The Brienz-Rothorn-Bahn (BRB) is a rack railway system Abt in the Municipality of Brienz, Switzerland, which runs from Brienz to the Briezner Rothhorn in summer only every year from the beginning of May to the end of October. The Railway Station is the lower terminus of the Brienz–Rothorn rack railway (BRB) that climbs to the summit of the Brienzer Rothorn mountain.
After two previous projects for constructing a hotel on the Rothaus failed, the German engineer Alexander Lindner, who lived in Lucerne, planned the mountain railway around 1889/90 with Brienzers interested in tourism.
At that point, the track would overcome any mountain track’s most significant elevation gain. As a client and architect, Theodor Bertschinger from Lenzburg joined the group. During the construction period of only 16 months between the summer of 1890 and the autumn of 1891, up to 640 construction workers, mostly Italians, were employed.
The Railway track opened on June 17, 1892. It soon ran into financial trouble. This was partly due to the opening of the Schynige Platte-Bahn in 1893, parts of the Jungfraubahn in 1898, and the First World War. On August 9, 1914, operations ceased, and the railway was shut down. In September 1916, the railway received a permit from the Bond to demolish the railway installation. While the board should have advanced the cost of demolition, the demolition was delayed despite the shortage of materials due to the war.
In 1931 money lenders ventured to reopen the track. Despite the long break in operation, the ways were still in good condition. Later, the conscious decision was made not to electrify the route, making it a unique attraction. The Brienz-Rothorn-Bahn is next to the Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke, the only steam-powered railway with a fixed timetable.
The maintenance and operating costs associated with the steam company are high, but the company is still financially strong. Although the General Assembly of June 21, 1968, unanimously decided to dismantle the BRB and build a cable car, the rack railway remained. The 1971 operational concept envisaged improvements in capacity increase by purchasing three diesel locomotives. The seven steam locomotives could be spared from the time of its foundation and reopening. New steam locomotives could not initially be obtained because there needed to be more interest from the industry.
This changed in 1988 when the Schweizerische Lokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik (SLM) in Winterthur was commissioned to build the newly developed steam locomotives with greater power. With the 100th anniversary in 1992, the BRB commissioned the oil-fired Loc No. 12 with the support of an association of friends. Three subsequent locomotives were added later.
The railway network has also been renewed. More oversized profile rails and racks were introduced. The normal sleepers were replaced by new sleepers in Y-Format.
The length of the track is 7.6 km, and the way overcomes up to 25% ascent over 1678 m in altitude. The driving time at a maximum speed of 9 km/h is approximately one hour. The BRB’s route starts in Brienz, at 566, directly opposite the Zentralbahn train station. After passing the “Wellenbergbrücke”, the road goes through the Burgerwald (a deciduous forest) up to the «Schwarzefluetunnel», which is 18 m long. Shortly afterwards, the track reaches the Geldried crossroads (1019 m), where trains can cross each other.
After the station comes the «Härdtunnel», with a length of 119 m. The name of this tunnel indicates that the tunnel was not cut out of the rock but mainly goes through «Härd», that is earth. After a short stretch through the forest, the «Fluhtunnels» are reached. These have a total length of 290 m. They do have openings, so there is a nice view of Brienz and Lake Brienz. From the «Fluhtunnel», a coniferous forest begins until the next station Planalp at 1341 m. Here all steam locomotives fill up with water for the ride to the top.
From Planalpthe route leads over alpine meadows up to the alpine saddle (lowness between two elevations/hills/mountains) “Mittlesten”. In the winter of 1941/42, the only significant iron work of art, the Kühmadbrücke, was swept away by an avalanche. Until 1962, a wooden bridge was erected on this site every spring and demolished again in the autumn. In that year, an earth and stone dam was replaced, which is less sensitive to the forces of nature. After the dam, you arrive at the «Chüemad».
Here you will find the 40 m long “Chüemadgalerie” followed by the 92 m long “Chüemadtunnel”. Shortly afterwards, you reach the Ober Staffel crossroads(1819m). From here, the railway makes a long curve to the left up the mountain to the 100 m long “Schönegg Gallery”. This is followed by the two “Schöneggtunnels” with 37 and 133 m lengths. Shortly after leaving the last tunnel, the track reaches the terminus station Rothorn Kulm at 2244 m.