Meeting the Steepest of Challenges on the Pilatus Bahn

ABB traction converters are powering new trains up the Swiss Pilatus Bahn, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway.

July 25, 2023

Meeting the Steepest of Challenges on the Pilatus Bahn

A new, more energy-efficient fleet of railcars is now bringing thousands of visitors to the top of the Pilatus, a very popular destination in Switzerland.  The 4.6 kilometer route, operated by the Pilatus Bahnen, is the world’s steepest cogwheel railway with a gradient of up to 48 percent.  The journey between Alpnachstad and the end station Pilatus Kulm reaches an elevation of 2073 meters and offers expansive views across Central Switzerland. The rack railway covers almost 1,700 meters in altitude gain with an average gradient of 35 percent and a maximum gradient of 48 percent.

ABB traction converters are powering new trains up the Swiss Pilatus Bahn, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway.

ABB drive technology is contributing to more efficient, reliable and sustainable rail operations on the line. Using ABB’s energy-efficient traction converters, the new rack-and-pinion railcars consume 30 percent less energy than the previous generation of trains. Also, when the train brakes, the kinetic energy is converted into electricity rather than being wasted in heat. Thus, during braking, the electrical energy generated is fed back into the grid and available to use for the ascent.

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