Publishing details: © Copyright /Published by: Rhaetian Railway Inc, Bahnhofstrasse 25, 7002 Chur | Technical
details: Rhaetian Railway | Concept / text: panta rhei pr gmbh | Graphics: Süsskind SGD Chur | Photos: Archive
of the Rhaetian Railway, Archive of Graubünden Ferien, Y. Andrea, A. Badrutt, G. Brüngger, Foto Geiger, T. Keller,
M. Kobald, G. Krischker, A. Mettler, Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Poster Collection, © ZHdK, M. Schade, Sedrun
Bergbahnen, Chr. Sonderegger, Tourist Board St. Moritz, S. Triacca | Printed in Switzerland, issue no. 3, 2013
Contura is available online
via www.rhb.ch/contura or
as an app for your iPad.
Once upon a time …
10 By vocation
A man with a plan:
Annual traditions of Graubünden
a full-bodied juice
24 Window seat
26 The Albula Line
The world’s most beautiful
railway at night
32 UNESCO World Heritage RhB
Bernina: mountain of
legends and passion
36 Glacier Express
Multi-culti world of
the Glacier Express
41 Did you know?
42 What do …
… the PistenBully drivers
in Sedrun do in summer?
44 Famous names
The locomotive: 'Bernina'
45 We proudly present
'C 2012': the oldest RhB
46 Next stop
50 From the workshop
A local hero: the sledge maker
from Sri Lanka
56 Rail network
Highlights of the
58 Good to know
Green, red, orange: RhB
signals and signs
61 For your diary
Our events at a glance
62 RhB to hand
Brochures and tourist maps
Souvenirs for all ages
Handy: RhB tourist
maps and brochures
How does the webcode work?
a time …
The Engadin Circular Tour
through the Inn Valley.
6 Poster from 1921: Zuoz – Switzerland – Engadin, design: Ernst Emil Schlatter
Climb 1,000 metres
in an hour: The Arosa
Line takes you to the
climatic spa. 552
Poster from 1937: Arosa, design: Hugo Laubi
Fun on ice: With the
RhB special trains to the
of HC Davos. 974
8 Poster from 1914: Winter in Davos, design: Burkhard Mangold
History in St. Moritz:
With the elegant 1930s
Pullman Express from
St. Moritz to Zermatt.
Poster from 1924: St. Moritz, design: Carl Moos
A man with a plan:
Working for the RhB:
Get your career
on track – find out
more at 89
10 A visionary with 35 years’ experience: Marco Margadant in front of "his" timetable in Chur
Margadant personally ensures
You could call him the Head of the rolling timetable. Here at the
Operations Centre in Landquart is where all the strands come together
– and things can get pretty tricky here when the weather
wreaks havoc with the points or power supply. Marco Margadant,
RhB Head of Timetabling, makes split-second decisions to keep
the trains running on time. Punctuality is his absolute top priority.
Is that a spider’s web or maybe even a sewing pattern laid out on the
how the timetable for the year after next might look: "We are always
"We are always
ahead of time. We
Simulation with a mouse click
have to be – just
like our partners."
The devil is in the
detail: line by
line, level by level,
develops his network
plan – until
cent of his working time is spent in coordination meetings – with col-
Learning from scratch
in Landquart. After training to become an engine driver in 1979, he drove
trains across the entire network until 1990, including a year on the mountainous
track from Chur to Arosa. "That was really interesting. Technically,
terms, as the special traction units had a tendency to malfunction and the
track itself isn’t without challenges. In winter we often came across surprises:
a fallen tree that cut overhead power lines or snow masses blocking
the way." In the meantime Margadant knows almost every sleeper on
the 384 kilometres of track. In 1990 he began training other engine driv-
even as a timetabler, I still like to visit my colleagues on the front lines."
Planning and Control) since 2001, is convinced that "travelling the routes
in person is the best way to identify the trouble spots in scheduling terms
so that I can plan more realistically."
Headache over six minutes
It’s a matter of only a few minutes when it comes to Margadant’s highest
for slow speeds. That’s what eats up the most time. Together with infrastructure
specialists, he must knowingly factor in delays
"Travelling along months in advance to ensure his plan works out. The two
the routes in person
interchange stations, Landquart and Chur, where passengers
have to catch their SBB connections, are key.
lets me identify
the trouble spots."
again this otherwise calm man can lose his patience.
to tread on other people’s toes. But that cannot be avoided. The structure
must stand – by whatever means necessary." And if the worst actually
comes to the worst, Margadant recalls a tip he was given by a high-ranking
is another day." As was the case in 1999, for example, the winter of
avalanches where the timetablers didn’t know from one day to the next
what was happening, or rather what was running.
He takes a sporting view of special days
Speaking of challenging moments: when does Marco Margadant real-
That’s when this visionary from Chur produces an interim timetable – with
planned delays! "Leaving nothing to chance, of course, but following an
exact special timetable of whose details customers are not – and don’t
need to be – aware. The main thing is that we have the expected delays
events of this kind, where a large number of passengers require transport.
It gives him the freedom to do as he likes, to his heart’s content.
14 In Graubünden, traditions like the romantic 'Schlitteda' shown here are very important
In Graubünden, ancient customs and
traditions are given pride of place.
Every year, centuries-old traditions
are observed in the local communities
RhB RailHit: One
person pays, the
other travels free.
'Twelfth Night and Carol Singers'
In Catholic regions, children dressed as
the Three Kings go from house to house
on Twelfth Night. They sing old and new
Epiphany carols and religious airs from
the 17 th century. Often, the kings are
accompanied by someone carrying a
star, as well as by servants or soldiers.
Dressed in colourful costumes with glittering
crowns, they make their way
through the villages, collecting money
for child relief organisations – as well as
Every year, on a Sunday in January or
February, the inhabitants of Oberengadin
celebrate the 'Schlitteda Engadinaisa'.
The exact date of this village festival
is decided by the 'Guiventüna', a committee
of young men. On this occasion,
the villagers – dressed in their traditional
red-and-black Engadin costumes
– embark on a two-hour ride through
the snow-clad countryside in festively
decorated horse-drawn sleighs. In the
old days, only unmarried couples took
part in the 'Schlitteda'. A young man
would formally invite his girl to accompany
him on the sleigh ride. Over the
years, this custom has turned into a village
festival for both singles and married
couples alike. The 'Schlitteda Ball'
February / March
men of Untervaz leave home at dusk and
make their way up to a place overlooking
the village, each carrying a burning
torch, a long hazel stick and discs made
of beechwood. At the agreed spot, each
of them places his disc on the end of
the stick, lights it with the torch until it
glows red-hot and then propels it from
the starting ramp into the valley below.
As each disc is thrown, the young man
shouts out a dedication to a special girl
or unmarried woman. Afterwards, there
is a torchlight procession accompanied
by a brass band. Back in the village, the
young men visit the girls, who serve
them food and drink. This ancient tradition
is also celebrated in similar fashion
in the Surselva region.
On 1 March, children wearing peasant
smocks and pointed red caps make
their way through the village singing
songs, ringing cowbells and cracking
whips. The din is supposed to drive
away the winter. The tradition of 'Chalandamarz'
is beautifully described in
the famous Swiss children’s book 'Schellenursli'
('A Bell for Ursli'). This custom
exists in the valleys of Engadin, Müstair,
Bergell, Puschlav, Misox, Oberhalbstein
and Albula, although it may vary from
village to village. In Scuol, a whip-cracking
contest is held. In Ftan, the 'Chalandamarz'
resembles a carnival procession
– young men dress up and torment
In Poschiavo and Misox a snowman is
burned as a symbol of winter.
After the snows have melted, the men
and boys from Furna meet on two or
three Sundays to play 'Hürnä', a simpler
version of the Swiss sport of 'Hornussen'.
'Hürnä' is only played in this village in
Prättigau. The wooden starting block is
set up at the bottom of the slope. The
target area lies about 20 metres higher
up. Players have to propel the 'Huri' (a
wooden disc rather like the puck used in
ice hockey) from the starting block into
the target area, using a two-metre-long
hazel stick. The defending team tries to
stop the Huri in mid air with shovel-like
catching boards. Every Huri reaching the
target area without being caught scores
a point. If the Huri hits a member of the
catching team, the throwing team scores
For nearly 160 years – since 1854 –
school children in Chur have made an
annual trip to the alpine pastures, the
'Maiensässfahrt', on a sunny day in
May. At seven in the morning about
3,000 schoolchildren and their teachers
leave the town through its upper gateway
and proceed to the surrounding alpine
pastures, where they spend the day
playing and enjoying a barbecue. In the
evening, the townsfolk line up to welcome
the children back. This is followed
by a procession to the Quaderwiese. Af-
traditional songs to mark the occasion.
The highlight of the day is when one of
the teachers calls out to the children:
"… there will be no school
The Alpine town:
mountain air and
city life. 2203
May / June
'Kränzli and Tschäppel'
Every year on Ascension Day, mothers
and grandmothers in Prättigau pick
gentians, forget-me-nots, buttercups,
woven into garlands for their daughters
and granddaughters. The boys receive
adorned and dressed in either traditional
costume or their Sunday best, the
villagers make their way to the church,
and Pany, the children have the honour
of being driven to the church by pony
cart. Each village celebrates Ascension
a festive procession before or after
the church service.
The ancient tradition of 'Kastanien-Klopfen'
(chestnut tapping) is encountered
only in Bergell. In this region the chest-
special huts ('Cascine'). During the merry
festivities in November the inhabitants
of Bergell 'tap' the chestnuts to separate
the fruit from the shell. In most of
Italian-speaking Switzerland and the
Bergell region of Graubünden, chestnuts
were a staple food of the population
for hundreds of years. In the old
days, it also used to be considered very
important to store the chestnuts correctly
in purpose-built outhouses. To
this day, the people of Bergell celebrate
the chestnut festival every autumn in
honour of 'their' chestnut.
In Scuol, the villagers celebrate the end
of the year on 31 December by making
little candlelit boats or 'Barchinas', as
they are called in the Vallader dialect of
Romansh. This festival of lights is of pagan
origin. On New Year’s Eve, the chil-
shells or bark with liquid wax and provide
them with a wick. Then they light
of this festival is the celebration of
the winter solstice on 21 or 22 December,
but it now takes place a few days
later to make room for the Christian fes-
boats serve to symbolise the victory of
light over the darkness of night.
a full-bodied juice
20 Balance is the name of the game, says Rico Kindschi, Producer of Kindschi Bündner Röteli
Bündner 'Zwipf': The RhB
'Marenda' (snack) box is
filled with Bündner specialities
– including a Röteli
from Kindschi. 33
No need to be ashamed if you’ve not (yet) heard of Bündner Röteli!
But we can promise you that once you have tasted this spicy, dark
red traditional drink, you will love it. It may put you in holiday
mood - or make you feel homesick. People who are on their way
to the Landwasser Valley and Davos often stop off in Schiers for a
glass of Röteli produced by Kindschi Söhne AG.
"My grandfather was a charmer. He went from one farm to the next, wooing
all the farm girls. Surreptitiously, he managed to elicit each girl’s secret
recipe. And that’s how we created our own secret recipe for Bündner
Röteli", says Rico Kindschi with a straight face that reveals the dry humour
typical of mountain people. This wine merchant and producer of schnapps,
who lives in Davos, is something of a sly old dog when it comes to the in-
the supermarkets. For centuries, people from Graubünden have enthused
about this cherry liqueur, which is actually made from dried cherries.
Who invented it? The Walser folk
Rötelis used to be two a penny. Or, in the words of Rico Kindschi, "They
say there are as many Röteli recipes as there are mothers-in-law." Every
farmer’s wife in and around Davos, in Prättigau, Domleschg and even the
cantonal capital of Chur would prepare her own Röteli. Wherever people
drank Röteli, there would be a Walser settlement nearby. This tribe of
mountain dwellers, who migrated long ago from the Valais over the passes
into Graubünden, invented this amazing drink which later became wide-
To make good
Röteli you need
pailfuls of highquality
spread. Recipes were handed down from family to family and from generation
to generation. Basically, Röteli is no more than water, schnapps,
Year’s Eve. "In the old days, the married men would see the old year out.
And the bachelors would see the new year in. They would go from one
farmhouse to another to wish the occupants good luck and prosperity in
the new year, particularly in their stables. Or, more precisely, it gave them
a chance to woo the farmers’ daughters. As a reward, they received a sip
of Röteli. One sip followed another – as did the (more or less virtuous)
wishes they expressed", says Kindschi with a grin. He grew up in Davos
Dorf, where Kindschi Söhne AG operated their distillery until 2012. He too
used to visit the farmhouses in this manner. He says it was a novel way of
dating, long before Internet and Facebook. Thanks to this magic potion,
many a friendship or life-partnership was formed.
The best Röteli is well-balanced
individual spice should predominate. Balance is the name of the game." It
is not without a touch of pride that he mentions the 100,000 litres that he
produces every year. And his production is on the increase. Davos is clearly
the leading centre of production of this liqueur. So, how do you make
good Röteli? First, he needs good-quality dried cherries. I beg your pardon?
Cherries in Davos, 1,500 metres above sea level, far above the level
for fruit-growing? A long time ago, dried cherries (which could be kept a
long time) would be transported here on pack animals from Italy and the
he has to order 3-4 tons of cherries from Turkey, because Swiss producers
steel tank contains 240 kilograms of cherries and 16 kilograms of spices
including cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and cardamom - the other ingredients
remain a secret. Then he adds 2,000 litres of fruit schnapps (mostly
from apples or pears) with an alcohol content of 40 per cent. The cherries
substances as possible, including aromas from the cherry stones, which
The Bündner Röteli, with its well-known label on the packaging,
is then sent out into the big wide world, for example to Bangkok, where a
customer sells typical Swiss specialities, or to the World Economic Forum,
where the Röteli is served to participants in glass 'Alp horns'.
People know and love it
"You cannot imagine the emotions that our Röteli arouses. For example,
there is the ibex on the new label", says Kindschi. When he and his advertising
agent decided to change the picture on the label, some customers
were over the moon because now they felt closer to the mountains of
Graubünden, while others supposedly detected a change in taste, which
"The name comes from
remained unchanged - for generations. Rico Kindschi
has worked in the distillery since he was a child.
'rote Kirschen', which
He learned the art of distilling schnapps at the Institute
for Fermentation and Biotechnology in Ber-
means red cherries."
lin. After that, he worked as a distiller at Volg before
he and his brother took over
the family business. "We don’t yet know whether
a sixth generation will be able to carry on the
family business. Although we hope so. This is why
we continue to invest in the business", says Kindschi.
Like their ancestors with their pack animals,
the Kindschis moved down towards the valley in
2012. They relocated to Schiers (also a former Wal-
the-art distillery and sales centre, right opposite
the station. And Rico Kindschi commutes to his
new workplace on the RhB.
One-franc special: Free
pass to skiing fun in
selected winter sports
Shep Sonstegard (23)
from Minnesota in the
US is en route from
Bergün to Basel.
"I’ve already covered the entire Rhaetian Railway
network on my travels."
Hi, do you mind if we sit next to
you for a moment?
Excuse me? I don’t understand.
a really beautiful country – and the best
way to enjoy the stunning views is on
board a train.
Oh, you speak English.
Where are you from?
From Minnesota, USA. That’s near the
border with Canada.
And what brings you to Bergün,
on board this RhB train?
I’m currently on a two-month trip around
Switzerland and do all my travelling by
train. My father and brother are here too,
in Basel – that’s where I’m heading for
right now, via Chur.
What did you do in Bergün?
I went snowboarding today. But I also
came here once for the night sledging,
that was really awesome! Switzerland is
What other places in Switzerland
have you visited?
I’ve also been to St. Moritz, Davos and
biggest fun snowboarding!
travelled with the RhB …
As a matter of fact, it isn’t. I think I’ve
already covered the entire RhB network
on my travels.
And what did you like best about
your trips with the RhB?
That’s easy: the ride on the Glacier Express
was fantastic! I would recommend
it to every tourist who comes here.
Anette Joos with her
husband Ingo Geiselhart
and two sons Lukas
"That the RhB gets you to the top of the sledge
run from Bergün to Preda is really practical."
Grüezi! You are quite obviously kitted
out to go sledging. Are you heading
back up to Preda?
Yes, we’re just waiting for the train up
to Preda. But our sledging adventure is
over for the day.
And why are you making the trip back
up to Preda again?
We’re staying there overnight. We’ve
been here a few times before for sledging
– this is our … fourth time.
We also like the whole area and all the
Do you understand the Swiss German
dialect that is spoken in the villages
here in Graubünden?
Our town, Weingarten in the south-west
of Germany, is just over half an hour’s
drive from Lake Constance and the Swiss
border. And, as we mentioned, we come
here a lot. Swiss German isn’t a problem
for us – at least we can understand it …
Then you obviously like the sledge run
from Preda to Bergün …
And how! It’s extra long – that’s really
great. And the fact that we can travel
back up to Preda as often as we like
with the RhB one-day travelpass makes
it particularly practical. But we don’t
just come here for the toboggan run.
So have you already travelled with
the RhB many times on your previous
We travel by train a lot – even back home
in Germany. On train trips with the Rhaetian
Railway, however, the landscape is
railway at night
The section of the RhB line between Bergün and Preda is impressive
enough by day. After ten at night it is even more exciting.
"Contura" looks over the shoulder of track worker Walter Gubser
as he works on the tracks of the RhB.
Hard work - yesterday and today
UNESCO World Heritage
Snow against ice
A dream job – even if nobody applauds you
"We want our trains
and passengers to
travel safely on the
The steam-powered monster
Snow cannot always be used to insulate the rails - sometimes it
needs to be removed from the track: in winter, it takes a crew
of up to ten to pilot the steam-powered snowplough Xrot 9213
through walls of snow which may be several metres high along
the Bernina Line.
One of the smaller
wonders of the world:
UNESCO World Heritage RhB
mountain of legends
The panoramic journey
from glaciers to palms
is a spectacular experience.
Bernina: one mountain, a thousand tales
The Bernina is Gian Luck’s greatest love. In the truest sense of
the word: the guide from Pontresina knows the mountain like
the back of his hand. His enthusiasm is infectious. Patrick Burger
from the Bellaluna cultural centre in Filisur prefers to admire
the 4,049-metre giant from a distance. And recommends it to his
sporting guests. Two stories. One mountain.
as a mountain guide in Pontresina, as managing director
of the climbing school in Pontresina – and as
president of the Graubünden mountain guide asso-
Gian Luck, passionate
mountain guide from
Rosa and all the Bernese peaks." The people he guides are look-
a number of demanding tours. Because the Bernina is by no
means an easy climb. The Pontresina mountain guides generally
Gian Luck: "Sunrise on the Bernina is absolutely fantastic", he enthuses.
the Bernina range is unlikely to
and there an animal, timidly sur-
could be more beautiful?" asks
Gian Luck, a passionate mountain
erything to him.
Where Gian Luck is in his element: guiding
climbers on the Bianco ridge of the Bernina.
Bellaluna – a magical place
By the light of the full
moon: The mystical
Witches, ore and tales of murder: the
stories surrounding the Bellaluna res-
Why is the building called Bellaluna?
house its name one drunken full moon
morning. Our forest clearing is reputed
to be one of the most famous spots for
they met to dance by the light of the full
make you feel?
room dedicated to her in Bellaluna and
a small Paula Roth museum. There's also
There are pictures by Paula Roth in the
anyone pressing the play button.
What is it that makes this place and
this area so magical?
nature and a desire for
culture and good food
attracts guests to Bellaluna.
Multi-culti world of
the Glacier Express
It’s always worth a trip:
Just as delightful in
winter as in summer –
a trip on board the
Glacier Express. 34
36 Loving the food and the views: Namrata Surendar and Rahul Prasad on the Glacier Express
It’s among the world’s top ten rail journeys: the Glacier Express.
The RhB’s flagship line attracts people from every corner
of the globe. Every day a new mix of nations creates a
microcosmic world on board: three encounters as this cultural
melting pot makes its way from St. Moritz to Zermatt.
Coach 44, seats 11 and 12, 2 nd class:
Indian food with Namrata Surendar und Rahul Prasad
They have only been in Switzerland for ten days. Both come from
Bangalore in the south of India. And they are now living in Passug,
just above Chur. How on earth did they end up here in this Swiss
holiday region? The answer is tourism. The budding professionals are
pursuing postgraduate studies at the Swiss School of Tourism and
Hospitality. And the Glacier Express marks their inaugural visit. Their
of tranquillity. This breathtaking experience is perfect for Indian
visitors, she adds. Apropos: the two hotel professionals have preordered
Indian meals. Namrata is enjoying the vegetarian jalfrezi
Namrata explains. Both agree that the main courses taste authentic.
They could be a little bit spicier, though. But the Europeans are cau-
mustard seeds or a couple of deep-fried curry leaves would make it that bit
Coach 44, seats 45 and 46, 2 nd class:
Celebrating with Renate and Friedrich Schliephake
four days seemed just the thing, especially when you get a good package
from near Goslar in Germany, where they normally travel on the Brocken
railway – sometimes even by steam train.
The train winds its way through the autumnal Rhine Gorge, Switzer-
which the singer Leonard travels around.
now exceeding all their expectations. They
dish of the day is served: goulash, rice and
vegetables. They reserved their seats in advance,
but not the meal. They wanted that
to be a surprise. They appear to be enjoying
it, eating in silence as they listen to the information
through their earphones. If only
Souvenir photo in front of the Glacier Express
– the train that embodies the best of Switzerland
in concentrated form.
He tucks in, the two portions disappear in record time. Did it taste
come again. And go on the Bernina Express next time. They have bought
thousands of photos, we would rather show our friends back home these
Everything is taken care of
on the Glacier Express: great
Coach 45, seats 43 and 44, 1 st class:
The view from Japan with Shoichi Tamura and Satuki Hirata
special excursion. All equipped with at least one camera. The sound of non-
the stretch of track between Chur and Disentis, where everything is high
speed. The three-course meal is served up with military precision. Sal-
is superlative – everyone is agreed on that. And the windows in the
on the Ito line, someone suggests, the express train between Tokyo and
Shoichi Tamura from Tokyo. He travelled
on the classic train in the Andes with his wife.
Today they are accompanied by a friend. Have
The slowest express
train in the world
The eight-hour journey is unfor- shopping, the tour guide explains. If they buy
anything at all, they tend to splash out on lux-
of the rich and
famous, the alpine air of Davos,
donned, warm jackets buttoned up. Ready for
In winter, St. Moritz to Zermatt
from CHF 128.50 incl. 3-course
meal served at your seat
in the world.
Did you know?
A world of figures
Around 1,400 people work for the Rhaetian Railway in more than 200 different occupations:
from railway track workers on the Bernina Line (or 'navvies' as they used
to be known) to train guards on the slowest express train in the world to IT specialists.
Alongside Swiss citizens, the RhB employs people from Albania, Austria, Croatia,
Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Morocco, Nigeria, Portugal and Serbia – a veritable
potpourri from 11 countries around the world. The average age is 45.8 years old –
ranging from the 107 apprentices and trainees to the 12 pensioners who support the
RhB as tour guides, for example. On the subject of helping out: in 2003, the umbrella
association 'historic RhB' was founded for the preservation, restoration and maintenance,
public display and operation of the RhB’s historic rolling stock. The umbrella
organisation comprises six member associations – devoted to various aspects of
railway history ranging from saloon cars to steam engines, narrow gauge and model
railways to tourism – as well as the 'Bahnmuseum Albula Bergün' foundation. Its
catalogue of the historic rolling stock currently includes 52 objects that it aims to
preserve for future generations. In 2014, the RhB will celebrate its 125 th anniversary:
during all these years, 241 locomotives and trains have been travelling on the
rail network, including 47 different types of engine – not counting service vehicles.
Keeping the RhB tracks si
the 'navvies', v
or rr railway ay
What do ...
... the PistenBully
drivers in Sedrun do
Their job is to tame the snow – that force of nature – in a landscape
of extremes where temperatures can fall as low as minus 30
degrees Celsius. The drivers of the snow groomers in the Sedrun
Oberalp ski resort brave the frosty conditions from early December
to just after Easter. But what happens when the snow is gone?
33-year-old Armin Manetsch is actually a trained mechanic, who has taken
over the running of his parents’ farm, where he is actively involved – as
long as there is no snow. For Manetsch’s true passion is driving ski slope
preparation vehicles. "We PistenBully drivers mostly have seasonal jobs
that require manual dexterity – this is something we all have in common",
the farmer says. 'Snow grooming', or 'piste bashing' as it is known
in the trade, is considered an ideal way for farmers, joiners, lorry drivers,
construction and forestry workers in the mountain regions to make money
on the side. "You really have to be mad about big machines to do this
job", states Manetsch, who dreamed about driving a snow groomer since
he was a boy. "As a mechanic, I am naturally fascinated with the technol-
guides on the best
tours along the RhB
Operating heavy snow grooming vehicles
ogy behind these gigantic machines." Viewed from this angle, there are
certainly parallels to be found between his two jobs: large vehicles are a
part of his everyday work in both, whether a tractor or a snow groomer.
Waiting until nature is ready
In farming and snow grooming alike, it is nature that determines the work
rhythm: in good weather, the PistenBully vehicles swarm out onto the
slopes as early as 5:00 pm, only returning well after midnight. If snow
is falling, the drivers start work at four in the morning. They then groom
hit the well-prepared slopes. "As a PistenBully driver, you need to be
of one of these monsters at the age of 20. "The length of a shift varies.
In exceptional cases, you can work up to 13 or 14 hours a day – on a nice
day following heavy snowfall, for example." Patience with nature is also
required when there is a danger of avalanche: at times like these, the
would be too dangerous for them to drive back. Luckily, there are enough
restaurants in the ski resorts where they can stay overnight. And where
is the weather: fog and snowstorms make the landmarks
and contours disappear. The only thing you can do then is wait
until visibility improves." Ultimately, the slopes should appear
smoother than smooth. No easy task: "The tracks left by the
snow groomers are four metres wide – to get these narrowly
aligned without any unevenness is a true art. It requires a lot of
for whom piste bashing is more of a hobby than an occupation.
Armin Manetsch (33):
farmer in summer,
spent too much time out there - in my PistenBully."
driver in winter.
The locomotive 'Bernina'
On 7 March 2012, the 'Bernina' was sent into well-earned retirement. However,
that doesn't necessarily mean a quiet life for this locomotive, which
was constructed in 1947. On the contrary, the "old lady" is spending her
retirement at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne. A fitting final assignment
for a locomotive that can look back on an exciting life.
Classic locomotives on the RhB network
sister 'Badus' (serial
in Germany. Still
of the Swiss canton of Graubünden.
We proudly present
'C 2012': the oldest RhB third-class carriage
In 1889 it was still called 'C 32', in 1911 it was known as 'C 2012' and in 1940
'X 9034'. But during its long years of service, the historical third-class carriage
experienced much more than a few renumberings. In 1994 the Rhaetian
Railway sent the carriage into permanent retirement on the sidings.
It took 'Club 1889' to bring the relic back to life.
In 1989 the Rhaetian Railway celebrated its centenary. To mark the occasion, it
However, the accompanying carriages were overlooked: a complete, authentic composition
of two passenger cars and a luggage coach was languishing in obscurity,
demoted to the status of service vehicle. In 1996 this fact spurred a few natives
transform the former pile of scrap, before the faithfully reconstructed
More than 12,000 cross-country skiers all requiring transport
on the same day: for the Rhaetian Railway as transport partner,
the Engadin Skimarathon is a logistical tour de force. But of course
the 42 kilometres also present a challenge for those taking part in
the race – including Samuel Rindlisbacher, Head of Controlling at
RhB. Contura "ran" the race with him.
Just time for him to enjoy one last cup of tea and a banana, change his
swing of the arms and a couple of stretches, then the skis get buckled on
and Samuel Rindlisbacher lines up next to hundreds of other participants.
start of the 45 th Engadin Skimarathon on this beautiful sunny morning in
Maloja really do feel as if they are about to conquer their very own piece
sportsmen and women are no more than tiny dots, barely visible on the
frozen surface of the lake.
Recipe for success: relaxation and pasta
just doing this for fun", he says. He wasn’t able to train as hard this year as
sportsman, however, he makes sure he eats mountains of pasta the eve-
now he enjoys the fact that there is no more queuing up for ski lifts and
no jostling for position on the slopes. Samuel Rindlisbacher is entered in
class are energetic but nevertheless relaxed; the ambition to traverse
the 42 kilometres from Maloja to S-chanf via Pontresina on cross-country
skis is palpable, and there’s a touch of excitement in the air, but the mood
in the starting area on this sunny winter morning seems pretty relaxed.
"The Engadin Skimarathon is always perfectly organised; there’s never any
chaos", according to Rindlisbacher.
and a drink stop
Samuel Rindlisbacher in
good shape at the halfway
A breather with Pippa Middleton
station after one and a half hours. Dozens of volunteers line the edges of
the course, handing out drinks to the thirsty participants. Music, party tents
Middleton has just whizzed past, the loudspeakers announce. Prince Wil-
rd position (out of 494) in her category.
Party mood in S-chanf
Maloja and S-chanf on cross-country skis in less than ninety min-
of skiers and spectators milling around the food and drink stands, bands
playing carnival music and massage tents.
Get on board and
immerse yourself: with
the RhB spa package –
Pure relaxation not just
for athletes. 553
Three questions to the Head of Production Region West
Patricia Demarmels coordinates the transport
for the Engadin Skimarathon in collaboration
with the event organisers.
How many RhB employees are
called out specially for the Engadin
Just over 50 employees who would not
normally be working put in a special shift
on race day. They are involved in shunting
activities, directing customers or in
forward to this event – it makes a nice
change from their normal working day.
How many additional trains does
the RhB make available to ensure this
major event runs smoothly?
In 2013, we operated 25 additional
trains on marathon day for participants
and spectators. And the scheduled trains
also make an additional stop at the specially
set-up 'S-chanf Marathon' station.
And does transporting
so many people always go smoothly?
On the day of the marathon, the RhB
conveyed more than 12,000 people –
that’s quite impressive. But
we’ve got the hang of it. And,
of course, we always have
emergency plans. This year
there was a problem with one
of the engines, but our passengers
didn’t notice this at
all. On a big occasion like this,
we usually run no more than
one or two minutes behind
Head of Production
Region West at
From the workshop
A local hero:
the sledge maker
from Sri Lanka
Sledging fun: Along the
famous track to pure
excitement on wooden
A Sri Lankan refugee now at home in Graubünden: carpenter Kavithas Jeyabalan
It’s a stable construction on two runners, made entirely of high
quality ash and freshly lubricated: the Schanfigg sledge – handmade
in the Kavi joinery in Peist. "Kavi" himself is personally committed
to preserving this traditional Swiss craft: Kavithas Jeyabalan,
who came to Switzerland in 1984 as a Tamil refugee. A true
How on earth did he end up here? The question unavoidably comes up on
the train ride from Chur to Peist, which has been home to one-time Sri
Lankan refugee Kavithas Jeyabalan for almost 30 years now. Mountains
and deep gorges meet the eye. Here and there a small village, none with
more than 200 residents. Like Peist, 30 minutes from Arosa. A picturesque,
idyllic landscape: picture-postcard Switzerland, although seemingly in the
back of beyond.
so one day he climbed aboard the little red train in Chur, where he was
living in the asylum centre, and rode up to Arosa. He
"The Swiss appreciate found work at a local joinery, the agreed two months
good quality. When ultimately turning into ten whole years.
they buy something,
Raised in the workshop
they want it to last." Today, Kavi runs his own woodworking business and
However, Kavi does not owe his success to the famous sledges,
he laughs. At least eight hours of manual labour and material costs of up
to 300 francs go into the making of a sledge. At a unit price of 400 to 500
more of a passion, a hobby rather than a business – Kavi actually makes
with no loose
inherited from his father, who also owned a woodworking/woodturning
business. As a child, Kavi grew up in the workshop, so it comes as no surprise
that he went on to study carpentry at technical college in Sri Lanka.
a few improvements.
Hand-made and built to last
Swiss ash: the wood is durable and barely warps when moist. The 22 indi-
explains in the local dialect. A mortise and tenon joint, as it is known in
the trade, involves sliding the longitudinal body slats through holes in the
horizontal cleats, or cross bars. This is what makes the sledge particularly
Even Eros Ramazotti also pay particular attention to the two runners: they are
fashioned into the right form as a single piece and only
owns a genuine
then split into two parts. This is to ensure that the two
Schanfigg sledge. runners are absolutely identical and will not bend out of
the ground, and only then is the stainless chromium steel applied to make
come from as far away as Bern and Basel, and even Eros Ramazotti is
quality work really is the best form of advertising.
Not just Swiss, but a local too
integration that is almost too good to be true. But a great deal of
thing to which I had to become accustomed. At one point I asked myself:
should I go back to Sri Lanka or stay here in Switzerland? Well, of course, I
had a job here. And then I met Vreni, who later became my wife. So I de-
the local language, so that he could communicate with people and integrate.
Word by word, he wrote down what he heard in German and Swiss
Perfect to the last detail: when
Kavi pays attention to high quality
at every step in the process.
Tamil now and again. But I mostly make a point of speaking German, even
It goes without saying that Kavi renovated the interior himself. His wife
claims that he is every bit as Swiss as the locals: hard working, punctual
and aware of quality – Kavi embodies all of these typical Swiss values.
Vreni and Kavi Jeyabalan are both members of the local folk dance group,
for which they dress in traditional attire. He became a
"It took two years Swiss citizen in the early nineties. However, the man from
before I was able
the start I went up to the people here and spoke with all
to communicate in of them. It didn't matter whether they were young or old.
the local dialect." I actually get on well with everyone in the village. And
Kavithas Jeyabalan my family has become like me: we enjoy having visitors or
inviting people round for a drink or a meal, often sponta-
has made the mountain village of Peist his second home. And what
about the sledges? They are going well as always – both metaphorically
and literally, in terms of sales and on the sledge run. And if Kavi has his
passed on the secrets of
this traditional craft to
his employees. But he is
content to hold onto the
reins for the time being:
for at least another 20
Highlights of the Rhaetian Railway
S u r s e l v
Albula viaducts and spiral tunnels
Travel fun throughout
the canton. All aboard!
ä t t
i g a
O b e r e n g a
d i n
La Punt Chamues-ch
Punt Muragl Staz
t e r
e n g
Na tiona lpa rk
Good to know
Green, red, orange: RhB signals and signs
Have you ever wondered what our railway signals with their different-coloured
lights and strange signs mean? Everyone knows
that you need a highway code for road traffic. The same applies
to railways: train drivers and railway workers need a set of rules
to help them do their job properly.
How fast? What do the lights say?
The train driver must react correctly to
the distant signal in order to observe
the rules when he reaches the main
signal – for example, by driving at the
prescribed speed. So open your eyes!
Here is a small selection of signals.
Distance signal Main signal
Stop at the main signal
The driver will have been warned
in good time by the two orange
lights of the distant signal that the
main signal indicates "stop" by
means of a red light.
This distant signal shows that
after the next starting signal
the maximum speed restriction
indicated here will apply.
The speed restriction applies
after this signal.
The speed restriction no longer
applies after this signal –
but only after the very end of
the train has passed the signal.
The green light indicates that
the maximum speed permitted
in the route table applies.
Drive at a speed of 30 km/h
These two signals warn the driver
and tell him that on the following
stretch of track he may not drive
faster than 30 km/h.
Drive at a speed of 45 km/h
A few more green lights, placed
another signal: here, the distant
signal warns the driver that the
maximum permitted speed will be
45 km/h after the next main signal.
Footplate rides: Get to
know the UNESCO World
only otherwise experienced
by the driver. 256
How well do you know the RhB?
This little animal scurries from tree to
tree, nibbles a hazelnut, then resumes its
climb. What creature of the forest could
this be? The dotted picture below gives
you a clue. Our tip: you’ll see lots of these
furry animals on the hiking trail of the
same name in Arosa …
How many metres in altitude does the
Arosa Line of the RhB climb on its way
from Chur to Arosa in just one hour?
a) 650 metres b) 880 metres
c) 735 metres d) 1,000 metres
106 109 25
Pure nature: Visit
the hiking trail
named after me
in Arosa. 552
We are giving away two 2 nd class return train tickets from your nearest station to Arosa.
Send your answer marked 'wettbewerb' (competition) to email@example.com or send a postcard to:
Rhätische Bahn, Marketing Kommunikation & E-Business, Bahnhofstrasse 25, 7002 Chur.
writing. Prizes will not be paid out in cash. No correspondence will be entered into in connection with the competition and
For your diary
Our events at a glance
125 years of the Rhaetian Railway
10 May 2014
The RhB has been providing fantastic
railway experiences on its mountain lines
since 1889 – a cause for celebration!
100 years Chur – Arosa
13 / 14 December 2014
The RhB celebrates the centenary
of the Chur – Arosa line: a festive winter
weekend with numerous surprises.
Clà Ferrovia – the children’s guide
19 / 20 October 2013 and
15 and 20 / 21 December 2013
Clà Ferrovia will guide you to adventures
full of colour and light. www.cla-ferrovia.ch
Swiss National Park centenary
1 August 2014
Straight to the National Park Zernez
and a host of centenary events
with the RhB. 1039
D E F I
UNESCO Welterbe RhB
Via Albulala / Ber
grüsst st Heidi
RhB to hand
Brochures and tourist maps
Pick them up at any RhB station or download them
Bernina Express – From glaciers to palms
Experience one of the most spectacular ways to cross the
Alps: the Albula and Bernina lines of the Rhaetian Railway.
The panoramic journey on the Bernina Express past the
glaciers and down to the palm trees is one of the main
The slowest expre s train in the world
Glacier Express – The slowest express train in the world
Ride the rails up into the clouds, through untouched
alpine landscapes, over roaring mountain streams and
past rugged walls of rock. The panoramic journey on the
Glacier Express through the Swiss Alps is one to remem-
Herbst Winter 2013 / 14
Das Magazin der Rhätischen Bahn
rund ums Jahr
Frühling / Sommer 2013
Das Magazin der Rhätischen Bahn
Ein Mann mit Plan:
Herr der Lüfte
und der Gleise
Glacier Expre s
Via Albula / Bernina
Kleine grosse Welt
im Glacier Express
UNESCO Welterbe RhB
The magazine of the Rhaetian Railway
features inspiring and exciting stories
about the RhB. Also available online
and as an iPad app in the iTunes Store.
Our popular adventure maps are the
ideal guide to the most attractive
routes on the RhB railway network.
Souvenirs for all ages
Discover our extensive range of gift items and souvenirs
Railway Adventure Trail Albula
Enjoy nature at its best on the eightkilometre-long
Railway Adventure Trail Albula
from Preda to Filisur. Find all in formation in
the accompanying guidebook.
iPhone case from stone pine wood
The new RhB iPhone case made from
genuine Swiss stone pine exudes
the smell of the Engadin.
Viaduct jigsaw puzzle
Thanks to this puzzle you can admire a
true landmark of the RhB network at home:
the 1,000-piece jigsaw shows the
Glacier Express crossing the famous
Landwasser Viaduct near Filisur.
The RhB credit and prepaid card:
The RhB credit and prepaid card lets railway enthu-
of cashless payment. Choose your favourite
RhB card: Info on the
new credit and prepaid
card is available
Rhaetian Railway Inc
Tel +41 (0)81 288 65 65
Fax +41 (0)81 288 61 05
The RhB online
News, competitions and discussion
forums with us and other RhB fans.
views behind the scenes.
Pictures and impressions from our
fascinating world of railway experiences.
and excursion tips.
Tickets round the clock?